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5 studies you may have missed
January 10th, 2014
01:53 PM 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.

1. Surgical glue may mend broken hearts
Journal: Science Translational Medicine

Doctors see a huge unmet need for better adhesives in medicine, says Jeff Karp, co-director of the Center for Regenerative Therapeutics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The current options include sutures, which can be time-consuming to insert, and staples, which can do significant damage.

Karp and colleagues wanted to develop a better adhesive solution for babies with congenital heart defects who require surgery. To create an adhesive that would work on a beating heart in the presence of blood, a material would have to be biodegradable, elastic and nontoxic.

Researchers turned to nature for answers, observing how creatures such as sandcastle worms and spiders "have secretions that enable them to attach to wet surfaces," Karp said.

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January 7th, 2014
04:27 PM ET

Anti-smoking efforts have saved 8 million lives

Fifty years ago, Surgeon General Dr. Luther Terry made a bombshell announcement: "The strongest relationship between cigarette smoking and health is in the field of lung cancer. There is a very strong relationship, and probably a causal relationship, between heart disease and cigarette smoking."

It was the first time a surgeon general said that smokers had a 70% greater chance of death and that heavy smokers were 20 times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers.

The landmark report launched one of the biggest public health campaigns in U.S. history, including warning labels on cigarettes, cigarette advertising banned on TV and radio, graphic public service announcements, and anti-smoking laws.

Now a new study in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association - which has devoted its entire issue to tobacco and smoking - estimates that tobacco control efforts since the first Surgeon General's report have added 20 years of life for 8 million Americans. Without tobacco control, half of those Americans would have died before the age of 65.
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Red light, green light: Food choice made easier
January 7th, 2014
08:01 AM ET

Red light, green light: Food choice made easier

What if eating healthy was as easy as playing your favorite childhood game?

In March 2010, Massachusetts General Hospital's cafeteria got an overhaul. Healthy items were labeled with a "green light," less healthy items were labeled with a "yellow light," and unhealthy items were labeled with a "red light." Healthier items were also placed in prime locations throughout the cafeteria, while unhealthy items were pushed below eye level.

The "Green Light, Red Light, Eat Right" method is a favorite among experts fighting childhood obesity. But doctors at Massachusetts General wanted to know if the colors could really inspire healthier eating habits among adults long-term.

The results of their study were published Tuesday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
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5 studies you may have missed
January 3rd, 2014
11:05 AM ET

5 studies you may have missed

Happy New Year! Here's a roundup of five medical studies published this week, while you were celebrating, 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.

Novice drivers susceptible to distractions
Journal: New England Journal of Medicine

Drivers put themselves at higher risk of crashing when they're multitasking, especially if they're new to driving, a new study finds.

Researchers found that when a novice driver dials a cell phone, he or she is eight times more likely to be involved in a crash or near-wreck than an alert teenage driver would be otherwise. An adult dialing a cell phone is 2.5 times more likely to get involved in a crash or near-crash than an alert adult who is not dialing.

"All drivers, but especially novice drivers, need to keep their eyes on the forward roadway to reduce their crash risk," said Charlie Klauer, research scientist at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, in an e-mail.

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Shingles may increase stroke, heart attack risk
January 2nd, 2014
04:01 PM ET

Shingles may increase stroke, heart attack risk

Having shingles, especially when you are younger, may increase your risk of having a stroke or heart attack later in life, according to a new study published this week in the online issue of Neurology.

Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's the same virus that causes chickenpox. Also called herpes zoster, shingles appears as a painful rash, which in some cases can lead to further infection if left untreated. Doctors say the virus remains dormant in the nerve roots of people who have had chickenpox; anyone who has the virus as a child may develop an outbreak of shingles later on.

In this study, British researchers looked at more than 105,000 people who had had shingles and more than 213,000 people who had not. They found people aged 18 to 40 who had shingles were more likely to have a stroke, warning stroke (also known as a transient ischemic attack), or heart attack later in life.
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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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