April 4th, 2014
08:46 AM ET
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 link between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.
Missing this gene? Carbs may be your weight-loss nemesis
Depending on who you ask (and the diet trend of the week), carbohydrates can be your best friend or worst enemy when it comes to losing weight. New research suggests the truth may lie in our genes.
The discovery of this genetic link may lead to more personalized dietary recommendations for people struggling to lose or gain weight, says study author Tim Spector.
“It might mean that some people are better off taking a mainly high-carb diet – they’re better suited genetically," he says. "Others are better suited for having a more high-fat, high-protein diet.”
Read more from The Guardian
1 in 3 prescriptions go unfilled
Close to one-third of prescriptions written by doctors go unfilled, according to researchers at McGill University in Canada who looked at the prescription history of more than 15,000 patients between 2006 and 2009.
The researchers found that antibiotic prescriptions - especially those for urinary tract infections - were most likely to be filled while prescriptions written for chronic conditions such as heart disease or depression tended not to make it to the pharmacy. More expensive drugs were also more likely to go unfilled.
Doctors need to keep the study results in mind, study author Robyn Tamblyn told CBC News, as they may assume a patient's medication isn't working when in fact the patient isn't taking it.
Read more from CBC News
Fertility drugs likely don't increase your breast cancer risk
Much has been written about the link between fertility drugs and breast cancer. Scientists currently believe not having a baby - or infertility itself - is more likely to increase your risk than IVF drugs.
A new 30-year follow-up study of more than 9,800 women supports that belief. Patients who took the fertility drugs clomiphene citrate (brand name Clomid) and/or gonadotropins between 1965 and 1988 did not have an increased risk of breast cancer compared to those who didn't take IVF drugs, the researchers found.
However, they also saw an elevated risk for invasive breast cancer in women who underwent 12 or more cycles of clomiphene, and in women who were unable to become pregnant after taking the drugs.
"Women previously exposed to such drugs should be reassured by these findings," Louise Brinton, chief of the Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology Branch at the National Cancer Institute, said in a statement. "However, the women in our study who developed breast cancer were on average only 53 years old, which is still young in terms of when we usually expect breast cancers to develop."
Brinton said the women in the study should continue to be monitored to further assess the long-term effects of fertility drugs.
Read more from Medical News Today
Fitter today, smarter tomorrow
In 1985, scientists recruited 2,747 people aged 18 to 30 to participate in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study. They gave them a physical fitness test and a cognitive test to assess their memory, reasoning speed and executive function (how well you can focus on a specific task).
Twenty-five years later researchers gave the same group another cognitive test. Those who had been physically fit at a younger age scored significantly higher on the second test than their weaker counterparts.
“This is one more important study that should remind young adults of the brain health benefits of cardio fitness activities such as running, swimming, biking or cardio fitness classes," study author David Jacobs told NBC.
Read more from NBC
Military caregivers need help
There are more than 1.1 million spouses, parents and friend caring for injured and disabled veterans who have served in the military since September 11, 2001, according to a new study released by the nonprofit research organization RAND Corporation.
Many of these people are younger than you may expect, are also working a job outside the home and are caring for someone with a behavioral or mental health problem, the researchers say.
"After more than a decade of war, the toll faced by the nation's caregivers who aid veterans and military members is large and can be expected to grow in the decades ahead," Terri Tanielian, a senior social research analyst at RAND, said in a statement.
The organization is advocating for more support and resources for these caregivers. "Playing this role can impose a substantial physical, emotional, and financial toll," the authors write.
Read more about the toll war takes on military families in CNN's The Uncounted
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.