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Schoolchildren are eating more fruits, veggies
March 4th, 2014
10:10 AM ET

Schoolchildren are eating more fruits, veggies

Are schoolchildren actually eating more fruits and vegetables under the new school lunch program? Apparently they are, according to a new study published Tuesday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Children returning to school beginning in fall 2012 found some significant changes to their cafeteria menus: more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The healthier foods were the result of changes to the National School Lunch Program made under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

But lack of enthusiasm about these new requirements soon surfaced. A few school districts even dropped out of the lunch program.

However, the authors of this study say their research proves the opposite: “Contrary to media reports, these results suggest that the new school meal standards have improved students' overall diet quality. Legislation to weaken the standards is not warranted.” FULL POST


Five studies you may have missed
Overworked nurses may raise the risk of patient death, according to a new study.
February 28th, 2014
08:17 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.

Your nurse needs a break. I wouldn’t complain if I were you 
Journal: The Lancet

An overworked nursing staff raises the risk of patients dying, while hiring better-educated nurses reduces those odds, a study of European Union hospitals that have undergone recent staffing cuts concludes.

Adding one patient to a nurse’s workload raises the chances of a patient dying by 7%. But a 10% increase in nurses with bachelor’s degrees reduced those odds by the same amount, researchers from several EU countries reported in The Lancet.

“Nurse staffing cuts to save money might adversely affect patient outcomes. An increased emphasis on bachelor's education for nurses could reduce preventable hospital deaths,” they concluded.

The study examined discharge data from more than 400,000 patients over 50 from 300 hospitals in nine European countries.

Read more from The Guardian

Mice skin cells transformed into liver cells
Journal: Nature

In a development that could give hope to patients awaiting transplants, researchers at the University of California-San Francisco and its affiliated Gladstone Institute have been able to reprogram skin cells into working liver cells in mice. The scientists caution that the results are early, but the cell growth showed no signs of slowing down after nine months.

“In the future, our technique could serve as an alternative for liver-failure patients who don’t require full-organ replacement, or who don’t have access to a transplant due to limited donor organ availability,” UCSF scientist Holger Willenbring said in announcing the results.

The study involved using reprogramming genes and chemical compounds to take skin cells back to a form that resembles endoderm cells, which mature into many of the body’s major organs. Willinbring and Gladstone senior investigator Sheng Ding cultivated the cells in a petri dish, then “coaxed” them into growing into liver cells through another set of genes and chemicals.

“Many questions remain, but the fact that these cells can fully mature and grow for months post-transplantation is extremely promising,” Willenbring said.

Read more from UT-San Diego

Twins’ brains show same marks of Alzheimer’s
Journal: Brain Pathology

Twins who died after suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease had similar areas of damage to their brains, a project by researchers in California and Sweden concluded.

The scientists studied the brains of seven pairs of twins who died after years of diagnostic tests - among them the brains of identical twins who died at age 98 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The results support previous findings that genetics may determine how vulnerable someone is to Alzheimer’s and other conditions, said University of Southern California psychologist Margaret Gatz, who led the study.

"We looked not just at the hallmark indicators of Alzheimer's, but at all the other damage in the brain. Across the whole array of neuropathological changes, the identical twins appeared to have more similar pathologies," Gatz said in announcing the findings. "This is fascinating. It's not just a key pathology related to the twins' diagnoses but the combination of things happening in their brains.”

Gatz and Diego Iacono of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute drew their subjects from the Swedish Twin Registry, which Gatz has delved into for decades to study aging. The findings add more data to suggest that rather than a single cause, Alzheimer’s develops from a range of factors that genetics may affect.

The kids are all right: The rest of you, hit the gym
Journal: Journal of the American Medical Association

Despite years of warnings about obesity, the number of severely overweight Americans hasn’t changed in a decade. On the bright side, it hasn’t gotten any worse, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Public Health Service found.

Researchers calculated that 17% of children and 35% of adults were obese in 2011-2012. The figures show “no significant changes” since 2003, they reported.

There is one bright spot in the study: a “significant decrease” in obesity rates in children between the ages of 2 and 5, from 14% in 2003 to about 8% in the 2011-2012 figures. But that drop was offset by a sharp increase in women over 60, the researchers found.

