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Five studies you may have missed
Smoke-free laws seem to be reducing rates of pre-term births and hospital admissions for children with asthma.
March 28th, 2014
09:47 AM ET

Five 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.

Autism may begin in the womb
Journal: New England Journal of Medicine

With this week's CDC announcement that 1 in 68 children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder, there's even more reason to look at how and when this condition develops.

A new study suggests that there are changes in a developing child's brain even before he or she is born that are associated with autism. Researchers found patches of abnormalities in several brain areas, including those involved in social, emotional, communication and language functions.

But this is a small study, which looked at the brain tissue of only 22 children.

"Although interesting differences in brain architecture were found, questions regarding underlying mechanisms remain unanswered," says Zack Warren, director of  the Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who was not involved in the study.

Read more from the BBC

It's not safe to the pee in the pool
Journal: Environmental Science & Technology

There are two types of swimmers, an old saying goes: Those who pee in the pool, and those who say they don't. A new study may create a new kind - those begging the rest of us to stop.

Chemists found that mixing urine with sweat and chlorine in water created two compounds: trichloramine (NCl3) and cyanogen chloride (CNCl). NCl3 is associated with lung problems, and CNC1 may affect the lungs, heart and central nervous system, according to the American Chemical Society.

"Swimmers can improve pool conditions by simply urinating where they’re supposed to — in the bathrooms," the ACS concluded.

Lower back pain is a major cause of disability
Journal: Annals of Rheumatic Diseases

Lower back pain is common, affecting approximately 1 in 10 people around the globe. But you may not realize how disabling it can be.

Researchers pooled information from 117 studies in 47 different countries and 16 world regions. They concluded that lower back pain is the leading cause worldwide of years lost to disability. It was No. 1 among 291 conditions analyzed in this study.

Not all lower back pain comes from working, but many people do get it on the job. So what should people do?

“Exercise may be the most effective way to speed recovery from low back pain and help strengthen back and abdominal muscles. Maintaining and building muscle strength is particularly important for persons with skeletal irregularities,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Read more from TIME.com

Bariatric surgery does more than change your stomach size
Journal: Nature

Gastric bypass surgery reduces the size of an obese patient's stomach in hopes of making them eat less. But new research suggests the underlying chemical changes that occur in the patient's digestive system after surgery may be just as important - if not more so - to their ability to lose weight.

"We have more bacteria in our guts than we have cells in our bodies," study author Randy Seeley told USA Today. "Those bacteria and their interaction with our bodies is really important."

Scientists spent four years analyzing gastric bypass surgeries in mice. After bariatric surgery, our bodies increase liver bile acids that bind to a nuclear receptor called FXR, according to the study. When researchers removed the FXR receptor from the mice, they lost less weight than other mice who had undergone a gastric bypass procedure. The scientists also noticed changes in the mice's gut bacteria.

The results of this study could lead scientists to develop new ways to mimic the effects of bariatric surgery without physically altering the stomach.

Read more from USA Today

Smoking bans seem to be working
Journal: The Lancet

Rates of pre-term births and hospital admissions for children with asthma have dropped significantly since many states here and countries in Europe have introduced smoke-free legislation.

Researchers analyzed 11 studies and determined that the rates were reduced in the year after the laws went into effect. This shows a clear link between a reduction in second-hand smoke and a decrease in these conditions, they say.

"Together with the known health benefits in adults, our study provides clear evidence that smoking bans have considerable public health benefits for perinatal and child health, and provides strong support for WHO recommendations to create smoke-free public environments on a national level," Dr. Jasper Been told ScienceDaily.

Read more from ScienceDaily


5 studies you may have missed
March 14th, 2014
11:50 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.

Blood test may diagnose sports injuries to the brain
Journal: JAMA Neurology

Sports concussions have received a lot of attention recently, as evidence mounts that repetitive injuries to the brain can have damaging long-term consequences. But the science of sports-related head injuries, including how to measure recovery and decide when it's OK for a patient to play again, needs work.

