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A migraine may change your brain
August 28th, 2013
07:09 PM ET

A migraine may change your brain

Some 37 million Americans suffer from migraines, those incredibly painful and often debilitating headaches. While they've been known to knock a person out, migraines weren't thought to permanently affect the brain - until now.  A new study published Wednesday in the journal Neurology suggests migraines may indeed leave a mark.

"Our review and meta-analysis study suggests that the disorder may permanently alter brain structure in multiple ways," said study author Dr. Messoud Ashina, a neurologist at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Background

A migraine is a common type of headache where throbbing pain is typically felt on just one side of the head.  Sufferers experience sensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting. Women are three times more likely to be affected by migraines than men.
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New deadly flu launched by live bird markets
August 21st, 2013
05:01 PM ET

New deadly flu launched by live bird markets

The new strain of bird flu that killed at least 40 people in China this year likely evolved through close contact between ducks and chickens in markets selling live birds, according to a genetic analysis published in the journal Nature. At least 130 people became infected during the outbreak, which began in March.

“We clearly identified that the source of human infection came from the infected chickens, not any other types of birds,” said Yi Guan, a professor of virology at the University of Hong Kong and one of the study authors. The analysis also shows the virus was shed from the birds' oral or upper respiratory tract, not from fecal material. According to Yi, this suggests that H7N9 reasonably well adapted to infect humans, a finding that's supported by other research.

The research group also discovered a previously unrecognized variety of bird flu – an H7N7 strain, with a genetic makeup similar to the novel H7N9 strain. The H7N7 strain was also able to infect mammals in laboratory conditions.

Any variety of influenza is broadly characterized by two of its proteins: the type of hemaglutinin (“H”) and the type of neuraminidase (“N”).
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Antipsychotics linked to diabetes in kids
August 21st, 2013
04:00 PM ET

Antipsychotics linked to diabetes in kids

Antipsychotics have already been linked to type II diabetes in adults. Now a new study shows a connection between these medications and the chronic medical condition in kids as well.

Researchers report in the journal JAMA Psychiatry that children taking antipsychotics have three times the risk of developing type II diabetes, compared to children taking other psychotropic medications (drugs prescribed to treat mental disorders).

The study authors were surprised by the magnitude of the results. But the findings make sense, given that the side effects of antipsychotics include weight gain and insulin resistance, said Wayne A. Ray, study co-author and researcher in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. However, the study shows an association, not a cause-effect relationship.

It's not uncommon for an adult taking antipsychotic medications to gain 20 to 40 pounds in a relatively short period of time, Ray said. Similar weight gain effects have been observed in children, proportionate to their body sizes.
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Some shoe insoles don't relieve knee pain
August 20th, 2013
04:01 PM ET

Some shoe insoles don't relieve knee pain

For patients with medial knee osteoarthritis, lateral wedge insoles do not reduce knee pain, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  Medial knee osteoarthritis is when the cushioning layer (cartilage) between the knees deteriorates over time resulting in the bone rubbing against each other leaving a person with knee pain, stiffness and swelling.  This injury is becoming more prevalent and can make some everyday activities more difficult, including walking, running and using stairs.

Obesity, genetics, biological and environmental factors as well as increased usage can make someone more prone to developing knee osteoarthritis.  Using shoe inserts is a fairly common treatment for knee pain because it's not invasive and it's fairly inexpensive.

Researchers reviewed 12 studies that included a total of 885 participants, 502 who received lateral wedge insoles for the treatment of knee pain.

"We don't seem to see a difference in pain when using a lateral wedge compared to a flat wedge," said lead study author Matthew Parkes. Parkes, who is also a statistician at the University of Manchester, noted that although using the lateral wedge seems like an attractive treatment because it's not invasive - and pretty cheap - the data doesn't support an average overall effect.
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Filed under: Arthritis • Conditions • Orthopedics • Pain

Copper may be a trigger of Alzheimer's disease
August 19th, 2013
03:54 PM ET

Copper may be a trigger of Alzheimer's disease

Copper, which is found in anything from drinking water to red meats, may be an environmental trigger of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study.

