May 15th, 2014
05:44 PM ET
More than half of all young children in the United States attend a day care center or preschool, sometimes spending up to 50 hours a week at these facilities. Their parents should listen up:
A new study, published in the journal Chemosphere, finds these child care centers can host high levels of dangerous, flame-retardant chemicals.
Lead study author Asa Bradman recalls first learning about the dangers of some of these chemicals when he was in high school.
"You know, 35 years later, I'm surprised to find these materials in an environment where young children spend a lot of time," he said.
May 14th, 2014
02:24 PM ET
About half of all Americans take at least one prescription drug each month, and 10% take more than four, according to a new government report.
"Health, United States, 2013" is an annual report on the nation’s health prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. This year’s report includes a special section on prescription drugs.
Here are a few key facts from that section:
May 14th, 2014
09:39 AM ET
Ask the average person how to treat alcoholism, and they’ll probably describe an AA meeting or maybe a 30-day stint in a fancy rehab center. What won’t leap to mind, even for most experts, is medication.
That’s a missed opportunity, according to an analysis of more than 120 research studies that found that prescription medication helps addicts reduce their drinking and the associated harms.
Taken together, the studies involved 22,803 patients who abused alcohol. The bulk of the papers looked at the medications naltrexone or acamprosate. Both made addicts less likely to drink again and reduced the number of “drinking days” when they did relapse.
May 12th, 2014
05:24 PM ET
The antioxidant resveratrol does not improve longevity when consumed at levels naturally occurring in foods like grapes, red wine and dark chocolate, according to a new study published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
“We looked at the relationship between resveratrol levels and a lot of health outcomes that are thought to be related to resveratrol, such as cancer and heart disease and lifespan. And we found no relationship,” says Dr. Richard Semba, study author and professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
The potential health benefits of consuming moderate amounts of red wine have been much discussed ever since researchers identified the “French paradox” – an observation that the French have lower levels of heart disease despite consuming relatively high amounts of saturated fat.
May 12th, 2014
04:00 PM ET
In the workplace, fumes from solvents such as paints, glues, degreasers and adhesives have been implicated in cognitive damage - in other words, impaired thinking and memory abilities. Now, researchers report in the journal Neurology that the detriments linked to these chemicals might last many years.
"What it shows is that these chemicals might have more long-term effects than have previously been thought, and continue to affect people long after they are retired," said Erika Sabbath, research fellow at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies and lead author of the study.
A solvent is a substance used to dissolve another chemical. For instance, water dissolves salt. The solvents targeted in this study included benzene (found in detergents and plastics), chlorinated solvents (found in paint strippers and dry cleaning solutions) and petroleum solvents (found in varnish).
But note that researchers did not directly measure whether these chemicals cause brain damage. They simply found a statistical association between impairment on tests and exposure to chemicals. More research would be needed to prove that one directly results in the other.
May 12th, 2014
01:43 PM ET
Chemicals known as endocrine disruptors, commonly found in our food and products such as makeup, sunscreen and toothpaste, have been shown to cause fertility problems. Now scientists have a better understanding of why.
Researchers found endocrine disruptors can interfere with human sperm's ability to move, navigate and/or penetrate an egg. Their study results were published Monday in EMBO reports.
Wait, what's an endocrine disruptor?
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with your endocrine system - the system in your body that regulates hormones. These hormones control everything from your metabolism to your sleep cycle to your reproductive system, so messing with them can cause serious issues. FULL POST
May 9th, 2014
02:57 PM ET
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.
Don't fight for a longer life
If watching "The Real Housewives" franchise stresses you out, you may want to assess your real-life relationships.
Researchers in Denmark analyzed the effect of tense social situations on mortality in a large group of middle-aged men and women. They found people who frequently worried about or felt pressured by their partner or children, and those who had frequent conflicts in their relationships had a higher risk of dying in middle age.
Men, the study authors say, seemed to be particularly vulnerable to the effect. And the findings held true even if the study participants' fights were mostly with neighbors, not friends or family. FULL POST
May 9th, 2014
09:45 AM ET
More women over 35 are giving birth for the first time, according to a government study released Friday. The report, issued by the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looked at data compiled over the past four decades.
Among the findings:
May 6th, 2014
03:34 PM ET
Current and expectant parents may be interested a few of the many studies that have been released in recent days as researchers gathered for the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, the largest international meeting focused on research in children's health. The meeting, in Vancouver, British Columbia, ends Tuesday.
Here are some of the findings presented:
Not all parents are putting their babies 'back to sleep'
Since the early 1990's, the American Academy of Pediatrics has been recommending parents put their babies on their backs when they sleep to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). While the number of SIDS deaths has gone down, the CDC reports more than 2000 infants under the age of 1 died in 2010 as a result of SIDS.
However, a new study finds that the word hasn't gotten out to everyone that babies should sleep on their backs. Researchers presented their data on Saturday. They found that two-thirds of full-term babies in the United States sleep on their backs and less than half of preemies are put in what's officially called the supine sleep position (on the back). FULL POST
May 6th, 2014
09:07 AM ET
A vibrating capsule may provide relief for those who suffer from chronic constipation, according to a small study presented at Digestive Disease Week, an annual meeting of gastroenterologists, hepatologists, endoscopy specialists and GI surgeons.
Twenty-six study participants, who all suffer from chronic idiopathic constipation or constipation predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), were asked to take a vibrating capsule twice a week and then complete a questionnaire, according to the study, presented Saturday.
More than half of the 26 patients experienced an increase in bowel movements, says Dr. Yishai Ron, lead study author and director of Neurogastroenterology and Motility at Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. "The number of bowel movements rose from around two to nearly four bowel movements per week – this was an average figure.” Ron adds patients also saw a decrease in constipation symptoms. FULL POST
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.