Understanding diet, nutritional needs while on weight loss drugs

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(NEW YORK) -- Popular weight loss drugs like Wegovy and Ozempic have changed the way many Americans are eating and as people taking these medications reassess their relationship with food, diet experts are offering helpful nutritional tips to add to your wellness plate.

Registered Dietitian Maya Feller spoke with ABC News' Good Morning America about the intricacies of a proper diet and what to consider when taking a semaglutide, the active ingredient in those GLP-1 receptor agonist medications.

"People on this medication should think about the nutrient density of their foods," she explained. "With a decreased intake, the nutritional value of a food becomes very important. Creating a balanced plate that includes protein, veggies and a starch helps give the body what it needs. Food should be consumed based on current health, and individual likes and dislikes."

Nestle recently announced a new line of frozen meals that have been specifically designed to meet nutritional needs of those on GLP-1 weight loss drugs.

For Feller though, there are practical steps people can take without opting for specialty items, such as implementing a baseline of ingredients packed with the nutrition dieters may need.

"The weight loss drugs produce rapid and significant weight loss for some, along with decreased hunger and early satiety," she said of people who lose their appetite or feel full sooner. "The rapid and significant weight loss can also induce unification loss of lean body mass."

What foods to eat on GLP-1 weight loss medications

"People should be sure to eat sufficient amounts of high quality protein to support the rapid weight loss and loss of lean body mass," she suggested. "In addition, fiber coming from vegetables, fruits, beans, root vegetables and ancient grains like fonio, millet, quinoa, as well as being mindful of hydration."

As with any shift in diet and lifestyle, be sure to consult a primary care physician before making any drastic changes.

"A multivitamin may be indicated to bridge the nutrient gap that results from eating less," Feller added.

How portion sizes may fluctuate while on weight loss medications

"Portion size will vary by person," Feller said. "Some people may be able to tolerate half an apple with nut butter as a snack, while others will experience early satiety from [a glass of] water."

As a result, Feller said people should take this as "an opportunity to listen to your body."

"The medications work faster than behavior change, so people might be surprised by the change in what and how much they can eat," she said.

Emphasis on specific nutrients

The Brooklyn-based nutritionist and Eating from Our Roots cookbook author explained that there may be indications for some of a "limited ability to eat protein fortified foods."

So where she said "I would regularly recommend a plate that has three to four ounces of protein, plus six ounces of a non starchy vegetable and three ounces of starch," that while "on these medications, many are unable to consume a balanced plate."

"The recommendation may change to a vitamin and mineral enriched protein smoothie, plus a scrambled egg with one ounce of veggies," Feller said.

Concerns with popular weight loss drugs and impact on diet

Feller's concern with these medications is that she's seen "people taking them without proper medical oversight." And as a result, when someone on these medications, "they are not being taken care of by a RD, so are likely missing key nutrients that can be harmful in the long run."

"What we eat is hugely important, and in the case of this class of medications, the stakes are even higher," she said. "The nutrient density of meals inform of gut health, head health, bone health, brain health and more."

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Three things to know as new study emphasizes need to give kids peanut butter at a young age

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(NEW YORK) -- A new study is shedding more light on the importance of exposing kids to peanut products at a young age to help reduce the risk of an allergy later in life.

The study, led by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and published Tuesday, found feeding kids peanut products, like thinned peanut butter, regularly from infancy to the age of 5, was associated with a 71% decrease in the rate of peanut allergy among adolescents.

According to the study, a child exposed to peanut products by six months of age has a 75% reduced risk of having a peanut allergy by age 5, and by age 12, that child is four times less likely to develop a peanut allergy.

In addition, the reduced risk from early exposure is maintained even if a child stops eating peanut products regularly after the age of 5, according to the study.

The findings build on existing research showing that early introduction of potential food allergens reduces the risk of developing an allergy later in life, contrary to what doctors recommended in the 1990s and early 2000s. At that time, the recommendation was to wait until children were older to introduce peanuts and other allergens.

Large studies have since shown that waiting actually increases the risk a child would develop allergic reactions.

Dr. Jeanne Marrazzo, director of the NIH institute that led the study, said the new findings show that early exposure to peanut products provide "lasting protection" for kids.

"If widely implemented, this safe, simple strategy could prevent tens of thousands of cases of peanut allergy among the 3.6 million children born in the United States each year," Marrazzo said in a statement announcing the study's findings.

Peanut allergies are one of the most common food allergies, affecting nearly 2% of adults and kids in the United States, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Allergic reactions to peanuts can be life-threatening.

Here are three things for parents and caregivers to know about introducing peanut products to kids at a young age:

1. Some kids can be fed peanut products starting at 4 months old

Parents and caregivers should consult with their child's pediatrician before exposing them to peanut-containing foods.

Guidelines from the NIAID say that a child with no eczema or food allergies can have age-appropriate peanut-containing foods freely introduced into their diet at home starting around 6 months of age.

If a child has severe eczema or an egg allergy, they should be fed peanut-containing foods only after consulting closely with a healthcare provider. The child's doctor may choose to recommend allergy testing by a specialist before introducing peanut-containing foods to the child in a safe, controlled manner.

Peanut allergy testing is not required for a child with mild to moderate eczema.

They can have age-appropriate peanut-containing foods added to their diet around 6 months of age, according to the NIAID.

2. Make sure to thin out peanut products for kids

Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a Seattle-based pediatrician, told ABC News previously that parents and caregivers should make sure to thin out peanut products when first introducing them to infants.

"You want to just make sure that you're creating a texture and a consistency that's easy and safe for your baby," Swanson said. "Making sure that if you're using things like nuts or nut butters, that you're just thinning those nut butters to a way that they're not a choking risk."

Parents could also mix a small amount -- a quarter teaspoon -- of peanut powder into purees like applesauce.

Kids under the age of 4 should not eat whole peanuts or peanut pieces as they are a choking hazard.

3. Look for symptoms of an allergic reaction in kids

Infants who have an allergic reaction to peanuts will likely show two different symptoms, either hives or vomiting, or both, according to Swanson. Other symptoms of an allergic reaction parents should also look out for include facial swelling, difficulty breathing, wheezing, diarrhea or passing out.