“Obesity prevalence remains high, and thus it is important to continue surveillance,” they noted.

Read more from The Washington Post

New knowledge literally reshapes your mind
Journal: Nature Neuroscience

University of British Columbia researchers have found that learning brings together a fatty acid and a brain protein that combine to connect brain cells - a finding that may provide an explanation for some mental disabilities.

The biochemical change “is essential in producing the changes in brain cell connectivity associated with learning,” the Vancouver-based university said in announcing the results. And it’s the first time scientists have described the role of that protein, known as delta-catenin, in the process of forming memories.

Animals who were exposed to new environments had almost twice the amount of modified delta-catenin in their brains, co-authors Shernaz Bamji and Stefano Brigidi reported. Learning more about the role the protein plays in building brain cells could help understand how degenerative illnesses like Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s Disease work, they say.

Read more from Science Daily

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Filed under: Cancer

February 27th, 2014
02:10 PM ET

Study: Children of older fathers face higher risk of psychiatric disorders

Do men have a biological clock of sorts? A large new study suggests they may.

Compared to younger fathers, older fathers' children were found to be significantly more at risk for a host of psychiatric disorders, according to the study, published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

For example, the children of fathers ages 45 and over were three times more likely to have an autism spectrum disorder, 13 times more likely to have ADHD, and 24 times more likely to have bipolar disorder than the children of fathers aged 20 to 24.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from 2.6 million children born in Sweden between 1973 and 2001, making it one of the largest and most comprehensive studies on the effects of paternal age.

FULL POST


MERS coronavirus in 74% of Saudi Arabian camels
February 25th, 2014
04:11 PM ET

MERS coronavirus in 74% of Saudi Arabian camels

Scientists are making strides in unraveling the mystery of the MERS coronavirus, which so far has sickened at least 182 people, including 79 deaths.

While human cases have been traced back to September 2012, according to the World Health Organization, researchers in the United States and in Saudi Arabia have found evidence of MERS in camels going back at least 20 more years.

By taking samples from front and hind orifices of camels in all parts of Saudi Arabia, scientists found evidence of MERS in 74% of all dromedaries (single-hump camels) living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, according to a new study. FULL POST


Fukushima: A closer look
February 24th, 2014
04:15 PM ET

Low radiation risks outside Fukushima zone, study finds

The safety measures imposed after the 2011 meltdowns at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant appear to have averted widespread health risks to the surrounding population, Japanese scientists say.

People who live on the outskirts of the evacuation zone surrounding the plant received only slightly more radiation than normal background doses in the year following the world's second-worst nuclear accident, researchers at Kyoto University concluded. The study indicates that the fallout from the crippled plant presents little hazard to those outside the closed zone, even in towns along its edges.

"In conclusion, food supply and associated regulations are considered effective in the study areas in Fukushima thus far, and external exposure is a major component of the radiation dose rate," the researchers found. FULL POST

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Filed under: Cancer

January 7th, 2014
04:27 PM ET

Anti-smoking efforts have saved 8 million lives

Fifty years ago, Surgeon General Dr. Luther Terry made a bombshell announcement: "The strongest relationship between cigarette smoking and health is in the field of lung cancer. There is a very strong relationship, and probably a causal relationship, between heart disease and cigarette smoking."

It was the first time a surgeon general said that smokers had a 70% greater chance of death and that heavy smokers were 20 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers.

The landmark report launched one of the biggest public health campaigns in U.S. history, including warning labels on cigarettes, cigarette advertising banned on TV and radio, graphic public service announcements, and anti-smoking laws.

Now a new study in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association - which has devoted its entire issue to tobacco and smoking - estimates that tobacco control efforts since the first Surgeon General's report have added 20 years of life for 8 million Americans. Without tobacco control, half of those Americans would have died before the age of 65.
FULL POST


5 studies you may have missed
Researchers found a connection between head trauma and brain plaques linked to Alzheimer's.
December 27th, 2013
08:29 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.

1. A shock to make you forget
Journal: Nature Neuroscience

We all have memories of experiences we'd rather not look back on, which trigger strong emotions when we reflect on them. Scientists demonstrated in a small study that electricity may be able to manipulate what we remember, although it's not clear if the technique would work with personal memories.

