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Morning Medical Update: Penicillin shortage as syphilis cases rise; U.S. cigarette smoking rate at all time low; What makes ‘junk food’ junk?

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The top news stories in primary care today.

doctor morning hands © Alena Kryazheva - stock.adobe.com

© Alena Kryazheva - stock.adobe.com

Penicillin shortage as syphilis cases rise

Syphilis cases are on the rise which means penicillin is getting harder to find. Syphilis cases have risen 32% since 2021, the biggest jump since 1990. This shortage particularly affects babies born with it since penicillin is the only treatment option for them. Syphilis caused at least 220 stillbirths and infant deaths in 2021, which is almost double the amount in 2020.

U.S. cigarette smoking rate at all time low

Only 11% of adults in the U.S. smoke cigarettes now. In 1940s, that number was 50%. While cigarettes have become less socially acceptable, e-cigarettes have gained popularity, specifically with teenagers. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 14% of highschoolers use e-cigarettes.

What makes ‘junk food’ junk?

Junk food accounts for 15% of all calories consumed in the United States. But what exactly is it? Experts are trying to categorize it for a potential tax. Junk food taxes are not common in the U.S. but other countries like Hungary have seen some success. "An advantage of excise taxes is that food companies may be motivated to reformulate their products to be healthier to avoid taxation," said Sean Cash of the Friedman School at Tufts, in a news release. “How we tax foods is not just a tool for steering consumers away from the least healthy options, but also for encouraging healthy innovations in what ends up on the supermarket shelves."

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