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August 23rd, 2012
11:00 AM ET

Fast facts on West Nile virus

The recent West Nile virus outbreak is the largest ever seen in the United States, according to new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of cases so far this year is the highest recorded through September since the disease was first detected in the United States in 1999. As of Tuesday, 48 states had reported human infections. The cases reported to the CDC as of Tuesday total 2,636, including 118 deaths.

Here are some fast facts about the virus. For more on what you need to know to protect yourself and your family, read Elizabeth Cohen's Empowered Patient column.

Background on the West Nile virus

- Symptoms of infection include: fatigue, fever, headache, body aches, rash, and swollen lymph nodes.

- Those who become ill may develop West Nile encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.

- There is no vaccine or specific treatment for West Nile virus.

- The virus is spread by mosquitoes, which contract West Nile from infected birds.

- According to the CDC, only 1% of people bitten by West Nile-infected mosquitoes become seriously ill.

- It is not known how the virus arrived in the United States.

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Filed under: Conditions • Infectious diseases • Public Health

FDA warns of dangerous dietary supplements
Reumofan Plus and Reumofan Plus Premium are used to treat conditions including arthritis, osteoporosis and muscle pain.
August 22nd, 2012
10:14 AM ET

FDA warns of dangerous dietary supplements

The Food and Drug Administration has received dozens of reports about harmful side effects - including stroke and death - linked to two dietary supplements currently on the market, Reumofan Plus and Reumofan Plus Premium.

The agency has issued a safety alert to warn consumers about the dangers of the supplements. They are both marketed as natural dietary supplements but the FDA claims they have potentially dangerous active ingredients that aren't listed on their labels. The supplements are used to treat arthritis, osteoporosis, muscle pain, bone cancer and a host of other ailments.

They are manufactured in Mexico by Riger Naturals, but sold in the United States in some stores, Internet sites and flea markets. Most are labeled in Spanish but there could be versions with English labels.

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August 22nd, 2012
07:12 AM ET

Overcoming barriers to bring mobility to the world

Editor's note: 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. Ralph Braun was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in 1947.

I was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when I was just 6 years old.  Doctors told my parents I’d only live to be a young teenager. 

They encouraged my parents to leave me behind to be studied, to be institutionalized. Fortunately, my parents refused.

Years later, we discovered that the doctors had diagnosed me with the wrong type of MD. Eventually the disease took away my strength, just not as quickly as the doctors had originally predicted. 

By the time I was 13, I was relying on piggyback rides from my dad to get out of my wheelchair and into the back seat of my family’s car.
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5 secrets you should never keep from your cardiologist
August 21st, 2012
12:49 PM ET

5 secrets you should never keep from your cardiologist

Editor's note: These tips were originally published on CNN.com in 2011. To read the full article, click here.

When Rosie O'Donnell wrote about her recent heart attack on her blog, she mentioned several symptoms that she ignored before going to her cardiologist.

"i had an ache in my chest, both my arms were sore... i became nauseous, my skin was clammy, i was very very hot, i threw up... i googled womens heart attack symptoms, i had many of them, but really? – i thought – naaaa."

Heart disease is the number-one killer of both men and women, but O'Donnell's response is common, experts say - especially among women.

Although most report symptoms of chest pain with a heart attack, women are more likely to report unusual symptoms like back pain, jaw pain, light-headedness and extreme fatigue, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

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How to buy healthy food on a tight budget
August 21st, 2012
11:18 AM ET

How to buy healthy food on a tight budget

It’s hard to argue with a $1 double cheeseburger. Perhaps that’s why so many believe that eating healthy is expensive.

The myth has become so pervasive that everyone from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to health care providers is attempting to dispel it. Now the Environmental Working Group is joining in.

The EWG has combined forces with anti-hunger group Share Our Strength to create a healthy shopping guide for low-income households: “Good Food on a Tight Budget.”

