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June 13th, 2014
12:01 AM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

Keep your phone out of your pocket – your sperm will thank you
Journal: Environmental International

Since guys don’t usually carry handbags, they tend to keep mobile phones in their pants pockets. A recent study from the University of Exeter suggests this may not be a great idea.

That cell phone could actually have a negative effect on your sperm quality.
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Filed under: Aging • Brain • Cell Phones • Conditions • Dental health • Diet and Fitness • Fertility • Heart • Living Well • Men's Health • Mental Health

Moles may predict breast cancer risk
June 10th, 2014
05:01 PM ET

Moles may predict breast cancer risk

Skin moles may indicate a woman's risk for breast cancer, according to two studies coming out this week in the journal PLOS Medicine. More moles could mean a slightly higher risk, particularly in middle-aged women, researchers say.

Scientists stress that this does not mean people with moles should panic.  The studies do not say if you have moles you will get breast cancer; researchers are still trying to figure out the link between the two.

A study in the United States and another in France followed almost 175,000 middle age women for about 20 years. They looked at women with few or no moles and compared their breast cancer risk to women who had lots of moles – defined in one study as more than 15 on one arm. The studies did not look at cancerous moles but moles in general.

"Women with a lot of moles are a little more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than were women with very few moles," said Dr. Ted Gansler, director of medical content for the American Cancer Society, who was not affiliated with the study.
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Teaming up with Google to find autism cause
June 10th, 2014
04:52 PM ET

Teaming up with Google to find autism cause

The cause of autism is still unknown, but researchers hope harnessing the power of Google will help them solve this neurodevelopmental puzzle.

The research and advocacy group Autism Speaks announced Tuesday they are collaborating with the Google Cloud Platform to build the largest autism genome database to date. The collaboration, known as The Autism Speaks Ten Thousand Genomes Program (AUT10K), will combine extensive DNA databases with cloud storage technology, in hopes of moving mountains in autism research, according to a press release.

Autism Speaks believes the AUT10K program holds the potential to radically transform ASD genomics research. “Working with Google is a game-changer,” said Rob Ring, who is the organization’s chief science officer.

This collaboration is part of a larger movement in the medical field to use big data to speed research efforts. IBM's supercomputer Watson, for instance, is helping oncologists find treatments for a rare aggressive brain cancer in partnership with the New York Genome Center.

Autism Speaks has already donated 12,000 DNA samples, which members describe as the “the largest private collection” with diagnostic and specific genetic information. The organization says the collaboration with Google will allow them to provide researchers access to what will eventually be huge amounts of data. This, in turn, should help researchers find connections between patients faster.

Zachary Warren, director of Vanderbilt University’s autism research institute,  says in order to understand the vast developmental and behavioral differences linked to ASD, more powerful platforms to analyze genetic data are needed.

“Only by understanding autism risk can we begin to develop treatments that target not just the symptoms but the root causes of autism spectrum disorder," his colleague and genetic autism researcher Dr. Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele said in agreement.

The number of children with autism has continued to go up over the past decades, as have the costs for caring for someone with ASD.

Earlier this year, the CDC reported that 1 in 68 children in the United States has autism.  A new study, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics, estimates the lifetime cost of supporting an individual with ASD can be up to $2.4 million.


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.


5 studies you may have missed
Despite their high fat and calorie content, nuts are better for you than diet sweets, experts say.
June 5th, 2014
09:07 PM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that can give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

Hope for people with Parkinson’s
Journal: Cell Reports

Scientists at Harvard University say they see promising signs from their study on an experimental treatment for Parkinson's disease. The researchers transplanted tissue from fetal dopamine cells into the brains of patients with Parkinson’s in Canada.

Patients with severe symptoms experienced 50% fewer symptoms in the years after surgery. People who had been taking medication to control their Parkinson’s but found that the medicine no longer worked also saw significant improvements after surgery.

Looking at the brains of five patients after they died from non-Parkinson’s related illnesses, the scientists found that the transplanted cells stayed healthy. Earlier research led scientists to hypothesize that the cells would become corrupted, but the cells remained functional for at least 14 years after the patients got them. This is the first proof that this kind of transplant method could work.
FULL POST


Marijuana may affect fertility in young men
June 5th, 2014
11:19 AM ET

Marijuana may affect fertility in young men

"If you’re a cannabis user and you’re trying for a baby ... stop."

This advice comes from Dr. Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom and lead author of a new study that suggests using marijuana could increase a man's risk of fertility problems.

The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, looked at how a man's lifestyle affects his sperm morphology: the size and shape of sperm. Researchers collected data from 1,970 men who provided semen as part of a fertility assessment.
FULL POST


Eating breakfast may not matter for weight loss
June 4th, 2014
12:01 PM ET

Eating breakfast may not matter for weight loss

"Eat breakfast!" nutrition experts have been telling us for decades. It revs your metabolism! It keeps you from overindulging at lunch! It helps you lose weight!

But a new study suggests the "most important meal of the day" may not be so important - at least for adults trying to lose weight.

