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November 18th, 2013
09:18 AM ET

Long-term Pill use may double glaucoma risk

Women who used birth control pills for three years or more have twice the risk of developing glaucoma later in life, according to new research.

Glaucoma is a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve and is a leading cause of blindness in the United States.

It’s been well documented that low-estrogen levels following menopause contribute to glaucoma in women. Scientists don’t know exactly why this happens.  But years of using birth control pills, which can also lower estrogen levels, may add to the problem.

The study, conducted by researchers at University of California, San Francisco, Duke University School of Medicine and Third Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Nanchang, China, did not differentiate between women who took low-estrogen or regular birth control pills. Investigators theorize that when women are not on the pill, their natural estrogen levels go up and down, which seems to prevent the eye from developing glaucoma.  When women go on the pill, their estrogen levels are consistent, and in some cases consistently low, which could cause them to develop the condition.

This research project is the first to suggest an increased risk of glaucoma in women who have used oral contraceptives for three or more years. The researchers looked at data on more than 3,400 women aged 40 and older from across the United States, who answered questionnaires about their reproductive health and eye exams.    FULL POST


Testosterone treatment could be dangerous to the heart
A new study links testosterone therapy to an increased risk of heart problems.
November 5th, 2013
04:27 PM ET

Testosterone treatment could be dangerous to the heart

It’s become the hot new treatment for older men. “T,” or testosterone replacement therapy, has been touted as the new way to turn back a man’s body clock and improve his sexual performance.  

But there may be trouble in paradise, according to new research.  In a study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, scientists have found that men taking testosterone therapy had a 29% greater risk of death, heart attack and stroke  than those who were not on the hormone replacement.

The study included 8,709 men with low testosterone levels, who underwent coronary angiography, a procedure used to open narrow or blocked coronary arteries, in the Veterans Affairs (VA) system between 2005 and 2011. Some were found not to have blockages.

Researchers found the number of patients experiencing heart problems such as attacks and strokes three years after their angiographies, was 19.9% for those who were not on testosterone and 25.7% for those who were.  Even when scientists accounted for other factors in the patients’ health, the increase of heart events in those on testosterone therapy was significant, according to the study.

FULL POST


Vitamin B may lower stroke risk
September 19th, 2013
02:33 PM ET

Vitamin B may lower stroke risk

New evidence suggests taking vitamin B supplements may help reduce the risk of stroke.

A study, published this week in the online issue of Neurology, analyzed 14 randomized clinical trials of vitamin B that included a total of 54,913 participants. All of the studies compared the supplement use with a placebo or a very low-dose B vitamin. The patients were then followed for a minimum of six months.

The purpose of this meta-analysis was to see if vitamin B lowered homocysteine levels in the blood, which are associated with atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries), as well as an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clot formation and possibly Alzheimer's disease.

"Previous studies have conflicting findings regarding the use of vitamin B supplements and stroke or heart attack," said study author Dr. Xu Yuming, with Zhengzhou University in Zhengzhou, China. "Some studies have even suggested that the supplements may increase the risk of these events."
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Copper may be a trigger of Alzheimer's disease
August 19th, 2013
03:54 PM ET

Copper may be a trigger of Alzheimer's disease

Copper, which is found in anything from drinking water to red meats, may be an environmental trigger of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a new study.

The study, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests copper keeps toxic proteins from leaving the brain.

It is clear that, over time, copper impairs the systems through which amyloid beta is removed from the brain, said Rashid Deane, a research professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center  Department of Neurosurgery, member of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine, and lead author of the study.  This causes the protein "to accumulate in the brain and form the plaques that are the hallmark of Alzheimer's disease." FULL POST


Should there be choking warning labels on food?
High-risk choking foods, including hot dogs, seeds and nuts, were more likely to require hospitalizations.
July 29th, 2013
12:01 AM ET

Should there be choking warning labels on food?

Choking is a leading cause of injury in children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, especially those four years and younger. Although the number of choking incidents involving toys and toy parts has gone down in the last 20 years due to manufacturer and federal government warnings, the number of food-choking cases in youngsters is still high.

