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Report: Arsenic in apple and grape juice
November 30th, 2011
06:02 PM ET

Report: Arsenic in apple and grape juice

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

Ten percent of apple juices and grape juices have higher arsenic levels than are allowed in drinking water in the United States, according to a new study by Consumer Reports.

The magazine analyzed 88 samples of fruit juice purchased at stores in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Several well-known brands, including Walmart, Mott’s, Walgreens and Welch’s, had levels higher than 10 parts per billion of arsenic, the threshold set by the federal government for bottled and tap water.

Twenty-five percent of the samples, including juices from such brands as Gerber, Trader Joe's and Minute Maid, had more than 5 parts per billion of lead, according to Consumer Reports.  Five parts per billion is the standard set for lead in bottled water by the Food and Drug Administration. 
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Top 8 artery-clogging cities in the U.S.
November 30th, 2011
02:01 PM ET

Top 8 artery-clogging cities in the U.S.

Simply put, where you live matters to your health. A study published in October in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people in poorer neighborhoods often lack access to fresh produce and safe areas to participate in physical activity.

Moving to a better neighborhood can lower the risk for obesity, says the study's author Jens Ludwig, adding that a family's environment has a big impact on their well-being. And researchers know that unhealthy habits are contagious - having a friend or neighbor who is obese increases your chances of gaining weight as well.

Keeping that in mind, residents in these cities may want to take extra precautions to monitor nutrition and exercise. Prevention magazine analyzed the latest obesity and heart disease data from the CDC to compile a list of at-risk metropolitan cities with a population over 200,000.
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November 29th, 2011
03:47 PM ET

HIV out of control in most U.S. patients

Three out of four people with HIV in the United States do not have their infection under control, even though anti-HIV drugs have been available for more than 15 years, according to a study released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“That’s a very poor rate. We have to do much better than that,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Keeping HIV under control is crucial not only for the 1.2 million people in the United States who carry the infection, but also for their sexual partners. Suppressing the virus decreases the chances it will be transmitted to a sexual partner by more than 95%, Fauci said.
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November 29th, 2011
11:45 AM ET

Human Factor: Running marathons while fighting cancer at 70

In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle - injury, illness or other hardship –- they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn’t know they possessed. This week we meet Don Wright, who developed a passion for running marathons later in life, right before getting diagnosed with cancer. His goal is to run 50 marathons in 50 states.

"I've made an appointment with an oncologist for you." These are words that no one wants to hear from their doctor, ever. It was multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer with a median survival of about five years after diagnosis.

I had lost weight at Weight Watchers', then started running, and had just run my first marathon. Myeloma attacks the bones, and a broken bone would stop my running, so I was determined to run the Boston Marathon before I lost the ability to do so. I qualified for Boston and then ran it, then a few more marathons here and there. I had no reasonable expectation of finishing all 50 states.
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Radiologists say mammograms should start at 40
November 29th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Radiologists say mammograms should start at 40

When the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended in 2009 that routine breast cancer screenings should begin at age 50 instead of 40, controversy ensued about the benefits of screening for breast cancer and the age a woman should have her first mammogram.

Now a new study, presented at the Radiological Society of North America's annual meeting in Chicago, found that women between the ages of 40 to 49 do have a high rate of developing breast cancer even if they don't have a family history of the illness.  

The study authors believe their results support the recommendation that annual screening mammograms begin at age 40, which other organizations like the American Cancer Society and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also endorse.
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Soccer 'heading' may cause brain damage
November 29th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Soccer 'heading' may cause brain damage

Heading the soccer ball too frequently may cause damage to the brain, according to new research.

In smaller numbers, there doesn’t seem to be a problem. It’s when the number of headers reaches about 1,300 per year that the brain may begin to suffer traumatic brain damage.

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Pediatric group updates meningococcal vaccine recommendation
November 28th, 2011
01:50 PM ET

Pediatric group updates meningococcal vaccine recommendation

The American Association of Pediatrics has updated vaccine policy recommendations for meningococcal vaccines, advising a booster dose be given three years later, to bolster immunity against meningococcal illness among teens and young adults.

Meningococcal illness can cause meningitis, which is a painful swelling of the outer layer of the brain and spinal cord. Common symptoms include high fever, stiff neck, headache, nausea, vomiting, pain from looking at bright lights, confusion and fatigue.

The updated guidance, issued by the AAP committee on infectious diseases, makes their policy consistent with updated guidelines issued by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's published in the December issue of Pediatrics.

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New advice to prevent and correct flat head syndrome in babies
November 28th, 2011
07:51 AM ET

New advice to prevent and correct flat head syndrome in babies

Since 1992, when the American Academy of Pediatrics began recommending that babies sleep on their backs, the number of deaths due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS - the number one cause of death among infants younger than 1 year of age - has been cut in half, according to the CDC.

However, as the number of SIDS deaths have gone down, pediatricians have seen a dramatic increase in babies having flat head syndrome. About 13% of healthy infants have some form of positional plagiocephaly (which means "oblique head" in Greek).

"[Babies] spend almost all their time on their back," says pediatrician Dr. James Laughlin, "that leads to some positional flattening or molding of the head, depending on how the baby sleeps." 
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Babies who don't get chickenpox vaccine still benefit, study says
November 28th, 2011
12:02 AM ET

Babies who don't get chickenpox vaccine still benefit, study says

The number of babies getting chickenpox has gone down dramatically since the vaccine was first introduced more than 15 years ago, according to new research published Monday.  Infants under the age of one do not get a chickenpox vaccine because they are too young.  But they are indirectly benefiting from those who do receive the drug, according to the study in the journal Pediatrics.

"By having those people who are recommended to be vaccinated, we decrease the amount of disease that's going around," said Adriana Lopez, study author and epidemiologist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "That therefore decreases the exposures that people who aren't protected would come across."

Researchers looked at data from when the vaccine became available in 1995 until 2008. They found varicella, commonly known as chickenpox, decreased 90% in infants during this period.  This very strongly suggests that vaccinating those who are old enough also protects those who cannot be inoculated, something health officials call community or "herd" immunity.
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Neglecting HIV/AIDS in the Southeast
This photo from our interactive data map shows the prevalence of AIDS diagnoses in 2006.
November 27th, 2011
08:00 AM ET

Neglecting HIV/AIDS in the Southeast

Dr. Vincent Marconi travels to Durban, South Africa, every summer with his family to work with hundreds of HIV and AIDS patients. Despite global support for research and high-profile activists, AIDS continues to batter many developing countries. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS estimates that there are 5.6 million people in South Africa alone living with the deadly disease.

Still, after every trip to Africa, Marconi returns home to Atlanta, Georgia, to continue his work at the Ponce De Leon Center, one of the largest HIV/AIDS facilities in the United States. The center's staff provides medical services to approximately 5,000 men, women, adolescents and children.

Here in the southeast U.S., he says, HIV/AIDS is very much a neglected problem.

View our interactive data map
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Filed under: HIV/AIDS

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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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