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Obama to Sign Law Protecting Troops From Toxic Fumes

A few months ago I wrote a short piece about the startling practice of using open-air burn pits to incinerate waste on U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. The toxic fumes from these pits have been linked to a host of debilitating illnesses in troops and contractors who worked near them. Here's an excerpt from my original piece:Josh Eller, a military contractor stationed in Iraq in 2006, was driving through Balad Air Base when he spotted the wild dog. He wasn't sure what was...

Why the CBO's Estimates Shouldn't Count for Much

By Jeremy Herb Democrats breathed a sigh of relief Wednesday after the Congressional Budget Office declared the Baucus health bill would reduce the deficit by $81 billion. But the $829 billion CBO estimate is unlikely to be accurate if the legislation is enacted. While the CBO puts together its most comprehensive prediction possible, it often gets it wrong with big health legislation. It's not a lack of expertise or bias that causes the predictions to miss the mark, says Stuart Altman, a...

Writer Iva Skoch on NPR's Fresh Air

  In July, Iva Skoch wrote an amazing piece about cancertainment, the practice of dealing with a cancer diagnosis through comedy, happy hours, and online chat rooms. The piece was phenomenal, all the more so because Skoch herself was a survivor of colon cancer. In the piece, she wrote: Last year, a genetic test revealed that my mother and I are carriers of the Lynch syndrome, an inherited gene mutation that causes not only significant risk of colorectal cancer (check), but also cancers of...

Study: No Matter How Crazy, Health Care Myths Take Hold

by Kate Dailey and Sarah Kliff Yesterday, Barney Frank's takedown of a young woman comparing health-care reform to Nazi policy was heralded by reform advocates as long-overdue counterstrike against an increasingly absurd campaign of misinformation. In fact, one of the most difficult battles President Obama has fought in the health-care debate is explaining what exactly his health-care plan entails—and then getting people to believe him. Myths about health-care legislation have run...

Dot-Com Diagnosis: How to Use the Internet to Get the Best Health Advice (Without Totally Freaking Yourself Out)

by Lisa JonesIt starts innocently. The big toe on your right foot doesn\'t feel quite right—it\'s kind of numb, a little tingly. Maybe I just tied my running shoes too tight at the gym, you think. It\'s probably nothing.But you\'re curious. So soon you\'re typing \"numbness\" and \"tingly toe\" into a search engine. And in no time you\'re clicking on links about \"Morton\'s neuroma,\" \"transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke)\" and \"vitamin B deficiency.\" Oh, no, you think. It\'s a...

Rx for Poor Vision: Video Games

The idea that experience alters the adult brain in fundamental ways has finally become accepted, so the battle lines have formed around which aspects of brain function are too basic, too hard wired, for experience to change them. Whenever someone asserts that one or another function is fixed and beyond the reach of experience, I refer them to a study finding that the visual cortex—which you\'d think is as hard-wired as hard-wired can be—can adapt to an environment of visual deprivation and...

Antibiotics for Colds, and Other Tales from the Trenches

Among the many, many (really many) doctors who have written in to berate me for my column in this week\'s magazine claiming that \"doctors hate science\" (which was shorthand and headline-speak for \"why doctors are so reluctant to embrace evidence-based medicine and comparative-effectiveness research\"), quite a few made a crucial point. Doctors may be paragons when it comes to using only treatments that have been proved to work. Patients are a whole \'nother story.Robert M. Kaplan of...

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