Stories by Mary Carmichael

  • When the Key to Good Genetics Research Isn't in the Genes

    In the last couple of weeks, two new papers have had genetics enthusiasts buzzing: one a study that turned up 95 gene variants linked to cholesterol levels, and the other a similarly designed study of personality traits that turned up no genes at all. There must be a reason the findings came out so differently.
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    The American Cancer Society's Misleading New Ads

    The American Cancer Society has just launched a new nationwide print and online ad campaign to raise funds for a program that screens disadvantaged women for breast and cervical cancer. This does not sound controversial until you look at one of the ads.
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    DNA Dilemma, Day Five: Time to Decide

    After a week of soliciting experts, NEWSWEEK's Mary Carmichael is ready to decide whether or not she wants to take an at-home genetic test. Or is she?
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    DNA Dilemma, Day Four: Should Genetic Tests Be on the Market?

    Will increased regulation mean that at-home genetic tests will no longer be available to consumers? As rumors swirl about imminent action from the Food and Drug Administration, our writer wonders if she should hurry up and test her DNA.
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    DNA Dilemma, Day Three: How Reliable Are At-Home DNA Tests?

    In my weeklong quest to decide if I should have a genetic test, I now knew what I could expect to learn. But how was I going to feel about the results if I went forward and got them? Would I be able to trust them (and should I)?
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    DNA Dilemma: Should I Take a Genetic Test?

    As Congress grows closer to regulating direct-to-consumer DNA tests off the market, a NEWSWEEK reporter sets forth on a weeklong quest to determine if the tests are worth taking.
  • DNA Dilemma: The FAQs

    By the end of the week, writer Mary Carmichael will decide whether or not to take a direct-to-consumer genetic test. Here's more information about her project.
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    ScienceBlogs, PepsiGate, and Institutional Content

    Popular Web outlet ScienceBlogs is still trying to recover from a botched corporate sponsorship with Pepsi. But while its bloggers slowly return to work, ScienceBlogs is also expanding a noncommercial deal with academic institutes that raises questions about what "editorial integrity" really means.
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    The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years

    Malaria kills a million people a year, most of them kids and pregnant women. Why can’t we stop it? Here are some surprising conclusions—including pointed criticisms of current relief efforts as “quick fixes.” Plus, like the best infectious-disease lit, it’s a real creepfest.
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    The Little Flaw in the Longevity-Gene Study That Could Be a Big Problem

    Remember that study in the journal Science from last week linking a whole bunch of genes—including unexpectedly powerful ones—to extreme old age in centenarians? NEWSWEEK reported that some of outside experts thought it sounded too good to be true, perhaps because of an error in the way the genes were identified that could cause false-positive results.
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    What We Can Learn From Mobile Health Care

    This RV could change the face of health care in America and solve one of the most pressing problems facing the new health-care-reform law: how to expand access while controlling costs.
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    A Combo Vaccine May Cause Seizures in Kids. But Why?

    Parents need not worry that the measles, mumps, and rubella injection will increase their children’s risk of autism, but kids given a vaccine that also protects against chicken pox have a slightly higher risk of developing febrile seizures, the scary if ultimately harmless phenomenon that accompanies a bad fever.
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    Doctors, Depression, and DNA

    Any given antidepressant tends to help only about a third of patients. Now a new DNA test may be able to predict what medication will be most effective based on gene variants. Sounds promising, but does it work?
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    Healthy Living from 35 to 49

    Fifty is the new thirty -- but that doesn’t mean that as you age, you can live like a college kid. Follow these simple steps to help ensure that you thrive for years to come. Plus: when should women get screened for breast cancer?
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    The Science of Healthy Living

    When it comes to health, we’re not living in the age of Too Much Information so much as the age of Not Quite Enough. Medical science has generated vast amounts of data and laypeople have more access to it than ever before. Look closely at that data, though, and it starts to seem disturbingly incomplete. We scoured the studies to find out exactly what you need at every age.
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    Healthy Living from 65 On

    The longer the human lifespan stretches, the more doctors understand about staying healthy and vibrant into the senior years. What you need to know to make sure that you live long and live well.
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    How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like

    Is there anyone who could resist a book about sex, food, art, and fun? Didn’t think so. This book is about all those things, but what turns it from a guilty pleasure into a guiltless one is its deep understanding of philosophy, developmental psychology, and evolutionary theory. Yes, it’s a science book, and a brainy one at that. But look! There’s an index entry for Jennifer Aniston! So don’t be scared
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    No Sex, Please, We’re Soccer Players

    There's nothing hotter than a sweaty, well-muscled athlete, unless he's fresh off play at the World Cup and happens to be from Britain or Ghana. The only scoring those guys will be doing in the next month is on the field. Their countries reportedly have banned them from sex while they're playing in the tournament, for fear that they'll waste themselves on the wrong kind of action.
  • FDA Director on Cracking Down on Do-It-Yourself Genome Tests

    Fresh off sending stern letters to five consumer-genomics companies indicating that, as currently marketed, the companies’ tests will require clearance by the FDA, Alberto Gutierrez—the agency’s director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health—spoke to NEWSWEEK.
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    Personal Genomics Tests to Face Regulation

    The FDA has sent letters to five personal genomics companies outlining its intentions for regulation of direct-to-consumer tests, and if 23andMe thought it was having a bad week before, it's sure not going to be happy now.
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    How the Web Affects Your Brain

    The "Google makes us stoopid" argument is a perennial of modern life, and right now, it's in season. The most thorough take on the topic is Nicholas Carr’s new book, "The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains," but anyone who's been spending a lot of time surfing is probably going to be so distracted by e-mails and Facebook, etc., that he won't be able to finish the book.
  • 'Autism Doctor' Loses His Medical License

    Andrew Wakefield, the sham scientist whose now-retracted 1998 paper led millions of parents to believe in a link between autism and the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine, has just lost his license to practice medicine in Britain. This sounds like an important development, but Wakefield doesn't think so. On the "Today Show" this morning, he described it as "a little bump in the road." ...
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    5 Implications of Venter's Synthetic Life Form

    It’s easy to get carried away in the wake of Thursday’s announcement that Craig Venter & Co. have created what is in some sense the world’s first synthetic organism.

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