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July 24th, 2012
01:54 PM ET

Experts address HIV problem among African American men

Thousands are gathering in Washington this week for the International AIDS Conference - the first time in 22 years the conference is being held in the United States, thanks to the lifting of a ban that forbade people with HIV from entering the country.

The conference is bringing the world's largest assembly of experts together to discuss the latest developments regarding HIV/AIDS. One of the problems they'll address is the much higher rate of HIV infection among black men who have sex with men.

An estimated 1.2 million people in the United States live with HIV, and one in five of those people are unaware, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. African American men who have sex with men carry the most severe burden of HIV in the U.S., accounting for 44% of all new HIV cases in the U.S.
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Therapy shows promise for halting Alzheimer's brain decline
July 17th, 2012
03:38 PM ET

Therapy shows promise for halting Alzheimer's brain decline

Finding drugs that can halt or reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease is one of the holy grails in pharmaceutical research.

While the already-approved Aricept and Namenda medications have shown promise for temporarily easing symptoms, what’s desperately needed are treatments that will reverse or prevent the brain decline produced by Alzheimer’s.

Researchers are seeing promising results of the first long-term clinical trial that measured stabilization of Alzheimer’s symptoms, including thinking, memory, daily functioning and mood. The early stage results were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, this week.
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Artificial sweeteners no silver bullet for losing weight
July 9th, 2012
05:36 PM ET

Artificial sweeteners no silver bullet for losing weight

You've got a sugar craving but don't want to put on more pounds, so you turn to alternative sweeteners. Is that a good move?

A joint scientific statement from the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association reveals that while non-nutritive sweeteners can be useful for limiting carbohydrates and limiting added sugars in the diet, the existing scientific evidence is inconclusive about whether this strategy works well in the long run for cutting calories, reducing dietary sugar and losing weight.

The non-nutritive sweeteners in the analysis include both artificial sweeteners and stevia, which is marketed as a natural sweetener. Because the study was not looking at the safety of sweeteners, they chose products that were regarded as generally safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The products include aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), acesulfame-K (Sweet One), saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), sucralose (Splenda), Neotame, and stevia (Truvia, PureVia, Sweet Leaf).
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Study: Shingles vaccine safe for patients on immune-suppressing drugs
July 3rd, 2012
07:39 PM ET

Study: Shingles vaccine safe for patients on immune-suppressing drugs

Shingles is a painful but common condition, affecting half of Americans by age 85. All adults aged 60 and older should receive a vaccine against it, according to the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

But not everyone is eligible for this preventive measure. The vaccine is not recommended for people being treated with immune-suppressing drugs called “biologics,” which control how the body reacts to inflammation in a variety of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.

Contrary to that advice, a new study found no increased risk for shingles among people with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, or inflammatory bowel disease who have been treated with biologic medicines and receive the shingles vaccine.  The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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Study reveals risk factors for rare sleep disorder
June 27th, 2012
05:13 PM ET

Study reveals risk factors for rare sleep disorder

If someone you know kicks and punches you while they are sleeping, it may be because they have something called REM sleep behavior disorder or RBD, an extremely rare sleep disorder that affects an estimated 0.5% of adults worldwide. 

Now researchers say they have identified some of the risk factors that contribute to someone getting RBD, which they believe can be a precursor to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's. Over half of people with RBD develop a neurodegenerative disease, according to the American Academy of Neurology.

When people without this disorder are in REM sleep (the short period of time when you actually dream), their muscles are usually in a state of paralysis (atonia), according to the Cleveland Clinic.   But people with RBD move their  body or limbs while dreaming. and they could be acting out what they are dreaming. People with RBD are in danger of harming sleep partners as they act out.

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PTSD strikes one in eight heart attack patients
June 20th, 2012
05:33 PM ET

PTSD strikes one in eight heart attack patients

PTSD – posttraumatic stress disorder – usually is associated with military personnel traumatized by combat or people who’ve been victimized by violent crime or sexual assaults.

But new study finds that one in eight patients develop PTSD after experiencing a heart attack or other major heart event. The study, published online in PLoS One, also reveals that heart patients who experience PTSD face double the risk for another heart event or dying within one to three years, compared to heart patients who do not experience PTSD.

