Can You Really Trust At-Home Tests?

Ancient Egyptians relied on a pregnancy test that was roughly 70 percent accurate: if a woman urinated on grain seeds and they grew—thanks to high levels of estrogen and progesterone in her urine—she was probably pregnant. Today, people still place a high premium on diagnosing themselves from the comfort of their own bathrooms.

California: The Upside Side to Speedy Foreclosures

The recent freeze on home foreclosures brought cheers from some quarters—especially owners of the more than 1 million homes nationally due to be repossessed. But the delay may only prolong the pain, say housing analysts. Local markets can't rebound until they hit bottom, the logic goes, and they can't do so until states clear backlogs of distressed properties. This has produced a striking "two Americas" scenario, in which states with fast-track foreclosures are, all else being equal, bouncing...

Is 'Living in Sin' Still Bad for Your Marriage?

Moving in together before marriage used to be associated with a higher risk for divorce. But now, as more unmarried couples than ever before decide to live under the same roof, do they face the same fate? Sociologists think the calculus may have changed. Part of the difference stems from just who's deciding to shack up.

Clicking for Love

It is not a truth universally acknowledged, but a single man in possession of no fortune may still be in want of a wife. At least that was the case for Gary Kremen, the founder of the online dating service Match.com.

Fashionably Dangerous

Corsets, cage crinoline petticoats, and foot binding have gone out of vogue, but some of the latest fashion trends are just as bad—if not worse—for your health. Here's what you should know about the risks associated with everything from skinny jeans to the Brazilian wax.

The Dilemma of Talented Children

In all the uproar over the Sunderland family's alleged reality-TV contract, it sometimes sounded like, in search of a quick buck, teenage sailor Abby Sunderland's parents snatched her from in front of the Xbox, threw her on a sailboat, and forced her to sail around the world.

New Report Claims That Many Probiotics Provide Fewer Live Cells Than Listed on Labels

Americans are spending more and more dollars each year on probiotic supplements, or so-called "friendly" bacteria. Studies have shown that probiotics—which you might purchase in the form of yogurt, capsules, miso, beverages, or powders—can treat a host of conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea caused by viral infection or antibiotics, vaginal yeast infections, hypertension, the common cold, and even acne. Over the past decade, consumer sales of probiotics in the U.S. have...

Making a Digital First Impression: Why You Can't Fake Your Facebook Profile

 by Johannah Cornblatt The photo showed a man in a T shirt and baseball cap standing on top of a mountain. Tien-Yi Lee, a Web-site designer who had joined Nerve.com's online dating service, says she felt an instant connection. "I saw his picture, and he had a very kind of friendly, sparkly vibe," she says. "He had a great smile." A few days later, Lee met the man at a bar in Cambridge, Mass. Lee remembers thinking that the photo on Nerve provided a "very accurate" reflection of her date's...

Can You Hit a Curveball? Can You Even See One?

By Johannah Cornblatt Baseball fans have been enjoying a great World Series marked by exceptional pitching and some notably iffy offense. Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira, who led the American League this year in home runs and RBI, was hitting a meager .105 through the first five games. His Phillies counterpart, Ryan Howard, who led the National League in RBI the last two seasons, has been equally woeful, batting just .158 so far. We can only speculate about the underlying reasons for this power...

Bystanders No More: Teaching Kids to Respond to Violent Crime

by Johannah CornblattLast Saturday night, according to police in Richmond, Calif., as many as two dozen teenagers watched the alleged gang rape of a 15-year-old girl outside her school homecoming dance in Richmond, Calif., but no one did anything. Police have arrested six people in connection with the attack, which lasted two-and-a-half hours. The girl was found semiconscious under a bench only after an individual who overheard witnesses discussing the assault notified the police. ...

Is Your Coffee Poison? Scary Questions From the Leaked Harvard Memo

A group of Harvard scientists and students were poisoned in August after drinking from coffee contaminated with a chemical preservative known as sodium azide, according to an internal memorandum leaked to the Boston Herald yesterday. Seconds after sipping the coffee, all six victims felt dizzy and were rushed to a nearby hospital. The lab workers were released, but the jury's still out on how the odorless white solid, which can be deadly, got in the single-serve coffee machine near the victims'...

Hair-Mineral Analysis: More Speculation Than Science

by Johannah Cornblatt The day after Beethoven died, Ferdinand Hiller, a 15-year-old German music student, clipped a large lock of the composer's wild hair to keep as a memento. Beethoven had died too young, after going deaf in his 20s, developing severe stomach problems, and shocking friends and neighbors with his eccentric habits (like standing naked in his apartment window). For years, scientists and historians puzzled over what might have caused all of those symptoms. Ultimately, it was the...

Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified Explained

Today, we ran an article about an increase in eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS) among college students. But what does EDNOS really mean? The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) defines eating disorders not otherwise specified as "disorders of eating that do not meet the criteria for any specific eating disorder." The EDNOS classification encompasses a wide range of patients: Individuals who are at 87 percent of their ideal body...

Don't Panic: Showerhead Germs Won't Kill You (Or Make You Sick)

First came the news that the average computer keyboard was five times as filthy as a toilet seat. Then came the reports that flip-flops played host to more than 18,000 bacteria. Now, after you've stocked up on Purell and started wearing closed-toe shoes—even on the beach—there's a new report soon to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences documenting the billions of microbes lurking in your shower, the last clean place on earth. What are we supposed to do now?...

Medical Tourism Appeals to 60 Percent of Americans. Are You One of Them?

by Johannah Cornblatt This February, a 26-year-old Californian woman and her mother boarded a Continental flight for Costa Rica. When they arrived at the Sán Jose International Airport, a driver in a white van picked them up and took them to the five-star Intercontinental hotel. But the woman (who asked only to be identified by her first name, Jessica) hadn't traveled to the city known as the Big Pineapple only to relax by the pool. She had flown more than 2,500 miles to undergo a weight-loss...

HPV Vaccine Is the Hot Shot on Campus

When Dr. James Turner gave his freshman-orientation health talk at the University of Virginia, he spotlighted one thing: a new vaccine against human papilloma virus (HPV), the fastest-spreading sexually transmitted disease and the main cause of cervical cancer and genital warts. After he mentioned that nurses were standing by to give shots to female students, "parents grabbed their kids and said, 'Come on, we're going to get that'," he said.As school starts, health officials are promoting the...

Glitter's Gone

The NFL has effectively banned stadiums from playing Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Part 2" after the Brit rocker was convicted of molesting underage girls in Vietnam, prompting a search for a substitute celebratory anthem. The Denver Broncos switched to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's "Go Daddy-o"; Kansas City Chiefs fans voted for P.O.D.'s "Boom." The New England Patriots are polling fans on their Web site for a replacement. Jeff Conroy, New York Giants special-events manager, hopes this isn't a trend....