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This is your brain on smoking
November 28th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

This is your brain on smoking

That cigarette may be doing more damage than meets the eye. If you’ve been smoking for an extended period of time, you’re likely familiar with at least some – if not all – of the bodily symptoms associated with smoking, including but certainly not limited to: Cravings, coughing, shortness of breath and changes to teeth, hair and skin. Coronary heart disease and/or lung cancer might not be far behind.

But a new study published in the journal Age & Ageing concludes that smoking can damage your mind, too. A consistent association was observed between smoking and lower cognitive functioning, including memory.

The bottom line: Smoking and long-term high blood pressure appear to increase the risk of cognitive decline. FULL POST

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Filed under: Addiction • Alzheimer's • Brain • Cancer • Heart • Longevity • Smoking • Stroke

Research: Toxic chemicals in your living room
November 28th, 2012
10:35 AM ET

Research: Toxic chemicals in your living room

Could the couch in your living room be toxic? Some scientists say yes.

A study in this week’s Environmental Science and Technology journal measured just how many toxic flame-retardant chemicals are in our furniture.

Researchers found that 85% of couches contained some combination of flame retardant chemicals in their cushion foam. Aside from upholstered furniture, flame retardant chemicals can also be found in car seats and nursing pillows, or any other product that has polyurethane foam. In addition, it can be used in carpeting and electronics. FULL POST


November 28th, 2012
09:57 AM ET

Gymnastics and acrobatics help performer rise above addiction

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.  This week we introduce you to Joe Putignano, the "Crystal Man" in Cirque du Soleil's touring show "Totem."  He shares his story of how he was a rising gymnast with Olympic potential, who came crashing down into a life of alcohol, cocaine and heroin addiction.   After two life-threatening overdoses, he finally got clean, and says it was gymnastics that pulled him back to life.  

Spotlights drench over me in a warm glow, and in this illumination I can no longer hide my past from the world - any insecurities will be exposed to an audience of thousands.  In fear I hold my breath, binding myself to the band’s soft prelude, slowly unraveling myself from a tight spinning ball.  Evolutio means “unrolling” in Latin and is the theme of our Cirque du Soleil show Totem.  Evolution is the common thread in my life, from athlete to drug addict to performer.

The voice of my horrific past sings to me over the live music, and my memories of my life with heroin bleed into my performance.  I am reminded of the fine-tipped syringe I held in my hand with the small words printed “Use once and destroy.”  I feel a strong connection to that statement, envious of those who can use once, put it down, and not be destroyed by it. FULL POST


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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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