Barbara Kantrowitz

Stories by Barbara Kantrowitz

  • Health: Reducing Your Risk

    Can you still fit into the dress you wore to your high-school graduation? If so, congratulations. You may have significantly reduced your risk of breast cancer, according to a study last week in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital looked at data from 87,145 women whose weight changes were followed for more than two decades. Among women who never used postmenopausal hormone therapy, weight gain since the age of 18 correlated with increased risk. The more weight a woman put on, the greater her risk. For example, women in this group who gained 55 pounds since they were 18 had double the risk of women who maintained their weight.But the JAMA study also suggests that it's never too late to drop pounds. Non-hormone users who maintained a weight loss of at least 22 pounds after menopause lowered their breast-cancer risk by 60 percent compared with women who didn't take weight off. This is actually encouraging news, says lead...
  • The Future is in Their Hands

    Chad Lewis is a burly 18-year-old with a passion for engines. In an ordinary high school, that passion might have distracted him from required courses in history, English and math. But Lewis has spent the past two years on the campus of Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, N.C., where he's been studying hydraulics, suspension and electrical systems as well as more-traditional high-school subjects. Along with receiving his high-school diploma,He's in line to get an associate's degree--the equivalent of two years of college--in heavy equipment and transport technology. What that means, says Lewis, is that he is qualified to fix "anything with a diesel." What it also means, says math teacher Marsha Jensen, is that "he'll be making more money than I will."Lewis just wants a job that allows him to "be hands-on, get dirty, go home, take a shower and feel good about what I do each day." But to North Carolina Gov. Michael Easley, students like Lewis are on the front lines of...
  • Parenting: How to Let Your Kids Go

    As parents, boomers face their final frontier: how to stand aside as their children become independent adults. Where's the line between caring and coddling?
  • The Quest for Rest

    Like many mothers of young children, Martha Yasso was tired all the time--so tired that whenever her 3-year-old son went down for a nap, she grabbed the chance to rest as well. But even with those precious extra minutes of sleep, she was still so exhausted by late afternoon that she could barely keep her eyes open. One day last fall, as her son played in the den of their New York home, Yasso's eyelids got heavier and heavier. Just before she nodded off completely, she felt her son's hands on her face. He was shouting, "Mama, Mama! Wake up!" That was the turning point. "I knew it was something more than just being tired because of everything a mother does as CEO of the family," says Yasso, 36. She called her doctor, who referred her to the NYU Sleep Disorders Center. After a night in the sleep lab, with electrodes monitoring her brain waves, breathing and movements, Yasso finally understood what was behind her overwhelming fatigue. NYU pulmonologist Ana Krieger told Yasso that during...
  • What Makes a High School Great?

    Gold stars: The answer depends on the school, and the student. With its annual list, NEWSWEEK honors top schools that help regular kids succeed in college. From the issue dated May 8, 2006. Click here to read Newsweek's 2007 Top High Schools coverage.
  • The Quest For Rest

    Millions of women suffer from sleeplessness at stages throughout their lives. Researchers are beginning to understand why--and to develop new ways to help.
  • Health: Building Strong Bones

    For years, doctors have been telling women to take calcium after menopause to keep their bones strong and prevent fractures. And women have complied, making calcium the top seller in the multibillion-dollar dietary-supplement industry. In 2004 alone, the total calcium tab was about $993 million. But last week a study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) questioned whether women were wasting their money. The study of 36,282 postmenopausal women ages 50 to 79 found that calcium had only a small effect on bone density and no significant effect on the rate of fractures. And although calcium is generally considered safe, researchers found a 17 percent increase in kidney stones among women taking the supplements.This is the second time in a month that results from a WHI study have challenged long-held beliefs about nutrition and health. Another WHI study reported that low-fat diets do not protect against breast or colorectal cancer or heart disease. And in 2002, the WHI issued the...
  • Sex & Love: The New World

    More middle-aged people than ever are single, and they're finding the rules have changed. STDs and Internet dates. Aging bodies and kids at home. Who knew?
  • When Women Lead

