August 14th, 2014
10:12 AM ET
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved an at-home colon cancer test. Called Cologuard , it is the first stool-based screening test that detects certain DNA mutations and red blood cells that could be indications of colorectal cancer, according to the FDA. The test, which is ordered through a doctor's office, can be done at home.
"Unlike many other screening options, Cologuard does not require medication or dietary restrictions, or bowel preparation prior to taking the test," the manufacturer says.
The FDA says Cologuard could be used to help determine who is at risk of developing colorectal cancer at its earliest stages when the cancer is still asymptomatic. The agency approved the test this week.
August 12th, 2014
04:38 PM ET
School children get low marks when it comes to spreading germs, often sharing bugs with their classmates. So scientists wondered if putting hand sanitizers into elementary school classrooms would lead to fewer absences.
Researchers in New Zealand set out to discover if using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, in addition to regular hand washing, would cut back on absentee rates in schools.
They recruited 68 primary schools, and all students were given a half-hour hygiene lesson. They then assigned half of the schools to a control group where children washed their hands with soap and water. The schools in the intervention group did the same, but were also asked to use classroom hand sanitizers when they coughed or sneezed, and before meals.
July 28th, 2014
03:31 PM ET
Good news for runners: A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggests running, even for a few minutes a day, can reduce your risk of dying from heart disease - whether you plod along or go at race speed.
Researchers studied more than 55,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 100 over a 15-year period, looking at their overall health, whether they ran and how long they lived.
Compared to nonrunners, those who ran had a 30% lower risk of death from all causes and a 45% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, investigators found. In fact, runners on average lived three years longer than those who did not hit the pavement. When data was broken down by age, sex, body mass index, and smoking and alcohol use, the benefits were still the same.
July 24th, 2014
02:07 PM ET
Doctors often suggest taking acetaminophen for low back pain relief. But according to a new study, the popular painkiller isn’t any more effective in alleviating an aching back than letting the pain naturally subside.
A study published Thursday in The Lancet found patients who took acetaminophen for low back pain had the same recovery time as those who took a placebo, or sugar pill. The study was partially funded by GlaxoSmithKline, a company that manufactures drugs containing acetaminophen.
Researchers in Australia looked at 1,643 patients with acute low back pain. Each was assigned to a different group for the experiment. The first group of 550 patients took six 665-milligram tablets of acetaminophen a day as well as one to two placebo tablets.
July 22nd, 2014
01:23 PM ET
Genetics plays more of a role in the development of autism than environmental causes, according to new research published Sunday in Nature Genetics.
The study found that 52% of autism risk comes from common genes, while only 2.6% are attributed to spontaneous mutations caused by, among other things, environmental factors.
“These genetic variations are common enough that most people are likely to have some,” said Joseph Buxbaum, a researcher at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and one of the lead authors on the study. “Each one has a tiny effect on autism risk, and many hundreds or thousands together make a significant risk.”
June 30th, 2014
05:54 PM ET
For doctors, pelvic examinations are a routine way to screen for abnormalities. But for many women, the procedure is uncomfortable and embarrassing.
Thanks to a new clinical practice guideline by The American College of Physicians, your next annual check-up might be less... invasive.
After reviewing 52 studies, the physicians organization concluded that annual pelvic examinations - in non-pregnant, adult women who do not have symptoms - are unnecessary. In other words, pelvic screening exams have served their time.
June 30th, 2014
03:34 PM ET
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.
June 27th, 2014
12:39 PM ET
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
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.
June 24th, 2014
06:14 PM ET
Digital breast tomosynthesis, better known as 3-D mammography, can find more invasive, and in some cases more dangerous, cancers than a traditional digital mammogram, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week concludes.
But do you need one?
Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011 as a supplement to digital mammography, tomosynthesis creates a 3-D reconstruction of the breast tissue, giving radiologists a clearer view of overlapping slices. This new study found using the combination of digital and 3-D mammography reduces false alarms and unnecessary call backs by 15% in all groups of patients, including younger women and women with dense breast tissue.
The study was funded by Hologic, the manufacturer of the 3-D imaging machine, and the National Cancer Institute.
June 24th, 2014
02:36 PM ET
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.
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.