Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

It's a diagnosis nobody in grad school would ever expect.

Arijit Guha, who's working on a doctorate at Arizona State, felt sick after coming back from a trip to India in early 2011. His severe stomach pain, which he thought was probably from a bug he caught on the journey, turned out to be caused by colon cancer. He was 30.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham says a new federal program focused on disease prevention is having a positive impact on the region. UAB’s local coalition aims to decrease death rates for cervical and breast cancer.

“Our program focused on women in eight counties in Alabama, particularly around screening for breast cancer and cervical cancer,” says Dr. Edward Partridge, Director of UAB’s Comprehensive Cancer Society.

You may not have heard of pectus excavatum — or "sunken chest," as it's commonly known — but there's a good chance you know someone who was born with it.

It's the most common deformity of the chest wall, affecting roughly one in 500 people — boys much more often than girls. And while sunken chest can be corrected with surgery, the procedure is invasive and very painful. Many families won't do it.

One rite of passage most teenagers look forward to and parents dread is learning how to drive. Car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens by far, on the order of five times more than poisoning or cancer. Does that mean you should scare the daylights out of teens to encourage safe driving? Traditional driver education classes tend to do exactly that, with gruesome videos and photos of fatalities and smashed-up cars.

NASA

MOSCOW (AP) — An unmanned Russian cargo spacecraft (similar to the one pictured here) has redocked with the International Space Station after an aborted attempt five days earlier. The Progress cargo ship had separated from the station a week ago to perform engineering tests and try out a new docking system and had been due to reconnect with the station on Tuesday. But problems developed with the avionics in the docking system. The second attempt early Sunday was successful. Video streamed from Russian mission control reported no problems.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Louisiana researcher says the "dead zone" that develops every spring and summer in the Gulf of Mexico is smaller than usual this year. Nancy Rabalais (RAB uh LAY) of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium says the area of low-oxygen in gulf waters covers 2,889 square miles. In a news release, Rabalais says that is the fourth smallest dead zone measured since mapping of the zones began in 1985. The dead zone forms because fertilizer and other nutrients run into the Mississippi River, which empties into the gulf.

Where Did All The Watermelon Seeds Go?

Jul 26, 2012

Many people think of the seedless watermelons popping up at grocery stores and markets everywhere in the last few years as a marvel of modern scientific technology. In fact, more than 60 percent of watermelon shoppers seek this smoother pink flesh, and the numbers are increasing every year, according to a recent survey done for the National Watermelon Promotion Board.

'Calling My Children' And The Faces Of AIDS

Jul 26, 2012

Photographer David Binder began documenting stories about AIDS in the late 1980s and became well known for humanizing the epidemic for various publications, including Life magazine and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The big question hanging over the International AIDS Conference this week is whether all 34 million people in the world with HIV can possibly get antiviral drug treatment.

Alabama Improved In Kids Count Rankings; Is 45th

Jul 25, 2012
KIDS COUNT / Annie E. Casey Foundation

Children in Alabama are still dealing with obstacles as they face the future, but the 2012 Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows Alabama children with their best ranking in overall well-being since the data book began publication in 1990.

But it also shows that Alabama still has much work to do in insuring a bright future for children. Alabama ranks 45th in the new data book.

When the next epidemic comes, there's a good chance it will switch flights at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

Researchers at MIT have developed a pretty nifty computer model to figure out the most influential airports in the early stages of an epidemic's spread.

The cool weather in London is good news for the Olympic athletes because their bodies won't need to put as much energy into cooling off.

But most of us aren't lucky enough to be headed to London, and we could use some help keeping cool.

When you get hot you sweat — but it's not enough to just sweat. To cool off, you need that sweat to evaporate. It's evaporation that drains the heat from your body.

Track The Spread Of AIDS Across The Globe

Jul 25, 2012

Its expansion was frighteningly fast. A handful of cases were first recognized in the U.S. at the beginning of the 1980s, but AIDS was soon seen around the world.

By 1990, the world had a pandemic on its hands. In 1997, the peak of the epidemic, more than 3 million people became newly infected with HIV.

Greil Hospital Closing In Shift To Community Care

Jul 24, 2012
Alabama Department of Mental Health / Alabama Joblink

Greil Memorial Psychiatric Hospital will shut its doors as part of a nationwide move to put patients into community-based care.

The facility will stop taking patients by Aug. 17 and focus on placing its 62 residents elsewhere.

The state Department of Mental Health is working with the directors of three-community based health centers to increase their services ahead of the move. Department Commissioner Jim Reddoch says that patients who cannot be placed in a community setting will be taken to Bryce Hospital in Tuscaloosa.

The HIV epidemic among African-Americans is getting deserved new attention at the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. And the news isn't all bad.

New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that black high school students are engaging in risky sexual behavior far less often than they were 20 years ago.

Since black teens are the future of the epidemic for the hardest-hit ethnic group, this is encouraging.

Here are the main results:

How To Make Condoms For Women Fashionable

Jul 24, 2012

Two of the more colorful events at the 19th International AIDS Conference so far are focused on a single message: The world needs more female condoms.

The first event was an intimate fashion show Monday night, featuring dresses made with female condoms. Highlights of the show included a beautiful baby-doll dress layered with white condoms and a yellow miniskirt covered with condoms twisted into roses.

