June 26th, 2012
05:11 PM ET
That morning cup o' joe or mid-afternoon coffee pick-me-up may play a role in keeping your heart healthy, depending on how much you drink.
A meta-analysis of five previously completed prospective studies finds that drinking two 8-ounce cups of coffee a day gives people an 11% lower risk of developing heart failure, compared to people who don't consume any coffee.
The analysis, published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation: Heart Failure, reviewed five studies conducted between 2001 and 2011 and included a total of 140,220 patients.
"Heart failure shares risk factors with other cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes are particularly strong risk factors for heart failure," explains Elizabeth Mostofsky, the first author of the analysis and a post doctoral research fellow at the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
June 26th, 2012
02:30 PM ET
Northwestern University researchers are validating procrasti-nappers everywhere – they say a 90-minute nap can actually help in learning a new skill.
At least when that skill is remembering a musical tune.
Participants in the study, published June 26 in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience, learned two different musical sequences on a computer screen while watching moving circles that went along with them, similar to video games such as Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution.
After practicing for 25 minutes, the participants took a 90-minute nap. The researchers monitored the participants’ brain activity, and when they entered the “slow wave sleep stage” - a period of deep sleep with occasional intervening periods of REM sleep - the psychologists played one of the two sequences quietly.
June 26th, 2012
10:01 AM ET
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other regulators are not using the best available science in their assessment of bisphenol-A's (BPA) safety, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Endocrine Society.
"Testing needs to include models of developmental exposure during critical life periods when organisms may be most vulnerable to even very low-dose exposure," says the world's largest group of researchers and clinicians who study how hormones function.
For a typical poison, a higher dose correlates directly with greater toxicity, but endocrine disrupting chemicals like BPA may be counter-intuitively more potent at lower levels, and during "windows of vulnerability" such as pregnancy, explains a 2009 scientific statement by the Endocrine Society.
That poses a problem for regulatory agencies' screening tests, which are based on traditional toxicology and do not detect the low-dose effects of chemicals on the endocrine system, said Frederick vom Saal, who co-authored the Endocrine Society's new statement.
June 25th, 2012
07:09 PM ET
The actual number of deaths from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic might have been more than 15 times higher than previously thought, according to a study released on Monday.
When the new H1N1 virus, often referred to as swine flu, spread around the world three years ago, 18,500 deaths were reported to the World Health Organization in the first 16 months of the pandemic. Based on this new study, published online in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, researchers estimate 284,400 people actually died in the first year the virus was circulating around the world.
According to a model developed by the study authors, the actual number of deaths linked to the H1N1 flu virus could range anywhere from 151,700 to 575,400. Lead study author Dr. Fatimah Dawood says she and her colleagues used three types of data to come up with their estimates:
June 25th, 2012
10:00 AM ET
Older women who don't get enough vitamin D may be slightly heavier than those who do.
A Kaiser Permanente study, published online in the recent issue of the Journal of Women's Health, looked at more than 4,600 women aged 65 and older for a four and one-half year period. Researchers found women with low levels of vitamin D in their blood gained about two pounds more than those with adequate levels of the vitamin.
So what’s the big deal, you ask?
June 24th, 2012
08:12 AM ET
Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at email@example.com.
Q: Is it true that coffee doesn't mix well with some medications?
A: That's true, unless you're drinking decaf. It's best not to combine large amounts of caffeine with any drug that has stimulant effects, such as pseudoephedrine (which is found in some cold and allergy meds), because the caffeine can heighten the drug's side effects, which may include weakness, nausea, and an irregular heartbeat.
Meanwhile, certain antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro), can interfere with the breakdown of caffeine in your body, extending the amount of time it stays in your system and prolonging its effects, such as insomnia or a bad case of the jitters. The herbal supplement echinacea can also do this.
June 22nd, 2012
09:34 AM ET
Knowing how to ride a bike is one thing, but having the ability to comfortably and safely share the road with other cyclists requires another level of skill.
These basic handling techniques will help you enjoy the transition from bike rider to full-blown cyclist, and, as an added bonus, can help save a little time on race day.
Hold a straight line
Whether riding on an open road or in a race, always look over your shoulder before swinging from one side of the road to the other. Before carving through a corner, always check your blind spot, especially in a race since the noise created by fellow cyclists isn’t always enough to alert you of their presence.
June 21st, 2012
02:00 PM ET
Here's what it takes to make a deadly virus transmissible through the air: as few as five genetic mutations, according to a new study.
This research, published in the journal Science, is the second of two controversial studies to finally be released that examines how the H5N1 bird flu virus can be genetically altered and transmitted in mammals. Publication of both studies had been delayed many months due to fears that the research could be misused and become a bio-security threat.
Although these particular engineered forms of H5N1 have not been found in nature, the virus has potential to mutate enough such that it could become airborne.
H5N1 influenza can be deadly to people, but in its natural forms it does not easily transfer between people through respiratory droplets, as far as scientists know. The World Health Organization has recorded 355 humans deaths from it out of 602 cases, although some research has questioned this high mortality rate.
The journals Science and Nature had agreed to postpone the publication of the two studies related to the genetically altered virus.
June 20th, 2012
05:33 PM ET
PTSD – posttraumatic stress disorder – usually is associated with military personnel traumatized by combat or people who’ve been victimized by violent crime or sexual assaults.
But new study finds that one in eight patients develop PTSD after experiencing a heart attack or other major heart event. The study, published online in PLoS One, also reveals that heart patients who experience PTSD face double the risk for another heart event or dying within one to three years, compared to heart patients who do not experience PTSD.
June 20th, 2012
01:40 PM ET
Senate Joint Resolution 37, the Senate bill that would overturn the Environmental Protection Agency's controversial Mercury and Air Toxics Standards or MATS, was voted down Wednesday by a margin of 46 to 53.
Introduced by Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) in February, the resolution was a challenge to the country's first national protections rule designed to limit the amount of heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and other toxic air pollutants released by power plants that burn coal and oil - toxins many suspect cause cancer and other health problems.
But Inhofe said the bill was specifically designed to kill the coal industry and the good paying jobs it provides. He led the charge to repeal the protections and vowed to keep fighting what he called the Obama administration's "damaging regulatory regime."
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.