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Omega-3 may curb memory loss, study says
May 2nd, 2012
04:29 PM ET

Omega-3 may curb memory loss, study says

People who eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may significantly lower their risk of developing memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease, a new study has found.

Researchers recruited 1,219 people over age 65, and followed their dietary habits for more than a year.  Then they tested the subjects' blood for a protein called beta-amyloid, a protein is associated with memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, plaques and tangles which are found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients are actually clumps of this substance.

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Are sugar substitutes worse than the real thing?
April 27th, 2012
07:21 AM ET

Are sugar substitutes worse than the real thing?

Sweet tooth? You’re not alone. Sugary foods and beverages are delicious. But we’ve also learned they can be highly addictive and, too much of them, can take a serious toll on our health.

Today some of our favorite drinks, gum, baked goods, and candy are available in sugar-free versions. But that got me thinking...  are sugar substitutes any better for you than the real thing? I was not alone on this issue. I’ve received dozens of tweets and emails wondering if fake sugar can harm us, or worse, crave more food!

For some answers I turned to internist and physician nutrition specialist, Dr. Melina Jampolis. Her specialty is practiced by only 200 physicians in the United States. She focuses exclusively on nutrition for weight loss and disease prevention and treatment.
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Study shows risk with sleeping pills; conclusion criticized
February 27th, 2012
06:30 PM ET

Study shows risk with sleeping pills; conclusion criticized

Common sleep medications may be linked to a shorter lifespan, according to a study released Monday in the British Medical Journal.

Researchers compared 10,500 adults who took prescription strength sleep aids with people who did not. Those who popped just one to 18 sleeping pills during the course of a year, had a 3.5 times increase risk of early death than those prescribed none. The increased jumped fivefold for people who took three sleeping pills or more per week.

"After controlling for several factors, we saw the risk rose in tandem with the more doses people consumed," says Dr. Daniel Kripke, study author and psychiatrist  at Viterbi Family Sleep Center in San Diego. "The mortality hazard was very high, it even surprised us."

But one sleep expert not affiliated with the study immediately sought to debunk the conclusions, saying it leads to unnecessary confusion to consumers.

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Hearing loss affects 1 in 5 Americans, study finds
November 14th, 2011
06:07 PM ET

Hearing loss affects 1 in 5 Americans, study finds

If you think hearing loss is just an inevitable part of aging, think again.

More than 48 million Americans over age 12 have trouble hearing in one or both ears, according to a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. And the way we listen to music is partly to blame.

“Aging and genetics do sometimes play a role, but what we know now is that environmental exposures - like listening to music too loudly - can contribute to long term hearing damage over time,” says Dr. Frank R. Lin, lead study author and assistant professor of otolaryngology-head  and neck surgery and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “It’s a growing concern.”

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October 13th, 2011
03:25 PM ET

Lesson from Haiti's deadly cholera outbreak

Cholera cases have risen in Haiti, but the number dying from the disease is down, according to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The number of deaths were initially way too high,” said Dr. Robert Tauxe, researcher and deputy director at the CDC. “But within a few weeks of the outbreak, we trained teams to treat the disease and increased access to supplies.”

Tauxe says these improvements lowered the mortality rate from cholera in Haiti from 4% to below 1%, where it's been since December.

Cholera is contracted by consuming food or water contaminated with fecal bacteria. People who live in rural areas with a lack of adequate water treatment and sanitation are more likely to get the disease. While it can cause severe dehydration from rapid loss of body fluids, cholera is one of the easiest diseases to treat with oral rehydration salts.

Access to these very basic supplies was a core challenge in Haiti that led to many deaths soon after the outbreak.

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U.S. ranks low for newborn survival
August 31st, 2011
09:49 AM ET

U.S. ranks low for newborn survival

Babies born in Cuba, Malaysia, Portugal, and the United Kingdom have a better chance of surviving the first month compared to those born in the United States, according to researchers at the World Health Organization and Save the Children.

In a 20 year analysis of newborn death rates around the world, the study published in PLoS Medicine revealed the number of infants who die  before they are 4 weeks old account for 41% of child deaths worldwide.  Newborn deaths in the United States ranked 41 out of 45 among industrialized countries, on par with Qatar and Croatia.

