Anne Underwood

Stories by Anne Underwood

  • Wake-Up Call

    Lori Cox didn’t remember ordering the ring she had just got in the mail. But her phone records said otherwise, showing she’d made a middle-of-the-night call to a home-shopping channel. Even worse, she also discovered she’d made cell-phone calls to her ex-boyfriend in her sleep. And a few times, she woke up to find empty beer bottles and cracker crumbs in her kitchen—evidence of predawn snacks she didn’t remember eating.  “It’s scary,” she says. “One side of your brain is asleep and the other side is directing you into this secret life.”What caused the odd behavior? Cox believes she has found the answer: Ambien. Cox began taking the sleep medication a year ago, after a traumatic breakup with her longtime boyfriend kept her awake at night. Until recently, Cox thought she was alone with her odd nocturnal habits. But recent weeks have seen a spate of reports about patients blaming strange behavior on America’s most popular sleep aid. Some patients drove in their sleep and ended up in...
  • Health: Getting Ready for Bird Flu

    Nigeria, India, Germany, France... Avian flu has been spreading rapidly among birds, increasing concerns about a possible human pandemic. How could the U.S. be more prepared? Stockpiles of Tamiflu and the development of a trial vaccine are a good start, but researchers say other experimental treatments could ultimately prove even more useful--provided the small biotech companies developing them can successfully usher them though clinical trials and bring them to market in time. Some examples: ...
  • Health: A New Booster Club

    So you're taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, and you've got your LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, way down. Congratulations! But if you want to reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes, it's also important to raise low levels of HDL, the artery-clearing "good" cholesterol. "The problem is, raising HDL is hard to do--and the existing drugs have side effects," says Dr. Dennis Goodman, former chief of cardiology at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif.What's the solution? You could eat right, exercise, lose weight and quit smoking--all proven methods. But a new product called HDL Booster, developed by Goodman, might help, too. Available at HDLBooster.com , the formula contains 20 vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants--from garlic to coenzyme Q10--that appear to benefit the heart in scientific studies. Does it work? There are no placebo-controlled trials to tell for sure. But in a pilot study at Scripps, patients increased their HDL up to 23 percent in six months, with...
  • The Nature of Nutrients

    It sounds like a simple question of logic. If bones require calcium, then people who eat a lot of calcium-rich dairy products should have extra-strong bones, right? So why are hip fractures uncommon in Singapore, where adults don't drink milk, while they soar in dairy-loving Scandinavia? "Countries with higher calcium intakes have the highest fracture rates, not the lowest," says Dr. Walter Willett, chair of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. It's the Calcium Conundrum.Scientists have identified nearly 40 vitamins and minerals that the body needs for various tasks, from shoring up bones to bolstering the immune system and repairing cellular damage. But as the Calcium Conundrum suggests, they work more subtly than drugs. Instead of delivering predictable effects at particular doses, they team up in complex ways that we're just beginning to understand. Forgo your daily orange for a vitamin C pill, and you will miss out on other compounds that protect the heart, fight...
  • Diagnosis: Not Enough Nurses

    When Liz Tattersall first considered nursing, it sounded like a great career. It was rewarding, remunerative and in high demand. But after six years as a triage nurse at a community clinic in New London, Conn.--with dozens of charts on her desk at a time, phones ringing constantly, patients in the waiting room with guns and knives--she had burned out. "I brought the stress home with me every night," she says. "I was a disaster." Like growing numbers of her colleagues, she decided to explore one of the many other career paths open to nurses, from teaching to evaluating insurance claims. She went to work for a drug company.Tattersall is not alone. Multiply her story by thousands of nurses across the country who've left the profession, and you can see why 30 U.S. states today have nursing shortages. It's only going to get worse. By 2020, the government projects, 44 states plus the District of Columbia will have shortfalls. That's cause for real concern. Nurses are the key to safety in...
  • Tracking Disease

