October 1st, 2013
06:01 PM ET
When Janice hit menopause, she had terrible night sweats and hot flashes, but she was scared to undergo hormone replacement therapy.
Janice (who asked that her full name not be used for privacy reasons) had heard this treatment might be dangerous to her heart, and worried about risking her health.
It's a concern many American women have shared over the past decade since the benefits of hormone replacement therapy have been called into question. A large study called the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) was instrumental in casting doubt on these hormones.
Tuesday, scientists from the WHI released what they say is the definitive study on the safety of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The bottom line: It's OK for most healthy women who have just entered menopause to take hormones for a short period of time, but the researchers do not recommend it for long-term use. The results are published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.
August 12th, 2013
06:35 PM ET
Numerous medical studies have shown that fatty fish is healthy for the heart. Now researchers say it may also help prevent a debilitating type of arthritis.
Just one serving a week of a fatty fish such as salmon, or four servings a week of a leaner fish such as cod, may cut your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by half, according to a study in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
Researchers reviewed the diets of 32,000 Swedish women who filled out two food questionnaires, one in the late 1980s and another a decade later.
June 18th, 2013
08:36 AM ET
Scientists may be able to predict throat cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) more than 10 years before patients get diagnosed, according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Using a blood test that is still in the research stage, experts were able to detect blood markers indicating early signs of the disease.
Actor Michael Douglas recently made headlines when The Guardian reported he said his throat cancer may have been caused in part by HPV transmitted through oral sex. Douglas later said he simply was stating that oral sex can lead to cancer.
HPV: What you need to know
HPV is the most common type of sexually transmitted virus in the United States and is passed on through sexual contact – genital or oral. There are more than 40 types of HPV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and nearly all sexually active men and women will get at least one type of HPV during their lifetime. FULL POST
May 6th, 2013
01:15 PM ET
As a parent, there are undoubtedly a few things you do now that before you had children you thought were gross: Changing diapers, wiping up vomit and using your own spit to clean off a child's pacifier, just to name a few.
Though it's hard to admit, most parents have done the latter. You're out at the mall when your kid drops his pacifier and there's not a place to clean it nearby. So you pick it up, suck on it a bit and hand it back to your baby.
What's the harm?
Turns out cleaning a recently dropped pacifier with your saliva - meaning you put it in your mouth before inserting it back into your baby's - may actually help strengthen your child's immune system and keep him from developing certain allergies, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics. When parents cleaned pacifiers in this way their children were significantly less likely to develop eczema, a skin condition considered to be the most common early form of allergies.
March 4th, 2013
01:47 PM ET
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is often considered something children outgrow. But researchers say the disorder can carry over into adulthood.
A new study published in this week's Pediatrics journal finds that about a third of those diagnosed as children continue to have ADHD as adults, and more than half of those adults have another psychiatric disorder as well.
Suicide rates were nearly five times higher in adults who had childhood ADHD compared to those who did not, according to the study. Researchers aren't exactly sure why; they speculate that problems associated with childhood ADHD, such as lower academic achievement and social isolation, make people more prone to life issues as adults.
February 18th, 2013
03:56 PM ET
For years, pediatricians have recommended that young children watch no TV, or as little as possible, because it can lead to problems in school and behavior issues. Now a new study concedes children are sitting in front of the TV a lot longer. However, controlling what they watch can improve how they behave.
When preschoolers watch educational programs instead of violent TV shows, they tend to be more compassionate and less aggressive, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
About 600 families were recruited and assigned to one of two groups. Parents in the first group were encouraged to substitute violent shows with educational and pro-social ones - shows that stressed compassion and cooperation.
Families were given monthly TV guides listing educational programming for their area: shows such as "Dora the Explorer," "Super WHY," "Sesame Street" and "It's a Big, Big World." Parents were also encouraged to watch TV with their kids.
The children went from watching a half-hour of violent programming a day to 23 minutes. Parents then increased educational viewing from about 30 to 43 minutes a day.
