What’s in Your Wiener?

Katherine Harmon Ball Park Franks: Mechanically separated turkey: As the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) describes it, this "paste-like and batter-like poultry product [is] produced by forcing bones, with attached edible tissue, through a sive or similar device under high pressure." Unlike mechanically separated beef or pork, it can be present in hot dogs in … Continue reading

Key Immune Substance Linked to Asthma

Stanford University School of Medicine investigators have linked a master molecule of the immune system, gamma-interferon, to the pathology of asthma, in a study of mice. This somewhat surprising finding — the key immune molecule has often been assumed to steer the immune system in a different direction from the cluster of allergic disorders to … Continue reading

Irradiating organic food would save lives

Organic farming must ditch its irrational mistrust of science or risk losing its reputation as being safer and healthier Dominic Dyer I WORKED closely with the organic industry for almost a decade, first as head of the UK Food and Drink Federation’s Organic Food Manufacturers Group and then as a representative on the UK government’s … Continue reading

The Brain on Trial

Advances in brain science are calling into question the volition behind many criminal acts. A leading neuroscientist describes how the foundations of our criminal-justice system are beginning to crumble, and proposes a new way forward for law and order. By David Eagleman Adrianna Williams/Corbis On the steamy first day of August 1966, Charles Whitman took … Continue reading

Red wine’s heart health chemical unlocked at last

FANCY receiving the heart protecting abilities of red wine without having to drink a glass every day? Soon you may be able to, thanks to the synthesis of chemicals derived from resveratrol, the molecule believed to give wine its protective powers. The chemicals have the potential to fight many diseases, including cancer. Plants make a … Continue reading

Food choices matter in weight control

Potatoes, sugary soft drinks among biggest sources of added pounds By Nathan Seppa If there was ever any suggestion that French fries are good for you, it’s now dispelled in stark detail. An analysis of data from three lengthy surveys that assigns actual pounds of weight gain to foods finds that fries, sodas and several … Continue reading

Most tumors not within cell phone radiation range

By Alison McCook NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Brain tumors among cell phone users are not clustered within range of most of the radiation emitted from the devices, a new report finds – suggesting that mobile phones do not cause cancer. Moreover, people who had used mobile phones for the longest amount of time, and … Continue reading

Strength Training for Grandma and Grandpa

People lose 30% of their muscle strength between the ages of 50 and 70 years. However, maintaining muscle strength in old age is enormously important in order to maintain mobility and to be able to lead an independent life and manage everyday tasks independently. In the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, Frank Mayer and … Continue reading

Into the Smell of Sickness

Aaron Rowe Illustration: Jens Bonnke You may have an illness and not even know it—and the proof could be on your breath. That’s because our bodies give off complex aromas, some too faint for a human nose. And when sickness alters cell metabolism, an array of telltale volatile chemicals make their way into our breath, … Continue reading

Apple Ingredient Keeps Muscles Strong

Component of Apple Peels Found to Help Prevent Muscle Weakening in Mice In search of a way to prevent the muscle wasting that comes with illness and aging, researchers have landed a natural compound that might just do the trick. The findings reported in the June issue of Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication, identify … Continue reading

Creating Healthier Eggs for a Healthier You

Kiyomi Deards When Omega Eggs (eggs containing Omega fatty acids) first appeared on the mass market in the early 2000s I had this bizarre image in my head of a semi-crazed scientist extracting the yolk with a giant syringe, swirling it about in a beaker with a neon blue solution to extract the bad fat, … Continue reading

Authorities Still Searching for Source of E. Coli

Bacteria like E. coli can flourish on certain types of farms. Here’s a look at why By Jenny Marder BAD BUG: This colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM) depicts a number of Escherichia coli bacteria Image: Janice Haney Carr, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention The source of the deadly E. coli outbreak in Europe that … Continue reading

Shades of Grief

When Does Mourning Become a Mental Illness? The new edition of a psychiatric manual called DSM-5 tackles what to do when mourning becomes complicated or leads to depression Virginia Hughes  MORTAL TOLL: For most people, extreme grief subsides with time. For some, however, it may continue unabated or lead to depression. Image: Michael Blann Getty … Continue reading

Why Is It So Hard to Figure Out What’s Causing Europe’s E. Coli Outbreak?

