Stories by Anne Underwood

  • Not Always 'the Happiest Time'

    Let's just say that you are among the millions of women for whom pregnancy was not bliss. You may have felt cranky or anxious, exhausted or fat, moody, stressed, nauseated, overwhelmed, isolated or lonely. You may even have felt bad about feeling bad. Now let's say that you, like Marlo Johnson, are a veteran of depression, someone who has battled the illness on and off for years. Then pregnancy can feel like the worst thing that ever happened to you. Johnson, 35 years old and from Brentwood, Calif., felt her mood plummet almost as soon as she conceived. But she put a brave face on it at work, with her family--even with her own therapist. The only time she cried was when she visited her obstetrician. Every time. Johnson's doctor encouraged her to look on the bright side. " 'Just think, at the end you're going to have this beautiful baby, the most beautiful gift'," Johnson recalls her saying, "and I said, 'I don't care. I don't want it. It doesn't matter to me'."Contrary to...
  • Can a Flavor a Day Keep the Pounds Away?

    By his own admission, Jonathan Link, 34, a systems analyst at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn., is "a designer kind of guy." So imagine his distress when his weight began creeping up and he found himself shopping at Wal-Mart for trousers with elastic waists. No matter how much he exercised, the extra pounds wouldn't go away. Then he volunteered for a trial of a new diet plan. Admittedly, he was skeptical when he heard that it wasn't based on counting calories, but on cooking meals with daily flavor themes—lemon one day, thyme or basil the next, walnuts or almonds the day after. Yet in 12 weeks, Link, who's just shy of 5'10", dropped from 183 pounds to 159, and his cholesterol plummeted from a scary 232 to 164—low enough that his physician stopped pestering him about going on cholesterol-lowering drugs.Today anyone who wants to try this diet can, without joining a clinical trial. It's the subject of a new book, "The Flavor Point Diet," by Dr. David Katz, associate professor of public...
  • Perchance To ... Eat?

    The makers of America's most popular sleep drug may have been tossing and turning a bit more recently. Fourteen years after the Food and Drug Administration approved Sanofi-Aventis's Ambien, the sleep aid has come under scrutiny amid reports of users eating, driving and even shoplifting in their sleep. There's little doubt the drug is effective, but some patients are now wondering if it's safe.After suffering bouts of insomnia for more than 30 years, Janet Makinen thought she'd found a solution when her doctor prescribed Ambien. The drug, a blockbuster with 26.6 million prescriptions in the United States last year, enabled the 55-year-old Florida housewife to sleep soundly. But some mornings after she took it, Makinen woke to find half-empty boxes of rice or open bags of candy in the kitchen--evidence of nocturnal binges she didn't remember. The episodes worried her, but Makinen didn't connect them to the sleep drug until she found Internet postings from other Ambien users...
  • Hearts in Their Throats

    Arts Extra - NewsweekHearts in Their ThroatsThroat Singing: Tuva's Superstar Discusses his MusicTuva’s throat-singing musicians have hit the United States. A talk with the country’s superstar.Imagine a human bagpipe—a person who could sing a sustained low note while humming an eerie, whistlelike melody. For good measure, toss in a thrumming rhythm similar to that of a jaw harp, but produced vocally—by the same person, at the same time. It sounds impossible, but such a style of singing exists. It’s called throat singing, or overtone singing, and it’s reached its highest state of refinement in the tiny Central Asian republic of Tuva, situated between Mongolia and Siberia (and now part of the Russian Federation). In Tuva, there is not just one style of throat singing but many, each with a distinct set of sounds that is at once primal and curiously modern—evoking everything from the Aboriginal didgeridoo to Jamaican dancehall music.The most celebrated practitioner of this ancient art...
  • 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: 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...
  • 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: ...
  • 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....