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Abortion Pill Can Kill

An ugly secret has come out of the abortion drug mifepristone known as RU486.  It can kill normal, healthy women, and its approval by the FDA involved procedural violations that overlooked known safety concerns at the time.  Source: Annals of Pharmacotherapy news release (see also EurekAlert).  The research paper by Margaret M. Gary, MD and […]

Health from Unlikely Sources: Poison and Scum

“Everything in moderation,” health professionals remind us during the holidays.  Some things, however, none of us would have wanted at all – till scientists found there was treasure in them.     Botulinum toxin (botox), for instance, is one of the deadliest of biological poisons, but by now everyone knows it is being put to […]

Stem Cell Achievement a Possible Fraud

South Korean stem cell researcher Woo Suk Hwang has reason for stress and fatigue, as news reports show him escorted by bodyguards on the way to the office.  His landmark paper in Science1 last July that announced the creation of stem cells matching the donor’s DNA (05/23/2005) has been called into question on two fronts.  […]

Wine for Your Heart?  Think Again

“Any heart gains from drinking alcohol in moderation are likely outweighed by the harm, say researchers.”  That’s how a story on BBC News begins that warns that alleged benefits of alcohol for heart health may not be trustworthy.  A New Zealand team investigated earlier scientific studies that purported to show benefits of drinking in moderation, […]

Ecotherapy: Nature Is Good Medicine

The British Medical Journal, according to EurekAlert, says, “Getting close to nature is good for you.”  Ecotherapy is the fancy new buzzword for “restoring health through contact with nature.”  What are the benefits?  Improving quality of life, healing emotional problems, learning practical and social skills and the obvious one: better health through exercise.  Doctors and […]

Stem Cell Breakthroughs: No More Ethical Concerns?

Several science news sites have been reporting two new techniques for creating embryonic stem cells that do not involve the creation of viable embryos (see, for instance, New Scientist, Science Now, and Nature news, 437, 1065 (20 October 2005) | doi: 10.1038/4371065a).     There is no consensus yet, however, whether these methods overcome all […]

Men Aren’t Going Extinct – Yet

Not long ago, evolutionary biologists were predicting the demise of manhood (see 11/01/2001, 03/31/2004).  The idea was that the Y chromosome, with no redundant copy (unlike the female’s two X chromosomes, and all others) appeared to be shriveling up and mutating itself out of existence.  Now that the chimpanzee genome has been published (see 09/01/2005 […]

Looking for Ethical Alternatives to Embryonic Stem Cells

Pro-life advocates perked up their ears at the announcement of a new method that can produce stem cells without destroying embryos.  National Geographic News and MSNBC News talked about the method, which uses skin cells and “reprograms” them to act like embryonic stem cells.  Religion Journal thinks the ethical debate over stem cells may be […]

Bone Has Built-In Shock Absorbers with Molecular Springs

Your bones have little molecular springs in them that unwind and keep the collagen fibrils “glued” together when stress threatens a fracture.  See the description, with electron micrographs and diagrams, in a press release from UC Santa Barbara.  Said co-author Daniel Morse, director of UCSB’s Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies: “It’s especially exciting for us to […]

Are Natural Poisons Health Cures in Disguise?

Three recent stories are suggesting that natural toxins may be too much of a good thing: Snail Trail:  John Roach in National Geographic News wrote about new painkillers and drugs being developed from toxic snail venoms.  Cone snails create an array of hundreds of unique chemical compounds (see 10/22/2003 entry). Fungus Among Them:  A fungus […]

Health Beliefs Re-examined

Scientists continue to find new things that undermine commonly-held beliefs about health and the environment.  For example, Shower power:  Drinking more and showering less may not help conserve water, say Australian scientists reported by EurekAlert.  Sun bath:  We were always warned to keep out of the midday sun to avoid cancer, right?  Science Daily talks […]

Exercise May Reduce Colon Cancer Risk

Risk of incidence and recurrence of colon cancer appears to be reduced with exercise, according to a report by the American Society of Clinical Oncology reported in EurekAlert.  Data now supports what was once just a good idea. Make exercise a part of your routine.  Your body needs it in more ways than one.  This […]

Weeds Hold Promise for Miracle Drugs

We’d like weeds if we knew them better, says John Roach for National Geographic News, especially if we realized they may contain wonder drugs.  “It’s often said that plants hidden in the tangle of the Amazonian rain forest may harbor an undiscovered cancer cure,” he writes; “John Richard Stepp thinks the same can be said […]

Active Adolescents Are Leaner, Fitter

The intuitively obvious sometimes holds up to experimentation.  Researchers at Medical College of Georgia found that, indeed, young people who are physically active are less likely to be obese.  Most adolescents need to double their physical activity, the researchers said, preferably an hour or more a day – and it needs to be vigorous.  In […]

Tissues Build Firebreaks to Avoid Disease

An article in the March 3 issue of Nature1 explains how tissues communicate to fight off infection.  As reported before, cells display samples of the proteins they contain on their outer membranes, a process called presentation.  Killer T cells wander around, like cops, looking at the presentations.  When they recognize alien proteins (antigens), they respond […]
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