Because people don’t keep their vegetables around to study. BY JOSHUA E. KEATING Scientists say the outbreak of E. coli in Europe that has already killed at least 17 people and sickened over 1,500 may turn out to be the deadliest ever. The bacteria combine a deadly toxin with a special binding agent, or "glue," … Continue reading

New MRSA superbug discovered in cows’ milk

Catherine de Lange Best stick to pasteurised (Image: Graeme Norways/Stone/Getty) A new strain of MRSA has been identified in cows’ milk and in people, but don’t stop drinking milk – the bug is killed off in pasteurisation. However, the strain evades detection by standard tests used by some hospitals to screen for MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus … Continue reading

Eating Dirt Can Be Good for the Belly

Most of us never considered eating the mud pies we made as kids, but for many people all over the world, dining on dirt is nothing out of the ordinary. Now an extensive meta-analysis forthcoming in the June issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology helps explain why. According to the research, the most probable … Continue reading

Disorienting mosquitoes with a blend of odors

Yun Xie As we enjoy the outdoors through various summer activities, we also have to deal with pests like mosquitoes, which are potential disease carriers, on top of being annoying. DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) is an effective repellent, but it requires high concentrations, can be a skin irritant, and is damaging to some materials, including plastics. Certain … Continue reading

Your Commute Is Killing You

Long commutes cause obesity, neck pain, loneliness, divorce, stress, and insomnia. By Annie Lowrey This week, researchers at Umea University in Sweden released a startling finding: Couples in which one partner commutes for longer than 45 minutes are 40 percent likelier to divorce. The Swedes could not say why. Perhaps long-distance commuters tend to be … Continue reading

Man Milk

A Man’s curious quest to breast-feed. By Michael Thomsen You don’t see many men in the lactation section of Buy Buy Baby, but that’s where I was when I bought my first breast pump. I wasn’t there on a mission for a pregnant wife or girlfriend. I was preparing to test an obscure secret of … Continue reading

Stomach Bug May Be Linked to Parkinson’s

Tina Hesman Saey Brain cells may be the latest victim of a bacterial bad guy already charged with causing ulcers and stomach cancer. Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that lives in the stomachs of about half the people in the world, may help trigger Parkinson’s disease, researchers reported May 22 at a meeting of the American … Continue reading

Morgellons mystery itching symptoms called ‘delusional’

They complain of mysterious, creepy symptoms: bugs — or some form of infestation — crawling beneath their skin, sometimes burrowing to the surface, leaving odd specks and colored filaments in their wake. By Melissa Healy Los Angeles Times They complain of mysterious, creepy symptoms: bugs — or some form of infestation — crawling beneath their … Continue reading

Do early gut problems set the brain up for depression?

Catherine de Lange EARLY digestive problems may hardwire the brain for depression. While gut problems are often linked with depression, they are generally assumed to arise from hormones released because of alterations in mood. Pankaj Pasricha and colleagues at Stanford University in California believe it might be the other way round. Pasricha’s team gave young … Continue reading

Mummy Says John Horgan Is Wrong about Fat and Carbs in Food

By Karen Schrock  I was struck today by the juxtaposition of two recent articles here at ScientificAmerican.com. In “Thin Body of Evidence,” John Horgan expresses his skepticism about journalist Gary Taubes’s claims that carbohydrates, not fat, are the cause of obesity, heart disease and other health problems faced by many Americans. In “Mummy Says Princess … Continue reading

Coffee May Actually Make Us Healthier

Coffee is officially off the vice list as new studies show health benefits for ailments ranging from cancer to Parkinson’s disease Lane Wallace How has coffee managed to go from a universally agreed-upon vice to at least a potential virtue in such a relatively short period of time? In a study published Tuesday in the … Continue reading

Liquid Gold

The Booming Market for Human Breast Milk By Judy Dutton In an era when the benefits of breast milk are better understood and more scientifically certain than ever, demand for it has created a niche industry. Photo: Mitchell Feinberg It started with a bleary-eyed Google search: “Sell breast milk.” Desiree Espinoza had a 2-month-old baby … Continue reading