    Protection of the environment often seems like a low-priority issue when stacked up against more immediate concerns. But a healthy environment is no mere luxury, says Mary Pearl, president of the Wildlife Trust. It is a prerequisite for human health. Pearl and her colleagues spearheaded the development of "conservation medicine"--a scientific exploration of the links between the health of humans, wildlife and ecosystems. Among the trust's current projects: a collaboration to monitor the spread of avian flu among wild birds. The trust's Consortium for Conservation Medicine has also been making headlines. Last month Science magazine published research by an international team of scientists, including Peter Daszak and Jonathan Epstein at the consortium, showing that severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, originated in Chinese horseshoe bats.Pearl spoke in New York recently with NEWSWEEK's Anne Underwood. Excerpts: ...
  • Mary Pearl

    Protection of the environment often seems like a low-priority issue when stacked up against more immediate concerns. But a healthy environment is no mere luxury, says Mary Pearl, president of the Wildlife Trust. It is a prerequisite for human health. Pearl and her colleagues spearheaded the development of "conservation medicine"--a scientific exploration of the links between the health of humans, wildlife and eco-systems. Among the trust's current projects: a collaboration to monitor the spread of avian flu among wild birds and research uncovering the origin of SARS. Pearl spoke recently with newsweek's Anne Underwood. Excerpts: ...
  • The New Superfoods

    To say that Dr. Steven Pratt is passionate about food would be an understatement. To Pratt, coauthor of the 2004 best seller "SuperFoods Rx," food choices aren't about anything as trivial as personal tastes. They're life-or-death decisions. Choose well, and you may ward off cancer and heart disease. Chow down on "processed crud," as he calls it, and you might as well reserve a handicapped space at the hospital. Tip Sheet went grocery shopping with Pratt in California to see how he puts together his own healthy menu--and to get a sneak preview of some of the new power foods in his upcoming book, "SuperFoods HealthStyle," due out in January. Among his picks: ...
  • The Race Against Avian Flu

    In the calendar of natural calamities, flu season follows hurricane season, peaking in midwinter. Last week, with New Orleans still mostly uninhabitable, Washington was turning its attention to the threat posed by an exceptionally lethal strain of flu virus that could, in the worst case, kill as many people in a few months as AIDS has done in two decades. This time officials were resolved not to repeat the mistakes of Katrina, leaving the way open to make new mistakes. We now know better how to evacuate large cities--but how much good will that do in an emergency that calls for a quarantine instead?At least no one could accuse the government of downplaying the threat: President Bush himself raised the possibility of using the military to contain a flu outbreak, while the Senate voted to spend $4 billion on preparations. Researchers have developed a promising vaccine that is now beginning large-scale production. But new fears arose last week when scientists announced they had...
  • The Good Heart

    DIET AND EXERCISE ARE NOT THE WHOLE SECRET TO CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH. MOUNTING EVIDENCE SUGGESTS THAT YOUR PSYCHOLOGICAL OUTLOOK IS JUST AS IMPORTANT
  • Nature's Design Workshop

    If we have Batman and Spider-Man, why don't we have any mussel superheroes?" asks biochemist Herbert Waite of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Mussels may not be the biggest or the flashiest of sea creatures. But they do one thing exceedingly well. They make a glue that lets them anchor themselves firmly to a rock and remain there--drenched by water, buffeted by the ocean's waves. "I don't know any other adhesive that can do that," says Waite.In fact, nature can accomplish feats that engineers have only been able to dream of until now. But as scientists peer deeper into the cellular and molecular workings of nature, engineers are starting to find information they can apply to everything from advanced optics to robotics--even a mussel-inspired glue that could one day be used to repair shattered bones. The result is a new field called biomimicry, or biologically inspired design. And though nature's innovations often need radical adaptation to suit human purposes, the new...
  • A DREAM BEFORE DYING

