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January 26th, 2012
09:18 AM ET

Gupta on where 'Big Hits, Broken Dreams' began

Watch "Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports: Big Hits, Broken Dreams" Sunday, January 29 at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET.

One day late in the summer of 2010, I was sitting in my backyard with my oldest daughter. We had just finished cutting the lawn when my neighbor and his oldest son stopped by.

His son, a football player at one of the powerhouse local high schools, had grown nearly an inch over the summer and weighed more than 200 pounds. He was already in practice for the upcoming season. He asked if I had time to speak to a friend of his who also played football and had suffered a concussion the previous season.

They were asking me in my capacity as a neurosurgeon, but also in desperation, as this young man was still having tremendous difficulty nearly a year after his injury.
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Dating and the challenge of too many choices
January 26th, 2012
07:21 AM ET

Dating and the challenge of too many choices

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.

If online dating hasn’t led you to your perfect match, perhaps the issue isn’t that you’re too choosy, but rather that there’s too much choice.

There’s no doubt that dating in the 21st century offers a lot of opportunities. Think about your parents’ generation: They grew up with no Internet, they likely stayed in the same town for most of their lives, and they automatically had more in common with the people in that town as a result. Today, women and men are increasingly marrying someone outside of their religion, their ethnicity and their geographic area.

Never in history have we had so many potential partners to choose from - and never have we had so much difficulty choosing. In fact, several recent studies suggest that this explosion of options has made men and women feel more confused and uncertain about finding a partner than ever before.
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Not age or race, but risk factors determine ‘cardiovascular destiny’
January 25th, 2012
05:01 PM ET

Not age or race, but risk factors determine ‘cardiovascular destiny’

It’s well documented that certain factors increase your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Most people know the big ones - high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and diabetes.  But age, gender and ethnicity also have been thought to play a role. 

Now a report published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine shows that these risk factors alone are responsible for your cardiovascular destiny, and that having just one can up your risk considerably.

Study authors analyzed the data from 18 studies involving more than 250,000 men and women from different ethnic backgrounds whose risk factors were measured at age 45, 55, 65 and 75.  This allowed the authors to determine the risk of dying from heart attack or stroke over the course of a lifetime, rather than just 5 to 10 years in the future as has been previously studied.

What the researchers found can be boiled down to this:
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Study: Chemicals reduce effectiveness of some childhood vaccines
January 24th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Study: Chemicals reduce effectiveness of some childhood vaccines

Certain chemicals in the environment may reduce the effectiveness of childhood vaccines according to research in a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Scientists looked specifically at PFCs, perfluorinated compounds, widely used in products that repel water, grease and stains. Children with higher levels of PFCs in their bodies did not get optimal protection from their vaccines, according to the study.

"Routine childhood immunizations are a mainstay of modern disease prevention. The negative impact on childhood vaccinations from PFCs should be viewed as a potential threat to public health," says study author Dr. Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
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Why the definition of autism matters
January 24th, 2012
03:26 PM ET

Why the definition of autism matters

Editor's note: Dr. Charles Raison, CNNhealth's mental health expert, is an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

The American Psychiatric Association is in the midst of redesigning a document often called the Bible of Psychiatry. It's known more officially as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM for short.

For practical purposes, including insurance reimbursement, the DSM determines what does and does not qualify as a psychiatric illness in the United States.  Because of this, changes to the document can lead to profound effects on patients’ lives.  Changing criteria can dictate who and who cannot be considered to have a mental illness worthy of treatment... and insurance coverage.

Nowhere have proposed changes to the upcoming edition of the DSM generated more angst, or media coverage, than in the area of autistic disorders.
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January 24th, 2012
03:20 PM ET

Human Factor: Living and thriving after the NFL

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, former NFL player Lamar Campbell explains why he's dedicated his life to helping educate high school football players about the dangers of the game.

In 2005, I was given an opportunity to work in the scouting department for the Detroit Lions, the only team that I had played for professionally.

I was still fairly young and energetic, a little heavier but seemingly healthy, and ready to attack this opportunity head on with the tenacity that I played the game. What I didn’t expect was a chance to spend a training camp with my childhood football idol Andre Waters.

Andre “Dirty” Waters, as he was dubbed by the local Philadelphia media, was considered one of the most feared hitters ever to play in the NFL.  To stand in his presence made me feel like a little kid again; craving his war stories, advice on life, coaching and how to evaluate talent.

After one of the first practices, I told him: “You made me want to play safety in the NFL. I modeled my game after you every time that I stepped on the field.”

His response haunts me today [Waters committed suicide in November 2006], but pushes me forward in our fight to understanding the importance of player safety and concussions. With a smile he answered, "But how do you feel?” At that time I enthusiastically replied, “I feel good.”
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Keeping brains active may help fight Alzheimer's plaque
January 24th, 2012
10:08 AM ET

Keeping brains active may help fight Alzheimer's plaque

People who keep their brains active throughout life - performing brain-stimulating activities like reading, writing, and playing games - appear to have lower levels of the protein that forms brain clogging amyloid plaque. Amyloid plaque is used by doctors and researchers to characterize Alzheimer’s Disease.

While numerous studies have found associations between being physically and mentally active and having lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers in a study published in the JAMA Archives of Neurology produced brain scan images to show that lifelong mental activities are associated with lower levels of amyloid deposits in the brain. The study was supported by grants from the Alzheimer's Association and the National Institutes of Health.
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How Gen X reacted to the H1N1 pandemic
January 24th, 2012
12:02 AM ET

How Gen X reacted to the H1N1 pandemic

In April 2009, the CDC identified a new virus in humans: H1N1, or what was then called swine flu, and the wheels of the public health machine started turning.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global H1N1 pandemic in June, and by October 2009, the first doses of an H1N1-specific vaccine were administered.

A study published Tuesday looks at how Americans in their thirties reacted to the availability of a vaccine.  In all, about one in five of those in Generation X got the H1N1 vaccine during the 2009-2010 pandemic, according to the researcher’s analysis of survey data.
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Narcissistic men have higher levels of stress hormone
January 23rd, 2012
05:00 PM ET

Narcissistic men have higher levels of stress hormone

Men who are narcissistic are likely to have higher levels of a primary stress hormone called cortisol, a new study finds.

However, the same trend was not as strong for women with narcissist traits, according to research published Monday in the journal Public Library of Science ONE.

“The more narcissistic, the more cortisol that men have in mundane situations,” said author Sara Konrath, who is the director of the Interdisciplinary Program on Empathy and Altruism Research at the University of Michigan.
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Magic mushrooms may be therapeutic
January 23rd, 2012
03:30 PM ET

Magic mushrooms may be therapeutic

Rave-goers and visitors to Amsterdam before December 2008 may be intimately familiar with magic mushrooms, but there's little scientific knowledge on what happens to the brain while tripping.

Now it appears that more research is warranted. A growing number of studies suggested that perhaps the mushrooms' key ingredient could work magic for certain mental disorders.

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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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