    As a growing number of female executives rise to the top, how will they change the culture of the workplace?
  • FOOD: THE SCHOOL OF JULIA

    In the summer of 2002, Julie Powell's prospects seemed bleak. Despite a degree from Amherst and "seven years of three-quarters-finished novels in drawers," she was still a 29-year-old New York secretary with rapidly fading big dreams. "As 29-year-olds are wont to do," says Powell, "I started obsessing over all of this, spinning my wheels and getting all bent out of shape." Out of "this stew of angst and anxiety" popped an idea--a rather bizarre idea. Over the next year, the lifelong picky eater and indifferent chef would cook every recipe in her mother's dog-eared copy of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."What's really bizarre about Powell's idea is that it turned out to be her salvation, thanks in part to her husband, Eric's suggestion that she start a blog to chronicle her occasionally triumphant but always hilarious attempts to channel her inner Julia. The blog, called The Julie/Julia Project, created an online community that kept her going all the way from...
  • WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT? EVERYTHING.

    For the true commitment-phobe, living among the Na people in southwestern China would be paradise. The Na are the only known society that completely shuns marriage. Instead, says Stephanie Coontz in her new book, "Marriage, a History," brothers help sisters raise the children they conceive through casual sex with non-family members (incest is strictly taboo). Will we all be like the Na in the future? With divorce and illegitimacy rates still high, the institution of marriage seems headed for obsolescence in much of the world. Coontz, a family historian at Evergreen State College in Washington, doesn't proclaim the extinction of marriage, but she does argue that dramatic changes in family life over the past 30 years represent an unprecedented social revolution--and there's no turning back. The only hope is accepting these changes and figuring out how to work with them. The decline of marriage "doesn't have to spell catastrophe," Coontz says. "We can make marriages better and make...
  • The 100 Best High Schools in America

    THE GOAL: NEVER HAS HIGH SCHOOL HAD TO DO SO MUCH FOR SO MANY. NEWSWEEK UNVEILS THE TOP SCHOOLS ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND SUGGESTS WHAT OTHERS CAN DO TO MAKE THE GRADE.
  • LEGAL AT LAST

    It took more than three decades, countless illicit assignations, two divorces and then perhaps a bit of divine intervention to keep threatened rain away. But last week, under clear skies, amid a sea of fabulous hats only English women can get away with, Prince Charles finally married the woman he says he's always loved: Camilla Parker Bowles. Their big day began when they pulled up to Guildhall in Windsor in a Rolls-Royce lent to them by the queen. Charles, 56, looked serious but Camilla, 57, seemed happy and relaxed. After a brief civil ceremony--the only option for these two divorced people in the Church of England--Camilla was transformed from The Other Woman to HRH the Duchess of Cornwall, the second most senior female royal. Only the queen now outranks her. Then the newlyweds headed across the street to Windsor Castle, where they confessed their sins, were blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and promised to be faithful to each other. At a reception afterward hosted by the...
  • NOW YOU ASK ME?

    He loves her. She loves him. That's the short version. The longer story is... well, much longer, and involves upending royal tradition and a religious crisis--along with the cuckolding of the Silver Stick in Waiting and erotic chat about a tampon. The announcement last week that Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles would finally marry on April 8 seemed almost anticlimactic compared with the Sturm und Drang of their 35-year affair. They have stuck with each other through marriage to others (both), divorce (both), scandal (both), parental scorn (Charles) and a reported pelting by rolls in a Wiltshire grocery (Camilla). After the news broke, the 57-year-old bride-to-be appeared before reporters at Windsor Castle blissfully flashing The Ring, a platinum-and-diamond royal heirloom. As cameras flashed, she disclosed that Charles, 56, had gone on his knees to propose. Her breathless reaction: "I'm just coming down to earth."As charming as it is to see rather ordinary middle-aged folks...
  • SEX AND SCIENCE

