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Sugary drinks expand women's waists
November 14th, 2011
07:53 AM ET

Sugary drinks expand women's waists

Doctors have warned people for years that too many sodas or sugary drinks can cause weight gain. But now a new study finds two or more sugary beverages a day can expand a woman's waistline, even if she doesn't  gain weight. And that can be dangerous to a woman's health.

Studies show weight carried around the middle can increase a person's risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Researchers looked at five years of data on more than 4,000 people, middle-aged and older, and compared those who drank two or more sugar-sweetened beverages a day with those who drank one or less. They assessed risk factors in follow-up exams, monitoring the participants' weight gain, increase in waist size, their HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, sugar levels, triglycerides and their possible development of diabetes. FULL POST

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Filed under: Heart • Nutrition • Obesity

My father was an 'atomic vet'
November 11th, 2011
11:08 AM ET

My father was an 'atomic vet'

Three weeks ago, my father, Alexander Wadas, died from stage 4 lung cancer. He was 85, just one month short of his 86th birthday.

Since his diagnosis in June, the hideous disease, which spread to his bones, skin and brain, took his dignity - robbing him of his ability to eat, walk, speak, think, sit up, even swallow.

He died a horrible death that caused him to waste away from 200 pounds to 92 pounds in just four months.

Doctors say the cancer was not from smoking, but more likely from environmental factors. You see, my father was what the Department of Veterans Affairs refers to as an "atomic vet" - a veteran exposed to radiation during his or her military service.

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White House and MADD join forces against drugged driving
October 13th, 2011
01:21 PM ET

White House and MADD join forces against drugged driving

In an effort to combat an increase in the number of teenage drugged driving cases, White House announced Thursday that it will partner with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to create a new information campaign, calling on parents to become more aware of this dangerous trend.

Gil Kerlikowske, director of National Drug Control Policy,  along with Jan Withers, national president of MADD announced the partnership to raise public awareness regarding the consequences of drugged driving. MADD already has launched a nationwide campaign against poly-abuse (both alcohol and drugs) and drugged driving, and is pushing for law enforcement officers to strongly enforce laws against drugged driving. Along with these efforts, the drug control policy office  is releasing new materials for parents and teens aimed at educating young drivers and their families about  the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs.

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USDA steps up testing for more E.coli strains in food products.
September 13th, 2011
02:51 PM ET

USDA steps up testing for more E.coli strains in food products.

In an effort to provide the American public with safer meat products, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that it is taking new steps to fight six additional strains or serogroups of E.coli. The bacteria, which can grow in different types of foods, such as ground beef and tenderized steaks, can cause serious illnesses and in some cases, death in those who eat it. The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service will launch the testing program next March, to detect these dangerous pathogens and prevent them from reaching consumers.

“This is another opportunity to build on the work safety group (President's Food Safety Working Group) to make sure we are protecting the public from food borne illnesses,.” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Right now, the USDA allows some meat products to be sold, that have small traces of certain strains of E. coli. Once the new regulations are in place, if raw ground beef or other products contain the E. coli serogroups of O26, O103, O45, O111, O121 and O145 they will not be sold. Like E.coli O157:H7, which is the most recognized and deadliest strain of the bacteria and an E.coli strain that is not allowed on the market, these serogroups can cause severe illnesses, especially in the elderly and young children.

"The impact of food borne illness on a family can be devastating," said Under Secretary Elisabeth Hagen. "Consumers deserve a modernized food safety system that focuses on prevention and protects them and their families from emerging threats. As non-O157 STEC bacteria have emerged and evolved, so too must our regulatory policies to protect the public health and ensure the safety of our food supply."

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit health advocacy group based in Washington, DC, backed the USDA’s move today to test for these other E. coli strains According to data collected by CSPI these other forms of E. coli have been linked to 10 outbreaks and nearly 700 illnesses in the U.S. since 1998.

In a statement released by the CSPI, today, the organization stated, “The new testing program will help prevent future outbreaks, as products testing positive for these strains will be diverted to further processing and not placed into commerce.”

CSPI officials also noted they are now asking the USDA to turn its attention to Salmonella; another deadly form of bacteria, traditionally found in raw meat and poultry. Although the USDA does test for high amounts of salmonella, the CSPI petitioned the agency to declare four of salmonella pathogens as unacceptable under the law, hoping to trigger the same testing protocols now being undertaken for deadly E. coli strains.


Screenings essential for newborns' health
September 12th, 2011
07:00 AM ET

Screenings essential for newborns' health

September is Newborn Screening Awareness month, a time designated to get the word out to new or expectant parents about the importance of having their new babies screened for serious illnesses.

Even if a baby is born healthy, certain conditions can develop later in infancy that may affect a child's long-term health. That's why the Center for Disease Control stresses newborn screenings. These tests can many times identify issues before they become major problems and can help with the diagnosis and treatment of certain illnesses.

"Newborn screenings actually started in the '60s, when newborn babies were screened for phenylketonuria or PKU, (a metabolic condition that can damage the brain) ," says Dr. Toni Thompson-Chittams, a board certified pediatrician and director of TLC Pediatrics of Bowie, Maryland. " The screenings became so successful, hospitals and state public health departments, decided to test for more conditions."

