Mary Carmichael

Stories by Mary Carmichael

  • What's Up With Tuna?

    When Elizabeth Schuler got pregnant last July, she didn't turn to the FDA for nutrition advice. Instead, she asked a real group of experts--the women at her Chicago hair salon. They told her to give up her beloved tuna or risk damaging her baby's brain. Now the government is catching up with their warnings and Schuler is relieved to be fish-free, if a bit annoyed. "It feels like I know stuff first," she says. "The FDA is always late jumping into the game."What did Schuler know that the FDA didn't? For years, the agency has told pregnant women to avoid large, fatty fish such as swordfish and king mackerel, which carry heavy loads of methylmercury--a pollutant widely believed to harm fetal brains. Tuna tend to have slightly lower mercury levels. But the FDA draft guidelines reported last week counsel women to limit tuna intake to six ounces (one meal's worth) per week if they're nursing, pregnant, or even thinking about having a baby. They also note that tuna steaks and albacore...
  • Health: Get The Shot, Not The Flu

    It sounded bad: Chiron and Aventis Pasteur, makers of the flu shot, announced last Friday that they had run through their entire stock of the vaccine. With a vicious Colorado strain having killed at least five kids--and infected 6,300 more people--the Centers for Disease Control seemed caught by surprise, and anxiety spread through the 200 million Americans who hadn't yet been immunized. But even if you haven't been vaccinated, don't panic. The good news is that Americans got flu shots in record numbers this year. And with 80 million vaccinated, "herd immunity" is up, so this year's flu may not spread easily. Those who act now can still get protected. Here's what you need to know about the outbreak.It's not too late. The shot takes two weeks to start working, so those who got immunized early were wise to do so. But you can still play catch-up--flu season runs until May. Vaccine stores aren't totally depleted yet, so call your doctor or county health department today and be...
  • Periscope

    RUSSIAThe Putin StrategyThe big question in this Sunday's parliamentary elections is not whether supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin will dominate their opponents, but what Putin will do with the victory. To push through his ambitious second-term agenda, Putin needs a strong election showing from United Russia, the party handcrafted by the Kremlin over the past four years to give him an easy legislative ride. With GDP growing around 6 percent this year, Putin pledges to make sure ordinary citizens share in the country's growing prosperity. Teachers, police and soldiers will see a pay increase, he says. There will be improvements in basic infrastructure, such as heat and running water in dirt-poor provinces. In the budget next year, Putin plans to spike an unpopular 5 percent sales tax and to create a so-called stabilization fund from windfall oil revenues.Putin's first post-Dec. 7 moves, though, will likely include some ministerial housecleaning. As the top-ranking...
  • Health: Produce Wash-Out

    It may sound like a bad B-movie sequel--"Attack of the Killer Scallions!"--but there's no better way to describe America's newest food hysteria. Mexican scallions have killed three people and infected hundreds more with hepatitis A in the Pittsburgh area, joining Guatemalan raspberries (which can carry Cyclospora germs) and Mexican cantaloupes (salmonella) in the ranks of potentially toxic raw produce. As imports have increased, so have cases of produce-borne illness, possibly because farming standards abroad are lower. But a 1999 attack of salmonella-bearing tomatoes was homegrown--so don't think that simply buying American is a guarantee of purity. Better to worry about the food when you get it home. Take Mae West's advice: peel it and remove any leaves. Always, always wash before you eat. (Food and hands, please.) And when in doubt, just cook it.
  • The Skinny On Bad Fat

    One of the great virtues of "The Trans Fat Solution," a new cookbook/health primer, is that you can read the entire thing in less time than it takes to make the Walnut-Cardamom Coffee Cake on page 41. Trans-fatty acids are a tricky topic, and so many health books confuse more than they enlighten, using jargon instead of straightforward explanation. But this is not one of those books. Author Kim Severson, a food writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, has made trans-fatty foods understandable in just three short chapters--and, God bless her, she's included yummy alternatives from former Place Pigalle chef Cindy Burke.Trans fats, the synthetic molecules that appear in more than 40 percent of foods on grocery shelves as "partially hydrogenated" oils or "vegetable shortening," are a guilty pleasure for both cooks and consumers. They show up in fresh foods, making croissants flaky and pie crusts crumbly. But they're also what's keeping that decade-old Twinkie at the back of your pantry...
  • In The News: Super Statins

