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February 29th, 2012
03:08 PM ET

Nutrition labeling for meat becomes mandatory

The next time you shop at  the grocery store, you may see something new– nutrition labels on meat.  The same types of labels you already find on other foods.

In 1993, the U.S. Department of Agriculture made nutrition labeling voluntary for many types of raw meats. The labeling becomes mandatory on Thursday.

The new rule affects all ground meat and poultry and 40 of the most popular cuts of meat in the United States such as chicken breasts, steaks, pork chops, roasts, lamb and veal. If the nutrition facts are not on the package, as in the case of some larger cuts of meat, look for posters or signs at the meat counter for this information.
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Sugar makes up 16% of kids' daily diet
February 29th, 2012
03:05 PM ET

Sugar makes up 16% of kids' daily diet

It’s not a shocker: Kids eat lots of sugar.

About 16% of their daily calories come from sugar, according to a new report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

By sugar the report means sugars in processed foods like soda, cakes and ice cream. It also includes sweet substitutes like corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, fructose sweetener, honey, molasses, anhydrous dextrose, crystal dextrose and dextrin.

About 66% of sugary foods were consumed at home, according to the report. This means that the vast majority of kids get their sugar fix at their houses rather than school cafeterias, convenience stores or vending machines.
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Why some patients take out their own eyes
February 27th, 2012
06:30 PM ET

Why some patients take out their own eyes

Remember the myth of Oedipus, where the king of Ancient Thebes stabbed his own eyes after he realized he'd killed his own father and married his mother?

As gory as it sounds, intentionally blinding oneself isn't entirely mythical. Although rare, there have been cases of people seriously injuring their own eyes, and sometimes completely removing them. There's even a technical term, self-enucleation, for the behavior of taking out your eyeballs.

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Study shows risk with sleeping pills; conclusion criticized
February 27th, 2012
06:30 PM ET

Study shows risk with sleeping pills; conclusion criticized

Common sleep medications may be linked to a shorter lifespan, according to a study released Monday in the British Medical Journal.

Researchers compared 10,500 adults who took prescription strength sleep aids with people who did not. Those who popped just one to 18 sleeping pills during the course of a year, had a 3.5 times increase risk of early death than those prescribed none. The increased jumped fivefold for people who took three sleeping pills or more per week.

"After controlling for several factors, we saw the risk rose in tandem with the more doses people consumed," says Dr. Daniel Kripke, study author and psychiatrist  at Viterbi Family Sleep Center in San Diego. "The mortality hazard was very high, it even surprised us."

But one sleep expert not affiliated with the study immediately sought to debunk the conclusions, saying it leads to unnecessary confusion to consumers.

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The animal products in your medicine cabinet
February 27th, 2012
06:30 PM ET

The animal products in your medicine cabinet

Most of us put a good deal of thought into the food we put in our bodies. But do we ever consider the food in our medicine?

That's right, the food in our medicine.

While television and print ads alike are loaded with messages about potential serious side effects, prescription drug disclaimers are issued to warn against possible unintended consequences resulting from a drug’s active ingredient(s).

But what you may not know is that the bulk of your prescription pill is made up of inactive ingredients, known as “excipients," and that your drugs couldn’t be made without them. Quite simply, excipients are what encapsulates your capsule or forms your pill into a solid as opposed to a powder.

Here’s the rub: One of the most common excipients used is gelatin, which is almost universally of animal origin. This presents a problem, as you might imagine, to those living within religious or dietary restrictions.

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Study: Brain suffers when fish oil falls short
February 27th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Study: Brain suffers when fish oil falls short

People with diets short on omega-3 fatty acids – the kind found in fish oil – were more likely to experience accelerated brain aging, a new study found.

“People with lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids had lower brain volumes that were equivalent to about two years of brain aging,” said Dr. Zaldy S. Tan, a member of the UCLA Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research in the Department of Neurology.

The study was published Tuesday in the print edition of the journal Neurology.

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The healthiest state of them all is...
February 27th, 2012
03:46 PM ET

The healthiest state of them all is...

Aloha. The state with the highest score for “well-being” is Hawaii, according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a poll that surveys the physical, mental and emotional health of Americans.

With its fair weather and scenic views, Hawaii led in overall well-being as its residents were most likely to report that they had smiled and/or laughed the day before and had the lowest rates of stress and depression.

They also tended to report better eating and exercise habits, and lower smoking rates. FULL POST


February 27th, 2012
01:45 PM ET

Olympian Jennie Finch inspires triathlete

Editor's Note: Denise Castelli is one of seven CNN viewers selected to be a part of the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge program. Denise lost her leg to an infection following a tragic accident in a collegiate softball game. Last week, she received words of encouragement from two-time Olympic softball player Jennie Finch. Check back on CNN.com/health for more on Finch later this week.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a ball player. In fact, softball has been the only constant through out my life. But for me, it has always represented more than just a game. It was an opportunity - a chance to push myself, to achieve goals and build strong relationships.

While those relationships were often with teammates, it also (if not more importantly) solidified my bond with my father. We spent numerous evenings on the field, practicing fly balls over and over. Ball after ball, he would keep hitting to me until the sun went down.

It was during those summer evenings that my passion for softball was ignited. From that point on it was the only thing I ever wanted to do.
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Score a home run with safety for kids
February 27th, 2012
10:54 AM ET

Score a home run with safety for kids

Break out the bats, balls and gloves! For millions of children, spring is the much-awaited start to baseball and softball season. And in order to ensure fun is had by all, the American Academy of Pediatrics is asking parents, coaches, pediatricians and the players themselves to take proper safety precautions.

In 2007, statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) showed an estimated 109,202 emergency room injuries in kids ages 5 to 14 related to softball and baseball.  Many involved the head, face or fingers, wrists and hands.

Though extremely infrequent, the CPSC says 88 baseball-related deaths occurred in the years between 1973 and 1995 - that’s approximately four deaths per year.  The most common causes were direct-ball impact with the chest or head; other causes included contact with the bat or ball.
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February 27th, 2012
07:32 AM ET

Boys should get HPV vaccination too

Parents have been hearing a lot about the human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine. But what was once designed solely for girls and young women up to the age of 26 to protect them from different strains of the virus, is now also being strongly recommended for younger boys.

Following in the footsteps of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending females and males at 11 to 12 years of age have routine HPV vaccinations.

Doctors say the vaccine is most effective if administered before a child becomes sexually active, and responds better in the bodies of younger children, usually between the ages of 9 to 15.
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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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