Biology and Biotech

Women's health

Roughly 1 in 3 women douche, but there is no good health reason to do so. Many women believe that douching will clean their vaginas or eliminate unpleasant odors, but that isn't true. Any benefits from douching are merely temporary. The downsides, however, are substantial. Douching can change the makeup of the bacteria that normally live in the vagina, and it can even make women more susceptible to STDs. 

Now, researchers have added another concern: Douching appears to increase the risk of infection with HPV (human papillomavirus), which causes cervical cancer. 

Researchers hailing mostly from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center assessed the relationship between...

From the realm of concussion research, it appears that the data are beginning to catch up with the intuition of the medical community. And that's good news for head trauma victims, and their coaches, who are looking for greater clarity on how to best protect players.

A new study confirms something that we believed was true, yet couldn't be sure of. But research published online in the recent issue of Pediatrics concludes that when concussion victims are removed more quickly from physical activity after an incident and have additional time to recover before resuming play, this intervention significantly speeds recovery time and reduces concussive symptoms.

In fact, continuing to play doubles recovery time and worsens short-term mental function, says the authors of...

Now that it's September, more and more students will be heading back to school. The youngest kiddies may play a game called "Show and Tell," in which they bring in various items and talk about what they did over the summer.

Now, it's our turn to play Show and Tell.

While you were out barefoot skiing, we were holding down the fort in steamy Manhattan, defending evidence-based science and medicine and debunking hype. So, in case you missed it, here are the top 10 most popular articles we published this summer:

Burnt Bread Makes An Excellent Carbon Foam

Chemists Were Wrong About Splenda

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Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 4.05.04 PM Partially denuded salt marsh at end of drought via Nature Communications.

The perception that coastal salt marshes are 'wastelands' good only for draining, has been contradicted by observations over many years that such areas are rich in biodiversity. Salt marshes provide habitats and food for insects, fish, molluscs, and mammals, and are known to be important nurseries for numerous species — and these organisms can help maintain or restore the health of salt...

When biologists think of evolution, we tend to be biased toward those instances in which an organism gains some new ability, such as when a bacterium acquires a new antibiotic resistance gene. In other cases, new traits can be conferred by gene duplication, in which an extra (and usually nonessential) copy of a gene mutates and acquires new functions. Traditionally, but incorrectly, an assumption exists that more complex organisms have larger genomes. As a result, biologists have tended to view evolution as a process by which organisms amass new genes and functions over time.

But in a new paper published in Nature Reviews Genetics, University of Barcelona geneticists Ricard Albalat...

The bride wore white. And then some.

Garlic. It's not a new health craze, simply because it's not all that new. But, it is crazy. And, five minutes on the Internet will show you how crazy. It will prevent X (where X = any condition on earth), and enhance Y (where Y = anything you want enhanced). Regardless of its health benefit or lack thereof, I think we can all agree on one thing. It's not going to make you smell so good. But, not for the reason you might think. Which is why, by the time you finish reading this, you will still stink, but may have saved a few bucks on Listerine. Here's a rule that organic chemists know all too well. Sulfur stinks. Pretty much any volatile, sulfur-containing chemical is going to smell really bad. A few examples: hydrogen sulfide (rotten eggs), isoamyl mercaptan (skunk), methanethiol (fart...

Following TV broadcasts seen throughout the world, it's now known that some Olympians are engaging in a recuperative practice that produces large purple welts on their bodies. Swimmers and gymnasts are in on the act, and they're saying that it's all about relieving pain in their sore muscles, brought on from rigorous training and competition.

Cupping Therapy, via Shutterstock Cupping Therapy, via Shutterstock

The procedure is known as "cupping therapy," where hot glasses or cups are placed over sore areas of the body. And while there is no scientific study proving its...

Credit: Shutterstock Credit: Shutterstock

Being an astronaut is not easy. Not only must you be in top physical and mental shape, but your body undergoes a constant assault from the effects of microgravity. According to Scientific American, prolonged space flight results in muscle atrophy, cardiovascular problems, neurological and...

As Kramer from Seinfeld demonstrated, sponging off of other people can be a successful life strategy. The same is true for many members of the Animal Kingdom. In a new study published in Biology Letters, researchers Sara Weinstein and Armand Kuris from the University of California-Santa Barbara show that parasitism independently evolved many more times than originally thought.

To conduct their analysis, Weinstein and Kuris examined how often parasitism evolved from non-parasitic ancestors. They concluded that it evolved at least 223 times, far more than the previous estimate of 60. As shown below, parasitism arose...

shutterstock_146356910 Urinalysis via Shutterstock

One of the hallmarks of aging — even in healthy individuals — is a decrease in the body's ability to regulate hydration.If the body doesn't have enough water - dehydrated - then the ions and proteins in the blood and tissues will be too concentrated to work properly. Conversely, too much water dilutes the blood and can be problematic too. The body monitors the level of hydration — too much water and the excess is excreted in the urine. If there's too little, the kidneys decrease the water they...