Symptoms will most likely present within minutes to two hours after a child consumes a peanut product.

Parents and caregivers should contact their child's pediatrician if a mild allergic reaction such as a rash develops. If parents and caregivers observe any other symptoms beyond rash, they should dial 911 for immediate medical assistance.

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HPV vaccine can reduce risk of multiple cancers in men, new study suggests

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(NEW YORK) -- Nearly two decades after the launch of the first HPV vaccine, mounting evidence shows that people who got vaccinated are dramatically less likely to develop HPV-related cancers in adulthood.

HPV is a common viral infection that causes an estimated 690,000 cases of cancer every year across the globe, according to researchers from the World Health Organization. The virus infects specific tissues, predisposing patients to develop cancers – including cervical, anal, and head and neck cancer.

First approved in 2006, the HPV vaccine was initially marketed to young women as prevention for cervical cancer. It has since been updated to protect against additional HPV strains and is now recommended for boys as well, to reduce the risk of anal and head and neck cancers. The vaccine is currently recommended for children aged 11 or 12, unvaccinated adults until age 26 and can be recommended by clinicians up to age 45.

Now, experts are seeing early signs of the benefits of cancer prevention.

In early 2024, Scotland found zero cases of cervical cancer for patients who were vaccinated at age 12 or 13. The report was one of the first population-level studies looking at hundreds of thousands of patients vaccinated for HPV through a routine vaccination program for children with a high uptake of 80%.

The benefits extend beyond cervical cancer. For high-income countries like the United States, the incidence of head and neck cancer has since surpassed cervical cancer as the main HPV-related cancer.

In May, at the 2024 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference, preliminary reports showed a 56% reduction in the risk of developing HPV-associated head and neck cancer in vaccinated men.

"The ASCO study results are exciting in that it begins to suggest what we all have long expected, which is that HPV-vaccination will have a marked impact on reducing the incidence of HPV-associated head and neck cancer," said Dr. Michelle Chen, a head and neck cancer surgeon and Assistant Professor at Stanford University who has studied HPV vaccination rates.

Based on data, it's likely that the full benefits of the HPV vaccine will be realized in decades to come, said Dr. Erich Sturgis, a professor at the Baylor Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery who works as a surgical oncologist and epidemiologist focusing on HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancers.

"It's probably going to be a couple more decades before we really see the impact because overwhelmingly it's those in their 50s, 60s and 70s who are getting these cancers," said Sturgis.

Doctors said another encouraging sign is that people are signing up to get vaccinated. "These vaccines are safe, effective, and long-lasting," Sturgis said.

A preliminary study from the 2024 ASCO conference showed that uptake of the HPV vaccine in the United States has gradually improved from 23.3% in 2011 to 43% in 2020.

"Overall, we are generally headed in the right direction with increasing rates of HPV vaccination, especially among males who have always lagged behind females," said Chen.

However, doctors are still pushing every eligible person to get vaccinated. The percent of teens up-to-date on their HPV vaccination stagnated around 63% as of 2022 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"As a whole, we are far behind the Healthy People 2030 goal of 80% rate of HPV vaccination," Chen said.

Adolescent boys are a key group that continue to lag behind, she told ABC News. Opportunities to close the gap include "targeted community vaccination campaigns, offering the HPV vaccination at the time of the flu shot, and elimination of any cost barriers."

There are several barriers to pre-teens receiving the HPV vaccine. According to doctors, many parents are unaware of the benefits or cite safety concerns. Other parents feel like the vaccine is inappropriate for their children based on perceptions or beliefs about sexual activity.

"We have an incredible opportunity to prevent cancer in the next generation by the simple process of getting two vaccines in childhood," Sturgis said. "To miss out on this opportunity is a real tragedy."

Arifeen Rahman, MD is a resident in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and a member of the ABC News Medical Unit.

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Papua New Guinea landslide raises risk of disease outbreaks, mental health impacts

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(PORT MORESBY, PAPUA NEW GUINEA) -- Outbreaks of disease could emerge following the devastating landslide that occurred in Papua New Guinea, according to experts.

A mountainside collapse early Friday buried villages in the Enga province, located in the northern region, under rock, soil and rubble -- wiping out homes, schools and businesses, local authorities said.

About 670 people are confirmed dead while the country's National Disaster Center believes the true death toll could be as high as 2,000 with hundreds of bodies trapped under debris.

Population health and infectious disease experts told ABC News that, after a landslide, standing water, lack of access to medical care and improper sanitation can lead to disease outbreaks. Additionally, mental health can be severely impacted with symptoms lasting for several years after the event.

Infectious diseases are easily spread

"In the aftermath of a disaster … usually in the first couple of days, you're really dealing with injuries, the trauma of getting hit by the debris, and those types of injuries," Jeffrey Schlegelmilch, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia Climate School at Columbia University, told ABC News. "So, it's more of a trauma-focused response. Then, days and weeks out, comes the emergence of the infectious disease."

Landslides often lead to large areas of pooling, standing water and disrupt an area's infrastructure, resulting in a lack of a clean water supply or proper sanitation.

People may be drinking untreated drinking water or sewage-contaminated water, causing gastrointestinal illnesses, such as cholera. Meanwhile, standing water can attract mosquitoes and lead to mosquito-borne illnesses, such as malaria.

Dr. Nathaniel Hupert, an associate professor of population health sciences and of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, said the risk of malaria is important because Papua New Guinea has had a resurgence in malaria over the last 10 to 15 years for reasons that are not quite well understood.

In 2020, Papua New Guinea had more than 750,000 reported cases of malaria, the most of any country in the Asia-Pacific region.

"It turns out that, unlike earthquakes, which typically are not associated directly with increases in malaria, landslides that occur in countries that have high malaria rates seem to be associated with big outbreaks of malaria," he told ABC News. "And this seems to be due to both the fact that the landslides clear away forests and also create spaces for pooling of water, which the mosquitoes that carry the malaria just love. … So, one of the things that we can probably predict in the aftermath of this really large landslide is that malaria rates are going to go up."