A Diet Manifesto: Drop the Apple and Walk Away

By ABIGAIL ZUGER, M.D. How is a person best advised to lose extra weight and retreat from diabetes and heart disease? Count calories, cut fat and fill up on fruits and vegetables? Or turn instead to a high-protein, high-fat regimen like the one popularized by Dr. Robert C. Atkins? The experts point vehemently in all … Continue reading

Thin Body of Evidence

Why I Have Doubts about Gary Taubes’s Why We Get Fat By John Horgan When someone divides a complex phenomenon into two basic categories, he invariably oversimplifies and distorts reality. Anyway, there are two basic styles of science journalism, celebratory and critical. Celebratory journalists help us appreciate the cool things scientists discover, whereas critical journalists … Continue reading

New Treatment for Constipation

Constipation is definitely not a glamorous topic. In reality, it affects nearly 30 million Americans and costs more than $1 billion annually to evaluate and treat. While not often life threatening, the pain, bloating, discomfort, and straining associated with constipation lead sufferers to focus on one thing — relief. Mayo Clinic researchers recently had success … Continue reading

Is There Such a Thing as Sex Addiction?

Sex addiction is increasingly seen as a mass ailment like alcoholism that requires treatment, especially in the United States. Self-help groups are also starting to form in Germany. Many psychologists, though, see it as a condition invented by conservative moralizers. By Frank Thadeusz Corbis Crystal Renaud began to masturbate regularly at 10, after finding a … Continue reading

Childhood leukaemia linked to mosquito bites

BITES from mosquitoes carrying unidentified viruses might explain childhood leukaemia clusters around the town of Fallon in Nevada. And last week, a separate UK report found no link between nuclear power plants and childhood leukaemia. The Nevada cluster is the largest in the US. Previous research failed to find a link between the cases and … Continue reading

Trauma Center

How do you bring peace to a country where everyone has PTSD and the only therapy is prayer? BY ANNA BADKHEN ASFAKHAN, Afghanistan — Two weeks ago, police delivered several bodies loosely wrapped in cloth at the gate of Mazar Civil Hospital. Taliban fighters killed in battle, the officers explained to Abdul Hamid, the hospital … Continue reading

Does Depression Help Us Think Better?

By Jonah Lehrer Why do people get depressed? At first glance, the answer seems obvious: the mind, like the flesh, is prone to malfunction. Once that malfunction happens — perhaps it’s an errant gene triggering a shortage of some happy chemical — we sink into a emotional stupor and need medical treatment. But this pat … Continue reading

Malaria Mosquitoes Accurately Find Their Way to Smelly Feet

Malaria mosquitoes utilize CO2 from exhaled air to localize humans from afar. In the vicinity of their preferred host, they alter their course towards the human feet. Researcher Remco Suer discovered how female malaria mosquitoes use foot odors in the last meters to guide them to their favoured biting place. Suer, who is defending his … Continue reading

Feeding Frenzy

by Elizabeth Weil Photographed by Patrick Demarchelier …Taubes’s basic argument is this: We’re fat because we’re storing too much energy in our fat tissue. And we’re storing too much energy in our fat tissue because we have chronically elevated insulin levels. And we have chronically elevated insulin levels because we’re eating too many simple carbs. … Continue reading

Itch Receptors Work Through Pain Receptors on Sensory Neurons

A new study of itch adds to growing evidence that the chemical signals that make us want to scratch are the same signals that make us wince in pain. The interactions between itch and pain are only partly understood, said itch and pain researcher Diana Bautista, an assistant professor of molecular and cell biology at … Continue reading

Cotton Swabs Prove Problematic for Ear Health

A study by Henry Ford Hospital shows a direct association between cotton swab use and ruptured eardrum. The study also shows that in most cases the rupture heals on its own and surgery is only necessary for the most severe cases. "In the past, many otolaryngologists have wondered if surgery is really necessary to treat … Continue reading

Does Exercise Really Boost Your Mood?

