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Study: Eat 7 servings of fruit, veggies daily
March 31st, 2014
06:31 PM ET

Study: Eat 7 servings of fruit, veggies daily

You know the saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away"? Turns out eating one apple isn't enough. A new study suggests people who eat up to seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day can cut their risk of premature death by 42% - and that vegetables may be more important than fruit to your overall health.

The study, conducted by scientists in the United Kingdom, was published online Monday in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The study

Researchers looked at data from more than 65,000 adults over age 35 who participated in the Healthy Surveys for England study between 2001 and 2008.
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Marriage is good for your heart and other new research
March 31st, 2014
02:13 PM ET

Marriage is good for your heart and other new research

More than 13,000 cardiovascular experts met in Washington over the past few days for the Annual American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions, where more than 2,000 studies are being presented so doctors and researchers can learn about the latest research in diagnosing, treating and preventing heart disease.  Here's a small sample of the studies presented:

Married people have healthier hearts

You might have heard it before; being married may be good for your health.

In a new study, researchers screened 3.5 million adults for cardiovascular problems and found that those who were married had less heart disease and healthier blood vessels throughout the body than people who were single, divorced or widowed.

Dr. Jeffrey Kuvin, spokesperson for the American College of Cardiology, says the findings may be linked in part to the effects of stress and the strength of a marriage. In a healthy marriage, there may be less conflict and less stress. FULL POST


Five studies you may have missed
Smoke-free laws seem to be reducing rates of pre-term births and hospital admissions for children with asthma.
March 28th, 2014
09:47 AM ET

Five 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.

Autism may begin in the womb
Journal: New England Journal of Medicine

With this week's CDC announcement that 1 in 68 children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder, there's even more reason to look at how and when this condition develops.

A new study suggests that there are changes in a developing child's brain even before he or she is born that are associated with autism. Researchers found patches of abnormalities in several brain areas, including those involved in social, emotional, communication and language functions.

But this is a small study, which looked at the brain tissue of only 22 children.

"Although interesting differences in brain architecture were found, questions regarding underlying mechanisms remain unanswered," says Zack Warren, director of  the Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who was not involved in the study.

Read more from the BBC

It's not safe to the pee in the pool
Journal: Environmental Science & Technology

There are two types of swimmers, an old saying goes: Those who pee in the pool, and those who say they don't. A new study may create a new kind - those begging the rest of us to stop.

Chemists found that mixing urine with sweat and chlorine in water created two compounds: trichloramine (NCl3) and cyanogen chloride (CNCl). NCl3 is associated with lung problems, and CNC1 may affect the lungs, heart and central nervous system, according to the American Chemical Society.

"Swimmers can improve pool conditions by simply urinating where they’re supposed to — in the bathrooms," the ACS concluded.

Lower back pain is a major cause of disability
Journal: Annals of Rheumatic Diseases

Lower back pain is common, affecting approximately 1 in 10 people around the globe. But you may not realize how disabling it can be.

Researchers pooled information from 117 studies in 47 different countries and 16 world regions. They concluded that lower back pain is the leading cause worldwide of years lost to disability. It was No. 1 among 291 conditions analyzed in this study.

Not all lower back pain comes from working, but many people do get it on the job. So what should people do?

“Exercise may be the most effective way to speed recovery from low back pain and help strengthen back and abdominal muscles. Maintaining and building muscle strength is particularly important for persons with skeletal irregularities,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Read more from TIME.com

Bariatric surgery does more than change your stomach size
Journal: Nature

Gastric bypass surgery reduces the size of an obese patient's stomach in hopes of making them eat less. But new research suggests the underlying chemical changes that occur in the patient's digestive system after surgery may be just as important - if not more so - to their ability to lose weight.

"We have more bacteria in our guts than we have cells in our bodies," study author Randy Seeley told USA Today. "Those bacteria and their interaction with our bodies is really important."

Scientists spent four years analyzing gastric bypass surgeries in mice. After bariatric surgery, our bodies increase liver bile acids that bind to a nuclear receptor called FXR, according to the study. When researchers removed the FXR receptor from the mice, they lost less weight than other mice who had undergone a gastric bypass procedure. The scientists also noticed changes in the mice's gut bacteria.

The results of this study could lead scientists to develop new ways to mimic the effects of bariatric surgery without physically altering the stomach.