In this experiment, 42 people with severe depression watched two narrated slideshows describing unpleasant stories. A week later, they had to remember one of the stories after viewing part of a relevant slide they had seen before. Then, some participants received electroconvulsive therapy and had to recall both stories when they woke up from anesthesia. Others got tested 24 hours later, and a third group did not receive electroconvulsive therapy.

Those tested 24 hours after the shock treatment showed a curious pattern: They could not remember the story they had been prompted to recall right before the electroconvulsive therapy.

“I think it’s interesting as a proof of concept, but I don’t think it’s necessarily going to be a robust treatment because it’s so invasive,” psychologist Elizabeth Phelps told TIME.com.

Read more from TIME.com FULL POST


5 studies you may have missed
December 13th, 2013
03:49 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.

This week kicked off the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, at which researchers presented information about the treatment, diagnosis, prevention and biology of this condition. There were several important studies presented there. FULL POST


A single dose of HPV vaccine may be enough
November 4th, 2013
10:27 AM ET

A single dose of HPV vaccine may be enough

Just one dose of the HPV vaccine Cervarix appears to provide enough of an immune response to protect women from two strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) and ultimately cervical cancer, according to a new study published Monday.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The infection, transmitted through genital contact, is the primary cause of cervical cancer, which affects about 10,300 women in the United States each year.  It causes about 275,000 deaths annually worldwide and is a leading cause of cancer deaths among women in low-income countries, according to the World Health Organization.

“Cervical cancer is a major cause of public health concern, especially in less developed countries where about 85% of cervical cancer occurs,” says study author Mahboobeh Safaeian. “The reason for that is mainly because of lack of screening infrastructure offered.” FULL POST

Post by: ,
Filed under: Cancer • HPV • Living Well • Sex

5 studies you may have missed
A slow metabolism may indeed be linked to obesity in some cases, a new study finds.
October 25th, 2013
02:08 PM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published recently 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.

Some obesity may be related to slow metabolism, really
Journal: Cell

"Slow metabolism" as an explanation for obesity has been largely knocked down by doctors as inaccurate. But University of Cambridge researchers showed in a new study that mutations on a particular gene slow metabolism, which may be linked to obesity in some people.

Previous research had shown that mice without the gene KSR2 tended to become overweight.

In this study, researchers sequenced the DNA of 2,101 people with severe early-onset obesity and 1,536 people who were not obese. They saw that mutations in KSR2 were associated with "hyperphagia (increased appetite) in childhood, low heart rate, reduced basal metabolic rate and severe insulin resistance."

Fewer than one in 100 people have KSR2 mutations, and some of those do have normal weight, BBC News reports.

This genetics research could have implications for developing drugs that help people with obesity and type 2 diabetes, the study said.

High blood sugar linked to memory problems
Journal: Neurology

Past studies have suggested that diabetes raises the risk for Alzheimer's disease although it's not entirely clear why. New research finds that even in people who don't have diabetes, chronically higher blood glucose levels are associated with poorer outcomes in the brain.

This study looked at 141 people, average age 63, without diabetes or pre-diabetes. No participants were overweight or had memory and thinking impairment.

On cognitive tests, participants with lower blood glucose levels performed better in terms of delayed recall, learning ability and memory consolidation than those with higher levels. What's more, those with higher levels tended to have smaller volumes in the hippocampus, a sea horse-shaped brain structure crucial for memory.

“These results suggest that even for people within the normal range of blood sugar, lowering their blood sugar levels could be a promising strategy for preventing memory problems and cognitive decline as they age,” study author Dr. Agnes Flöel of Charité University Medicine in Berlin said in a statement. “Strategies such as lowering calorie intake and increasing physical activity should be tested.”

This study received significant media attention, but Dr. Jane Chiang, the American Diabetes Association's Senior vice president of medical affairs and community information, said she has a lot of concerns about the way it was conducted. The participants weren't entirely "healthy," according to their blood glucose levels in fact, they may have diabetes and not know it, she said.

A bigger concern, Chiang said, is that older adults aren't recommended to have a strictly regulated "normal" blood glucose in the first place. Low blood sugar presents dangerous risks of falls and seizures, so the American Diabetes Association discourages tight blood sugar control in older adults.

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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