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Asthma, eczema and hay fever may be linked to fast food
January 14th, 2013
04:26 PM ET

Asthma, eczema and hay fever may be linked to fast food

Teenagers and young children who eat fast food could be increasing their risk of developing asthma, eczema and hay fever, according to a study published Monday in the British Medical Journal's respiratory journal Thorax.

The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) study used written questionnaires completed by 319,196 13-  and 14-year-olds from 51 countries and by the parents of 181,631 6- and 7-year-olds in 31 countries.  They were asked if they had symptoms of the three conditions and about their weekly diet - including the types of foods they ate over the last year, and how often.

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Fight against tuberculosis a mixed bag
October 17th, 2012
04:47 PM ET

Fight against tuberculosis a mixed bag

More than 20 million people with tuberculosis (TB) are living today because of successful care and treatment, according to a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO's Global Tuberculosis Report 2012 found that access to care has been expanded significantly and over the last 17 years, 51 million people have been cured of the disease worldwide.  The number of new cases has been on the decline for the last few years.  Since 1990, the TB mortality rate decreased 41%, but the news is still mixed.

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Global H1N1 death toll may be 15 times higher than previously reported
An Algerian doctor prepares a vaccine dose against the H1N1 flu in 2009 in a hospital in Algiers.
June 25th, 2012
07:09 PM ET

Global H1N1 death toll may be 15 times higher than previously reported

The actual number of deaths from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic might have been more than 15 times higher than previously thought, according to a study released on Monday.

When the new H1N1 virus, often referred to as swine flu, spread around the world three years ago, 18,500 deaths were reported to the World Health Organization in the first 16 months of the pandemic.  Based on this new study, published online in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, researchers estimate 284,400 people actually died in the first year the virus was circulating around the world.

According to a model developed by the study authors, the actual number of deaths linked to the H1N1 flu virus could range anywhere from 151,700 to 575,400.   Lead study author Dr. Fatimah Dawood says she and her colleagues used three types of data to come up with their estimates:

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'Fatness is a political issue,' professor says
June 18th, 2012
03:23 PM ET

'Fatness is a political issue,' professor says

The U.S. obesity crisis is no secret - people around the country are getting fatter and it's costing us billions.

But obesity isn't just an American issue. According to a study published in the journal BMC Public Health this week, it's also a global health issue... and not for the reason you may think.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine used data from the United Nations and the World Health Organization to estimate the total mass of the human population. In 2005 we, as a global society, weighed approximately 316 million tons, which is about 17 million tons overweight.

Obesity caused 3.9 million tons of that total, the equivalent of 56 million average-sized people. Even more concerning: North America accounts for only 6% of the world's population but 34% of its obesity-related mass.
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Controversial flu study released after biosecurity debate
May 2nd, 2012
04:23 PM ET

Controversial flu study released after biosecurity debate

The first of two controversial studies about  a mutated form of the potentially lethal H5N1 bird flu virus was finally published Wednesday after months of debate over whether release of the research could pose a biosecurity threat.

The journal Nature published the study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher Yoshihiro Kawaoka. Similar research led by Dutch researcher Ron Fouchier at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam has yet to be published in its entirety in the journal Science.

Both studies found that with a few genetic alternations, this bird flu virus can be much more easily transmitted. Six months ago the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) asked both journals not to publish essential data because they feared it could be misused and turned into a biological weapon.  Scientists in favor of publication argued that the data was important for flu surveillance and public health preparedness.

"This study has significant public health benefits and contributes to our understanding of this important pathogen,” said Yoshihiro Kawaoka, the author of the Nature study and a flu researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in a released statement. “By identifying mutations that facilitate transmission among mammals, those whose job it is to monitor viruses circulating in nature can look for these mutations so measures can be taken to effectively protect human health." FULL POST


NIH: OK to publish controversial bird flu studies
April 23rd, 2012
01:13 PM ET

NIH: OK to publish controversial bird flu studies

Two studies on the deadly H5N1 avian flu virus have been steeped in controversy because some experts view them as a threat to biosecurity. Now, the U.S. government is saying they should be published.

The papers suggest ways that manipulation of the virus could heighten its virulence and ability to be transmitted. 

"This line of research is critically important because it will help public health officials understand, detect, and defend against the emergence of H5N1 virus as a human threat, a development that could pose a pandemic scenario," according to a statement by Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health
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Study: Bird flu death rate may be overblown
February 23rd, 2012
03:57 PM ET

Study: Bird flu death rate may be overblown

The consensus among many scientists has been that the strain of bird flu currently circulating – H5N1 – is not only highly infectious, but potentially deadly. That is based on the nearly 600 cases confirmed by the World Health Organization, more than half of which have resulted in death.

But a new study analyzing WHO data suggests that H5N1 may not be as virulent as previously thought, and that mild infections could be slipping under the radar because of less-than-ideal detection methods.

Were those mild cases included, the death rate due to H5N1 could be dramatically lower, according to research appearing in the journal, Science.
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Gates pledges $363 million to fight neglected tropical diseases
January 30th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Gates pledges $363 million to fight neglected tropical diseases

Less than a week after the the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced it would give $750 million to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the foundation has pledged $363 million to target neglected tropical diseases over five years.

The Gates Foundation, along with 13 pharmaceutical companies, the World Bank, other global health organizations and the governments of the U.S., U.K. and United Arab Emirates, announced the effort Monday. It's called the London Declaration on Neglected Diseases.

The goal is to eliminate 10 neglected tropical diseases by the end of the decade by expanding the drug donations, providing about $785 million to support research and development, and efforts to address treatment. FULL POST


Study: Fewer abortions worldwide; increase in unsafe abortions
January 18th, 2012
06:31 PM ET

Study: Fewer abortions worldwide; increase in unsafe abortions

A new study finds that although abortion rates around the world have leveled off, unsafe abortions across the globe continue to rise.

Researchers noted between 1995 and 2003 the abortion rate per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 to 44 dropped from the 35 to 29 worldwide. But in 2008 the global abortion rate remained the same at about 28 per every 1,000 women.

Yet alarmingly, researchers say the proportion of abortions thought to be unsafe rose from 44%  in 1995 to 49% in 2008.  The study is published in The Lancet.
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How to innovate? Be fearless
October 26th, 2011
07:06 PM ET

How to innovate? Be fearless

Peter Diamandis, founder of the X PRIZE, believes there is about to be a revolution in how we innovate.

Diamandis has been instrumental in that revolution by offering monetary incentives for people to solve the world's problems, from spaceflight to oil spill cleanups. Wednesday, he announced the launch of the $10 million Archon Genomics X PRIZE presented by Medco.

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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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