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Buying breast milk online? Beware
Breast milk purchased from Internet social media sites may contain bacteria such as salmonella, a new study shows.
October 21st, 2013
09:40 AM ET

Buying breast milk online? Beware

Donated breast milk is "liquid gold at our house,” says Stacy Richards, 37.

The liquid gold is for Simeon, Richards' adopted 11-month-old son. He was born with Down syndrome and suffers from chronic lung disease. Richards believes "breast is best" but couldn't breastfeed, so she turned to the next best thing.

Initially, she sought milk on community milk sharing sites, like “Eats on Feets,” and “Human Milk 4 Human Babies,” but didn’t feel comfortable getting milk from strangers. “We didn’t know who those women were. They didn’t have a safety net,” said Richards. Instead, she relied on trusted friends.

Richards had every right to worry, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. The study found milk bought off of the Internet through social media sites was more than twice as likely to be contaminated with infection-causing bacteria and three times more likely to contain salmonella than milk from the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBNA). While only 5% of the HMBNA milk tested positive for herpes viruses, 21% of milk from the Internet contained bacteria and viruses. FULL POST


Drug-resistant bacteria
October 3rd, 2013
12:00 PM ET

Doctors still overprescribing antibiotics

With all the talk of "superbugs" and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, you might think prescriptions for unnecessary antibiotics is relatively infrequent, especially for conditions where these drugs rarely work.

New research from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston suggests the opposite. Dr. Michael L. Barnett, lead author, and Dr. Jeffrey A. Linder, senior author, found that prescriptions of antibiotics for sore throat and acute bronchitis are far more common than they should be.

"You have a viral infection for which the antibiotics are not going to help, and you’re putting a chemical in your body that has a very real chance of hurting you," Linder said. Side effects of antibiotics include diarrhea, vaginitis in women, interactions with other medications and more serious reactions in a small number of people.

Also concerning: When you take antibiotics, there's a chance the disease you're fighting - or other bacteria in your body - will mutate, making it more resistant to antibiotics in the future.

"People may have infections that are harder to treat down the line because we're overusing antibiotics today," Linder said.
FULL POST


5 things you need to know about thyroid cancer
"Dancing With the Stars" host Brooke Burke-Charvet revealed this week she has thyroid cancer.
November 9th, 2012
12:32 PM ET

5 things you need to know about thyroid cancer

"Dancing with the Stars" host Brooke Burke-Charvet revealed Thursday she’s battling thyroid cancer via The ModernMom’s YouTube channel.

She says had no clue she had cancer - it was discovered during a routine physical.

"Doctors say this is a good kind of cancer to have. A good cancer ... that sounds so crazy," she says in the video. She says she is feeling great and is not going to let her diagnosis define her. "I'm going to make a positive out of this negative thing."

We strongly believe knowledge is power and that it's critical to be an Empowered Patient. So here are five things to know about thyroid cancer.

1. Women are more likely to get thyroid cancer then men. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2011 there were just over 48,000 new cases of thyroid cancer. Of those, 36,550 were in women and 11,470 were in men. Doctors aren't sure why.

2. It also impacts younger people. Nearly two out of three thyroid cancer cases are found in adults under 55. While it can occur at any age, women's risk peaks typically in their 40s or 50s, while the risk peaks for men usually in their 60s or 70s.

3. It tends not to be an "obvious" cancer. As was the case for Burke-Charvet, for most people there are no obvious symptoms. But over time as the cancer grows, according to the Mayo Clinic, it may cause symptoms ranging from a lump on your neck to difficulty swallowing to changes in your voice.

4. There are more cases now than there were 20 years ago. The number of thyroid cancer diagnoses have more than doubled since 1990. Why? According to the ACS, some of it is the result of the increased use of ultrasound, which can detect tiny nodules on the thyroid that might have been missed in the past.

5. The survival rate is high. Burke-Charvet says in her video that her doctor told her, "this is a happily-ever-after-ending kind of thing." If caught early, the survival rate is nearly 100%. But not everyone survives. Around 1,700 people do die, mostly because their cancer was caught in the late stages.

As for Burke-Charvet, she says that she will soon undergo a thyroidectomy which will remove her thyroid and leave a scar across her neck.


Home pregnancy tests may detect men's cancer
November 8th, 2012
04:34 PM ET

Home pregnancy tests may detect men's cancer

If you've been near social media or on the Internet, you may be aware of the buzz over posts claiming a teenage boy took a home pregnancy test as a joke, received a positive result, and wound up being diagnosed with testicular cancer.

CNN interviewed a girl who identified herself as a friend of the 17-year-old, but was not able to independently confirm the posts.

