February 5th, 2013
01:11 PM ET

Cancer deaths fall for African-American men, disparities remain

The latest report on cancer among African-Americans shows a good-news, bad-news scenario. While racial gaps are closing for some types of cancers, including fewer cancer deaths among African-American men, disparities are increasing for some cancers that can be found through routine screenings.

The report

Every two years, the American Cancer Society reports on the latest data, based on reports from the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. The newest information includes data for the year 2009. This year’s report is published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. FULL POST

Hearing loss may push decline in memory, thinking
January 22nd, 2013
11:03 AM ET

Hearing loss may push decline in memory, thinking

Older Americans who have hearing loss have an accelerated decline in thinking and memory abilities, compared to those with normal hearing, according to a study published in JAMA Archives of Internal Medicine.

Those with hearing loss experience a 30% to 40% greater decline in thinking abilities compared to their counterparts without hearing loss, according to the findings published Monday.

Hearing loss is common among old older adults, affecting about two-thirds of adults 70 and older, and about one-third of adults younger than 60, according to lead study author Dr. Frank R. Lin of Johns Hopkins University.  A large number of people with hearing loss are untreated, Lin explained, because they associate hearing loss with the stigma of getting older.


Marijuana use holds steady among U.S. teens
December 19th, 2012
05:17 PM ET

Marijuana use holds steady among U.S. teens

Marijuana use is holding steady among eighth, 10th- and 12th-graders in the United States and tobacco smoking rates remain low.

Those are some of the results published in the annual Monitoring the Future study, a survey of more than 45,000 8th, 10th, and 12th graders from 395 public and private schools.  It was released Wednesday.

Each year, the survey gathers information from teens about their use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco, as well as asking them questions regarding their attitudes about the drugs. FULL POST

Doctors urged to intervene, prevent youth smoking
December 11th, 2012
11:50 AM ET

Doctors urged to intervene, prevent youth smoking

Primary care physicians should offer children and teens counseling and guidance to prevent them from starting smoking, according to draft guidelines issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

That’s a change from the group's 2003 guidelines, which found insufficient evidence to recommend for or against doctors taking actions to thwart tobacco use among younger patients.

Since then, “there were a bunch of new studies that were published throughout the last nine years that do point to a positive effect by primary physicians in their efforts to prevent tobacco initiation by kids,” explained USPSTF member Dr. David C. Grossman, a practicing pediatrician at the Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, Washington. FULL POST

Four things experts want you to know about your heart
November 9th, 2012
04:19 PM ET

Four things experts want you to know about your heart

The American Heart Association just concluded its annual "Scientific Sessions" conference, where heart experts gather to discuss and share findings about the latest treatments, procedures and studies about heart health and heart disease prevention.

While many of the presentations targeted doctors to improve their knowledge and understanding about keeping hearts healthy and treating heart disease, some the presentations included information to help consumers understand how to keep their hearts healthy.

Professor Donna Arnett is the current President of the American Heart Association and she's the first epidemiologist to lead the AHA. She discussed four things that heart experts want you to know, based upon information presented during the conference:

1. Don't rely on multivitamins to protect heart health. A large study of doctors found that taking a daily multivitamin didn't reduce major heart events such as heart attacks, stroke or death from heart disease. Many people take multivitamins under the false assumption that they will prevent heart disease or other medical conditions.

CDC: Teen drinking and driving rates cut in half
Drinking and driving among high-schoolers ages 16 to 19 dropped 54% between 1991 and 2011, the CDC says.
October 2nd, 2012
04:16 PM ET

CDC: Teen drinking and driving rates cut in half

The number of teenagers who are drinking and driving has dropped by 54% in the past two decades, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2011, when asked if they drink and drive, 90% of the high school students 16 and older surveyed by the CDC said they did not.

However, “motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death among teens in this country.  There are more than 2,000 teens aged 16-19 killed each year and many of those deaths are alcohol-related,” said CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. “Almost a million high school teens aged 16 and over drove after drinking alcohol in 2011 and we calculate that high school teens were responsible for about 2.4 million episodes of drinking and driving a month.”


Risks outweigh benefits for ovarian cancer screening
Only women with symptoms of ovarian cancer or a genetic predisposition should be screened, health care experts say.
September 10th, 2012
05:05 PM ET

Risks outweigh benefits for ovarian cancer screening

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has updated its recommendations on the effectiveness of routine screening for ovarian cancer, and continues to advise against routine screening for women without symptoms or a genetic predisposition to ovarian cancer. The recommendations were published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among women, and has the highest death rate of all gynecological cancers. More than 22,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, according to the American Cancer Society. While ovarian cancer can strike all women, the majority of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are over age 40, with the largest number of cases found in women over age 60, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Available screening methods include transvaginal ultrasonography and the CA-125 test which identifies blood proteins that can signal ovarian cancer. But other harmless or less harmful conditions can also increase CA-125 levels, including pregnancy, normal menstruation, uterine fibroids, cirrhosis and endometrial cancer. FULL POST

August 27th, 2012
10:52 AM ET

Summer snakebite safety

For many people, the warm weather of summer means being outdoors and enjoying hiking, camping, and other outside activities. That also means sharing time with critters such as mosquitoes, spiders and snakes.

More than 6,000 poisonous snake bites occur each year in the United States, but fewer than 12 of those bites result in death from snake venom poisoning, according to articles in The American Family Physician.

“Snake bites are unfortunately a common event in Georgia and the Southeast. In 2011, the poison center was contacted about 379 snake bites to people, and there were probably many more that didn’t get called in,” says Dr. Robert Geller, medical director of the Georgia Poison Control Center at Emory University. Geller says that’s a typical number of snake bites compared to previous years.


Study shows PTSD symptoms improve when substance abuse treatment added
A new study on PTSD and substance abuse treatment is "practice-changing," one expert says.
August 15th, 2012
03:49 PM ET

Study shows PTSD symptoms improve when substance abuse treatment added

Combining treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse resulted in improved PTSD symptoms without worsening symptoms of substance abuse, according to a study released Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings, explain the Australian researchers, are contrary to conventional wisdom on how to treat PTSD and substance abuse, which commonly co-exist in patients. The common belief, they explain, has been that using the so-called "gold standard" of PTSD treatment might exacerbate substance abuse by resurfacing negative memories.

Therefore, people with substance abuse and PTSD have commonly been excluded from prolonged exposure therapy-based PTSD treatments and clinical trials using exposure therapy.


Study: Stutterers' brains affected after 1 week of therapy
A small study shows a week of intensive therapy can result in reorganization in brain areas associated with stuttering.
August 9th, 2012
10:15 AM ET

Study: Stutterers' brains affected after 1 week of therapy

Just one week of intensive speech therapy can reduce stuttering and produce speech changes, indicating reorganization in brain areas associated with stuttering, a new Chinese study shows - literally, using brain imaging.

However, the Stuttering Foundation cautioned against the suggestion there is a “quick fix” for stuttering.

“It’s important that the public understands that suggesting that one week of therapy can reorganize the brain is not right,” cautioned Jane Fraser, president of the foundation.

“... A week of therapy can make changes but the key is having it last, and to us it won’t have any value unless we can see results three months later,” she said. "What's exciting is that it gets out to the public that when you work on this with therapy, there really are changes to the brain.”


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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.