August 13th, 2010
06:52 PM ET

Plant sprouts in man's lung

How can a pea grow in a man’s lung? That's been a water cooler topic for the better part of this week.  It happened to 75-year-old Ron Sveden,  who had a half-inch-long sprout removed from his lung, which was first reported by a 20-year-old news intern at the Cape Cod Times on August 8.

The story was picked up by TV stations, newspapers and websites around the world.


August 13th, 2010
05:36 PM ET

Emergency contraceptive approved by FDA

Ella, a prescription-only emergency contraceptive, has received final approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the drug's manufacturer HRA Pharma, announced Friday.

This is the first drug legally available for use in the United States that can be used within 120 hours, or five days, of unprotected intercourse or failure of some other contraceptive method. But the five-day morning after pill has been available in Europe since 2009 under the brand name ellaOne.

Women who are pregnant, or suspect they are pregnant, should not use this product, the FDA said. Women who are breastfeeding should also not use ella. Here's more labeling information from the FDA.

Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc. will begin preparations to commercialize the product in the fourth quarter this year, according to HRA Pharma.

Ella got a nod from FDA advisers in June. Here's more on this drug.

August 13th, 2010
05:24 PM ET

Good relationship with dad can help fight stress

Do you remember playing games with your dad or having heart-to-heart talks? For men, many years later, that turns out to be important. The relationship you had with your father, and the way that you treat your sons, may be more influential than you think.

A new study presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association reveals that men who had positive relationships with their fathers are better equipped to deal with the stress of everyday life than men who did not remember their dads fondly.

"A big take-home message is that if there is a father present in a child’s life, he needs to know how important it is to be involved," said Melanie Mallers of California State University, Fullerton.


August 13th, 2010
05:11 PM ET

Would you like a statin with that?

A new report in the American Journal of Cardiology suggests that fast food restaurants should offer statins – a popular class of cholesterol-lowering medications – alongside their unhealthy food.

"We propose that the fast food industry is well placed to offer advice and supplements to counteract the cardiovascular harm arising from the foods they purvey," the report said. "These companies already have an infrastructure for providing a variety of condiments... A generic statin could be added to the panoply of items in the self-service tray at little additional cost."

The study – which likened taking a statin before eating to putting on a bike helmet before biking – was based on analyses of other scientific studies, and concluded that taking the drugs could offset the risk of eating fast food just enough to render the food harmless.


August 13th, 2010
04:42 PM ET

Berkeley adjusts its freshman gene project

About 600 University of California, Berkeley’s incoming freshmen who submitted their saliva samples for a controversial genetic testing program will not receive their individual results, by order of the state’s public health department.

Berkeley’s class of 2014 were invited to send their saliva samples along with a signed consent form for a freshmen bonding and educational activity. Most colleges usually assign a summer reading.


August 13th, 2010
02:34 PM ET

Why stress, depression hurt fertility

I just saw a report from Dr. Sanjay Gupta about a new study showing that women with increased stress hormones are less likely than others to get pregnant. This made me think of other recent findings on how brain chemistry can affect your ability to conceive a child.

Basically, any changes related to increased activity of the body’s stress system make it harder to become pregnant. This makes a lot of sense from an evolutionary point of view. For most animals, and for humans until recently, stress meant that you were in danger of death. In these circumstances it makes a lot of sense for the body to adjust itself to focus its energy on survival rather than reproducing. Plus, why would one want to bring a child into the world in circumstances so dangerous that it is unlikely to survive?


August 13th, 2010
02:25 PM ET

Your thoughts on ADHD

Many CNN.com readers had strong views on the subject of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in response to my article. We received nearly 1,100 comments.

Our most "liked" comment (as chosen by readers) comes from JoelSP who wonders whether ADHD is a condition created for pharmaceuticals to treat:

At the risk of invoking the wrath of parents nationwide...When I was a kid in the 70's there was no such thing as ADHD and ADD. Or if there was, it got straightened out with a good smack on the butt. It blows my mind that after thousands of years of existence, all of a sudden humanity has evolved these new conditions in the past twenty years that, lo and behold, the pharmaceutical companies have a solution for. Which came first...the drug or the disease?


August 13th, 2010
10:20 AM ET

Empowered Patient viewer questions answered

It’s Empower Me Friday, when we answer your questions about how to get the most out of your health care. Here are two questions we’ve received in our Empowered Patient inbox:

I am a 41-year-old male that has no insurance and a family history of health issues. How do I go about getting a check-up?
San Diego, California

Carlos, one place to look is the Health Resource Services Administration, part of the Department of Health and Human Services. On the agency's website you can find federally funded health centers in your area that help people who are underinsured and uninsured, and you only have to pay what you can afford. They provide various services including checkups, treatment, immunizations, dental care and even help with prescription drugs. Just type in your ZIP code, and you’ll find a list of locations near where you live.

Here’s another question we received.

How do I know which hospitals have lower infection rates? How does one investigate a hospital's procedures so one is less likely to get MRSA and post-op infections?
Cincinnati, Ohio

Hospital acquired infections (HAI) are a serious problem, killing more than 99,000 people each year, according to the CDC. So, Ann, you have good reason to be concerned. Here are some resources. On the Safe Patient Project website – that’s a site formed by the Consumers Union to help reduce medical harm in our health care system –  you can view a state-by-state list of resources on hospital infections in your area.  Here’s where you can find the information on Ohio.  Consumer Reports also has this information on hospitals in 10 states that are publicly reporting the numbers of central-line-related bloodstream infections in their intensive-care units and the Leapfrog Group allows you to compare hospitals on various aspects including infection reduction and medical error prevention. The Department of Health and Human Services has a series of fact sheets about four categories of HAIs in acute care hospital settings. Finally, in our column Don't Let a Hospital Kill You, you can find a list of  tips to help reduce your risk of acquiring a hospital infection during surgery.

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.