    Most patients who take statins to lower their cholesterol probably don't know why they're on one brand instead of another. Truth be told, neither do their doctors. Until last week, there wasn't much evidence that one brand was better than the other. But the results of a Cleveland Clinic study released last week showed that patients' average LDL levels dropped to 110 on Pravachol and an astounding 79 on Lipitor--and some doctors are now switching to Lipitor as their prescription of choice. That doesn't necessarily mean you should switch if you're on another statin, though. "A lot of the media coverage said drug A was better than drug B," says Dr. James Cleeman, coordinator of the NIH's National Cholesterol Education Program. "But you can't conclude that from this study. It wasn't a head-to-head comparison." Patients took either 40mg of Pravachol or 80mg of Lipitor (which was already known to have a stronger milligram-for-milligram effect). The Lipitor patients had lower CRP levels,...
  • Science: Mother Knows Best

    If anyone ever needed science to throw her a bone, it's the woman in this photo. She's tired, she's overworked, she's got a screaming toddler who won't be mollified. We're betting she's lucky if she gets to skim Parenting; she's probably way too busy to read Physiology and Behavior. Which is too bad, because the latest issue contains some of the best news a mom could ever hear.According to research done by Craig Kinsley at the University of Richmond, mother rats are less susceptible to stress than those who have never given birth. Recent studies have shown that they also have sharper memories and spatial skills. After motherhood, the rodent brain undergoes what Kinsley calls "dramatic alterations." As levels of estrogen and oxytocin surge, connections between neurons become more dense, and the glial support cells proliferate. Hormones may not be the only factors in play. Just being around babies may somehow encourage the brain to perk up, says Kinsley, even if "any human mother...
  • Genes: Boning Up Treatment Options

    It's hard to say which facet of osteoporosis is worse--the symptoms, or the fact that they show up only when it's too late to fully cure them. Women aren't likely to think much about a disabling disease of old age when they're too young to suffer from it; by the time they're old enough to realize it's in their near future, calcium tablets can only help so much. But the recent discovery of a gene variant that triples people's risk for the disease could help them know whether they need to prepare in advance. The gene, which in its "healthy" form stimulates the cells that produce bone tissue, was revealed Monday by the Icelandic firm deCODE Genetics, which has been on a tear lately, identifying genes involved in many of the West's most common diseases. It's almost certainly not the only culprit to cause the disease, which is probably the result of several genes interacting with the environment. But like all genes, it could be identified with simple tests--which could bring about a...
  • Genes: Boning Up On Options

    It's hard to say which facet of osteoporosis is worse--the symptoms, or the fact that they show up only when it's too late to fully cure them. Women aren't likely to think much about a disabling disease of old age when they're too young to suffer from it; by the time they're old enough to realize it's in their near future, calcium tablets can only help so much. But the recent discovery of a gene variant that triples the risk of developing the disease could help women be forewarned. The gene, which in its healthy form stimulates the cells that produce bone tissue, was revealed Monday by the Icelandic firm deCODE Genetics, which has been on a tear lately, identifying genes involved in many of the West's most common diseases. It's almost certainly not the only culprit in causing the disease, which is probably the result of several genes interacting with the carrier's environment.But like all genes, it could be identified with simple tests--which would likely bring about a major shift...
  • Health: Atkins Cheaters Beware

    Try as she did with traditional healthy eating, Adele Gubic just couldn't seem to lose weight after her third pregnancy. So when she heard about the Atkins diet two years ago, it seemed like a godsend. She bought "the books and the tapes and the cookbooks" and ordered low-carbohydrate soy products online. Sure enough, 12 pounds melted off her 156-pound frame in eight weeks. "It does come off amazingly if you do what you're supposed to do," she says.The problem was, she didn't. Two months into the regimen, Gubic, like most Atkins dieters, started having serious starch and sugar cravings. She had passed the initial "induction" phase of Atkins, which prohibits almost everything except meat, eggs and cheese. But she hadn't reached the "lifetime maintenance" phase, the ideal-weight stage that allows plenty of fruits and vegetables and even an occasional cheat. As she added more and more carbs back into her daily diet, already stuffed with meats and cheeses, it became clear she'd never...
  • Homo Sapiens: A New Answer To An Old 'Quest'-Ion

