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Anemia linked to increased risk of dementia
July 31st, 2013
04:08 PM ET

Anemia linked to increased risk of dementia

There is no single test to determine if someone has dementia. The harsh reality is that at this point, it can only be conclusively diagnosed during an autopsy.

So for now doctors rely on physical exams, lab work and cognitive indicators to diagnose dementia with a high degree of certainty while a patient is still alive.

Anemia may be one sign someone has an increased risk of developing dementia, according to a new study published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“I’ve been studying Alzheimer’s for a long time,” says study author Dr. Kristine Yaffe, of the University of California – San Francisco. “In particular, I’m interested in things you can modify: cardiovascular disease, sleep, physical activity. We’ve done a number of studies looking at how different chronic diseases of the body effect aging. We started looking into the issue of anemia... after seeing rudimentary studies that linked it to dementia.”
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July 29th, 2013
05:01 PM ET

Task force: Screen smokers for lung cancer

Editors note: This story was initially published in July. We're republishing because the final USPSTF recommendation was issued Monday.

For the first time the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is recommending lung cancer screening for people who have a high risk of developing the disease. People who have a "30 pack year history of smoking" (for instance, at least 2 packs a year for 15 years), who are between the ages of 55 and 79, and who have smoked their last cigarette within the last 15 years are considered high risk.

The USPSTF's recommendations were published Monday. When it last looked at this in 2004, the group said the data was insufficient to recommend screening for lung cancer.

The task force's new recommendations are based on a review of seven clinical trials where researchers found Low-Dose Computed Tomography (CT) scanning was an effective way to detect lung cancer before patients began to show symptoms.

"Close to 160,000 people in the U.S. die from lung cancer every year," says Dr. Michael LeFevre, co-vice chair of USPSTF. That's more than breast, prostate and colon cancer deaths combined. LeFevre estimates that screening the right people may prevent up to 20,000 deaths each year.

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Filed under: Cancer • Conditions • Smoking

Diaper needs put stress on moms
July 29th, 2013
02:33 PM ET

Diaper needs put stress on moms

For many new moms, the first few years of childhood are a sea of stress. "Is my child eating enough?” “When will my child sleep through the night?” "Should I be doing this differently?"

Low-income moms face additional stress when it comes to providing diapers for their babies, new research shows.

A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics shows nearly 30% of women have some sort of diaper need for their children. Eight percent of the women surveyed reported needing to stretch their diapers to make them last, meaning they're not changing diapers as often as they should.  

Re-using diapers and leaving them on too long can lead to more urinary tract infections and diaper rash. That's not only bad for the baby, it's also bad for mom, the study authors say. The researchers found 30% of the mothers surveyed reported experiencing some sort of emotional stress or depression over diapers. That stress can, in turn, impact their children.
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Should there be choking warning labels on food?
High-risk choking foods, including hot dogs, seeds and nuts, were more likely to require hospitalizations.
July 29th, 2013
12:01 AM ET

Should there be choking warning labels on food?

Choking is a leading cause of injury in children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, especially those four years and younger. Although the number of choking incidents involving toys and toy parts has gone down in the last 20 years due to manufacturer and federal government warnings, the number of food-choking cases in youngsters is still high.

"We have done a great job in this country (of) preventing choking in children on toys, “says Dr. Gary Smith, co-author of a new study on choking injuries and a professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “Since the 1990s we've had laws and regulations, systems where we can monitor these injuries when they happen. We have no such systems in place currently for food."

The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, reviewed thousands of statistics on children who had choking-related emergency room visits between 2001 to 2009. The study authors found that an average of 12,400 children under the age of 15 were treated for non-fatal, food-related choking each year, which equals about 34 children per day.
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June 2013 supermoon
July 26th, 2013
09:14 AM ET

Full moon may disrupt sleep, study says

You don't have to be a werewolf to feel restless when the full moon rises.

A new study in the journal Current Biology suggests that people tend to get lower quality sleep around the time of full moons, snoozing an average of 20 minutes less than they do during a new moon.

"If you ask people, at least in Switzerland, about 40% report feeling the moon during sleep, or they blame the full moon for bad sleep," said lead study author Christian Cajochen of the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel in Switzerland.

That's why he and his colleagues decided to investigate.
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Teen girls still skipping HPV vaccine
July 25th, 2013
03:25 PM ET

Teen girls still skipping HPV vaccine

Nearly half of all adolescent girls are still skipping the recommended HPV vaccine, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC report shows that the human papillomavirus vaccination rates for this group remained relatively unchanged for 2012, with 53.8% of teen girls receiving one dose of the vaccine and only 33.4% completing the three dose series. The numbers mirror percentages from 2011, when 53% of adolescent girls received one dose of the HPV vaccine and 34.8% completed the series.