Read more from USA Today

Smoking bans seem to be working
Journal: The Lancet

Rates of pre-term births and hospital admissions for children with asthma have dropped significantly since many states here and countries in Europe have introduced smoke-free legislation.

Researchers analyzed 11 studies and determined that the rates were reduced in the year after the laws went into effect. This shows a clear link between a reduction in second-hand smoke and a decrease in these conditions, they say.

"Together with the known health benefits in adults, our study provides clear evidence that smoking bans have considerable public health benefits for perinatal and child health, and provides strong support for WHO recommendations to create smoke-free public environments on a national level," Dr. Jasper Been told ScienceDaily.

Read more from ScienceDaily


Study: Stress may reduce fertility
March 24th, 2014
05:38 PM ET

Study: Stress may reduce fertility

If you're trying to get pregnant, relax and try to keep your stress down.  That sounds like good advice, which your doctor has probably given you, but there has been very little science to back it up - until now.

Researchers, publishing in the journal Human Reproduction, say they have put out the first prospective study showing an association between stress and infertility.  They measured stress using biomarkers in the saliva of women who wanted to conceive, and found a strong correlation with alpha-amylase.

"The women who had the highest levels of this salivary stress biomarker had a 29% decreased probability of pregnancy over time, and that actually translated into a more than two-fold risk of infertility for them by the end of the study," said lead author Courtney Lynch, director of reproductive epidemiology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

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Medical marijuana may ease some MS symptoms
March 24th, 2014
04:02 PM ET

Medical marijuana may ease some MS symptoms

Medical marijuana might be the most effective complementary or alternative medicine to provide relief of symptoms caused by multiple sclerosis (MS) according to new guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) released Monday.

Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are nontraditional therapies often used in addition to (and sometimes instead of) doctor recommended treatments.

The guidelines are based on recommendations made by a panel of nine physicians chosen by the AAN who are experts in the field of CAM. They identified and reviewed 291 studies and literature from the last 43 years. Of those, 115 made the cut; most were short, lasting between six and 15 weeks.

"This is the first-ever review, evidence-based recommendation, on the treatment of MS with CAM therapies," says Dr. Vijayshree Yadav, lead author and clinical director of Oregon Health and Science University's Multiple Sclerosis Center. "There were 29 different therapies included in the guidelines. Nineteen studies looked at cannabis." FULL POST


5 studies you may have missed
Go ahead, buy that sports car. Research shows mid-life crises are real.
March 21st, 2014
07:19 AM 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. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

Probiotics can help preschoolers
Journal: Pediatrics

You've probably heard that taking probiotics - live bacteria commonly found in your gut - can help boost your digestive health. Now scientists have shown that probiotics may help young children as well.

Researchers enrolled more than 300 children at day care centers in Mexico in a double-blind study. Half of the kids received a daily dose of probiotics; the other half received a daily placebo.

They found that the probiotics significantly reduced the number of times - and the duration of - the kids' diarrhea episodes. The live bacteria also helped prevent respiratory tract infections.

Read more from Medscape.com

Mid-life crises DO exist
Published by The Institute for the Study of Labor

Social economists say the life cycle of human happiness is U-shaped. We're really happy when we're young, and happy again when we're old. That low point in the middle? We call it a mid-life crisis.

Researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia tracked the happiness levels of thousands of people in Australia, Britain and Germany over multiple decades. They found people in all three countries were unhappiest between the ages of 40 and 42.

So go ahead and buy yourself that sports car - science has proven you need it.

Genes matter when eating fried food
British Medical Journal

While fried pickles and French fries aren't healthy for anyone, some people are more likely to gain weight while eating them than others.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School say study participants who ate fried food at least four times a week weighed more, on average, than those who didn't. No duh, right? Well the people who ate fried food and carried 10 known obesity risk genes were two points heavier on the BMI scale than those without the risky genes.

While the difference seems small, those two points could move you from the "normal weight BMI category to the "overweight" category.

Bottom line? Genetics matter. But what you eat matters more.

Read more on NPR.org

You should be able to hear me now
Journal: Ear and Hearing

"What?" If you find yourself repeating this word a lot in conversation, listen closely. A study done in the United Kingdom found only one-fifth of people with hearing problems use hearing aids.

The study authors analyzed data from 160,000 people in the UK aged 40 to 69 years. It found 10% of middle-aged adults had trouble hearing speech in the presence of background noise, but just 2% used a hearing aid.

