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  • Pregnant Women: Eat More Fish or Not?

    Pregnant women may want to put fish back on their grocery lists. According to a study in the latest issue of The Lancet, the British medical journal, the nutritional benefits of seafood outweigh any toxic effects of trace contaminants like mercury. That's big news because many pregnant women are still following a 2004 advisory from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which warned them to avoid high-mercury fish (shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish) and to eat no more than 12 ounces of low-mercury seafood (shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, catfish) each week because of potentially harmful effects on the developing brain of the fetus. The new Lancet study suggests that advising pregnant women to limit their consumption of seafood could actually be detrimental to their children.The study's authors looked at the behavior, fine motor skills and IQ's of the offspring of 11,875 British women who had earlier assessed their...
  • A Depression Screening Test

    The PHQ-9 test is used by mental health professionals to help identify the symptoms of depressive disorders. Click here to take an interactive version of the test.
  • How 100 Countries Will Adapt to Climate Change

    The climate is heating up, but how will countries adapt? Until recently, nobody’s asked the question. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body that studies the problem, asked scientists to rank countries in terms of their ability to adapt to a changing world. Researchers at Columbia University's Center for International Earth Science Information Network came up with a way to rank nations by their preparedness to adapt to climate change, given their physical exposure to the effects of global warming (a long coastline might make a country vulnerable to rising seas, for instance) and their ability to rise to the challenge. The list, in descending order (from the most to least vulnerable) puts in stark relief a central irony of climate-change—that the biggest carbon emitters stand to gain the most, or lose the least, in a warming future. The vulnerability of 100 nations:
  • Her Body: Sex After Cancer

    A new book takes on a subject even doctors rarely talk about—shattering taboos and shedding light on how survivors can reclaim intimacy in their lives. A conversation with the author.
  • The Mechanics of Trauma

    New research reveals more about how the brain processes the kind of traumatic memories that result in posttraumatic stress disorder. Could these discoveries lead to better drug treatments?
  • Going, Going, Gone?

    Smallpox is the only disease we've ever eradicated. But others are on the endangered list: Guinea Worm, Polio and Lymphatic Filariasis could all be wiped out in the next few generations.
  • 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...
  • Tell Us How You Survived a Health Crisis

    Tell us how you met your greatest health challenge. Did you overcome an illness? Did you finally lose the weight you always wanted to lose? Did you start exercising after years of inactivity? Did you train for a marathon or quit smoking? Did you start eating right and stay with it? In your own words, take us through your experience.  What did you learn about your physical and emotional strengths? Were there people in your life that buoyed you with support or guidance? We'll run the best of our submissions online weekly throughout 2007. ...
  • Begley: The Puzzle of Hidden Ability

    Even their parents struggle to draw the tiniest hint of emotion or social connection from autistic children, so imagine what happens when a stranger sits with the child for hours to get through the standard IQ test. For 10 of the test's 12 sections, the child must listen and respond to spoken questions. Since for many autistics it is torture to try to engage with someone even on this impersonal level, it's no wonder so many wind up with IQ scores just above a carrot's (I wish I were exaggerating; 20s are not unknown). More precisely, fully three quarters of autistics are classified as having below-normal intelligence, with many deemed mentally retarded.It's finally dawning on scientists that there's a problem here. Testing autistic kids' intelligence in a way that requires them to engage with a stranger "is like giving a blind person an intelligence test that requires him to process visual information," says Michelle Dawson of Rivière-des-Prairies Hospital in Montreal. She and...
  • Evolution: Branches on the Tree

    The phrase "family bush" doesn't trip off the tongue the way "family tree" does, but anyone talking about human origins had better get used to it. For years scientists have known that the simple linear model in which one ancestor evolved into another is a myth. Starting 4 million years ago, half a dozen species of Australopithecus lived in Africa at the same time. Experts thought that once the Homo lineage debuted 2.5 million years ago in East Africa with Homo habilis, things settled down, with habilis evolving into Homo erectus, who evolved into Homo sapiens—us. But two fossils discovered in Kenya in 2000 (it takes scientists years to figure out what fossils mean) suggest evolution was a lot messier than that.One fossil, found just east of Kenya's Lake Turkana, is the upper jaw of a habilis from 1.44 million years ago. This species was thought to have gone extinct about 1.6 million years ago. The other find, from the same site, is an erectus skull from 1.55 million years ago. The...
  • Why Do Some People Shop Impulsively?