    When Amber Post started grad school in physics at Princeton, her goal was the same as her male colleagues': a tenure-track job at a major university. Now with her Ph.D. just a year away, Post is thinking instead about working for a policymaking agency in Washington. Even though Princeton is generally welcoming to female scientists (the president, Shirley Tilghman, is a molecular biologist), Post, 25, senses that her reception in the larger academic world might be chillier. At elite universities, the percentage of women earning doctorates in science and engineering is considerably higher than the percentage of women professors--which means that a lot of talented women Ph.D.s like Post leave campus for jobs in government or industry instead of climbing the faculty ladder.Stopping this female brain drain has been a challenge for years, and universities from MIT to Stanford are pushing hard with mentoring programs and stepped-up recruitment efforts. But Harvard president Lawrence...
  • SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGH

    Susan Hockfield has many goals as MIT's new president, but the first she mentions is this: "I want to provide optimism and aspiration for people whose phenotype doesn't match the dominant phenotype." She's already fulfilled that ambition just by being herself, a distinguished neurobiologist whose last job was provost of Yale University. When her appointment was announced in August, Hockfield, 53, didn't think gender would be a big deal. After all, women run many prestigious universities, including Princeton, Brown and the University of Michigan. But it is still a very big deal when a woman presides over one of the world's most elite scientific institutions. Five years ago, MIT issued a highly publicized study describing bias against its female faculty members. Women are now about 17 percent of the faculty, compared with 11 percent in 1993. And MIT is not unique; at the nation's top research universities, women faculty remain scarce in science and engineering.Against that background,...
  • EDUCATI0N: NOT HEAD OF THE CLASS

    Charter schools are key to President George W. Bush's education policy, but an analysis released last week by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) indicates they may be less than a miracle cure. The study found that students in charter schools--publicly financed schools with flexible hiring and curriculum--generally do not do as well as their public-school peers. That's vital info for parents, but they might have trouble finding it. The results are contained in the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which included the first national sampling of charter schools. The bulk of the NAEP results were released in November, but the AFT charged that the government delayed public reporting of the charter-school results. To complete their analysis, AFT researchers pored over raw data available on the Web.A spokesman for Education Secretary Rod Paige denied any political agenda. "This is special-interest hyperbole to insinuate that the department hid the data," says...
  • HOT SCHOOLS

    Pull apart the DNA of a student's dream school and you'll find so many different strands. Perhaps it's the location, either in the rolling country- side far from anything resembling a sidewalk, or in the midst of a hip urban neighborhood. It could be a college's unique educational mission or the array of quirky personalities. Maybe it's the outstanding labs or libraries or theaters, even the fitness center. All the colleges on the Hot List for 2005 have one thing in common: they provide an outstanding education. But what makes them hot is their differences.Although all have demonstrated continuing excellence, various qualities made many of them stand out this year. The Iraq war, as well as its aftermath, highlighted the importance of well-educated military leadership and made some students think of applying to Annapolis or West Point. The debate over Early Decision (ED) admissions policies prompted a number of applicants to try schools like Yale or Stanford that have led the effort...
  • What Dreams Are Made Of

    NEW TECHNOLOGY IS HELPING BRAIN SCIENTISTS UNRAVEL THE MYSTERIES OF THE NIGHT. THEIR WORK COULD SHOW US ALL HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF OUR TIME IN BED
  • AMERICA'S 25 HOT SCHOOLS

    COMPETITION'S INTENSE AND THERE ARE SCORES OF COLLEGES. LARGE, SMALL, PUBLIC, PRIVATE, URBAN, RURAL--WHAT'S BEST FOR YOU? HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE PLACES THAT EVERYONE'S TALKING ABOUT FOR 2005
  • FOR THE 'INNER AUSTEN' IN EACH OF US

    Jane Austen fans can be fervent--seeing in her novels everything anyone would need to know about love, family relationships, the nature of happiness and the importance of a fat bank account in selecting a mate. Count among them novelist Karen Joy Fowler, whose witty new best seller, "The Jane Austen Book Club," is the hot choice for book clubs around the country. Fowler, 54, fell for the author four decades ago and has reread the novels many times, always finding new meaning. "I'm astonished that whatever is my current obsession in my private life, suddenly Jane Austen seems to be about that," she says.A couple of years ago, Austen gave Fowler the greatest gift a novelist can ask for: inspiration. She spotted a sign for a Jane Austen book club in a bookstore and briefly thought it was an ad for a new novel with that title, one that would be "exactly for me." When she realized her mistake, she decided to write the book she wanted so much to read. The plot revolves around six...
  • DROPPING THE H BOMB

