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What We’re Reading: Bird Flu Protective Gear; HPV Vaccine Protects Against Head, Neck Cancers; Tobacco Industry and Vapes

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Many US dairy farms have not yet increased bird flu protections for employees despite the outbreak in cows; the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is linked to a drastic reduction in head and neck cancers in adolescent boys and men; the World Health Organization recently accused tobacco companies of actively trying to hook a new generation on nicotine.

Numerous US Dairy Workers Yet to Receive Protective Bird Flu Gear

Workers, activists, and farmers claimed that many US dairy farms have not yet increased bird flu protections for employees despite the outbreak in cows, according to Reuters. Although the CDC asked states to make protective equipment available to workers after a Texas dairy worker tested positive for bird flu, 7 activists, 3 dairy workers, and 2 lawyers told Reuters that dairy owners have not yet offered equipment to staff who spend 10- to 12-hour days close to cows. Also, the workers said they heard of the new virus affecting cattle through community organizers or the media, not their employers. While farmers downplay the risk of bird flu to workers, epidemiologists are concerned about the risk of more human infections of the virus as it has pandemic potential; this comes amid the recent discovery of a second human bird flu case.

HPV Vaccine Prevents Head, Neck Cancers in Men, Study Finds

New research found that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is linked to a drastic reduction in head and neck cancers in adolescent boys and men, according to NBC News. HPV is a sexually transmitted infection responsible for the majority of cervical cancer cases, but it also accounts for up to 70% of head and neck cancers; the National Cancer Institute noted that men are about twice as likely to develop these cancers than women. Initially approved for adolescent girls, the HPV vaccine protects against strains of the virus linked to cervical cancer. However, there is growing evidence that the vaccine also protects against other HPV-related cancers. A new study found that being vaccinated reduced the overall risk of HPV-related cancers in males by 54%, a decrease primarily driven by a decline in head and neck cancers. These findings are not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal, but they will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference next week.

Tobacco Industry Looks to Hook New Generation on Vapes, WHO Claims

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently accused tobacco companies of trying to hook a new generation on nicotine by targeting young people, according to CBC. Amid strict cigarette regulations, tobacco companies have started offering smoking alternatives, like vapes, which they claim are aimed at adult smokers. However, in a joint report, WHO and industry watchdog Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP) concluded that these products are often marketed to youth due to their designs and flavors. WHO explained that tobacco companies target young people through social media and by sponsoring music and sports festivals; this gives the companies platforms to hand out free samples and promote their brands to younger audiences. Although tobacco companies claim they are marketing vapes for adults as an alternative to cigarettes, WHO noted that there is insufficient evidence that vapes help people quit smoking; instead, evidence shows that vaping increases traditional cigarette use, especially among youth.

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