America\'s Greenest Mayors

Sometimes great ideas are born of desperation. For Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, that sense of urgency developed in the winter of 2004-05, when the annual snowfall failed to materialize in the neighboring Cascade Mountains. That's a serious issue in Seattle, where melting snow feeds the city's reservoirs in the springtime and swells the river that supplies its hydroelectric energy. Nickels's advisers were coming to him weekly with reports that the snow pack was just 1 percent of normal. "I don't...

Talk Transcript: Mary Carmichael on Exercise and the Brain

The phone call began ominously. "We've got some very bad news." It was a top official at Pfizer calling for Dr. Steven Nissen, chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and president of the American College of Cardiology, one Saturday evening last December. The official got right to the point. The company was immediately shutting down clinical trials of torcetrapib—the experimental drug that was supposed to slash heart disease by dramatically raising HDL, or "good,"...

What's Up With Stents, Docs?

It's not often that the New England Journal of Medicine devotes most of its editorial content to a single subject—and releases the information early online. That's exactly what it did Monday with a series of five studies and several commentaries on drug-eluting coronary stents. As the editors explained, "Our motivation is the recent concern that the implantation of drug-eluting stents, as compared with bare-metal stents, may be associated with a small increased risk of late stent thrombosis,...

To Your Health: Another Piece of the Puzzle

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, Alzheimer\'s disease is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Thousands of researchers in labs around the world are hard at work every day trying to unlock its secrets. But how does one begin to unravel the cause of a disease that arises from the interplay of dozens of genes plus a number of environmental factors? To date, 900 scientific papers have identified 350 candidate genes that may be involved in late-onset Alzheimer\'s, the form of the disease...

To Your Health: The Perils Of Posing

Once a fringe activity, yoga is now as mainstream as mocha lattes, and with good reason. Numerous studies have shown that the practice can enhance strength, balance and flexibility. Yoga helps reduce stress and may even help lower high blood pressure.But to reap the benefits, you have to do it right—as all too many people are now discovering. Do it wrong, and you could end up as one of the growing number of casualties. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were more...

An Alzheimer's Fingerprint?

For decades, researchers have been trying to devise a reliable diagnostic test for Alzheimer's disease. But the goal has proven elusive. Today, even with the best techniques available, patients are technically classified as having "possible" or "probable" Alzheimer's, with a definitive conclusion becoming possible only upon death, when the brain can be autopsied. That's why a study appearing today in the online version of the journal Annals of Neurology could be so significant. In the new...

Targeting Needless Breast Biopsies

Think mammograms are unpleasant? Breast biopsies are much worse. Any woman who's had one to determine whether a lump is benign or malignant will attest to that. Even with minimally invasive techniques, the doctor has to guide a needle to the spot to localize the lump before inserting small blades to sample the tissue. "You definitely feel it," says Donna Feo, 42, of Columbiana, Ohio, who had the procedure in February. "You have bandages on your breast for a week or so." Then there's the tense...

A Six-Foot Lab Rat

Samuel Hassenbusch knows brain tumors. As a neurosurgeon at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, he's been operating on them since 1988. But early last year, when he suffered a month long string of persistent headaches, he told himself it was just stress. After all, he was only 51 and fit enough that he'd just completed a charity race for his hospital, combining a 5K run with a 50-mile motorcycle ride--or, as he calls it, "the iron-leg and iron-butt competition." When the thought kept...

Targeting Needless Breast Biopsies

Think mammograms are unpleasant? Breast biopsies are much worse. Any woman who's had one to determine whether a lump is benign or malignant will attest to that. Even with minimally invasive techniques, the doctor has to guide a needle to the spot to localize the lump before inserting small blades to sample the tissue. "You definitely feel it," says Donna Feo, 42, of Columbiana, Ohio, who had the procedure in February. "You have bandages on your breast for a week or so." Then there's the tense...

Environment: A Greener Way to Dress

Bamboo: the stuff of floors, furniture ... and now, fashion. Five years ago, Chinese engineers learned how to break down the fibers and spin them into thread. Now bamboo is sprouting up in dozens of products, from sheets (from $40; bedbathandbeyond.com ) to baby suits ($22; bamboosa.com ). The fabric is incredibly soft--and earth-friendly, too, because it doesn't require pesticides or fertilizers. Conventionally grown cotton takes a third of a pound of farm chemicals to produce a single T...

A Virulent Enemy

It was nature's own bioterror attack. The year was 1898, during the Spanish-American War, and the United States was losing more soldiers to yellow fever than to combat. In the disease's final, hideous stages, patients turned yellow with jaundice and vomited digested blood. They suffered bone-crushing pain and fevers that spiked to 104 degrees and above. One doctor who examined corpses described the victims' blood as steaming--their organs seeming to have been immersed in boiling water.Today...

A Six-Foot Lab Rat

Samuel Hassenbusch knows brain tumors. As a neurosurgeon at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, he's been operating on them since 1988. But early last year, when he suffered a month long string of persistent headaches, he told himself it was just stress. After all, he was only 51 and fit enough that he'd just completed a charity race for his hospital, combining a 5K run with a 50-mile motorcycle ride--or, as he calls it, "the iron-leg and iron-butt competition." When the thought kept...

And For the Rest of the Century\'s Weather….

