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What your next gyno exam may not include
June 30th, 2014
05:54 PM ET

What your next gyno exam may not include

For doctors, pelvic examinations are a routine way to screen for abnormalities. But for many women, the procedure is uncomfortable and embarrassing.

Thanks to a new clinical practice guideline by The American College of Physicians, your next annual check-up might be less... invasive.

After reviewing 52 studies, the physicians organization concluded that annual pelvic examinations - in non-pregnant, adult women who do not have symptoms - are unnecessary. In other words, pelvic screening exams have served their time.
FULL POST


June 24th, 2014
06:14 PM ET

Do I need a 3-D mammogram?

Digital breast tomosynthesis, better known as 3-D mammography, can find more invasive, and in some cases more dangerous, cancers than a traditional digital mammogram, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week concludes.

But do you need one?

Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011 as a supplement to digital mammography, tomosynthesis creates a 3-D reconstruction of the breast tissue, giving radiologists a clearer view of overlapping slices. This new study found using the combination of digital and 3-D mammography reduces false alarms and unnecessary call backs by 15% in all groups of patients, including younger women and women with dense breast tissue.

The study was funded by Hologic, the manufacturer of the 3-D imaging machine, and the National Cancer Institute.
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June 10th, 2014
12:30 PM ET

1 in 4 Americans living with diabetes don't know

The number of Americans with diabetes continues to rise - there are now more than 29 million adults living with the disease, according to the latest data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday. That’s 3 million more than the last time the CDC released diabetes statistics in 2011.

The CDC estimates that a quarter of these adults living with diabetes in the United States don’t even know they are sick, meaning they haven't been diagnosed.

An additional 86 million American adults have what’s called “pre-diabetes,” which means that their blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not yet on the level of diabetes. And nearly all – 90% - of these Americans do not know they are headed down a dangerous road. The CDC estimates that 15 to 30% of people with pre-diabetes will develop diabetes within five years if they don't exercise and lose weight.

“These new numbers are alarming and underscore the need for an increased focus on reducing the burden of diabetes in our country,” Ann Albright, the CDC’s director of the division of diabetes translation, said in a press release. “It’s urgent that we take swift action to effectively treat and prevent this serious disease.”

People with diabetes are at increased risk for blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and stroke. The disease is usually linked to obesity, lack of physical activity and/or a family history of the disease.


Study: Cancer ads tug at heartstrings, leave out caveats
May 26th, 2014
05:07 PM ET

Study: Cancer ads tug at heartstrings, leave out caveats

Advertisements for cancer centers are inflated with emotions, but fail to disclose the fine print, according to a study released Monday. The report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and funded by the National Institute of Health, examined 409 unique TV and magazine advertisements from top media markets.

With more than 1.6 million new cancer cases diagnosed each year, the direct-to-consumer ads pushing to various cancer centers across the country, and specific cancer treatments, are increasing.

A systematic content analysis of these ads found that the content is sharply directed at a would-be patient’s heartstrings:

  – 85% made emotional appeals to consumers
  – 61% used language about hope, extension of life, or a cure
  – 52% touted innovative, or advanced technology or treatments
  – 30% evoked fear by mentioned death, fear, or loss

FULL POST


Marriage is good for your heart and other new research
March 31st, 2014
02:13 PM ET

Marriage is good for your heart and other new research

More than 13,000 cardiovascular experts met in Washington over the past few days for the Annual American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions, where more than 2,000 studies are being presented so doctors and researchers can learn about the latest research in diagnosing, treating and preventing heart disease.  Here's a small sample of the studies presented:

Married people have healthier hearts

You might have heard it before; being married may be good for your health.

In a new study, researchers screened 3.5 million adults for cardiovascular problems and found that those who were married had less heart disease and healthier blood vessels throughout the body than people who were single, divorced or widowed.

