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July 11th, 2012
06:27 PM ET

Rare genetic mutation protects against Alzheimer's

With more than 5 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, the race is on to surface clues about causes and prevention.

An important breakthrough for the research field comes in the journal Nature this week. Researchers say they found a rare genetic mutation in Iceland that appears to protect against Alzheimer's disease.

The mutation appears to slow the production of the beta-amyloid protein, long considered to be a cause of Alzheimer's. This mechanism helps validate the theory that beta-amyloid plaques – an accumulation of the protein - cause this form of dementia for which no cure has been found. The research team was led by Dr. Kari Stefansson, chief executive of the Icelandic company DeCode Genetics. They studied data from the genomes of nearly 1,800 Icelandic people.

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Studies highlight effectiveness of HIV prevention drug
July 11th, 2012
05:45 PM ET

Studies highlight effectiveness of HIV prevention drug

A drug widely used to treat HIV is also highly effective at preventing infection in HIV-free individuals - as long as those individuals take the drug every day as prescribed, newly released trial data shows.

The drug, an antiretroviral pill known as Truvada, interferes with the replication of the most common HIV virus and can reduce the risk of new infection by 62% or more if taken consistently, according to the results of three studies published today on the website of the New England Journal of Medicine.

In May, based on these and other studies, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee recommended that the agency approve Truvada for men who have sex with men, people whose romantic partner is HIV-positive, and other high-risk groups. If approved, Truvada would be the first drug indicated for the prevention of sexually transmitted HIV.

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Filed under: Health.com • HIV/AIDS

July 11th, 2012
03:21 PM ET

Cancer survivor helps other patients survive

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. Richard Dickens wanted to help cancer patients, but he never imagined he'd have to battle disease himself before being able to do so. 

Three words unite all cancer patients: “You have cancer.” These words shock the mind and for many begin a period of denial.

Denial is not a bad word.  As someone once said in a young adult group I attended, “sometimes there is a healthy dose of denial.”

I experienced a healthy dose of denial when I was diagnosed with stage 4 follicular lymphoma at 37.  Before my diagnosis, I had just received my acceptance to attend graduate school to study social work. I was an avid athlete and a competitive marathon runner. I felt I was at the peak of good health.

Then one morning, when I lifted my arm and saw a swollen lymph node, I knew it was serious.  Walking numbly through weeks of tests and appointments with several doctors at different hospitals, I learned my prognosis.  The good news was that my cancer responded to chemotherapy, but the bad news was that it was terminal.  I asked a nurse and doctor how long I had to live; they told me I had maybe 10 years.
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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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