By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS Lawrence Wee/Getty There exists a large and soothing body of scientific literature suggesting that regular exercise can improve someone’s mood and fight anxiety. And then there is this experiment from Germany, in which researchers placed running wheels in the cages of a group of laboratory mice and let them exercise at will. … Continue reading

Folic Acid Follies

Pregnant women should stop popping these pills like candy. By Amanda Schaffer Take folic acid, but not too muchNo woman who’s expecting, or expecting to expect, can avoid the advice, from any doctor or health site worth its salt: Take folic acid. The vitamin deserves its exalted status. When women take it before and during … Continue reading

Increased Computer Use by Adolescents Cause for Concern, Canadian Study Finds

Researchers have found a strong association between computer and Internet use in adolescents and engagement in multiple-risk behaviours (MRB), including illicit drug use, drunkenness and unprotected sex. "This research is based on social cognitive theory, which suggests that seeing people engaged in a behaviour is a way of learning that behaviour," explains lead researcher Valerie … Continue reading

Frequent churchgoers frequently fatter

Stephanie Smith -CNN Medical Producer Young, religiously active people are more likely than their non-religious counterparts to become obese in middle age, according to new research. In fact, frequent religious involvement appears to almost double the risk of obesity compared with little or no involvement. What is unclear from the new research is why religion … Continue reading

Study Adds Weight to Link Between Calcium Supplements and Heart Problems

New research published online in the British Medical Journal adds to mounting evidence that calcium supplements increase the risk of cardiovascular events, particularly heart attacks, in older women. The findings suggest that their use in managing osteoporosis should be re-assessed. Calcium supplements are often prescribed to older (postmenopausal) women to maintain bone health. Sometimes they … Continue reading

Prenatal Pesticide Exposure Tied to Lower IQ in Children

In a new study suggesting pesticides may be associated with the health and development of children, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health have found that prenatal exposure to organophosphate pesticides — widely used on food crops — is related to lower intelligence scores at age 7. The researchers found that … Continue reading

Black Salt

Should the government single out African-Americans for low-sodium diets? By Osagie K. Obasogie Should all African-Americans be advised to lower their sodium intake?On Jan. 31, the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services released the newest version of the official Dietary Guidelines for Americans, billed as "the federal government’s evidence-based nutritional guidance to promote … Continue reading

Heart Needs Work After Heart Attack: New Study Challenges the Notion That the Heart Must Rest

A new study by researchers at the University of Alberta shows that for best results in stable patients after a heart attack, early exercise as well as prolonged exercise is the key to the best outcomes. Study co-authors Mark Haykowsky, researcher in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, and Alex Clark, researcher in the Faculty of … Continue reading

US Meat and Poultry Is Widely Contaminated With Drug-Resistant Staph Bacteria, Study Finds

Drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria linked to a wide range of human diseases, are present in meat and poultry from U.S. grocery stores at unexpectedly high rates, according to a nationwide study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). Nearly half of the meat and poultry samples — 47 percent — were contaminated … Continue reading

Aloe vera extract gave rats tumours

by Peter Aldhous Aloe vera food supplements and drinks are supposed to help your gut stay healthy – or so herbalists claim. But now a warning flag has been raised by the US National Toxicology Program (NTP), which has found that rats given drinking water spiked with an extract of the succulent plant developed tumours … Continue reading

Broccoli helps clear damaged lungs

by Hayley Crawford Here’s another reason to eat your greens. As well as helping to prevent cancer, broccoli may also help the immune system to clean harmful bacteria from the lungs. A compound found in the vegetable is now being trialled as a treatment for people with lung disease. To ensure that the lungs function … Continue reading

Why Are Asthma Rates Soaring?

Researchers once blamed a cleaner world. Now they are not so sure By Veronique Greenwood  Breathe deep: Research into varying causes of asthma may eventually lead to new ideas on how to manage the condition. Image: Air Rabbit Getty Images Asthma rates have been surging around the globe over the past three decades, and for … Continue reading

Vehicle Pollution Significantly Damages the Brain, Mouse Study Suggests

If mice commuted, their brains might find it progressively harder to navigate the maze of Los Angeles freeways. A new study reveals that after short-term exposure to vehicle pollution, mice showed significant brain damage — including signs associated with memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. The mind-numbing toxin is not an exhaust gas, but a mix … Continue reading

Superbugs Found in New Delhi’s Water and Sewage

By Maryn McKenna Last fall, not long after the bloom of news about the “Indian superbug” NDM-1 — a newly identified enzyme that renders common gut bacteria indifferent to almost all antibiotics — I spoke to one of its lead researchers, Timothy Walsh of the University of Cardiff, about next steps in their research. His … Continue reading