    As a hospice chaplain for 10 years, the Rev. Patricia Bulkley confronted the raw emotions of the dying--their terror at the approaching end, their unresolved family problems, their crises of faith. They were people like Charles Rasmussen, a retired merchant-marine captain in his mid-80s who was dying of cancer. He was consumed by fear until, in a dream one night, he saw himself sailing in uncharted waters. Once again, he felt the thrill of adventure as he pushed through a vast, dark, empty sea, knowing he was on course. "Strangely enough, I'm not afraid to die anymore," he told Bulkley after that dream. Death was no longer an end, but a journey.As Bulkley reveals in a slender but powerful new book, "Dreaming Beyond Death," many people have extraordinary dreams in their final days and weeks. These dreams can help the dying grapple with their fears, find the larger meaning in their lives, even mend fences with relatives. Yet all too often, caregivers dismiss them as delusional or...
  • WE NEED TO COOL IT

    In 1997, Eileen Claussen, a former assistant secretary of State and onetime EPA official, received an intriguing call from officials at the Pew Charitable Trusts: if they wanted to spend a lot of money to address global warming, how should they spend it? Claussen drew up a blue-print--collect scientific data, search out practical solutions, get businesses onboard, work with policymakers. In May 1998, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change was launched with Claussen as president. Since then, she has been a forceful advocate for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and has reached out to corporations, states, cities and members of Congress to help develop clean-energy policies. Claussen spoke recently with NEWSWEEK's Anne Underwood.UNDERWOOD: Is there any doubt now that global warming exists?CLAUSSEN: Let me put it this way. A few determined skeptics don't accept it, but the overwhelming majority of scientists do. When President Bush took office, he asked the National Academy of...
  • QUIETING A BODY'S DEFENSES

    A decade ago, the cause of Meta Kiss's heart attack might have been written off as a medical mystery. The 59-year-old homemaker had never smoked, weighed in at a slender 119 pounds and had fabulous cholesterol readings, with her good cholesterol actually surpassing the bad. And there was no history of heart disease in her family. So what put her at risk for the heart attack she suffered in 2000? To Eric Matteson, one of her doctors at the Mayo Clinic, the answer leapt right out. "She had rheumatoid arthritis," he says.If the two conditions sound unrelated, that's because most of us are just now awakening to the risks of chronic inflammation. A decade ago, researchers were blaming oxidative damage for everything from cancer to heart disease. Now chronic, low-grade inflammation is seizing the spotlight. "Inflammation is the evil twin of oxidation," says neuroscientist James Joseph of Tufts University. "Where you find one, you find the other." That would include not only such obvious...
  • 7 WAYS TO SAVE A BRAIN

    Elisabeth Harvey, 85, is not your typical Alzheimer's patient. Sure, she reads the daily newspapers, forgetting that she just read them. But five years after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, she still lives at home, dresses herself and fixes her own lunch. What's more, her cognitive-test scores have not declined in over two-and-a-half years. "That's unheard of," says neuropsychologist Paul Solomon of the Memory Clinic in Bennington, Vt. How is it possible? In late 2002, Solomon enrolled Harvey in a trial for an experimental drug called Alzhemed, which she's taken ever since, along with the standard Alzheimer's drug Aricept. "Not everyone in the trial performed as well as she did," Solomon cautions. But still, he has to credit the test treatment. If not for the drug, he says, Harvey might well be in a nursing home by now.Alzheimer's is a progressive, devastating and incurable illness. It afflicts some 4.5 million Americans at a cost of $100 billion a year. That number is...
  • WHEN CULTURES CLASH

    Urdu, Mandarin, Haitian Creole... By the thousands each week, they pass through the doors of Elmhurst Hospital in a part of New York City that is home to perhaps a greater diversity of foreign-born immigrants than any comparable community in the world.Spanish, Korean, Albanian...A broken bone is the same in any language, but not so diabetes or hypertension--abstractions for which many people do not have words. The very concept of organic illness varies from culture to culture. If you were brought up to believe that your symptoms arise from sorcery or from something you did in a previous life, you might not grasp the necessity for a course of chemotherapy whose most immediate and obvious effect will be to make you feel a hundred times worse. And if well-educated people in New York, Paris or Singapore sometimes find it hard to keep track of the complicated regimen of medications for, say, heart failure and diabetes together, it surely is no easier for a Pashto speaker relying on her...
  • DESIGNING THE FUTURE

