Latest scoop on coffee’s health benefits

By: Dr. Robert H. Shmerling

What a difference a few years can make. Not long ago, I was learning about the dangers of coffee — how it could raise your blood pressure, make your heart race, impair sleep, and maybe even cause cancer. Now, the World Health Organization (WHO) has taken coffee off the possible carcinogen list. And there’s increasing evidence that coffee might actually be good for you. So good that... READ MORE

New shingles vaccine boosts protection

By: Dr. Howard LeWine

Q: I recently read that the new shingles vaccine might be better than the older vaccine. I did have one shot of the older vaccine about seven years ago. Should I get this new one? A: Shingles is caused by the same virus — the varicella zoster virus — that causes chickenpox. Once you have had chickenpox, the virus that caused it remains alive inside your nerves. It is inactive, but it ... READ MORE

Palliative care is for anyone seriously ill

By: Jacob Strand, M.D

Dear Mayo Clinic: What’s the difference between palliative care and hospice care? Answer: People often confuse palliative care and hospice care, thinking they are the same thing. But they’re not. Palliative care focuses on improving quality of life for anyone who has a serious illness. Hospice care is a form of palliative care for people whose illness has advanced to the point... READ MORE

New injectable drugs reduce migraines

By: Marilynn Marchione

New, long-acting drugs may hold hope for millions of people who often suffer migraines. Studies of two of these medicines, given as shots every month or so, found they cut the frequency of the notoriously painful and disabling headaches. The drugs are the first preventive medicines developed specifically for migraines. They work by interfering with a substance involved in modifying nerve ... READ MORE

Maryland starts selling medical marijuana

By: Brian Witte

Maryland began the sale of medical marijuana to residents in pain in late November, ending years of delays by embarking on a program that features some of the most liberal policies in the nation on who can qualify for the prescribed cannabis. Dozens of people stood outside a licensed dispensary, Potomac Holistics in Rockville, where owners began making sales soon after receiving their... READ MORE

A new twist on DNA

By: Lauran Neergaard

It’s one of the first lessons in high school biology: All life is made up of four DNA building blocks known by the letters A, T, C and G. Paired together, they form DNA’s ladder-like rungs. Now there’s a new rung on that ladder. Scientists are expanding the genetic code of life, using man-made DNA to create a semi-synthetic strain of bacteria. And new research shows those... READ MORE