June 18th, 2013
01:41 PM ET
It seems we often hear of another patient who has been desperately waiting for a transplant that could save his or her life.
Earlier this month it was a 10-year-old girl in Pennsylvania hoping for a new set of lungs. Before that it was Molly Pearce, who needs four organ transplants to survive. In September a man walked the streets of his South Carolina town asking strangers for a kidney for his wife.
More than 118,000 people in the United States are currently awaiting organ donations, according to OrganDonor.gov; 18 of them die each day without a donation.
Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is hoping to change that with the power of the world’s largest social networking site. On May 1, 2012, Facebook launched an initiative aimed at encouraging more people to register as organ donors.
June 18th, 2013
08:36 AM ET
Scientists may be able to predict throat cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) more than 10 years before patients get diagnosed, according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Using a blood test that is still in the research stage, experts were able to detect blood markers indicating early signs of the disease.
Actor Michael Douglas recently made headlines when The Guardian reported he said his throat cancer may have been caused in part by HPV transmitted through oral sex. Douglas later said he simply was stating that oral sex can lead to cancer.
HPV: What you need to know
HPV is the most common type of sexually transmitted virus in the United States and is passed on through sexual contact – genital or oral. There are more than 40 types of HPV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and nearly all sexually active men and women will get at least one type of HPV during their lifetime. FULL POST
June 12th, 2013
05:05 PM ET
Poor diet and lack of exercise might not be the only factors contributing to the obesity epidemic. A new study suggests the environment may also play a role.
“Eating too much and exercising too little are important factors,” said Dr. De-Kun Li, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California. “But they cannot explain the steep increase in the obesity rate the last three decades. We haven’t really changed our eating habits and exercise that much.”
The environmental culprit, according to the study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE, may be bisphenol-a, a chemical commonly found in plastic and cans.
Li and colleagues studied 1,326 school-age children in Shanghai, China, and measured BPA levels in their urine. In girls ages 9 to 12, higher BPA urine levels were associated with a doubled risk of obesity. And as BPA urine levels increased, so did the girls’ obesity risk - measured using their weight in reference to weight distribution in the population. FULL POST
June 10th, 2013
02:55 PM ET
Maybe you’re better off taking the bus.
A new study in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that 35% of designated drivers - those responsible for driving friends who may have had too much to drink - also consume alcohol and 1 in 5 had blood-alcohol levels high enough to impair their driving.
Researchers interviewed and tested 1,100 people in the downtown area of an unnamed Southeastern college community. Of the designated drivers who drank alcohol, half had blood alcohol levels higher than .05%, the new recommended limit for drunken driving (the current limit is .08%).
“If you look at how people choose their designated drivers, oftentimes they’re chosen by who is least drunk or who has successfully driven intoxicated in the past,” says Adam Barry, an assistant professor of health education and behavior at the University of Florida. “That’s disconcerting.”
June 3rd, 2013
05:47 PM ET
More than a third of infants who were taken to the doctor for an acute ear infection, and who were also due for a scheduled immunization, were not immunized during their sick visit and didn't go back to the doctor for a subsequent well visit, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
That put the infants significantly behind in their vaccines, compared to other infants who were immunized while sick.
"I think a lot of providers are thinking, 'We can put this off and they'll come back,'" says the study's author, Steve G. Robison, an epidemiologist with the Oregon Health Authority.
"But if you don't use this chance to give an immunization, over a third of (those patients) you're not going to see again."
May 28th, 2013
02:21 PM ET
The state of Colorado is seeing an increase in the number of children accidentally exposed to medical marijuana, according to a new study in Pediatric JAMA.
Doctors in Colorado evaluated about 1,400 patients aged 8 months to 12 years who came to the Children's Hospital Colorado emergency room from January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2011.
May 21st, 2013
01:47 PM ET
As greenhouse gases cause average temperatures to climb worldwide, human health will suffer, scientists say.
A study in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that heat deaths in Manhattan will increase over the rest of this century in connection with higher temperatures associated with global warming. In the 2020s, heat-related deaths could rise about 20% compared with the 1980s, according to the research.
"This paper helps to remind people that climate change is real, that it’s happening and we need to prepare and make ourselves as resilient as we can to climate change," said Patrick Kinney, the study's senior author and director of the Columbia Climate and Health Program at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. "It’s a real problem that we face. It’s not insurmountable."
May 14th, 2013
04:12 PM ET
Hospital-acquired infections are a huge problem in the United States. Wouldn't it be amazing if they could be prevented merely through the materials used in the hospital room?
Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina explored covering key surfaces in hospital intensive care units in copper alloy, and found that this is an effective measure against the spread of some key types of bacterial infections. Their study is published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.
May 14th, 2013
02:28 PM ET
Reducing salt consumption below the currently recommended 2,300 milligrams – about 1 1/2 teaspoons– per day maybe unnecessary, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).
The news follows a decades-long push to get Americans to reduce the amount of salt in their diet because of strong links between high sodium consumption and hypertension, a known risk factor for heart disease.
The IOM, at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reviewed recent studies published through 2012 that explored ties between salt consumption and direct health outcomes like cardiovascular disease and death. The organization describes itself as "an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public."
Researchers determined there wasn't enough evidence to say whether lowering salt consumption to levels between 1,500 and 2,300 mg per day could increase or decrease your risk of heart disease and mortality. But lowering sodium intake might adversely affect your health, the panel found.
May 13th, 2013
01:24 PM ET
High school students who acknowledge texting while driving are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors, such as riding with a driver who has been drinking alcohol; not wearing a seat belt; or drinking and driving themselves, according to a new study.
"This suggests there is a subgroup of students who may place themselves, their passengers and others on the road at elevated risk for a crash-related injury or fatality by engaging in multiple risky MV (motor vehicle) behaviors," wrote the authors of the study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
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.