Welcome to the latest edition of Investigative Roundup, highlighting some of the best investigative reporting on healthcare each week.
Hospital Lab Cancer Cluster Investigated
Officials at University of North Carolina (UNC) Health have asked for outside help to determine whether a cancer cluster exists at a lab in its main hospital, according to WRAL News.
UNC Health has asked both the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to evaluate a potential pattern of cancer diagnoses among current and former employees at McLendon Clinical Laboratories in Chapel Hill.
Four current teammates and possibly an additional 10 to 12 former teammates have received a cancer diagnosis some time in the last 20 years, according to WRAL.
More than 1,000 individuals have worked in the lab — which analyzes blood and tissue samples and performs other pathology tests — over the past 2 decades, WRAL reported.
State health department officials visited the lab on January 23 for an initial assessment, and a report is expected by the end of February, the report stated. The NIOSH evaluation can take 6 to 12 months.
Wellness Influencers Spread Climate Change Misinfo
Wellness influencers who gained large online audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic have started spreading health-related misinformation about climate change, according to a CNN investigation.
For instance, some of these influencers said the wildfires that devastated parts of Hawaii last August were intentionally set by the U.S. government to push a climate change agenda.
One influencer reportedly told her 37,000 followers to “stop blaming things on nature that were actually caused by the government,” according to the report. Another influencer suggested that the wildfires would be used to “facilitate a land grab” to redevelop the effected area into a “smart city.” A third influencer told more than 76,000 followers the wildfires were started using “direct energy weapons,” CNN reported.
The COVID-19 pandemic was the first time the wider public health community became aware of the reach and impact these wellness influencers could have on public health discourse. Since the wellness industry continues to increase in popularity — it’s reportedly valued at $5.6 trillion — the rise of misinformation being spread by key influencers could become a major concern in the near future, the news outlet reported.
Experts told CNN they worried that these misinformation campaigns could start to undermine efforts to tackle climate change.
Rich Investors Chase ‘Longevity’ Startups
Wealthy entrepreneurs and venture capital firms are investing billions of dollars in anti-aging “longevity” health startups, according to Business Insider.
In recent years, wealthy investors have spent billions to spur longevity research — including more than $5 billion in 2022 alone — but not all of those investors have the same goal, according to Business Insider. While some high-profile investors, like Peter Thiel, have focused on reversing cell aging and lengthening the human life span indefinitely, many investors are focused on prolonging a person’s years of healthy living, or so-called “health spans.”
One investor, Maximilian Winter, told Business Insider that he became interested in this area of clinical research after suffering for years with undiagnosed Lyme disease. He said he saw five doctors before being diagnosed. He eventually received a series of treatments, including antibiotics, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and infrared saunas, and his health finally improved.
Now, Winters is one of many investors interested in investing in clinical research that can improve treatment options for people like him. In 2021, Winters oversaw a fund that invested $20 million in health tech startups working on 3D printing organs and using AI in drug discovery.
Winters cautioned that the longevity startup industry is full of snake-oil salesman who are eager to target high-net-worth investors and firms. Several investors interviewed said they use elaborate criteria to vet potential investments.
Source link : https://www.medpagetoday.com/special-reports/features/108616
Publish date : 2024-02-07 11:28:30
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