Mary Carmichael

Stories by Mary Carmichael

  • The Testosterone-Profit Link

    A new study links high testosterone levels in male financial traders to profits, but too much of the hormone can have the opposite effect.
  • Health: Phys. Ed. Is Not Dead

    As a kid, I hated P.E. class so much that the word "kick-ball" still gives me shudders. It was embarrassing (gym shorts) and, worse, it seemed useless, at least to my 12-year-old self. I was already in decent shape, and although some of my classmates didn't get much exercise outside P.E., the class was no remedy—they didn't get much inside it, either. They were always picked last for teams; theyslouched through the motions; on "fun" Fridays, when you could choose to play ball or sit out, they sat. The only kids who liked P.E. were the jocks, who didn't need it. Why, I wondered, didn't we just get rid of the class?Someone must have heard my adolescent prayers, because in the early '90s schools starting cutting back on P.E., and many now fail to offer their students any physical activity at all. Just 3.8 percent of elementary schools and 2.1 percent of high schools had daily gym class in 2006, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. By comparison, in 1991, 42 percent of kids...
  • Do Short Women Live Longer?

    A new study reveals that some short women have a gene linked to longevity. Could the findings help all of us live longer?
  • Survived Cancer, Want Job

    Some childhood cancer survivors try to hide their disabilities; others admit to having problems but don't explain why.
  • A Gene That Helps the Abused

    A genetic variant may protect some abused kids from depression and other long-term effects.
  • Heart Stents: Good or Bad?

    Two new studies answer important questions about drug-eluting stents. But the biggest debate in cardiology isn't over yet.
  • Health Matters: Docs in Doubt

    There's a reason doctors started acting godlike: some patients wanted to believe it wasn't just an act.
  • A Changing Portrait Of DNA

    Every day, it seems, scientists learn something new about how our genes work. The latest insights into the dazzling and complex machinery of life itself.
  • Is Concierge Medicine Worth It?

    Daniel Khani was feeling healthy, but he did have a medical problem or, rather, a problem with medicine: he thought he wasn't getting enough of it. The basic physical he got each year was, well, basic. Khani, a wealthy real-estate investor, was accustomed to better treatment in the rest of his life. So in September, he went to the Concierge Medicine clinic in Los Angeles for what he considered the ultimate in medical care: the same kind the president gets.As part of his Presidential Physical, over two days Khani, 66, underwent a battery of fancy-sounding tests not usually included in a standard exam—"dilated direct opthalmoscopy," "fiberoptic nasolaryngoscopy," several ultrasounds, a tuberculosis test—all of them based on the regimen that White House physicians administer annually. "It made me feel good to be getting the same thing the president's getting," says Khani. Doctors sat with him for hours, lavishing him with personal attention, and they sent him for something even the...
  • Haunted By HIV’s Origins

    Michael Worobey, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona, is a nice guy—not the sort to seek out international controversy. But last week he found himself deluged with angry e-mails, and the Haitian Embassy and Consulates across the country were fielding hundreds of equally irate phone calls about him. Biology papers don't usually stir up so much fury. But Worobey's latest research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, tracks the spread of HIV and suggests that the most common Western strain first hitchhiked its way to America around 1969 in the body of a single person—a person who almost certainly contracted the disease in Haiti.Worobey says "Haitians are blameless for the spread of HIV. They were simply hit earlier." But a lot of Haitians feel offended anyway. Many of HIV's early victims in the West were Haitian immigrants, a link that led to "an adverse immigration policy in the United States and feelings of persecution and denial,"...
  • The Search For Solutions

    A doctor, a banker, an engineer and a scientist are working separately—and together—to bring lifesaving vaccines to children around the world. How inspired individuals can take on and conquer some of the world's biggest problems.
  • You, Too, Can Have A Bionic Body

    Susan Burke’s left knee was humbling her. At 54, she wanted to hike and whitewater raft through the national parks or, at the very least, to stroll around the block with her husband at night, as she’d always done. Instead, she could barely walk from her desk to her office parking lot without popping an Aleve. Her knee wouldn’t leave her alone. Four years earlier, it had started swelling while she was training for an eight-mile trek through Glacier National Park. “I finally decided, ‘All right, I’ll get it checked’,” she says. “The cartilage had worn down to the point of bone on bone.” Burke’s doctor told her she needed a knee replacement, but that wasn’t what she wanted. It was too drastic, and she thought she was too young.Over the next four years, Burke tried to salvage her knee with arthroscopic surgery, pain meds and lowered expectations for hikes that were “shorter than my usual horizons.” But her knee was still crumbling. Finally, she met a fellow adventurer on a plane who had...
  • Study: Your Friends Can Make You Fat

    The list of reasons a person might pack on too many pounds is already plenty long: genes, hormone disorders, a couch-potato lifestyle, love of cheeseburgers. Thanks to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine, you can add another culprit to the list: friends.Obesity spreads through social networks, according to the study, so if your friends put on weight, you’re more likely to put on the pounds, too. Your family members or spouse can also influence you; as they get heavier, you’re more likely to gain along with them. But, your friends—even if they don’t live anywhere near you—have the most sway. A close friend’s weight gain can even be downright dangerous.“If your close friend becomes obese in a given time interval, there’s triple the risk that you will follow suit,” says Nicholas Christakis, a coauthor of the study, which was published Wednesday and a professor of medical sociology at Harvard Medical School. “Before you know it you have an obesity epidemic, where we're...