February 11th, 2014
06:04 PM ET
While heroin overdoses account for only a small part of the opioid overdose epidemic, they are a leading cause of death in the United States, killing 100 people every day, Kerlikowske said in a White House press conference Tuesday.
"We're not going to arrest our way out of this problem," Kerlikowske said, pointing out several key things that help to reduce overdose numbers, including the use of naloxone.
Naloxone is a drug that can reverse opioid overdoses from heroin and opioid prescription pain killers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. Opioids bind to the receptors in the brain and spinal cord, causing the body to slow down until it stops breathing. When an addict takes naloxone, it can reverse this process, freeing up the receptors.
"Naloxone has very few side effects and can be safely administered in many different settings, so there is some hope for its expanded use," said Kerlikowske.
August 15th, 2013
08:00 PM ET
When you make coffee with breakfast, or grab a to-go cup at a cafe before work, or raid your office's break room for a cup in the afternoon, you're probably not thinking about how scientists are studying it.
So we'll just tell you: Many studies have looked at the health effects of coffee, even though measuring the potential harms and benefits is not as easy as chugging a shot of espresso. Since a whole range of lifestyle and genetic factors influence a person's physical well-being, it's hard to know exactly if, or how, or to what extent, coffee would be good or bad for anyone's longterm health.
The latest study [PDF], published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found an association between drinking more than 28 cups of coffee a week and an increased risk of death from all causes, in people 55 years old and younger. One cup of coffee is 8 ounces.
That doesn't prove that coffee causes death. It also seems to contradict a study in the New England Journal of Medicine last year, which found that people who drink two or more cups of coffee a day have a reduced risk of dying from particular diseases than those who consume little or no coffee.
July 18th, 2013
10:48 AM ET
Americans are living longer than ever before. But if you are an African-American in the United States, a new report shows your life, on average, will not be as long as your white neighbors’.
The report comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. Lead author Ken Kochanek says his agency has always run these kinds of numbers internally. The results, though, get a little lost in the larger report on overall mortality rates that goes out annually to the public. This year the agency wanted to highlight some of the important racial disparities in the data.
This particular report shows a deeply troubling trend, Kochanek said: Too many black men are the victims of homicides, and that is one of the main reasons black men, on average, don’t live as long as white men do.
The study looked at life expectancy at birth between 1970 and 2010. The National Center for Health Statistics collects this data directly from death certificates. By law, a death certificate is filed with every person who dies. The certificates note cause of death and race.
This particular analysis compared life expectancy rates by race and gender. It also looked at the causes of death and how these causes influenced the difference in life expectancy between the black and white populations. It then sliced the numbers even further by comparing the causes of death and their influence on life expectancy between black and white males born in 2010, and black and white females born in 2010. The researchers did not look at socioeconomic status.
Research shows that life expectancy at birth increased from 70.8 years in 1970 to 78.7 years in 2010 for the population overall – that’s an 11% increase. Life expectancy in the United States has been gradually improving since 1900. The 78.7 average was a new high. In 2010 however, the life expectancy for the African-American population still fell short of the white population’s by 3.8 years. Studies have shown that white Americans have always lived longer on average than black Americans - at least for as long as the U.S. government has collected this data.
Black men did fare the worst of all the groups they compared – with their life expectancy at 4.7 years lower than white men, who live on average to the age of 76.5.
The statisticians found that black men don’t live as long as white men primarily because of higher incidence rates of death from heart disease, homicide and cancer. It is the homicide issue that stands out most for Kochanek.
“The causes of death that account for these differences between the populations haven’t changed all that much,” Kochanek said. “Heart disease, diabetes, stroke – these differences always seem to be there. But what’s interesting in this particular report is just what a difference homicide plays ... The difference between homicides for black and white men in particular is gigantic.”
“From a public health standpoint I’m sure the experts would say it’s especially worrying,” he said. “You would hope the (racial disparities) would be accounted for by natural causes. You can try and do prevention work to keep heart disease down or diabetes for instance. But when you see homicide as having such a big impact it’s like, ‘Wow, this is a much more complicated issue to fix.'”
White women still have the longest life expectancy at birth - 81 .3 years - followed by black women at 78 years.
This report is the first in a series that will take a closer look at causes of death. The CDC will continue to study other life expectancy issues with ethnic and racial populations in the United States.
