Medical notes this week…

An aggressive form of breast cancer called metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer accounts for up to 20 percent of the disease. It’s especially hard to treat when the cancer has spread to the brain. Now studies in the New England Journal of Medicine describe two experimental drugs that show promise in women who’ve failed treatment with other drugs. One of the drugs, Tucatinib (too-cat-in-ib), reduced the risk of disease progression or death by nearly half. Patients taking the other drug, called TDXD, had a disease control rate of 97 percent. However, both of the drugs have potentially serious side effects. 

As we reported a couple of months ago, suicides have increased by 33 percent in the United States over the last 20 years. Now the federal communications commission has started the process to create a three-digit number similar to 911 that connects to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. The number would be 988 once the plan receives final approval and is put into service. That could take about 18 months. In the meantime, the suicide hotline number remains 800-273-talk. 

Claims of fake news are in the headlines a lot…but it appears that teenagers aren’t very good at telling the difference between real and fake. A study from Stanford University shows that high school students often believe whatever a web page says. For example, more than half of high schoolers were fooled by a facebook video claiming to show voter fraud in the United States…when it was actually shot in Russia.  

And finally…can magic mushrooms be used to treat depression? A new study finds that the active ingredient, psilocybin, can be used safely under supervision. The study presented to the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology finds that psilocybin can treat depression in just a few sessions when combined with therapy, similar to the way that ecstasy is being used for PTSD.


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