    It's a quandary that goes back to the ancient Greeks: what makes Homo sapiens unique? Plato famously thought he had the answer, arguing that humans were the world's only hairless and featherless creatures to walk on two feet. Not so, said his rival Diogenes, brandishing a plucked chicken. And so the debate went on for the next 2,350 years, with more answers (culture! language! math!) tossed up and batted just as quickly out of the arena.It continues today, which is why we have "Quest: The Essence of Humanity," an excellent new book in which biochemist Charles Pasternak plays Plato. He begins by recounting the four traits most anthropologists point to as distinctly "human": bipedalism, agile hands, sophisticated vocal cords and big brains. But they aren't enough alone; each has a proverbial plucked chicken of its own among the animal kingdom. The crucial difference, Pasternak argues, is how we've used those gifts in the service of our curiosity--and how they've helped us conquer the...
  • Ask Tip Sheet

    Why does scratching stop an itch? --Wilbur Seymour, Sandia Park, N.M.Like many questions Ask Tip Sheet receives, this one's been puzzling scientists for years. Not much is known about itching, but it likely evolved as a defense mechanism, alerting the nerves to possible harm. When an irritant touches your skin, nearby nerves send a signal racing to your cerebral cortex. The same nerves transmit pain. By scratching (i.e., causing yourself mild pain), you distract them from the itch. By the time the pain subsides, the irritant is usually gone--unless it's something like a bug bite, which is why scratching those only works for a minute or two.
  • Memory And Sleep: Forget All-Nighters

    Like many students, Kimberly Fenn has pulled more than a few all-nighters, cramming facts into her head for the next day's exam, fighting exhaustion and gravity to keep her eyelids from closing. Her parents always told her she'd be better off with a good night's sleep. But it was only this past year, as a psychology graduate student at the University of Chicago, that Fenn learned how true that was. She tested two groups of undergraduates on their ability to learn a gibberish language. One group (the crammers) had to take a test on the same day as their training, while another group (the sleepers) were allowed a night's rest. The results were startling. The sleepers scored higher than the crammers, "like going from F's to C's," says Howard Nusbaum, Fenn's adviser and a coauthor of the study.The findings do more than merely confirm what we (or at least our moms) already knew. They suggest that the link between sleep and the brain's higher mental processes is far stronger than...
  • Medicine: Whoops--Get The Shot

    It's been more than four decades since doctors introduced a vaccine for whooping cough, a disease so archaic it even sounds old. So why is it suddenly on the rise nationwide? The latest outbreak hit New York last month. The culprits: parents who didn't get their kids shots. "We're victims of our own success," says Kathy Edwards, who helped develop the vaccine. "Every time we let our guard down, the disease comes back." The vaccine isn't linked to autism, and there's no good reason not to get it. But it's only 90 percent effective, so even vaccinated kids can get sick. Adults can come down with mild whooping cough, and babies under 7 months, who aren't fully immune, often contract it from unvaccinated siblings. An adolescent version of the shot may hit the market next year. For now, make sure your family is up to date--and see your doctor if it's a problem in your area.
  • Wmd: They're History

    Investigators have found evidence of biological weapons in Iraq, NEWSWEEK has learned. The discovery was made south of Mosul, in the ruins of a desert fortress at Hatra. And the weapons are... not what you think. They're clay pots once filled with scorpions and dropped on the heads of invaders by the citizens of Hatra at the turn of the third century. That era's siege of Hatra by the Romans lasted just 20 days before the enemy turned tail. "It was the brute effectiveness of Hatra's defensive biological and chemical weapons that overcame Roman morale, manpower and siege machines," writes classical folklorist Adrienne Mayor. "The terror effect would be quite impressive."Who knew Saddam Hussein had such a legacy to live up to? Mayor's new book, "Greek Fire, Poison Arrows, and Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World"--which she says was prompted in part by 9/11 and the anthrax scare--offers a comprehensive look at WMD's antecedents, from flamethrowers of the...
  • Strokes: New Risk Factor

