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2011: incredible shrinking doughnut hole (and more)
December 31st, 2010
03:37 PM ET

2011: incredible shrinking doughnut hole (and more)

Along with noisemakers, hangovers and second-tier bowl games, the new year rolls in changes to health insurance rules that stand to save Americans – especially those over age 65 – a lot of money in 2011. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) – “Obamacare,” to critics – was signed into law in March but was built to take effect in stages. Several key provisions take effect on Saturday.

The most prominent change will shrink the so-called “doughnut hole.” Up to now, seniors hit the doughnut hole once they and their insurer have purchased $2,800 worth of medications. The next chunk – up to a $4,550 out-of-pocket maximum – cannot be reimbursed by insurance. Under the ACA, the gap will be closed in increments over the next 10 years. It starts Saturday; in 2011 Medicare will pick up half the cost of brand-name medications for patients in the dreaded doughnut hole.

Another 2011 change is a federal requirement that health insurers pay at least 80 percent of the total premiums they collect, on small plans. Plans for large employers, which cover most Americans, will have to pay out at least 85 percent of premiums. Those who don’t will have to offer rebates. Insurers who raise rates more than 10 percent will have to justify the increase to state and federal regulators. FULL POST


What the Yuck: Why would I get facial hair?
December 31st, 2010
10:43 AM ET

What the Yuck: Why would I get facial hair?

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Q: Why would I suddenly start getting facial hair?

As we get older, it's normal to get more facial hair, which is darker and coarser than those fine hairs many of us have when we're younger. But if this change is sudden and dramatic, there is probably a hormonal imbalance going on (more androgens, which are male hormones, than estrogen).
FULL POST


December 31st, 2010
08:16 AM ET

What's the best way to jump-start your metabolism?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Friday, it's Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist.

Question asked by Jay of San Diego, California:

I'm 5-foot-8 and 26 years old and started at 247 pounds and am at 203 pounds now, in about 22 weeks. I've seemed to stop losing weight when I used to average about two pounds a week. I've tried other exercises but almost to no effect. Any suggestions?
FULL POST


Fit Friday: ‘Subtract’ years from age; mood and weight; exercising while pregnant
December 31st, 2010
08:00 AM ET

Fit Friday: ‘Subtract’ years from age; mood and weight; exercising while pregnant

Old beyond your years?

The UK's Daily Mail asked leading health experts to create a quiz to test its readers’ true body age.

The paper asks, "How old or young is your body compared with your years?"

The quiz tests the strength of your brain, skin, muscles, heart, lungs and other body parts.

Take the test yourself (click here) and see how well you fare, what the scores mean and how you can "subtract" years from your age.

Could your mood affect your diet?

Improving your mood may help you shed pounds, according to a report published on ScienceDaily.

"Most weight loss programs do not pay enough attention to screening and treatment of depression," said Babak Roshanaei-Moghaddam of the psychiatry and behavioral sciences department at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Researchers in the study placed 203 obese women into two treatment groups, one that focused on losing weight and another that focused on weight loss and depression. Those who focused on both weight and depression shed more pounds.

Exercise may limit pregnancy weight gain

Women who hit the gym or find other ways to work out gain less weight than women who don't exercise during pregnancy, according to a Reuters report.

Researchers in Germany found that active women gained an average of 1.3 fewer pounds than women with a sedentary lifestyle.

Although that number may not seem like a lot, the research shows that exercise can have a positive effect on a woman's mood - and finds that women who gain too much weight during pregnancy risk of a number of health problems, including diabetes and labor complications.

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Filed under: Fitness • Weight loss

SIDS deaths higher on New Year's day, alcohol to blame
December 31st, 2010
06:00 AM ET

SIDS deaths higher on New Year's day, alcohol to blame

Beware of too much alcohol – especially if there’s a baby at home. Babies die from SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, at alarmingly higher rates on New Year’s Day, according to a new study. Researchers link the 33% rise in deaths to an increase in alcohol consumption as parents ring in the New Year. The study’s authors point out that there is a similar but smaller increase after July 4th and on the weekends, when people traditionally consume more alcohol.

