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CDC: Breast cancer more deadly in black women
November 14th, 2012
06:02 PM ET

CDC: Breast cancer more deadly in black women

While breast cancer is still the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer among American women, the number of patients dying from the disease continues to decline.  That's the good news;  the bad news is that those statistics do not look so good for African-American women.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that large gaps between black and white women in terms of mortality and stage of diagnosis continue to persist.

Black women still have a disproportionately higher breast cancer death rate - 41% higher than white women. This finding is based on 2005 to 2009 data, showing that even though African-American women have a lower incidence of breast cancer, they are more likely to die of this disease than women in any other racial or ethnic group. FULL POST


November 14th, 2012
08:16 AM ET

Parkinson's didn't stop his space walk

Editor's note: In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed.  As a teenager Rich Clifford dreamed of being an astronaut. After a successful career in the army, his dream of traveling into space came true.  Then he was diagnosed with a serious brain disorder - a secret he kept for 15 years.

It had been a little more than four months since completing my second space shuttle mission, STS-59, on the shuttle Endeavour.

I was finishing my annual flight physical at the Johnson Space Center Flight Medicine Clinic.  The words from the flight surgeon were as expected: I was in great condition with nothing of note.  Then I asked the doctor to look at my right shoulder because my racketball game was suffering.

He asked if I had pain. I told him I wasn't in pain, but my right arm did not swing naturally when I walked. This comment must have set off some alarm because he observed my walk down the hall and quickly said he would take me downtown to the Texas Medical Center the next day.
FULL POST


Global warming may bring pollen onslaught
November 13th, 2012
12:21 PM ET

Global warming may bring pollen onslaught

Climate change, we've all heard, is problematic. Major shifts in climate patterns in the future may affect the spread of disease, devastate coastal areas and cause the extinction of some of our beloved species of wildlife. It may even contribute to future violence.

But if Superstorm Sandy didn't bring climate change concerns home for you, here's something else that might: Allergy mayhem.

New research presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) conference last week suggests that pollen counts are going to get a lot worse in the next 30 years. Dr. Leonard Bielory showed predictions that pollen counts will more than double by 2040.

FULL POST


Link between autism and infections during pregnancy explored
November 12th, 2012
02:57 PM ET

Link between autism and infections during pregnancy explored

If a mother has an infection or the flu during pregnancy, can it raise the risk of autism for her child? A new study out of Denmark suggests that the answer is "probably not" and "maybe" and that the issue definitely needs more study.

"Overall, we found little evidence that various types of mild common infectious diseases or febrile episodes during pregnancy were associated with ASD/infantile autism (autism spectrum disorders)," the study authors wrote.

But they also say their data suggest there are three scenarios in which there might be an increased risk of the child developing autism. If the mother had the flu, there was "a two-fold increased risk of infantile autism; if the mom had "prolonged episodes of fever" (lasting a week or more), the risk goes up threefold; "and use of various antibiotics during pregnancy were potential risk factors for ASD/infantile autism."  

But the study authors also concede that the results may be skewed by multiple testing, contributing to the potential for “chance findings.” FULL POST


Children's headaches rarely linked to vision problems
November 12th, 2012
09:02 AM ET

Children's headaches rarely linked to vision problems

If your child gets recurring headaches and you think they might need glasses, you may be mistaken - a new study says children's headaches are rarely triggered by vision problems.

The study, presented Monday at the American Academy of Ophthalmology's annual meeting, was conducted by researchers at the ophthalmology clinic of Albany Medical Center in New York. They evaluated medical records of nearly 160 children under the age of 18 who were being seen at the clinic for frequent headaches.

FULL POST


Four things experts want you to know about your heart
November 9th, 2012
04:19 PM ET

Four things experts want you to know about your heart

The American Heart Association just concluded its annual "Scientific Sessions" conference, where heart experts gather to discuss and share findings about the latest treatments, procedures and studies about heart health and heart disease prevention.

While many of the presentations targeted doctors to improve their knowledge and understanding about keeping hearts healthy and treating heart disease, some the presentations included information to help consumers understand how to keep their hearts healthy.

