Medical notes this week…
This year’s flu season is barely over but a new analysis predicts that next fall’s flu vaccine is likely to be just as ineffective as this year’s. The study in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases estimates that next fall’s flu vaccine will be only 20 percent effective against the dominant strain of influenza A. However, that’s better than nothing, so health officials are likely to say a flu shot is still worth it. Researchers say mass production of the vaccine produces mutations cutting its effectiveness by nearly 30 percent.
A lot of people take calcium supplements for bone health. But a new study finds that calcium may increase the risk of one kind of colon polyps that can later turn cancerous. The study in the journal Gut shows that calcium supplements raise the risk of sessile serrated polyps in the colon. Researchers say the increased risk is greatest in smokers and those with a previous history of polyps in the colon.
And finally… researchers say that the world’s supply of chocolate is in danger. It’s all because of a group of viruses in the six West African countries that produce 70 percent of the world’s cocoa. A study in the Virology Journal finds that the mysterious viruses can kill trees in less than a year. However, farmers are reluctant to take down diseased trees if they’re still bearing pods and that spreads the disease quickly. scientists hope to use gene editing to develop virus-resistant plants.