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New study supports suicide 'contagion' in teens
May 21st, 2013
04:52 PM ET

New study supports suicide 'contagion' in teens

Having a schoolmate commit suicide significantly increases the chance that a teenager will consider or attempt suicide themselves, according to a new study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

The study surveyed more than 22,000 Canadian children aged 12 to 17.  They were asked if anyone in their school, or anyone they knew personally had died by suicide and if they had seriously considered attempting suicide themselves in the past year. The researchers found that the risk of suicide was magnified even if the child did not know the deceased student personally.

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Report questions benefits of salt reduction
May 14th, 2013
02:28 PM ET

Report questions benefits of salt reduction

Reducing salt consumption below the currently recommended 2,300 milligrams - about 1 1/2 teaspoons– per day maybe unnecessary, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

The news follows a decades-long push to get Americans to reduce the amount of salt in their diet because of strong links between high sodium consumption and hypertension, a known risk factor for heart disease.

The IOM, at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reviewed recent studies published through 2012 that explored ties between salt consumption and direct health outcomes like cardiovascular disease and death. The organization describes itself as "an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public."

Researchers determined there wasn't enough evidence to say whether lowering salt consumption to levels between 1,500 and 2,300 mg per day could increase or decrease your risk of heart disease and mortality. But lowering sodium intake might adversely affect your health, the panel found.

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FDA warns pregnant women about epilepsy drug
May 6th, 2013
05:46 PM ET

FDA warns pregnant women about epilepsy drug

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning pregnant women to stay away from migraine medicine containing valproate. The agency says the drug can lead to decreased IQ scores in children whose mothers took the medication during pregnancy.

Valproate sodium (Depacon), valproic acid (Depakene and Stavzor), and divalproex sodium (Depakote, Depakote CP and Depakote ER) are among the valproate products the FDA says pregnant women should never use. That includes their generic versions.

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Antioxidants in coffee, tea may not help prevent dementia, stroke
February 20th, 2013
05:04 PM ET

Antioxidants in coffee, tea may not help prevent dementia, stroke

Drinking coffee and tea rich in antioxidants may not lower your risk of dementia or having a stroke, according to a new study published Wednesday in the online journal Neurology.

The study may call into question other research suggesting a diet high in antioxidants helps reduce the risk of dementia and stroke.

Researchers followed approximately 5,400 people aged 55 years and older for nearly 14 years. The participants had no signs of dementia when they began the study and most had never had a stroke. They were questioned about how often they ate 170 foods over the course of the past year and they were divided into three groups based on the levels of antioxidants in their diet - low, moderate or high.

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Obese girls at risk of multiple sclerosis, study finds
January 30th, 2013
04:01 PM ET

Obese girls at risk of multiple sclerosis, study finds

Obese girls are at greater risk of developing multiple sclerosis or MS-like illness, according to a new study published Wednesday in the online journal Neurology.

Researchers looked at body mass index (BMI) data from more than 900,000 children from the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Children's health study. Seventy-five of those children and adolescents between the ages of 2 and 18 were diagnosed with pediatric MS. More than 50% of them were overweight or obese, and the majority were girls.

According to the study, the MS risk was more than one and a half times higher for overweight girls, almost two times higher in moderately obese girls and almost four times higher in extremely obese girls.

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Asthma, eczema and hay fever may be linked to fast food
January 14th, 2013
04:26 PM ET

Asthma, eczema and hay fever may be linked to fast food

Teenagers and young children who eat fast food could be increasing their risk of developing asthma, eczema and hay fever, according to a study published Monday in the British Medical Journal's respiratory journal Thorax.

The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) study used written questionnaires completed by 319,196 13-  and 14-year-olds from 51 countries and by the parents of 181,631 6- and 7-year-olds in 31 countries.  They were asked if they had symptoms of the three conditions and about their weekly diet - including the types of foods they ate over the last year, and how often.

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Beta blockers may reduce dementia risk
January 7th, 2013
07:17 PM ET

Beta blockers may reduce dementia risk

If you take drugs to lower your blood pressure, your medication may also lower your risk of dementia, according to a new study released Monday by the American Academy of Neurology.

According to the study, people taking beta blockers, a class of drugs used to treat a number of conditions including high blood pressure, glaucoma and migraines, were less likely to have less cognitive impairment than those that did not.  Beta blockers cause the heart to beat slower and with less force, which reduces blood pressure.  They also open up blood vessels to increase blood flow.

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Medicare patients may suffer if country goes over fiscal cliff
December 31st, 2012
11:10 AM ET

Medicare patients may suffer if country goes over fiscal cliff

Medicare patients are but another segment of the population that have to worry about the country going over the so-called fiscal cliff.

Doctors at Virginia Heart, a practice of 35 physicians in nine Northern Virginia locations, say they might have to turn away new Medicare patients after the first of the year.

That's because a nearly 30% cut across the board in Medicare reimbursement to doctors goes into effect if we go over the cliff. Virginia Heart, the largest cardiovascular group in the Washington Metropolitan area, says its doctors simply cannot afford a 30% decrease in pay.

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Concerns about generic painkillers increase
December 14th, 2012
11:21 AM ET

Concerns about generic painkillers increase

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy recently sent an alert to law enforcement, particularly along the Canadian border, warning them that Canada had approved non-abuse resistant generic versions of oxycodone, the active ingredient in OxyContin, Percocet and about 40 other painkillers.

"ONDCP expects companies will begin offering these generics without the abuse-resistant features in Canadian pharmacies within the next month," according to the alert.

The letter warned of the potential for these generics to show up here in the United States, where they are no longer available.

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Experts: Flu spreading faster than usual
December 3rd, 2012
02:52 PM ET

Experts: Flu spreading faster than usual

If you haven't received your flu shot yet, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says now is the time to make sure you're protected. The agency says flu season is ramping up early this year - for the first time in almost a decade.

According to CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden,  H3N2 is the predominant strain this year. It's generally associated with a severe flu season.  "The strains we are seeing suggest this could be a bad flu year," Frieden said. "But this year's vaccine is an excellent match with the influenza that's circulating."
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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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