5 studies you may have missed
January 31st, 2014
07:28 AM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

Two stressed-out people are better than one
Journal: Social Psychological and Personality Science

As much as you want to appear calm, cool and collected in front of your colleagues, sharing the stress of an upcoming presentation may help you chill.

Researchers at the USC Marshall School of Business asked 52 female undergraduate students to pair off and share their feelings about giving an upcoming speech. The scientists measured each student's level of the stress hormone cortisol before, during and after the speech.

January 30th, 2014
10:49 AM ET

Your kindergartner‎'s weight matters

The baby fat lingering around your 5-year-old's face (and tummy and thighs) may be an indicator of his or her weight for many years to come, a new study suggests. Children who enter kindergarten overweight are four times more likely than their normal weight peers to become obese by age 14, researchers say.

Though recent studies have shown signs of progress in the fight against childhood obesity, an estimated one out of every eight preschoolers in the United States is obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers are higher in African-American and Hispanic populations, at one in five and one in six, respectively.

The new study, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests a big part of a child's obesity risk is already established by age 5. Interventions to combat childhood obesity may need to focus on those children who are overweight early in life, the study authors say.

Best ways to prevent and treat the common cold
January 27th, 2014
01:59 PM ET

Best ways to prevent and treat the common cold

Although the world of medicine has made incredible progress when it comes to tackling certain illnesses, scientists still have not been able to find the cure for the common cold. But there are ways to prevent colds as well as treat them. The question is, which are the most effective?

According to a review in the recent edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, hand washing and possibly taking zinc seem to be the best ways to avoid getting sick. Investigators reviewed 67 randomized controlled trials that showed hand washing as well as alcohol disinfectants are the best ways to ward off colds.

Zinc was found to work mostly in children, with two trials showing that little ones who took 10 to 12 milligrams of zinc sulfate every day had fewer colds and fewer absences from school because of colds. Authors of the study suggest that zinc could work for adults. Vitamin C, the "gold standard" of cold fighters, did not seem as effective.


5 studies you may have missed
January 24th, 2014
08:51 AM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that might give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

Sunlight may lower blood pressure
Journal: Journal of Investigative Dermatology

Going outside and embracing the sun may come with unexpected health benefits, a new study suggests. But don't get so much direct exposure that you risk skin cancer.

Researchers looked at the benefits of radiation from the sun. Volunteers received a dose of ultraviolet-A radiation in a laboratory that was equivalent to being in the sun for 30 minutes in summertime in Southern Europe. FULL POST

Lower the thermostat, whittle your waistline?
January 22nd, 2014
12:01 PM ET

Lower the thermostat, whittle your waistline?

You may want to program the thermostat in your office down a couple of degrees today, despite the more-than-chilly temperatures outside. A paper published Wednesday in the scientific journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism suggests doing so could help you lose weight.

Regular exposure to mildly cold temperatures help people burn more calories, according to the paper's authors, who have been studying this phenomenon for more than a decade.

"Since most of us are exposed to indoor conditions 90% of the time, it is worth exploring health aspects of ambient temperatures," lead author Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt said. "What would it mean if we let our bodies work again to control body temperature?" FULL POST

Guns in home increase suicide, homicide risk
January 20th, 2014
05:05 PM ET

Guns in home increase suicide, homicide risk

Proponents of stricter gun laws have another headline to bolster their efforts: Access to firearms in the home increases the risk of violent death.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, in a review of previous studies published Monday, found strong evidence for increased odds of suicide and moderate evidence for increased odds of homicide victimization among people who keep guns at home.

Firearm ownership is more common in the United States (upwards of one-third of households) than in any other country – and firearms cause more than 31,000 deaths a year here, according to the review. Further, the annual rate of suicide by firearms in America is higher than in any other country with reported data; the annual rate of firearm-related homicides in America is the highest among high-income countries. FULL POST

'Routine' tonsillectomies not so routine
January 20th, 2014
11:18 AM ET

'Routine' tonsillectomies not so routine

When Jahi McMath suffered severe complications following a tonsillectomy, and doctors declared her brain dead, many parents were shocked.

More than 500,000 tonsillectomies are performed each year on children in the United States; it's the second most common pediatric surgery. But how routine are these procedures really?

Not so much, a new study published Monday in the scientific journal Pediatrics suggests. Researchers found the quality of care before, during and after a tonsillectomy varies greatly depending on the hospital.

When routine surgeries go wrong

"We were surprised at the degree of variation between hospitals in the use of medications ... and revisits to hospitals after the surgery for complications," said lead study author Dr. Sanjay Mahant.

5 studies you may have missed
January 17th, 2014
12:28 PM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week that can give you new insights into your health, mind and body. Remember, correlation is not causation – so if a study finds a connection between two things, it doesn't mean that one causes the other.

