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Study: 1/3 of knee replacements are questionable
June 30th, 2014
03:34 PM ET

Study: 1/3 of knee replacements are questionable

Whether to replace aging knees can be a tough decision. More than 650,000 Americans underwent total knee replacement surgery last year, but a new paper from researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University suggests that a third of those were not “appropriate,” based on standard medical criteria.

The study authors analyzed 175 cases, looking at imaging tests to find the degree of arthritis, as well as each patient’s age and reported pain level. Only 44% of the operations were rated “appropriate.” Thirty-four percent were “inappropriate,” while 22% were inconclusive.

But appropriateness is in the eye of the beholder, says Dr. Jeffery Katz, an orthopedic surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. When the current criteria were developed in the late 1990s, knee replacement “was considered a treatment of last resort,” Katz writes in an editorial published alongside the study in the Journal of Arthritis and Rheumatism. Today, many are being done in relatively healthy people in their 50s and 60s.
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5 studies you may have missed
Eating more fruits and vegetables won't help you lose weight if you don't reduce the number of calories you're eating overall.
June 27th, 2014
12:39 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.

Eating more fruits and veggies won’t make you lose weight
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

We’re often told to eat more fruits and vegetables, but the chances that you’ll lose weight just by eating more of these foods are slim. New research suggests increased fruit and vegetable intake is only effective for weight loss if you make an effort to reduce your calorie intake overall.

In other words, you need to exercise or consume fewer calories to shed those pounds.
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Pesticide exposure during pregnancy may increase autism risk
June 24th, 2014
02:36 PM ET

Pesticide exposure during pregnancy may increase autism risk

Scientists have long hypothesized that chemicals found in our environment play a role in causing autism. Research published this week in Environmental Health Perspectives supports that theory, finding children whose mothers are exposed to agricultural pesticides during pregnancy may be at increased risk for autism spectrum disorders, or ASD.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, looked at the medical records of 970 participants. They found pregnant women who lived within a mile of an area treated with three different types of pesticides were at a two-thirds higher risk of having a child with ASD or developmental delays. These pesticide-treated areas included parks, golf courses, pastures and roadsides.

The study investigated the use of three classes of pesticides: organophosphates, which include the widely used insecticide chlorpyrifos, as well as pyrtheroids and carbamates.
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Filed under: Autism • Conditions • Environment • Pregnancy

5 studies you may have missed
Food trucks are generally as safe or safer than restaurants, a new study found.
June 20th, 2014
03:05 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.

You are the (Facebook) company you keep
Journal: PNAS

It may be time to think twice before accepting that friend request on Facebook. A new study by scientists at Cornell University and Facebook suggests that emotions can be spread via Facebook and other social networks. Yes, you read that right: Your Facebook posts are contagious. The scientists looked at 3 million Facebook posts from a group of 155,000 randomly selected users.

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Depression a 'powerful' risk factor for heart disease in young women
June 19th, 2014
08:54 AM ET

Depression a 'powerful' risk factor for heart disease in young women

Young women are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack or die of heart disease if they suffer from depression, a new study suggests.

Researchers looked at 3,237 patients with suspected or established heart disease who were undergoing coronary angiography – a medical procedure used to diagnose narrowing in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. On the same day of the procedure, the patients answered nine questions assessing their state of mind.

If the patient was experiencing moderate to severe depression, and was under 55 years old, researchers found she had double the chance of experiencing a heart attack in the next few years. Depressed women under 55 were also twice as likely to have heart disease or to die from any cause during that time period than those who were not depressed. Men and those women older than 55 with depression did not show the same increased risk.

Depression is as powerful a risk factor for heart disease as diabetes and smoking, study author Dr. Amit Shah, a cardiologist at Emory University in Atlanta, concluded.
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Filed under: Conditions • Depression • Heart • Mental Health

Sitting too long may increase your cancer risk
June 17th, 2014
10:49 AM ET

Sitting too long may increase your cancer risk

If you’re spending a lot of time sitting every day, either in front of the TV or at work, you may be at higher risk for developing certain types of cancer, according to new research published this week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The study found an additional two hours a day of sedentary behavior was linked to an 8% increase in colon cancer risk, a 10% increase in endometrial cancer risk and a 6% increase in risk for lung cancer. It did not find the same connection for breast, rectum, ovary and prostate cancers or for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Researchers came to these conclusions by analyzing 43 existing studies that included more than 4 million study participants and 68,936 cancer cases to measure the relationship between hours spent sitting and certain types of cancers.
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June 13th, 2014
12:01 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.

Keep your phone out of your pocket – your sperm will thank you
Journal: Environmental International

Since guys don’t usually carry handbags, they tend to keep mobile phones in their pants pockets. A recent study from the University of Exeter suggests this may not be a great idea.

That cell phone could actually have a negative effect on your sperm quality.
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Filed under: Aging • Brain • Cell Phones • Conditions • Dental health • Diet and Fitness • Fertility • Heart • Living Well • Men's Health • Mental Health

5 studies you may have missed
Despite their high fat and calorie content, nuts are better for you than diet sweets, experts say.
June 5th, 2014
09:07 PM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that can 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.

Hope for people with Parkinson’s
Journal: Cell Reports

Scientists at Harvard University say they see promising signs from their study on an experimental treatment for Parkinson's disease. The researchers transplanted tissue from fetal dopamine cells into the brains of patients with Parkinson’s in Canada.