    Iceland's deCODE Genetics has attracted controversy since its July 2000 IPO, when bioethicists came out swinging, accusing the firm of invading people's privacy. DeCODE wasn't trying hard enough to get people's consent before using their medical data to search for the genetic roots of disease, the ethicists claimed. Three years later, the firm's methods may still seem shady--but no one can deny they work. DeCODE has found 15 genes implicated in 12 diseases, including last week's "stroke gene." The harmful form of the gene, which may cause plaque buildup in the arteries, is as much of a risk factor as smoking, hypertension and high cholesterol. Drugs to counter the gene are years away, and there's currently no way of knowing which form you have. But deCODE CEO Kari Stefansson says a screening test could be ready in a year or two. Our advice: think what you will of deCODE's strategy, but don't ignore the benefits.CORRECTION ...
  • Out Of The Blue

    There are corners of the ocean that Navy Capt. Alfred McLaren has never seen, but to hear him recount his life story, it's hard to believe they'll stay hidden from him for long. At the age of 4, he decided his life's ambition was to see a "deep-sea monster" like the ones he had read about in National Geographic. Twenty-two years later he became one of the first hundred people chosen to pilot a deep-sea monster of a different variety--a U.S. nuclear submarine. Since then, he has played a game of baseball at the North Pole ("If you threw it from right field, you literally threw it back to yesterday"), gazed upon the undersides of icebergs and battled a polar bear who mistook his sub's periscope for an emerging seal. He has descended five times to the ruins of shipwrecks and the churning hot waters of hydrothermal vents in the Atlantic. He has seen more of the seas in 71 years than the entire human race had seen before he was born. So now that he's retired from the Navy, isn't it time...
  • Health: Dial-Up Doctor

    The next time your family physician tells you to take two aspirin and call him in the morning, he might not be kidding. A new study from Kaiser Permanente shows that urinary-tract infections, which account for more than 8 million doctor's visits each year, can be managed just as easily over the telephone. That's great news for sufferers. "The diagnosis is based almost exclusively on what patients tell us in the office, not on tests," says Dr. David Vinson, the study's lead author, "so it's not that different for them to tell someone over the phone." Of the 4,177 women in the study, almost 90 percent chose to give their symptoms to a specially trained nurse, who then faxed their antibiotic orders to a pharmacy after getting the OK from their primary care provider. The women fared as well as those who chose the waiting-room route. (Over-the-counter treatments for UTI are also available, but they don't get rid of the infection--they only reduce the pain.) The idea is catching on; many...
  • Health: Take Your Vitamin B

    If you are a woman of childbearing age--even if you're not planning on having a baby soon--tear out this headline and stick it on the fridge. For years, doctors have been telling young women to take 400 micrograms daily of folic acid (vitamin B9), which comes in many multivitamins and can prevent spina bifida and neural-tube defects in babies. But women haven't listened; less than a third of them follow orders. Why? A new March of Dimes study says most simply forget about it, don't care or think it's only for pregnant women. Ladies, listen to us: few links are as strong as that between birth defects and folic acid, which works best if it's taken before pregnancy. And half of all U.S. pregnancies are unplanned. So if there's any chance you'll ever have a baby, get to the health-food store.
  • Far From Home

    Every year, hundreds of thousands of foreign students set off for the States in pursuit of an American diploma. Most come to study the sciences. And their numbers keep growing; the Institute of International Education reports that a record 582,996 foreign students enrolled in U.S. universities last school year. Many of those students attended a select group of universities. The common factor? Each school makes sure international students feel welcome--and each has good word of mouth among folks back home. "If you asked foreign students to name three American schools, they'd name Harvard, Stanford and one of these," says IIE president Allan Goodman. "Students know them because their cousins, uncles and friends go there." They are (in order):1. UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES. USC is home to more than 5,000 international students. (Its promotional brochure spotlights an Australian student of Vietnamese origin.) Newcomers might be tempted to befriend only their...
  • Health: Mercury Menace?

    For years the FDA has warned pregnant women about mercury, the defect-causing pollutant that builds up in fish--and the women have responded. Last Thursday, a survey reported that expectant mothers have eaten 1.4 fewer servings of fish per month since the FDA launched its anti-mercury campaign. But on the same day, a Stanford study revealed that the mercury found in fish is not methyl-mercury chloride--the kind known to damage fetal nervous systems--but another form that might be less toxic to humans. Then again, it "might be more toxic," says biophysicist Graham George. Why the confusion? Scientists just don't know how mercury compounds break down in the human body. That's George's next step, though, so stay tuned. You should probably continue to avoid swordfish and mackerel until the experts get their fish story straight.
  • Health: Chemical Wowie