Additionally, respiratory diseases -- such as the common cold, the flu and even COVID -- can also emerge as people take shelter in congregated settings, where such infections are easily spread.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician and senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, Maryland, told ABC News because Papua New Guinea is in the southern hemisphere, it is currently entering its flu season, so medical workers will need to be on the lookout for rising cases.

"Some of the key things are going to be making sure people are vaccinated, are getting vaccinations," he said. "But in many cases, vaccinations are going to take some time to kick in. So, it's really going to be about hygiene, so that might mean wearing masks in congregated indoor settings, increasing ventilation in those types of indoor settings -- if they're able to, for example, open windows, keeping the air circulating."

Indirect effects on those with chronic diseases

While many people will likely fall severely ill from illnesses related directly to the landslide, experts say there may be indirect consequences as well.

Patients suffering from underlying conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, may not have access to their doctor or a health care provider -- or hospitals may be offline -- due to the landslide.

Additionally, patients may not be able to access their medications, which could result in a worsening of their conditions.

Studies have shown that various natural disasters can worsen chronic conditions and fail to meet pharmaceutical needs. A study of evacuees relocated to San Antonio, Texas, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 found medical relief pharmacy supplies did not meet the demands of evacuees.

"Anytime there is a severe disruption in the infrastructure of a country, such as what happens during a landslide, there's going to be disruptions in the general medical care in a given area," Adalja said. "The whole healthcare system can get disrupted anytime there's a major impact like this and that's going to be something that exacerbates all the other medical conditions that are not directly related to the landslide but are what's present in the population to begin with."

He said it will be important for aid workers and medical staff to try to fill in the gaps in medical care left by the landslide so people can keep track of their chronic conditions and that undiagnosed chronic conditions may be detected.

During a major event, such as a landslide, "people think about the acute things, but the chronic things can add up and can present a severe burden to the health care system in a place like Papua New Guinea," Adalja said.

Mental health impacts

While the physical health impacts of a landslide can be devastating, the mental health impacts can also be severe and long-lasting.

A 2001 study looking at the impacts of the 1998 landslide in the Sarno area of southern Italy found that survivors were 20 times more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than members of a control group.

One year after the disaster, 90% of survivors in the study had criterion B symptoms of PTSD, which are characterized by unwanted, upsetting memories; nightmares; flashbacks; and emotional or physical reactions after experiencing traumatic reminders.

A 2022 study looking at survivors of the 2010 landslide in Bududa, in eastern Uganda, found that nearly half of participants had PTSD symptoms.

"With this landslide, it's not just going to be the immediate loss of life or the displacement, but the recovery," Hupert said. "So, emergency mental health is really critically important, but establishing and integrating into existing primary care the type of mental health support that may be needed is really going to be the thing that -- is difficult to achieve -- but would be most important in terms of long-term funding and planning. And those effects greatly outlive, in many cases, the immediate infectious disease impacts."

Schlegelmilch explained that the mental health of landslide survivors often progresses a non-linear fashion and isn't always a steady progression up or a regression down.

He added that, in addition to providing mental health counseling or medication when needed, providing help for survivors to balance their daily routines can be beneficial.

Schlegelmilch said he visited a shelter during one of his many trips to natural disaster areas in the U.S. where mental health workers told him the creation of a child-friendly space can boost the mental health of both children and adults.

"I think that we can't underestimate the ability to sort of have a sense of normalcy and create a sense of normalcy for folks," he added.

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Man charged with 'misleading' woman into taking abortion pill

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(WALTHAM, M.A.) -- A Massachusetts man has been charged with misleading a woman into taking medication to end her pregnancy under the guise that he was giving her iron and vitamin pills, according to officials.

Robert Kawada, 43, and the woman were in a relationship when she became pregnant, according to Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan. Kawada then allegedly secretly gave her a commonly used abortion pill while intending to end her pregnancy, ultimately resulting in her miscarriage, according to a preliminary investigation.

The woman is believed to have been given misoprostol, according to Ryan.

Kawada is charged with poisoning; assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on pregnant person; and assault and battery on a household or family member in connection with misleading a woman who was known to him into taking medication to end her pregnancy, according to the DA.

Kawada was arrested Friday by Watertown police and he will be arraigned in Waltham District Court on Tuesday.

Misoprostol is one of two medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as part of a medication abortion regimen, safe for up to 11 weeks of pregnancy. Misoprostol is prescribed to be taken between 24 to 48 hours after mifepristone.

The investigation into the incident remains ongoing.

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CDC: 1 in 9 US children now have ADHD, with surge in diagnoses since 2016

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(NEW YORK) -- Diagnoses of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have surged in the United States over the last several years, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study, which examined data from more than 45,000 parent responses to the 2022 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH), found that in 2022, seven million children between ages 3 and 17 had previously been diagnosed with ADHD, an increase of one million from 2016.

This equates to about 1 in 9 U.S. children being diagnosed with ADHD at some point in their lives. Additionally, 10.5% of children, or 6.5 million, were found to have current ADHD in 2022.

Among children with current ADHD, the study found 58.1% had moderate or severe ADHD and 77.9% had at least one co-occurring disorder. Co-occurring disorders included behavioral problems such as anxiety or depression and developmental problems such as a learning disability or a speech delay.

ADHD is a condition including attention difficulty, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. It begins in childhood and may persist into adulthood.

A child with ADHD may often daydream; forget or lose things; talk too much; squirm or fidget; have difficulty getting along with others; have trouble taking turns; and make careless mistakes, according to the CDC.

There is no one test that can diagnose ADHD. Parents who are concerned their child has ADHD should first speak to a health care provider to discuss if the symptoms fit an ADHD diagnosis, the CDC says. A diagnosis can be made by a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, or by a primary care provider, such as a pediatrician.

Despite behavior therapy often recommended alone or as adjunct to medications, only about half of children with current ADHD, 53.6%, had used medication and 44.4% had received behavioral therapy in the last year, according to parent responses.

Nearly one-third of children, 30.1%, did not receive any ADHD-specific treatment, the study found. Additionally older children between ages 12 and 17 were more likely than younger children between ages 6 and 11 to go untreated. Children living in non-English speaking households were also less likely to report receiving treatment.

