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'Cutting' your risk of prostate cancer
March 12th, 2012
10:32 AM ET

'Cutting' your risk of prostate cancer

They don't call it "The Big C" for nothing. People don't even like to say the word out loud.

The good news, we're told, is that there are many things we can do – or not do – in our adult lives to lower our risk of developing different types of cancer. Want to avoid lung cancer? Don't smoke. Want to lower your risk of skin cancer? Stay out of the sun, or utilize a proper sunscreen.

But a new study published Monday in Cancer suggests that at least one decision our parents make FOR us may have an impact on our predisposition to certain types of cancer.

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Filed under: Cancer • HIV/AIDS • HPV • Men's Health • Sex

The animal products in your medicine cabinet
February 27th, 2012
06:30 PM ET

The animal products in your medicine cabinet

Most of us put a good deal of thought into the food we put in our bodies. But do we ever consider the food in our medicine?

That's right, the food in our medicine.

While television and print ads alike are loaded with messages about potential serious side effects, prescription drug disclaimers are issued to warn against possible unintended consequences resulting from a drug’s active ingredient(s).

But what you may not know is that the bulk of your prescription pill is made up of inactive ingredients, known as “excipients," and that your drugs couldn’t be made without them. Quite simply, excipients are what encapsulates your capsule or forms your pill into a solid as opposed to a powder.

Here’s the rub: One of the most common excipients used is gelatin, which is almost universally of animal origin. This presents a problem, as you might imagine, to those living within religious or dietary restrictions.

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Micro-size me, please!
February 9th, 2012
11:39 AM ET

Micro-size me, please!

How many times have you been to the movie theater, ordered a regular-sized popcorn or soda and been asked, “Would you like a large for a quarter more?” What about ordering a sandwich at your local deli? "Make it a combo!" you probably say.

We’re trained early on, oftentimes by our parents, to clean our plates or no dessert. Frequently, regardless of how hungry we are, that’s exactly what we’ll do. 

Sure, the medium-sized popcorn would’ve been entirely satisfying, but if offered the larger portion, we’re going to take it and eat it – all of it.

This phenomenon, in part, is was what sparked a series of studies conducted at a fast-food Chinese restaurant on Tulane’s New Orleans campus.

The researchers conclude, in a study published in this month’s Health Affairs,  that up to one-third of customers accepted a verbal offer to downsize their lunch, regardless of whether they were offered a minor monetary incentive to do so. Customers who accepted the downsized meals ate, on average, 200 fewer calories than did those who ordered the full-sized meals.
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Sexual activity and STD rate up among seniors
February 2nd, 2012
06:30 PM ET

Sexual activity and STD rate up among seniors

New research published Thursday by the British Medical Journal shows that 80% of 50 to 90 years olds are sexually active.  And with that, cases of sexually transmitted diseases have more than doubled in this age group over the past 10 years.

“You never have to retire from sex,” says clinical psychologist Judy Kuriansky. “But you should always behave as the 20-30 year-olds do. You need to be cautious about it.”

Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that incidences of syphilis and chlamydia in adults aged 45 to 64 have nearly tripled over the past decade. Cases of Gonorrhea are up as well.

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Americans binge drinking more
January 10th, 2012
02:03 PM ET

Americans binge drinking more

Binge drinking is a bigger problem in the United States than previously thought.  Adults binge drink more frequently and consume more drinks when they do, according to the CDC.

Ursula Bauer, Director of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, announced the findings during a telebriefing Tuesday.  “Excessive alcohol consumption, including binge drinking, accounts for 80,000 deaths in the U.S. each year,” she said, “making it the third leading preventable cause of death.” Those deaths are typically the result of motor vehicle crashes or violence against others while under the influence.

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November 15th, 2011
07:29 AM ET

The Human Factor: Fat Joe 'drops a body'

In 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, rapper Fat Joe opens up to CNN Medical News Senior Producer Ben Tinker about his dramatic weight loss.

I was talking to my trainer the other day and he asked, "So when was the last time you were slim?" And I said, "I swear to God, when I was a month or two months old." That was it. I was Fat Joe ever since.

My parents are overweight and I think the biggest problem we have in America is a lack of education. The place to start is with parents and teaching them to cook healthier. They're eating rice, beans, fried chicken and lard. They'll still eating dessert every single night. They think they're doing the right thing, but they're not.

Like I used to love going to my Aunt Barbara's house. I opened the kitchen cabinet and they had every Oreo, every Twinkie. I never wanted to come out of her house. And you know, we're thinking that's love - but at the same time - that's what causing childhood obesity. That's what's causing diabetes and so on.

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When shyness is the sign of something more
October 17th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

When shyness is the sign of something more

“Cut him some slack. He’s just a teenager.”

How many times have you heard a parent utter that phrase to explain away a child’s moodiness? It’s no secret that teenagers are prone to mood swings and sometimes like to keep to themselves. But according to a study published Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics, some adolescents’ feelings extend beyond normal human shyness to a debilitating psychiatric disorder: Social phobia.

The authors of the study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health, analyzed a previously conducted face-to-face survey of more than 10,000 adolescents, aged 13 to 18 years. They found that roughly 1 in 10 of those who identified themselves as shy also met the criteria for social phobia.
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Anesthesia use in kids linked to learning disabilities
October 3rd, 2011
11:57 AM ET

Anesthesia use in kids linked to learning disabilities

When your kid needs surgery, your response is probably, “Do whatever is necessary to fix him NOW. We’ll worry about later, later.” But it turns out that putting a child under anesthesia may increase the risk of long-term damage to his or her ability to think.

A new study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics concludes that exposure to anesthesia before age 2 may manifest in a form of cognitive impairment called apoptotic neurodegeneration. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First of all, the researchers found no greater risk in those subjects who had only been “put under” once. Multiple exposures to surgery/anesthesia, on the other hand, significantly increased the risk of developing learning disabilities later on in life.

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Semi-sweet news for chocolate lovers
August 29th, 2011
04:10 AM ET

Semi-sweet news for chocolate lovers

Editor's note: Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports: The Last Heart Attack at 8p and 11p ET on Saturday, September 3rd.

If only everything that looked good, felt good, or tasted good was good for us too. It comes as more welcome news for chocolate lovers, then, that yet another study has linked chocolate consumption with improved heart health. Maybe.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge analyzed the results of seven existing studies and concluded that high levels of chocolate consumption might be associated with a notable reduction in the risk of developing heart disease. Five of the seven studies reported a beneficial link between higher levels of chocolate consumptions and the risk of cardiovascular events. They found that “the highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29% reduction in stroke, compared with the lowest levels [of consumption].”

The studies, notably, did not differentiate between dark or milk chocolate and included consumption of different types of chocolate (bars, shakes, etc.)

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Early morning smokers have higher cancer risk
August 8th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Early morning smokers have higher cancer risk

Smokers who indulge in their first cigarette shortly after waking up have an increased risk of developing lung and head and neck cancers, according to two new studies published in Cancer, a journal of the American Cancer Society. The findings may help identify smokers who have a greater risk of developing cancer. These smokers could then be more urgently targeted for smoking cessation programs.

The first studies to show a link between cigarette smoking and cancer were published back in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until 1980 that nicotine dependence was recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a psychological and physiological problem. The new studies out of Penn State College of Medicine look at nicotine dependence, which in part can be determined by the amount of time elapsed before a smoker lights up his or her first cigarette after waking up in the morning.

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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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