    At some point in their encounters with the outside world, Harvard students are forced to admit that they do attend Harvard, not just some school "in Boston" (the preferred understated approach). This is known in Cambridge as "dropping the H bomb." "It's an awkward thing you have to say and get over," explains junior Camilla Hrdy. Last fall, Hrdy and her friend Katharina Cieplak-von Baldegg, a sophomore, decided that--awkwardness aside--H Bomb was the perfect title for a magazine they wanted to start about a subject that just doesn't get enough attention: sex.The two earnestly filled out forms to win university approval (plus $2,000 from the undergraduate council) and were ready to roll this winter when The Harvard Crimson published an article describing the project as a "porn" magazine. The resulting ruckus drew national headlines but didn't deter the two editors. Last week they finally dropped their H Bomb on Harvard, during finals. The premiere issue includes erotic fiction, nude...
  • Parenting For Dummies

    Researchers have been studying parenting for decades, and they know a lot about what it takes to raise a happy, independent child. Unfortunately, few of those findings reach the people who need help most: the mother of a toddler throwing a tantrum on the supermarket checkout line or the father of a teenager repeatedly breaking curfew. That gap between academia and the real world inspired Temple University psychology professor Laurence Steinberg to write "The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting." Those principles, he says, apply to all children--no matter what their age, sex or family makeup--although the way parents use them varies (No. 4: adapt your parenting to fit your child). Although Steinberg says parents should explain rules and decisions (No. 9), the conversation with a 5-year-old would clearly be much simpler than with a 16-year-old.The most important principle may be the finding--consistent in the research for at least 60 years--that parents have a profound effect on...
  • ONE, TWO, THREE OR MORE?

    Kevin and Katie Amos waited two years to start a family so they could save for their three-bedroom colonial in Willowick, Ohio, and they deliberately put only two years between Nicholas, 3, and Ryan, 1. "I think that as they grow," says Katie, 33, "they'll have a lot in common." For most families, the picture would be complete--the average American mother has two kids--but the Amoses recently decided to try again before Katie turns 35. It's not because they want a daughter, although Katie's aching to buy "those cute little girl things." They just want one more bundle of joy. That moment in the delivery room, says Kevin, "really is Christmas morning."The Amoses sum up the way most Americans make decisions about how many kids to have: some planning, a lot of longing and a little luck. Wanting a child of a certain gender is just one of many factors that influence couples. More important these days, experts say, is having money in the bank. According to the Agriculture Department, it...
  • Education: The Gettin' In Game

    For high-school seniors, 2003 was to be the year that restored sanity to college admissions. Three elites--Stanford, Harvard and Yale--reformed their early-application rules in response to growing criticism over binding Early Decision (ED), which lets students learn their fate in December, not April. The problem is, students must attend if accepted. But critics say ED puts too much pressure on students to make an early choice; it also hurts poorer kids, who need to compare aid offers.Yale president Richard Levin announced a year ago that Yale would switch to a nonbinding Early Action (EA) plan this past fall. Under EA, students hear in December, but they can still apply to other schools and decide where to go in the spring. Stanford followed. (Both schools require applicants to apply early to only one school.) In the spring, Harvard put a similar restriction on its longstanding EA plan. The end result was a decline in early applications to Harvard, and an increase at Stanford and...
  • The Bible's Lost Stories

    Fueling Faith And Igniting Debate, A New Generation Of Scholars Is Altering Our Beliefs About The Role Of Women In The Scriptures
  • College, Free Of Charge