    In print, David Sinclair comes off as a mild-mannered Harvard pathologist given to discussions of "small molecules" and Saccharomyces cerevisiae. On the phone, though, he's a bit more... effusive. "We're making history," he says. "What surprises me--well, a lot of things do--oh, I've gotten carried away. What was my point?" What's got him so excited is none other than a small molecule, and if you happen to want a long and healthy life, it'll have you in a tizzy, too. Sinclair and colleagues reported last week in Nature that a chemical called resveratrol can lengthen the life of a Saccharomyces yeast cell by 80 percent--and it might do similar wonders for human cells. Resveratrol activates enzymes that prevent cancer, stave off cell death and boost cellular-repair systems.A naturally occurring molecule, it builds up in under-nourished animals and plants attacked by fungi. One of the latter is the grapevine--yup, resveratrol is found in red wine. Of course, if we had a nickel for...
  • HRT: MORE BAD NEWS

    It's been more than a year since a study linked hormone-replacement therapy to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease--and sent millions of women into a panic. Since then, the treatment has been implicated in breast cancer and stroke, too. But it still appeals to women desperate to escape menopausal symptoms. For them, we have one piece of advice: pick up copies of last week's Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine. Both journals add to the ever-mounting evidence that HRT has more risks than rewards. The NEJM study, based on the same data as last year's report, suggests that the risk of a heart attack rises 81 percent in the first year of use--and that's for all hormone users, not just women predisposed to cardiovascular disease. And The Lancet's study shows that progestin-estrogen therapy (like Prempro) tracks with an increased risk of breast cancer compared with the risk for women taking estrogen only. Estrogen therapy (like Premarin), by the way, is linked to uterine cancer....
  • Animal Emotions

    Pet Owners Have Long Believed Their Companions Love Them Back. Scientists Once Scoffed, But Now They're Coming Around.
  • Technology: Scoping Out The Stars

    Astronomers and astrologers don't have much in common, but there's a good chance August will send both groups into a frenzy: on the 27th, Mars will loom large on the horizon, coming closer to Earth than it has in 73,000 years. Alas, we can't say what that means for your love life, but we do have one prediction: a lot of folks will buy flashy new telescopes for the event, only to be disappointed. Telescopes are hardly simple tube-and-mirror devices anymore. That's great news for serious hobbyists, but first-timers baffled by tech talk may be best off with basic models. So Tip Sheet, er, looked into it. Here's our guide to buying a telescope.If the closest thing you already have to a scope is a pair of opera glasses, go for a simple classic: a Dobsonian, one you have to point yourself. Make sure it has at least a six-inch mirror. "First-timers make the mistake of buying small computerized telescopes with a lot of doodads and knobs," says Tom Burns, director of the Perkins Observatory...
  • Animal Emotions

    Everyone who's ever owned a pet has at least one story (usually many, actually) of an animal that seems just as emotional as any human. Take Ruth Osment, who says her two cats, Penny and Jo, feel sorry for her when she cries--running to her and drying her tears with their fur. Or Donna Westlund, whose roommate's parrot Koko shows all the classic signs of a teenage crush, calling out "Hey, come here," whenever she tries to leave the room. Then there's John Van Zante. Recently, he watched Max, a Labrador retriever mix, sit lovingly by a woman in a wheelchair in a convalescent home while she patted his head for several minutes. It wasn't until the elderly woman wheeled off down the hall that Van Zante realized she had been parked on Max's tail the entire time. Max hadn't complained at all. "He was in pain, clearly, but he seemed to know that she had special needs, so he just sat through it," says Van Zante, communications director for the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe...
  • A New Face From Africa

    To Michelangelo, eve was a lovely brunette; to Rodin, a voluptuous temptress. To scientists, the matriarch's face has been more elusive. In 1987 geneticists suspected that a 160,000-year-old "African Eve" of sorts was the last common ancestor of modern humans, "but without data from the fossil record, no one knew what she looked like," says University of California, Berkeley, paleontologist Tim White.Now we do. Last week in the journal Nature, White's team announced that three skulls--from a man, a child and an adult of uncertain gender, from Afar in Ethiopia--dated to the same era as African Eve's, making them the oldest known Homo sapiens fossils. They look entirely modern, though subtle differences earned them the subspecies name idaltu ("elder").The skulls demolish the notion that humans evolved on several continents, interbreeding with Neanderthals, and support the "only in Africa" theory. But they raise new questions. The skulls were separated from the bodies; the child's had...
  • The Prairie Dog Problem

