Public Health

Every time you see a model or actress on a magazine cover with an article bragging about how she lost her 'baby weight' a month after delivery, you should know it's probably not because she works harder than you or has a nanny. It's because she probably never gained a lot of the baby weight that occurs in the final month of pregnancy.

Elective early deliveries have become the latest craze for wealthy people - it isn't just the 1 percent, it is the 4 percent. Labor induction or cesarean delivery without medical reason before a baby is considered full-term at 39 weeks is associated with health problems for mothers and babies. But it's still become common, at 37 weeks and even sooner.


Epidemiologists who analyzed survey questionnaire responses came up with a new way to predict risk of lung cancer - the time you spent before lighting up the first time.

Lung cancer prediction is tricky business - though it is commonly assume that people who smoke will get lung cancer, shockingly few smokers do and almost half of lung cancer patients didn't smoke. There are standard markers that epidemiologists have used to match cancer risk - how many cigarettes per day and even cumulative exposure (pack-years).

The new survey results lead them to suggest that time before first light up may be a predictor for both light and heavy smokers. 


More and more people are being diagnosed with diabetes and other hormone conditions and that is making a problem become obvious; there aren't going to be enough endocrinologists.

Endocrinologists are specially trained physicians who diagnose diseases related to the glands. They specialize in treating diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, adrenal diseases, and a variety of other conditions related to hormones. But in America of the future, as the government gradually takes over health care, salaries for doctors are going down, not up, so it is not going to be easy to convince specialists to spend the time. A great doctor in the US Army makes the same money as an average supply officer of the same rank and time.


A genetically modified banana, boosted to have higher levels of alpha and beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, has the best backer imaginable - The Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation.

It also has a big obstacle: it is really easy to scare people who don't understand the promise of biology, and fear and doubt are the specialties of anti-science groups who have consistently sought to undermine progress in food. But this is needed. The East African cooking banana is a staple with low levels of pro-vitamin A and iron. An improved version means not having to change farmers or culture. Like its vitamin-enriched counterpart, Golden Rice, the banana is a slightly different color. But it's what can't be seen that has the real value. 

Summer is the season we honor our veterans. There’s Memorial Day and the 4th of July, but even beyond these holidays, a summer filled with barbecues and Slip n’ Slides is a time to appreciate the life our country offers and remember the veterans who make it possible. This summer as we are remembering our veterans’ contributions, we are forced to confront our own failures. See, there’s an implicit deal we make as a society with these people who fight for our freedom – you risk your lives so that we don’t have to, and in return we as a society will take care of you. With scandals at V.A. hospitals, we’ve reneged on our end of the deal.

For decades, the conventional medical wisdom has been the lower the better for blood pressure, with 120/80 being the goal and even lower if possible. But does that approach result in reduced risk for dangerous heart events for the approximately one in three people in this country who have high blood pressure? 

Perhaps not, according to an article in JAMA Internal Medicine, where researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that lowering systolic blood pressure below 120 does not appear to provide additional benefit for patients. Systolic pressure is the top number in a standard blood pressure reading (e.g., 120/80).


Obesity has become a worldwide epidemic and with it comes the potential for complications like Type 2 Diabetes. Researchers at the University of Montreal and CHUM Research Centre (CRCHUM) recently demonstrated the potential of retinoic acid (RA), a derivative of Vitamin A, in treating obesity and type 2 diabetes and preventing their cardiovascular complications. 


Vani Hari, an earnest unqualified pundit who sells a lot of stuff on her website, implies you will look like her if you don't eat foods she cannot pronounce. And now she has gone after pizza.

No big deal. Whereas people who eat at Subway are easily duped and thus it was simple to get Subway to not use a completely harmless additive, the pizza market is another issue entirely.

Two studies presented today at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2014) have found a relationship between the dietary intake of monounsaturated fatty acids and cholesterol with disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) respectively.

In the TOMORROW study, daily intake of monounsaturated fatty acids as a component of the Mediterranean diet has been shown to be an independent predictor of remission in patients with RA; monounsaturated fatty acids might therefore be suppressing disease activity.


Diagnoses of allergies in humans and animals have risen as understanding and awareness have become more common. An allergic reaction may cause unpleasant symptoms like hay fever, food intolerance or skin rashes.

In more severe cases, allergic reactions may also cause acute and life-threatening symptoms, such as asthma or anaphylactic shock.  On the other extreme, modern awareness of allergies has led some to claim them where none exist. Studies have shown that 75 percent of people who claim a gluten sensitivity, for example, have no noticeable adverse reaction to gluten, but they think they do.