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May 30th, 2012
01:51 PM ET

FDA issues warning about counterfeit Adderall purchased online

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about counterfeit generic Adderall tablets being sold on the Internet. Adderall is approved by the FDA to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy.

The FDA became aware of the problem when Teva Pharmaceutical Industries reported that a consumer alerted them about purchasing a fake version of Teva’s Adderall 30-milligram tablets from an illegal Internet pharmaceutical site.

The bogus version was discovered “by a consumer, who noticed misspellings on on the fake product packaging,” according to Denise Bradley, Teva Pharmacautical’s vice president of corporate communications. Bradley said two incidents have been reported to the FDA, and Teva Pharmaceuticals continues to work with the FDA on the investigation.

Teva’s authentic 30mg Adderall tablets are round, orange/peach in color and are imprinted with “dp” on one side and 30 on the other side of the tablet.  The tablets are packaged in bottles.  The active ingredients in authentic Adderall tablets are dextroamphetamine saccharate, amphetamine aspartate, dextroamphetamine sulfate and amphetamine sulfate. An analysis of the counterfeit tablets revealed they contained tramadol and acetaminophen, both used to treat acute pain, and they were in blister packages.

Both instances occurred when consumers tried to purchase Adderall from illegal websites rather than using legitimate distribution channels. The FDA noted that “consumers should be extra cautious when buying their medicines from online sources. Rogue websites and distributors may especially target medicines in short supply for counterfeiting.” Adderall is currently on the FDA drug shortage list because of active pharmaceutical ingredient supply issues.

“It is very important that patients purchase product through legitimate channels,” Bradley said. “Websites that do not require prescriptions are not reputable.”

The FDA website offers tips for consumers who want to purchase prescription drugs using the Internet. First, make sure that the site requires a prescription and has a pharmacist available to answer questions. Consumers should only buy prescription medications from licensed pharmacies located in the United States. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy  has information about legitimate U.S. online pharmacies, and provides information about licensing and certification for online pharmacies. Consumers should never provide personal data, such as credit card numbers, unless they are sure an online site is legitimate and will protect their information.

The FDA advises consumers who believe they have a counterfeit version of Teva’s Adderall 30mg tablets not to take the product, and to consult their health care professional about other treatment options. They should also contact the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations at 800-551-3989 or http://www.fda.gov/OCI.


May 29th, 2012
05:47 PM ET

Why 'bath salts' are dangerous

On Saturday night in Miami, a naked “zombie-like” man attacked another man, biting off parts of his face. The attack was halted only when police shot and killed the attacker, identified as 31-year old Rudy Eugene.

What would make someone attack another man like an animal? Armando Aguilar, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, suspects that the attacker was under the influence of  drugs known as "bath salts."

These aren’t the same bath salts to make your tub water smell nice. “Bath salts” is just a fake name, but users know it’s not really for the bath. FULL POST


Longer commutes may steal health and fitness
May 8th, 2012
12:05 AM ET

Longer commutes may steal health and fitness

Anybody who has a long daily commute knows the frustration of sitting in traffic with nothing to do but wait. Now, a study suggests that long commutes can take away more than just precious time - they also negatively impact your fitness and health.

Previous research has linked longer commutes with obesity. But this new research is believed to be "the first study to show that long commutes can take away from exercise time,” explained lead investigator Christine M. Hoehner of Washington University in St. Louis.

Long commutes are associated with "higher weight, lower fitness levels and higher blood pressure, all of which are strong predictors of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers,” she said.

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May 2nd, 2012
06:32 PM ET

Feds speed up E. coli investigation procedures

Each year one in six Americans is sickened by a foodborne illness. Sometimes the culprit is E. coli or other bacteria which contaminate meat or poultry products.  On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced new measures designed to detect contaminated meat and poultry faster and before it enters the human food supply. 

E. coli 0157 is the most common source of foodborne illness and can cause diarrhea, illness and, in severe cases, even death.

“The additional safeguards ... will improve our ability to prevent foodborne illness by strengthening our food safety infrastructure,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen during a conference call with reporters. “Together, these measures will provide us with more tools to protect our food supply, resulting in stronger public health protections for consumers."
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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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