While lack of access may be a reason for some children not receiving treatment, medication shortages may be another. ADHD medications have been facing yearslong national shortages, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

Among them is the ADHD prescription drug Adderall. The shortage began in late 2022 initially due to a delay from a manufacturer. As of early 2024, the shortage is now demand-driven, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

There are a few reasons for why diagnoses might have increased, according to the authors. Firstly, because public awareness of ADHD has changed over time, more children may be getting correctly diagnosed with ADHD. Secondly, there may be less stigma around receiving treatment for ADHD.

Lastly, the COVID-19 pandemic may have played a role, with poor mental health during the pandemic possibly exacerbating ADHD symptoms for many children, the authors said.

The authors noted that children with ADHD are more likely to experience poor health outcomes as adults including obesity, chronic illness and accidental injury.

They added that the estimates from the study can be used to help clinicians be on the lookout for ADHD and children not receiving treatment as well as to help "policymakers, government agencies, health care systems, public health practitioners and other partners to plan for the needs of children with ADHD, such as by ensuring access to care and services for ADHD."

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What to know about the blood test to detect colon cancer recommended by an FDA panel

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(WASHINGTON) -- A blood test to screen for colorectal cancer is one step closer to receiving approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

An FDA advisory panel -- the Medical Devices Advisory Committee -- recommended FDA approval of the Shield blood test on Thursday night, finding it to be safe and effective and that the benefits of use outweighed potential risks.

Guardant Health, the company that makes Shield, is seeking FDA premarket approval for the test to screen for colorectal cancer among people aged 45 and older at average risk.

Shield is not the first blood-based screening tool available for colorectal cancer, but it presents another option to screen for a type of cancer that has been affecting a large number of Americans at younger ages than before.

Shield is already commercially available, but Guardant Health says FDA approval would broaden availability and coverage as another screening option.

Here's what you need to know about the tests and how it could help detect colorectal cancer. Guardant Health said it believes the FDA will decide on whether Shield receives premarket approval later in 2024. FDA approval isn't guaranteed. The agency usually agrees with its advisors, but not always.

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or the rectum. It may be referred to as colon cancer or rectal cancer depending on where the cancer originates.

Colon cancer and rectal cancer are commonly grouped together because they have many similar features, according to the American Cancer Society.

Most colorectal cancers are caused by polyps, which are growths on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. While most polyps are benign, others will turn into cancer over many years.

Signs and symptoms include a change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, blood in stool, abdominal pain, weakness, fatigue and sudden weight loss, the ACS said.

While cancer deaths have declined overall, a report earlier this year from the ACS found a troubling increase in colon cancer in younger adults. Colon cancer is currently the No. 1 cause of death among men younger than age 50, and the No. 2 cause of death among women of the same age group.

How is colon cancer typically screened for?

Colonoscopies remain the gold standard when screening for colorectal cancer. During this procedure, a doctor inserts a colonoscope -- a long, thin and flexible tube with a camera on the end -- through the anus to examine the rectum and colon. Your doctor may biopsy any suspicious-looking tissues or polyps.

Additionally, stool tests can be performed to look for blood not visible to the naked eye, which is possibly a sign of cancer, according to the ACS.

The United States Preventative Services Task Force currently recommends adults aged 45 and older with average risk to be screened for colorectal cancer. This includes a stool test every one to three years or a colonoscopy every 10 years for people that do not have symptoms.

How does Shield work?

Shield detects colorectal cancer by detecting DNA shed by tumors in blood samples. Results takes about two weeks after the samples are received by the laboratory.

In clinical trial data, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Shield was found to have a 83.1% sensitivity rate, meaning 91% of patients with colorectal cancer detected by a colonoscopy tested positive on the Shield blood test. It also had an 89.9% specificity rate, meaning 89.9% of patients without cancer tested negative on the blood test.

During the FDA advisory panel meeting, eight of the FDA independent advisers voted yes and one voted no on safety. On efficacy, six voted yes and three voted no. On benefits outweighing risks, seven voted yes and two voted no.

The company says the blood test will help eliminate barriers linked to current screening methods such as colonoscopies or stool-based tests, which can be time-consuming or difficult to complete. It says the blood test can be performed with any special preparation and as part of a standard doctor's visit.

"The advisory committee's strong support for the approval of Shield reinforces the crucial role that a blood test option can have in improving [colorectal cancer] screening rates for those at average risk," AmirAli Talasaz, co-chief executive officer of Guardant Health, stated in a press release. "Despite the importance of detecting [colorectal cancer] early, there are notable barriers that can deter average-risk Americans from completing existing screening methods."

"Providing people with this blood test alongside other noninvasive stool tests can increase the rate of colorectal screening and potentially reduce preventable [colorectal cancer] deaths," the statement continued.

Are there any drawbacks?

Despite the high overall sensitivity rate, the clinical trial data indicated Shield test may miss one in 10 people who have precancerous lesions and one in 1,000 people with cancerous lesions.

These "false negatives" may result in tests finding no evidence of cancer, but patients actually have pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions.

Data showed Shield also missed about 87% of advanced precancerous lesions, with a specificity rate of just 13.2%. Shield did not detect small lesions of less than 10 millimeters.

While the majority of the panel voted in favor of the test, some FDA advisers voiced concerns about appropriate patient counseling, patient misunderstanding of a "negative test" and packaging and/or labeling language.

ABC News' Youri Benadjaoud contributed to this report.

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CDC preparing for 'possibility of increased risk to human health' from bird flu


(LANSING, Mich.) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a summary on Friday that it is preparing for the "possibility of increased risk to human health" from bird flu following an outbreak among dairy cows and two confirmed human cases.

However, the federal health agency also said the risk of bird flu, also known as avian influenza, to people in the U.S. is currently low and there is no evidence of person-to person transmission in the U.S.

Federal and state public health officials said in late March they were investigating an illness among primarily older dairy cows in Kansas, New Mexico and Texas and causing symptoms including decreased lactation and low appetite.

The first case was confirmed in a U.S. farm worker in Texas and the second case in a Michigan farm worker who had regular exposure to livestock-infected bird flu.

The CDC said the only symptoms experienced by the two human patients were eye redness. Both have since recovered.