Drink up - you'll remember it later
Journal: Nature Neuroscience

If you're worried that drinking alcohol is hastening your memory loss, fear not. A new study suggests any caffeine you inhale the morning after will have the opposite effect.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University gave study participants 100 to 300 milligrams of caffeine after they looked at some images. Twenty-four hours later, those who got 200 or 300 milligrams of caffeine remembered the images better than participants who took a placebo.

The researchers concluded that caffeine can help strengthen our long-term memories.

Read more from The Atlantic

We may live longer because our metabolism sucks
Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Guess the monkeys will have to give up those bananas after all. An international team of scientists has discovered that primates burn about half the calories other mammals burn on a daily basis.

While the study was done on primates, researchers believe the findings translate to humans as well.

"The results were a real surprise," said lead study author Herman Pontzer, an anthropologist at Hunter College in New York. "To put that in perspective, a human – even someone with a very physically active lifestyle – would need to run a marathon each day just to approach the average daily energy expenditure of (another) mammal their size."

The researchers believe this slow metabolic rate may be the reason primates, including humans, live much longer than, say, dogs or hamsters. When the body expends energy, it ages. So slow growth may be linked to a long life.

Read more from Smithsonian Magazine

Stand up. We're serious this time
American Journal of Preventive Medicine

You've heard before that sitting all day is killing you. This study provides more evidence to back up that claim.

Researchers examined data from more than 92,000 postmenopausal American women. Those who reported more than 11 hours of sedentary time each day died earlier than peers who only reported four hours of inactivity. The sedentary group increased their risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and cancer by 13%, 27% and 21%, respectively, according to the study authors.

“In general, a use it-or-lose it philosophy applies,” said lead study author Rebecca Seguin. “We have a lot of modern conveniences and technologies that, while making us more efficient, also lead to decreased activity and diminished ability to do things. Women need to find ways to remain active.”

Read more from Cornell University

Choose wisely before giving birth
Journal: BMJ Open

Having a kid is expensive, but HOW expensive really depends on which hospital you choose, this study suggests.

Researchers analyzed the cost of more than 109,000 uncomplicated, vaginal and Caesarean section deliveries that took place in California hospitals in 2011. They found the cost for a vaginal birth can range anywhere from $3,296 to $37,227 and C-sections could cost you anywhere from $8,312 to $70,908.

The differences in price were "not well explained by observable patient or hospital characteristics," the study authors wrote.

Read more from Health.com

Don't name your kids Jayden, Jason and Jamie
Journal: PLOS ONE

Did your mom or dad accidentally call you by your sibling's name a lot as a kid? Did you feel like they loved your brother or sister more?

Psychologists at the University of Texas at Austin have learned it's not a Freudian slip that makes parents mistakenly call the wrong child's name. Couples with children whose names sound alike, either at the beginning or the end - think Amanda and Samantha - are more likely to make the switch.

It's all part of the brain's information-retrieval process, says lead study author Zenzi Griffin, and is more likely to happen if the siblings are closer in age or look alike.

Just be glad you weren't one of the 20 respondents who said they were called by the name of the family pet.

Read more from ScienceDaily

Studies link alcohol to early death, memory loss
January 15th, 2014
05:43 PM ET

Studies link alcohol to early death, memory loss

Nearly 80,000 people die as a result of drinking alcohol each year in North and Latin America, according to a new study published Tuesday in the Journal Addiction.

Researchers looked at alcohol as the cause of death by examining death certificates, over a two-year period in 16 North and Latin American countries. Men accounted for 84% of alcohol-related deaths.

Maristela Monteiro, study author and a senior advisor on alcohol and substance abuse at the Pan American Health Organization, says people are drinking too much and "it's killing people before they should be dying."

"These deaths are all 100 percent preventable," she says.  FULL POST

Vision, sound don't sync for some kids with autism, study suggests
January 14th, 2014
05:11 PM ET

Vision, sound don't sync for some kids with autism, study suggests

Watching a TV show where the words coming out of the actor's mouth are not synched with his lips can be very distracting.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University, in a study published Tuesday in The Journal of Neuroscience, suggest this is something some children with autism experience all the time, because they cannot simultaneously process what their eyes are seeing and their ears are hearing.

People with an autism spectrum disorder can have significant communication difficulties and exhibit repetitive patterns of behavior and social challenges. The American Psychiatric Association, which publishes the bible of all diagnostic criteria of mental disorders, says people with autism spectrum disorder "have communication deficits, such as responding inappropriately in conversations" (among other symptoms). Their new DSM 5 criteria fold symptoms of the disorders into two broad categories: Impaired social communication and restricted or repetitive patterns and behaviors.


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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.