When Adoption Goes Wrong

Most Americans who adopt children from other countries find joy. But others aren't prepared for the risks—and may find themselves overwhelmed.

Steroid Abuse: The Dangers Facing Teens

When people conjure up an image of Hyannis, Mass., they think: wealthy seaside resort town, home of the Kennedy compound, and they assume the local public schools are filled with rich kids. But the people who reside in the fancy houses come only in the summer. The families who live here all year long tend to be ordinary, middle-class people, many of them in service industries. The test scores coming out of area schools tend to be pretty ordinary, too.But when the townspeople started looking for...

A First Responder Relives Those First Hours

Virginia State Police Sgt. Matthew Brannock, 31, had already spent a few hours catching up on paperwork in his Salem, Va., office that fateful morning, when some chatter on the police scanner got his attention. He heard something about local county police tailing a vehicle that may have been involved in "an incident" at Virginia Tech. "It piqued my interest a little bit," he said; he'd been doing work on some recent bomb threats at Virginia Tech, so the school was on his mind. But when he...

Va. Tech Shooting: Portrait of a Killer

Students and faculty say Cho Seung-Hui seldom spoke, and gave feedback to his fellow English students only in writing. His own work so worried professors that authorities were notified. Portrait of a killer.

Student-Loan Secrets

As millions of high-school seniors ripped open college-acceptance letters last week, a brewing student-loan scandal was dragging in a growing number of schools, for-profit loan companies and government officials.In recent years, while college tuitions have soared and federal funding of student grants and loans have languished, the nation's for-profit student-loan industry has exploded into an $85 billion enterprise. Competition for students' business has become so frenzied that "it's become...

Making College More Accessible

Bidding to take control of Capitol Hill last fall, Democratic candidates vowed to make college more accessible--and more affordable--for American families. The pledge excited education reformers, who had largely focused on No Child Left Behind and the needs of the country's youngest students during the Bush years. Now that the Democrats run both the House and Senate, the wheels are starting to turn. And late last month, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings hosted the administration's first...

Step By Step

Forget 2006. It's so last year. Now that 2007 is upon us, we're determined to do a better job of staying healthy. But this year, we're going to try a new approach. Instead of wholesale change—losing 20 pounds in a month, taking up mountain climbing or preparing for a marathon—we're going to sweat the small stuff. Many studies have shown that even minor changes in diet or exercise can lead to substantial improvements in your overall vulnerability to disease. So here is the enemies' list...

Nora Volkow

Only the weak become addicted. If that's what you think, Dr. Nora Volkow is determined to change your mind. The director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA, part of the National Institutes of Health) and one of the country's leading addiction researchers, Volkow says brain science is proving that we all have the potential to become addicted to something: drugs, alcohol, tobacco, sex, gambling, even food. And while we may think that being addicted to food is not as bad as being...

Drop Those Pounds!

There comes a moment, some time in your 40s, when you climb on the scale and have an epiphany: What you used to refer to as your "high" weight (when only your "fat" jeans fit) has become your average weight. You also seem to be carrying a lot more around your middle. And none of your old tricks for quick weight loss--doing three days of Atkins, going to the gym a couple of times a week, cutting back on alcohol or sweets--are working for you the way they once did. To reverse this, you go on a...

Health Gurus: Questionable Claims

Actress and author Suzanne Somers has promoted cures from controversial health gurus, but her latest book may be the most problematic yet. In "Ageless," Somers relies on "independent researcher" T. S. Wiley, who encourages menopausal women to supplement their bodies with "bioidentical hormones" at levels they had in their 20s. (Somers and Wiley use the term to refer to hormones custom-made by a pharmacy, which they insist are safer than other hormones. Major medical associations strongly...

Revisiting Hormone Therapy

Your chest, face and neck feel like they're on fire. You're sweating and your heart is pounding so loudly you're sure everyone around you can hear the drumbeats. You feel anxious, dizzy, and confused. And then, almost as quickly as it began, it's over. In fact, now you're shivering. This, in essence, is what happens to many midlife women during a hot flash, the most common and often the most troubling sign of menopause. About 80 percent of American women experience hot flashes, which usually...

A Blow-Up Over 'Bioidenticals'

We have to admire Suzanne Somers's persistence. She doesn't give up—even when virtually the entire medical community is lined up against her. Three years ago, Somers wrote a best-selling book called "The Sexy Years" in which she promoted so-called bioidentical hormones as a more natural alternative to hormones produced by drug companies for menopausal women. Somers, now 60, claimed that these individually prepared doses of estrogen and other hormones, sold via the Internet or by compounding...

It's Not Just the Over-40s

In November 1999, Jennifer Johnson seemed to be living her dream. She was 27 years old, happily married to her college sweetheart and expecting her first child. Johnson also tried to give back to her community by volunteering for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Because of that work, she understood the importance of monthly breast self-exams. Though breast cancer is unusual in young women, she was vigilant about the task. And that was how, one day in the shower, she found what she...

Top of Her Class

As with so many other things she did, Emily Perez sang in the gospel choir at West Point with a bubbly enthusiasm that energized the people around her. A soprano from her first year at the military academy, Perez was given the additional role of tambourine shaker on the spirited numbers. And shake she did. "Sometimes it got to be so vigorous that we'd try to hide it from her," says Marjana Mair, one of Perez's many friends at West Point. On Wednesdays, a smaller group of singers, just altos and...