As of May 22, more than 350 people with exposure to dairy cows and/or infected unpasteurized cow's milk have been monitored. The Michigan case was identified through daily monitoring of farm workers, according to the CDC. Farm workers and those working in agriculture are at the highest risk of bird flu.

There is currently no evidence to show that bird flu is spreading from person to person.

"Though currently circulating A (H5N1) viruses do not have the ability to easily spread to and between people, it is possible that influenza A(H5N1) viruses could change in ways that allow them to easily infect people and to efficiently spread between people, potentially causing a pandemic," the CDC wrote in its summary.

As they continue their preparedness efforts, federal health officials have moved forward with filling about 4.8 million doses of bird flu vaccine into vials through their national stockpile in case it becomes necessary, according to Dawn O'Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services.

"This step further strengthens our preparedness posture," she said this week.

HHS worked with a manufacturing partner on the process known as "fill and finish" without disrupting ongoing production of the seasonal flu vaccine. The vaccine is "well matched to the currently circulating strain of H5N1," O'Connell said.

The federal government has not signaled a cause for concern at the moment and the CDC says it's important that the flu network remain enhanced throughout the spring and summer, including increasing the number of specimens for further testing, continuing surveillance and encouraging clinicians to consider bird flu when evaluating patients who have conjunctivitis or respiratory illness following an exposure to agriculture or livestock.

Additionally, milk samples have been found with remnants of the virus, but testing determined pasteurization inactivated the virus. Raw milk does not undergo pasteurization, and health officials have long warned against drinking raw milk because it can contain bacteria that can cause illness.

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Most younger women who want kids after breast cancer are successful, research data shows

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(NEW YORK) -- Among younger women with breast cancer, it may be possible for many to have a baby after their diagnosis thanks to advances in breast cancer care, new research suggests.

In a study of about 200 women ages 40 and younger with non-metastatic breast cancer who wanted children, roughly three-quarters were able to become pregnant after diagnosis, and about two-thirds had a baby.

The research will be presented on Monday, June 3, at the 2024 ASCO Annual Conference, a major medical conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. However, it has not yet been peer-reviewed or published as a full manuscript in a journal.

Doctors say this may give hope to the growing number of younger people being diagnosed with breast cancer who want to preserve their fertility.

"This is indeed great news for young breast cancer survivors," Dr. Julie R. Gralow, Chief Medical Officer of ASCO and oncologist who specializes in breast cancer, told ABC News. "Achieving a pregnancy after breast cancer diagnosis is both possible and safe."

For women diagnosed at earlier ages, fertility may be of great concern and importance, but experts point out that in this study, only 16% of women said they desired a baby after their diagnosis.

"I think this may represent the overall reluctance of young women with this diagnosis interrupting their lives at such a young age to pursue pregnancy," Dr. Julia Foldi, assistant professor of medicine in hematology/oncology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, told ABC News.

In the study, women with more financial security were more likely to become pregnant, and fertility preservation, such as egg freezing, nearly tripled the odds of having a baby. The older the patient, the less likelihood of having a baby or getting pregnant.

"While we can't impact the age at diagnosis, we can make sure that all young women diagnosed with breast cancer receive information prior to beginning treatment about options to increase the chance of a future pregnancy, and also have access to those options," Gralow said.

Doctors hope this research helps counsel women who desire pregnancy after their breast cancer diagnosis and highlights the importance of having access to fertility preservation services, which can be costly.

"Timely access to fertility preservation can be very challenging due to lack of available resources and infrastructure, financial barriers, and much more," Dr. Kimia Sorouri, research fellow, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, and one of the study authors told ABC News.

"Ensuring that women have the resources necessary to enable them to benefit from this technology, including insurance coverage for fertility preservation, will go a long way towards ensuring access to care for those women who have yet to complete their reproductive plan," Dr. Sigal Klipstein, InVia Fertility Specialists in Chicago and former chair of the ACOG Committee on Ethics, told ABC News.

Researchers also found several factors that were not associated with fertility outcomes in this study, including having a history of infertility, never giving birth before diagnosis, tumor characteristics, cancer treatment, race, and ethnicity.

"It is particularly impressive data because almost 70% of the women in this study had received chemotherapy, which can reduce fertility," Gralow said.

In this study, the typical age at the time of breast cancer diagnosis was 32 years old, and the average time to pregnancy was 4 years after diagnosis. Most of the women in this study were non-Hispanic white and had their breast cancer diagnosed in earlier stages of the disease.

"This should encourage folks to get their screening done and know that if they are diagnosed earlier on, that's less likely to impact their future fertility goals," Dr. Elizabeth Langen, associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology, University of Michigan Health System, told ABC News.

In guidance by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, women with average risk are now recommended to start breast cancer screening at age 40.

This finalized guidance, in part, reflects a worrying trend of more women being diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age.

"While this study provides great hope for women with a diagnosis of breast cancer, it is important to be cognizant of the fact that not all women will have success," Klipstein said. "Expeditious counseling, availability of and access to fertility preservation options are the elements that often make the difference between having or not having the family that women desire."

Dr. Jade A Cobern, MD, MPH, a licensed and practicing physician board certified in pediatrics and preventive medicine, is a member of the ABC News Medical Unit. 

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Mask restrictions prompt concern, fear from disabled North Carolina residents

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(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- Disabled North Carolina residents say a mask restriction that is under consideration in the state legislature would make it harder for them to access parts of their communities, pushing them back into isolation.

"This law says to them that you are not welcome in our community and we don't value your presence to accommodate your need to wear a mask," Tara Muller, a policy attorney at Disability Rights North Carolina, told ABC News.

House Bill 237, dubbed the "Unmasking Mobs and Criminals" bill, would repeal a COVID-19 pandemic exception that allowed people to wear a face mask in public. It allows exceptions for holiday costumes, rituals or ceremonies, theatrical productions, gas masks or employment-based usage, but would remove the ability for someone to wear a mask to ensure "the physical health or safety of the wearer or others."

Legislators in the North Carolina General Assembly are currently negotiating whether to move forward with repealing the exception, which has faced opposition in the House but was recently passed by the Senate. Meanwhile, disabled residents and their families are stuck in a waiting game, concerned about what this will mean for their future.

