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Will Facebook’s organ donor success stick?
June 18th, 2013
01:41 PM ET

Will Facebook’s organ donor success stick?

It seems we often hear of another patient who has been desperately waiting for a transplant that could save his or her life.

Earlier this month it was a 10-year-old girl in Pennsylvania hoping for a new set of lungs. Before that it was Molly Pearce, who needs four organ transplants to survive. In September a man walked the streets of his South Carolina town asking strangers for a kidney for his wife.

More than 118,000 people in the United States are currently awaiting organ donations, according to OrganDonor.gov; 18 of them die each day without a donation.

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is hoping to change that with the power of the world’s largest social networking site. On May 1, 2012, Facebook launched an initiative aimed at encouraging more people to register as organ donors.
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Your designated driver might have been drinking
A field sobriety test. A new study shows some "designated drivers" may have blood alcohol levels over the new recommended level for drunk driving, a new study shows.
June 10th, 2013
02:55 PM ET

Your designated driver might have been drinking

Maybe you’re better off taking the bus.

A new study in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that 35% of designated drivers - those responsible for driving friends who may have had too much to drink - also consume alcohol and 1 in 5 had blood-alcohol levels high enough to impair their driving.

Researchers interviewed and tested 1,100 people in the downtown area of an unnamed Southeastern college community.  Of the designated drivers who drank alcohol, half had blood alcohol levels higher than .05%, the new recommended limit for drunken driving (the current limit is .08%).

“If you look at how people choose their designated drivers, oftentimes they’re chosen by who is least drunk or who has successfully driven intoxicated in the past,” says Adam Barry, an assistant professor of health education and behavior at the University of Florida. “That’s disconcerting.”

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You're eating more calories than you think
May 23rd, 2013
06:31 PM ET

You're eating more calories than you think

Calorie counting has long been touted as an effective tool for losing pounds or maintaining a healthy weight. But new research published in the British Medical Journal shows many of us are underestimating the calories we're eating, especially when we visit fast food restaurants.

The study

Researchers interviewed more than 1,800 adults, 1,100 adolescents and 330 children at several fast food chains in New England. The interviews were done at McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, KFC, Dunkin' Donuts and Wendy's around dinnertime and lunchtime.

Study participants were asked to estimate their meal's calorie count. Researchers then collected the bill to later tally the correct amount of calories using nutrition info posted on the chain's website. FULL POST


Would you like 2 hours of exercise with that?
April 23rd, 2013
03:03 PM ET

Would you like 2 hours of exercise with that?

You walk into a fast food restaurant and examine the menu. You could get a salad with grilled chicken and dressing on the side. Or you could get a double cheeseburger.

Seeing the calories listed next to each item isn't likely to affect your decision, according to a new study being presented at the Experimental Biology 2013 meeting this week. But seeing the amount of time it would take you to work those calories off at the gym just might.

The study

Researchers at Texas Christian University asked 300 men and women aged 18 to 30 years to purchase food from one of three fast food menus. All of the menus contained the same options, including burgers, chicken tenders, salad, French fries and desserts.

One group's menu had no labels of any kind. The second group's menu was labeled with the total calories in each item. The third group's menu was labeled with the number of minutes of brisk walking it would take someone to burn off the calories in the meal.
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April 8th, 2013
01:10 PM ET

Some melanoma patients don't protect skin

Some melanoma patients may not be as cautious as they should be, according to a new study.  Doctors have found that more than a quarter of those with melanoma  – the deadliest form of skin cancer  – do not use sunscreen when outside for more than an hour, and many are still use tanning beds.  

“We were shocked," says Dr. Anees Chagpar, associate professor in the Department of Surgery at Yale School of Medicine and lead author of the study, “although we found that melanoma survivors did better than the general public at protecting their skin from the sun, we also found that more than a quarter of melanoma survivors never wear sunscreen. That blew my mind."

The research was presented the annual meeting of the American Academy of Cancer Research in Washington, D.C. on Monday.

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A health care tale of two counties
March 20th, 2013
07:11 AM ET

A health care tale of two counties

Two New York boroughs, Manhattan and the Bronx, are separated by just a few stops on the subway. Nonetheless, they are vastly different in key public health measurements.

The Bronx ranks dead last for health among all counties in New York, while Manhattan (also known as New York County) is near the top third. The rankings were based on rates of premature death and health-related quality of life. The list was recently compiled and updated for every county in every state by the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute.
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Electronic health records improve colon cancer screening rates
March 4th, 2013
05:01 PM ET

Electronic health records improve colon cancer screening rates

Centralized record-keeping systems may help improve rates of colon cancer screening, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Group Health Cooperative, a non-profit health care and insurance system in Washington state, used electronic health records to identify and monitor almost 5,000 patients who were due for a colon cancer screening but hadn't gotten it.

One group of patients received "normal care" - reminders from their doctor during appointments. A second group received a letter in the mail encouraging them to get screened; a third group got a call from a medical assistant on top of all of that, and a fourth group got a "patient navigator" to manage the screening process.

Each additional step increased the percentage of people who got screened, from 26% in the "normal" group to 65% in the patient navigator group.
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Task force: Evidence for Vitamin D, calcium supplements lacking
The task force found evidence that Vitamin D and calcium supplements increase the risk of developing kidney stones.
February 26th, 2013
10:49 AM ET

Task force: Evidence for Vitamin D, calcium supplements lacking

You’ve seen it added to cereal boxes, gallons of milk and bottles of orange juice. Experts tout its benefits – from strong bones to a strong immune system – and warn of the dangers of Vitamin D deficiency.

The public relations push is working; between 2002 and 2011, sales of vitamin D supplements increased from $42 million to $605 million, according to the Nutrition Business Journal.

New recommendations from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force could bump those sales even higher, or - if critics are right - confuse consumers as they head down the pharmacy aisle.

After completing a review of existing research, the USPSTF, an independent panel of doctors and experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine, is advising against taking moderate amounts of Vitamin D and calcium supplements because there is not enough evidence to prove the supplements reduce the risk of bone fractures.
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Researchers urge eye screening as early as age 1
Wanda Pfeifer uses a special purpose camera to screen children for amblyopia, also known as "lazy eye."
February 12th, 2013
11:53 AM ET

Researchers urge eye screening as early as age 1

How many times have you seen a young child with a patch over one eye or wearing glasses with one lens blocked and wondered why?  Chances are that child has something called amblyopia (sometimes called "lazy eye"), where one eye is not being used by the brain because it doesn't see as well.

After looking at more than 10 years of data, researchers now say children as young as a year old can be reliably screened for amblyopia; by using a camera that takes pictures of the eye, symptoms of the condition can be detected long before it becomes apparent, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

The goal is to identify children with this problem as early as possible, says lead study author Dr. Susannah Longmuir, "so we can start treatment before they have a problem or treat it before it gets worse."

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Flu vaccine poses no risk to unborn
January 16th, 2013
05:01 PM ET

Flu vaccine poses no risk to unborn

Fears and misconceptions often surround the flu vaccine: Does it really work? Will it make me sick? Could it hurt my baby?

Researchers from Norway say the last question was a big concern during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic; anecdotal reports of fetal deaths caused many pregnant women to avoid getting vaccinated despite health officials’ pleas.

To determine the accuracy of these reports, the Norwegian researchers analyzed data from more than 100,000 pregnancies during the 2009-2010 flu season. Their results were published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.
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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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