Vegetarian diet may lower your blood pressure
A cup of edamame contains 676 mg of potassium, which may help lower your blood pressure.
February 24th, 2014
04:01 PM ET

Vegetarian diet may lower your blood pressure

Nearly a third of American adults have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Often called the "silent killer" because it provides few warning signs, hypertension increases a patient's risk for heart attack and stroke.

New research suggests eating a vegetarian diet could help combat this deadly disease.

A healthy blood pressure is 120/80 mm HG. Previous studies have shown that each increase of 20/10 mm Hg in that number doubles the patient's risk of cardiovascular disease. But lowering that top number just 5 mm HG can reduce your chances of dying from cardiovascular disease by about 7%. And eating more fruits and vegetables may be a good way to do that, according to the new study, published Monday in the scientific journal JAMA Internal Medicine. FULL POST

5 studies you may have missed
A pizza herb could be the key to killing off Norovirus, scientists say.
February 14th, 2014
08:12 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 connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

That car comes with an obesity feature
Canadian Medical Association Journal

Do you own a car? A computer? A TV? You're probably moving less, sitting more and buying bigger pants than someone who doesn't.

After analyzing data from more than 150,000 people in several countries, researchers said owning all three was associated with a 31% decrease in physical activity, 21% increase in sitting and a 3.54-inch increase in waist size. They also found a 400% increase in obesity and a 250% increase in diabetes among owners of these items in low-income countries.

Playing Cupid makes us happy
February 14th, 2014
08:09 AM ET

Playing Cupid makes us happy

The word "matchmaker" immediately conjures images of nosy old ladies interfering in something that is really none of their business. And anyone who's ever been on a bad blind date knows how difficult it can be to make a good match.

So why do we keep setting other people up?

Because playing Cupid makes us happy, new research suggests.

"People enjoy being the key person who made that critical match between newlyweds or between business partners who started a successful venture," says lead study author Lalin Anik, a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University.

Diets through history
February 6th, 2014
11:24 AM ET

Relax, weekend weight gain won't kill your diet

You've been eating well all week: oatmeal for breakfast, a salad for lunch and grilled chicken with vegetables for dinner. Then the weekend hits. Suddenly your taste buds want French fries at the bar and Mom's cheesy lasagna is calling your name during Sunday dinner.

Not to worry. A new study suggests small weight gains on weekends are normal, and as long as you can compensate during the week, indulging a bit may even help you lose weight long-term.

“There is a clear weekly rhythm to weight variation for most people,” says one of the study authors, Anna-Leena Orsama, a research scientist with VTT Technical Research Center of Finland. “On the weekends there is more variability and unpredictability in what we eat.”


5 studies you may have missed
January 31st, 2014
07:28 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 connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

Two stressed-out people are better than one
Journal: Social Psychological and Personality Science

As much as you want to appear calm, cool and collected in front of your colleagues, sharing the stress of an upcoming presentation may help you chill.

Researchers at the USC Marshall School of Business asked 52 female undergraduate students to pair off and share their feelings about giving an upcoming speech. The scientists measured each student's level of the stress hormone cortisol before, during and after the speech.

January 30th, 2014
10:49 AM ET

Your kindergartner‎'s weight matters

The baby fat lingering around your 5-year-old's face (and tummy and thighs) may be an indicator of his or her weight for many years to come, a new study suggests. Children who enter kindergarten overweight are four times more likely than their normal weight peers to become obese by age 14, researchers say.

Though recent studies have shown signs of progress in the fight against childhood obesity, an estimated one out of every eight preschoolers in the United States is obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers are higher in African-American and Hispanic populations, at one in five and one in six, respectively.

The new study, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests a big part of a child's obesity risk is already established by age 5. Interventions to combat childhood obesity may need to focus on those children who are overweight early in life, the study authors say.

Lower the thermostat, whittle your waistline?
January 22nd, 2014
12:01 PM ET

Lower the thermostat, whittle your waistline?

You may want to program the thermostat in your office down a couple of degrees today, despite the more-than-chilly temperatures outside. A paper published Wednesday in the scientific journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism suggests doing so could help you lose weight.

Regular exposure to mildly cold temperatures help people burn more calories, according to the paper's authors, who have been studying this phenomenon for more than a decade.

"Since most of us are exposed to indoor conditions 90% of the time, it is worth exploring health aspects of ambient temperatures," lead author Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt said. "What would it mean if we let our bodies work again to control body temperature?" FULL POST

'Routine' tonsillectomies not so routine
January 20th, 2014
11:18 AM ET

'Routine' tonsillectomies not so routine

When Jahi McMath suffered severe complications following a tonsillectomy, and doctors declared her brain dead, many parents were shocked.

