March 4, 2023 - PBS News Weekend full episode
03/04/2023 | 24m 9s | Video has closed captioning.
March 4, 2023 - PBS News Weekend full episode
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
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03/04/2023 | 24m 9s | Video has closed captioning.
March 4, 2023 - PBS News Weekend full episode
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
JOHN YANG: Tonight on "PBS News Weekend," we dig into a new study that links the use of a popular artificial sweetener to a greater risk of blood clots.
Then, a look at the state of the movie industry as it adjust to changing viewing habits.
And a Brief But Spectacular take on memory loss and healthy aging.
DY SUHARYA: I think people in general might think that being old is frail, weak, isolated, lonely, but at the end of the day, it's just the mindset.
(BREAK) JOHN YANG: Good evening, I'm John Yang.
In the mountains of Southern California, some communities are still buried beneath mounds of snow after an unprecedented blizzard left people trapped in their homes for days.
Officials warn some residents could be snowed in for another week.
Some say they're running out of food, medicine, water and propane for heating.
13 counties are under a state of emergency.
And more snow is on the way for Northern California.
The Sierras could see up to four to five feet.
Recovery efforts carried on today in East Palestine, Ohio after that toxic train derailment last month.
The EPA said it will test the area for dioxin contamination as residents health concerns mount.
The Salvation Army says it will stay in the community to provide water and other aid while work to remove the damaged train tracks is underway.
Self-help author Marianne Williamson is running for president again.
She announced her longshot Democratic primary challenge to President Biden today in Washington.
Williamson ran in 2020 despite some debate performances that went viral she dropped out before the Iowa caucuses.
And tough guy actor Tom Sizemore has died.
He was as well known for his problems with the laws.
He was for his roles in major films like Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down and Natural Born Killers.
He twice went to prison once for physically abusing an ex-girlfriend and once for drug possession.
He'd been in a coma on life support since suffering a brain aneurysm two weeks ago and died last night.
Sizemore was 61 years old.
Still to come on "PBS News weakened," the link between the use of a popular artificial sweetener and greater risk of blood clots, and a Brief But Spectacular take on improving Alzheimer's patients quality of life.
(BREAK) JOHN YANG: For decades, Americans have been consuming sugar substitutes in their morning coffee, their desserts in their diet drinks, but from the early days of artificial sweeteners questions have been raised about their safety.
Now a new study has found that a popular artificial sweetener called Erythritol has been linked to greater risk of blood clots that could lead to heart attacks or strokes.
Erythritol is used in sugar substitutes like Splenda Naturals and Truvia.
Earlier I spoke with one of the study's authors, Dr. Stanley Hazen of the Cleveland Clinic.
DR. STANLEY HAZEN, Cleveland Clinic: We were looking for new pathways that contribute to cardiac disease risk.
And so we're measuring in patient blood samples, different compounds to see whether or not they predicted the future risk of heart attack stroke or death and what we found is that at the very top of the list turned out to be a compound that once we discovered its structure, it turned out to be Erythritol.
So then we added Erythritol to did mechanistic studies by giving Erythritol to animals, and showing that they developed thrombotic events like a heart attack or stroke.
That's a clot in the vessel that feeds the heart or the brain.
And we also saw when you add Erythritol to blood, it increase the likelihood of clotting.
JOHN YANG: What products that might be on people's shelves or in the refrigerators would have Erythritol.
DR. STANLEY HAZEN: You find it in keto foods, zero sugar foods, many highly processed foods, where it replaces sugar and provides the same sweetness of sugar but zero calories, it has become very common to find it in highly processed foods.
It's also in things like condiments and even, you know, oral care products like cholesterol we make it ourselves and the natural variation and how much a person has in their blood.
Some people have higher levels, other people have lower levels.
But then when you eat Erythritol in like an artificially sweetened pint of keto friendly ice cream, for example, it became, you know, super physiologic outside the normal range, and it took days for it to come down below the threshold of what we think is promoting enhanced clotting risk.