    Imagine buildings that generate more energy than they consume and factories whose waste water is clean enough to drink. William McDonough has accomplished these tasks and more. Architect, industrial designer and founder of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry in Charlottesville, Va., he's not your traditional environmentalist. Others may expend their energy fighting for stricter environmental regulations and repeating the mantra "reduce, reuse, recycle." McDonough's vision for the future includes factories so safe they need no regulation, and novel, safe materials that can be totally reprocessed into new goods, so there's no reason to scale back consumption (or lose jobs). In short, he wants to overhaul the Industrial Revolution--which would sound crazy if he weren't working with Fortune 500 companies and the government of China to make it happen. The recipient of two U.S. presidential honors and the National Design Award, McDonough is the former dean of architecture at the...
  • TRAVEL: GO WEST, TOURISTS

    Did you ever wonder how Lewis and Clark survived their famished trek through the Rocky Mountains? Or what encounters they had with Native Americans? This summer is a good time to find out. Now at its midpoint, the 200th anniversary of the 1803-1806 expedition just launched its current season of events. A band of re-enactors (led by Clark's great-great-great-grandson) is retracing the explorers' 1805 path from North Dakota to Oregon. There will be hundreds of events along the way (lewisandclark200.org). But the highlights will be Montana's festivities in June--with hiking and canoe trips, concerts, lectures and a powwow with nine tribes (explorethebigsky.com)--and the party's arrival at the West Coast in November (destinationthepacific.com). Or strike out on your own with Julie Fanselow's "Traveling the Lewis and Clark Trail." It's the next best thing to take along, after Sacagawea.
  • WHEN CULTURES CLASH

    Urdu, Mandarin, Haitian Creole... By the thousands each week, they pass through the doors of Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, the borough of New York City that contains Kennedy airport and is home to perhaps a greater diversity of foreign-born immigrants than any comparable community in the nation or the world.Spanish, Korean, Albanian... A broken bone is the same in any language, but not so diabetes or hypertension--abstractions for which many people do not have words. The very concept of organic illness varies from culture to culture. If you were brought up to believe that your symptoms arise from sorcery or from something you did in a previous life, you might not grasp the necessity for a course of chemotherapy whose most immediate and obvious effect will be to make you feel a hundred times worse. And if well-educated Americans sometimes find it hard to keep track of the complicated regimen of medications for, say, heart failure and diabetes together, it surely is no easier for a...
  • DOES CRAZY = SUCCESS?

    Do a Google search for "manic" and "businessman"--and you get nearly 18,000 hits. A psychologist at Johns Hopkins Medical School thinks he knows why. It's not just that these folks are go-getters. According to clinical assistant professor John Gartner, many U.S. entrepreneurs actually meet the diagnostic criteria for hypomania, a mild form of mania characterized by restlessness, creativity, grand ambitions, euphoria, risk-taking and impulsivity.Not that this is a bad thing. In Gartner's new book, "The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (a Little) Craziness and (a Lot of) Success in America," he argues that the dynamic business environment of this country over the last 200 years has been due largely to people with hypomania. Gartner cites historical figures like Alexander Hamilton and filmmaker Louis B. Mayer, as well as modern genome decoder Craig Venter. "They may be our greatest natural resource," he writes, for these are precisely the people who have the zeal and arrogance to...
  • The Gift Of Adhd?

