November 28th, 2012
05:00 PM ET
That cigarette may be doing more damage than meets the eye. If you’ve been smoking for an extended period of time, you’re likely familiar with at least some – if not all – of the bodily symptoms associated with smoking, including but certainly not limited to: Cravings, coughing, shortness of breath and changes to teeth, hair and skin. Coronary heart disease and/or lung cancer might not be far behind.
But a new study published in the journal Age & Ageing concludes that smoking can damage your mind, too. A consistent association was observed between smoking and lower cognitive functioning, including memory.
The bottom line: Smoking and long-term high blood pressure appear to increase the risk of cognitive decline. FULL POST
November 6th, 2012
05:02 PM ET
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
August 29th, 2012
01:01 PM ET
Calorie restriction has long been used to examine aging in rodents and monkeys. Past studies have shown that restricting calories in a nutritious diet by 10 to 40% can delay or prevent chronic diseases, slow aging and increase life spans.
But new research published this week in the journal Nature shows quite the opposite – that calorie restriction does not improve survival outcomes. Turns out, the issue may be more complicated than first thought.
Researchers at the National Institute of Aging have been studying the effects of calorie restriction in rhesus monkeys for more than 20 years in hopes of eventually applying the results to humans.
Male and female monkeys of all ages are enrolled in the study. The experimental group eats approximately 25% fewer calories than the control group. Any animal that dies during the study undergoes a necropsy (an autopsy performed on an animal) to find the probable cause of death.
August 17th, 2012
09:26 AM ET
A group of 80-year-olds is making scientific waves because of an uncanny ability to age gracefully, from a cognitive standpoint. The moniker they've been given by scientists is "SuperAgers," because as they age, their brains seem immune to typical declines in thinking and memory.
"We know that as we age, our cognitive skills decline, and there's also a change in the amount of brain matter," said Emily Rogalski, assistant research professor at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. "Then there are these people over 80 who seem particularly sharp and somehow resist changes in memory when they age."
That resistance to memory changes means identifying what makes someone a "SuperAger" is important because of the insight their brains could provide for their cognitive opposites, those who suffer with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.
April 27th, 2012
07:21 AM ET
Sweet tooth? You’re not alone. Sugary foods and beverages are delicious. But we’ve also learned they can be highly addictive and, too much of them, can take a serious toll on our health.
Today some of our favorite drinks, gum, baked goods, and candy are available in sugar-free versions. But that got me thinking... are sugar substitutes any better for you than the real thing? I was not alone on this issue. I’ve received dozens of tweets and emails wondering if fake sugar can harm us, or worse, crave more food!
For some answers I turned to internist and physician nutrition specialist, Dr. Melina Jampolis. Her specialty is practiced by only 200 physicians in the United States. She focuses exclusively on nutrition for weight loss and disease prevention and treatment.
July 25th, 2011
03:25 PM ET
It sounded like a breakthrough when researchers from Boston University reported that they had identified genes associated with living to 100 or even longer. The findings, reported in the well-respected journal Science in July 2010, received a great deal of publicity.
But now, after coming under intense criticism, the study authors have retracted their findings because their results aren't as dramatic as initially thought.
June 15th, 2011
04:54 PM ET
You may have read that many counties in the United States lag behind some of the top nations of the world in terms of life expectancy and, especially for women, it doesn't appear to be substantially increasing over time.
The United States consistently falls behind other industrialized countries in this department, despite spending more on health care than any other nation.
Experts point to smoking and obesity as possible explanations. In fact, Columbia University's Frank Lichtenberg told CNN in 2009 that "Americans would be living six months longer today than they currently are if obesity had not increased as much as it has since 1991."
May 11th, 2011
08:59 AM ET
The secret to longevity may be found deep in the branches of your family tree. An intriguing new study completed at the University of Utah finds that pioneer women who had twins lived longer than their counterparts who gave birth to only one baby at a time. And that, experts say, could help us understand aging today.
January 27th, 2011
09:16 AM ET
With plenty of food, more money spent on health care and modern medical innovations, it seems as if we should be living longer.
But compared to our international counterparts, we aren't. Americans lag behind other industrialized countries including Australia, Canada, Japan and France, in life expectancy.
A new report from the National Research Council finds that Americans fall short on life expectancy compared with other high-income countries because of two vices – smoking and obesity.
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.