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Should dentists offer health screenings?
December 15th, 2011
04:45 PM ET

Should dentists offer health screenings?

Each year, nearly 20 million men, women and children in the United States fail to see a family physician or similar health care professional, but they do pay at least one visit to the dentist, according to a new study in the American Journal of Public Health.

For this segment of the population, dentists may be the only doctors in a position to spot the warning signs of chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, and provide referrals or advice to prevent serious complications, says Shiela M. Strauss, Ph.D., the lead author of the study and an associate professor at New York University's Colleges of Dentistry and Nursing.

Oral or dental abnormalities can signal a broad range of body-wide health problems, including HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, eating disorders, and substance abuse, in addition to diabetes. In a previous study, for instance, Strauss and her colleagues found that 93% of patients with gum disease (such as gingivitis) also met the criteria that should trigger blood-sugar screening under American Diabetes Association guidelines.
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Filed under: Dental health • Health.com

Text messages show promise in curbing drinking
December 15th, 2011
04:32 PM ET

Text messages show promise in curbing drinking

The text messaging that can drive young people to distraction - or worse, if they're actually behind the wheel - can also be harnessed to promote better health and safety, a small new study suggests.

In the study, 15 heavy drinking young adults who sent and received weekly text messages tracking their alcohol consumption reported drinking less at the end of the 12-week program than they did at the beginning. By comparison, a group of similar 18- to 24-year-olds who sent but didn't receive texts and a control group that sent no texts at all didn't manage to scale back their drinking as effectively.

The findings were published today on the website of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Although the study should be considered preliminary, given its size, the researchers say that text-message programs are a promising strategy for reducing problem drinking, as well as other dangerous or unhealthy behaviors.
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Filed under: Alcohol • Health.com

Teenagers buy fewer sugary drinks with posted calorie count
December 15th, 2011
04:01 PM ET

Teenagers buy fewer sugary drinks with posted calorie count

Signs that bring attention to the number of calories in sugary beverages have the power to dissuade teens from buying them, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Previous research has shown that the average American teenager drinks approximately 300 calories a day in sugar-sweetened beverages including soda, which can lead to obesity and other related health problems.

"Most consumers underestimate the number of calories in a can of soda, and they often do not realize that such calories can add up quickly," lead researcher Sara Bleich said in a press release about the study.
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Restricted use of chimps in government research recommended
December 15th, 2011
12:47 PM ET

Restricted use of chimps in government research recommended

An Institute of Medicine committee has released a report recommending stringent limits on the use of chimpanzees in biomedical and behavioral lab work performed at the National Institutes of Health.  The report comes amid Congressional pressure to make sure such research is completed humanely.

The IOM’s recommendations focus on the scientific need for chimpanzees as research subjects, but they also took ethical issues into consideration. According to the IOM, chimpanzees' genetic closeness to humans and their similar biological and behavioral characteristics not only make these mammals a valuable species for certain types of research but these animals also demand “greater justification for conducting research with them,” the committee said.

"We worked with researchers, doctors, veterinarians and other experts to come up with the best recommendations possible,' said Harvey Fineberg, President of IOM. "And we had a lot of public input, taking public comments, as well as holding public hearings," Fineberg continued.

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How many times a day do you think about sex?
December 15th, 2011
07:32 AM ET

How many times a day do you think about sex?

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

Gentlemen, lest you were alarmed you might be abnormal for not thinking about sex once every 7 seconds (more than 8,000 times a day), a new study in the Journal of Sex Research arrives to reassure you.

Men, on average, think about sex far less than that much-hyped interval. (Where that 7-second stat originated is anybody’s guess - it’s been bandied about for decades and was probably a misquote of the original Alfred Kinsey study on male sexual behavior published in 1948.)

That’s why we’re fortunate to have Dr. Terri Fisher and her colleagues at Ohio State University, who recently tracked a group of undergraduates (163 females and 120 males between the ages of 18 and 25) as they used a golf-counter to tally their daily thoughts about eating, sleep or sex over the course of a week.
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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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