Health Highlights: Oct. 4, 2018

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

Listeria Contamination in Ham Products Linked to One Death

Listeria contamination in ready-to-eat ham products from Johnston County Hams of North Carolina has been linked with one death and three illnesses, health officials report.

The company has recalled more than 89,000 pounds of the products produced between April 3, 2017, and Oct. 2, 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, USA Today reported.

The products weighed between seven and eight pounds and were shipped to distributors in North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, Maryland and Virginia.

The ham products were plastic-wrapped and carried a number of different labels: Johnston County Hams Inc., Country Style Fully Cooked Boneless Deli Ham; Goodnight Brothers Country Ham Boneless Fully Cooked; Padow's Hams & Deli, Inc. Fully Cooked Country Ham Boneless Glazed with Brown Sugar.

Ole Fashioned Sugar Cured, The Old Dominion Brand Hams Premium Fully Cooked Country Ham; and Premium Fully Cooked Country Ham, Less Salt distributed by Valley Country Hams LLC had sell-by dates from April 10, 2018 to Sept. 27, 2019, USA Today reported.

The listeria cases occurred between July 8, 2017 and Aug. 11, 2018, according to the USDA.

The agency is concerned that some shoppers may have the ham products in their freezers, and said consumers with the products should should throw them away or return them to the store where they were purchased, USA Today reported.

The Listeria monocytogenes bacteria in the ham products can cause a serious infection called listeriosis. Each year in the United States, about 1,600 people get listeriosis, and about 260 die, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It said those most at risk for illness include pregnant women and their newborns, adults aged 65 or older, and people with weakened immune systems, USA Today reported.

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Marijuana a Threat to Teens' Brains: Study

Marijuana may cause long-term damage to teens' brains, a new study finds.

Canadian researchers followed 3,800 adolescents for four years, starting at about age 13, and found that marijuana use had a greater effect on their skills, memory and behavior than alcohol, BBC News reported.

The more the teens used marijuana, the worse these types of problems. And unlike alcohol, the harmful effects on the brain caused by marijuana were lasting, according to the University of Montreal study published Oct. 3 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

"Their brains are still developing but cannabis is interfering with that," said lead author Patricia Conrod, a professor in the department of psychiatry. "They should delay their use of cannabis as long as they can."

She added that the findings highlight the importance of drug prevention programs, BBC News reported.

Among the teens in the study, 28 percent admitted to at least some marijuana use, and 75 percent said they used alcohol at least occasionally.

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U.S., British Scientists Awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Protein Research

Three scientists have been awarded this year's Nobel Prize in chemistry for harnessing evolution to create new proteins used in medications and other products.

The award is shared by Frances Arnold, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, George Smith, of the University of Missouri, and Gregory Winter, of the MRC molecular biology lab in Cambridge, England, the Associated Press reported.

The scientists "have taken control of evolution and used it for purposes that bring the greatest benefit to humankind," the Nobel committee said.

The researchers triggered mutations in proteins to create desired versions.

Their work has led to the creation of medications and biofuels, and helped reduce the environmental harm from some industrial processes, the AP reported.

Arnold is only the fifth woman to win a Nobel Prize in chemistry since the awards began in 1901.

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