Top 10 Hot Health Topics for 2021
Are you trying to find out what health topics will dominate next year? Then here are some of the possible hot topics and trends in the health industry that you have to watch out for.
Non-hormonal Birth Control
A non-hormonal birth control option is now available and it is known to have fewer side effects than most of those you can buy today. With that said, expect the popularity of this birth control to rise in 2021. It is Phexxi, which is a gel that is available through prescription. It can make your vagina acidic, making it a hostile environment for sperm.
It is simple to use. Just apply it using a pre-filled applicator before having sex. It may not be as effective as the other birth control methods that are out now, but 86% effectiveness is still a good number. However, it will not protect you from STDs. It is the reason why wearing a condom is still advisable.
The last time that a new birth control method came out was several decades ago, so Phexxi quite a huge breakthrough in the health sciences.
A Promising Stem Cell Treatment for Diabetes
As of writing, more than 1.25 million Americans suffer from Type 1 diabetes. Currently, the only treatments against this disease include a lifetime of diet, painful insulin injections, and blood tests to check sugar levels. However, a Harvard biologist, Doug Melton, is on the verge of a breakthrough involving stem cells. He is using them to create beta cells, the ones designed for insulin production.
Melton’s work started more than ten years ago, back when stem cells were still considered a controversial treatment. He created a tiny implantable device that contains millions upon millions of beta cells. It released glucose and insulin into the bloodstream while preventing the body’s natural immune cells away so it can work properly.
Currently, animal testing results have been very promising, so human trials might be able to begin soon. Melton believes that one day, this treatment can help diabetics live a normal life without strictly watching their diets.
A Wearable Smart Device that can Read your Mind
The time when humans can control computers just by thinking might be nearer than expected. A wearable device, called a CTRL kit, looks just like a simple black wristwatch, but underneath the hood are thousands of microscopic sensors that detect the electric impulses that go through your motor neurons inside the muscles in the forearm. It will then trigger pre-programmed responses in computers.
According to Thomas Reardon, CEO and co-founder of CTRL Labs, the makers of the CTRL-kit, he wants machines to do what humans want, and not the other way around. He says that currently, people are enslaved to their devices, constantly hunched over and fumbling with buttons.
This new technology that his company is still currently developing could essentially open new avenues in terms of rehabilitation methods and accessibility for people who have mobility problems.
The Advent of Remote Medicine
Because of COVID-19, many medical professionals started using the internet for patient consultations. Now, if you could receive the same quality of care via the screen of your smart device as you would when you visit a doctor’s clinic, would you not avail of it? It makes sense for things like routine check-ups and minor ailments.
The COVID-19 pandemic truly caused a considerable rise in the number of virtual medical consultations. Analysts predict that it would breach the one billion mark before 2020 ends. They also speculate that in 2021, more than a third of the online virtual medical appointments would be related to mental health issues.
Aside from greatly reducing the risk of spreading another contagion, remote medicine will allow medical professionals to fit in more consultations into their schedules. It will most likely solve the problem of not having enough medical professionals in highly-populated countries.
Gene-editing May Become a Reality
By 2021, gene editing might already become a reality. It will enable doctors to artificially influence the specific genetic traits that new living cells inherited while the existing cells divide themselves to multiply. These traits, called phenotypes, dictate the longevity of the cells, their durability and endurance against illnesses and injury, among many others.
By manipulating phenotypes through certain techniques, like the CRSPR-Cas9, medical professionals were able to make advancements in treating various ailments. These ailments include Duchenne muscular dystrophy, heart diseases, and even certain types of cancer.
It could lead the way to the faster development of “precision medicine”, allowing doctors to customize the medications of their patients to suit their genetic profile. This can increase their effectiveness exponentially and eliminate any negative side effects.
A Promising Hep-C Treatment
The Center for Disease Control classified Hepatitis C as a “silent epidemic” in the United States. Hepatitis C can lead to very serious and life-threatening illnesses, including but are not limited to, liver cirrhosis, which can later lead to total liver failure and cancer of the liver.
There is currently no vaccine for the Hep-C virus, which is why patients can only rely on medications that usually have negative side-effects. There are even times when the available medications are not that effective on different Hep-C strains. This new fixed-dose combination is said to have more than 90% effectiveness against the Hep C genotypes, which is great news in the health industry this coming year.
Breast Pumps that are Actually Easy to Use
Unfortunately, breastfeeding, while fulfilling for mothers, can be quite taxing. It is true even if you use breast pumps. As it is, it requires sitting in one spot for at least thirty minutes with wires, tubes, and bottles hanging. However, things are starting to change and this year seemed to show the most improvement yet.
You can now find convenient breast pumps, particularly those that you can just slip inside the bra. It allows mothers to pump even while they are walking around and doing regular errands. You can even expect it to work even while the user sleeps. It is even possible for you to find modern pumps that are silent that you can use them even while you are in an online meeting without anyone noticing.
A New and Novel Way for Detecting Alzheimer’s
Just like with other illnesses, early detection of Alzheimer’s is important for the patients to get early treatment. This is essential in dealing with the symptoms and preventing them from getting worse. Before, patients get a diagnosis for Alzheimer’s only when the disease has advanced so far that trying to reverse its effects in any way is meaningless.
However, there is now a way to diagnose Alzheimer’s using a simple blood test. It is almost as accurate as brain imaging and spinal taps. This new test looks for specific combinations of proteins that are indicative of Alzheimer’s disease. Although the prospect of knowing that you’re showing early signs of Alzheimer’s can be pretty anxiety-inducing, it can still help prevent the disease from advancing any further.
Cancer Diagnosis via Computer AI
The problem with diagnosing lung cancer is that it usually comes too late, often when the disease has already progressed to the point that it is almost impossible to treat. Even though lung cancer CT scans could theoretically spot very early signs of cancer, it still comes with its own set of risks.
Shravya Shetty, the research lead of a Google Health team, believes that the solution for early cancer diagnosis is artificial intelligence. Shetty’s team even developed an AI program that consistently outperformed human radiologists when it comes to early detection of lung cancer. The program ran through more than 45,000 CT scans. It managed to detect 5% more cancer cases with 11% fewer false positives compared to the control group consisting of six human radiologists.
Even though these early results look promising, Shetty believes that there is still a big gap between where the AI is right now and where it could potentially be. It is that potential that motivates the team to work even harder to develop it.
A Vaccine for COVID-19
Back in 2019, absolutely no one could have predicted how much of a global impact the COVID-19 virus would create. However, in a span of one year, an unprecedented amount of progress has been made in the search for a vaccine. At the tail end of 2020, there are already several vaccines that show promising results.
Also, unlike when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak and tens of thousands of people were dying on a daily basis, doctors are now able to keep more people alive, thanks to steroidal medication and the use of high-flow oxygen respirators. There are also new diagnostic tests that emerged, each being more efficient than the first when it comes to detecting the disease.
Moreover, it was also discovered that highly-communicable diseases were less likely to spread just by wearing a simple face mask.