Her Body: Bed Behavior

Let's say you've been married 20 years. You go to bed at midnight and wake up at 7. That's seven hours a night, seven nights a week for 20 years—or a grand total of 50,960 hours in bed with your spouse. If you're both working, taking care of kids and meeting the obligations of everyday life, you probably spend more time together in bed than in any other place. So what does your behavior there reveal about your relationship? Amazingly, very few researchers have studied this potentially rich...

Her Body: Is Evista A Wonder Drug for Women?

The headlines were intriguing: a drug that protects your bones while fighting off breast cancer. Who wouldn't want that? "Everyone is asking about this," says Dr. Clifford Rosen, a bone researcher and director of the Maine Center for Osteoporosis Research and Education.  "For a lot of women, this is a big deal."The drug in question is raloxifene, sold under the brand name Evista. Some people with thinning bones (including those with osteoporosis, as well as some of those diagnosed with...

Well Women

You know you should eat right, watch your weight and get adequate exercise. But just as important are regular visits to the doctor and tests to monitor your health and to screen for various diseases. In women, that also means watching out for your reproductive health. Your doctor should ask about your personal and family medical history in order to find out if you are at high risk for conditions like heart disease, breast cancer or thyroid disease. You should also be ready with a list of any...

English Spoken Here

A pristine lake in the Minnesota woods may seem an unlikely setting for classes in calligraphy, martial arts and Chinese cooking. But for the more than 350 youngsters studying Chinese this summer at Concordia Language Villages, it's a unique opportunity to delve into a new culture. The camp combines a Chinese language immersion program with learning activities; students do everything in Chinese--from asking to pass the soy sauce to griping about a thunderstorm. Even though he knew only one word...

Aging Smartly

With the oldest baby boomers turning 60 this year, it's no surprise that publishers are eagerly churning out books promising secrets to living longer. Most boil down to a few truisms: eat right, exercise regularly, keep your mind active and participate in social activities. If you did all of these, research tells us you would indeed enhance your chances of reaching a vigorous old age. But, as we all should know by now, the devil is in the details. Here are a few to chew on:ON DIET"Try your best...

'I Thought He Would Kill Me'

When they were arrested in 2002 for the Washington, D.C., sniper attacks, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo insisted that they were father and son. The two men had such a strong bond that Malvo, 17, even told investigators that he—not his sharp-shooter father figure—was responsible for most of the shootings that left 10 dead and three wounded. After separate trials in Virginia, Muhammad was given the death penalty; Malvo was sentenced to life in prison.But now, after being separated...

Slimming Down for Swimsuit Season

If getting more exercise was at the top of your list of New Year's resolutions and you're well on your way to fitness, you don't need to read this column. But for the rest of you—the procrastinators, the excuse artists, the harried and the downright lazy—spring is the cruelest season. You've only got a few weeks before beach season starts and with that, the humiliation of trying on shorts and swimsuits that expose every lump and bulge. Some of you may be noticing that you get winded...

Mixed Signals

Does estrogen therapy add to breast cancer risk or not?When the results of the Women's Health Initiative study on estrogen-only therapy were released in 2004, we were told that postmenopausal women with hysterectomies who took these drugs did not have more breast cancer. In fact, the raw data indicated that the women who took estrogen had less breast cancer than those taking a placebo (although these numbers were not statistically significant and could have been the result of chance).Those...

Rethinking 'Abnormal'

Ovarian cancer is a rare cancer, and that's about the only good thing you can say about it.An astounding 80 percent of the time, the disease is not diagnosed until it is at an advanced stage. That's because ovarian cancer rarely causes any symptoms until it has spread to other parts of the body. Its stealth nature helps explain why it's one of the deadliest cancers, responsible for more women's deaths than all the other gynecological cancers combined. It is projected to occur in one out of...

Labor Pains

It's the part of pregnancy women least like to think about: delivering the baby. But in the last 15 years, a quiet revolution has been taking place. More women have decided that they'd rather not experience quite so much pain when they give birth.  In the late 1980s, national surveys indicated that only about 20 percent of pregnant women got an epidural—a spinally-administered anesthetic that blocks pain in the lower half of the body—while in labor. That proportion has now climbed to...

On Call in Hell

He left a desk job for the front lines of Fallujah--and a horror show few doctors ever see. How Richard Jadick earned his Bronze Star.

Ryan P. Shane: 'I Had a Lot to Be Thankful For'

Shot in the lower back trying to rescue a fellow Marine, Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Shane remembers being thrown on a metal table at the field hospital. "That was the coldest I've ever been in my life," says the 33-year-old Marine. He cursed at a nurse asking his Social Security number, and cried out when a surgeon began treating his wound. "I wanted to do the whole tough-guy thing, but it felt like the doctor was putting his fist up my rear end."He woke up two days later in an intensive-care unit in...

More Questions Than Answers

Until recently, many doctors who specialize in women's health would have agreed on three things: estrogen protects women against heart disease, low-fat diets make you healthier, and taking calcium supplements prevents fractures. But the results of a massive federally funded study have challenged all those assumptions and sent scientists scurrying back to the lab. Even its critics say that the study, called the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), is a landmark not only for confounding the...

Pages