    Researchers have found that the way we process guilt has an impact on how prudent we are when it comes to buying that luxury item or eating that extra cookie.
  • New Ways to Map How the Face Ages

    New research into how the face stores fat could lead to more effective anti-aging strategies, better facial reconstruction techniques, and may even help doctors assess heart-disease risks.
  • Eight Ways To Improve Your Makeup

    Cold sores, dermatitis, acne bumps and eyelash lice are just some of the icky conditions that can be spread by unkempt cosmetics. How to keep your makeup clean.
  • Read an Excerpt from ‘The Center Cannot Hold’

    It’s ten o’clock on a Friday night. I am sitting with my two classmates in the Yale Law School Library. “Memos are visitations,” I announce. “They make certain points. The point is on your head. Have you ever killed anyone?”My study partners look at me as if they—or I—have been splashed with ice water. “This is a joke, right?” asks one. “What are you talking about, Elyn?” asks the other.“Oh, the usual. Heaven, and hell. Who’s what, what’s who. Hey!” I say, leaping out of my chair. “Let’s go out on the roof!”I practically sprint to the nearest large window, climb through it, and step out onto the roof, followed a few moments later by my reluctant partners in crime. “This is the real me!” I announce, my arms waving above my head. “Come to the Florida lemon tree! Come to the Florida sunshine bush! Where they make lemons. Where there are demons. Hey, what’s the matter with you guys?”“You’re frightening me,” one blurts out. A few uncertain moments later, “I’m going back inside,” says the...
  • Doctors Debate Over Lyme Disease

    There's a debate raging over Lyme disease, although you'd never know it unless you've been paying close attention—because on the surface it sounds like the dullest argument imaginable. Last year, the Infectious Diseases Society of America issued new guidelines saying physicians should treat Lyme with antibiotics for no longer than 30 days. Some docs think that's wrong. It's a seemingly straightforward difference of opinion. So why has the debate dissolved into animosity, with one side suggesting that its opponents have no credibility and the other slinging deeply personal insults on the Web? And why has it now spilled out of medical journals and into the office of a state attorney general? Clearly, something other than ticks is bugging a lot of doctors.Lyme disease—the most common insect-borne ailment in America, with roughly 20,000 cases diagnosed each year and more undetected—is transmitted mostly by a well-known pest, the deer tick. But the real culprit is something even nastier,...
  • Race for Life: Triathlon Camp for Diabetics

    There was a time—say, the fourth grade—when I was sure my genetic destiny was to be an athlete. My father was a three-time All-American wrestler in college. My mother was a runner and a yoga teacher. At school, whenever teams were picked, I was among the first chosen, and, without exception, the first girl. But at 11 a different genetic fate revealed itself when I developed type 1 diabetes. The disease—which I and about 3 million others in this country have—develops when the pancreas stops producing insulin, which the body needs to turn glucose into energy. As a type 1, my life is a perpetual balancing act that requires me to check my blood glucose level several times a day. If it's too low, I feel shaky, tired and confused and must give myself sugar or risk passing out. Too high, and I feel listless and nauseated until I give myself more insulin. Over time, too many "highs," as I call them, can lead to the disease's nastiest complications—blindness, kidney failure and limb...
  • Six of the Worst Workout Habits

    Some of the most common exercise routines could be turning your gym sessions into wasted time. Here's how to make every minute count.
  • Global Warming Deniers: A Well-Funded Machine

    Sen. Barbara Boxer had been chair of the Senate's Environment Committee for less than a month when the verdict landed last February. "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal," concluded a report by 600 scientists from governments, academia, green groups and businesses in 40 countries. Worse, there was now at least a 90 percent likelihood that the release of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels is causing longer droughts, more flood-causing downpours and worse heat waves, way up from earlier studies.
  • Justice Roberts: What Do His Seizures Mean?

    A neurologist on the rapidly evolving study of seizures, how doctors treat episodes like those suffered by Chief Justice Roberts and whether it could affect his future work.
  • Why Infertility Patients Are Donating Embryos

    After a successful series of infertility treatments, Kristen Cohen and her husband, Lee, had two sets of twin boys, now ages 6 and 2. They also had about a dozen embryos that they no longer needed but could not imagine going to waste. "We went through so much to create these embryos," says Kristen. "This was much more than blood, sweat and tears." The Cohens had also benefited firsthand from medical research; Lee, who has cystic fibrosis, has been helped by advanced treatments. So in 2006, when Kristen saw an article about the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, she contacted it and began the process of donating their embryos, which could be used to create new lines of embryonic stem cells. After five months of paperwork and counseling for the couple, the Cohen embryos were in the hands of researchers. "We know they might be destroyed without making a single stem-cell line," Kristen says. "I don't need to know that my embryo helped save patient X. It's the greater good."In the ongoing,...
  • Blood, Sweat and Peers

