Stories by Kate Dailey

  • By The Numbers: The Truth Behind Those Scary Diet-Soda Myths

    What is it about diet soda that seems so naughty? Maybe it’s because enjoying something without any calories leads people to feel like they’re going to have to pay one way or another-if not with their waistline now, then with ambiguous bad health later (a tumor? osteoporosis?). Maybe it’s because it takes an already unnatural beverage-there’s no such thing as a soda tree-and fills it with even more foreign substances. Either way, people often have a complex, love-hate relationship with diet soda, especially when you throw some caffeine into the mix....
  • The Consult: The Pros and Cons of Long Life, and Other News From the Web.

    The Benefits of Aging Besides a bigger bank account, better insurance, and crazy dinner specials if you go before 6, the elderly have another added perk: immunity to the "swine flu" (sorry: H1N1) virus. Researchers found that one third of people over sixty have antibodies that protect them from H1N1, which they hope will aid in developing a vaccine. (Washington Post)...And The Drawbacks "Dowager's Hump" may predict early death in elderly women. Can we address what a horrible term "dowager's hump" is? I think it might be my second-least favorite, behind "incompetent cervix." Even though DH is not the official term for the slumped shoulders that can hit elderly (that's hyperkyphosis), the fact that it's still being used is shocking to me, even if it's just to give people a point of reference. It's like writing  "Patients with Downs Syndrome, often referred to as  'retards'..."  It's old...
  • Before and After: Both Sides of Face Transplant Surgery

    The morning links are coming up in a second, but I wanted to give this it's own post: The nation's second face transplant recipient went public yesterday.  James Maki, the first American man to receive the procedure, was disfigured four years ago in an electrical accident. The boston.com article about the transplant features a gallery with some pretty shocking photos—the accident left Maki without any nose to speak of, just a hole on his face.  It appears that the surgeons at Brigham and Women's Hospital replaced the bottom half of Maki's face with the new donor face. ...
  • The Consult: High Competition at the 2010 Olympic Games, And Other News From Around the Web

    Olympic Buzz The Toronto Star asks if the torch designed for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver looks like a marijuana cigarette.  The Stranger's David Schmader thinks it more closely resembles "a pregnancy test that reveals you're having Satan's baby." It reminds me of either an orange-peeling tool that I have in my kitchen but never use, or a fancy new razor that singes off hair in lieu of using blades. Your thoughts?   (Slog)  Fossil Finds Just what I need before Memorial Day weekend—more relatives trying to lay claim to my (parent's) beach house: the 'missing link" has been found in Germany. Rather than further connecting man and monkey, this skeleton—in surprisingly good shape for being about 47 million years old— helps bridges that elusive gap between "monkeys and lemurs," providing clues about earlier stages of evolution.  (National Geographic) GOP HMO As President Barack Obama presses forward with his health care agend...
  • The Consult: Swine Flu Statistics, Street-Legal Swim Suits, and Other News From the Web

    Will Fast Suits Sink Swimmers? The international swimming federation has banned 146 types of high-performance racing suits from amateur competition: 10 suits were rejected outright, while 136, if modified within 30 days, will be reconsidered for approval. The suits improve buoyancy and reduce drag, leading to faster times - times that some officials think give competitors an unfair advantage. "There are some athletes that probably have fooled themselves that they...
  • New Gene Linked to Autism Discovered: What Are the Consequences?

    Scientists are getting ever closer to determining autism's genetic roots. Today on Newswise.com, UCLA researchers announced a new discovery in that quest: a variant of a gene called CACNA1G, which may increase a child’s risk of developing autism, particularly in boys. What could read like a very small, specialized discovery—there's a lot of room for speculation in that "may"—is a source of both hope and consternation for autism activists, as Claudia Kalb writes in this week's issue of NEWSWEEK:  Scientists have found common gene variants that may account for up to 15 percent of all autism cases. This is big in a disorder that varies so enormously from one individual to the next. Environmental factors also play a role, but if scientists can test for specific genes—most of which have yet to be discovered—they may be able to intervene much sooner to help kids. One day they might even find a cure. This is exciting for parents who want to understand the roots of...
  • The Consult: Prehistoric Fetish Objects and Patriarchial Cigarettes

