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  • News

    A mysterious polio-like disease has sickened as many as 127 people in the U.S.

    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...

    10/16/2018 - 18:37 Health
  • Reviews & Previews

    Explore the history of blood from vampires to the ‘Menstrual Man’

    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...

    10/16/2018 - 09:00 Physiology, Health, History of Science
  • News

    Hundreds of dietary supplements are tainted with potentially harmful drugs

    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...

    10/12/2018 - 14:29 Health
  • News in Brief

    Nearly 2 million U.S. adult nonsmokers vape

    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...

    10/09/2018 - 13:20 Health
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Sawbones’ invites readers to laugh at the bizarre history of medicine

    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...

    10/09/2018 - 07:00 Health, History of Science, Science & Society
  • News

    City size and structure may influence influenza epidemics

    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...

    10/04/2018 - 15:13 Health
  • Science Ticker

    The CDC says 80,000 people died from the flu last year

    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...

    09/27/2018 - 15:48 Health
  • Feature

    Emily Balskus uses chemical logic to study the microbiome

    Emily Balskus, 38Chemistry and microbiologyHarvard University

    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...

    09/26/2018 - 08:34 Microbiology, Chemistry, Health
  • Feature

    Jenny Tung wants to know how social stresses mess with genes

    Jenny Tung, 36Genetics and evolutionary anthropologyDuke University

    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...

    09/26/2018 - 08:26 Animals, Genetics, Health
  • News

    A new vaccine raises hopes of someday curbing the tuberculosis epidemic

    A new tuberculosis vaccine shows promise in preventing the bacteria from causing disease in people who are infected, but aren’t sick. If approved, it could help control the spread of a disease considered one of the world’s top killers, responsible for 1.6 million deaths in 2017, according to the World Health Organization.

    In a clinical trial, the new vaccine halved the number of people...

    09/25/2018 - 18:04 Health, Clinical Trials