Families in the second group did not change their viewing habits.
"This is the first study to try to modify the viewing habits of preschool kids," says Dr. Vic Strasburger, spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "That's one of the significances of this study."
After a year, researchers found that children watching less violent and more child-appropriate shows scored better on tests that measured cooperation, a willingness to share or compromise. They also had fewer incidents of aggressive behavior such as yelling and hitting.
"Although television is frequently implicated as a cause of many problems in children, our research indicates that it may also be part of the solution," the study notes.
The scientists saw the greatest improvements in boys raised in disadvantaged homes where children tends to watch more TV.
Experts know that children mimic what they see, whether it's in real life or what's on the screen. And this is of particular concern when children watch TV or movies riddled with violence.
"Children learn their attitudes about violence at a very young age, before age 8 and once they learn those attitudes it's very difficult to unlearn them," says Strasburger.
"It doesn't mean that children who watch violence are going to become murderers, but it does mean that they are desensitized to violence in the real world and they are more likely to be aggressive themselves," says study author Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development at Seattle Children's Research Institute.
Better shows, better kids
But on the flip side, when children watch shows with positive social messages, it helps them get along better with others and gives them the tools to become better communicators, the study suggests.
"They will imitate the good things too," says Christakis. "We should take more advantage of the fact that you can demonstrate good behaviors on-screen and that children will emulate them in real life."
Right now, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that preschoolers and older children get only one to two hours of TV or screen time a day. But in reality, they're really watching much more. According to this study, preschoolers see an average of about four and a half hours daily at home and in daycare settings. Parents struggle with guilt, researchers say, because they allow so much TV time.
"Parents need to get this message that it's not just about how much TV your children watch, it's about what they watch," says Christakis. "It's not just about turning off the set; it's about changing the channel."
February 5th, 2013
04:04 PM ET
Saving calories at the bar may not be a good thing.
Researchers gave college students vodka drinks with regular soda and with diet soda, and the diet soda group got more intoxicated, faster - about 20% more intoxicated than those who mixed regular soda with liquor, according to research published Tuesday in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Sugar in your mixed drink actually slows down the effects of alcohol, researchers say. FULL POST
January 15th, 2013
05:12 PM ET
Clinicians are missing alcohol problems in almost three out of four patients because they don't screen for the behavior and instead go with their gut feelings to catch the problem, according to a study published this week in the Annals of Family Medicine. Experts say asking patients a few questions about their drinking habits can lead to interventions that may help patients cut back on their risky behavior.
Researchers wanted to find out how well doctors identified drinking problems in their patients. Almost 1,700 adults from 40 different primary care practices completed questionnaires at the end of an office visit. They were asked a variety of lifestyle questions and several addressed drinking habits, such as how often they drank alcohol, how many drinks they had on a typical day, and if their drinking ever put them in danger of getting hurt or causing an accident.
January 3rd, 2013
02:26 PM ET
It's a heated question: should women take antidepressants during pregnancy? Some experts argue for it and some against, but a new study may ease the minds of women facing the decision.
Researchers say taking a common type of antidepressant does not increase the risk of having a stillborn child or losing an infant early in life. The study was published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
"It does strengthen the view that these meds are safer than we once thought," explains Dr. Jennifer Payne, director of the Women's Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. FULL POST
December 17th, 2012
12:33 PM ET
If you want to burn fat and lose weight, aerobic exercise may be your best workout option, according to a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology.
It was more effective than a weight-lifting routine, and about as beneficial as workouts combining cardio and strength training, researchers found.
"If a person is going to give me three hours of exercise a week,the most effective way to lose fat is to spend that time doing aerobic training," says lead study author Leslie Willis, an exercise physiologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.
If you lift weights, this doesn't mean you should stop, but if your time is limited and your main goal from exercise is to lose weight, cardio may be better than weight training, according to Willis. FULL POST
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.