Patients with severe symptoms experienced 50% fewer symptoms in the years after surgery. People who had been taking medication to control their Parkinson’s but found that the medicine no longer worked also saw significant improvements after surgery.

Looking at the brains of five patients after they died from non-Parkinson’s related illnesses, the scientists found that the transplanted cells stayed healthy. Earlier research led scientists to hypothesize that the cells would become corrupted, but the cells remained functional for at least 14 years after the patients got them. This is the first proof that this kind of transplant method could work.
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Food poisoning? It was likely a restaurant worker, says CDC
June 3rd, 2014
01:01 PM ET

Food poisoning? It was likely a restaurant worker, says CDC

Approximately 20 million people fall ill every year due to norovirus, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says the food service industry could do much to decrease that number.

Restaurants and catering services are the most common sources for norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food, according to the report. "Infected food workers are frequently the source of these outbreaks, often by touching ready-to-eat foods served in restaurants with their bare hands," CDC experts wrote.

Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis - often called a stomach bug - in the United States, according to the CDC. Symptoms generally include stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea.

Norovirus particles spread whenever an infected person vomits or defecates. Because swallowing just 18 norovirus particles can sicken a new host, the virus spreads easily, especially when the infected patient is preparing food for a lot of people.

Norovirus is also hardy: It can live for up to two weeks on countertops, survive freezing temperatures, and is resistant to many disinfectants and hand sanitizer.
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5 studies you may have missed
May 30th, 2014
07:30 AM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that can 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.

The entire world is getting fat
Journal: The Lancet

In what is the most comprehensive look at global obesity in decades, scientists said they can’t find a single positive note in the fight against the epidemic.

In every single country they studied - there were 188 of them - the obesity rates stayed the same or got worse.

Nearly 30%, or almost one out of every third person on this planet, is overweight or obese, according to the study. In 1980 there were 857 million people considered overweight or obese. In 2013, that number was 2.1 billion.

Obesity is more of a common problem in the developed world, but it has become a growing problem in poorer countries.

The country with the most obese people is the United States. About a third of American adults are overweight, which accounts for 13% of all the heavy people worldwide. The United States is only a little over 4% of the world's population, so that's a startling statistic.

Women saw the bigger gains. Between 1980 and 2013, the rate of women who are obese increased from 29.8% to 38%. For men it increased from 28.8% of the population to 36.9% of the population.

Read more from PLOS Blogs


Men who watch a lot porn may have smaller brains

Journal: JAMA Psychiatry

Men who watch a lot of porn are a little lighter when it comes to their gray matter, according to a  study out of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.

Scientists made brain scans of a small group of 64 healthy men from 21 to 45 as they looked at pornographic images. Researchers also assessed how often the men typically looked at porn.

The study may be the first to establish a link between the amount of pornography consumption and brain size. The study does not determine whether men who watch a lot of porn have smaller brains to begin with or whether the volume of their brains has shrunk over time.

The study did show that the region of the brain that activates when someone experiences sexual stimuli is less active in those men who typically watch a lot of porn.

Read more from TIME.com

Want to look younger? Avoid the sun, smoking and high-calorie diets
Journal: Cell Press

Forget special creams and surgeries to look younger - what you really need is to avoid cigarettes and sunshine, according to scientists at the University of North Carolina.

If you avoid “gerontogens" - that’s the fancy word for stuff in the environment that may make you age - you may look younger and may even live longer.

Other “gerontogens” include the chemicals used in chemotherapy. A low-calorie diet may also slow aging, as may a low-stress environment, according to the study.

We still don’t know why some people age faster than others. But the researchers hope their study will someday lead to a blood test that would allow doctors to look at someone’s DNA for biomarkers of aging. Those biochemical signatures would help determine how fast a person is aging and why, and perhaps slow or stop the process. That’s a long way off though. This study is still in the mouse model phase.

Read more: Cell Press release

Teen sunbathers beware: 5 bad sunburns increase risk for deadly cancer
Journal: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention

People who say they had more than five or more blistering sunburns before they turned 20 have an 80% increased risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

A study examined the health of 108,916 registered nurses for 20 years. Of those nurses, the ones who had five or more bad sunburns, the kind with blisters, when they were ages 15 to 20, had a 68% increased risk for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma and an 80% increased risk for melanoma.

People who had a similar number of bad sunburns when they were older faced no similar increased risk for melanoma, but they did have a greater chance of developing basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma.

Scientists caution people who have a propensity to develop moles or who sunburn easily should take particular care in the sun, especially early in life.

Read more: American Association of Cancer Research

Laser treatment helps tooth regeneration in mice
​Journal: Science Translational Medicine

Lasers sound a lot more fun than root canals. Scientists demonstrated in a new study that it's possible to regenerate dentin, the hard bone-like tissue in teeth, using light.

The technique makes use of stem cells already found in teeth. Researchers did not have to transplant these cells that have tremendous potential in regenerative medicine.

By shining infrared light on damaged teeth in mice, scientists activated molecules called reactive oxygen species. These molecules bind to stem cells, making the stem cells turn into dentin-forming cells that help regenerate the tooth structure, said David Mooney, senior author of the study and researcher at Harvard University.

Scientists demonstrated this in rodents, but not humans, however. Also it's a somewhat lengthy process, which would take weeks to months to work.

If it were successful in humans, though, the technique "potentially could replace the root canal," Mooney said.

Read more from Harvard


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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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