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Moles may predict breast cancer risk
June 10th, 2014
05:01 PM ET

Moles may predict breast cancer risk

Skin moles may indicate a woman's risk for breast cancer, according to two studies coming out this week in the journal PLOS Medicine. More moles could mean a slightly higher risk, particularly in middle-aged women, researchers say.

Scientists stress that this does not mean people with moles should panic.  The studies do not say if you have moles you will get breast cancer; researchers are still trying to figure out the link between the two.

A study in the United States and another in France followed almost 175,000 middle age women for about 20 years. They looked at women with few or no moles and compared their breast cancer risk to women who had lots of moles – defined in one study as more than 15 on one arm. The studies did not look at cancerous moles but moles in general.

"Women with a lot of moles are a little more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than were women with very few moles," said Dr. Ted Gansler, director of medical content for the American Cancer Society, who was not affiliated with the study.
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Teaming up with Google to find autism cause
June 10th, 2014
04:52 PM ET

Teaming up with Google to find autism cause

The cause of autism is still unknown, but researchers hope harnessing the power of Google will help them solve this neurodevelopmental puzzle.

The research and advocacy group Autism Speaks announced Tuesday they are collaborating with the Google Cloud Platform to build the largest autism genome database to date. The collaboration, known as The Autism Speaks Ten Thousand Genomes Program (AUT10K), will combine extensive DNA databases with cloud storage technology, in hopes of moving mountains in autism research, according to a press release.

Autism Speaks believes the AUT10K program holds the potential to radically transform ASD genomics research. “Working with Google is a game-changer,” said Rob Ring, who is the organization’s chief science officer.

This collaboration is part of a larger movement in the medical field to use big data to speed research efforts. IBM's supercomputer Watson, for instance, is helping oncologists find treatments for a rare aggressive brain cancer in partnership with the New York Genome Center.

Autism Speaks has already donated 12,000 DNA samples, which members describe as the “the largest private collection” with diagnostic and specific genetic information. The organization says the collaboration with Google will allow them to provide researchers access to what will eventually be huge amounts of data. This, in turn, should help researchers find connections between patients faster.

Zachary Warren, director of Vanderbilt University’s autism research institute,  says in order to understand the vast developmental and behavioral differences linked to ASD, more powerful platforms to analyze genetic data are needed.

“Only by understanding autism risk can we begin to develop treatments that target not just the symptoms but the root causes of autism spectrum disorder," his colleague and genetic autism researcher Dr. Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele said in agreement.

The number of children with autism has continued to go up over the past decades, as have the costs for caring for someone with ASD.

Earlier this year, the CDC reported that 1 in 68 children in the United States has autism.  A new study, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, estimates the lifetime cost of supporting an individual with ASD can be up to $2.4 million.


June 10th, 2014
12:30 PM ET

1 in 4 Americans living with diabetes don't know

The number of Americans with diabetes continues to rise - there are now more than 29 million adults living with the disease, according to the latest data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday. That’s 3 million more than the last time the CDC released diabetes statistics in 2011.

The CDC estimates that a quarter of these adults living with diabetes in the United States don’t even know they are sick, meaning they haven't been diagnosed.

An additional 86 million American adults have what’s called “pre-diabetes,” which means that their blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not yet on the level of diabetes. And nearly all – 90% - of these Americans do not know they are headed down a dangerous road. The CDC estimates that 15 to 30% of people with pre-diabetes will develop diabetes within five years if they don't exercise and lose weight.

“These new numbers are alarming and underscore the need for an increased focus on reducing the burden of diabetes in our country,” Ann Albright, the CDC’s director of the division of diabetes translation, said in a press release. “It’s urgent that we take swift action to effectively treat and prevent this serious disease.”

People with diabetes are at increased risk for blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and stroke. The disease is usually linked to obesity, lack of physical activity and/or a family history of the disease.


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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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