health

Healthcare workers during the West African Ebola oubreak.
Image Courtesy: European Commission DG ECHO / Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

Ebola is back. The virus killed more than 11,000 people between 2014 and 2016. It was the largest Ebola outbreak ever documented. Now, health officials say there’s a new outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Officials are reporting four deaths and more than thirty suspected cases of Ebola in the past two weeks. They are also monitoring more than 400 individuals who came into contact with those patients. Still, because the area is so remote, officials say the risk of the outbreak spreading beyond national borders is low to medium.

In 1987, AZT was the first drug approved for use in treating HIV/AIDS.
Wellcome Images / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.en

It’s been thirty years since the first drug was approved to treat HIV/AIDS. That was AZT, in 1987. Since then, anti-retroviral drugs have been helping people live longer, healthier lives after their diagnosis. But just how much has treatment changed?

There's still no cure, and Philip Chan, a physician and HIV researcher at Brown University, says prevention remains a challenge. If current diagnosis rates continue, 1 in 6 gay and bisexual men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.

J. Junker

Are you addicted to your smartphone? Many of us certainly feel drawn to our electronic devices - and the array of information and activities they offer - in a way we feel uncomfortable admitting. And, while there's some controversy about whether or not the term "addiction" is appropriate, there is growing evidence that things like posting on Facebook can elicit the same brain response as an addictive substance.

Luke Wroblewski / flickr, https://goo.gl/sZ7V7x

An estimated seventy two percent of adults in the United States own a smartphone. For most, they are a handy tool for keeping track of the kids and checking the weather. But, for a growing number, smartphones have become a problem - a conduit to potentially addictive games and social media.

Which category do you fall into? Try answering these questions, giving yourself one point for each "yes" answer. Do you find yourself:

The FlavoRx pilot study provided at-risk patients with prescriptions worth $30 at a farmer's market.
Francie Randolph / Sustainable CAPE

We all know that we’d be healthier if we ate more fruits and vegetables. Your doctor may have suggested that. But few of us actually do anything about it. But would that change if you actually got a prescription that covered the cost of fresh, locally-grown produce? That was the question at the heart of a recent pilot project on Cape Cod, called FlavoRx.

Hana Kučová / http://hanakucova.cz/

As the new year begins, you may be planning to make some changes. And, as a nation, we seem to be in a state of flux – socially and politically. Following through on resolutions and staying sane in a rapidly changing world takes more than will-power and positive thinking.

Here are three tips based on the latest science of psychology and neurobiology:

Usually, efforts to find a new treatment or cure for a disease go something like this: scientists spend years figuring out something about the basic biology of the disease, and then spend more years finding ways to target a part of that process. When they hit on something that works in the laboratory, they (or, often, a pharmaceutical company) spend even more years - and a lot more money - doing the tests necessary to prove a drug is safe and effective for use in human patients.

We come into contact with countless chemicals everyday. In fact, we're made of chemicals. But the number of human-made, synthetic chemicals in our lives has skyrocketed, and many common household and personal care products actually contain chemicals that may be bad for our health.

Scientists can measure the amounts of these chemicals in retail products and the home environment, and they can study what they do to animals in laboratory. But that leaves one big, unanswered question:

Palliative care physician Justin Sanders uses the Serious Illness Conversation Guide in talking with a patient.
Courtesy of Ariadne Labs

There has been a growing recognition in recent years that patients near the end of life need a different kind of care – treatment that focuses on controlling symptoms, like pain and anxiety, rather than attempting to cure a disease. Most doctors and nurses aren’t trained to handle this transition and, until recently, haven’t had the information and tools necessary to do it well. That is changing.

At least ninety percent of household dust contains chemicals that pose a health risk.
Heather Goldstone / WCAI

As if you need one more reason to hate household dust, science increasingly indicates it could be a hazard to your health. A recent review of research, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, finds that the vast majority of household dust contains potentially toxic chemicals.

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