What We’re Reading: Processed Food Carries Cancer Risk; Updated COVID-19 Boosters Endorsed; PDT Tool Supports Inmates in Recovery

New studies have linked a diet of ultra-processed food to a higher risk of colorectal cancer and to an overall risk of mortality; the CDC endorsed the updated booster shots from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech for use against the omicron variant; South Carolina Department of Corrections and Pear Therapeutics are teaming up to support inmates recovering from substance use disorders.

Processed Foods Hold Greater Risk of Cancer, Death

A pair of studies has found that frequent consumption of processed foods—such as hot dogs, cheese puffs, soda, and French fries—has a greater risk of mortality and cancer than their more natural counterparts, according to NBC News. The first study that was conducted in Italy found that people who consumed large quantities of processed food had a higher risk of death overall and mortality from heart disease in particular. The second study from the United States found that men who consumed more than 9 servings of processed food per day on average had a 29% increased risk of colorectal cancer compared with men who only had 3 servings per day.

CDC Endorses Updated COVID-19 Boosters

Vaccine boosters produced by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech that target the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus have been endorsed by the CDC, which will help open use for the boosters in the fall. The vaccines should be arriving in pharmacies and clinics within the next several days. The decision came after the advisory board for the CDC had voted in favor of recommendation. The shots are what are referred to as “bivalent” shots, which combines half of the original vaccine and half protection against the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron versions.

PDT Tool Made to Help Inmates With Substance Use Disorders

A prescription digital therapeutic (PDT) will be offered to female inmates who are recovering from opioid or other substance use disorders, according to a press release from Pear Therapeutics. The service will be developed by the South Carolina Department of Corrections and Pear Therapeutics and is funded by the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services. The move attempts to address the issue of substance use disorder in inmates, where the National Institute on Drug Abuse has estimated that 85% of the prison population has an active substance use disorder or were incarcerated for a crime involving drugs.