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WHO reports measles outbreaks in European countries
April 20th, 2011
06:58 PM ET

WHO reports measles outbreaks in European countries

Airfares to Europe are quite enticing at the moment, but traveling to that continent could introduce you to more than just the sights. Many European countries are dealing with measles outbreaks according to information released by the World Health Organization on Wednesday.

At least 6,500 cases of measles have been reported in a dozen countries so far this year, nearly 5,000 of them in France alone. Most of the people who got the disease in France were not immunized with the measles vaccine, according to Dr. Rebecca Martin, who heads the Vaccine Preventable Diseases program for the WHO's European Region. "About 30% are seen in cases [in France] too young to receive vaccine." Martin says a substantial number of adolescents have also been infected and one adult died from the disease.

Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Serbia and Turkey have also reported cases of measles in 2011, according to the WHO. Bulgaria's measles cases seemed to have peaked, according to Martin. "We had a very large outbreak starting in April 2009 in Bulgaria through 2010 with over 24,000 cases and 24 deaths," she says.

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U.S. hospitalizations for dengue fever tripled in 7 years
April 13th, 2011
04:43 PM ET

U.S. hospitalizations for dengue fever tripled in 7 years

Dengue fever, common in tropical and subtropical areas of the world that are home to more than a third of the world's population, has been a rarity in the United States - until a couple of years ago.

But in 2009, dengue infection appeared in a few Florida residents who had not traveled out of the U.S., ending a 45-year absence from the United States, according to the CDC. The number of U.S. hospitalized cases of dengue infection more than tripled between 2000 and 2007, according to a study published Wednesday in the April issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

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Health lessons from Chernobyl
March 23rd, 2011
05:31 PM ET

Health lessons from Chernobyl

With ongoing problems at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant – including the latest warning that radiation has turned up in Tokyo’s drinking water – CNN is looking at past nuclear accidents for a hint of the long-term impact.

The worst nuclear accident ever took place in 1986 when there was a massive explosion at the plant in Chernobyl, in the Ukraine region of the former Soviet Union. A team from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, has conducted long-term studies looking at cancer rates in the area. Scott Davis, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington, leads the research, including three studies of childhood cancer, one childhood leukemia study and a study now under way on breast cancer rates.

The team compares people who have the illness being studied, with people who are not sick, while estimating the amount of radiation each individual was exposed to. Through this method they estimate the increase in cancer cases that can be attributed to radiation exposure. An important part of the approach involves making estimates of each individual’s exposure; this is done through computer models and interviews with each person about his or her location and movements.

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March 15th, 2011
02:29 PM ET

What you should know about radiation

Japanese workers are scrambling to control a nuclear plant after a fire that may have burned several fuel rods. Officials said that the readings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant Tuesday morning were not at levels to cause “harm to human health,” but anxiety about impending disaster persists. Here's more on radiation sickness and how to combat it.

Radiation levels at the plant Tuesday were between 100 and 400 millisieverts, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said. To put that in perspective, in the United States, a person typically gets a radiation dose of 6.2 millisieverts per year.

That dose would quickly dissipate with distance from the plant, and radiation levels quickly fell back to levels where they would be no immediate public health threat, Edano said. Still, people as far as 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) were warned to stay inside.

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Gender preference leads to imbalance in Asian countries
March 14th, 2011
05:38 PM ET

Gender preference leads to imbalance in Asian countries

A preference for sons in some Asian countries has been well documented for centuries. Now a study suggests the practice has led to significant imbalances in the male/female population in China, South Korea and India that could have long-lasting implications.

According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, over the next 20 years, this practice will lead to an excess of males—between 10%-20% in large parts of China and India.

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February 18th, 2011
05:33 PM ET

2 more countries eliminate Guinea worm

A debilitating disease that has plagued mankind since ancient times lingers only in three countries now.  If completely eradicated, the Guinea worm disease would become only the second disease wiped out by mankind.

The Guinea worm lives in stagnant water.  When the villagers drink the contaminated water, the worm grows inside its human host for a year until it emerges through the skin, causing great pain.  It is not lethal, but paralyzing for many.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and the Carter Center have led public health efforts tackling neglected diseases most Americans have never heard of.  On Thursday, Carter congratulated Niger and Nigeria for becoming the most recent countries to eliminate the Guinea worm.

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'Lifestyle' cancers increasing in developing countries
February 4th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

'Lifestyle' cancers increasing in developing countries

Friday is World Cancer Day.  A new report from the American Cancer Society says cancers that are usually more common in developed countries such as lung and breast cancer, are now on the rise in developing countries and will continue to increase unless preventive measures are taken immediately.

7.6 million people died worldwide of cancer in 2008.  The number is expected to rise to 13.2 million deaths by 2030.  Experts say that's because more people will be on the planet and they will be living longer.

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Study: Global obesity nearly doubled since 1980
February 3rd, 2011
07:00 PM ET

Study: Global obesity nearly doubled since 1980

The global prevalence of obesity has almost doubled since 1980, while some inroads have been made in dropping global cholesterol and high blood pressure rates. Those are the findings of three papers published in the Lancet, looking at global heart disease risk factors between 1980 and 2008.

"Our results show that overweight and obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are no longer Western problems or problems of wealthy nations. Their presence has shifted towards low and middle income countries, making them global problems," according to senior study author Professor Majid Ezzati, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London.

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January 25th, 2011
03:52 PM ET

A doctor in Davos

I flew into Zurich, Switzerland this morning, and then traveled two hours to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF). On the way, I learned Davos is Europe’s highest-altitude city. It is a small and remote place with only around 13,000 residents and only one road in and out. The WEF is a five-day meeting where 2,500 of the world’s top business leaders, heads of state, and public figures get together to try to solve the problems confronting the other nearly 7 billion of us.

It is a remarkable concentration of some of the best minds in business, technology and politics – all together in one remote destination. I can tell you, despite its high-profile attendees, the forum isn’t official or formal.  Former President Clinton is just "Bill" here in Davos. There are no titles, and there are no fancy restaurants. Most of the attendees hang out in the cafeteria hall.

To be clear, though, there are two meetings going on here. After the panels are completed, there are dozens of private gatherings where some of the real work gets done. If you have heard of the Global Health Initiative, you may also know that Kofi Annan launched it at the 2002 annual meeting. The mission was to take advantage of the public/private partnerships towards combating malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. In 1989, North and South Korea spoke for the first time here at Davos.

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Secondhand smoke kills 600,000 worldwide annually
November 26th, 2010
09:08 AM ET

Secondhand smoke kills 600,000 worldwide annually

1 in 100 people around the world die from secondhand smoke each year, a new study reveals, and nearly two-thirds of the deaths occur in children.

Health officials have known that more than 1 billion people around the world smoke and 5 million people die each year from tobacco-related illness, according to the World Health Organization.  That's about one person dying every six seconds.

But just how many people are sickened by secondhand smoke has been less clear, which led researchers to try to investigate how big the problem is. Based on 2004 data gathered from 192 countries, researchers estimate "as many as 40 percent of children, 35 percent of women, and 33 percent of men are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke indoors," according to a WHO study published in the British medical journal The Lancet. 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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