However, it's true home pregnancy tests can detect some types of testicular cancer in men, experts say - but the tests would not be useful as a screening tool.

FULL POST


Sandy's flooding: 5 things you need to know
A flooded street in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn, New York, on Tuesday in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
October 30th, 2012
01:27 PM ET

Sandy's flooding: 5 things you need to know

Flooding overwhelmed parts of the East Coast Tuesday as a result of Superstorm Sandy.

In Little Ferry, New Jersey, floodwaters were six to eight feet deep, and about 75% of the city was underwater, according to the police chief.

“We have people who were actually on roofs of their homes in certain sections. We needed, actually, boats – we’re still using boats to get people out of the low-lying areas,” Chief Ralph Verdi told CNN. “I’ve been a police officer for 33 years. I’ve never seen this type of devastation from flooding.” FULL POST


Study: Doctors should share notes with you
Doctors' notes can help patients understand why it's important to take their medications, a new study found.
October 1st, 2012
05:00 PM ET

Study: Doctors should share notes with you

After you leave your doctor's office, there's a crucial part of the appointment that happens behind your back: Your doctor writes a note describing how the visit went.

The note might say that your blood pressure is higher or better, or that you seem more or less stressed than previously. It may mention any prescriptions you're supposed to take and why, and when you'll be back for a follow-up.

A new study in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine recommends giving patients access to those notes.

FULL POST


Pregnant and just start snoring? You may have hypertension
September 26th, 2012
12:24 PM ET

Pregnant and just start snoring? You may have hypertension

If you're pregnant and you (or your other half) notice you've started to snore, you might want to talk to your doctor.  You could be at greater risk of getting high blood pressure and preeclampsia, according to a new study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Preeclampsia, left untreated, can be life-threatening to the mother and unborn child.  It usually starts after the fifth month of pregnancy and causes a pregnant woman's blood pressure to go up and the presence of protein in the mother's urine.  This can significantly affect the placenta and the mother's liver, kidney and brain.

Preeclampsia can cause seizures and is the second leading cause of death in pregnant women in the United States. It's also a leading cause of fetal complications including premature birth, low birth weight and stillbirth.  There is no cure short of delivering the baby.

FULL POST


Fewer young adults abusing prescription drugs
The number of people age 18-25 abusing prescription drugs decreased 14% from 2010 through 2011, a new report shows.
September 24th, 2012
05:32 PM ET

Fewer young adults abusing prescription drugs

About 2.3 million children and adults abused prescription drugs for the first time last year, according to a new government survey on drug use in America.

That’s about 6,400 new prescription drug abusers a day—taking everything from pain relievers and tranquilizers to stimulants and sedatives.

But a Monday report on prescription drug abuse from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows a 14% drop in the number of young people aged 18 to 25 who are abusing prescription drugs - from 2 million in 2010 to 1.7 million last year. FULL POST


September 3rd, 2012
03:56 PM ET

Hantavirus: What you need to know

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

While there's no ironclad way to keep hantavirus away, there are steps you can take to minimize the chances that it will hurt you or your family.

The virus is relatively rare: Only 602 cases have been reported in the United States since 1993, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recently, six cases of hantavirus were reported among people who visited Yosemite National Park in California. Two of those infected people died.

However, it's very deadly: About half of all people who get hantavirus die of it, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Though some people do get it from camping, such as the recent Yosemite cases, many more people contract hantavirus in their own homes, according to the CDC.

The virus is spread by rodent droppings and urine. Here are some tips from the CDC and NIH for keeping hantavirus at bay:

1. Seal holes inside and outside your home to keep rodents out.

2. Trap rodents around your home.

3. While camping, sleep on ground cover and a pad.

4. When opening an unused cabin, open all doors and windows. Leave for 30 minutes, and when you return, spray disinfectant and then leave for another 30 minutes.

5. Know the signs: Early symptoms include chills, fever and muscle aches. Within one or two days, it becomes hard to breathe.


Romney's plan for middle-class health insurance
Mitt Romney says if elected, he will take steps to make insurance less expensive and give Americans more buying power.
August 31st, 2012
10:13 AM ET

Romney's plan for middle-class health insurance

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

This week during the Republican convention the Empowered Patient has been putting Mitt Romney’s health care plan under the microscope, examining what it means to various groups of American patients.

Earlier this week we looked at Romney's ideas on preventive care, helping people with pre-existing conditions get insurance, and aiding seniors who get stuck in the prescription drug donut hole. We also did a fact-check on Paul Ryan's Medicare comments in his convention speech.

Now, we're looking at Romney's plans for helping middle class Americans buy health insurance. According to a 2009 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 11 million uninsured Americans came from the middle class, or nearly a quarter of the nation's total uninsured.

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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