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Weird science: Kitty litter increases risk of suicide?
July 2nd, 2012
04:47 PM ET

Weird science: Kitty litter increases risk of suicide?

A small subset of suicide attempts may be linked to an infection that starts in the litter box.  A new study suggests an association between Toxoplasma gondii and suicide attempts among women.

Interesting finding, to be sure, but how does one even begin to test a theory like this? Why in the world would anyone posit that kitty litter could be related to suicide attempts?

As it turns out, about one-third of the population is walking around right now with latent toxoplasma infection.  Most people will never know they have it - and most will not attempt suicide as a result of it. But the presence of T. gondii among women who attempted suicide raises interesting questions.

Those questions led senior study author, Dr. Teodor Postolache, to find out more. Postolache said he was at first puzzled by studies suggesting low-grade activity in the immune systems of suicide victims.

FULL POST


Finally, a treatment for that buzzing in your ears
May 24th, 2012
06:31 PM ET

Finally, a treatment for that buzzing in your ears

Imagine the incessant, grating sound of buzzing in your ears - or constant beeping, whistling, dripping, or clicking.  Imagine the chatter of crickets or birds resonating in your head all day long.

Then realize that there are no actual birds or crickets. No dripping faucet. No clicking or whistling happening in the vicinity.

That is a small glimpse of life with tinnitus:  The perception of sound, that doesn't exist, manufactured by the brain.  

"I hear tree frogs and crickets and bugs, and really loud noise on top of that," said Ginny Morrell, 60, who has suffered with tinnitus for two years. "It started one day and never went away. It never wavers, 24 hours a day."
FULL POST


Scientists making strides to define crippling brain disease
April 18th, 2012
04:15 PM ET

Scientists making strides to define crippling brain disease

Years ago, a mysterious disease process – characterized by viscous tangles lodged in parts of the brain responsible for decision-making and mood – was an undefined phenomenon occurring among professional football players, and others exposed to repetitive brain trauma. 

What scientists could piece together: Something in the brain was causing profound memory problems, and self-destructive, even suicidal, behavior among them.  Since then, posthumous brain studies have shed light on that something - Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE - but little is known about when or how CTE begins.

However, data from the first year of a longitudinal study, called the Professional Fighters Brain Health Study, released Wednesday, suggests a possible starting point for problems with cognition and memory - both hallmarks of CTE. FULL POST


Can cooling explain why ‘miracle’ baby survived?
April 12th, 2012
04:12 PM ET

Can cooling explain why ‘miracle’ baby survived?

A premature baby - who was declared dead shortly after birth - was later discovered to be alive after spending 10 hours in a morgue refrigerator.  How did this happen?

Doctors at the Perrando Hospital in northeast Argentina can’t explain how several doctors pronounced the child dead or how the premature infant born three months early survived for so many hours inside a chilly coffin. The baby,  Luz Milagros Veron, was reported Friday in "very serious" condition after doctors detected an infection.

A similar case occurred in Israel in 2008.  A baby was found alive in a morgue refrigerator after having been declared dead for five hours, according to the Jerusalem Post. An Israeli doctor suggested the premature infant's irregular heartbeat could've eluded doctors and that placing the child in the cooler kept her in "suspended animation." The baby later died.

In a case last year, a 60-year-old man woke up in a South African morgue after 21 hours.

Could the cold temperature help people in these circumstances survive?
FULL POST


April 11th, 2012
08:26 PM ET

Pronounced dead, baby found alive in morgue

She was a tiny thing: 1 pound 12 ounces, cold as a frozen bottle and left for dead. But she would survive.

One-week-old Luz Milagros Veron is Argentina's miracle baby.

Pronounced dead after her premature birth, the baby withstood more than 10 hours in a morgue refrigerator before being found alive.

"Today is the eighth day of my daughter's resurrection," the girl's father, Fabian Veron, told CNN Wednesday.

Doctors at the Perrando Hospital in northeast Argentina can't explain it.

Every, doctor, nurse and morgue worker who dealt with the baby has been suspended as an investigation gets underway, officials said.

Luz Milagros remains in stable condition but she's in intensive care, a health official said.

FULL STORY


Filed under: Medical Mysteries

February 4th, 2012
10:34 AM ET

Taking the 'mystery' out of conversion disorder

When 12 students at a high school in New York suddenly developed strange symptoms like stuttering, uncontrollable twitching movements and verbal outbursts, the community was concerned. Was there something in the environment? Was it a virus of some sort spreading dangerously? Three students and one adult have since also exhibited the same symptoms. Doctors at DENT Neurologic Institute have now diagnosed some of the girls with "conversion disorder," leaving people even more confused.

What is conversion disorder?

A person with conversion disorder has neurological symptoms that aren't related to any known neurological condition, according to the American Psychiatric Association. The symptoms could appear as uncontrolled motions or verbal outbursts, like the students in New York, or as anything from weakness or paralysis to a loss of vision or hearing.

In diagnosing conversion disorder, doctors must first rule out other neurological diseases and determine that the symptoms are not being intentionally faked. Often the symptoms are inconsistent with typical signs of a neurological disease – either physical signs or those that might show up on a diagnostic test. FULL POST


Growing body of research says dogs really can smell cancer
August 17th, 2011
07:00 PM ET

Growing body of research says dogs really can smell cancer

A new study adds to the body of research suggesting that "man’s best friend" may actually be able to smell cancer.

Researchers in Germany found that dogs were able to pick up on the scent of organic compounds linked to the presence of lung cancer in the human body, and that their keen sense of smell may be useful for the early detection of the disease.

FULL POST


August 13th, 2010
06:52 PM ET

Plant sprouts in man's lung

How can a pea grow in a man’s lung? That's been a water cooler topic for the better part of this week.  It happened to 75-year-old Ron Sveden,  who had a half-inch-long sprout removed from his lung, which was first reported by a 20-year-old news intern at the Cape Cod Times on August 8.

The story was picked up by TV stations, newspapers and websites around the world.

FULL POST


July 1st, 2010
10:34 AM ET

At 60 pounds, woman is unable to gain weight

The latest medical mystery in the news is the story of a 21-year-old Texas college student with a disorder that makes her incapable of gaining weight. Reports that Lizzie Velasquez needs to eat every 15 minutes to survive are inaccurate,  according to her father.  She has a healthy appetite, he says, but does not  eat as frequently as widely reported.

Velasquez, a Texas State University student, says on her website: “What the syndrome causes is that I'm not able to gain weight."  She reportedly weighs around 60 pounds.

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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