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Brain scans may predict if patients will wake up
April 16th, 2014
03:47 PM ET

Brain scans may predict if patients will wake up

It can be one of the most difficult diagnoses for a doctor to make: whether a brain-damaged patient is in a permanent vegetative state and will never wake up, or if he is in a minimally conscious state and may one day recover.

In fact, for patients with significant swelling in the brain, a doctor's outcome prediction is currently "a little better than flipping a coin," researchers Jamie Sleigh and Catherine Warnaby write in The Lancet this week.

However, a new study published with their editorial suggests that some types of brain imaging could make an accurate diagnosis much more likely. FULL POST


Low blood sugar makes couples more aggressive
Study participants were asked to stick pins in a voodoo doll that represented their spouse to measure aggression.
April 14th, 2014
03:02 PM ET

Low blood sugar makes couples more aggressive

You've heard the term "hangry," right? People who are hungry often report being unreasonably angry until they're fed.

"Hangry" is a relatively new buzz word, but science is backing it up. A new study published in the journal PNAS suggests married couples are more aggressive when they have low blood sugar levels.

Background

Everyone gets upset at their spouse or significant other sometimes. But self-control hopefully prevents you from taking that anger out on them in a physical manner.
FULL POST


Severe obesity in kids on the rise
This chart shows the trends in prevalence of overweight and obese children between 1999 and 2012.
April 7th, 2014
04:01 PM ET

Severe obesity in kids on the rise

The decline of childhood obesity rates seen in a couple of recent studies may be nothing more than an illusion, according to a new study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.

The researchers looked at data from more than 26,000 children age 2 to 19 in the United States who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that rates of overweight and obese children have been trending upward since 1999, with significant increases seen recently in the number of severely obese children.

Severe childhood obesity rates have more than doubled since 1999, according to the study. In 1999-2000, less than 1% of children fell into the Class 3 obesity category - meaning they had a body mass index 140% higher than their peers. In 2011-2012, 2.1% of children were in the same category. An additional 5.9% met the criteria for Class 2 obesity.
FULL POST


5 studies you may have missed
If you have fewer copies of the AMY1 gene , carbs may be your weight-loss nemesis.
April 4th, 2014
08:46 AM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a link between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

Missing this gene? Carbs may be your weight-loss nemesis
Journal: Nature Genetics

Depending on who you ask (and the diet trend of the week), carbohydrates can be your best friend or worst enemy when it comes to losing weight. New research suggests the truth may lie in our genes.
FULL POST


Running more may not help you live longer
April 3rd, 2014
12:58 PM ET

Running more may not help you live longer

No, this isn't an excuse to put down your running shoes. Unless, of course, you're already running more than 20 miles a week.

Research presented this week at the annual American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions in Washington shows runners who average more than 20 miles a week don't live as long as those who run less than 20 miles a week. In fact, they live, on average, about as long as people who don't run much at all.

In other words, like most things in life, moderation may be key.
FULL POST


Study: Eat 7 servings of fruit, veggies daily
March 31st, 2014
06:31 PM ET

Study: Eat 7 servings of fruit, veggies daily

You know the saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away"? Turns out eating one apple isn't enough. A new study suggests people who eat up to seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day can cut their risk of premature death by 42% - and that vegetables may be more important than fruit to your overall health.

The study, conducted by scientists in the United Kingdom, was published online Monday in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The study

Researchers looked at data from more than 65,000 adults over age 35 who participated in the Healthy Surveys for England study between 2001 and 2008.
FULL POST


Five studies you may have missed
Smoke-free laws seem to be reducing rates of pre-term births and hospital admissions for children with asthma.
March 28th, 2014
09:47 AM ET

Five studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

Autism may begin in the womb
Journal: New England Journal of Medicine

With this week's CDC announcement that 1 in 68 children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder, there's even more reason to look at how and when this condition develops.

A new study suggests that there are changes in a developing child's brain even before he or she is born that are associated with autism. Researchers found patches of abnormalities in several brain areas, including those involved in social, emotional, communication and language functions.

But this is a small study, which looked at the brain tissue of only 22 children.

"Although interesting differences in brain architecture were found, questions regarding underlying mechanisms remain unanswered," says Zack Warren, director of  the Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who was not involved in the study.

Read more from the BBC

It's not safe to the pee in the pool
Journal: Environmental Science & Technology

There are two types of swimmers, an old saying goes: Those who pee in the pool, and those who say they don't. A new study may create a new kind - those begging the rest of us to stop.

Chemists found that mixing urine with sweat and chlorine in water created two compounds: trichloramine (NCl3) and cyanogen chloride (CNCl). NCl3 is associated with lung problems, and CNC1 may affect the lungs, heart and central nervous system, according to the American Chemical Society.

"Swimmers can improve pool conditions by simply urinating where they’re supposed to — in the bathrooms," the ACS concluded.

Lower back pain is a major cause of disability
Journal: Annals of Rheumatic Diseases

Lower back pain is common, affecting approximately 1 in 10 people around the globe. But you may not realize how disabling it can be.

Researchers pooled information from 117 studies in 47 different countries and 16 world regions. They concluded that lower back pain is the leading cause worldwide of years lost to disability. It was No. 1 among 291 conditions analyzed in this study.

Not all lower back pain comes from working, but many people do get it on the job. So what should people do?

“Exercise may be the most effective way to speed recovery from low back pain and help strengthen back and abdominal muscles. Maintaining and building muscle strength is particularly important for persons with skeletal irregularities,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Read more from TIME.com

Bariatric surgery does more than change your stomach size
Journal: Nature

Gastric bypass surgery reduces the size of an obese patient's stomach in hopes of making them eat less. But new research suggests the underlying chemical changes that occur in the patient's digestive system after surgery may be just as important - if not more so - to their ability to lose weight.

