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March 10th, 2010
04:28 PM ET

Longtime smoking cuts Parkinson’s risk dramatically

By Matt Sloane
CNN Medical Producer

It's a catchy headline – smoking cuts Parkinson's risk dramatically – and it appears to be true, but researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Science don't want you to start smoking.

"Nobody should advocate smoking to prevent Parkinson's disease," said Dr. Honglei Chen, a tenure-track investigator at the Institute. "It’s important to make that very, very clear."

The study, released today in the journal Neurology looked at the lifetime smoking history of more than 300,000 people, and confirmed the inverse relationship between smoking and Parkinson's disease, established in earlier scientific studies. But, researchers say they've found a critical new piece to the puzzle: It appears to be the length of time one has been a smoker – not the number of cigarettes smoked – that has the most effect on disease risk reduction.

"People who smoked more than 40 years had a 46 percent decrease in Parkinson's disease risk," said Chen. "Whereas people who smoked between one and nine years had only an 8 percent decrease in risk."

Chen, the lead study author, and his colleagues cannot yet identify the reasons behind this staggering link, but say when they are able to determine which chemicals in the cigarettes seem to be have a protective effect, they hope to be able to develop a drug that can mimic the effects of smoking, without the harmful risks.

"I think the findings are very important, but it is time now for scientists to search for the active chemicals, and to understand biological mechanisms."

Smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and has been linked to an increase in heart-disease risk, stroke risk, and several types of cancers.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


March 10th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

A 'silent epidemic' for teenage sports injuries

By Madison Park
CNNhealth.com Writer/Producer

Teenage athletes who play in multiple leagues and participate in sports year-round tend to overuse the same muscles and joints. The overuse could lead to serious injuries such as dislocated shoulders, torn anterior cruciate ligaments and ligaments usually seen more often in adults, said Dr. Thomas DeBerardino, an associate professor of orthopaedics at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

DeBerardino will moderate a session at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, this week about adolescent sports injuries.

Calling the wave of injuries a “silent epidemic,” he said he sees three major areas of injuries- head, neck and knees. Some young players play on year-round schedules and with several teams.

“If you’re on multiple teams, that is detrimental to the overall health of their kids’ shoulders and knees,” he said. “It comes down to being overscheduled. Along with being overscheduled, they’re overexposed and potentially injured.

“They never have a break. This increases risk of overuse and the adult-type injuries like stress and ligament injuries.”

One example DeBerardino cited is youth baseball. Young pitchers could end up racking high pitch counts in each of their various leagues and increase their risk for elbow and shoulder injuries.

His advice to teen athletes is simple: Learn to listen to your body.

“Each kid and body is different,” he said.  “Everyone has a different thresh point.  You get an injury if you’re over-fatigued, you’re doing too much and you don’t have enough of a recovery period.  Each parent and person responsible for the kid needs to pay attention.  You don’t have to examine the kid. Ask them if they feel overwhelmed, over-challenged.  When you need a break, you need a break.”

And the reality is not every kid is going to be a Zack Greinke.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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