December 31st, 2012
05:03 PM ET
The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14 has compelled the editors of the medical journal Annals of Internal Medicine to call on other physicians to become active participants in the discussion about gun violence and gun policy in this country.
More than 30,000 people die from gun injuries each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gun injuries account for nearly 1 in 5 injury deaths in the United States. More than 96% of those deaths are due to suicide and homicide.
In an editorial published in Annals, a publication of the American College of Physicians (ACP), on Monday, Dr. Christine Laine, editor-in-chief of the journal and a general internist, calls on physicians to use their voices in this gun control debate, just as doctors have done regarding other issues that threaten public health, such as smoking, air pollution, drunk driving and vaccinations. FULL POST
December 12th, 2012
12:39 PM ET
Editor's note: In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed. This week we introduce you to Chelsea Roff, who had a stroke at 15 brought on by her severe anorexia. At the time she arrived at Children's Medical Center Dallas, she weighed 58 pounds. Now 23, Roff is a writer, speaker and yoga instructor. Portions of this article were originally published in the book 21st Century Yoga: Culture Politics and Practice and on Intent Blog, where Roff is managing editor.
The first emotion I remember is rage. It was a violent, fire-in-your-veins, so angry-you-could-kill-someone kind of rage. I wanted out. I wanted the pain to be over. I wanted to die. I was mad at myself for not having the courage to just do it quickly, angry at the hospital staff for thwarting my masked attempt.
I was convinced that I was “meant to” endure this, that my long, drawn-out starving to death would prove my willpower to God. In the days prior to my stroke, I’d had vivid hallucinations — of Jesus on a wooden cross outside my bedroom window and a satanic figure sneaking up under my bedroom covers to suffocate me at night. I thought I was meant to be a martyr. I thought God wanted me to die. FULL POST
December 4th, 2012
01:08 PM ET
CNN recently published a three-day series on the experimental use of the drug Ecstasy as part of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Readers had a lot to say in response to scientists who are studying the effects of MDMA, the chemical name for pure Ecstasy, on patients with PTSD.
Many readers said they were familiar with past research that’s been done on these drugs and questioned why they are still illegal.
November 28th, 2012
09:57 AM ET
Editor's Note: In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle - injury, illness or other hardship - they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed. This week we introduce you to Joe Putignano, the "Crystal Man" in Cirque du Soleil's touring show "Totem." He shares his story of how he was a rising gymnast with Olympic potential, who came crashing down into a life of alcohol, cocaine and heroin addiction. After two life-threatening overdoses, he finally got clean, and says it was gymnastics that pulled him back to life.
Spotlights drench over me in a warm glow, and in this illumination I can no longer hide my past from the world - any insecurities will be exposed to an audience of thousands. In fear I hold my breath, binding myself to the band’s soft prelude, slowly unraveling myself from a tight spinning ball. Evolutio means “unrolling” in Latin and is the theme of our Cirque du Soleil show Totem. Evolution is the common thread in my life, from athlete to drug addict to performer.
The voice of my horrific past sings to me over the live music, and my memories of my life with heroin bleed into my performance. I am reminded of the fine-tipped syringe I held in my hand with the small words printed “Use once and destroy.” I feel a strong connection to that statement, envious of those who can use once, put it down, and not be destroyed by it. FULL POST
November 21st, 2012
05:01 PM ET
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is often associated with the wandering minds and erratic behavior of schoolchildren, but it can have serious consequences for adults as well. A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that people with ADHD who are on medications for the condition are less likely to commit crimes.
"We found the same pattern regardless of which type of crime," said Paul Lichtenstein of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, lead author of the study.
ADHD is associated with conduct problems in children and adults, the study said. People with ADHD commonly stop taking their prescribed medications, particularly adolescents and young adults, according to the study.
ADHD medications control patients' symptoms of impulsiveness, irritability and restlessness. By helping tame impulsive urges, the drugs may be also preventing patients from engaging in illegal acts including violent behaviors, Lichtenstein said. FULL POST
October 31st, 2012
05:01 PM ET
You're at a big group dinner and it's time to pay up, to divide the total and multiply a certain percentage for the tip. How many people tense up and say something like, "Oh, I'm so bad at math"?
Fear of math is everywhere - in the adult world where there aren't official pop quizzes, and in schools where the next generation of scientific problem-solvers are struggling with homework.
October 31st, 2012
11:53 AM ET
For years, pregnant women who suffer from depression have been told it's safer for them and their unborn child to continue taking antidepressants during pregnancy.
Now a new study is challenging that advice, suggesting the opposite is true and advocating against most women taking these drugs. If the depression is severe, however, the benefits might outweigh the risks, so it's best to check with your psychiatrist or physician.
Experts say about 13% of women take an antidepressant at some point during their pregnancy. Many drugs are called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
Taking these medicines while pregnant, however, may raise safety concerns, according to a review of existing research published Wednesday in the journal Human Reproduction. FULL POST
October 23rd, 2012
04:11 PM ET
One of the sad realities about Alzheimer's disease is that there's no way of preventing it – at least not yet. We know some people are genetically or biologically at greater risk than others, but researchers want to find out how we can fight it off, or at least delay it.
The strongest evidence for a lifestyle choice associated with Alzheimer's prevention is exercise. A new study in the journal Neurology supports that, and also suggests that working out is more effective at protecting the brain than cognitive challenges such as games and puzzles.
Researchers studied a group of nearly 700 participants from Scotland, all born in 1936, who reported their leisure and physical activity levels at age 70. They rated physical activity on a scale from "moving only in connection with necessary (household) chores" to "keep-fit/heavy exercise or competitive sport several times per week," the study said. Participants also rated how often they engaged in various social and intellectual activities.
October 19th, 2012
12:37 PM ET
This is not a photo of a brain bulging out of someone's head.
Doctors reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that they diagnosed a case of a rare condition called cutis verticus gyrata, which causes the folds in the scalp to form - specifically, "ridges and furrows resembling the brain's surface," write Dr. Karen Regina Rosso Schons and Andre Avelino Costa Beber of Hospital Universitario de Santa Maria in Brazil.
These scalp changes started showing up two years before doctors saw the 21-year-old patient. He didn't display symptoms of neurological or psychiatric conditions, but he did have intellectual or learning impairment.
Doctors did not attempt an intervention because "the patient had no associated disorders and the condition did not bother him cosmetically."
After a year, the patient's presentation of his condition was the same, according to the report.
October 18th, 2012
10:20 AM ET
We all know that what you eat can change your physical appearance. It also alters how your body functions, making it more or less difficult to pump blood, grow healthy bones or process insulin.
New research presented this week at the Neuroscience 2012 conference suggests that what you eat can even alter your brain – and vice versa.
Timothy Verstynen and his colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to observe the brain activity in 29 adults. The study participants were shown words on a screen in various colors and asked to identify the color, not the word. Sometimes it was easy – the word red printed in red; other times it was harder, like seeing the word red printed in blue.
The overweight and obese participants’ brains showed more activity during difficult questions, suggesting they were working harder to get the same answers.
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.