Dr. Jeffrey Kuvin, spokesperson for the American College of Cardiology, says the findings may be linked in part to the effects of stress and the strength of a marriage. In a healthy marriage, there may be less conflict and less stress. FULL POST


Stroke:  Knowing the warning signs in women
February 6th, 2014
04:03 PM ET

Stroke: Knowing the warning signs in women

It wasn't supposed to happen to her. Just 32 and pregnant, Holly Carson woke with a crushing headache.

"It was ... like if somebody had a baseball bat taken to (my) head," says Carson.  Having some medical training, she immediately suspected she was having a stroke.

At 26, med student Lauren Barnes' migraine took a turn for the worse. Then, "I had a rush of pins and needles sensation and tingling throughout the entire right side of my body," she says.

Stroke isn't just for the elderly, as Carson and Barnes can attest.  Scientists have known for some time that women have some risk factors for stroke that are unique to them and others that are more commonly seen in women than men.

To make women more aware, the American Heart Association released the first guidelines for the prevention of stroke in women on Thursday.  FULL POST


Studies link alcohol to early death, memory loss
January 15th, 2014
05:43 PM ET

Studies link alcohol to early death, memory loss

Nearly 80,000 people die as a result of drinking alcohol each year in North and Latin America, according to a new study published Tuesday in the Journal Addiction.

Researchers looked at alcohol as the cause of death by examining death certificates, over a two-year period in 16 North and Latin American countries. Men accounted for 84% of alcohol-related deaths.

Maristela Monteiro, study author and a senior advisor on alcohol and substance abuse at the Pan American Health Organization, says people are drinking too much and "it's killing people before they should be dying."

"These deaths are all 100 percent preventable," she says.  FULL POST


November 18th, 2013
09:18 AM ET

Long-term Pill use may double glaucoma risk

Women who used birth control pills for three years or more have twice the risk of developing glaucoma later in life, according to new research.

Glaucoma is a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve and is a leading cause of blindness in the United States.

It’s been well documented that low-estrogen levels following menopause contribute to glaucoma in women. Scientists don’t know exactly why this happens.  But years of using birth control pills, which can also lower estrogen levels, may add to the problem.

The study, conducted by researchers at University of California, San Francisco, Duke University School of Medicine and Third Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Nanchang, China, did not differentiate between women who took low-estrogen or regular birth control pills. Investigators theorize that when women are not on the pill, their natural estrogen levels go up and down, which seems to prevent the eye from developing glaucoma.  When women go on the pill, their estrogen levels are consistent, and in some cases consistently low, which could cause them to develop the condition.

This research project is the first to suggest an increased risk of glaucoma in women who have used oral contraceptives for three or more years. The researchers looked at data on more than 3,400 women aged 40 and older from across the United States, who answered questionnaires about their reproductive health and eye exams.    FULL POST


The last word on hormone therapy?
Hot flashes? Trouble sleeping? Hormone replacement therapy may be the best short-term option.
October 1st, 2013
06:01 PM ET

The last word on hormone therapy?

When Janice hit menopause, she had terrible night sweats and hot flashes, but she was scared to undergo hormone replacement therapy.

Janice (who asked that her full name not be used for privacy reasons) had heard this treatment might be dangerous to her heart, and worried about risking her health.

It's a concern many American women have shared over the past decade since the benefits of hormone replacement therapy have been called into question. A large study called the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) was instrumental in casting doubt on these hormones.

Tuesday, scientists from the WHI released what they say is the definitive study on the safety of hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  The bottom line: It's OK for most healthy women who have just entered menopause to take hormones for a short period of time, but the researchers do not recommend it for long-term use. The results are published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

FULL POST


Being married may help cancer survival
September 23rd, 2013
05:32 PM ET

Being married may help cancer survival

Being married may significantly improve the likelihood of surviving cancer, researchers say.

In a new study of more than 700,000 people with diagnoses of the most deadly cancers in the United States, patients who were married were more likely to detect their disease early, receive potentially curable treatments and live longer. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The researchers observed a 20% reduction in deaths among the patients who were married compared to unmarried patients - a benefit bigger than several kinds of chemotherapy used for treating cancer.

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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