The bill is intended to curb the use of face masks to conceal an alleged criminal's identity.

Supporters have criticized the use of face masks amid ongoing protests against the Israel-Hamas war, since many demonstrators have been seen wearing face coverings: "It's about time that the craziness is at least slowed down, if not literally stopped," said Republican bill sponsor Buck Newton, according to Raleigh news outlet WRAL.

Similar restrictions are being considered in other states, while still others are now enforcing mask-wearing restrictions – including New York, Ohio, Florida, and other states.

However, disability advocates say such restrictions infringe on their ability to protect themselves and others.

North Carolina resident Bryan Dooley, who has cerebral palsy and asthma, told ABC News he didn't leave his house for a year when the pandemic started: "And it's not an exaggeration," he added.

He was worried about the potential for a respiratory infection that could turn into something worse. Patients with asthma and cerebral palsy are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 complications, according to the Mayo Clinic.

As someone with a speech impediment, Dooley said it can be hard for him to speak to others while wearing a mask, so the people around him often wear masks for both his and their protection, because he often cannot.

He said the disabled community isn't asking for much: "They just want to contribute to their community just like anybody else."

Muller's organization has said people have reached out with concerns about being able to go to a public health facility, to work, to a grocery store, or to just walk down the sidewalk and potentially being confronted by law enforcement or others trying to enforce mask-wearing restrictions. The concerns have come from people with a plethora of experiences, including those who are immunocompromised, who are undergoing chemotherapy, have had an organ transplant, and more.

Katy Neas, CEO of the disability advocacy group The Arc of the United States, said that masking remains a serious and important issue for many concerned about their health.

"You wouldn't make a kid who has diabetes eat something that's going to make them sick. You wouldn't make a kid with life-threatening peanut allergies, make them eat peanuts. We've got to recognize that some kids need these protections for their fundamental health," said Neas.

Muller said she feels the ban would be a step backward in making the world a more accessible place for everyone, not just people who are disabled or immunocompromised. For example, millions of Americans continue to feel the impacts of COVID-19 and long COVID. There have been more than 100 million recorded cases of COVID in the U.S., while roughly 63 million adults in the U.S. have or have had long COVID..

"We've made great strides in allowing people with disabilities in their community in ways that were not possible before. Wearing masks is one way that people can feel comfortable accessing their community when otherwise they have not been able to," said Muller.

Felicia M. Nurmsen of the National Organization on Disability knows firsthand the impact of long COVID. After developing asthma, as well as experiencing fatigue and a worsening heart condition from her bout of COVID, she said the shift away from public health and safety has been concerning.

"I still have some of the other health challenges ... there's nothing that says that they'll ever go away," said Nurmsen.

Nurmsen said the pandemic allowed a widespread effort toward accessibility for all, such as wearing a mask for personal and public health, remote-working options, increased home delivery options and more. She notes that many things that make life easier for all – from automatic doors to escalators – are disabled accessibility features.

"When you see someone masked up on the street, when you're going into a store and someone has their mask on, never assume that that person does not have a disability, because you don't know," said Nurmsen. "It should not be an all-or-nothing proposition, because we have to think about the entire population of people."

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Doctors, beauty queen in DC to advocate for CPR training and AEDs in schools

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(WASHINGTON) -- Chloe Burke, a 25-year-old upcoming Miss Texas contestant, will be in Washington D.C. Thursday to lobby for the HEARTS Act and Access to AEDs Act.

Access to AEDs (or Automated External Defibrillators) is a deeply personal issue to Burke, who suffered a cardiac arrest in 2019 at University of Houston while she was cheerleading at a football game. She remembers completing her stunt, and then collapsing on the ground.

"It was the most helpless I've ever felt in my entire life," said Burke. "Your survival is up to the fate of hoping there's someone around you that knows how to act."

Burke was fortunate. On-field paramedics performed CPR and used an AED to get Burke’s heart pumping normally again.

However, Burke knows that others are not as lucky. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more that 356,000 Americans suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year and up to 80% of them die before reaching the hospital.

To improve outcomes for others, Burke is joining the American Heart Association (AHA) and roughly 200 others in an Advocacy Day in D.C. on May 23, 2024. Advocates will meet with lawmakers and staff to discuss the two federal bills that the AHA is supporting.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.’s (D-NJ-6) bill, the Cardiomyopathy Health Education, Awareness, Research, and Training in the Schools Act of 2023 or the HEARTS Act (H.R. 6829), encourages research and education around cardiomyopathy. The bill has passed through committee and is awaiting a vote in the House.

Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick’s (D-FL-20) bill, Access to AEDs Act (H.R. 2370), has 110 cosponsors in the House, and is still in committee. An identical bill has been introduced in the Senate (S. 1024). The bill earmarks $25 million to be distributed through grants to schools to provide CPR training and buy AED equipment.

Bystander CPR and AED use can increase survival rates. Dr. Gordon Tomaselli, a cardiologist and past president of the AHA, said that "CPR is effective, but it needs to be done in a very timely fashion."

"The clock here is not even in minutes. It's in seconds," he said.

However, a national poll of more than 1,000 people conducted by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center showed that only 51% of respondents have been trained to perform hands-on CPR in the last two years and feel comfortable administering it.

Burke, the current Ms. Space City said "any amount of time or money or rules or laws is worth teaching people the skills that can save lives."

She hopes that the HEARTS Act and Access to AEDs Act will ultimately create "a future of people who could save lives at any time in any place because [CPR is] a skill they can take with them."

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Why Louisiana is pushing to classify abortion pills in the same category as opioids

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(BATON ROUGE, La.) -- Louisiana is moving closer to classifying the abortion pill regimen -- mifepristone and misoprostol -- as a "controlled dangerous substance," putting them in the same category as opioids and other addictive medications.

If a new bill becomes law, possession of the the medications without valid prescriptions or orders from medical professionals would be punishable by up to five years in prison with an exception for pregnant women in possession of the pills for their own consumption.

