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August 14th, 2014
10:12 AM ET

New at-home test may detect colon cancer

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.
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Vibrating capsule may relieve chronic constipation
May 6th, 2014
09:07 AM ET

Vibrating capsule may relieve chronic constipation

A vibrating capsule may provide relief for those who suffer from chronic constipation, according to a small study presented at Digestive Disease Week, an annual meeting of gastroenterologists, hepatologists, endoscopy specialists and GI surgeons.

Twenty-six study participants, who all suffer from chronic idiopathic constipation or constipation predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), were asked to take a vibrating capsule twice a week and then complete a questionnaire, according to the study, presented Saturday.

More than half of the 26 patients experienced an increase in bowel movements, says Dr. Yishai Ron, lead study author and director of Neurogastroenterology and Motility at Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. "The number of bowel movements rose from around two to nearly four bowel movements per week – this was an average figure.” Ron adds patients also saw a decrease in constipation symptoms. FULL POST


Colon cancer rates down since 1980s
March 17th, 2014
12:01 AM ET

Colon cancer rates down since 1980s

Colon cancer, which was once the most common cause of cancer death in America, has been on a steady decline for decades, according to a new study in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

In 1985, there were an estimated 66.3 cases of colon cancer for every 100,000 adults in the United States. By 2010 that rate had fallen to 40.6 cases for every 100,000 adults. Deaths dropped during the same time period as well - from 28.5 to 15.5 deaths per 100,000 people.

"Incidence is declining primarily because of screening and finding polyps, which are precancerous lesions that can be removed," said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. "We find these precancerous lesions, remove them and 'voilà!' the patient doesn't get cancer."
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Heartburn drugs could cause B12 deficiency
December 11th, 2013
11:00 AM ET

Heartburn drugs could cause B12 deficiency

Patients who use certain acid-suppressing drugs for heartburn over a period of two years or longer are more likely to suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency than those who do not use them, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The drugs, known as proton-pump inhibitors (PPI) and histamine 2 receptor antagonists (H2 blockers), are available by prescription and over-the-counter, under names such as Prilosec and Nexium. They are designed to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, as well as other acid-related conditions.

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Electronic health records improve colon cancer screening rates
March 4th, 2013
05:01 PM ET

Electronic health records improve colon cancer screening rates

Centralized record-keeping systems may help improve rates of colon cancer screening, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Group Health Cooperative, a non-profit health care and insurance system in Washington state, used electronic health records to identify and monitor almost 5,000 patients who were due for a colon cancer screening but hadn't gotten it.

One group of patients received "normal care" - reminders from their doctor during appointments. A second group received a letter in the mail encouraging them to get screened; a third group got a call from a medical assistant on top of all of that, and a fourth group got a "patient navigator" to manage the screening process.

Each additional step increased the percentage of people who got screened, from 26% in the "normal" group to 65% in the patient navigator group.
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What the Yuck: I get gassy on planes
November 25th, 2011
08:44 AM ET

What the Yuck: I get gassy on planes

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Q: Why do I get so gassy on plane rides?

For starters, as the plane ascends, air pressure decreases (that’s what can cause your ears to pop), so the gas in your intestines expands.

Adding to the problem, many of us avoid using the plane’s tiny (germy!) bathroom, but holding in a bowel movement can cause flatulence, as well as discomfort and pain.

To avoid this problem, use the facilities when nature calls and steer clear of carbonated drinks. It also helps to get up and walk around during your flight - which you should do anyway to prevent blood clots - to prevent your crunched abdomen from putting additional pressure on your intestines.


September 30th, 2011
11:32 AM ET

Human Factor: 'American Idol's' Casey Abrams on life with a digestive disease

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, "American Idol" contestant Casey Abrams shares his story about his struggles with the chronic digestive disease, ulcerative colitis.

Every time I perform on the big stage, I think about that little college freshman who never thought he’d play his bass and sing for people again.

Before my music career even started, I almost had to give it all up. Millions watched me on TV and got to know me as a performer. What most people don’t know is that way before I performed with Jack Black, kissed J. Lo or got the judges’ one and only save, I was a college freshman studying what I love most - music - when I started having major health issues.
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August 31st, 2011
07:26 AM ET

Could I have inflammatory bowel disease?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Wednesdays, it's Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society.

Question asked by BH from Milwaukee:

I am a 30-year-old male. I am having episodes of abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. The doctor says she suspects ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease and wants to do a colonoscopy. What are these diseases? What else could this be and is it appropriate to do a colonoscopy?

Expert answer:
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Colon cleansing: Not so healthy, analysis says
August 1st, 2011
12:15 AM ET

Colon cleansing: Not so healthy, analysis says

It has been touted as a natural way to improve your heath and cleanse the soul. But doctors are now finding the procedure known as colon cleansing can cause dangerous side effects.

Colon cleansing, technically known as colonic hydrotherapy or colonic irrigation, is a popular treatment, usually performed at spas. It often involves the use of chemicals in the body and in hydrotherapy, the colon is flushed with water through a tube inserted in the rectum.

But oral home remedies are also available and have become popular, especially over the Internet. Now researchers from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. say there's no evidence any of these colon cleansing treatments work and, in fact, when used improperly can cause cramping, kidney failure and in some extreme cases, death.

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November 26th, 2010
12:13 PM ET

What the Yuck: Why do I burp when I eat?

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Q :Every time I eat, I seem to turn into a burping machine. What’s going on?
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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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