The CDC previously attributed these low vaccination rates in part to the inadequate number of encounters with healthcare providers. However, new reports have shown that 84% of un-vaccinated girls have visited a doctor or other provider's office, where they have received other vaccinations but did not receive the HPV vaccine. The report suggests that coverage could be as high as 92.6% if the HPV vaccination had been initiated during these visits.
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Skip breakfast, lose weight? Not so fast
July 25th, 2013
09:36 AM ET

Skip breakfast, lose weight? Not so fast

Skipping breakfast doesn’t mean you’ll consume more calories later in the day, according to a new report from Cornell University.

Researchers split 400 college-age students into two groups; they fed one group breakfast and the other no breakfast. They then tracked their eating habits throughout the day and measured the amount of calories they were consuming.

While the non-breakfast eating group reported feeling hungry by lunchtime, they didn’t consume larger lunches compared to the group who had eaten breakfast. In fact, the breakfast skippers had consumed roughly 400 fewer calories total at the end of the day.

“The problem in our culture is that we consume too many calories, and we have to look around at ways to help us consume less,” says David Levitsky, study author and professor of nutritional sciences and of psychology at Cornell.

“And we found that if you are trying to lose weight, then skipping breakfast isn’t necessarily the worst thing for you to do.”
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More children being injured by toppling TVs
July 22nd, 2013
05:19 PM ET

More children being injured by toppling TVs

Of all the dangers you've imagined your child facing, a falling TV probably didn't make the top of the list. But a new study shows parents may need to pay more attention to their flatscreen safety.

An average of 17,000 children come to the hospital with TV-related injuries each year, according to the study, which published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. The researchers looked at emergency room data between 1990 and 2011.

"Although the overall rate of TV-related injuries stayed fairly constant, the rate of injury associated with a falling TV almost doubled during the study period," the study authors concluded.

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Confused about estrogen therapy?
July 19th, 2013
02:30 PM ET

Confused about estrogen therapy?

Hormone replacement therapy has been a controversial issue for a lot of women over the last decade. Many have rejected any type of hormone therapy since a large, federally funded study found hormone replacement therapy could increase a woman’s risks for heart disease and strokes.

Now, a new study out of Yale School of Medicine suggests anywhere from 18,000 to 91,000 women in their 50s who had hysterectomies may have died prematurely in the last decade because they did not take estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy.
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Blacks die earlier from homicide, heart disease
Life expectancy is the highest it has ever been for Americans, but whites still live longer than blacks.
July 18th, 2013
10:48 AM ET

Blacks die earlier from homicide, heart disease

Americans are living longer than ever before. But if you are an African-American in the United States, a new report shows your life, on average, will not be as long as your white neighbors’.

The report comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.  Lead author Ken Kochanek says his agency has always run these kinds of numbers internally. The results, though, get a little lost in the larger report on overall mortality rates that goes out annually to the public. This year the agency wanted to highlight some of the important racial disparities in the data.

This particular report shows a deeply troubling trend, Kochanek said: Too many black men are the victims of homicides, and that is one of the main reasons black men, on average, don’t live as long as white men do.

The report

The study looked at life expectancy at birth between 1970 and 2010.  The National Center for Health Statistics collects this data directly from death certificates. By law, a death certificate is filed with every person who dies.  The certificates note cause of death and race.

This particular analysis compared life expectancy rates by race and gender. It also looked at the causes of death and how these causes influenced the difference in life expectancy between the black and white populations. It then sliced the numbers even further by comparing the causes of death and their influence on life expectancy between black and white males born in 2010, and black and white females born in 2010. The researchers did not look at socioeconomic status.

The results

Research shows that life expectancy at birth increased from 70.8 years in 1970 to 78.7 years in 2010 for the population overall – that’s an 11% increase.  Life expectancy in the United States has been gradually improving since 1900.  The 78.7 average was a new high.  In 2010 however, the life expectancy for the African-American population still fell short of the white population’s by 3.8 years. Studies have shown that white Americans have always lived longer on average than black Americans - at least for as long as the U.S. government has collected this data. 

Black men did fare the worst of all the groups they compared – with their life expectancy at 4.7 years lower than white men, who live on average to the age of 76.5.

The statisticians found that black men don’t live as long as white men primarily because of higher incidence rates of death from heart disease, homicide and cancer. It is the homicide issue that stands out most for Kochanek.

“The causes of death that account for these differences between the populations haven’t changed all that much,” Kochanek said. “Heart disease, diabetes, stroke – these differences always seem to be there. But what’s interesting in this particular report is just what a difference homicide plays ...  The difference between homicides for black and white men in particular is gigantic.”

“From a public health standpoint I’m sure the experts would say it’s especially worrying,” he said. “You would hope the (racial disparities) would be accounted for by natural causes. You can try and do prevention work to keep heart disease down or diabetes for instance. But when you see homicide as having such a big impact it’s like, ‘Wow, this is a much more complicated issue to fix.'”

White women still have the longest life expectancy at birth - 81 .3 years - followed by black women at 78 years.

This report is the first in a series that will take a closer look at causes of death. The CDC will continue to study other life expectancy issues with ethnic and racial populations in the United States.


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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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