"We have done a great job in this country (of) preventing choking in children on toys, “says Dr. Gary Smith, co-author of a new study on choking injuries and a professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “Since the 1990s we've had laws and regulations, systems where we can monitor these injuries when they happen. We have no such systems in place currently for food."

The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, reviewed thousands of statistics on children who had choking-related emergency room visits between 2001 to 2009. The study authors found that an average of 12,400 children under the age of 15 were treated for non-fatal, food-related choking each year, which equals about 34 children per day.
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Confused about estrogen therapy?
July 19th, 2013
02:30 PM ET

Confused about estrogen therapy?

Hormone replacement therapy has been a controversial issue for a lot of women over the last decade. Many have rejected any type of hormone therapy since a large, federally funded study found hormone replacement therapy could increase a woman’s risks for heart disease and strokes.

Now, a new study out of Yale School of Medicine suggests anywhere from 18,000 to 91,000 women in their 50s who had hysterectomies may have died prematurely in the last decade because they did not take estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy.
FULL POST


Telling kids about breast cancer genetic testing
Angelina Jolie says after her preventive mastectomy, she can tell her children they don't need to fear losing her to breast cancer.
July 4th, 2013
11:19 AM ET

Telling kids about breast cancer genetic testing

When Angelina Jolie announced she had undergone a preventive double mastectomy, people asked why. The actress explained that she carried a mutation in a gene known as BRCA1 that increased her chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer.

Her operation opened the nation’s eyes to just how important it is to know about hereditary cancer. According to a new study, a majority of mothers who get genetic testing talk to their children about it, especially if these women get the good news that they don't have the gene mutations.

The research, conducted at Georgetown's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, found that most mothers who were considering genetic testing for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations already were thinking of talking with their children, especially if they had a family history of breast and ovarian cancer. They also noted that moms who did not discuss their test results with their children were more likely to regret that decision later on.

FULL POST


Your designated driver might have been drinking
A field sobriety test. A new study shows some "designated drivers" may have blood alcohol levels over the new recommended level for drunk driving, a new study shows.
June 10th, 2013
02:55 PM ET

Your designated driver might have been drinking

Maybe you’re better off taking the bus.

A new study in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that 35% of designated drivers - those responsible for driving friends who may have had too much to drink - also consume alcohol and 1 in 5 had blood-alcohol levels high enough to impair their driving.

Researchers interviewed and tested 1,100 people in the downtown area of an unnamed Southeastern college community.  Of the designated drivers who drank alcohol, half had blood alcohol levels higher than .05%, the new recommended limit for drunken driving (the current limit is .08%).

“If you look at how people choose their designated drivers, oftentimes they’re chosen by who is least drunk or who has successfully driven intoxicated in the past,” says Adam Barry, an assistant professor of health education and behavior at the University of Florida. “That’s disconcerting.”

FULL POST


Thousands of kids hurt yearly on amusement rides
May 1st, 2013
02:40 PM ET

Thousands of kids hurt yearly on amusement rides

From carousels to roller coasters, part of summer fun for many kids is a trip to the local carnival or a nearby amusement park. But experts are warning parents their children need to be supervised on rides because of the risk of injuries.

Researchers from Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, looked at Consumer Product Safety Commission information on youngsters who were taken to emergency rooms for amusement ride injuries during a 20-year period.  Their study, published in the May issue of the journal Clinical Pediatrics, looked at fixed-site rides, such as those at major amusement parks, as well as mobile rides, which included rides at local carnivals, state fairs and mall rides like those found in shopping mall arcades.

The rides "included anything from coin-operated rides to Ferris wheels, carousels, bumper cars, roller coasters, and any type of ride like that," said Tracy Mehan, lead researcher of the study.

FULL POST


Pushing kids to eat may cause obesity later
April 22nd, 2013
12:05 AM ET

Pushing kids to eat may cause obesity later

While growing up, many children may have heard "clean your plate" or been denied candy. But how do parental attitudes toward food affect a child's weight?

Denying certain foods to children or pressuring them to eat every bit of a meal are common practices among many parents. But researchers at the University of Minnesota found parents who restricted foods were more likely to have overweight or obese children. And while those who pressured children to eat all of their meals mostly had children of normal weight, it adversely affected the way those children ate as they grew older, according to the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. FULL POST


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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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