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More evidence shows autism raises risk for later siblings
August 15th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

More evidence shows autism raises risk for later siblings

It's already known that children with older siblings who have autism spectrum disorder or ASD, have a higher risk of developing the condition themselves,  and a new study in Pediatrics finds that risk is even higher than previously expected.

"We expected the rates to be significant, but not as high as we found," said Dr. Sally Ozonoff, lead author and vice chair for Research at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute. “We pretty much know genetics is a factor somewhere in the autism puzzle, but there may be other factors that work with the genetic makeup to cause the condition. We just don't know.

"The message we'd like to see come from the study is primary care physicians need to look at infants more closely when they are born to a family with children with ASD."

In the study, the largest of its kind, according to Ozonoff, researchers monitored 664 infants, registered with the Baby Siblings Research Consortium who either had an older biological brother or sister with ASD. They followed the little ones from infancy to 36 months. Previous studies estimated that the ASD recurrence risk in younger siblings was between 3% and 10%. But this study found that the overall risk was much higher, at 18.7% and even higher in families with more than one affected sibling – about 32.2%.

"This does not mean that every family who has a child with ASD will have a second child with ASD. It's just their risks are higher," noted Ozonoff. "And keep in mind we found that 80 percent of children with older siblings who had ASD never developed any signs of autism. It's just an indicator that parents and physicians need to be aware of."

Male babies experienced nearly three times the risk over female infants, 26% versus 9%. Age of parent, gender of the older sibling or birth orders were not predictors of the condition, meaning if the first child in the family does not have ASD, and the second child does, the risk percentages are still the same for the next child.

"I think you'll find that parents with children who have ASD will not be shocked by these finding," said Dr. Alycia Halladay, director of research for environmental sciences for Autism Speaks, an advocacy organization that heads up the Baby Siblings Research Consortium. "But the data does support the importance of monitoring infants from birth who have older brothers or sisters with ASD. Because recognizing autism at an early age is key to getting a child successful treatment"

Authors of the study suggest their findings could also impact future genetic screening and family planning decisions when it comes to parents of children with ASD. The knowledge of the risk could also lead to earlier observation and intervention for babies born into these particular families.

"This study just backs up what other data has been saying, even more so, " said Ozonoff. "But we'd like primary care professionals to be more aware of the risks for newborns with ASD siblings, so they can ask the pertinent questions to parents about the new sibling, such as 'Is he or she looking at you, learning to point, smiling?' All of these are important aspects of deciding whether a young child may have ASD."


Blood test to tell baby's gender found reliable
August 9th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

Blood test to tell baby's gender found reliable

A blood test designed to tell the sex of an unborn baby is very reliable, especially after seven weeks' gestation, compared with urine-based tests that are also available to parents, according to new research in this week's issue of Journal of the American Medical Association.

The test based on cell-free fetal DNA taken from the mother's blood, was found to correctly detect a male fetus 95% of the time, when performed seven to 20 weeks’ gestation and then had a near-perfect rate of determining the sex of the child after that.

FULL POST


Young athletes in the heat: Doctors revise guidelines
August 8th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Young athletes in the heat: Doctors revise guidelines

Because of recent reports of serious, even catastrophic heat-related events with school athletics, the American Academy of Pediatrics has revised its guidelines on heat and school athletes. They're published in this week's edition of the journal Pediatrics.

The recommendations focus on coaches and parents as well as kids. Authors of the statement believe heat-related illness can be prevented if school officials and adults are taught the risks of working out in high temperatures.

Football and heat: Who's at risk?

"Athletic directors, coaches, teachers and other adults who are overseeing children exercising in the heat should make themselves aware of ways to reduce the risk of heat illness, and they should develop an emergency action plan," said Dr. Cynthia Devore, co-author of the statement and chairperson of the AAP Council on School Health. "This is especially important as we head into high school preseason football."

FULL POST


Colon cleansing: Not so healthy, analysis says
August 1st, 2011
12:15 AM ET

Colon cleansing: Not so healthy, analysis says

It has been touted as a natural way to improve your heath and cleanse the soul. But doctors are now finding the procedure known as colon cleansing can cause dangerous side effects.

Colon cleansing, technically known as colonic hydrotherapy or colonic irrigation, is a popular treatment, usually performed at spas. It often involves the use of chemicals in the body and in hydrotherapy, the colon is flushed with water through a tube inserted in the rectum.

But oral home remedies are also available and have become popular, especially over the Internet. Now researchers from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. say there's no evidence any of these colon cleansing treatments work and, in fact, when used improperly can cause cramping, kidney failure and in some extreme cases, death.

FULL POST


Docs group urges mammograms every year starting at 40
July 20th, 2011
05:12 PM ET

Docs group urges mammograms every year starting at 40

In an effort to reduce breast cancer deaths, especially in young women, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists  on Thursday updated its breast screening guidelines.

The primary change is that now the doctors say mammography screening should be offered annually to women beginning at age 40. The previous ACOG guidelines recommended women have mammograms every one to two years, beginning at age 40 and then receive them every year, beginning at age 50.

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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