"There still seems to be a stigma attached to wearing a hearing aid, where as there is little stigma now associated with vision loss and wearing spectacles," Kevin Munro, an audiology professor at The University of Manchester, said in a statement. That might be because eye care involves lifestyle choices and is available without the need to see a doctor, he said.

Delivering your baby underwater isn't OK
New recommendations from AAP and ACOG

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are warning mothers to stay away from water births.

The professional organizations say undergoing the first few stages of labor in a birthing pool may offer advantages, such as decreased pain and shorter labor time. But delivering the baby underwater has no proven benefit to the mother or the baby, the organizations say, and can pose serious - sometimes fatal - health risks.

It's not known how many women in the United States choose a water birth. Complications can include infection, difficulty controlling the baby's body temperature, a greater risk of umbilical cord damage and/or breathing problems.

Read more from U.S. News & World Report


Studies question fatty acids' heart benefits
March 17th, 2014
05:00 PM ET

Studies question fatty acids' heart benefits

Many health organizations, including the American Heart Association, recommend eating polyunsaturated fatty acids - particularly those called omega-3s and omega-6s - for heart health.  But new research once again casts doubt on whether these fatty acids have any effect on reducing your risk of heart disease.

A meta-analysis published Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine did not find significant evidence to support eating a diet high in polyunsaturated fatty acids and low in saturated fats. It didn't seem to matter whether the fats came from dietary sources or supplements.

"Current evidence does not clearly support guidelines that encourage high consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids and low consumption of total saturated fats," the study authors concluded.

And a second study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, found that supplementing a diet with long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids did not reduce study participants' heart disease risk.
FULL POST


Colon cancer rates down since 1980s
March 17th, 2014
12:01 AM ET

Colon cancer rates down since 1980s

Colon cancer, which was once the most common cause of cancer death in America, has been on a steady decline for decades, according to a new study in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

In 1985, there were an estimated 66.3 cases of colon cancer for every 100,000 adults in the United States. By 2010 that rate had fallen to 40.6 cases for every 100,000 adults. Deaths dropped during the same time period as well - from 28.5 to 15.5 deaths per 100,000 people.

"Incidence is declining primarily because of screening and finding polyps, which are precancerous lesions that can be removed," said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. "We find these precancerous lesions, remove them and 'voilà!' the patient doesn't get cancer."
FULL POST


5 studies you may have missed
March 14th, 2014
11:50 AM 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.

Blood test may diagnose sports injuries to the brain
Journal: JAMA Neurology

Sports concussions have received a lot of attention recently, as evidence mounts that repetitive injuries to the brain can have damaging long-term consequences. But the science of sports-related head injuries, including how to measure recovery and decide when it's OK for a patient to play again, needs work.

This study proposes using blood biomarkers to diagnose sports-related concussions. To study the phenomenon, researchers used 280 players from 12 teams in the Swedish Hockey League, the top professional ice hockey league in Sweden.

Researchers say a blood test measuring a protein called tau could help determine the severity of a concussion, whether there could be long-term consequences and when a patient can return to play. The test could evaluate severity just one hour after injury, they said.

"Concussions are a growing international problem," lead study author Henrik Zetterberg of the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg told Reuters Health. "The stakes for the individual athlete are high, and the list of players forced to quit with life-long injury is getting ever longer."

Read more from Reuters Health

FULL POST


Blood pressure in gray area? You're still facing stroke risk
March 12th, 2014
04:02 PM ET

Blood pressure in gray area? You're still facing stroke risk

Nearly one-third of Americans have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When it’s not under control, it can lead to heart damage, stroke and even death.

Now new research suggests anyone with blood pressure even slightly higher than the optimal 120/80 may be more likely to have a stroke –including those patients who are diagnosed as pre-hypertensive.

The research, which is published in the Wednesday online issue of Neurology, looked at 19 studies done on the risk of developing stroke in people with "pre-hypertension," or blood pressure that falls in the gray area, between 120/80 and 140/90. More than 760,000 participants were followed for time periods ranging from four to 36 years.

The analysis found people who were pre-hypertensive were 66% more likely to develop a stroke than people who had normal blood pressure. The results were the same even when investigators adjusted for other stroke risk factors, such as diabetes and smoking.

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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