Can your cat give you COVID? Plus, FDA approves severe alopecia pill, and more health news

Want reliable diet advice? Don’t go to TikTok

A new study warns that the social media giant TikTok is filled with confusing and wrong information about the heart-healthy, plant-based approach to eating dubbed the Mediterranean diet.

For the study, researchers analyzed 200 videos posted to the platform last August. They were the first to pop up on a search for content tagged #mediterraneandiet. By definition, that tag, or label, suggests the videos are likely to likely contain diet-specific information.

But any of TikTok’s roughly 1 billion users who checked them out would find that less than 1 in 10 included any definition of the term.

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FDA approves first pill to treat severe Alopecia

The first pill to treat adults with severe alopecia was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday.

Olumiant (baricitinib) is the first FDA-approved alopecia therapy that treats the entire body rather than a specific spot, the agency said in a news release announcing the approval.

“Access to safe and effective treatment options is crucial for the significant number of Americans affected by severe alopecia,” Dr. Kendall Marcus, director of the Division of Dermatology and Dentistry in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA, said in the news release. “Today’s approval will help fulfill a significant unmet need for patients with severe alopecia areata.”

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In rare cases, your cat can give you COVID

The first reported case of a cat giving COVID-19 to a person shouldn’t alarm pet owners, but a Canadian expert says it’s a reminder to take precautions.

“I think it’s important for us to recognize this virus still can move between species,” veterinary specialist Dr. Scott Weese recently told the New York Times.

The case involving spread of SARS-CoV-2 from a cat to a veterinarian in Thailand didn’t come as surprise because pet-to-human transmission has long seemed possible, according to Weese, a professor at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College. He is also director of the university’s Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses.

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Beer might do a man’s ‘microbiome’ good

Putting a new spin on the term “beer gut,” a small study suggests that a bottle a day may do a man’s gut bacteria some good.

In a clinical trial of 19 healthy men, researchers found that a daily bottle of beer — alcoholic or non-alcoholic — changed the composition of the men’s gut bacteria over four weeks. Specifically, either type of beer boosted the diversity in their gut microbes.

In general, greater diversity in gut bacteria is considered better than less diversity. Experts cautioned, however, that it’s unclear whether people would gain any health benefits from the gut changes seen in this short-term trial.

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Could lots of sugary sodas raise a woman’s odds for liver cancer?

Sodas and other sugar-sweetened drinks may raise a woman’s odds of developing liver cancer, new research suggests.

A study of more than 90,000 postmenopausal women found that those who drank at least one sugar-sweetened beverage a day had a 78% higher risk, compared with those who drank fewer than three a month.

“Our findings suggest sugar-sweetened beverages are a potentially modifiable risk factor for liver cancer,” said senior author Dr. Xuehong Zhang, an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

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Skin tags? moles? Products promising to treat them can do real harm

It may seem tempting to remove a mole or skin tag you don’t like with a product that promises to make them disappear quickly.

Don’t do it, experts say.

Dermatologists and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration both warn about the dangers of using unregulated products for do-it-yourself removal of moles, skin tags and another type of growth known as seborrheic keratoses.

Not only could doing so cause scarring and infection, but it can also mask skin cancer and make it harder for doctors to identify and treat promptly.

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