July 2nd, 2013
03:55 PM ET
Every day, 42 women die from a drug overdose - and nearly half of those overdoses are from prescription painkillers.
In fact, according to newly released figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of women dying from prescription drug overdoses has increased by more than 400% since 1999 - nearly double the 265% increase of deaths in men.
September 27th, 2012
02:26 PM ET
Thirteen-year-old Cade Poulos took his own life just as classes were about to begin Wednesday morning, according to CNN affiliate KJRH. The boy’s death in the crowded hallway of his Stillwater, Oklahoma, junior high school is a raw and recent example of suicide in America.
New research in the American Journal of Public Health reports suicides have surpassed car crashes as the nation’s leading cause of injury-related deaths.
The suicide rate increased 15% from 2000 to 2009, according to the report.
In that same period of time the rate of deadly car crashes dropped by 25%, as a wide array of traffic safety interventions were implemented. The down economy may also have kept more people off the road and out of harm’s way.
Poisonings, the third leading cause of injury-related deaths, increased by 128% over the 10 year period, largely because of prescription drug overdoses.
July 6th, 2012
07:30 AM ET
Editor's note: Dr. Barbara Beach is the co-founder and director of the George Mark Children’s House. Tune into Sanjay Gupta MD at 4:30 p.m. E.T. Saturday and 7:30 a.m. E.T. Sunday to learn more about pediatric palliative care in "The Gift of Charles."
It began with Jim. He was a big-hearted, courageous young man dying of cancer, and I was a young pediatric oncologist at the beginning of my career, not 10 years his senior. Jim simply wanted to die at home, in the company of his mother, away from the hospital where he had spent so many weeks and months battling his disease. Yet as hard as I tried, I wasn’t able to make his final wish possible.
I had pleaded with the insurance case manager to agree to provide one shift of home nursing per day so that his single mother could have the support she needed to care for him at home. I argued that providing limited home nursing would cost much less than 24 hour hospital care, but was told flatly that that was not how the system worked.
In my utter frustration, anger and tears, I determined that there had to be a better way to provide more compassionate end of life care.
June 19th, 2012
12:49 PM ET
Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
Seventeen-year-old Ryan Buchanan was deprived of oxygen for almost 20 minutes after a sand tunnel collapsed on him at the beach in California. That was one year ago, and now Ryan — who is in a persistent vegetative state — is at home with his family.
The Buchanans’ decision to keep Ryan at home (and alive) has polarized CNN commenters. They expressed their strong opinions on the story, “Waiting for our son to wake up,” published this week.
Some shared personal experiences that related to what the family might be experiencing, even saying they should hold out for a miracle:
June 4th, 2012
03:11 PM ET
A blood test that measures a marker of immune-system activity may help doctors identify people who are at risk of dying at an early age, a new study suggests.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic measured levels of the immune-system molecules known as free light chains in 15,859 Minnesotans age 50 and up, and found that people whose levels were in the top 10% were four times more likely than the other study participants to die over the next 13 years.
Doctors commonly test for free light chains to diagnose and manage blood disorders and blood-related cancers, such as multiple myeloma or lymphoma. This study, which was published this week in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, is the first to link high levels of free light chains with earlier death in a group of people without any known blood disorders.
April 16th, 2012
02:10 PM ET
Every hour, one child dies from an unintentional injury in the United States.
It’s the leading cause of death for children and adolescents aged 1 to 19, and the fifth leading cause of death for newborns and infants less than a year old.
However, the death rate from unintentional injuries among children and adolescents from birth to age 19 plunged almost 30% from 2000-2009, according to a Vitals Signs report released Monday by the CDC.
The report also found that the rate of child injury deaths in the United States remains among the worst of all high-income countries. It is more than twice the rate of the United Kingdom, France, and Canada.
“As horrible as these numbers are, the facts are even more troubling and difficult to accept when you consider that most of these events are predictable and preventable,” said Ileana Arias, principal deputy director of the CDC.
April 11th, 2012
10:16 AM ET
Even in death Charlie Follett continues to be marginalized.
In 1945, the state of California forced Follett to have a vasectomy when he was just 15 years old, according to state records. California then refused to compensate him for the atrocious violation. Follett died March 28 at 82, just three weeks after CNN first reported his story.
His body hasn’t been buried because there’s no money to pay for a funeral.
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.