The year is coming to a close, and that naturally inspires us to look back. When we go through all the health news from 2014, what stands out? Which so-called breakthroughs really stood up to the label? And how do things look for 2015?
Here’s a sampling of the biggest health stories of 2014, which gives us an idea of what might make headlines in the year to come.
It’s hard to deny that the ebola outbreak was one of the top news stories of the year. While the outbreak continues–there have now been more than 19,000 cases and 7,500 deaths–there is also good news to report. There are now treatment centres for ebola set up in even the most remote areas, bringing help to affected people in West Africa. Several American health-care workers who contracted the disease survived. And early results on a vaccine are promising. Here’s hoping that our ebola updates in 2015 include news of a vaccine and an end to the current outbreak.
In positive news, this is the year that CVS remembered that it’s a health store and stopped selling cigarettes, even knowing that the move would cost them a lot of money. Bravo! The FDA also took a harder look at e-cigarettes this year, proposing restrictions on their use and sale. The agency is asking for public comment on possible regulations until April, so now is your chance to speak up if you have concerns about e-cigarettes.
Food Label Changes
The FDA also shone a light on food labels this year, and the result is that they might soon look different–and be hopefully be easier to understand. The new labels would make it easier to understand serving sizes, highlight calorie counts more obviously, and revise the daily value amounts for nutrients. If the proposal goes through as planned, labels will also have to separate out added sugars.
Ice Bucket Challenge
It seems long ago now, but the Ice Bucket Challenge took over social media this summer–resulting in an impressive $100 million raised for organizations working to fight ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a devastating neurodegenerative illness. That money has sped up clinical trials studying the disease, and hopefully will get us closer to better treatments and a cure.
The death by suicide of Robin Williams came as a shock to many, and was certainly a loss for the entertainment community–and, of course, for Williams’ loved ones. But if there can be a silver lining, it’s that it brought discussion of mental health to the forefront, something that will hopefully reduce stigma and save more lives in the future. We’ve written here about how to stay mentally healthy during the holidays–a tough time for many–and the rest of the year. We hope the discussion continues here and elsewhere in 2015, to ensure that everyone goes into the next year healthy, happy, and mentally well.