    Sam Grossman grew up thinking he was stupid, lazy and irresponsible--"a screw-up," as he puts it. Struggling with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), he constantly disappointed his parents and teachers alike. So how, at the age of 24, did he end up as a partner in a Massachusetts real-estate firm? He credits an unlikely source. "The key to my success," he says, was his ADHD.For struggling parents, ADHD--which affects roughly 3 to 7 percent of Americans--may not seem like the key to anything other than frustration. But two new books, "Delivered From Distraction" by Dr. Edward Hallowell and Dr. John Ratey and "The Gift of ADHD" by Lara Honos-Webb, advance the controversial notion that distractibility, poor impulse control and emotional sensitivity have flip sides that are actually strengths--namely creativity, energy and intuition. "A huge proportion of criminals have ADHD," says Hallowell. "So do a lot of successful artists and CEOs. It's how you manage it that...
  • LIFE AFTER VIOXX

    Plenty of patients panicked last fall when Vioxx was pulled from the market and questions began swirling around the related drugs Celebrex and Bextra. Peg Cushman, 56, of Freeport, Maine, didn't need to fret. She had tried Celebrex for a back problem, and though it worked fine, she didn't like the idea of relying on it. Thumbing through a book called "Dr. Duke's Essential Herbs," she read that the curry spice turmeric possessed anti-inflammatory powers and decided to give it a try. She switched to a gram a day and never looked back. That was six years ago. "Is it perfect?" she says. "No. In our culture, we want all the pain to go away. But it's worked well enough that I don't see a need to use anything invasive or more risky."Turmeric isn't likely to achieve the blockbuster status that Vioxx and the other Cox-2 inhibitors have enjoyed in recent years ($5.7 billion in combined annual sales)--especially since there is not a single clinical trial showing that it works as a pain...
  • Diet and Genes

    IT ISN'T JUST WHAT YOU EAT THAT CAN KILL YOU, AND IT ISN'T JUST YOUR DNA THAT CAN SAVE YOU--IT'S HOW THEY INTERACT
  • SCARY STRAINS

    The first newspaper stories showed up in the summer of 1997, buried on the inside pages: an influenza virus designated H5N1, known to be fatal to chickens but never before seen in humans, had killed a 3-year-old child in Hong Kong. BOY'S DEATH STUMPS EXPERTS, read the small headline in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Then, in December, a 2-year-old in a different part of Hong Kong fell ill from the same virus, but recovered. "To me," remarked Robert G. Webster, a leading virologist, "the startling thing about the second case is that there is a second case." More cases appeared--18 in all, of which six were fatal--and Hong Kong prepared to slaughter every chicken within its borders. The danger passed, then flared up in 2001 and 2002, when chickens in the Hong Kong markets began dying again, although this time there were no known human victims. Millions of fowl were killed in an effort to eradicate the virus, but it cropped up again in 2003, this time in seven countries, including...
  • WE'VE GOT RHYTHM

    In 1751, Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus came up with the novel idea of using flowers as clocks. Morning glories open their trumpetlike petals around 10 a.m., water lilies at 11 and so on through evening primroses and moonflowers. A full array of these blossoms could indicate the time. It was a whimsical notion. But some 350 years later, scientists are seriously interested in the timekeeping mechanisms of nature. "They're so ubiquitous, they're almost a signature of life," says molecular neuroscientist Russell Foster of Imperial College, London.From cockroaches to humans, Foster explores these internal clocks in a fascinating new book, "Rhythms of Life," co-authored with British science writer Leon Kreitzman. The authors show how the daily patterns known as circadian rhythms--from the Latin circadiem ("about a day")--influence far more than our sleep. Heart attacks are more common in the morning. Women tend to go into labor in the evening. Severe asthma attacks prevail at night....
  • FOR A HAPPY HEART

    The Japanese have a word for it--karoshi, or "death by overwork." But can stress on the job really do you in? Finnish researchers decided to find out. The years 1991 to 1993 in Finland were as bad as it generally gets economically, with unemployment nearly tripling. Those who survived the downsizing had to assume greater work loads. During this period and for seven years afterward, Dr. Jussi Vahtera and psychologist Mika Kivimaki at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki followed municipal workers who survived the cutbacks in four towns. Their sobering conclusion appeared this February in the British Medical Journal. Kivimaki puts it bluntly: "Those in work units with the most downsizing suffered twice the death rate from heart attack and stroke."It should come as no surprise that emotions affect the heart--and not only in metaphorical terms. Suffer a fright, and your heart begins to pound. Get angry, and your blood pressure rises. Thirty years ago scientists told...
  • FOR A HAPPY HEART

