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Gardasil approved for anal cancer
December 22nd, 2010
07:10 PM ET

Gardasil approved for anal cancer

There's a new tool in the fight against anal cancer. Gardasil, the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine approved in 2006 to prevent cervical cancer got the green light Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration for use in preventing anal cancer and other precancerous lesions caused by the virus. HPV is linked to approximately 90 percent of anal cancer.

"Treatment for anal cancer is challenging; the use of Gardasil as a method of prevention is important as it may result in fewer diagnoses and the subsequent surgery, radiation or chemotherapy that individuals need to endure," said Dr. Karen Midthun, M.D., director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research.

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The power of placebos
December 22nd, 2010
05:41 PM ET

The power of placebos

Hoping to get around the practice of deceiving patients with fake treatments, researchers tried to determine whether placebos, also known as dummy pills, would work even if the patients knew they weren't taking an active drug. 

Patients knowingly taking a placebo still found relief from symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) a new study published in the journal PLoS ONE found.

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December 22nd, 2010
05:08 PM ET

Glucose test strips recalled

Abbott Diabetes Care is voluntarily recalling 359 million glucose test strips because they may be defective and cause false low blood glucose readings, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Wednesday.

The strips don't absorb enough blood for proper monitoring, the agency says. The strips are sold in the United States and in Puerto Rico.

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Lohan incident brings up privacy laws
December 22nd, 2010
04:00 PM ET

Lohan incident brings up privacy laws

Lindsay Lohan apparently had an "incident" at the Betty Ford Center, where the actress allegedly assaulted an employee. Authorities in Palm Desert, California, said they are investigating this claim.

And the employee, Dawn Holland, was fired after information leaked to the media. The center issued a statement, but did not identify Holland:

"When patients come to the center for treatment, they come to a safe place where their identity is protected, where anonymity is safeguarded," the center said. "Regrettably, on December 21, 2010, one of our employees violated strict confidentiality guidelines and laws by publicly identifying patients in a media interview and by disclosing a privileged document. That employee has been terminated by the Betty Ford Center."

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On the Brain: Mind becomes machine
December 22nd, 2010
02:15 PM ET

On the Brain: Mind becomes machine

This week I'm excited about frontiers in brain enhancement, research on fear and phobias, and a potential new test for Alzheimer's.

You, Robot

If you've got some time during the holiday weekend to think about the future of the human species, take a moment to consider what it would mean to have your brain immortalized as a computer. Head over to Scientific American to check out this chapter about uploading your mind from Carl Zimmer's e-book "Brain Cuttings: 15 Journeys Through the Mind."

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Smoking may make cancer pain worse
December 22nd, 2010
12:14 PM ET

Smoking may make cancer pain worse

When people who smoke find out they have cancer, often one of the first things the doctor tells them to do is stop smoking.  Now researchers say there is evidence to suggest that cancer patients who keep smoking experience greater pain than nonsmokers.

Researchers surveyed 224 cancer patients with a range of diagnoses.  They asked about pain severity, distress from pain and how pain interfered in their everyday life.  Patients were asked to rate their pain and how much it interfered with their daily routine.  They found smokers experienced more severe pain than people who have never smoked or ex-smokers.  Cancer patients who smoke also reported more interference from pain than people who don't smoke.

The study also found an "inverse relationship" between pain and the number of years since quitting.  That means the longer it had been since a cancer patient had quit smoking, the less pain they had.

The study is published in the January 2011 issue of the journal, Pain.


Is 9 too early to diet?
December 22nd, 2010
10:29 AM ET

Is 9 too early to diet?

A profile on "Big Love" actress Ginnifer Goodwin (above) from our partner Health magazine brought some interesting perspective from readers.  The post from CNN's Marquee blog was one of the most popular stories Tuesday.

Goodwin told the magazine she started on Weight Watchers  at age 9.

“I really did go through a period when I was very little when I remember realizing that vegetables did not come out of the ground deep-fried,” she recalled.  “I changed my eating habits in fourth grade because I was a heavy little girl, and I was unhappy. And I remember my mom making dinner for me the first night that I was on this new program, and I burst out crying because the vegetables were green, and I thought she was trying to starve me to death.”

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December 22nd, 2010
08:33 AM ET

How many stages are there in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Wednesdays, it's Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the
American Cancer Society.

How many stages are there in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma?

Question asked by Paula Holman-Yorba, San Bernardino, California

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Good diet never grows old
December 22nd, 2010
12:01 AM ET

Good diet never grows old

Older adults who eat a healthy diet tend to live longer than those who indulge in desserts and high-fat dairy products, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. With the projected doubling of our older population by 2030, what people put on their plates may be even more important.

For 10 years, researchers followed the eating habits of 2,500 healthy seniors aged70 to 79.  They found  people who ate ice cream, whole milk and other high fat-dairy items had a 40% higher risk of dying during the decade of study than those who ate a healthful diet. People who ate sweets such as doughnuts, cakes, and cookies had a 37% higher risk of dying in that same 10 year study period.

The seniors were placed into one of the following 6 dietary categories depending upon what they ate:   1) Healthy foods 2) High-fat dairy products 3) Meat, fried foods and alcohol 4) Breakfast cereal 5) Refined grains and 6) Sweets and desserts. The people with the more healthful diets not only lived longer they also reported having a better quality of life, for a longer period of time than others. FULL POST


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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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