The study, published in the journal Addiction, examined 129,000 SIDS cases in the United States from 1973 to 2006. The research is the first of its kind to link alcohol and SIDS, say the authors. SIDS is the number one killer of children between the ages of one month and one year. It is only attributed as the cause of death when there’s no other explanation for how a seemingly healthy baby could stop breathing on his or her own.
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Doctor: We can change the world with human embryonic stem cells
December 30th, 2010
05:17 PM ET

Doctor: We can change the world with human embryonic stem cells

Editor’s note: This week, The Chart is taking a closer look at the most important health stories of 2010. One was stem cell research, a topic with which Dr. John McDonald  is very familiar. McDonald is director of the International Center for Spinal Cord Injury at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. The longtime stem cell researcher, who was one of Christopher Reeve’s physicians, provides his perspective on the first human clinical trial of embryonic stem cell research.

By Dr. John McDonald
Special to CNN

We are living in an amazing time.

This year marked what just a decade ago many believed would be an impossible feat - the first human has been injected with cells from human embryonic stem cells (hES). hES cells, and embryonic stem cells in general, are one of the greatest scientific tools for discovery of the 21st century.

The clinical trial brings together the best we have to offer in central nervous system research to address the difficult problem of spinal cord injury.

FULL POST


Filed under: 2010 Year in Review • Stem Cells

2010 Year in Review: Stem cell research
December 30th, 2010
05:16 PM ET

2010 Year in Review: Stem cell research

Editor’s note: This week, The Chart is taking a closer look at the most important health stories of 2010. Each day, we'll feature buzzwords and topics that came to the forefront over the past year.

From the start, 2010 was a fascinating year for stem cell research.

Back in January, we learned that the first adult patient in the United States had cells grown from 8-week-old stem cells directly injected into the spinal cord.

A few months later, researchers published a study showing that induced pluripotent stem cells, or IPS cells, could be used to produce baby pigs. Pigs physiologically resemble humans much more than mice, so this could potentially tell us more about human illnesses. It will also allow scientists to grow pigs that can provide dependable body parts, such as heart valves and islet cells, for humans.

FULL POST


2010 Year in Review: Food safety
December 30th, 2010
03:03 PM ET

2010 Year in Review: Food safety

Editor’s note: This week, The Chart is taking a closer look at the most important health stories of 2010. Each day, we'll feature buzzwords and topics that came to the forefront over the past year.

According to an old adage, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But for egg eaters across the United States, breakfast briefly became potentially deadly. FULL POST


First successful organ transplant donor dies
December 30th, 2010
02:04 PM ET

First successful organ transplant donor dies

Ronald Lee Herrick, the man who made history in 1954 when he donated one of his kidneys to his twin brother, died Monday at the age of 79. It was the world's first successful organ transplant, giving Ronald's brother, Richard, eight more years of life. The medical pioneer died at the Augusta Rehabilitation Center in Maine.

The surgery took place at what is now Brigham and Women's hospital in Boston and lead surgeon Dr. Joseph Murray was awarded the Nobel Prize. At the time,the procedure marked the beginning of a new era in medicine that was so groundbreaking some considered it unethical to take an organ from a human being.

The Herrick brothers helped pave the way for organ donation back in 1954.  Now, 56 years later, organ transplants are much more common. In the first eight months of this year alone, 21,648 people received transplants, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

But according to those who knew him, Herrick's legacy was much more about his gifts as a teacher to than about his kidney donation.  The Boston Globe reports Herrick was a math teacher in Northborough and Winthrop, Maine until retiring in 1986.   He later became a math instructor at the University of Maine in Augusta before retiring again in 1997.


5  tips for better sex in 2011
December 30th, 2010
08:00 AM ET

5 tips for better sex in 2011

Heading into 2011, I thought it apt to revisit some of the themes I wrote about in 2010. With CNN reporting that nearly 40 million americans are stuck in sexless marriages, starting the new year off with a “bang” is more important than ever. With that in mind, here are five relationship resolutions to consider for your list:

FULL POST

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Filed under: Ian Kerner Ph.D. - sex counselor • Sex

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About this blog

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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