    The Japanese have a word for it--karoshi, or "death by overwork." But can stress on the job really do you in? Finnish researchers decided to find out. The years 1991 to 1993 in Finland were as bad as it generally gets economically, with unemployment nearly tripling to 17 percent. Those who survived the downsizing had to assume greater work loads. During this period and for seven years afterward, Dr. Jussi Vahtera and psychologist Mika Kivimaki at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki followed municipal workers who survived the cutbacks in four towns--from the mayor on down to teachers, nurses and janitors. Their sobering conclusion appeared this February in the British Medical Journal. Kivimaki puts it bluntly: "The only difference in mortality was in cardiovascular deaths. Those in work units with the most downsizing suffered twice the death rate from heart attack and stroke."It should come as no surprise that emotions affect the heart--and not only in...
  • SEARCH FOR THE SACRED

    The 550 residents of Kibbutz Tzuba, a few miles down the road from Jerusalem toward Tel Aviv, mostly just want to be "left alone in their own little patch," Yael Kerem says apologetically. She ought to know, as marketing director for the guesthouse with which the kibbutz supplements its main businesses, a fruit and dairy farm and a small factory that makes bulletproof windshields. Yet even as she spoke last week, her cell phone was burbling as requests poured in for tours and interviews: a group of monks from Jerusalem, five busloads of visitors from Turkey, reporters from the United States and Europe. She gestures expansively toward a stand of olive trees. "We might have to pave over this area," she says, "so we can park the buses."Israel, it has been said, is a place of too much history and too little geography. The very earth beneath Kibbutz Tzuba's nectarine trees hides the walls of settlements going back to the dawn of civilization, cisterns and caves used by wanderers in the...
  • A DISEASE IN DISGUISE

    What do you call a headache that lasts five years? Andy Eckl of Trumbull, Conn., came down with a skull-splitter in 1997, when he was 5 years old, and he got no relief until he was 10. He muscled through first and second grade on Advil, but by third grade the pain had spread to his joints, and by fifth grade it had taken over his life. "The other kids were all learning how to throw and catch," his mom, Nancy, recalls. "Andy could barely walk." Suspecting migraines, family doctors prescribed Maxalt and moved on to Neurontin and Depakote (anticonvulsants that some patients find helpful), but nothing made much difference. Finally, a homeopath advised the parents to get Andy tested for Lyme disease. The results were negative--but blood tests can't rule out Lyme, so an infectious-disease specialist prescribed antibiotics anyway. Andy got his first dose on Nov. 11, 2002, and by Nov. 16 the pain had lifted. The headache from hell wasn't a migraine after all. Chances are, the whole thing...
  • What You Don't Know About Fat

    FAT CELLS: THE AVERAGE PERSON HAS 40 BILLION OF THEM. THEY MULTIPLY, THEY'RE ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO KILL AND THEY'RE SENDING MESSAGES TO YOUR BODY THAT CAN RUIN YOUR HEALTH
  • MEDICINE | MORE THAN A STATIN

    For those Americans battling cholesterol, new help is on the way. Think reductions of 50 to 60 percent in "bad cholesterol," or LDL. That's with a new pill called Vytorin, approved by the FDA two weeks ago and set to reach pharmacies by Labor Day. Studies have found it more effective than both Lipitor and Zocor, the top-selling statins. That's easy to explain. Vytorin basically is Zocor combined with a non-statin drug called Zetia. It's more powerful because the two work in distinct ways--Zocor lowers cholesterol synthesis in the liver, and Zetia blocks cholesterol absorption from the gut. The result: greater reductions in LDL using lower doses of the statin--and with lower doses come fewer potential side effects, such as muscle pains, says cardiologist Theodore Feldman of Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute in Miami, who conducted one of the studies. With federal guidelines pushing recommended levels of LDL lower, the combo couldn't be more timely.