Published Wednesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study found dieters who skipped breakfast lost just as much weight as dieters who ate breakfast regularly. The researchers concluded that while breakfast may have several health benefits, weight loss isn't one of them.
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Food poisoning? It was likely a restaurant worker, says CDC
June 3rd, 2014
01:01 PM ET

Food poisoning? It was likely a restaurant worker, says CDC

Approximately 20 million people fall ill every year due to norovirus, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says the food service industry could do much to decrease that number.

Restaurants and catering services are the most common sources for norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food, according to the report. "Infected food workers are frequently the source of these outbreaks, often by touching ready-to-eat foods served in restaurants with their bare hands," CDC experts wrote.

Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis - often called a stomach bug - in the United States, according to the CDC. Symptoms generally include stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea.

Norovirus particles spread whenever an infected person vomits or defecates. Because swallowing just 18 norovirus particles can sicken a new host, the virus spreads easily, especially when the infected patient is preparing food for a lot of people.

Norovirus is also hardy: It can live for up to two weeks on countertops, survive freezing temperatures, and is resistant to many disinfectants and hand sanitizer.
FULL POST


5 studies you may have missed
May 30th, 2014
07:30 AM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that can give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

The entire world is getting fat
Journal: The Lancet

In what is the most comprehensive look at global obesity in decades, scientists said they can’t find a single positive note in the fight against the epidemic.

In every single country they studied - there were 188 of them - the obesity rates stayed the same or got worse.

Nearly 30%, or almost one out of every third person on this planet, is overweight or obese, according to the study. In 1980 there were 857 million people considered overweight or obese. In 2013, that number was 2.1 billion.

Obesity is more of a common problem in the developed world, but it has become a growing problem in poorer countries.

The country with the most obese people is the United States. About a third of American adults are overweight, which accounts for 13% of all the heavy people worldwide. The United States is only a little over 4% of the world's population, so that's a startling statistic.

Women saw the bigger gains. Between 1980 and 2013, the rate of women who are obese increased from 29.8% to 38%. For men it increased from 28.8% of the population to 36.9% of the population.

Read more from PLOS Blogs


Men who watch a lot porn may have smaller brains

Journal: JAMA Psychiatry

Men who watch a lot of porn are a little lighter when it comes to their gray matter, according to a  study out of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.

Scientists made brain scans of a small group of 64 healthy men from 21 to 45 as they looked at pornographic images. Researchers also assessed how often the men typically looked at porn.

The study may be the first to establish a link between the amount of pornography consumption and brain size. The study does not determine whether men who watch a lot of porn have smaller brains to begin with or whether the volume of their brains has shrunk over time.

The study did show that the region of the brain that activates when someone experiences sexual stimuli is less active in those men who typically watch a lot of porn.

Read more from TIME.com

Want to look younger? Avoid the sun, smoking and high-calorie diets
Journal: Cell Press

Forget special creams and surgeries to look younger - what you really need is to avoid cigarettes and sunshine, according to scientists at the University of North Carolina.

If you avoid “gerontogens" - that’s the fancy word for stuff in the environment that may make you age - you may look younger and may even live longer.

Other “gerontogens” include the chemicals used in chemotherapy. A low-calorie diet may also slow aging, as may a low-stress environment, according to the study.

We still don’t know why some people age faster than others. But the researchers hope their study will someday lead to a blood test that would allow doctors to look at someone’s DNA for biomarkers of aging. Those biochemical signatures would help determine how fast a person is aging and why, and perhaps slow or stop the process. That’s a long way off though. This study is still in the mouse model phase.

Read more: Cell Press release

Teen sunbathers beware: 5 bad sunburns increase risk for deadly cancer
Journal: Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention

People who say they had more than five or more blistering sunburns before they turned 20 have an 80% increased risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

A study examined the health of 108,916 registered nurses for 20 years. Of those nurses, the ones who had five or more bad sunburns, the kind with blisters, when they were ages 15 to 20, had a 68% increased risk for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma and an 80% increased risk for melanoma.

People who had a similar number of bad sunburns when they were older faced no similar increased risk for melanoma, but they did have a greater chance of developing basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma.

Scientists caution people who have a propensity to develop moles or who sunburn easily should take particular care in the sun, especially early in life.

Read more: American Association of Cancer Research

Laser treatment helps tooth regeneration in mice
​Journal: Science Translational Medicine

Lasers sound a lot more fun than root canals. Scientists demonstrated in a new study that it's possible to regenerate dentin, the hard bone-like tissue in teeth, using light.

The technique makes use of stem cells already found in teeth. Researchers did not have to transplant these cells that have tremendous potential in regenerative medicine.

By shining infrared light on damaged teeth in mice, scientists activated molecules called reactive oxygen species. These molecules bind to stem cells, making the stem cells turn into dentin-forming cells that help regenerate the tooth structure, said David Mooney, senior author of the study and researcher at Harvard University.

Scientists demonstrated this in rodents, but not humans, however. Also it's a somewhat lengthy process, which would take weeks to months to work.

If it were successful in humans, though, the technique "potentially could replace the root canal," Mooney said.

Read more from Harvard


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

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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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