    Jennifer Elmore's hometown--Tornado, W.Va.--is so small that it doesn't even have a stoplight. In high school, she boarded a bus at 6:30 for the ride through the mountains to St. Albans. But today, she's on her way to becoming the first college grad in her family because of Kentucky's Berea College. The 148-year-old Christian liberal-arts school has made a mission of educating students from Appalachia who are often overlooked by big-name schools. Elmore, a 19-year-old pre-med major, chose Berea because no one would make fun of her background. "One of the great equalizers here," she says, "is that everybody's on a full-tuition scholarship."That's right--full tuition, thanks to Berea's $715 million endowment. That's a powerful lure for the 1,500 students, who come from families with an average income of $30,000. They do have to pay for room and board (scholarships are available). Berea also requires students to spend 140 hours a semester doing everything from cleaning to running the...
  • We're Here! We Cheer! Get Used To It!

    At first, the cheerleaders getting ready for practice in a Los Angeles park seem like average teens as they sip Coke and pepper their sentences with "like." But then 17-year-old Larry Wood peels off his sweat pants to reveal a short black and red pleated skirt. A startled onlooker yells out, "Faggot!" Wood, who has a girlfriend, shrugs and tries an arabesque. "I just don't pay attention to it," he says. "It shows how much they know. It doesn't matter if you're gay or bi. We should all be treated equally." Moments later, Wood and the 11 other members of Radical Teen Cheer, who come from two inner-city high schools and several colleges, launch into their first routine: "We're teens, we're cute, we're radical to boot! We're angry, we're tough and we have had enough!"Radical Cheerleaders might seem like an oxymoron, but in the last few years, teenage and twentysomething activists around the world have turned an American tradition into potent political theater. There are Radical...
  • Learning The Hard Way

    Rome's La Sapienza university has endured seven centuries of war and political upheaval. But as school begins this fall, students at Europe's largest university face a hardship of a different kind: nowhere to sit. Many of La Sapienza's 180,000 students will attend classes under circus tents hastily erected to accommodate massive overcrowding. Others will study in movie theaters, some of which double as porn houses at night--and are only a slight improvement over--the unfortunate sociology class that met last year in a parking garage. At least they have a roof over their heads; at La Sapienza's law school, with an enrollment of more than 40,000, students must call ahead to reserve a seat in the lecture halls. Those who don't get in often stand outside and peer through the windows, even in the rain, hoping to overhear at least some of the lecture.That's just in Rome. Elsewhere in Italy, educators must contend with a soaring dropout rate; at some universities, two out of three entering...
  • WHO SAYS THERE'S NO SECOND ACT?

    For years a family story haunted Jhumpa Lahiri. A cousin of her father's was in a train wreck in India, and was given up for dead until a rescuer happened to spot something. Perhaps it was sunlight glinting off his watch--the details varied depending on who was telling the tale. But the essence of the story captured Lahiri's imagination: what happens to a person whose very life depends on a random act?That question provoked her much-anticipated new novel, "The Namesake," in which an Indian father decides to move to Boston after a similarly improbable rescue. But Lahiri, 36, has another reason to be obsessed with near miracles and sudden reversals of fortune. When her debut short-story collection, "Interpreter of Maladies," was published in 1999, she morphed almost overnight from unknown grad student to best-selling writer. "Interpreter" got rave reviews and prestigious awards, topped off with the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The young, gifted and photogenic Lahiri became a literary...
  • A Writer Who Beat The Odds

    Laura Hillenbrand greets you at the door of her yellow brick house in northwest Washington. This would hardly be worth noting, except that Hillenbrand, 36, has spent the past 16 years so debilitated by chronic fatigue syndrome that at times she can move only her eyelids. In September 2000, after she turned in the manuscript of "Seabiscuit," she got so sick that it was many months before she could write again. The term chronic fatigue, she says, "is a terrible understatement. Fatigue is to this illness what a match is to a nuclear bomb."But on this steamy afternoon, Hillenbrand's ready to talk: "I've spent today, to save up for this, basically lying down. I'm something like a cat." It also helps to live with a boyfriend like Borden Flanagan, 38, who bounds into the room to show off his Seabiscuit sweat shirt and T shirt. He monitors everything from the temperature inside, since she often runs a fever, to how far she might have to walk on a rare venture outside.They were already a...