Disease

The Washington Post has reported that, without explanation, the CDC abruptly canceled a conference on how climate change will impact human health. Good.

There's little doubt why the CDC canceled it. The Trump Administration is skeptical of anthropogenic climate change, so somebody -- perhaps President Trump himself -- likely made a single phone call and that was that. Journalists and the Twitterverse will surely go berserk, but they should not. Climate change falls well outside the CDC's area of expertise.

Founded in 1946, the CDC's...

You may have noticed a number of headlines referencing the “Tree Man” from Bangladesh with claims he is “cured” after 16 operations for his rare genetic disorder that transformed his hands and feet into bark-like warts and cutaneous horns.  

Also called Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis (EV), this debilitating, heritable condition is often referred to as “Tree Man Illness” or “Tree Man Syndrome.” Though it manifests throughout the body via innumerable abnormal growths on the skin, it is considered to be caused by a genetic impairment that triggers a defect in a person’s cell-mediated immunity.  

More than 200 cases have been reported since it was first described in 1922 by two dermatologists, hence, its other name “Lewandowsky Lutz Dysplasia.” (1) Most present in childhood...

Joe Schwarcz ("Dr. Joe" to his students), an award-winning chemistry professor, and the director of the McGill's Office for Science & Society at McGill University in Montreal is a well known lecturer, book author, columnist, and host of a weekly radio show. Joe's specialty is demystifying science to the public, which he does with a flair. Schwarcz also hosts "The Dr. Joe Show" on Montreal's CJAD and has appeared hundreds of times on The Discovery Channel, CTV, CBC, TV Ontario and Global Television.

Joe, a long time friend of the Council, read about my harrowing experience as a...

Everybody carries them around these days. Those tiny little hand sanitizers certainly come in handy after a ride on the subway or a trip through the airport, and they fit conveniently into my European man-bag. (Okay fine, it's a purse. I carry a purse.)

The instructions on the bottle I am carrying (which, as it so happens, comes from Bath & Body Works and beautifully matches my European man-bag purse) say: "Rub a dime sized drop into hands." Most people hardly do even that. At most, people stingily squeeze the tiniest of drops onto their hands in order to make their travel-sized antiseptic last as long as possible. 

But new research shows this is hardly sufficient. Even the dime-sized...

Malaria is a notoriously tricky infectious disease. Because of a unique genetic flexibility, it is able to change surface proteins, avoiding the immune response and greatly complicating vaccine development. Furthermore, the parasite is transmitted by mosquitoes, which are difficult to control. Insecticides work, but mosquitoes can develop resistance to them.

One method widely used to control malaria is for governments or charities to provide families with insecticide-treated bed nets. Overall, this strategy is very successful, and it has been credited with preventing some 451 million cases of malaria in the past 15 years. But bed nets are not successful everywhere. In some parts of the world, mosquitoes develop "behavioral resistance"; i.e., they learn to avoid bed nets by ...

If you have been procrastinating getting your flu shot - it's time to get it off of your 'to-do' list. 

Flu statistics are watched closely at this time of year, and the last few weeks of data have shown a notable increase in the number of flu cases. More, experts predict that flu activity will be increasing in the near future - specifically over the next several weeks.

The Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report from the NY State Department of Health says that last week (ending December 24th) was the worst week to date and it was also the first week that widespread activity was reported.

During that week, there was a 143% increase...

Now that winter has hit the northern hemisphere, our thoughts often focus on ways to keep warm. Well, not only can a nice, sweaty sauna do the trick, but according to a recent study repeated saunas may just help fend off dementia — at least for middle-aged men.

Dr. Tanjaniina Laukkanen from the University of Eastern Finland and colleagues followed the health of over 2300 middle-aged men (42-60 years old at baseline) for over 20 years. They analyzed possible associations between the frequency with which the men used saunas and the risk of their developing Alzheimer's disease or other types of dementia.

Sauna is a Finnish word that...

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...