More than 500,000 tonsillectomies are performed each year on children in the United States; it's the second most common pediatric surgery. But how routine are these procedures really?

Not so much, a new study published Monday in the scientific journal Pediatrics suggests. Researchers found the quality of care before, during and after a tonsillectomy varies greatly depending on the hospital.

When routine surgeries go wrong

"We were surprised at the degree of variation between hospitals in the use of medications ... and revisits to hospitals after the surgery for complications," said lead study author Dr. Sanjay Mahant.

5 studies you may have missed
January 17th, 2014
12:28 PM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that can 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.

Drink up - you'll remember it later
Journal: Nature Neuroscience

If you're worried that drinking alcohol is hastening your memory loss, fear not. A new study suggests any caffeine you inhale the morning after will have the opposite effect.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University gave study participants 100 to 300 milligrams of caffeine after they looked at some images. Twenty-four hours later, those who got 200 or 300 milligrams of caffeine remembered the images better than participants who took a placebo.

The researchers concluded that caffeine can help strengthen our long-term memories.

Read more from The Atlantic

We may live longer because our metabolism sucks
Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Guess the monkeys will have to give up those bananas after all. An international team of scientists has discovered that primates burn about half the calories other mammals burn on a daily basis.

While the study was done on primates, researchers believe the findings translate to humans as well.

"The results were a real surprise," said lead study author Herman Pontzer, an anthropologist at Hunter College in New York. "To put that in perspective, a human – even someone with a very physically active lifestyle – would need to run a marathon each day just to approach the average daily energy expenditure of (another) mammal their size."

The researchers believe this slow metabolic rate may be the reason primates, including humans, live much longer than, say, dogs or hamsters. When the body expends energy, it ages. So slow growth may be linked to a long life.

Read more from Smithsonian Magazine

Stand up. We're serious this time
American Journal of Preventive Medicine

You've heard before that sitting all day is killing you. This study provides more evidence to back up that claim.

Researchers examined data from more than 92,000 postmenopausal American women. Those who reported more than 11 hours of sedentary time each day died earlier than peers who only reported four hours of inactivity. The sedentary group increased their risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and cancer by 13%, 27% and 21%, respectively, according to the study authors.

“In general, a use it-or-lose it philosophy applies,” said lead study author Rebecca Seguin. “We have a lot of modern conveniences and technologies that, while making us more efficient, also lead to decreased activity and diminished ability to do things. Women need to find ways to remain active.”

Read more from Cornell University

Choose wisely before giving birth
Journal: BMJ Open

Having a kid is expensive, but HOW expensive really depends on which hospital you choose, this study suggests.

Researchers analyzed the cost of more than 109,000 uncomplicated, vaginal and Caesarean section deliveries that took place in California hospitals in 2011. They found the cost for a vaginal birth can range anywhere from $3,296 to $37,227 and C-sections could cost you anywhere from $8,312 to $70,908.

The differences in price were "not well explained by observable patient or hospital characteristics," the study authors wrote.

Read more from Health.com

Don't name your kids Jayden, Jason and Jamie
Journal: PLOS ONE

Did your mom or dad accidentally call you by your sibling's name a lot as a kid? Did you feel like they loved your brother or sister more?

Psychologists at the University of Texas at Austin have learned it's not a Freudian slip that makes parents mistakenly call the wrong child's name. Couples with children whose names sound alike, either at the beginning or the end - think Amanda and Samantha - are more likely to make the switch.

It's all part of the brain's information-retrieval process, says lead study author Zenzi Griffin, and is more likely to happen if the siblings are closer in age or look alike.

Just be glad you weren't one of the 20 respondents who said they were called by the name of the family pet.

Read more from ScienceDaily

Red light, green light: Food choice made easier
January 7th, 2014
08:01 AM ET

Red light, green light: Food choice made easier

What if eating healthy was as easy as playing your favorite childhood game?

In March 2010, Massachusetts General Hospital's cafeteria got an overhaul. Healthy items were labeled with a "green light," less healthy items were labeled with a "yellow light," and unhealthy items were labeled with a "red light." Healthier items were also placed in prime locations throughout the cafeteria, while unhealthy items were pushed below eye level.

The "Green Light, Red Light, Eat Right" method is a favorite among experts fighting childhood obesity. But doctors at Massachusetts General wanted to know if the colors could really inspire healthier eating habits among adults long-term.

The results of their study were published Tuesday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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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.