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September 25th, 2013
05:04 PM ET

Study questions brain benefit of omega-3s

If there were a food or dietary supplement guaranteed to help preserve our thinking skills, memory and verbal fluency later in life, we'd all take it. Unfortunately, we don't have such a miracle pill.

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish and nuts, have been touted as potential brain-boosters in aging. In some studies they were shown to be associated with a lower risk of dementia.

A new study in the journal Neurology is a knock against that theory, but more research needs to be done to confirm, as it does not prove or disprove a cause-and-effect relationship.

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Video chat may help language learning
September 24th, 2013
12:59 PM ET

Video chat may help language learning

As a graduate student studying how children develop language, Sarah Roseberry made an interesting observation.  Parents would come into her lab at Temple University and talk about how they Skyped with grandparents in places like the Dominican Republic.

"The parents would swear their children were learning Spanish," recalls Roseberry, now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington. "The more we thought about it, the more we realized this made sense."

Roseberry decided to take her theory into the research lab.  What she found was intriguing: Language can be learned via video chat, as long as the conversation allows for meaningful back-and-forth exchanges.

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Being married may help cancer survival
September 23rd, 2013
05:32 PM ET

Being married may help cancer survival

Being married may significantly improve the likelihood of surviving cancer, researchers say.

In a new study of more than 700,000 people with diagnoses of the most deadly cancers in the United States, patients who were married were more likely to detect their disease early, receive potentially curable treatments and live longer. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The researchers observed a 20% reduction in deaths among the patients who were married compared to unmarried patients - a benefit bigger than several kinds of chemotherapy used for treating cancer.

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Vitamin B may lower stroke risk
September 19th, 2013
02:33 PM ET

Vitamin B may lower stroke risk

New evidence suggests taking vitamin B supplements may help reduce the risk of stroke.

A study, published this week in the online issue of Neurology, analyzed 14 randomized clinical trials of vitamin B that included a total of 54,913 participants. All of the studies compared the supplement use with a placebo or a very low-dose B vitamin. The patients were then followed for a minimum of six months.

The purpose of this meta-analysis was to see if vitamin B lowered homocysteine levels in the blood, which are associated with atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries), as well as an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clot formation and possibly Alzheimer's disease.

"Previous studies have conflicting findings regarding the use of vitamin B supplements and stroke or heart attack," said study author Dr. Xu Yuming, with Zhengzhou University in Zhengzhou, China. "Some studies have even suggested that the supplements may increase the risk of these events."
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E-readers may help people with dyslexia
September 18th, 2013
05:01 PM ET

E-readers may help people with dyslexia

People with dyslexia may have an easier time reading on an e-reader than using traditional paper, a new study published today in the journal PLOS One suggests.

Researchers say the idea for the study came out of anecdotal reports they were hearing from dyslexics who said they never read for pleasure before smartphones and e-readers enabled them to start.

“They said it was a much more comfortable experience,” said Jenny Thomason, a study author who worked at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education at the time. “We wanted to take a closer look.”
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10 worst cities for fall allergies
September 18th, 2013
11:51 AM ET

10 worst cities for fall allergies

Although the allergy season has gotten off to a late start, this fall could be a "perfect storm for allergy sufferers," according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. And residents in 10 cities across America will be feeling it more than others.

AAFA has published their annual ranking of fall "allergy capitals" - the most-challenging places in the United States to live in for people with allergies.

The rankings are based on average pollen levels, resident reliance on over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications, and the number of board certified allergists in each city. Topping the list this year is Wichita, Kansas, which ranked second last year.

The remainder of the top 10 for 2013 are:

2. Jackson, Mississippi
3. Knoxville, Tennessee
4. Louisville, Kentucky
5. Memphis, Tennessee
6. McAllen, Texas
7. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
8. Dayton, Ohio
9. Chattanooga, Tennessee
10. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
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Teens gaining healthy habits, but not enough
September 16th, 2013
01:46 PM ET

Teens gaining healthy habits, but not enough

Efforts to increase healthy habits in American teens may be making an impact, according to a new study. Adolescents are moving more, eating better and watching less TV than they used to, and researchers say obesity rates in this group may finally be stabilizing.

The study results come a little more than a month after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it was seeing signs of progress in the fight against childhood obesity, especially in low-income families.

In the new study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, researchers analyzed data from three sets of students in grades 6 to 10. One set was surveyed during the 2001-2002 school year, another set during the 2005-2006 school year and the third set from the 2009-2010 school year. Researchers asked the students about their daily physical activity, nutrition, breakfast consumption, TV habits, and height and weight. They then compared the answers across the three school years to identify trends in healthy - or unhealthy - behaviors.
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5 studies you may have missed
September 13th, 2013
06:15 PM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation - so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

Verbal development linked to drinking
Journal: Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research

Researchers found that, in twin pairs, the twin who began speaking earlier in life had a higher likelihood of more frequent drinking than his or her same-aged sibling at some point in adolescence. The twin who learned to read first had a higher probability of drinking or intoxication in young adulthood.

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Video game may help aging brain
A study participant plays NeuroRacer.
September 4th, 2013
05:42 PM ET

Video game may help aging brain

Zoom! Move that car! Get those road signs!

A specially designed video game, called NeuroRacer, isn't just for fun, although scientists believe that's one of its key ingredients.

Researchers say this game may help enhance certain cognitive abilities in older adults, such as multitasking and attention span.  Results from a study on the game's effects were published today in the journal Nature.
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CDC: 200,000 people die needlessly every year
September 3rd, 2013
05:33 PM ET

CDC: 200,000 people die needlessly every year

Every year, nearly 800,000 people die from cardiovascular disease. That's 30% of all deaths under the age of 75, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And nearly a quarter of those deaths could be prevented, the study authors found.

That's 200,000 lives that could be saved every year, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC.  Particularly striking is the fact that 56% of those deaths occurred among people under the age of 65.

"We're talking about hundreds of thousands of deaths that happen when they don't have to happen," said Frieden.

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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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