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Home pregnancy tests may detect men's cancer
November 8th, 2012
04:34 PM ET

Home pregnancy tests may detect men's cancer

If you've been near social media or on the Internet, you may be aware of the buzz over posts claiming a teenage boy took a home pregnancy test as a joke, received a positive result, and wound up being diagnosed with testicular cancer.

CNN interviewed a girl who identified herself as a friend of the 17-year-old, but was not able to independently confirm the posts.

However, it's true home pregnancy tests can detect some types of testicular cancer in men, experts say - but the tests would not be useful as a screening tool.

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September 3rd, 2012
03:56 PM ET

Hantavirus: What you need to know

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

While there's no ironclad way to keep hantavirus away, there are steps you can take to minimize the chances that it will hurt you or your family.

The virus is relatively rare: Only 602 cases have been reported in the United States since 1993, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recently, six cases of hantavirus were reported among people who visited Yosemite National Park in California. Two of those infected people died.

However, it's very deadly: About half of all people who get hantavirus die of it, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Though some people do get it from camping, such as the recent Yosemite cases, many more people contract hantavirus in their own homes, according to the CDC.

The virus is spread by rodent droppings and urine. Here are some tips from the CDC and NIH for keeping hantavirus at bay:

1. Seal holes inside and outside your home to keep rodents out.

2. Trap rodents around your home.

3. While camping, sleep on ground cover and a pad.

4. When opening an unused cabin, open all doors and windows. Leave for 30 minutes, and when you return, spray disinfectant and then leave for another 30 minutes.

5. Know the signs: Early symptoms include chills, fever and muscle aches. Within one or two days, it becomes hard to breathe.


Romney's plan for middle-class health insurance
Mitt Romney says if elected, he will take steps to make insurance less expensive and give Americans more buying power.
August 31st, 2012
10:13 AM ET

Romney's plan for middle-class health insurance

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

This week during the Republican convention the Empowered Patient has been putting Mitt Romney’s health care plan under the microscope, examining what it means to various groups of American patients.

Earlier this week we looked at Romney's ideas on preventive care, helping people with pre-existing conditions get insurance, and aiding seniors who get stuck in the prescription drug donut hole. We also did a fact-check on Paul Ryan's Medicare comments in his convention speech.

Now, we're looking at Romney's plans for helping middle class Americans buy health insurance. According to a 2009 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 11 million uninsured Americans came from the middle class, or nearly a quarter of the nation's total uninsured.

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Fact-checking Ryan on Medicare
In his speech at the Republican convention, Paul Ryan called Obamacare "the greatest threat to Medicare."
August 30th, 2012
02:00 PM ET

Fact-checking Ryan on Medicare

 The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

This week during the Republican National Convention the Empowered Patient has been putting presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s health care plan under the microscope, examining what it means to various groups of American patients.

Earlier this week we looked at Romney's ideas on preventive care, helping people with pre-existing conditions get insurance, and aiding seniors who get stuck in the prescription drug donut hole.

Today we're fact-checking vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan's statements about Medicare in his speech Wednesday night at the convention in which he called Obamacare "the greatest threat to Medicare."

According to Ryan, President Barack Obama's administration "didn't have enough money" to fund health care reform, "so they just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama."

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Romney's health care plan: Medicare 'donut hole'
August 29th, 2012
02:34 PM ET

Romney's health care plan: Medicare 'donut hole'

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

This week during the Republican convention I’ll be putting Mitt Romney’s health care plan under the microscope, examining what it means to various groups of American patients.

Monday we dissected Romney's ideas to help Americans afford preventive care. Tuesday we looked at his plan for helping people with pre-existing conditions get insurance. Now, we'll examine Romney's plan for filling the Medicare donut hole.

The Medicare donut hole is a coverage gap for seniors who take prescription drugs. In 2009, prior to Obamacare, seniors received help from Medicare when they spent up to $896 on prescription drugs, after which they received no help and had to pay for prescription drugs 100% out of their own pockets. Then, after spending a total of $4,350 on prescriptions, government assistance kicked back in again. This gap when seniors had to pay for their drugs on their own is called the “donut hole.”

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Mitt Romney's health care plan: Pre-existing conditions
Mitt Romney says he'll "prevent discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage."
August 28th, 2012
10:30 AM ET

Mitt Romney's health care plan: Pre-existing conditions

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

This week during the Republican convention I’ll be dissecting Mitt Romney’s health care plan, examining what it means to various groups of American patients.