This study proposes using blood biomarkers to diagnose sports-related concussions. To study the phenomenon, researchers used 280 players from 12 teams in the Swedish Hockey League, the top professional ice hockey league in Sweden.

Researchers say a blood test measuring a protein called tau could help determine the severity of a concussion, whether there could be long-term consequences and when a patient can return to play. The test could evaluate severity just one hour after injury, they said.

"Concussions are a growing international problem," lead study author Henrik Zetterberg of the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg told Reuters Health. "The stakes for the individual athlete are high, and the list of players forced to quit with life-long injury is getting ever longer."

Read more from Reuters Health

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5 studies you may have missed
February 21st, 2014
08:38 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.

Changing schools linked to psychotic symptoms
Journal: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

When a child switches schools, it may have more dire consequences for him or her than one might think.

Researchers at the Warwick Medical School in the United Kingdom examined data from almost 14,000 children born between the years 1991 and 1992. They found increased signs of psychosis among children who switched schools three or more times in early childhood. These symptoms included hallucinations and interrupting thoughts.

FULL POST


February 17th, 2014
03:13 PM ET

Bullying's mental health toll may last years

Victims of bullying may suffer mental and physical consequences even after bullying occurs, research shows.

A new study in the journal Pediatrics finds that bullying is associated with poor physical and mental health among children, particularly among those who were bullied in the past and are being currently bullied.

The effects were strongest among children who were bullied continuously, in more than one grade, particularly in terms of psychological health, said lead author Laura Bogart, associate professor of pediatrics at Boston Children's Hospital. Psychological measures included negative emotions such as anger and depression.

"We were able to show that these effects of bullying snowballed and compounded over time," Bogart said. FULL POST


5 studies you may have missed
February 7th, 2014
09:18 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.

Yogurt may lower diabetes risk
Journal: Diabetologia

Type 2 diabetes is a big public health problem. According to the World Health Organization, 347 million people worldwide have diabetes, and 90% of those cases are type 2, which is associated with excess body weight and physical inactivity.

A new study by University of Cambridge researchers looks to yogurt as a possible means of prevention.

Scientists examined dietary records from 753 people who developed type 2 diabetes during an 11-year period. They compared that data with eating habits of 3,500 healthy people from the same population. Participants were part of a large study in Norfolk, England.

They found a 28% decreased risk of diabetes in people who chowed down on low-fat yogurt at least four times a week, compared to people who did not eat yogurt.

This study does not prove that yogurt directly protects against diabetes or causes any outcomes. But Forbes notes that yogurt does have ingredients associated with good health: calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and fatty acids. More research is needed to confirm these findings.

FULL POST


5 studies you may have missed
January 31st, 2014
07:28 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.

Two stressed-out people are better than one
Journal: Social Psychological and Personality Science

As much as you want to appear calm, cool and collected in front of your colleagues, sharing the stress of an upcoming presentation may help you chill.

Researchers at the USC Marshall School of Business asked 52 female undergraduate students to pair off and share their feelings about giving an upcoming speech. The scientists measured each student's level of the stress hormone cortisol before, during and after the speech.
FULL POST


5 studies you may have missed
January 24th, 2014
08:51 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.

Sunlight may lower blood pressure
Journal: Journal of Investigative Dermatology

Going outside and embracing the sun may come with unexpected health benefits, a new study suggests. But don't get so much direct exposure that you risk skin cancer.

Researchers looked at the benefits of radiation from the sun. Volunteers received a dose of ultraviolet-A radiation in a laboratory that was equivalent to being in the sun for 30 minutes in summertime in Southern Europe. FULL POST


Guns in home increase suicide, homicide risk
January 20th, 2014
05:05 PM ET

Guns in home increase suicide, homicide risk

Proponents of stricter gun laws have another headline to bolster their efforts: Access to firearms in the home increases the risk of violent death.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, in a review of previous studies published Monday, found strong evidence for increased odds of suicide and moderate evidence for increased odds of homicide victimization among people who keep guns at home.

