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Health notes: Bacteria on your earbuds

Study finds medical marijuana benefit

Medical marijuana may help some cancer patients manage their symptoms.

So says a study released last week by the Minnesota Department of Health and the Oncology Research Center at HealthPartners/Park Nicollet.

More than a thousand cancer patients enrolled in Minnesota's medical marijuana program between July 1, 2015, and Dec. 31, 2017, were included in the study, according to a health department news release. Using a numerical scale, the patients reported severity of eight symptoms before each medical marijuana purchase. Many of them reported a reduction of the severity after beginning to use medical marijuana and maintained that benefit for at least four months.

The research was published recently in the Journal of Oncology Practice.

Child death reported from flu

Although the influenza season seems to be waning in Minnesota, the first pediatric death of the season has been reported.

The Minnesota Department of Health reported that 99 people were hospitalized with flu in the state during the week ending April 6, according to preliminary numbers. That brings the total number for the season to 2,261. Five people were hospitalized in Northeastern Minnesota, bringing the total to 182.

So far this season, 69 people have died because of influenza in Minnesota. The median age of those who died is 74.

The health department continues to rate the geographic spread of the flu as regional.

Way worse than a cutting board

If you use earbuds, listen to this: They contain 2,708 times more bacteria than a cutting board.

Also 330 times more bacteria than a kitchen counter and six times more bacteria than a kitchen faucet.

That's what reported last week about a study by its researchers. They swabbed various personal devices and compared the number of "colony-forming units" (CFU) with already known numbers from kitchens. They found only 22 CFU on personal cell phones (compared with just 5 CFU for paper money) but 11,210 CFU on in-store display phones.

So wash your hands after visiting the phone store, the SeniorLiving folks suggest. And it's a good idea to sanitize your phone and headphones from time to time.


• The National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota will have a free workshop from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 4 in the Westwood Community Room at the Benedictine Living Community of Duluth, 935 Kenwood Ave. Intended for family and friends of a teen or adult with a mental illess and for people living with a mental illness who are doing well in recovery, the workshop offers information on mental illness, treatments, crisis management, suicide prevention, the mental health system and local resources. For information or to register, call (651) 645-2948 or see "classes" at

• Volunteers and professionals are being sought to be class leaders for workshops helping people deal with chronic conditions. Spring leader trainings will be from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 8, 9, 14 and 15 at the Missabe Building, 227 W. First St., Suite 950. The cost is $200, and limited scholarships are available. Space is limited to 14 people, and the deadline for registration is May 1. For more information, visit