Want to Take Better Care of Your Contacts? The CDC Is Hosting a Facebook Live Discussion with Tips

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Contact lenses provide wearers the opportunity to see clearly and comfortably. At the same time, they create a risk of eye infection if not handled properly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wants contact wearers to start practicing better hygiene, and they'll be hosting an event on the subject through Facebook Live on Monday, August 20.

The Facebook Live talk kicks off Contact Lens Health Week, a collaboration between the CDC and the American Academy of Ophthalmology and American Academy of Optometry. This year's theme is "Healthy Habits Mean Healthy Eyes," and the online panel discussion will focus on the practices contact wearers should follow on a daily basis to protect their eyes—as well as which behaviors to avoid.

Allowing harmful microbes to enter your eyes through your contacts can lead to inflammation and infection, which is uncomfortable at best and threatening to your vision at worst. According to the CDC, you should always make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching your eyes or lenses. Never expose your contacts to any fluids other than your cleaning solution, including water from a shower, pool, or hot tub. And, yes, falling asleep in your contacts really is as bad as your optometrist says it is: At night, your eyes become a more hospitable environment for bacteria, and a contact lens can basically act like a Petri dish.

For more eye hygiene tips, you can tune in to the CDC's Facebook Live event on their page on August 20 at 1 p.m. EDT. Check out our list of deadly sins for contact lens wearers in the meantime.

FDA Recalls Thyroid Medications Due to Contamination Risk

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Hypothyroid medications manufactured by Westminster Pharmaceuticals have been recalled after it was discovered that one of the company’s Chinese suppliers failed to meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards, CNN reports.

The oral tablets contain levothyroxine (LT4) and liothyronine (LT3), which are both synthetic hormones used to treat thyroid conditions.

The medicine was recalled as a precaution after it was discovered during a 2017 FDA inspection that the Chinese supplier in question, Sichuan Friendly Pharmaceutical Co., was not practicing good manufacturing practices.

However, patients with serious thyroid conditions shouldn’t throw out their pills just yet. No adverse effects from the medication have been reported, and the risk of not taking the medication outweighs the risk of taking a recalled pill.

According to the FDA, “Because these products may be used in the treatment of serious medical conditions, patients taking the recalled medicines should continue taking their medicine until they have a replacement product.”

For more information on the specific lots and products in question, visit the FDA’s website.

[h/t CNN]

A 'Zombie Gene' Might Be the Reason Elephants Rarely Get Cancer

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When it comes to cancer rates in the animal kingdom, elephants are an anomaly. As Popular Science notes, cancer should be more common among larger species, but with elephants, that simply isn’t the case. Only about 5 percent of elephants die from cancer, compared to 11 to 25 percent of humans.

In a new study, published in Cell Reports, University of Chicago researchers found what’s believed to be the genetic source of elephants’ cancer immunity. Elephants, like all mammals, have a gene called LIF that is known to suppress tumors. Humans have one copy of this gene, but elephants have 10 copies, which have developed over 80 million years of evolution. However, only one of those copies, called LIF6, is functional in elephants.

The other LIF copies are essentially dead because they lack a specific piece of DNA to make them function. At some point during the evolutionary process, the LIF6 gene copy turned back on, but scientists don’t know why or when this occurred. This “zombie gene” helps kill mutated cells, in true Night of the Living Dead fashion.

“This reanimation of LIF6 occurred perhaps over 59 million years,” Joshua Schiffman, who studies cancer in elephants but was not involved in the study, told Popular Science. “That’s an amazingly long period of time for nature to modify and perfect an anticancer mechanism.”

Scientists aren’t yet sure how this could be applied to cancer research in humans, but they say it’s a promising start and a creative approach to the problem. While these findings are still fresh and need to be duplicated, it raises the possibility of creating a drug that mimics the function of LIF6.

[h/t Popular Science]

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