Firearm ownership is more common in the United States (upwards of one-third of households) than in any other country – and firearms cause more than 31,000 deaths a year here, according to the review. Further, the annual rate of suicide by firearms in America is higher than in any other country with reported data; the annual rate of firearm-related homicides in America is the highest among high-income countries. FULL POST


5 studies you may have missed
January 17th, 2014
12:28 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.

Drink up - you'll remember it later
Journal: Nature Neuroscience

If you're worried that drinking alcohol is hastening your memory loss, fear not. A new study suggests any caffeine you inhale the morning after will have the opposite effect.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University gave study participants 100 to 300 milligrams of caffeine after they looked at some images. Twenty-four hours later, those who got 200 or 300 milligrams of caffeine remembered the images better than participants who took a placebo.

The researchers concluded that caffeine can help strengthen our long-term memories.

Read more from The Atlantic

We may live longer because our metabolism sucks
Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Guess the monkeys will have to give up those bananas after all. An international team of scientists has discovered that primates burn about half the calories other mammals burn on a daily basis.

While the study was done on primates, researchers believe the findings translate to humans as well.

"The results were a real surprise," said lead study author Herman Pontzer, an anthropologist at Hunter College in New York. "To put that in perspective, a human – even someone with a very physically active lifestyle – would need to run a marathon each day just to approach the average daily energy expenditure of (another) mammal their size."

The researchers believe this slow metabolic rate may be the reason primates, including humans, live much longer than, say, dogs or hamsters. When the body expends energy, it ages. So slow growth may be linked to a long life.

Read more from Smithsonian Magazine

Stand up. We're serious this time
American Journal of Preventive Medicine

You've heard before that sitting all day is killing you. This study provides more evidence to back up that claim.

Researchers examined data from more than 92,000 postmenopausal American women. Those who reported more than 11 hours of sedentary time each day died earlier than peers who only reported four hours of inactivity. The sedentary group increased their risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and cancer by 13%, 27% and 21%, respectively, according to the study authors.

“In general, a use it-or-lose it philosophy applies,” said lead study author Rebecca Seguin. “We have a lot of modern conveniences and technologies that, while making us more efficient, also lead to decreased activity and diminished ability to do things. Women need to find ways to remain active.”

Read more from Cornell University

Choose wisely before giving birth
Journal: BMJ Open

Having a kid is expensive, but HOW expensive really depends on which hospital you choose, this study suggests.

Researchers analyzed the cost of more than 109,000 uncomplicated, vaginal and Caesarean section deliveries that took place in California hospitals in 2011. They found the cost for a vaginal birth can range anywhere from $3,296 to $37,227 and C-sections could cost you anywhere from $8,312 to $70,908.

The differences in price were "not well explained by observable patient or hospital characteristics," the study authors wrote.

Read more from Health.com

Don't name your kids Jayden, Jason and Jamie
Journal: PLOS ONE

Did your mom or dad accidentally call you by your sibling's name a lot as a kid? Did you feel like they loved your brother or sister more?

Psychologists at the University of Texas at Austin have learned it's not a Freudian slip that makes parents mistakenly call the wrong child's name. Couples with children whose names sound alike, either at the beginning or the end - think Amanda and Samantha - are more likely to make the switch.

It's all part of the brain's information-retrieval process, says lead study author Zenzi Griffin, and is more likely to happen if the siblings are closer in age or look alike.

Just be glad you weren't one of the 20 respondents who said they were called by the name of the family pet.

Read more from ScienceDaily


5 studies you may have missed
January 10th, 2014
01:53 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.

1. Surgical glue may mend broken hearts
Journal: Science Translational Medicine

Doctors see a huge unmet need for better adhesives in medicine, says Jeff Karp, co-director of the Center for Regenerative Therapeutics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The current options include sutures, which can be time-consuming to insert, and staples, which can do significant damage.

Karp and colleagues wanted to develop a better adhesive solution for babies with congenital heart defects who require surgery. To create an adhesive that would work on a beating heart in the presence of blood, a material would have to be biodegradable, elastic and nontoxic.

Researchers turned to nature for answers, observing how creatures such as sandcastle worms and spiders "have secretions that enable them to attach to wet surfaces," Karp said.

FULL POST


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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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