    Mein Liebling: German scientists may have uncovered the first representation of modern woman, and they're pretty sure it's a sex toy. The figure - what the novelist Tom Harris might call "a woman and a half in every direction" - rocks some serious curves, and is thought to have been carved over 35,000 years ago. Pros: a testament to beauty and sex appeal in women of all sizes, throughout time. Cons: It's been over 35,000 years of women as porn objects. I need coffee.  (BBC) The Color of Money: National Geographic released a survey of environmental consumer habits from across the globe. Anyone who's paying attention could predict that on the color-coded chart of greeness, Americans were more of a sickly, pale, yellow-y chartreuse. Surprisingly, Europeans were only  a light kelly hue, while the dark, rich, life-affirming green was found mostly in China and India. This suggests that communism and extreme poverty help shoppers make inadvertently smarter eco...
  • A Gift From The Heart: Donating Used Pacemakers

    A pacemaker helps helps a beating heart - but once that heart stops due to other reasons, what becomes of the pacemaker? Researchers estimate about 45 percent of pacemakers are removed before burial - either due to family request or because of the dangers during creamation (they can explode - who knew?) With an estimate 1.5 million Americans currently using pacemakers, that means there's a whole lot of viable devices being retired before their time. Enter Timir Baman, a cardiac fellow at the University of Michigan Hospital. He's the lead researcher on a study that examines the viability of collecting used pacemakers to donate to people in developing nations. While heart disease is sometimes thought of an American condition of excess -- too many french fries and pizzas -- Baman, who spoke with NEWSWEEK's Dina Fine Maron, insists that the need for pacemakers is high all over the world: The overwhelming amount of people that have heart disease in our world are in low-...
  • What's Inside The New NEWSWEEK: Autism Ends and Eternal Life Begins?

    I am holding in my hot little hands the first issue of the new NEWSWEEK, and dig it before I even start reading. It seems like the trend in most magazines is to get thinner, both in content and page stock. (Times are tough all over.)  This issue is thick and heavy and printed on a high quality, glossy paper, which makes the reading that much more pleasurable (and less likely that my thighs turn into an ink-stained mess when I take the magazine to the beach this weekend). But what is it they say about not judging a book by its cover (or its paper stock)? On the inside, even more goodies—great art, great essays, and these articles of particular interest to Human Condition readers: An update on Andrew Speaker, the American man quarantined for travel ling with an extreme form of drug-resistance tuberculosis (turns out the diagnosis was incorrect).  I, Robot:  Ray Kurzwell is convinced that the only way to outpace artificial intellect is to embed our consciousness onto silic...
  • The Consult: In-Group Role Models in Action, and other news from the web.

    ALS, The FDA, and a Ticking Clock: ALS is a horrible disease: it promises a slow, undignified death with no real treatment options, but lots of false, straggling hopes that don't pan out in the end. The New York Times has a heartbreaking story about one family's fight to gain access to a drug that might - might - provide their son some relief. First the have to cut through corporate red tape, then government bureaucracy, then doctors reluctant to work with experimental treatments. It's a brutal story - and a long one, so you get a very small, fleeting sense of the panic and frustration the family must have felt as time went on, their son got worse, and the drug remained elusive. (The New York Times)....
  • OMG! Grey's Anatomy Finale Mystery SOLVED!

    Last night, about 11 minutes into the season finale of  ABC's "Grey's Anatomy," the Chief surprises Dr. Bailey with a DaVinci Surgical System. In an effort to keep her from decamping from general surgery to pediatric surgery, he tempts her with the chance to perform a cutting-edge procedure. "You know, Doctor Chalikonda at Cleveland Clinic is doing single incision ...
  • Double X Takes On Kate Gosselin's Hair

    Yesterday, the gang at Slate launched a new website,  Double X,  described as, "mostly by women but not just for women." The online magazine-sized version of Slate's incredibly popular XX Blog is already full of thoughtful and entertaining content: discussions on the state of modern feminism (or, conversely, why modern feminism can suck it), astonishment at the mystery that is "Jon and Kate Plus Eight" star Kate Gosselin's hair, and a fantastic essay by blogger Marie Myung-Ok Lee, who writes about the decisions and difficulties associated with using marijuana to medicate her autistic son. (I'll have some more to say on that later.) It's enough to make any other newly-launched website feel a little intimidated. More importantly, it's enough to keep you reading, thinking, and laughing for a good, long, time. Welcome, Double X!
  • The Five Worst Gym Machines: Top Trainers Tell What Doesn't Work

