Disease

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...

It's hard to admit that mom's nagging was correct more often than not. When she warned us that going outside in the cold would make us sick, she wasn't just being an overprotective helicopter parent. She was actually right.

Two years ago, a study in PNAS showed that rhinoviruses* -- a very common cause of the common cold -- likes to grow in nasal passages. The reason is that, being exposed to the environment, the nose is colder than other parts of the body. Lower temperatures are beneficial to infectious microbes because our immune system does not perform well. For instance, when cold, our innate immune system produces less interferon...

Having a stroke is a debilitating and costly event. Once a patient has been stabilized, rehabilitation to return as much function as possible is initiated through both physical and occupational therapy. As you would expect, this care and treatment continue for many months after hospital discharge. This week a study in Lancet entitled Family-led rehabilitation after stroke in India (ATTEND): a randomised controlled trial sheds light on that post-discharge care. Unlike the US, India does not have the resources to provide any significant level of rehabilitative care after hospitalization. About 1250 post-stroke patients were randomized to receive no additional care or had a family member...

Lyme disease is a nasty one — first, you likely get a rash from a tick bite you never suspected you had. Then, if not treated appropriately, you may get fever and chills, followed by some degree of facial paralysis and arthritis. But a course of the appropriate antibiotic (e.g. doxycycline) should take care of that handily. So what's the deal with supposed chronic Lyme disease? Supposedly people who have been appropriately treated for Lyme continue to have symptoms — "lingering symptoms of fatigue, pain, or joint and muscle aches at the time they finish treatment" — supposedly a condition known to many as chronic Lyme disease. But according to the CDC, these compose  " Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS)," and its...