JOHN YANG: Erythritol has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Do you think that approval should be reconsidered in light of this new evidence?
DR. STANLEY HAZEN: I don't know if I would go so far as saying reconsidered, I think that further safety studies are definitely called for.
This was unexpected.
Our studies were done in an agnostic way.
Like is there a compound a chemical in blood that predicts future risk of disease, and it just so happened that Erythritol just showed up at the top of the pile as being a predictor of future events and then it may be that it's only really more important for people who are more vulnerable to experiencing heart attack or stroke, like people who have existing heart disease or diabetes or obesity.
Of course, those are the very people who are reaching for the artificial sweeteners to try to do something that's beneficial for their health, with lower calories and, you know, weight reduction or better control of their diabetes in their blood sugar.
JOHN YANG: Researchers not involved in this study have noted while they agree that it's not proved to be safe, there's not enough research to say if long term use is safe, they do say that the fact that most of your study subjects either had cardiovascular disease or had risk factors for cardiovascular disease might have skewed some of the numbers, but you're saying that those are the very people who would be using these products?
DR. STANLEY HAZEN: Well, if you look at who uses artificial sweeteners, it's more common in people who are obese, or have diabetes, or other conditions where they're trying to limit their calories and limit their blood sugar increases, it is clear that Erythritol when ingested does not make your blood sugar go up.
However, I should point out that beyond our study, there have been a couple of randomized trials looking at artificial sweeteners, including Erythritol for weight reduction or improvement in blood sugar, and many times they have not shown beneficial effects.
So it certainly deserves further attention and further study.
JOHN YANG: What would be your advice to people who are watching and maybe eating and drinking these products should they be concerned?
DR. STANLEY HAZEN: I do think there's reason to try and avoid the use of Erythritol.
I am recommending to my patients that they actually try natural sweeteners and, you know, just watch the calories, watch their blood sugar, if they're diabetic, make sure that they use moderation so that they don't gain weight.
And if they want something to sweeten a beverage, you know use a little bit of honey or a little bit of sugar.
We know that those are actually in moderation, not going to be increasing their risk over the next couple of days for experiencing a heart attack or stroke.
I just hope that people understand that a compound like Erythritol, everything is not all black and white.
There may be shades of gray and it may be actually that it is beneficial in terms of an alternative to sugar and being a low-calorie alternative from a diabetes standpoint, or obesity standpoint.
But I think the exciting thing about this actually is we now recognize this is a pathway just like cholesterol that is linked to causing heart disease that's in every one of us.
And so in the future there may be therapeutic approaches to help modify this pathway and contribute to better treatments for heart disease.
That's where I'm most excited and enthusiastic about this.
JOHN YANG: Dr. Stanley Hazen of the Cleveland Clinic, thank you very much.
DR. STANLEY HAZEN: Oh, thank you for having me.
JOHN YANG: The Academy Awards are just around the corner.
And Hollywood's big night this year comes as what it means to watch a movie is changing.
Theater box office receipts have bounced back from the darkest days of the pandemic, but they're still below what they were before the fear of COVID Empty theaters.
And more people say they prefer seeing a movie for the first time at home on a streaming service than say they'd rather see it in a theater.
Matthew Belloni is host of The Town podcast, which looks at the inner workings of Hollywood.
Matthew, everyone talks about Box Office, theater business, getting back to pre-pandemic numbers, but has so much changed in viewing habits and technology, that the whole industry is just going to look different?
MATTHEW BELLONI, HOST, "THE TOWN": Absolutely, it already does look different.
And even when people say we are back, we're not really back.
The gross receipts for 2022 were down about 30%, 35% from 2019 pre-pandemic, and that coincided with about a 30% reduction in the number of the movies that went to theaters that year.
It's going to be a little bit better this year.
So the hope is at the Box Office will bounce back a little bit more.
But we are not in pre-pandemic levels.