    Schyan Kautzerhas had a rough couple of weeks. First, the 3-year-old's new pet prairie dog bit her finger. Next, a temperature of 103 landed her in the hospital. Then her parents tried to medicate her pet--which wasn't doing well, either--and ended up sick themselves, all suffering from monkeypox, the latest exotic ailment to show up in the United States. By Friday of last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was investigating 72 possible cases (13 confirmed) in the Midwest and New Jersey, largely among prairie-dog owners. The Kautzers are better now, but the rest of the country is still feeling a little queasy. Here's what you should know:What exactly is monkeypox, and how did it get here? A far less deadly relative of smallpox, monkeypox is a rare virus first isolated in African monkeys. It's transmitted only by bodily fluids--like the saliva from a bite. Symptoms include high temperature, aches, a sore throat and red, pus-filled bumps. Mortality ranges from 1 to...
  • West Nile: On The Move

    Last August, as the West Nile virus went on a 44-state, 284-person killing spree, Vicki Kramer found herself troubled by a single case. In California, where Kramer is the state's point person on mosquito-borne disease, the virus hadn't shown up in surveillance of birds or insects. But out of nowhere, a sick 31-year-old woman who hadn't left the Los Angeles area in months had fallen ill. The case was a mystery in many ways, but Kramer figured there were ways to solve it--the deadly disease might have been circulating all along, spread by some other means. Only one question really bothered her: why hadn't she seen it coming?She will this year--and it's surely coming, and fast. Despite last year's outbreak, few people have developed immunity to the disease, says Dawn Wesson, an associate professor of tropical medicine at Tulane University. Neither have the 138 species of birds and numerous other types of wildlife West Nile has now infected. And while geography may have kept a few...
  • Anthropology: In The Face Of History

    To Michelangelo, Eve was a lovely brunette; to Rodin, she was a voluptuous temptress. But to scientists, the human matriarch's face has always been elusive. In 1987 geneticists concluded that an "African Eve" of sorts, who lived 160,000 years ago, was the last common ancestor of all humans. But the sands had yielded nothing from that period. "Without data from the fossil record," says Berkeley paleontologist Tim White, "no one knew what she looked like."Now we do. Last week White's team announced that three human skulls had been dated to precisely the same era as African Eve's, give or take a few millennia. They are by far the oldest known Homo sapiens fossils. The skulls are at first glance indistinguishable from those on our own necks. Their brains are large, in one case bigger than any of ours. By virtue of their age, they effectively demolish "multiregionalism," a theory by which humans evolved in relatively isolated patches around the globe. Instead, the finding confirms that...
  • Ask Tip Sheet

    How does sunscreen work? -JAMIE REED, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA.That depends on which kind you're using. Basic sunscreen contains chemicals that absorb the energy in ultraviolet rays, then emit it back as lower-frequency heat waves. The higher its SPF, the more UV rays it can absorb and re-emit--but even an SPF of 30 will let a few rays by. (SPFs higher than 30 aren't substantially more effective, so save your money.) For total protection, there's zinc oxide or titanium oxide, the opaque white goo lifeguards smear on their noses. It physically blocks the sunlight, rather than absorbing it. But unless you're going for that full-body-paint look, you're better off with the SPF 30 and a wide-brim hat.
  • Medicine For The Masses

    There are 30,000 scientific journals in the world, and most of them are unreadable. Do we really need another? Yes, yes, yes, at least in the case of the Annals of Family Medicine. The new journal is thin, photo-free and lures readers with scintillating headlines like applying a risk-adjustment framework to primary care. But behind the stuffy format is a radical idea: a medical journal that appeals to doctors and patients. With easy-to-understand articles, the Annals focuses on issues that may be overlooked in more specialized, esoteric journals, but are crucial in real life. It features sound, peer-reviewed science on common health problems like cancer, diabetes and pregnancy complications. And it does it all, free, on a Web site, ann fammed.org. (Or you can buy hard copies.) There's even a message board where readers--physicians or the rest of us--can respond to articles. "We don't want this to be just doctors talking to doctors," says editor Kurt Stange. He has an M.D. and a Ph.D...