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Avastin and fatal side effects
February 1st, 2011
06:02 PM ET

Avastin and fatal side effects

The controversial anti-cancer drug Avastin is linked to fatal side effects in about 1 percent of patients who take it, according to an analysis in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The drug has been approved for certain types of lung cancer, colorectal cancer, kidney cancer and brain cancer, but in December the Food and Drug Administration said it should not be used to treat breast cancer, because the risks outweigh modest benefits. Recent studies show that Avastin does not extend survival for breast cancer patients, although it does lengthen the time they go without symptoms getting worse.

Genentech, the company that makes Avastin, last month filed a letter with the FDA, appealing the decision. It has a conference call with investors scheduled for Wednesday, where it will discuss the impact of the decision, according to spokeswoman Charlotte Arnold.

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Sleep keeps important memories safe
February 1st, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Sleep keeps important memories safe

Here's another reason to get some good sleep in the week leading up to a major test or presentation: Sleep selectively enhances memories that you expect to need in the future, a new study suggests.

Researchers in Germany tested a group of 141 healthy adult participants on tasks involving recalling words, locating a two-dimensional object, and reproducing a sequence of finger taps. Their results are published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

They found that participants who knew they would be tested on these things later remembered them better than those who didn't know after a good night's sleep of about 7 to 8 hours. Participants who were not permitted to sleep did not show memory improvement, regardless of whether or not they thought there would be a test.

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Get Some Sleep: Night terrors explained
February 1st, 2011
01:11 PM ET

Get Some Sleep: Night terrors explained

Lisa Shives, M.D., is the founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois. She blogs on Tuesdays on The Chart. Read more from her at Dr. Lisa Shives’ Sleep Better Blog.

Emily is an 8-year old girl with no past medical problems who was brought to my sleep center by her mother because of “terrible nightmares.” Her mother reports that at least three times a week, Emily “wakes up with a blood-curdling scream.”

Her parents usually find her sitting up in her bed, with her eyes wide open; she appears terrified and acts agitated and confused. When this first started, they would try to hold her and comfort her, but she would push them away and appeared even more upset, so now they just watch her until she goes back to sleep which is usually within a few minutes. Emily has no memory of these episodes.

They seemed to start a few months ago and were becoming more frequent. Her parents can almost set their clock by these episodes because they occur two hours after she falls asleep ,which these days is around 9:30 pm. Mom is worried that Emily might have “psychological problems.” She does well in school and appears to be a happy child. She does appear tired lately, her mother reports, but never naps. She has had strep throat in the past six months and in general she gets frequent sore throats.

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FDA rejects another obesity drug
February 1st, 2011
12:41 PM ET

FDA rejects another obesity drug

Another weight-loss drug  brought to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval has been rejected.

In the last 12 months, the FDA has nixed three new weight-loss drugs, lorcaserin because of possible links to cancer, Qnexa and now Contrave because of possible heart problems.

In December, an advisory committee for the FDA first voted  in favor of Contrave, a weight-loss drug that combines naltrexone and bupropion. That committee also voted  11 to 8 that the company, Orexigen should examine the drug's risk for major adverse cardiac events. FULL POST


CDC: 1/3 of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, high cholesterol
February 1st, 2011
12:26 PM ET

CDC: 1/3 of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, high cholesterol

On the heels of the new dietary guidelines being published urging Americans to cut  salt, sugar and saturated fat consumption, a new government report highlights why the attention is warranted. More than one-third of adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure and high levels of bad cholesterol.

High blood pressure and high "bad" (or LDL) cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart disease, the No. 1  killer worldwide, claiming more than 17 million lives each year worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 800,000 Americans die from cardiovascular disease annually, 150,000 of them are under the age of 65.

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Specific protein may help predict cancer spread
February 1st, 2011
12:19 PM ET

Specific protein may help predict cancer spread

If a tumor has high levels of a certain enzyme or protein, it could tell doctors if the cancer will spread,  at least in some cancers, according to very early research published Tuesday.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health and in Hong Kong tested tumors from two completely different types of cancer: liver as well as pheochromocytoma and paragangliomas, which are rare forms of adrenal cancer.  When they tested for the presence of a new form of the protein carboxypeptidase E called CPE-delta N, they found patients whose tumors had high levels of CPE-delta N were more likely to have their cancers spread to other parts of the body.

"If you can identify a patient in the early stages [of cancer] who's at high risk for progression of disease, one can modify their therapy," says Dr. Stephen Hewitt, a staff scientist at the National Cancer Institute and one of the study authors.

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Routine HPV vaccine for boys urged
February 1st, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Routine HPV vaccine for boys urged

Boys aged 9-18 may receive the human papillomavirus vaccine as part of their routine vaccines, according to  the American Academy of Pediatrics' 2011 schedule of recommended vaccines for immunizations for children and teens.

Routine vaccinations are recommended to prevent 17 vaccine-preventable diseases that occur in infants, children, adolescents or adults. The new schedules and guidance for teens and children includes the following changes:

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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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