This week in health news
Celebrity couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z have adopted a plant-based diet—for a while, anyway. “Psychologists have said it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. On the 22nd day, you’ve found the way,” Jay Z wrote on his Life + Times blog. “On December 3, one day before my 44th birthday, I will embark on a 22 Days challenge to go completely vegan, or as I prefer to call it, plant-based!” The rapper says he’s not sure what will happen after day 22 (their challenge will end Christmas Day), but he promised updates and tips. While the Carters’ temporary meat-free excursion may not be 100 percent health news, it has sparked debate about the pros and cons of a plant-based lifestyle.
President Barack Obama marked World AIDS Day by announcing a new $100 million research initiative at the National Institutes of Health in pursuit of a cure for HIV. The president said the United States should be at the forefront of discoveries to eliminate HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, or put it into remission without requiring lifelong therapy.
Scientists are recruiting people ages 50 to 90 to take part in the final stage of an Alzheimer’s drug trial. The trial, expected to end by December 2016, will look at whether monthly injections of the drug solanezumab will slow the decline of people suffering from mild Alzheimer’s. If all goes well, a “cure” for Alzheimer’s could be seen in five years.
And yet another reason to leave energy drinks on the shelf: A new study shows healthy adults who consume the beverage have altered heart function an hour later. Further study is ongoing to determine the effects on the heart of long-term consumption of energy drinks. An earlier report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that from 2007 to 2011, energy drink-related emergency department visits doubled.
U.S. pregnancy rates continue to decline, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate reached a 12-year low in 2009, when there were about 102 pregnancies for every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44,a 12 percent drop since 1990, when the rate was 116 pregnancies per 1,000 women. The downward trend is being driven by improved access to birth control and women putting off childbearing until later in life, say experts.