Monday, we put preventive care under the microscope. Tuesday, we're looking at Romney's plan for helping people with pre-existing conditions - anything from back pain to cancer to diabetes - who have often been denied insurance  or asked to pay exorbitant premiums.

Obamacare requires insurance companies to sell policies to people with pre-existing conditions without charging a higher premium.

Romney has vowed he would act to repeal Obamacare on his first day as president. Instead, he says he would "prevent discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage," according to his website.

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Mitt Romney's health care plan
Mitt Romney has said that if elected president, he would repeal Obamacare "on my first day."
August 27th, 2012
10:18 AM ET

Mitt Romney's health care plan

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

This week during the Republican National Convention, I’ll be dissecting Mitt Romney’s health care plan, examining what it means to various groups of American patients.

First under the microscope: Preventive care.

Romney said he would act to repeal Obamacare “on my first day if elected president of the United States.” The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requires insurers to provide free preventive services such as mammograms, immunizations, and cholesterol checks. Patients will not have to pay a co-pay or meet a deductible.

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Older fathers may be linked to child autism
As many as 20 to 30% of cases of autism and schizophrenia may be because of the father’s advanced age, a new study found.
August 23rd, 2012
05:33 PM ET

Older fathers may be linked to child autism

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

Women aren’t the only ones whose biological clocks are ticking: A new study on the genetics of autism finds the sperm of older men may be to blame for many cases of the disorder.

The study, done by researchers in Iceland, indicates that as many as 20-30% of cases of autism and schizophrenia may be linked to the father’s advanced age.  Unlike findings on disorders such as Down Syndrome, this study found that the age of the mother made no difference.

“This is really a paradigm shift,” said Dr. Jamie Grifo, program director of the New York University Fertility Center.

Traditionally, women have borne the brunt of concerns about having a healthy child as they age, while many men have assumed their sperm were no different at 80 than at 20.

“I had my babies at 38 and 39 and I was terrified,” said anchor Ashleigh Banfield on CNN Newsroom. “Honey, you’re in the conversation now. It’s not just me.”

Video: Older fathers may be linked to autism

While older men have an increased risk of fathering a child with autism, the risk is still low – 2% at the most for dads over 40, according to the new study.

The authors looked at random mutations in genes that are linked to autism and schizophrenia. Looking at 78 families, the researchers found that on average, a child born to a 20-year-old father had 25 random mutations that could be traced to the father’s genes. Children born to 40-year-old fathers had 65 mutations.

As men age, "Sperm will have acquired more mutations than when they were younger, which will increase the chance of children they father inheriting a disease-producing mutation,” said Richard Sharpe, who does research on male reproductive health at the MRC Centre for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh.

One scientist said men might want to take a tip from some young women who freeze their eggs to use when they’re older.

“Collecting the sperm of young adult men and cold-storing for later use could be a wise individual decision,” wrote Alexey Kondrashov, a professor who studies evolution at the University of Michigan’s Life Sciences Institute.

With autism, no longer invisible


July 18th, 2012
06:09 PM ET

Three birthdays, one day of conception

For Joyce Mallon, the births of her three children are "a miracle." Conceived on October, 26, 2007, in a lab by in vitro fertilization, the embryos were implanted into her uterus at two-year intervals, giving her and her husband three children conceived on the same day but born years apart.

"They are my Tripblings!! Triplets via conception, siblings by actual birth," she wrote in an e-mail sent to CNN.  "I believe our story to be an exciting and intriguing one, that NO ONE in the U.S. (to my knowledge), has any claim to."

Fertility experts say while the Mallon births are exciting, they're not a first. With better freezing techniques, many babies have been born by doing what the Mallons did: creating a group of embryos, using some to start one pregnancy, and then freezing the rest for future pregnancies.  Three babies born this way aren't triplets, but rather three genetically unique siblings conceived on the same day and born years apart.
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Dick Clark died a day after prostate surgery
Dick Clark had a heart attack just a day after having prostate surgery, a procedure that an expert says is “exceedingly safe.”
April 24th, 2012
01:43 PM ET

Dick Clark died a day after prostate surgery

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

Hollywood producer and television legend Dick Clark died of a heart attack a day after having prostate surgery, according to a death certificate obtained by CNN.

Clark died last Wednesday at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. The day before his death, he had an operation to relieve “acute urinary retention,” an inability to urinate.

“It’s a very painful condition,” says Dr. Kevin McVary, professor of urology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

The operation is “exceedingly safe” according to McVary, a spokesman with the American Urological Association.

“The mortality rate is less than one in 1,000. That’s very low risk,” he says.
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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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