Scary weather patterns appear to be on the rise. And if a new report is right, we could be in for a lot more. In a study called \"Going to the Extremes,\" coming out in the December issue of the journal Climatic Change, researchers from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and Texas Tech University found strong evidence that by the end of this century, there will be significant increases in what the authors call \"extreme weather events\"—deadly heat waves, heavy rainfall and...

Oh, to Be Fat and Healthy

A glass of red wine a day helps lower the risk of heart disease. Can it also counteract the effects of a high-fat diet, rich in T-bone steaks and coconut-cream pies? That's what everyone wanted to know after a new study, led by David Sinclair at Harvard, appeared last week in the online version of the journal Nature. The study found that concentrated doses of resveratrol, a compound in red wine, protected mice from the effects of obesity and extended their lives. The mice were fed a...

Health: It's All In The Bark

When explorer Jacques Cartier was stranded in Canada in the winter of 1535, many of his crew members developed bleeding gums and skin lesions from scurvy. But a local Indian gave them a remedy: a tea brewed from the bark and needles of a pine tree. Just maybe, there was some wisdom in that folk remedy. Today a French maritime-pine-bark extract called Pycnogenol--a mix of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds--is a fast-growing supplement on the U.S. market, with sales up 25 percent this...

Unraveling the SIDS Mystery

Susan Gertler of Olympia Fields, Ill., was delighted. Her 15-week-old son, Joey, had slept through the night for the third time. \"I can\'t believe he slept through the night again,\" she said to her husband, Jeff, when she woke that morning—Jan. 19, 1996. But Joey hadn\'t slept through the night. He\'d stopped breathing around midnight and never started again, a victim of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Gertler administered CPR, while her husband called 911 and summoned a doctor friend...

Health: Get the Whole Truth

When Rebecca Faill began manning the baker's hot line at King Arthur Flour Company in Norwich, Vt., she expected run-of-the-mill cooking questions, like "Why aren't my biscuits fluffy?" or "How do I convert my pancake recipe to serve 300 for the church dinner?" But over the past year, another query has moved to the fore--a more basic nutritional question: "My doctor just told me I have to eat whole grains. What does that mean?"It's a question that consumers have been asking with increasing...

Medicine's Racial Gap

The Institute of Medicine may not seem like a revolutionary body. But in 2001, it issued a challenge to the nation—to strive for equal health care for all citizens, regardless of gender, ethnicity, geographic location and socioeconomic status. The impetus was clear: Too many studies were showing that African-Americans were receiving poorer medical care than whites. Five years later, how are we doing?Not so well, according to a pair of new studies. The first one, appearing tomorrow in the...

How to Read a Face

Carl Marci was jubilant. After a year in therapy, trying to decide whether to propose to his girlfriend, he had finally taken the plunge--and she had said yes! As Marci recounted the story to his shrink days later, his therapist appeared to share the triumph with him. And it wasn't just an act. Marci, a psychiatrist himself at Massachusetts General Hospital, had wired himself and his therapist to special equipment that records heart-rate variability and "skin conductivity"--two measures that,...

Thawing the \'Frozen Chosen\'

For years, America\'s mainline Protestant churches were in serious decline, with plummeting membership and a voice that seemed irrelevant in national politics. All the energy seemed to have drained out of them, flowing inexorably toward evangelical and Pentecostal denominations, with their burgeoning megachurches and media empires. But a new book finds hope for the mainline. In \"Christianity for the Rest of Us\" (HarperSanFrancisco), independent scholar Diana Butler Bass contends that a...

Case Study: New Ideas For Nurses

Which of these hospitals would you rather be treated in? At Hospital A, a major southwestern facility, the nursing staff is stretched so thin--and the intellectual and emotional demands of the job are so intense--that nurses question their ability to deliver quality care. This summer, the strain finally drove Rebecca Matthys, 40, to quit nursing after 16 years. Too many times, an emergency with one patient had meant postponing care to others, then scrambling to catch up on her remaining duties....

\'CSI\' Nursing

What do you call a job that combines nursing with detective work—where you can examine rape victims for evidence of the crime or study corpses for clues to the killer's identity? It's called forensic nursing. And, given the popularity of crime shows like \"CSI,\" you can expect to hear a lot more about it in the future.Forensic nursing was launched as a specialty in the 1970s, when it became clear that hospital emergency rooms didn\'t have the resources to deliver proper treatment to rape...

Food: Purer Delights

All a chocoholic once needed to know was the difference between truffles and nut clusters. Not anymore. The latest trend in fancy food is "single origin" chocolate. Instead of being made from a blend of cacao beans, it contains a single type of bean from one country. And connoisseurs discuss it in the same reverent terms usually reserved for fine wines--polished, fruity, beautifully rounded. Is there really a difference?To find out, we tried the new Single Origin Chocolate Tasting Kit from the...

Health: Loud and Clearer

Kim Nero of Saratoga, Calif., needed help with her hearing, but balked at the idea of hearing aids. "I'm 42. I don't want to look 82," she says. She stopped objecting after her audiologist prescribed the sleek new Delta aid from Oticon, Inc. ( oticon.com ). The device is available in 17 shades--from Cabernet red to a leopard-skin pattern--but don't spend too much time picking out a color. When tucked behind the ear, the Delta is barely visible, except for the tiny clear tube that leads into the...

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