research

Benefits of a Good Ol’ Fashion Vaginal Birth

The debate between natural delivery versus a cesarean delivery has been going on for centuries. Early references to the c-section appear in ancient texts, mythology and Roman history; though, not usually coupled with a glistening seal of approval. C-sections were, initially, a last ditch effort to save a baby in countries with dwindling populations; it was better to save the child and let the mother die an agonizing death. Although the term “cesarean section” is generally thought to have originated from the story of the birth of Julius Caesar, much about the origin of the nomenclature remains a mystery. For present-day expectant mothers, c-sections are no longer so mythical and, more importantly, so dangerous. Modern medicine has allowed not only for the procedure to be safe for mom, but more or less safe for baby as well (forgiving, of course, the occasional nick on the baby’s brow by the surgeon’s blade, as was the case with my nephew). C-sections have proliferated in modern culture to become a matter of preference rather than necessity. They are no longer reserved solely for emergencies; some moms may choose to schedule their cesarean purely for the convenience, or, as is sometimes noted about the stars in glossy tabloids, because they are “too posh to push.”  But just because we have the technology to allow c-sections to be more commonplace, science is still trying...

Top 10 Future Medical Advancements that You’ll Probably Use to Save Lives

A 69-year-old today has the same likelihood of dying as a 15-year-old hunter-gatherer once had. We are living longer and longer lives, and in the next decade several new technologies and procedures could extend the lives of our patients even further. Learn about just a few of the innovations that may one day be your best shot at saving, or just preserving someone’s life. Featured image from Flickr | Brookhaven National...

A 4-Minute Guide to Multiple Sclerosis

Clara Knappertz gives a comprehensive report on multiple sclerosis including the definition, symptoms, causes, and current treatments. She also explains the etymology of the name, the history of the disease, how it affects lives, and more fascinating information on the...

A New (Delicious) Way to Detect Alzheimer’s

This week, while perusing my favorite science and health periodicals, I have consistently seen articles outlining a new way to detect Alzheimer’s in patients– using peanut butter. It almost sounds like the beginning of an article from The Onion; peanut butter cures cancer! Cures the common cold! But the further I read into these new claims, the more I found the science, while perhaps simple, to be valid. Alzheimer’s affects the brain’s temporal lobe (one on each side of your head) which is neurologically the home of short-term memory and. . . your sense of smell. One of the reasons that Alzheimer’s can be difficult to catch in its early stages is that memory loss is very much, at first anyway, an internalized individual process; someone may not realize (or want to admit) that they are having trouble with remembering things, or they may chalk it up to “old age” or “stress”. The process is also, generally, very gradual, and it may go relatively unnoticed until it becomes profound enough for others to pick up on it. Enter, peanut butter. Since your sense of smell also resides in the part of your brain responsible for memory, researchers thought it reasonable that if they could detect changes in a person’s sense of smell, they could infer that short-term memory might also be affected. In a controlled study, researches plopped a...

What Caused the Author of Moby Dick to Shrink an Inch and a Half?

John J. Ross, MD, instructor at Harvard Medical School, author of Shakespeare’s Tremor and Orwell’s Cough: Medical Lives of Famous Writers, discusses the medical history of Herman Melville and his diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis. Read more about Melville’s ailments. Learn more about John J. Ross, MD and his latest work, Shakespeare’s Tremor and Orwell’s Cough: Medical Lives of Famous...

The Big Reveal…

After weeks of anticipation, my results have arrived! When I logged on to 23andme.com today, I was greeted with this message: Which kind of made me feel like this: And with that, I began. At first, it’s overwhelming. There’s literally a page of results, hundreds to sift through, and it’s hard to know where to begin. Do I want to dive in to the nitty-gritty and see if I have the BRCA1 gene or do I want to look at my traits and judge whether or not my genes were able to properly recreate me in a petri dish somewhere? I opted to start with the traits. With somewhat eerie accuracy, the results included “an increased prevalence of having a prominent ring of pigmentation around the iris”– which is a physical trait I am most known for and, to be honest, wasn’t expecting 23andme to pick up on. Of course, eye color is pretty much the focus of every high school biology Punnet Square, so I shouldn’t have been that surprised. I have to admit, at first, I felt a little odd. Did 23andme really know me?  So, I pressed forward, taking everything with a grain of salt, of course. When reviewing results like this, it’s important to keep in mind that only a portion of your genetic make-up can be analyzed in this manner; science has come a...

Brain On Fire: The Illness that Baffled Doctors

As a 24 year old journalist in NYC, Susannah Cahalan was used to dealing with tough situations, but nothing could have prepared her for the life or death battle she was about to face with her own brain. In her month long hospital stay, doctors were unable to diagnose her illness, and she continued her descent into madness.  Finally, one doctor was able to diagnose her with a rare autoimmune disease anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis.   Read more about Susannah’s journey in her bestselling book, Brain On Fire: My Month of...