And the question is, will we ever go back to that?
Because it's pretty clear that audience habits and preferences have changed and they want to watch more at home.
JOHN YANG: You say that movies going to theaters, has declined our movies being produced has that changed?
MATTHEW BELLONI: No, it's funny.
There have actually never been more original movies produced in a year than there are right now.
It's just that the majority of them are going to streaming.
If you look at what Netflix is doing, they're producing dozens of original movies every year, other streaming services are doing the same.
And then you have all the movies that go directly to theaters and then go through different windows on pay TV and streaming, put those all-together.
It's a pretty significant number of movies.
It's just that the entire business of Hollywood for almost 100 years has been based on the theatrical model where movies go to theaters first primarily, and then they hit all the different windows.
And that is changing.
JOHN YANG: Is there a type of movie that still draws people to theaters?
MATTHEW BELLONI: Well, what we've seen is that there are some obvious ones like the big budget intellectual property-driven movies like The Superhero movies, or a movie like Top Gun: Maverick or Avatar that are big budget spectacle type movies, and then there are genres like horror.
Horror still can draw an opening weekend audience, action movies, for certain types of stars, they can draw movie goers, but other genres like adult dramas, romantic comedies, comedies in general.
Those movies have really struggled in theaters and increasingly, they are going direct to streaming.
JOHN YANG: Steven Spielberg has said that after the disappointing performance of his movie, The Fablemans that he worries about the audience for adult dramas as they're just shifting to streaming away from the theaters?
MATTHEW BELLONI: Yes, Spielberg is a big proponent of the theatrical experience.
And in fact, he had a meet up with Tom Cruise at an event a couple of weeks ago where he basically told Cruise you save the theatrical business by getting adults and general movie goers to come back for Top Gun: Maverick.
But Spielberg sees the writing on the wall and it's evident in the Oscars this year.
His movie which is a Steven Spielberg movie, it's an adult drama did not perform at the Box Office.
And one after another this fall, the movies that you want to see do well in theaters in the run up to the Oscars before they're nominated movies that are best picture contenders like women talking or, you know, even something that in prior years like The Banshees of Inisherin, which would have been a slow burn Oscar movie that became a hit.
Those movies are not catching on in theaters because people are saying to themselves, I can just wait a little bit.
It'll be on my streaming service.
I've got a giant TV in my living room.
I don't need to go out.
That is where the industry is really having problems.
JOHN YANG: Theater owners are talking about trying to compete with streaming.
AMC is going to tiered pricing different prices for different seats in different areas, are they going to be able to compete or are they just missing the point that habits have changed?
MATTHEW BELLONI: You know, the theaters are in a really tough spot right now.
If this 30% decline in business is a permanent thing, the theaters are going to have to downsize close theaters, perhaps some will go out of business entirely, the second largest cinema chain has already declared bankruptcy.
AMC the largest, has tried to do this dynamic pricing with different seats cost different amounts of money, that's probably a good idea.
They should try to do dynamic pricing where certain movies may cost more than others, certain places and times may cost more than others.
But that is a temporary or a kind of cosmetic solve for the more fundamental problem they have, which is that they have to innovate and improve the quality of the theater going experience to make it more of an event where they can then charge more and people will be willing to pay because for movies that people deem worthy of the theaters, they're willing to pay more for the experience.
And they're willing to pay more for these premium events like IMAX or the Premium Format, or extra sound or reclining seat, these things that give added value to people they are willing to pay for.
But the old days of just hacking the multiplex in the mall.
I think are number.
JOHN YANG: Have all these changes affected the studios?
MATTHEW BELLONI: The studios are positioned a little bit better here because they make more money when they put these movies on premium video on demand where you pay a fee to watch it at home.
They are increasingly doing that at earlier times for these movies that used to just go in theaters.
But the studios are also trying to figure this out.
It's sort of chaotic right now in the movie business.
