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Finding clues to Alzheimer’s in DNA
July 2nd, 2012
05:13 PM ET

Finding clues to Alzheimer’s in DNA

In what's being described as the largest, most complete genetic mapping project for a single disease, scientists Monday announced a plan to obtain the genetic make-up of more than 800 individuals enrolled in an Alzheimer’s research study.

The research will determine all 6 billion letters in each individual’s DNA. The new data – vast and shared worldwide with eligible researchers – may explain how genes cause changes in the body that lead people to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

“It’s probably dozens or scores of genes that are contributing to whether you get it and how severe it is in you,” said Dr. Robert Green, a physician-scientist at Harvard Medical School who is tasked with coordinating the genetic sequencing. “The genome is a complicated place. It’s not just about identifying a gene that puts you at risk. It’s about identifying other genes that modify those genes. It’s about identifying genes that protect you.”
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Weird science: Kitty litter increases risk of suicide?
July 2nd, 2012
04:47 PM ET

Weird science: Kitty litter increases risk of suicide?

A small subset of suicide attempts may be linked to an infection that starts in the litter box.  A new study suggests an association between Toxoplasma gondii and suicide attempts among women.

Interesting finding, to be sure, but how does one even begin to test a theory like this? Why in the world would anyone posit that kitty litter could be related to suicide attempts?

As it turns out, about one-third of the population is walking around right now with latent toxoplasma infection.  Most people will never know they have it - and most will not attempt suicide as a result of it. But the presence of T. gondii among women who attempted suicide raises interesting questions.

Those questions led senior study author, Dr. Teodor Postolache, to find out more. Postolache said he was at first puzzled by studies suggesting low-grade activity in the immune systems of suicide victims.

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Does your teen have a severe anger disorder?
July 2nd, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Does your teen have a severe anger disorder?

Teenagers are often characterized as over-emotional, prone to outbursts that confuse their parents and leave teachers reeling.

But a study published in the July issue of the journal Archives of General Psychiatry says 1 in 12 adolescents may in fact be suffering from a real and severe anger problem known as intermittent explosive disorder (IED).

Study author Katie McLaughlin, a clinical psychologist and psychiatric epidemiologist, says IED is one of the most widespread mental health disorders - and one of the least studied.

"There's a contrast between how common the disorder is and how much we know about it," she said.
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5 million babies born so far, thanks to IVF
July 2nd, 2012
03:29 PM ET

5 million babies born so far, thanks to IVF

When Louise Brown was born in 1978, she became the first baby conceived outside the womb, often referred to as a "test-tube" baby. 

Now, 34 years later, fertility experts estimate that 5 million children around the world have been the result of their parents using assisted reproductive technologies.  

The International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies, an independent, international non-profit organization that collects and disseminates world data, presented their estimates of successful births resulting from IVF and ICSI treatments at the 28th annual meeting of ESHRE, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, on Sunday.
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Coffee could cut skin cancer risk
July 2nd, 2012
07:52 AM ET

Coffee could cut skin cancer risk

Good news, java junkies: Researchers have found the more coffee you drink, the more you may be protecting yourself against skin cancer.

According to a new report published in the journal Cancer Research, drinking more caffeinated coffee could lower your chances of developing basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer.

Researchers analyzed data from the famous Nurses' Health Study on more than 112,000 people. One fourth of those studied had developed basal cell carcinoma over a 20 year period. Investigators found the more someone drank caffeinated coffee, (more than two cups a day) the lower their risk of developing this form of cancer.

Scientists noted caffeine seemed to be key factor, because tea, cola and chocolate, all of which contain caffeine also seemed to cut a person's risk.
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'Love for Alyssa': Examining arthrogryposis
July 2nd, 2012
07:35 AM ET

'Love for Alyssa': Examining arthrogryposis

Arthrogryposis has presented many challenges to Alyssa Jadyn Hagstrom. At just 8 years old, the condition has left her with no use of her legs and arms, and limited use of her fingers.

Alyssa is the subject of photographer Jennifer Kaczmarek’s exhibition called “Love for Alyssa,” which aims to use photography, video and an online blog to raise funds for Alyssa’s and others’ medical needs. The project has put a spotlight on the little-known condition.

Arthrogryposis causes limited range of motion in children’s joints and affects one in 3,000 infants, according to Donald Bae, an orthopedic surgeon at Boston Children’s Hospital.
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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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