The guide contains lists of “best buys” – those that pack the most nutrition for the lowest cost – in each food group, cooking/shopping tips, recipes, a meal planner and a price tracker.
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Decline in circumcisions could cost billions
Declining circumcision rates in the United States could wind up costing billions later, researchers warn.
August 21st, 2012
10:15 AM ET

Decline in circumcisions could cost billions

As the number of American parents increasingly leave their baby boys uncircumcised, HIV and other sexually transmitted disease rates are likely to climb, according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University, and the costs associated with those diseases could reach into the billions.

"The medical benefits of male circumcision are quite clear," said Dr. Aaron Tobian, an assistant professor of pathology at Johns Hopkins and lead author of the study published Monday in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. "But while the medical evidence has been increasingly more positive, male circumcision rates in the U.S. have been decreasing."

Specifically, he says, circumcision rates had been fairly stable in the 1970s, at about 79%. By 1999, he says less than 63% of boys had the procedure, and by 2010, the rate had dropped to 55%.

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Antioxidants: Your body's very own James Bond
Eating well-balanced meals with plenty of antioxidants is key to keeping your skin healthy.
August 21st, 2012
06:59 AM ET

Antioxidants: Your body's very own James Bond

Editor's note:  Sarah Neumann has been a dermatology physician assistant since 2000 and has a Master's of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies from Midwestern University.

They might not be dressed in tuxes or have a martini in hand, but they're your body's go-to defense in the fight against aging. They team up against disease and diffuse free radicals while combating the aging process.

Their name: Oxidants - antioxidants.

Just like James Bond, they work to save the world and beautiful women from bad guys. Only this time the beautiful woman is you and the free radicals (bad guys) are invading your body. They're working to keep you feeling healthy and looking young.

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August 20th, 2012
11:50 AM ET

If my options are sink or swim, I choose swim!

Editor's Note: Glenn Keller is one of seven CNN viewers selected from around the country to train for and compete alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon in September.  At the beginning of the challenge, Keller weighed more than 300 pounds and suffered from sleep apnea due to his obesity.

Today, I got a chance to swim.

There’s nothing particularly unusual about that, but today I got to swim in Jessup, Maryland. By now, everyone knows that I am on the road a lot. I'm only home once a week and previously, that was my only chance each week to swim.

However my truck route had been taking me to Jessup, Maryland, almost every week – I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've been in, to or near the truck stop there!

The last time I was there I happened to notice a place just a block away that had a pool. Granted, it’s a place where they train little babies to swim, but after speaking to the manager and telling him about the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge, he agreed to let me swim there too.
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Anesthesia in young kids may carry developmental risks
Children who have anesthesia before the age of 3 may be at higher risk of developmental delay issues later in life.
August 20th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

Anesthesia in young kids may carry developmental risks

While surgery carries risks for anyone, “going under” can have some particular risks for the very young.

A study coming out in the September issue of Pediatrics finds that children who have anesthesia before the age of 3, are at a higher risk for developmental delay issues later in life.

The study looked at more than 2,600 children in Australia who were tracked as part of the Raine Study. Authors found that by the age of 10, children who’d been exposed to anesthesia at a young age were more than twice as likely to have developmental issues with listening and speaking comprehension.
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Fewer teens having oral sex
More than a third of teens engage in oral sex by the time they reach 17, according to the CDC.
August 17th, 2012
10:41 AM ET

Fewer teens having oral sex

Fewer teens aged 15 to 17 are having oral sex now than in 2002, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, but the number remains high.

The report, based on data from The National Survey of Family Growth, found that more than a third of teens had engaged in oral sex by the time they turned 17. That number climbed to almost 50% by age 19, and more than 80% for 24-year-olds.

The study - based on computer surveys given to over 6,000 teens - also looked at the timing of first oral sex in relation to the timing of first vaginal intercourse. It found that the prevalence of having oral sex before vaginal intercourse was about the same as those having vaginal intercourse before oral sex.

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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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