The study, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests copper keeps toxic proteins from leaving the brain.

It is clear that, over time, copper impairs the systems through which amyloid beta is removed from the brain, said Rashid Deane, a research professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center  Department of Neurosurgery, member of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine, and lead author of the study.  This causes the protein "to accumulate in the brain and form the plaques that are the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease." FULL POST


Does soda make kids violent?
August 16th, 2013
12:15 AM ET

Does soda make kids violent?

Yet another study is warning parents to limit soda consumption with children.  While previous studies have linked soda consumption with higher rates of obesity, a study published in the journal Pediatrics, says it also causes aggressive, violent behavior in children as young as 5 years old.

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Study: Heavy coffee drinking in people under 55 linked to early death
August 15th, 2013
08:00 PM ET

Study: Heavy coffee drinking in people under 55 linked to early death

When you make coffee with breakfast, or grab a to-go cup at a cafe before work, or raid your office's break room for a cup in the afternoon, you're probably not thinking about how scientists are studying it.

So we'll just tell you: Many studies have looked at the health effects of coffee, even though measuring the potential harms and benefits is not as easy as chugging a shot of espresso. Since a whole range of lifestyle and genetic factors influence a person's physical well-being, it's hard to know exactly if, or how, or to what extent, coffee would be good or bad for anyone's longterm health.

The latest study [PDF], published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found an association between drinking more than 28 cups of coffee a week and an increased risk of death from all causes, in people 55 years old and younger. One cup of coffee is 8 ounces.

That doesn't prove that coffee causes death. It also seems to contradict a study in the New England Journal of Medicine last year, which found that people who drink two or more cups of coffee a day have a reduced risk of dying from particular diseases than those who consume little or no coffee.

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Obesity kills more Americans than we thought
August 15th, 2013
04:01 PM ET

Obesity kills more Americans than we thought

Just days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released statistics showing promise in the fight against childhood obesity, another study suggests the American public health system shouldn't be celebrating quite yet.

While new statistics show childhood obesity rates in the United States are dropping, obesity in adults still accounts for 18% of deaths among black or white Americans between ages 40 and 85, according to a study published this week in the American Journal of Public Health. Researchers say that's approximately 1 in 5 black or white Americans who are dying from illnesses related to obesity.

Even though the statistics may not surprise those who work in public health, they are nearly three times higher than previous estimates, according to study authors.  FULL POST


Fatty fish may help prevent rheumatoid arthritis
August 12th, 2013
06:35 PM ET

Fatty fish may help prevent rheumatoid arthritis

Numerous medical studies have shown that fatty fish is healthy for the heart. Now researchers say it may also help prevent a debilitating type of arthritis.

Just one serving a week of a fatty fish such as salmon, or four servings a week of a leaner fish such as cod, may cut your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by half, according to a study in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

The study

Researchers reviewed the diets of 32,000 Swedish women who filled out two food questionnaires, one in the late 1980s and another a decade later.
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Oprah and Einstein photos offer clues about early dementia
August 12th, 2013
04:05 PM ET

Oprah and Einstein photos offer clues about early dementia

You are looking at a woman's face; the contours and features seem so familiar.  You see the billowing brown hair, the broad smile, the almond-shaped eyes.  You may even be able to describe things about her:  Famous talk show host, actress in "The Color Purple," philanthropist.

You feel a familiar pang of frustration because the name seems to be in your grasp, but you cannot come up with it.

The person, of course, is Oprah Winfrey.  The inability to conjure the name of such a famous face, for some people, is one of several symptoms of a brain disease called primary progressive aphasia (PPA).

The disease "affects a person's ability to communicate," said Tamar Gefen, a doctoral candidate at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, adding that the disease attacks language centers in the brain.

"Slowly, over time a person loses the ability to name, comprehend, write and communicate," Gefen said.

The loss is not fleeting, but persistent, progressive, and socially crippling.  Patients do not just have difficulty naming Oprah, but can have problems recognizing their own family members or friends.  All of that makes having an accurate test for the disease important.

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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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