    When it comes to the pursuit of a better body, image isn’t everything. That’s because the shiny, intimidating, powerful-looking machines cluttering up your gym floor aren’t nearly as good a workout as the one you can get with some dumbbells, your own body weight and a mat. “Machines are eventually going to be obsolete in major gyms,” says Patrick Murphy, an L.A.-based celebrity trainer. That’s because while your body is built to use lots of muscles in lots of ways, most machines isolate single muscle groups and work them in a static up-and-down, forward-and-backward regime. They also provide the opportunity to take a load off, preserving precious calories that you might otherwise be burning.     It’s time to wean yourself off your machine routine and start building a workout designed around dynamic movements that incorporate several muscle groups at once. You’ll not only build a better body, you’ll do it faster. “When you train in an integrated way, you can cut workout time in half...
  • Taco Town: A Meditation

    Raina Kelley, who will soon be making her first blog post on the Human Condition, wonders:  Are Pizza Hut and Domino's in a race to give the most Americans heart attacks?  In a response to Pizza Hut's new pasta bakes, Domino's has come out with baked pasta in bread bowls.  A serving of Pizza Hut pasta plus one piece of garlic bread averages about 1000 calories (over 400 calories from fat) while Domino's entry into the pasta market is about 700 calories per serving with an entire bread bowl ringing in at about 1400 calories (500 from fat.)  Are they perhaps, not aware, that America is facing an obesity epidemic? Which calls to mind this. True confession: I was on board until about the 1.05 mark. 
  • The Consult: The Soft Bigotry of Camel Lights, and Other News From The Web.

    Another Reason to Hate Cigarettes. They're kind of racist. The darker your coloring, the more likely you succeptible to smoking addiction. That's what Penn State researchers found when they studied the connection between melanin, responsible for skin and hair pigmentation, and nicotine dependency in African Americans. Scientists already knew that nicotine liked to bind with melanin on a cellular level; this study shows that darker skin color is also related to the amount of cigarettes smoked and the level of carcinogens absorbed from those cigarettes.  (Science Daily)Flat Tax?  The Senate is considering a tax on soda and other sugary drinks to help fund President Barack Obama's health care plans. If approved as-is, the tax could generate 24 billion dollars in 4 years. At three cents a can - an extra 36 cents per FridgePak - the tax won't likely dissuade soda consumption (and the weight gain it may cause) so much as capitalize on the popularity of sugary drinks....
  • Reading List: More Accolades for NEWSWEEK Health Journalists

    This has been a fantastic week to start blogging - my co-workers keep winning awards for their work, which means I have lots of excuses to link back to great content. On Monday, it was Dina Fine Maron's piece on mental illness getting all the attention. Now, reporter staff writer Jessica Bennett, senior video producer Jennifer Molina, and senior writer Mary Carmichael are all raking in recognition from the Newswomen's Club of New York. Bennett and Molina won the Front Page Award in the online multimedia category for"Invisible and Overlooked," an in-depth look into the challenges facing gay senior citizens. Carmichael received the Front Page Award for medicine/health coverage in a magazine for her article "Growing up Bipolar" (That piece also has an amazing video component worth watching). Check out their articles if you're looking for an excuse to take a little break from work. It's so much better for you than binging on Perez.  
  • Public Feedings: The Strange Food Confessionals Inspired By "The Biggest Loser"

    Has anyone else noticed a strange phenomenon on Tuesday nights, right around the time NBC's "The Biggest Loser" airs? It seems like a noticeable amount of my friends and family start running to their computers to post about what it is they're eating-- or planning to eat-- while watching the show. For some reason, two hours of weigh-loss-focused reality television seems to encourage a kind of public feeding. And despite the copious and heavy-handed product placement on the show, there's not a Subway sandwich or stick of Wrigley's Extra Sugarfree gum in sight.  Instead, it's less wholesome fare: one Facebook friend admitted that she "just walked to the grocery store in her pjs to buy cookie dough to eat during The Biggest Loser."  A coworker just received an e-vite for a “Biggest Loser” finale/pizza party. What's the deal? While there have been lots of studies that indicate TV tends to make you hungrier, and that you're more...
  • Farrah's Fight

    There's no such thing as a "fun" cancer. But anal cancer has got to be one of the worst in terms of ravaging the body, robbing one of dignity, and making life all-around uncomfortable. That's why it was so sad to learn that Farrah Fawcett is in the final stages of her battle against anal cancer. News reports indicate that she's declined to continue fighting the disease through aggressive medical treatment, and is instead seeking comfort and (relative) peace in the days to come. NEWSWEEK profiled Fawcett and her cancer fight in 2007; the accompanying gallery shows the star in happier times.
  • A Fine Reporter