A federal case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court also seeks to revoke Food and Drug Administration's approval of mifepristone, the first pill taken in a two-drug regimen for a medication abortion. This could restrict nationwide access to the pill. The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision in the case by the end of June.

The regimen is currently federally approved to end pregnancies up to 11 weeks.

Medication abortion is currently the most common form of abortion in the U.S., according to a study from the Guttmacher Institute. The study found that 63% of abortions in the U.S. that took place in the health care system in 2023 were medication abortions.

Louisiana state House lawmakers debated the proposed law Tuesday before approving it, 64-29, and sending it to the Senate for a vote. The Senate, which is more than 70% Republican, is scheduled to vote on it Wednesday.

It would would then head to Republican Gov. Jeff Landry's desk for final approval before it can become law.

Nearly all abortions have ceased in Louisiana under a strict trigger ban that prohibits the procedure in its entirety and imposes civil and criminal penalties on anyone who violates it.

What's in the bill?

While an amendment to the bill included the provision that would reclassify the abortion pills, the bill itself focused on cracking down on "coerced criminal abortion by means of fraud."

The bill creates a crime of "coerced criminal abortion" -- prohibiting a third party from fraudulently using an abortion-inducing drug to cause or attempt to cause an abortion on an unsuspecting pregnant woman, without their knowledge or consent.

The proposed law was created by a state Sen. Thomas Pressly, whose pregnant sister's husband tried to induce an abortion more than once, ultimately failing to abort the pregnancy, lawmakers said on the floor Tuesday.

"Coerced criminal abortion" would be a crime punishable by five to 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000 to $75,000, according to the bill.

The punishment is more severe for anyone found guilty of committing the crime on a pregnant woman who is more than three months pregnant. They could face 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine from $50,000 to $100,000, according to the bill.

There is a substantially higher risk to the life of a pregnant mother if the pregnancy is more than three months along, according to the bill.

Violators of the law can still be prosecuted even if the attempted abortion is unsuccessful, the bill said.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

How extreme heat will disproportionately affect disadvantaged communities

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(NEW YORK) -- The health effects from extreme heat will soon take an even bigger toll on disadvantaged communities, according to a new report.

As global temperatures continue to climb, a growing number of people living in disadvantaged communities will be impacted by health-threatening heatwaves, a report released Wednesday by the ICF Climate Center, an environmental solutions firm, found. As many as 54 million people in at-risk communities could be threatened by extreme heatwaves by 2050 under a high-emissions scenario, compared to 500,000 people today, according to the report.

The report combines the latest climate projections with the ICF Climate Center's climate risk analytics platform, ClimateSight, to understand how people living in marginalized communities -- ones that have been "overburdened by pollution and underinvestment" -- will be exposed to extreme heat in the coming decades as well as how the increasing temperatures will affect the health of the residents.

The results point to a significant increase in disadvantaged communities' potential exposure to extreme heat as well as a spatial component of these increases in potential exposure, Mason Fried, director of climate science at ICF, told ABC News.

"We're seeing spatially across the contiguous United States both an intensification of exposure in historically hot areas -- those hot areas are only going to get hotter -- and the consequences in those areas," Fried said. "But there's an expansion of exposure into regions that have not experienced very hot temperatures."

The Southeast and Midwest could see 15 to 30 additional energy-impacting heat days, while most of Texas, the central plains, Louisiana and the Florida peninsula are expected to experience 50 or more additional energy-impacting heat days under a moderate emissions scenario, the report found.

Electric grids in the Northeast and New England could be strained under these conditions as well, as grids in those areas were generally not designed to operate in such extreme heat, the authors found.

While historically it was the Southwest and southern Texas that saw disadvantaged communities experiencing at least 24 energy-impacting heat days per year, by 2050 overburdened communities in the South, Midwest and Southwest will be exposed, according to the report.

The findings of the report are "not surprising," given how much research has already been done to show that the most disenfranchised communities around the world will be hardest hit by climate change, Jennifer A. Burney, chair of global climate policy and research at the University of California, San Diego, told ABC News. Burney's own research has looked into the urban heat burden experienced by poorer communities.

Heat illness is the No. 1 weather-related killer in the world, with more than 1,220 people dying from heat-related illnesses every year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The urban heat island effect, urbanized areas that experience higher temperatures than outlying areas due to an abundance of roads and buildings, adds tremendously to the heat burden that people in disadvantaged communities are experiencing, Amy Bailey, director for climate resilience and sustainability at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, told ABC News.

Neighborhoods that had been redlined in the 1930s -- a post-Great Depression practice involving a pattern of lending discrimination -- are among the hottest in major cities, a 2019 paper that studied 108 urban areas nationwide, found.

Solutions such as whitewashing pavement and planting trees are known solutions to mitigating the heat island effect.

The report called for prioritizing planning efforts for populations identified to be at elevated risk and engaging stakeholders and decision-makers within those communities to ensure they have agency in the implementation of programs.

The report and its confluence of key public health, equity and energy resilience data points are important for planners, community-based organizations and health professionals, Bailey said.

Communities will especially need to prioritize measures to make places like libraries and malls established cooling centers by creating a "cooling budget" that could help subsidize businesses as well as offer safe options for residents, Burney said.

Planners will also need to make investments to increase grid resilience and community-level solutions, Bailey said.

"It's our hope that it provides, at first some, some, you know, the data and analytics to help size up and understand the problem," Fried said.

Federal initiatives in recent years have reflected the severity of future heat impacts, according to the report.

Last year, Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool, an interactive map that monitors data points such as income, asthma rates, and wildfire risk with the aim of determining and prioritizing the most disadvantaged communities for funding. However, race and ethnicity are not included as indicators in the tool, but are "included as information only and are not considered as a part of the tool’s methodology," according to the website, a collaboration among the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

In July 2023, the Biden Administration also announced several actions to mitigate extreme heat, including the launch of, which provides science-based information to understand and reduce the health risks of extreme heat, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) "Let’s Talk About Heat Challenge," which funded 10 community groups and localities across the country to help protect underserved communities from heat illness.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

STIs, including syphilis, gonorrhea, increasing globally: WHO

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(NEW YORK) -- The number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) around the world is increasing and is a "major concern" for health officials, according to a new report published Tuesday from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The report found four curable STIs -- chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and trichomoniasis -- are responsible for more than 1 million infections daily among adults between ages 15 and 49. Cases of syphilis, in particular, have been rising rapidly.

