Safety challenged —
Americans consume 8,000 tons of artificial sweeteners every year …confident that the chemical sweeteners are safe. Manufacturers insist that they are; the sugar industry … insists they are not.… [B]oth camps swamped FDA with detailed evidence pro and con. — Science News, October 26, 1968Update
Let’s not sugarcoat it: The debate isn’t over. Fifty years ago,...
U.S. health officials are investigating an outbreak of a mysterious, polio-like disease that causes weakness in one or more limbs. The rare disease — acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM — has sickened 62 people, mostly children, in 22 states so far this year and is suspected in 65 more cases, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced October 16.
Starting with an outbreak...
Reviews & Previews
Nine PintsRose GeorgeMetropolitan Books, $30
The title of journalist Rose George’s new book, Nine Pints, quantifies how much blood George has flowing through her body. Her supply takes a temporary dip in the book’s opening chapter, when she donates about a pint (a story that continues on to recap the amazing accomplishment that is blood banking). This act of generosity is an...
From 2007 to 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration flagged nearly 800 over-the-counter dietary supplements as tainted with potentially harmful pharmaceutical drugs, a study shows. Fewer than half of those products were recalled by their makers, scientists found.
Researchers analyzed the FDA’s public database of tainted supplements, identifying both the type of contaminating...
News in Brief
Nearly 2 million U.S. adults who have never consistently smoked traditional cigarettes use e-cigarettes, according to results from a national survey. Of these sole e-cig users, about 60 percent are young adults, aged 18 to 24, researchers report online October 9 in Annals of Internal Medicine.
E-cigarette companies have marketed the devices — which heat and vaporize liquids that...
Reviews & Previews
The Sawbones BookJustin McElroy and Dr. Sydnee McElroyTeylor Smirl (illustrator)Weldon Owen, $24.99
Humans took a long, weird road to modern medicine. We don’t have everything figured out yet, but at least we’ve learned not to drink the feces of cholera victims and never to plug dental cavities with a lizard’s liver — unlike some of our ancestors.
Gruesome methods like these...
A city itself influences the contours of its flu season – whether flu cases rise to a wintertime peak or plateau from fall to spring, new research suggests.
Flu cases generally peak in winter in certain areas of the United States because the air is drier. That dryness helps the flu virus survive longer once sneezed out of a sick person, for example, allowing the virus to potentially...
In the past year, the flu killed an estimated 80,000 Americans — the country’s highest death toll from flu and related complications in more than a decade, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The 2017–2018 flu season has been classified as one of “high severity” (SN: 7/7/18, p. 16), with some 900,000 people hospitalized with flu symptoms — the highest...
Emily Balskus, 38Chemistry and microbiologyHarvard University09/26/2018 - 08:34 Microbiology, Chemistry, Health
Chemist Emily Balskus of Harvard University is out to expose the crimes and misdemeanors of microbes living in the human gut. She’s shown, for example, how a common gut bacterium interferes with a heart failure treatment: The microbe breaks down the medication before the drug can do its job.
Balskus, 38, originally...
Jenny Tung, 36Genetics and evolutionary anthropologyDuke University09/26/2018 - 08:26 Animals, Genetics, Health
Jenny Tung is skeptical when she hears that her older sister, Wenny, compares Jenny’s science to their father’s golf.
He played so much because he found it “a big, fat, hairy challenge,” Wenny said, proposing that Jenny, too, is drawn to challenges by their difficulty.
Jenny Tung protests. Yet she doesn’t deny...