Good news about health dur­ing 2016

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Lenny Bernstein

In a year of birth de­fects from the Zika virus, lead con­tam­i­na­tion of Flint’s water, a star­tling de­cline in life ex­pectancy and the ev­er­ris­ing death toll from opi­oid over­doses, there was, in fact, some good news about health.

In keep­ing with the hol­i­day spirit, and in recog­ni­tion of the vast sums of money de­voted to our well­be­ing, please con­sider some of the bright spots from last year.

• The num­ber of peo­ple who smoke con­tin­ued to de­cline to record lows. This partly con­trib­uted to the lone bright spot in the life ex­pectancy re­port: Can­cer rates are down, although the dis­ease re­mains the No. 2 killer of Amer­i­cans. Teen preg­nancy rates also con­tin­ued their record-set­ting slide.

• Another rea­son can­cer rates have dropped: New im­munother­apy drugs are hav­ing a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact for a longer pe­riod of time against a wider ar­ray of can­cers.

• There’s new hope for an HIV vac­cine; it’s be­ing tested right now. A vac­cine against Ebola proved 100 per­cent ef­fec­tive in a study in Guinea. And more boys are be­ing vac­ci­nated against HPV. A lot more.

• A woman re­ceived the first uterus trans­plant per­formed in the United States in Fe­bru­ary. (It soon failed how­ever, be­cause of in­fec­tion.)

• Some out­side-the-box think­ing may ex­pand the pool of avail­able or­gans for trans­plant.

• And another in­no­va­tive project gave a par­a­lyzed man a sense of touch.

• Sci­en­tists found a new an­tibi­otic in an un­likely place: in­side the hu­man nose.

• A new way of safe­guard­ing chil­dren from po­ten­tially lethal peanut al­ler­gies ap­pears to pro­vide last­ing pro­tec­tion.

• A sharp-eyed lab tech, the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion, and two good hos­pi­tals saved a Bal­ti­more man from cer­tain death when he picked up a rare par­a­site.

• At 70, a man un­der­went the gen­der-al­ter­ing surgery he al­ways wanted, sup­ported by his wife of 48 years.

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