Disease

Sometimes, health advice is too good to be true. Eat pomegranates to prevent cancer. Organic food will make your kids smarter. Use sunscreen to treat an autoimmune disease.

What? Wait a minute - that last, as crazy as it sounds, just might be real. 

A new study entitled "Salate derivatives found in sunscreens block experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in mice" published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that certain compounds found in sunscreens may help treat multiple sclerosis (MS). (1)

The researchers, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, were working with an animal model designed to study MS called experimental autoimmune...

As part of the "natural is better" movement, many Americans -- particularly those who live in the city and know absolutely nothing about agriculture -- have decided that playing farmer is a fun pastime. It certainly can be a fun hobby... that is, until the vomiting and diarrhea begin.

The CDC reports that 10 separate Salmonella outbreaks, affecting 48 states and DC, has sickened 790 people and hospitalized at least 174. The outbreaks have been linked to hatcheries where people handled ducklings and chicks.

Chickens and other poultry can carry Salmonella. Not only can this pathogen be found in their feces and environment, it can also be found on egg shells. That's why, according to...

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 99% of donated brains from people who played in the NFL showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a type of neurodegenerative disease that is thought to result from persistent brain injury from knocks to the head. Signs of CTE were also noted in the brains of 91% of people who played the sport in college and 21% who played in high school.

Predictably, headline writers went crazy:

...

Does your blood type, specifically your Rh factor, matter in your daily life? Not in the slightest. But when pregnant, your Rh status can matter, especially if it's negative.

Enter the RhoGAM shot — a triumph in medicine over Rh (rhesus) disease

Rh is a protein most people have on their red blood cells. A person who is Rh-positive has the protein on the red blood cells. A person who does not have the protein in the red blood cells is considered Rh-negative. An expectant mother who is Rh-negative risks developing Rh disease, a condition caused by an incompatibility between a mother's blood and that of her fetus. The antibodies to the Rh protein must be administered in her system to...

The causes of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease) and Parkinson's disease are not known. Both diseases are likelier to occur in older white men, and it is thought that environmental exposures and lifestyle choices may play a role. For instance, smoking is linked to ALS and pesticides to Parkinson's. However, smoking and caffeine appear to protect against Parkinson's.

New data from the CDC appears to challenge some of this conventional wisdom. The authors collected as much mortality data as was available to them from 1985 to 2011. They tallied the number of deaths from ALS and Parkinson's, and sorted them by occupational group. In total, the researchers analyzed more than 12 million deaths across 30 U.S. states.

Their main findings are summarized in...

Popular medical diagnoses seem to go in cycles — at some point, lots of people will say they have gluten intolerance or chronic Lyme disease — but these seem to have more to do with newspaper headlines than they do with any real medical condition. Ross Pomeroy, writing for Real Clear Science give some examples of such conditions in his essay entitled "Six 'Common' Medical Conditions That Don't Actually Exist." In the interest of public education, we review his list here.

  • Candidiasis Hypersensitivity. Candida albicans is a common yeast that probably lives on everyone. If your immune system is...

Unfortunately, often news headlines and science just don't track. For example, a recent headline in The Telegraph proclaims: Household dust makes people fat.  But did the research that article discusses really show what the headline says? Not hardly.

Among all the factors that have been labeled as causing obesity, perhaps the most innovative is supposed "endocrine disrupting chemicals or EDCs." And the recent report purporting to show that the level of such chemicals found in house dust can effectively cause fat cells to proliferate and store lipid might at first glance give some credence to that idea. However, not only...

Men considering vasectomy for a permanent form of birth control may be leery of the procedure because of fears that it might increase the risk of prostate cancer. However, research seeking to quantify such risks has not been definitive (we wrote about one such study a few years ago). But a new meta-analysis/systematic review just published in JAMA Internal Medicine should go far to lay such fears to rest.

Dr. ...

Genetics plays a role in almost any conceivable characteristic, not just the obvious ones like eye color and height. Indeed, genetics plays a role in susceptibility to infectious disease, mental illness, and even personality traits.

Despite this being a widely acknowledged fact, the role of genetics is downplayed or outright ignored in certain situations that society finds uncomfortable. Most notably, we shy away from discussing the role of genetics when it comes to biological differences between the races and genders. Differences there are often blamed on social factors, such as discrimination, rather than biological ones. We do this, however, at our own peril.

To be sure, environmental and social factors (such as socioeconomic conditions, lifestyle choices, and adequate...

The bad news is that millions of people in the world (roughly 78 million) have gonorrhea - the sexually-transmitted disease (STD) caused by the bacterium Neiserria gonorrheae. That news goes from bad to worse because those cases are increasingly difficult, and sometimes impossible, to treat. 

An announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that antibiotic resistance is on the rise for Neiserria gonorrheae with widespread resistance to some antibiotics - namely older and cheaper antibiotics.

The announcement comes together with the publication of a paper in the journal PLOS Medicine that analyzed the extent of...