    It's a pleasure to report that the National Alliance on Mental Illness has awarded Dina Fine Maron, a NEWSWEEK intern, their 2009 Outstanding Media Award for News Reporting. Maron, a 2008 graduate of Brandeis University,  won for "TV's Split Personality," her insightful piece detailing how mental illnesses are portrayed in pop culture. We could go on and on about how much we like this article - it embodied the spirit of Human Condition  before Human Condition even existed - but since NAMI went to the trouble to write up such a nice tribute to Maron's work, we'll post that instead (and encourage you all to check out her story): "TV’s Split Personality” represents some of the best reporting NAMI has seen about television entertainment and its impact on stigma—or public education—surrounding mental illness. Using Showtime’s “The United States of Tara” as the immediate story, the article put the show in perspective relative to a longer history of...
  • Surviving a Layoff: You Kept Your Job. Now Keep Sane.

    Survive the latest round of layoffs? Congratulations! Unlike your previous co-workers, you have both a job and higher rates of depression, more psychosomatic illnesses like headaches, ulcers and insomnia, and a nasty case of survivor's guilt. You've got more work and fewer co-workers, as well as the lingering suspicion that you might be next. "The anticipation of something is often worst than finding out you've been laid off," says Leon Grunberg, professor of comparative sociology at the University of Puget Sound. "No one wants to be living in a constant state of insecurity." Grunberg and his colleagues spent 10 years studying current and former employees at Boeing during several cycles of layoffs, mergers and companywide change. (His book about the research, Turbulence: Living Through Workplace Chaos, will be out in 2010 from Yale University Press.)While getting a pink slip may be an initial shock, it's one from which you can recover and move...
  • The Consult

    Your morning health highlights from around the Web: Polio Personnel:  As polio survivors age, they face new complications - but the doctors who understand the complexities of the disease are aging, too. (NPR)A Malignant Growth:  One third of major cancer studies have a conflict of interest; researchers say the ways studies are funded and organized need to be re-evaluated. (MSN)Swine Flu Still Squealing The H1N1 virus hits China. In the US, there have been 2500 cases and three deaths. Don't freak out: all US fatalities had underlying health conditions. Most American cases are mild, and respond well to treatment. (AFP via Google) Premium Savings: President Obama seeking to save trillions in healthcare by encouraging efficiency; health trade groups will present him with a plan to reduce costs by 1.5 percent annually. (Reuters)Ladies Sing the Blues: A new government report highlights gender differences in mental health—women are twice as likely to be depressed and three times more...
  • Manga Publishers Look to Hollywood

    Japan's newly elected prime minister, Taro Aso, is mad for manga, the comic books that embody Japanese pop-culture cool. Analysts say Aso's been playing up his passion in order to woo young voters. Bad news for Aso then that manga sales in Japan are down for the first time in 12 years, indicating waning interest.A decade ago, manga was a surefire cash cow for Japanese publishing houses. But as consumers turn increasingly to the Internet and mobile phones for entertainment, manga publishers are having to find new ways to compete. They've expanded to mobile platforms like a manga channel for Verizon phones. And they'realso eyeballing Hollywood, which has produced blockbuster hits like "Iron Man" and "The Dark Knight" at a time of resurgent interest in American comics. Whether such success will translate to manga remains to be seen—even though the U.S. constitutes the largest manga marketplace outside Japan, growth of manga sales is outpaced by growth of their American counterparts...
  • European Films Find Less American Distribution

    Global forces are trapping Americans at home this summer, and those who hope to escape in foreign films are out of luck, too. The same reasons that have Americans taking "staycations"—high gas prices and a weak dollar—are also making it difficult to acquire and distribute European movies. The 14 percent fall in the greenback since last August has taken much of the appeal out of American bids for film rights. "Typical minimum guarantees begin to look sort of measly for foreign sales agents, so it's much harder—meaning it takes more money—to acquire them," says Nancy Gerstman, copresident of Zeitgeist Films.Winning rights is usually the easy part. Reprinting is mainly done in European labs, and the exchange rate combined with increased shipping fees have sent prices soaring. "The cost to order film prints has gone up so substantially in relation to the dollar versus the euro that we're ordering about half as many 35-millimeter film prints as we used to," says Jon Gerrans, whose...