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Health Highlights: Feb. 6, 2020


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

U.S. Flavored E-Cigarette Products Ban Will Have Little Effect: Experts

The U.S. ban on certain flavored e-cigarette products that takes effect Thursday will do little to stem teens' use of nicotine, experts say.

Youth-friendly flavors such as mint and fruit are targeted by the ban, but menthol and tobacco flavors will still be legal. And the ban applies only to cartridge or pre-filled pod devices. All other devices will still be on the market, NBC News reported.

That includes highly concentrated, refillable nicotine vape products called Smok and Suorin Drops, and disposable vape pods called Puff Bars.

"I'm not very optimistic," Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, a professor at Stanford University who studies teen vaping, told NBC News. "We really do need to have enforcement of the law across all tobacco products, regardless of these loopholes."

"The new policy does not solve the problem," Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told NBC News. "Millions of flavored products will remain available."

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Kirk Douglas Dies at Age 103

Movie legend Kirk Douglas died Wednesday at age 103.

His death at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. was announced in a statement posted by son Michael Douglas on his Facebook page, The New York Times reported.

Kirk Douglas suffered a severe stroke in 1996 and had a long and difficult recovery.

He was one of the last surviving stars from Hollywood's golden age and was in notable films such as "Lust for Life," "Spartacus" and "Paths of Glory," the Times reported.

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WHO Seeks $675 Million for Coronavirus Fight

The World Health Organization (WHO) is seeking $675 million to help countries deal with the expected spread of the new coronavirus that originated in China.

That's a large amount, but is "much less than the bill we will face if we do not invest in preparedness now," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Associated Press reported.

In the last 24 hours, WHO has recorded the largest increase in cases since the start of the epidemic, according to Tedros.

He also downplayed published comments by a WHO coronavirus emergency committee member who called China's initial response to the outbreak "reprehensible" and said that cases were reported too slowly.

"I don't think it helps now," to speculate about early mistakes in the epidemic, Tedros said, the AP reported. "Let's take the action we can take today to prevent this outbreak from spreading all over the world."

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Medical 'Yarn' Is Made From Human Skin

"Yarn" made from human skin that could be used in a number of medical procedures, including stitching up surgical incisions and repairing organs, scientists say.

The string-like "human textile" is developed from skin cells and would have the ability to "truly integrate into the host's body," according to the researchers at the University of Bordeaux in France, CNN reported.

"This novel strategy holds the promise of a next generation of medical textiles that will be mechanically strong without any foreign scaffolding," they reported in the journal Acta Biomaterialia.

"This material can be used as a simple suture to close a wound or can be assembled into fully biological, human" tissue, they noted.

The researchers said that unlike synthetic material currently used in most surgeries, this yarn wouldn't pose any risk of causing a reaction in patients' bodies, CNN reported.

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