Nobody knows what the right formula is between theaters, streaming for free, streaming for an upcharge, putting it out at the same time as it's in theaters.
There's all these different strategies you can take.
And nobody quite knows what the magic formula is.
JOHN YANG: Matthew Belloni of The Town podcast, thank you very much.
MATTHEW BELLONI: Thank you.
JOHN YANG: DY Suharya is the founder of Alzheimer's Indonesia and the regional director of Alzheimer's Disease International for the Asia Pacific Region.
When her mother was diagnosed with dementia, Suharya became her caregiver.
Today, she's raising awareness for dementia and improving quality of life for both patients and their caregivers.
Tonight, Suharya shares her Brief But Spectacular take on memory loss and healthy aging.
DY SUHARYA, FOUNDER OF ALZHEIMER's INDONESIA: My mom's favorite song is You Are My Sunshine my only sunshine.
You make me happy when skies gray.
You never know dear how much I love you.
Please don't take my sunshine away.
My mom was diagnosed with dementia.
But whenever we sing that song, she will clap her hands.
Her body will move and she's alive.
I grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia.
I'm the youngest in the family and I have a very strong bonding with my mom.
When my mom was diagnosed with dementia.
My dad called me.
I was pursuing my Ph.D. in Australia and I had to choose between pursuing a Ph.D. or my mom.
I went back home.
I became a full-time caregiver.
I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to take care of her before she passed away.
I think it was an early grieving without knowing that that's grieving.
The misconception is dementia is a normal part of aging.
It is not a normal part of aging at all.
Dementia is a neurodegenerative disease affecting memory, executive decision and other brain function.
There is no cure yet.
So we need to focus on providing high quality care.
When I've decided to take up the role as a caregiver in my family together with my dad.
It's a full-time job that's affecting not only the person with dementia, but also the entire family, burn out is one of the highest problem on caregivers which led me to establish Alzheimer's Indonesia.
Alzheimer's Indonesia aims to improve quality life of people with dementia and family caregivers.
The focus is on living positively.
Not focusing on what they cannot do, focusing on what they can do.
Involve them, ask them to participate, be a part of a community.
I'd like to see a dementia-friendly and aging-friendly society.
I think people in general might think that being old is frail, weak, isolated, lonely, but at the end of the day, it's just the mindset.
I don't think of growing old, I think of evolving, I think of contributing.
And I thank my mom for giving me this opportunity through her disease to help other families so they can navigate their journey of caring.
My name is DY Suharya and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on memory loss and healthy aging.
JOHN YANG: Finally tonight, we want to leave you with some spectacular sights from the night skies.
Thanks to some unusual sunspot activity.
The Northern Lights are putting on a show much farther south than usual.
That's giving more people more chances to catch a glimpse.
NO NAME GIVEN: Look at there, everywhere.
JOHN YANG: They put on a dazzling display this week.
NO NAME GIVEN: Oh my gosh.
JOHN YANG: These time lapse is taken by amateur photographers of the aurora borealis are stunning.
From the deck of a cruise ship in Norway, to the Isle of Skye in Scotland, to the skies over Anchorage, Alaska.
The dance and shimmer across the night sky originates on the sun in a solar storm.
The colors and patterns come from ions and atoms being energized as they collide with the Earth's atmosphere and magnetic force.
Different altitudes result in different colors below 60 miles violet and reds between 60- and 150-miles bright green, higher than that ruby reds.
In space, the colors were on display for astronaut Josh Cassada, who had one of the best seats in the House on board the International Space Station.
Now online what's behind the growing number of Americans over the age of 50 experiencing homelessness.
And why is it about to get worse.
That's on our website pbs.org/news hour.
And that is our -- that is "PBS News Weekend" for this Saturday.
On tomorrow's "PBS News Weekend," worries about the availability of a type of breast reconstruction surgery because of insurance billing change.
I'm John Yang.
For all my colleagues, thanks for joining us.
See you tomorrow.