The number of new syphilis cases among adults between ages 15 and 49 increased from 7.1 million in 2020 to 8 million in 2022, according to the report.

There have also been increases in the rate of congenital syphilis, which occurs when a baby is born with the infection after the mother passed it on during pregnancy. Between 2020 and 2022, the rate per 100,000 live births per year rose from 425 to 523.

The global trends mirror those seen in the United States. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released earlier his year found the total number of syphilis cases increased more than 17% to 207,255 between 2021 and 2022, reaching the greatest number of cases reported since 1950.

The report also found that cases of antibiotic resistant gonorrhea are increasing, which was labeled another "concern." As of 2023, nine countries reported elevated levels -- from 5% to 40% -- of resistance to ceftriaxone, which is considered a last line treatment for gonorrhea.

Data points to a lack of screening for the rise in STIs as well as other issues including a lack access to care. Additionally, disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic likely delayed screening for many.

"The rising incidence of syphilis raises major concerns," WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. "Fortunately, there has been important progress on a number of other fronts including in accelerating access to critical health commodities including diagnostics and treatment."

"We have the tools required to end these epidemics as public health threats by 2030, but we now need to ensure that, in the context of an increasingly complex world, countries do all they can to achieve the ambitious targets they set themselves," the statement continued.

Not all trends showed an upward trajectory, in 2022, the number of people newly infected with HIV globally fell to 1.3 million from 1.5 million, according to the report. However, the WHO notes that certain populations -- men who have sex with men; people who inject drugs; sex workers; transgender people; and those currently in prisons and other closed settings – continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV.

In a press release, the WHO noted there have been gains in expanding STIs, HIV and hepatitis services and several countries have eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and/or syphilis.

To drive rates down, the report outlines some recommendations including accelerating efforts to decriminalizes and destigmatize those affected by STIs and other infections as well as strengthening the focus on primary prevention, diagnosis and treatment to raise awareness of STIs and infections.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

New study focuses on what happens if you stay on weight loss drug Wegovy for years

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(NEW YORK) -- Amid the growing popularity of drugs used for weight loss like Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro and Zepbound, one question has remained for users, what happens if they were to stay on the drug for years?

Now, a new study released earlier this month by Novo Nordisk, the maker of both Ozempic and Wegovy, is shedding light on what the long-term results look like for people on the weight loss medications.

"This is the longest study we've conducted so far of semaglutide for weight loss," Martin Holst Lange, Novo Nordisk's head of development, told Reuters. "

Both Ozempic and Wegovy are part of a class of drugs called GLP-1 Receptor Agonists that help people produce insulin to lower the amount of sugar in their blood.

The drugs, made from a compound called semaglutide, work by slowing down movement of food through the stomach and curbing appetite, thereby causing weight loss.

The new study, presented this month at the European Congress on Obesity in Venice, Italy, focused solely on Wegovy, an injectable medication that is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for weight loss for people with obesity or who are overweight with a comorbidity like high blood pressure.

Ozempic is approved by the FDA to treat Type 2 diabetes, but some doctors prescribe the medication "off-label" for weight loss.

Here are four questions answered about the study's results, and what they mean for the future of weight loss.

1. Were people able to keep weight off by using Wegovy long-term?

The study found that the majority of people on Wegovy lost weight, on average 10% of their body weight, in the first 15 months of using the medication and sustained their weight loss over four years with continued use of the drug.

"We see that once the majority of the weight loss is accrued, you don't go back and start to increase in weight if you stay on the drug," Lange told Reuters.

The results came from a clinical trial of over 17,000 people with preexisting heart disease as Novo Nordisk was testing Wegovy for its heart benefits in people who are overweight and obese.

2. Were there any side effects to using Wegovy long-term?
Around 17% of patients in the four-year timeline withdrew due to a side effect of taking Wegovy, mostly nausea, according to the company.

Among all medications used for weight loss, the most commonly reported side effects are nausea and constipation, but irreversible gallbladder and pancreatic disease is also reported.

Makers of these drugs recommend having a conversation about the side effect profile and personalized risks with a healthcare professional before starting.

3. Why would a person need to stay on a medication after weight loss?
ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a board-certified OBGYN and obesity medicine specialist, said that people should remember that obesity is a chronic condition.

"In the majority of cases, people who are on these GLP-1 medications and lose a significant amount of weight, can/will regain some or all of it when they discontinue it," Ashton said. "Why? It's because of the etiology, or what the causes are, of the conditions of overweight and obesity. It's not a temporary situation. It's a chronic condition."

Obesity is a medical condition that affects nearly 42% of people in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Obesity has been associated with conditions like stroke and heart attack, hypertension, breathing difficulties, sleep apnea and an increased risk of early death.

4. What does maintenance look like on medications like Wegovy?
While long-term research has been done on GLP-1 medications and Type 2 diabetes, Ashton said there is still much research to be done on how the medications can be used long-term to help people maintain weight loss.

"What hasn't been even described or reported in the peer-reviewed medical literature is what does maintenance on these medications look like," Ashton said, adding, "That knowledge and awareness has to be there, that if you get to your goal weight, and you completely stop these medications, the vast majority, not all, but the vast majority of people will regain the weight that's lost."

Ashton said patients on a medication like Wegovy should work closely with their doctor determine what is best in their individual situation.

Generally, she said doctors may prescribe a lower dose of the medication to take in the long-term, or reduce the frequency of the dose.

"I think what you'll see is healthcare providers, doctors who are experienced in managing patients on these medications, when they [the patient] get to their goal weight, they'll say, 'Okay, let's drop your dose down first, and then we could try to space out the frequency of your dosing intervals,'" Ashton said. "What I've done, and I've spoken to other doctors in obesity medicine who are doing the exact same thing, is we'll say, 'Okay, instead of taking [an injectable dose] every week, let's try taking it every two weeks.'"

She continued, "Alternating one week on, one week off may be something that we start to see in the future become a more common, more official part of the maintenance regimen."

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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