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Health Highlights: May 28, 2019

Last Updated: May 28, 2019.

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Fewer U.S. Adults Being Diagnosed With Diabetes: CDC

It's unclear why new cases of diabetes among U.S. adults are decreasing while obesity rates continue to climb, experts say.

The number of new diabetes cases fell from 1.7 million in 2009 to 1.3 million in 2017, according to federal data released Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

"The bottom line is we don't know for sure what's driving these trends," said Dr. Stephen Benoit, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the lead author of the report in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.

Possible reasons include changes in testing and getting people to make healthy lifestyle changes before they develop diabetes, the AP reported.

The data show that the rate of new diabetes cases fell from 9.2 per 1,000 in 2009 to 6 per 1,000 U.S. adults in 2017, a 35% drop. That's longest decline since the government started tracking the data nearly 40 years ago, according to the CDC.

The decrease mainly occurred among white adults. Diabetes has continued to rise among young adults and blacks and Hispanics, the AP reported.

And despite the decline in the number of new cases, the number of Americans with diabetes has been stable at 80 per 1,000 adults, or about 21 million.


Work Burnout, Gaming Addiction Classified as Diseases by WHO

Work burnout is now a legitimate medical diagnosis, and gaming addiction is a mental health disorder, the World Health Organization says.

They will be included in the WHO's International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), which guides medical providers in diagnosing diseases.

Burnout is now included in the handbooks' section on problems related to employment or unemployment, CNN reported.

The handbook says doctors can diagnose someone with burnout if they have the following symptoms: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from their job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to their job; and reduced professional efficacy.

But before diagnosing burnout, doctors should first rule out adjustment disorder and anxiety and mood disorders, according to the handbook. It also said the diagnosis is restricted to work, and not applicable to other areas of life, CNN reported.

In terms of gaming addiction, the handbook says it's a disorder "characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences," Newsweek reported.

The WHO noted that "studies suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities."

The American Psychiatric Association has been reluctant to categorize gaming as an addiction. It says research is ongoing, including whether gaming is a sign of depression or anxiety, Newsweek reported.

A number of experts also question WHO's decision to include gaming disorder in the updated ICD, which will not be adopted until 2022.

More than 150 million Americans play video games, and 60% of Americans play every day, according to the Entertainment Software Association, Newsweek reported.


FDA Approves Most Expensive Medicine in U.S. History

The most expensive medicine ever has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Zolgensma is a one-time infusion gene therapy that costs $2.125 million and treats a rare disorder called spinal muscular atrophy, the Associated Press reported.

The inherited condition weakens muscles to the point that the child becomes unable to move, and eventually can't swallow or breathe. The condition affects about 400 babies born in the U.S. each year.

Zolgensma is sold by Swiss drugmaker Novartis. The company said it will allow insurers to make payments over five years, at $425,000 per year. Out-of-pocket costs for patients will vary based on insurance coverage, the AP reported.

There is another FDA-approved medicine approved for spinal muscular atrophy. It's Biogen's Spinraza and is given every four months. The list price is $750,000 for the first year and $350,000 a year after that.


LGBT Health Discrimination Protection Targeted by Trump Administration

Health care discrimination protection for transgender people would be rolled back under a Trump administration proposal.

The proposed regulation from the Health and Human Services Department essentially says that "gender identity" is not protected under federal laws that prohibit discrimination, the Associated Press reported.

The move will lead to wave of discrimination, LGBT groups warn.

There is a 60-day comment period on the proposal, which would face another round of review before being finalized. Court challenges are likely.

This is the latest in series of moves by the Trump administration to limit or revoke Obama-era protections for LGBT people in a number of areas, ranging from housing to military service, the AP reported.


Brain, Heart Deaths More Common in Pro Football Than Baseball

The risk of death from degenerative brain diseases and heart disease is higher among pro football players than baseball players, a new study says.

It included 6,100 athletes born before 1965 who competed for at least five seasons in the NFL or Major League Baseball and who died between 1979 through 2013, the Associated Press reported.

There were 517 deaths among NFL players, at an average age of 60. There were 431 deaths among baseball players, at an average age 67.

Brain diseases caused or contributed to 39 NFL player deaths, compared with 16 deaths among baseball players. Heart disease caused or contributed to 498 deaths among NFL players, compared with 225 deaths among baseball players, the AP reported.

The study was published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

The reasons for the differences between the two groups are unclear, and more studies are needed, the researchers said.

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