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4 common killers in the world: Heart disease, cancer, lung disease, diabetes
September 13th, 2011
08:01 PM ET

4 common killers in the world: Heart disease, cancer, lung disease, diabetes

The major killers in the world are not infectious diseases,  insidious viruses or bacteria.

The leading causes of deaths worldwide are noncommunicable diseases, such as heart disease, cancers, lung disease and diabetes.  These diseases killed more than 36 million people in 2008, according a report released Tuesday by the World Health Organization.

Heart disease deaths were responsible for 48% of these deaths, cancers 21%, chronic lung diseases 12%, and diabetes 3%.  In many cases these are preventable deaths that are related to unhealthy habits such as smoking, physical inactivity, and unhealthy diets. FULL POST


Researchers closer to developing a ‘pain-o-meter’
September 13th, 2011
06:07 PM ET

Researchers closer to developing a ‘pain-o-meter’

Your arm hurts, but it's difficult for someone else to say just how much it really hurts. Scientists have been searching for a way to measure pain and new research suggests they are getting closer.

Researchers at Stanford University trained a computer algorithm to interpret magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data of the brain and determine the presence of pain, according to a new study published Tuesday in the online journal PLoS ONE.

Researchers applied heat directly to the forearms of 8 study participants.  The subjects  reported a pain score of 7 out of 10 pain, when the temperature their skin was exposed to reached about 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

While the participants were undergoing this heat exposure, MRI scanners tracked their brain activity.  Then the computer compared data when participants were undergoing MRIs without experiencing any pain.

The computer algorithms effectively learned how to recognize the difference between pain and non-pain in the human brain. FULL POST


New AIDS vaccine study results promising
September 13th, 2011
06:02 PM ET

New AIDS vaccine study results promising

After 2 years of analyzing the results of the largest AIDS vaccine clinical trial ever held – called RV144 - researchers say they have found 2 ways the immune system can respond, which could predict whether those inoculated will be protected or are more likely to become infected with HIV.

The new data was released at the annual AIDS Vaccine conference, the largest scientific venue that brings together the world's top scientists, policy makers, community advocates and funders who focus exclusively on AIDS vaccine research. The conference is hosted by the Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise.  This year's co-hosts are Mahidol University where RV144 trial was conducted and Thailand's Ministry of Public Health.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2009 33.3 million people were living with HIV, there were 2.6 million new infections and 1.8 million AIDS-related deaths worldwide. Since the epidemic started more than 60 million people have been infected and nearly 30 million have died of the disease.

RV-144 was a phase III clinical trial of more than 16,000 healthy Thai adults. Trial results that were released in September 2009 found the vaccine was 31% effective in preventing HIV infections. Study investigators called it "modestly protective."  They also suggested the study provided proof that a vaccine might be possible. Since then researchers have culled data from the study looking for clues as to why the vaccine protected some but not others.   In this new study, they found that the vaccine produced 2 types of immune responses: One led to an increased vaccine efficacy, which means the vaccine would prevent infection. The other immune response led to the same infection rate as a placebo, according to Dr. Barton Haynes, Director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute at Duke University School of Medicine.

FULL POST


USDA steps up testing for more E.coli strains in food products.
September 13th, 2011
02:51 PM ET

USDA steps up testing for more E.coli strains in food products.

In an effort to provide the American public with safer meat products, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that it is taking new steps to fight six additional strains or serogroups of E.coli. The bacteria, which can grow in different types of foods, such as ground beef and tenderized steaks, can cause serious illnesses and in some cases, death in those who eat it. The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service will launch the testing program next March, to detect these dangerous pathogens and prevent them from reaching consumers.

“This is another opportunity to build on the work safety group (President's Food Safety Working Group) to make sure we are protecting the public from food borne illnesses,.” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Right now, the USDA allows some meat products to be sold, that have small traces of certain strains of E. coli. Once the new regulations are in place, if raw ground beef or other products contain the E. coli serogroups of O26, O103, O45, O111, O121 and O145 they will not be sold. Like E.coli O157:H7, which is the most recognized and deadliest strain of the bacteria and an E.coli strain that is not allowed on the market, these serogroups can cause severe illnesses, especially in the elderly and young children.

"The impact of food borne illness on a family can be devastating," said Under Secretary Elisabeth Hagen. "Consumers deserve a modernized food safety system that focuses on prevention and protects them and their families from emerging threats. As non-O157 STEC bacteria have emerged and evolved, so too must our regulatory policies to protect the public health and ensure the safety of our food supply."

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit health advocacy group based in Washington, DC, backed the USDA’s move today to test for these other E. coli strains According to data collected by CSPI these other forms of E. coli have been linked to 10 outbreaks and nearly 700 illnesses in the U.S. since 1998.

In a statement released by the CSPI, today, the organization stated, “The new testing program will help prevent future outbreaks, as products testing positive for these strains will be diverted to further processing and not placed into commerce.”

CSPI officials also noted they are now asking the USDA to turn its attention to Salmonella; another deadly form of bacteria, traditionally found in raw meat and poultry. Although the USDA does test for high amounts of salmonella, the CSPI petitioned the agency to declare four of salmonella pathogens as unacceptable under the law, hoping to trigger the same testing protocols now being undertaken for deadly E. coli strains.


Get Some Sleep: School start times
September 13th, 2011
01:53 PM ET

Get Some Sleep: School start times

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

I want to follow up on a piece I wrote two weeks ago about getting kids back on a good sleep schedule.

School was just starting and each year most children need to get out of the summer mode and back to a sleep/wake cycle that allows them to thrive during the school year. Now that most kids and teens are back to school, I would like to address another important topic that I wish educators would give some attention: School start times.
FULL POST

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Filed under: Sleep

September 13th, 2011
11:22 AM ET

What's the next step in fighting depression?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Tuesdays, it's Dr. Charles Raison, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, and an expert in the mind-body connection for health.

Question asked by Emma from New York:

I have had depression for almost seven years. I saw a psychiatrist and therapist for eight months, two years ago; it made me feel worse. I started to see another psychiatrist and therapist last November; it only mildly helped. I tried Prozac first, but when the dosage increased, I started to have hallucinations and delusions. I was then prescribed Celexa (disrupted my sleep greatly) and then Cymbalta, which showed no change. I also was given several sleep medications. Medications just do not seem to work; they all have side effects. I just moved and have not found more doctors here. My depression and sleep problems seem to get worse with every day. What should my next step be?
FULL POST


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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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