    After 10 years as a clinical endocrinologist, Dr. Matthew Corcoran, founder of the Diabetes Training Camp, was frustrated. Having seen thousands of patients—as assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Hospitals and most recently as a physician in Lehigh Valley Hospital’s diabetes and endocrinology group—he wondered why more wasn’t being done to prevent the very complications he spent so much time trying to treat. So in March, the 39-year-old physician quit his job to focus full time on developing the camp—the first of its kind. This summer, 28 campers came from all over the country, ranging in age from 16 to 66. Some are competitive athletes looking to fine-tune their skills. Others just want to start an exercise program. All have type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that occurs when, for unknown reasons, a person stops producing insulin, a hormone that turns glucose into energy. Next year, Corcoran plans to add a sports camp for adolescents. Eventually he’ll...
  • The Seven Worst Ways To Eat

    It's not just what you eat that matters. How you dine can play a major role in your weight and digestive well-being.
  • FitFlops: Do They Really Sex Up Your Legs?

    Forget the iPhone and Harry Potter. Turns out the slickest summer marketing hit may just be a pair of flip- flops.  They don’t look like much, but it’s what they promise—a tighter butt and trimmer legs—that’s hitting the buzz spot.The cushy-soled shoes, dubbed FitFlops, have been selling out faster than most stores can stock them. One mass e-mail blast from the developers was enough to move 4,000 pairs in three hours when the product launched in Britain in May. In a London shoe store—where the waiting list ran into the thousands—things got so heated one woman shoved another off a chair in a bid to get the last pair in stock. (“That was a bit extreme,” storeowner Anthony Stiefel told NEWSWEEK.) The FitFlop craze hit the U.S. a month later, with similar force. The first shipment sold out in weeks, the second in days. After a segment on “Good Morning America,” the shoe’s Web site promptly got 57,000 hits. America Online repeatedly listed the $45 FitFlops as one of its top search terms;...
  • China Races to Avoid Olympic-Size Food Scare

    It was a harsh penalty even by the standards of China, which executes more criminals every year than any place else in the world. The former head of the State Food and Drug Administration was put to death last week. His crime: approving untested medicines in exchange for $850,000 in bribes. At least 10 deaths have been blamed on bogus antibiotics that were OK'd during his tenure. But his offense went far beyond that—an SFDA spokeswoman said Zheng Xiaoyu had brought "shame" on the agency.Shame has always been a dreaded force in China—and now it has Beijing's leaders scrambling to save face amid the country's multiplying food-, drug- and product-safety scandals. In centuries past, the Chinese emperor's No. 1 responsibility was to guarantee that his subjects were adequately fed. Only then did he earn the "mandate of heaven" that justified his reign. And this in essence has been the Communist Party's bargain with China since the days of Deng Xiaoping: in return for accepting a sometimes...
  • Transcript: Near-Death Experiences

    The good news: millions of Americans know how to perform CPR. The bad news: when confronted with an apparent victim of cardiac arrest, most bystanders won't do it because it includes mouth-to-mouth breathing.Now Dr. Gordon Ewy, director of the University of Arizona's Sarver Heart Center, is championing a new form of CPR called cardio-cerebral resuscitation, or CCR, which focuses on rapid, forceful chest compressions, about 100 per minute, minus the mouth to mouth. "Mouth to mouth inflates the lungs, but it's not the lungs that need oxygen, it's the heart and the brain," says Ewy. "Chest compressions alone will help save those organs."The Sarver researchers have developed two separate CCR protocols. Bystanders who witness a cardiac arrest are urged to perform chest compressions until help arrives. Paramedics are to attempt CCR for two minutes, before they use a defibrillator. Several Arizona fire departments have adopted the new approach. An analysis of that data shows survival rates...
  • Study: Zocor May Help Prevent Alzheimer's

    Who wouldn't love to find a drug to help prevent or at least delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease? It turns out that one may already exist. Dr. Benjamin Wolozin, professor of pharmacology at Boston University School of Medicine, posted a study this week in the online journal BioMed Central Medicine showing that the cholesterol-lowering drug Zocor (simvastatin) reduced the incidence of both Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's by about 50 percent in a population of 4.5 million veterans over a three-year period. By comparison, two other statin drugs—Lipitor (atorvastatin) and Mevacor (lovastatin)—showed little or no effect.Before you rush to your doctor, be aware that it's too early to draw clinical recommendations from the new findings. This was a broad observational study rather than a gold-standard randomized clinical trial, in which all the variables are carefully controlled. "At least one, sometimes two, randomized clinical trials would be required before the FDA would approve...
  • The Real Story of the Lunch-Hour Boob Job

    Can you really get your breasts enlarged in your lunch hour? Here's the real story behind those reports--and a look at the research that could make fat your friend.