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February 11th, 2014
06:04 PM ET

Federal officials support use of naloxone

With heroin use up nearly 80% since 2007, the nation's "Drug Czar," Gil Kerlikowske, is highlighting the benefits of an old, but effective drug called naloxone which can reverse an overdose.

While heroin overdoses account for only a small part of the opioid overdose epidemic, they are a leading cause of death in the United States, killing 100 people every day, Kerlikowske said in a White House press conference Tuesday.

"We're not going to arrest our way out of this problem," Kerlikowske said, pointing out several key things that help to reduce overdose numbers, including the use of naloxone.

Naloxone is a drug that can reverse opioid overdoses from heroin and opioid prescription pain killers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.  Opioids bind to the receptors in the brain and spinal cord, causing the body to slow down until it stops breathing.  When an addict takes naloxone, it can reverse this process, freeing up the receptors.

"Naloxone has very few side effects and can be safely administered in many different settings, so there is some hope for its expanded use," said Kerlikowske.
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January 7th, 2014
04:27 PM ET

Anti-smoking efforts have saved 8 million lives

Fifty years ago, Surgeon General Dr. Luther Terry made a bombshell announcement: "The strongest relationship between cigarette smoking and health is in the field of lung cancer. There is a very strong relationship, and probably a causal relationship, between heart disease and cigarette smoking."

It was the first time a surgeon general said that smokers had a 70% greater chance of death and that heavy smokers were 20 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers.

The landmark report launched one of the biggest public health campaigns in U.S. history, including warning labels on cigarettes, cigarette advertising banned on TV and radio, graphic public service announcements, and anti-smoking laws.

Now a new study in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association - which has devoted its entire issue to tobacco and smoking - estimates that tobacco control efforts since the first Surgeon General's report have added 20 years of life for 8 million Americans. Without tobacco control, half of those Americans would have died before the age of 65.
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Flu vaccine may work better in women, study suggests
December 23rd, 2013
04:18 PM ET

Flu vaccine may work better in women, study suggests

While some may consider women “the fairer sex,” science says otherwise.

It’s been known that women, in general, have stronger immune systems. Researchers say males have more bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic reactions than females, as well as more severe reactions, and women have a "more robust response to antigenic challenges such as infection and vaccination," according to a new study published Monday.

Why women have stronger immune reactions hasn't always been clear. But the new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds it may have something to do with testosterone. FULL POST


Quit-smoking drugs safe for your heart
December 10th, 2013
11:03 AM ET

Quit-smoking drugs safe for your heart

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death world-wide. About half of all long-term smokers will die because of their addiction. But the good news is that nearly 70% of current smokers want to quit, says the CDC.

And using an effective treatment to help kick the habit can almost double or triple one's chance of success. Replacement therapies like the nicotine patch or gum, or medications like the antidepressant buproprion (sold as Wellbutrin or Zyban) and varenicline (commonly known as Chantix), can help reduce one's cravings to smoke and deal with withdrawal symptoms.

Headlines in recent years have questioned the cardiovascular risks of these drugs. But new research says that these drugs carry little risk of heart attack or stroke. FULL POST


U.S. women having fewer children
December 6th, 2013
12:01 AM ET

U.S. women having fewer children

New numbers out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that fewer women in the United States are having children.

Between 2000 and 2009, pregnancy rates for U.S. women fell by 12%, or nearly 6.4 million pregnancies. The pregnancy rate is the lowest it has been in 12 years.

In fact, the rates for teenage pregnancy reached historic lows in 2009, for all three major race groups: non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanic teenagers. In 2009, there were 39% fewer teen pregnancies than the 1991 peak rate of 61.8 teen pregnancies for every 1,000 teens.

"Research suggests that more teens are delaying initiating sex, waiting longer to have sex," said Rachel Jones, a senior research associate with the Guttmacher Institute, who was not associated with the study.
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ADHD diagnoses rise to 11% of kids
November 22nd, 2013
05:54 PM ET

ADHD diagnoses rise to 11% of kids

The number of children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) continues to climb, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There has been a 42% increase in the number of reported cases of ADHD since 2003, according to a CDC-led study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Today, 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17 - 11% of kids in this age group - have received an ADHD diagnosis, according to the study, which is based on a survey of parents. That's 2 million more children than in 2007.

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Concussion concerns may lead to fewer boys playing football
October 23rd, 2013
06:05 PM ET

Concussion concerns may lead to fewer boys playing football

As more people learn about how football's hard hits to the head can lead to brain trauma, fewer parents may be willing to let their kids out on the field. That's according to a new poll released Wednesday by HBO Real Sports and Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.

One in three Americans say knowing about the damage that concussions can cause would make them less likely to allow their sons to play football, the poll found.

Keith Strudler, director of the Marist College Center for Sports Communication, who helped oversee the phone survey of more than 1,200 adults in July, said this could be alarming news for the future of football. "Historically, youth football has fueled the NFL," said Strudler. "Parents' concern about the safety of the game could jeopardize the future of the sport."

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Buying breast milk online? Beware
Breast milk purchased from Internet social media sites may contain bacteria such as salmonella, a new study shows.
October 21st, 2013
09:40 AM ET

Buying breast milk online? Beware

Donated breast milk is "liquid gold at our house,” says Stacy Richards, 37.

The liquid gold is for Simeon, Richards' adopted 11-month-old son. He was born with Down syndrome and suffers from chronic lung disease. Richards believes "breast is best" but couldn't breastfeed, so she turned to the next best thing.

Initially, she sought milk on community milk sharing sites, like “Eats on Feets,” and “Human Milk 4 Human Babies,” but didn’t feel comfortable getting milk from strangers. “We didn’t know who those women were. They didn’t have a safety net,” said Richards. Instead, she relied on trusted friends.

Richards had every right to worry, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. The study found milk bought off of the Internet through social media sites was more than twice as likely to be contaminated with infection-causing bacteria and three times more likely to contain salmonella than milk from the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBNA). While only 5% of the HMBNA milk tested positive for herpes viruses, 21% of milk from the Internet contained bacteria and viruses. FULL POST


CDC: 200,000 people die needlessly every year
September 3rd, 2013
05:33 PM ET

CDC: 200,000 people die needlessly every year

Every year, nearly 800,000 people die from cardiovascular disease. That's 30% of all deaths under the age of 75, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And nearly a quarter of those deaths could be prevented, the study authors found.

That's 200,000 lives that could be saved every year, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC.  Particularly striking is the fact that 56% of those deaths occurred among people under the age of 65.

"We're talking about hundreds of thousands of deaths that happen when they don't have to happen," said Frieden.

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Diaper needs put stress on moms
July 29th, 2013
02:33 PM ET

Diaper needs put stress on moms

For many new moms, the first few years of childhood are a sea of stress. "Is my child eating enough?” “When will my child sleep through the night?” "Should I be doing this differently?"

Low-income moms face additional stress when it comes to providing diapers for their babies, new research shows.

A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics shows nearly 30% of women have some sort of diaper need for their children. Eight percent of the women surveyed reported needing to stretch their diapers to make them last, meaning they're not changing diapers as often as they should.  

Re-using diapers and leaving them on too long can lead to more urinary tract infections and diaper rash. That's not only bad for the baby, it's also bad for mom, the study authors say. The researchers found 30% of the mothers surveyed reported experiencing some sort of emotional stress or depression over diapers. That stress can, in turn, impact their children.
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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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