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May 31st, 2011
04:24 PM ET

6 tips for minimizing cell phone radiation

On Tuesday, scientists at the World Health Organization announced that the agency will now list mobile phone use in the same "carcinogenic hazard" category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform.

There haven't been enough long-term studies to make a clear conclusion if radiation from cell phones is safe, but there was enough data to persuade the WHO of a possible connection.

Cell phones use non-ionizing radiation, which doesn’t damage DNA the way ionizing radiation does.  The cell phone radiation operates more like very low power microwaves, but nobody really likes to think of leaning their face on a low-powered microwave.

If the WHO’s labeling of cell phone use as "possibly carcinogenic to humans" has gotten you alarmed, here are some quick basic tips to limit your exposure.

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April 27th, 2011
01:02 PM ET

Gupta on Giffords' missing piece of skull

Dr. Sanjay Gupta details the extraordinary efforts to save the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in a CNN special documentary, "Saving Gabby." Sunday, May 8, 7 p.m. ET

The final preparations are under way for Friday's last-ever launch of the space shuttle Endeavour. This mission is extra special for Commander Mark Kelly. His wife, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who has been recovering from a gunshot wound to the head since January 8,  was medically cleared to travel and left Wednesday for Florida and the Kennedy Space Center, to watch the launch.   CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been following Giffords' progress and takes us inside his operating room to show how the congresswoman's surgeons  removed part of her skull in an effort to save her life.

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January 12th, 2011
09:18 AM ET

New paint doesn't mask orphans' life on the edge

We first met the children at Patience Orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, six months ago. Despite living in often deplorable conditions, you can count on a smile. Their spirit is contagious.

Roughly 50 children, from infants to 13 years, occupied the small house.  At the time there were no beds. The children slept on a concrete floor.  Worse yet, they were on their last bag of rice and beans.  It was simply not enough.

We flagged the needs of the orphanage to a small U.S. based non-profit organization, Can-Do . Can-Do, in turn, located a food distributor just miles down the road that was willing to provide a truck full of supplies.

After that story aired, CNN viewers wanted to help. Thousands of dollars were donated to Can-Do.org to help the children at Patience Orphanage. The staff  bought supplies, rented trucks and hired local Haitians to give this orphanage a much-needed facelift.

Today, the kids have beds to sleep in. The walls are painted bright pink, and blue. The floors, now tiled. Two new bathrooms were installed, complete with plumbing and a septic system. For the first time, they have a kitchen and a kid-friendly water filtration system.

The thing that struck me about all these changes was that they didn’t take very much money.

Can-Do spent a total of $5,658 to make all these changes to the orphanage. $20 per gallon for fresh paint, $160 for light fixtures, $500 for kitchen cabinets,  $30 for five new light switches.  Turns out, money donated by you (no matter how big or small) can go along way here in Haiti.

And while the cosmetic changes provided to Patience Orphanage are tremendous for those 50 smiling faces, the children are still living on the edge. They may no longer be sleeping on the floor, but their food is still scarce. The owner of this particular orphanage has not been able to secure a coveted spot as a “beneficiary” from food distribution NGOs.  Becoming a beneficiary guarantees monthly deliveries.

That's the reality for many hungry in Haiti:  The demand for food outweighs the supply. So for now, Patience Orphanage rations the food it has and waits for donations.

Of course, the children at Patience Orphanage represent just a sliver of the roughly 350,000 orphans living in Haiti. Many of Haiti’s orphans are getting aid, but others have fallen through the cracks.


2010 Year in Review: Haiti
December 29th, 2010
09:04 AM ET

2010 Year in Review: Haiti

Editor’s note: This week, The Chart is taking a closer look at the most important health stories of 2010. Each day, we'll feature buzzwords and topics that came to the forefront over the past year.

In just 30 seconds this year, an earthquake devastated the impoverished nation of Haiti.

The damage from January’s quake was widespread. One-third of the population was affected. The 7.0-magnitude quake took 230,000 lives, injured more than 300,000 and left 1.3 million homeless.

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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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