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February 3rd, 2014
04:01 PM ET

Sugar not only makes you fat, it may make you sick

In recent years, sugar - more so than fat - has been receiving the bulk of the blame for our deteriorating health.

Most of us know we consume more sugar than we should.  Let's be honest, it's hard not to.

The (new) bad news is that sugar does more damage to our bodies than we originally thought.  It was once considered to be just another marker for an unhealthy diet and obesity.  Now sugar is considered an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease, as well as many other chronic diseases, according a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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Guns in home increase suicide, homicide risk
January 20th, 2014
05:05 PM ET

Guns in home increase suicide, homicide risk

Proponents of stricter gun laws have another headline to bolster their efforts: Access to firearms in the home increases the risk of violent death.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, in a review of previous studies published Monday, found strong evidence for increased odds of suicide and moderate evidence for increased odds of homicide victimization among people who keep guns at home.

Firearm ownership is more common in the United States (upwards of one-third of households) than in any other country – and firearms cause more than 31,000 deaths a year here, according to the review. Further, the annual rate of suicide by firearms in America is higher than in any other country with reported data; the annual rate of firearm-related homicides in America is the highest among high-income countries. FULL POST


Anemia linked to increased risk of dementia
July 31st, 2013
04:08 PM ET

Anemia linked to increased risk of dementia

There is no single test to determine if someone has dementia. The harsh reality is that at this point, it can only be conclusively diagnosed during an autopsy.

So for now doctors rely on physical exams, lab work and cognitive indicators to diagnose dementia with a high degree of certainty while a patient is still alive.

Anemia may be one sign someone has an increased risk of developing dementia, according to a new study published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“I’ve been studying Alzheimer’s for a long time,” says study author Dr. Kristine Yaffe, of the University of California – San Francisco. “In particular, I’m interested in things you can modify: cardiovascular disease, sleep, physical activity. We’ve done a number of studies looking at how different chronic diseases of the body effect aging. We started looking into the issue of anemia... after seeing rudimentary studies that linked it to dementia.”
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TV ads may be driving children to drink
January 29th, 2013
10:18 AM ET

TV ads may be driving children to drink

The halls of every middle school in America are filled with teenagers looking to find themselves, express themselves and fit in with the crowd. But it’s what happens at home, at night, that can lead to some of the problems those teens may put on display.

Seventh-graders who are exposed to alcohol ads on television –- and who say they like the ads - may experience more severe problems related to drinking alcohol later in their adolescence, according to a study published Monday in the medical journal Pediatrics.

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Don't judge that generic pill by its color
December 31st, 2012
04:05 PM ET

Don't judge that generic pill by its color

It's not the color, but what's inside that counts when it comes to medication. However, doctors suspect that's not exactly how patients see it.

According to a study published Monday in the medical journal Archives of Internal Medicine, changes in pill color significantly increase the odds that a patient will fail to take their medication as prescribed by their doctor.

First, the basics

Generic drugs are approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s Office of Generic Drugs.  These off-brand alternatives must be “bioequivalent” to the brand-name version, meaning they must be identical in terms of dosage form, strength, route of administration, quality, intended use, and clinical efficacy. But the FDA does not require that the two versions look alike. FULL POST


9/11 – Terror in the Dust: Increased risk for three cancers
December 18th, 2012
05:15 PM ET

9/11 – Terror in the Dust: Increased risk for three cancers

It’s a story we’ve been reporting on for more than a decade: The health of the brave, heroic responders who breathed in the dust, debris and fumes at the World Trade Center site in the hours, days and years following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Today’s headline: Rescue and recovery workers exposed to the dust, debris and fumes have already exhibited an increased incidence of prostate and thyroid cancers, plus multiple myeloma, according to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. No increased incidence was observed among those not involved with rescue/recovery. Twenty-three types of cancer were investigated.  This is the first WTC incidence study to include both sexes, all ages and races, and both rescue/recovery workers, as well as those not involved in rescue/recovery. 

The observational study, conducted by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, looked at nearly 56,000 New York state residents enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Registry in 2003-2004, who were tracked from enrollment through December 2008.

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This is your brain on smoking
November 28th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

This is your brain on smoking

That cigarette may be doing more damage than meets the eye. If you’ve been smoking for an extended period of time, you’re likely familiar with at least some – if not all – of the bodily symptoms associated with smoking, including but certainly not limited to: Cravings, coughing, shortness of breath and changes to teeth, hair and skin. Coronary heart disease and/or lung cancer might not be far behind.

But a new study published in the journal Age & Ageing concludes that smoking can damage your mind, too. A consistent association was observed between smoking and lower cognitive functioning, including memory.

The bottom line: Smoking and long-term high blood pressure appear to increase the risk of cognitive decline. FULL POST

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Filed under: Addiction • Alzheimer's • Brain • Cancer • Heart • Longevity • Smoking • Stroke

Must-not-see TV: Violent content leads to sleep problems for kids
August 6th, 2012
08:48 AM ET

Must-not-see TV: Violent content leads to sleep problems for kids

Any parent with a child old enough to speak has no doubt endured many sleepless nights as the result of bad dreams. Sometimes there’s a monster hiding in the closet. Other times there are bugs crawling underneath the bed, or a witch lurking in the hallway.

Countless observational studies have reported an association between media and sleep problems in children. But a new study published Monday in the American Academy of Pediatrics now purports a causal relationship between violent or inappropriate media and poor sleep.

The study’s authors analyzed more than 500 children aged 3 to 5, their media viewing habits and their quality of sleep. The results show that replacing violent content with age-appropriate and educational alternatives can indeed lead to improved down time.
FULL POST


April 17th, 2012
05:43 AM ET

The beat goes on for music producer diagnosed with multiple sclerosis

Editor's noteIn the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed. This week Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta introduces us to Noah “40” Shebib, a music producer who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in his early 20s.

Q: What was it like to receive that diagnosis as such a young man?

A: It started with sensory issues. I woke up one day and all the temperature in my body was distorted. My sense of hot and cold and what that meant to my brain was very confusing.  Any time something like that happens to your body - which is very difficult to explain when you have MS - is that your brain is tricked, so your nerves are telling you something that's not true.  Any time your brain is telling you something that's not true, there's a little bit of trauma for your body in general to understand what's going on, so you're a little bit in shock.

I went to the hospital very quickly after that and was diagnosed within a couple of weeks. It continued to escalate to a much worse place in a month, and I spent the next two years of my life getting back on my feet.
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Accidental death rate for children falls
April 16th, 2012
02:10 PM ET

Accidental death rate for children falls

Every hour, one child dies from an unintentional injury in the United States.

It’s the leading cause of death for children and adolescents aged 1 to 19, and the fifth leading cause of death for newborns and infants less than a year old.

However, the death rate from unintentional injuries among children and adolescents from birth to age 19 plunged almost 30% from 2000-2009, according to a Vitals Signs report released Monday by the CDC.

The report also found that the rate of child injury deaths in the United States remains among the worst of all high-income countries. It is more than twice the rate of the United Kingdom, France, and Canada.

“As horrible as these numbers are, the facts are even more troubling and difficult to accept when you consider that most of these events are predictable and preventable,” said Ileana Arias, principal deputy director of the CDC.

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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