"We have more bacteria in our guts than we have cells in our bodies," study author Randy Seeley told USA Today. "Those bacteria and their interaction with our bodies is really important."

Scientists spent four years analyzing gastric bypass surgeries in mice. After bariatric surgery, our bodies increase liver bile acids that bind to a nuclear receptor called FXR, according to the study. When researchers removed the FXR receptor from the mice, they lost less weight than other mice who had undergone a gastric bypass procedure. The scientists also noticed changes in the mice's gut bacteria.

The results of this study could lead scientists to develop new ways to mimic the effects of bariatric surgery without physically altering the stomach.

Read more from USA Today

Smoking bans seem to be working
Journal: The Lancet

Rates of pre-term births and hospital admissions for children with asthma have dropped significantly since many states here and countries in Europe have introduced smoke-free legislation.

Researchers analyzed 11 studies and determined that the rates were reduced in the year after the laws went into effect. This shows a clear link between a reduction in second-hand smoke and a decrease in these conditions, they say.

"Together with the known health benefits in adults, our study provides clear evidence that smoking bans have considerable public health benefits for perinatal and child health, and provides strong support for WHO recommendations to create smoke-free public environments on a national level," Dr. Jasper Been told ScienceDaily.

Read more from ScienceDaily


5 studies you may have missed
Go ahead, buy that sports car. Research shows mid-life crises are real.
March 21st, 2014
07:19 AM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you new insights into your health. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

Probiotics can help preschoolers
Journal: Pediatrics

You've probably heard that taking probiotics - live bacteria commonly found in your gut - can help boost your digestive health. Now scientists have shown that probiotics may help young children as well.

Researchers enrolled more than 300 children at day care centers in Mexico in a double-blind study. Half of the kids received a daily dose of probiotics; the other half received a daily placebo.

They found that the probiotics significantly reduced the number of times - and the duration of - the kids' diarrhea episodes. The live bacteria also helped prevent respiratory tract infections.

Read more from Medscape.com

Mid-life crises DO exist
Published by The Institute for the Study of Labor

Social economists say the life cycle of human happiness is U-shaped. We're really happy when we're young, and happy again when we're old. That low point in the middle? We call it a mid-life crisis.

Researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia tracked the happiness levels of thousands of people in Australia, Britain and Germany over multiple decades. They found people in all three countries were unhappiest between the ages of 40 and 42.

So go ahead and buy yourself that sports car - science has proven you need it.

Genes matter when eating fried food
British Medical Journal

While fried pickles and French fries aren't healthy for anyone, some people are more likely to gain weight while eating them than others.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School say study participants who ate fried food at least four times a week weighed more, on average, than those who didn't. No duh, right? Well the people who ate fried food and carried 10 known obesity risk genes were two points heavier on the BMI scale than those without the risky genes.

While the difference seems small, those two points could move you from the "normal weight BMI category to the "overweight" category.

Bottom line? Genetics matter. But what you eat matters more.

Read more on NPR.org

You should be able to hear me now
Journal: Ear and Hearing

"What?" If you find yourself repeating this word a lot in conversation, listen closely. A study done in the United Kingdom found only one-fifth of people with hearing problems use hearing aids.

The study authors analyzed data from 160,000 people in the UK aged 40 to 69 years. It found 10% of middle-aged adults had trouble hearing speech in the presence of background noise, but just 2% used a hearing aid.

"There still seems to be a stigma attached to wearing a hearing aid, where as there is little stigma now associated with vision loss and wearing spectacles," Kevin Munro, an audiology professor at The University of Manchester, said in a statement. That might be because eye care involves lifestyle choices and is available without the need to see a doctor, he said.

Delivering your baby underwater isn't OK
New recommendations from AAP and ACOG

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are warning mothers to stay away from water births.

The professional organizations say undergoing the first few stages of labor in a birthing pool may offer advantages, such as decreased pain and shorter labor time. But delivering the baby underwater has no proven benefit to the mother or the baby, the organizations say, and can pose serious - sometimes fatal - health risks.

It's not known how many women in the United States choose a water birth. Complications can include infection, difficulty controlling the baby's body temperature, a greater risk of umbilical cord damage and/or breathing problems.

Read more from U.S. News & World Report


5 studies you may have missed
A team of researchers has developed an intravaginal ring designed to prevent HIV and unwanted pregnancy.
March 7th, 2014
07:27 AM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you new insights into your health. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

Don't diss canned vegetables
American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine

Researchers at Michigan State University analyzed more than 40 scientific journal studies to see if canned fruits and vegetables provide the same nutritional benefits as fresh and frozen produce. Cans are often cheaper than fresh or frozen products, and therefore easier for low-income families to buy.
FULL POST


Middle-aged? Put down the meat
March 5th, 2014
09:12 AM ET

Middle-aged? Put down the meat

Eating a high-protein diet in middle age could increase your risk of diabetes and cancer, according to a study published this week in the journal Cell Metabolism. But don't stay away from meat for too long - the same study showed those over 65 need more protein to reduce their mortality risk.

Background

Insulin-like growth factor 1, or IGF-1, is a protein in your body related to growth and development. Past studies have linked IGF-1 to age-related diseases, including cancer. Mice and humans with higher levels of IGF-1 often have a higher risk of developing these diseases.

Scientists believe protein intake plays a role in IGF-1 activity. Eating less protein, studies have shown, can lead to lower levels of IGF-1 in your body. So theoretically, protein consumption could be directly linked to disease incidence and death. 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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