Professor Donna Arnett is the current President of the American Heart Association and she's the first epidemiologist to lead the AHA. She discussed four things that heart experts want you to know, based upon information presented during the conference:

1. Don't rely on multivitamins to protect heart health. A large study of doctors found that taking a daily multivitamin didn't reduce major heart events such as heart attacks, stroke or death from heart disease. Many people take multivitamins under the false assumption that they will prevent heart disease or other medical conditions.
FULL POST


5 things you need to know about thyroid cancer
"Dancing With the Stars" host Brooke Burke-Charvet revealed this week she has thyroid cancer.
November 9th, 2012
12:32 PM ET

5 things you need to know about thyroid cancer

"Dancing with the Stars" host Brooke Burke-Charvet revealed Thursday she’s battling thyroid cancer via The ModernMom’s YouTube channel.

She says had no clue she had cancer - it was discovered during a routine physical.

"Doctors say this is a good kind of cancer to have. A good cancer ... that sounds so crazy," she says in the video. She says she is feeling great and is not going to let her diagnosis define her. "I'm going to make a positive out of this negative thing."

We strongly believe knowledge is power and that it's critical to be an Empowered Patient. So here are five things to know about thyroid cancer.

1. Women are more likely to get thyroid cancer then men. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2011 there were just over 48,000 new cases of thyroid cancer. Of those, 36,550 were in women and 11,470 were in men. Doctors aren't sure why.

2. It also impacts younger people. Nearly two out of three thyroid cancer cases are found in adults under 55. While it can occur at any age, women's risk peaks typically in their 40s or 50s, while the risk peaks for men usually in their 60s or 70s.

3. It tends not to be an "obvious" cancer. As was the case for Burke-Charvet, for most people there are no obvious symptoms. But over time as the cancer grows, according to the Mayo Clinic, it may cause symptoms ranging from a lump on your neck to difficulty swallowing to changes in your voice.

4. There are more cases now than there were 20 years ago. The number of thyroid cancer diagnoses have more than doubled since 1990. Why? According to the ACS, some of it is the result of the increased use of ultrasound, which can detect tiny nodules on the thyroid that might have been missed in the past.

5. The survival rate is high. Burke-Charvet says in her video that her doctor told her, "this is a happily-ever-after-ending kind of thing." If caught early, the survival rate is nearly 100%. But not everyone survives. Around 1,700 people do die, mostly because their cancer was caught in the late stages.

As for Burke-Charvet, she says that she will soon undergo a thyroidectomy which will remove her thyroid and leave a scar across her neck.


November 9th, 2012
09:43 AM ET

Healing wounds, one tattoo at a time

Editor's note: In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed. Basma Hameed was severely burned as a toddler and lived with visible scars for a long time.  Then she found tattoos and a way to help others overcome their pain. 

After 16 years of constant surgeries and pain, nothing can compare to the pain of people's stares and comments.  Imagine going through so many surgeries, then meeting someone and the first thing they say is: "What happened to your face? Have you tried surgery?"

People could not accept my scars and the main reason was because I had not accepted them myself.  I couldn't accept that this accident did happen to me and this is my face forever.

I was in denial for so many years. I would lock myself in my bedroom and did not want to go outside because I was not comfortable with everyone's reactions.

I did not have anyone I could relate to growing up, and I did not look like what the media portrays as "beautiful."  I believed that if  you didn't look a certain way, then you could not be accepted and were not "normal." FULL POST


Home pregnancy tests may detect men's cancer
November 8th, 2012
04:34 PM ET

Home pregnancy tests may detect men's cancer

If you've been near social media or on the Internet, you may be aware of the buzz over posts claiming a teenage boy took a home pregnancy test as a joke, received a positive result, and wound up being diagnosed with testicular cancer.

CNN interviewed a girl who identified herself as a friend of the 17-year-old, but was not able to independently confirm the posts.

However, it's true home pregnancy tests can detect some types of testicular cancer in men, experts say - but the tests would not be useful as a screening tool.

FULL POST


Exercise lengthens your life - even if you're overweight
November 6th, 2012
05:02 PM ET

Exercise lengthens your life - even if you're overweight

Add this to the list of reasons why exercise is good for you: A new study says 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, leisure time exercise is associated with roughly 3.4 years added to a person's life.

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, and other organizations analyzed six different prospective cohort studies of more than 632,000 people ages 40 and older. The studies had a median follow-up period of 10 years, with roughly 82,000 reported deaths. Regular, moderate intensity exercise was associated with an increased life expectancy, even when the person exercising had an unhealthy Body Mass Index (BMI).

Dr. I-Min Lee, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the senior author of the study, says that not exercising but having a healthy weight was associated with 3.1 fewer years of life, compared to obese people who were active. Conversely, people who exercised 150 minutes a week and had a healthy BMI gained an extra 7.2 years of life. FULL POST


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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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