Disease

By now, anyone even slightly versed in health issues understands that cigarette smoking can irretrievably damage the lungs — whether via lung cancer or other disease processes, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). It's also true, however, that even people who have never smoked may develop these conditions, and it's not always clear who is at the greatest risk. A recent study indicates that never-smoking women are more likely to develop COPD than never-smoking men.

COPD includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis — both of which impair breathing, but by different mechanisms. Emphysema is a disease in which the tiny air sacs at the ends of the bronchial tree are damaged and collapse. This collapse...

Anti-vaxxers give several excuses (all debunked, of course) for their stance against vaccines. These include that vaccines cause autism, that they cause the disease they supposedly prevent, and that these childhood diseases, especially measles and chickenpox, are simply a natural rite of passage that shouldn't be interfered with. But what they typically don't acknowledge is that such vaccines also prevent some pretty serious ailments down the road.

Chicken pox, caused by the varicella zoster virus (a member of the herpes group), causes fever, malaise and an itchy rash of small blisters. It can, particularly in immune-compromised persons, instigate other problems such as bacterial infections of the skin in children and pneumonia in adults. And even decades after the initial...

Here we are at holiday time again — and along with getting together with family and friends, we can anticipate many opportunities for holiday parties and holiday eating and drinking. And of course the opportunity, come January first, for more resolutions about losing that holiday pudginess. So perhaps it's an appropriate time to think a little about obesity and what to do about preventing and/or treating it.

Obesity isn't a one-size-fits-all affliction, as we said over 20 years ago. Although the hope has been that as we learn more about the genetic underpinnings of the condition — which genes make it more likely to add fat — we'd come up with a unique means of dealing with the excess adiposity. Instead...

By Katherine Gammon

(Inside Science) -- Sometime in the mid-1600s, a small child died. Because the child was part of the noble class, the remains were placed in a crypt in the Dominican Church of the Holy Spirit in Vilnius, Lithuania. Many of the remains in that crypt decomposed, but some -- like the child -- were naturally mummified by the low humidity and low temperature conditions.

Now that small body is telling secrets about one of the deadliest scourges to ever plague mankind. That’s according to a new report published yesterday in the journal Current Biology, providing clues about the origins and spread of smallpox -- all due to tissue samples from the mummified...

If you asked any American what's dangerous about cigarette smoking, you'd likely get a response such as "the smoke" or "the nicotine" or "the tar". And if you delved deeper you might get an accurate response like "the chemicals". But what chemicals? A recent report in the journal Tobacco Control unfortunately demonstrated that many smokers are confused about exactly which chemicals are causing the damage — and this confusion may actually benefit the purveyors of some cigarettes.

Led by Dr. Noel T. Brewer from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, investigators conducted 2 telephone surveys and an internet survey of over 10,000 people. About 1100 were...

Last week, I was fortunate to hear a talk at the Population Council given by the inspiring Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr. Dr. El-Sadr is the founder of International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP) at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and an expert on global HIV prevention and treatment. 

She touched on many aspects of HIV infection, giving both a global and historical perspective that should inform our thinking as we approach the future. One point that she made was an idea that I had not heard before, and struck me largely both for its simplicity and its innovation.

The idea is that HIV treatment is HIV prevention. 

And, that is a novel way...

By Brian Owens

(Inside Science) -- People who frequently groom or remove their pubic hair are more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections, according to new research.

The researchers surveyed more than 7,500 people aged 18-65 from across the United States, and found that two-thirds of men and 84 percent of women reported grooming their pubic hair. Among those who groomed, the survey found higher rates of infections, including herpes, syphilis, gonorrhoea and HIV. The risk is highest for “extreme” groomers – those who remove all pubic hair at least 11 times a year, and high-frequency groomers who trim their hair daily or weekly.

Charles Osterberg, a urologic surgeon at the University of Texas Dell Medical School in Austin who worked on the study, cautions...

Like an unlucky penny, Vladimir Putin keeps showing up in the American media. From allegations of election tampering to hacking emails, Mr. Putin chooses to stay relevant through notoriety. This has, bizarrely, earned him admirers all over the world.

For many reasons, this admiration is deeply misguided. Mr. Putin heads a kleptocracy and imprisons or murders political dissidents. And, as a shocking new essay in Foreign Policy explains, he fiddles while an HIV epidemic blazes through his country.

Today, there are an estimated 1.5 million people who have been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS in Russia, which has a population of...

When a measles outbreak occurred at Disneyland roughly two years ago, anti-vaccine activists mocked it. They derided the infectious disease, caused by perhaps the most contagious human virus known, as "Mickey Mouse measles." Many claimed that measles is no big deal. As proof, they cited memories of getting measles as a child and recovering.

If only every person was so lucky. The World Health Organization estimates that, in 2015, there were 134,200 deaths caused by measles, or 367 deaths every single day. In 1980, a staggering 2.6 million people died from measles. That is why measles really is a big deal; it's a highly infectious virus that is potentially deadly. And it is why global public health...

Recently, Bill Maher instructed America on the importance of knowledge. He's right, of course, but he's a rather imperfect messenger: Listening to him is like receiving a lecture from Bill Clinton or Donald Trump on the importance of marital fidelity.

Mr Maher's monologue provided some insight into his political viewpoint. It was illuminating for two reasons, but probably not in the way Mr. Maher would hope for.

First, he accused people who disagree with his political views of being lazy and engaging in "false equivalence," an entirely fictitious logical fallacy that is an...