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July 14th, 2011
05:44 PM ET

U.S.: Catching bin Laden justifies CIA vaccination ruse

A senior U.S. official on Thursday acknowledged CIA involvement in a vaccination campaign in Pakistan, but said it was a legitimate piece of the strategy for catching Osama bin Laden, who was killed by a U.S. raid on his hideout in Abbottabad in May.

"This was one small piece of a very large intelligence effort to determine that bin Laden was located at the compound, and it was conducted shortly before the May 1 raid. People need to put this into some perspective,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "The vaccination campaign was part of the hunt for the world’s top terrorist, and nothing else. If the United States hadn’t shown this kind of creativity, people would be scratching their heads asking why it hadn’t used all tools at its disposal to find bin Laden."

The comments are a response to criticism of the CIA role, which involved health workers going door to door in the neighborhood near bin Laden’s compound, offering vaccinations against Hepatitis B. According to reports in the Guardian and the New York Times, the goal was to collect DNA to aid in the eventual identification of bin Laden. It’s not clear if the mission was successful.

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Menthol: The 'gateway' cigarettes?
July 14th, 2011
03:07 PM ET

Menthol: The 'gateway' cigarettes?

Aaron Candlers says he likes to smoke cigarettes when he is stressed.

If the Atlanta construction worker has a tough day on the job, he lights up.

If he has a beef with the family, Candlers is puffing away.

And if his late model Ford Explorer breaks down on the Atlanta freeway, as it did recently, Candlers will be headed to the corner store to re-up on the nicotine sticks.

"It just died on me," Candler says between long drags off a cigarette. "So I was like real stressed and I think I smoked half a pack of cigarettes waiting on the tow truck."

Like about 19 million other Americans, Candlers smokes menthol cigarettes - for now. The Food and Drug Administration is currently considering whether to ban menthol from cigarettes. Candlers, a stocky man with a beard and a wide smile, says that would be a bad decision.

"They gonna have a war on their hands," Candlers says of the FDA. "I know a lot of folks that smoke menthols, and it would be wrong just to ban one type of cigarette."

But the U.S. government has already banned other types of cigarettes. Flavored beedies, cloves, cigarettes with spices, peppermint and vanilla have all been banned in an effort to discourage teenagers from picking up the habit. Basically, anything that makes tobacco easier to taste or inhale has been targeted by the FDA and Congress.

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Filed under: Smoking

Triathlon training: Are you really 'lean enough?'
July 14th, 2011
02:45 PM ET

Triathlon training: Are you really 'lean enough?'

Since January, we've been tracking the training of Dr. Sanjay Gupta and six iReporters as they prep for the August 7 Nautica New York City Triathlon. Now we're adding expert advice from our friends at Triathlete.com

Swiss exercise scientists recently focused their attention on 42 recreational female runners who participated in a half marathon. They quizzed the runners on their training habits and also took various anthropometric measurements and then attempted to correlate this data with their race finish times.

The researchers found that body-fat percentage was among the best predictors of race finish times - an even better predictor than training volume.

This finding isn’t too surprising. We all know that being lean is critical to running performance.

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Is the Internet replacing our own memory?
A new study takes a look at how an external memory system like the Internet affects our ability to remember information.
July 14th, 2011
02:00 PM ET

Is the Internet replacing our own memory?

Can’t remember the name of the movie you saw last year starring Emily Deschanel’s sister? Or that recipe you used for chicken salad last week?

With an Internet connection and a few keystrokes, you can probably figure out the answer in a matter of minutes, tops. But the flip side, suggests new research in the journal Science, is that when you rely on having information stored somewhere, you may be less likely to remember it yourself.

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Foster care for obese kids: Drastic measure,  preventable problem
Jennifer Shu says there are multiple factors contributing to the choices and habits that lead to obesity in children.
July 14th, 2011
01:54 PM ET

Foster care for obese kids: Drastic measure, preventable problem

In addition to being CNNHealth’s Living Well expert, Dr. Jennifer Shu is a practicing pediatrician. She also blogs regularly for The Chart on kids’ health.

Poor prenatal care, child abuse and neglect can get a child taken out of the care of his or her parent(s), but what about extreme obesity?

A commentary by two Harvard health researchers in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests just that - that in certain situations it may be in a very obese child’s best interests to be removed from the home.

Should parents lose custody of obese children?

The heart of the debate involves the concern that children at or above the 99th percentile for BMI (body mass index) are at risk for complications from diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
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Do guys experience 'manopause'?
July 14th, 2011
08:23 AM ET

Do guys experience 'manopause'?

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him at his website, GoodInBed.

What happens when a man’s testosterone level starts to go south as he ages? Do guys experience their own version of menopause? Sort of, but not exactly.

Unlike women, men experience hormonal changes gradually over a period of many years. A man’s testosterone level peaks around age 20, and then steadily declines from about 40 on, so ultimately it’s about 50% less by the time he is 80 years old. The result can sometimes be a condition called “andropause,” which potentially affects millions of American men.
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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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