Scientists Says Lionfish Population Exploding in Gulf

Jul 23, 2012
NOAA's National Ocean Service / Flickr

Scientists say there’s an exploding population of lionfish off Alabama’s coast and are concerned how it could affect the ecosystem. The spiky, brown-and-white striped fish are native to the Pacific Ocean, but not the Gulf or Atlantic. Scientists believe the invasive species was first introduced about 20 years ago in the wake of Hurricane Andrew. Karon Aplin is with Alabama’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Thirty years ago, we first began hearing about AIDS — then a mysterious, unnamed disease that was initially thought to be a rare form of cancer that affected gay men. Scientists soon learned that it was neither of those things, and, in fact, it was a virus that everyone was vulnerable to.

That vulnerability became apparent when, in 1991, basketball superstar Magic Johnson announced that we would retire immediately because he had contracted HIV.

Long before the era of post-Sept. 11 security precautions in the U.S., an unknown person or group of people may have begun carrying out a series of bioterrorism attacks in California.

The target? Menthol-scented eucalyptus trees.

Before you wonder why you hadn't heard of this, it's because the story isn't necessarily true. It's a hypothesis, a theory promoted by a noted California entomologist and eucalyptus expert named Timothy Paine.

If his theory is correct, then somebody out there wants those trees dead.

Digging For Clues

With the largest HIV epidemic in the world, no nation has been more affected by HIV and AIDS than South Africa, but the country has also had one of the most conflicted responses to the epidemic.

A decade ago, as the virus was spreading rapidly, then-President Thabo Mbeki was questioning the link between HIV and AIDS. His health minister was advocating the use of beetroot, garlic and lemon juice to treat it.

Now, years later, South Africa is trying to make up for lost time. The nation is attempting to put in place a cutting-edge HIV treatment and prevention program.

Say 'Ahhh': A Simpler Way To Detect Parkinson's

Jul 21, 2012

There's currently no cure for Parkinson's, a debilitating neurological disease. There's also no blood test that can detect it, meaning early intervention is almost impossible.

But soon there might be a shockingly easy way to screen for Parkinson's disease. It would be as simple as picking up the telephone and saying "ahhh."

"There's some evidence, admittedly weak, that voice disturbances may well be one of the first or early indicator of the disease," mathematician Max Little tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.

'Our Kind': Unpacking Misconceptions About AIDS

Jul 21, 2012

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A new book about global attitudes to the AIDS epidemic in Africa, lays some of the blame at the door of Joseph Conrad. Conrad's novel "Heart of Darkness," says the author - who's Uzodinma Iweala - connected inferiority and disease with Africa and Africans, in way which is still evident today. Uzodinma Iweala was himself was born in Washington D.C., the city with the worst incidence of AIDS in the United States. His first book, a novel called "Beasts of No Nation," told the harrowing story of child soldiers in Africa.

Know Your HIV Status? D.C.'s Asking

Jul 21, 2012

Washington, D.C., has the highest rate of HIV infection in the nation, almost 3 percent. It's considered an epidemic. Health officials believe one way to halt the spread of the disease is to encourage people to get tested and "know their status." They hope this will encourage residents to seek treatment and reduce the chances of them passing on the virus.

1,600 Turtles Escape From Georgia Farm

Jul 20, 2012

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep, with news of a gradual escape. More than 2,000 turtles were in captivity at a northwest Georgia farm. The owner sells them as pets, or to the Chinese market. Turtles are not known for their speed, but somehow 1,600 of them got away. The farmer suspects vandals tore down the fences around his farm. Turtles known as snappers, eastern paints and yellow belly sliders made their way to nearby waterways and freedom - slowly. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

Drought Affects Large Swaths Of U.S.

Jul 20, 2012

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Colorado has been at the center of another devastating story in recent days -the worst wildfires in its history. Those fires are just one consequence of record heat in a drought that has spread across the Rockies and the Midwest. Local news is filled with pictures of farmers gripping shriveled ears of corn and boats marooned in empty reservoirs. It's a drought that will go down in history, much like that of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, and another in the 1950s that hit the central plains and the Southwest.

Part 4 in a four-part series

The human tissue industry has created medical advances for millions of Americans. Tissue taken from cadavers is turned into medical products for the living. A tendon can be used to repair a torn ACL. Veins are used in heart bypass operations. Bone can be turned into plates and screws. They look like something you'd find in a hardware store, but these get used to mend a broken leg. It's a $1 billion-a-year industry that attracts the altruistic, but sometimes the greedy.

Interactive: Mapping The U.S. Drought

Jul 18, 2012

Texas experienced its worst drought on record last year. Now that the state is seeing some relief, drought conditions have consumed more than half the United States. Use this interactive map and chart to see how conditions have changed over time. Related story: 1,200 counties affected.

The Food and Drug Administration has given the first OK for a drug to prevent HIV infection.

The daily pill Truvada, made by Gilead Sciences, combines two medicines that inhibit the reproduction of HIV. It's been a mainstay in the treatment of HIV/AIDS for years, and as of today is an approved option for reducing the risk of HIV infection for people at high risk.

More rain headed toward Alabama

Jul 12, 2012
The Drought Monitor / National Drought Mitigation Center

Forecasters say more storms are headed toward Alabama, but still more rain is needed to break a worsening drought.

The National Weather Service says there's a good chance of precipitation statewide on Thursday. The Tennessee Valley counties in north Alabama could get 1 or 2 inches of rain with gusty winds, and high temperatures will top out around 80 degrees.

There's an 80 percent chance of rain in central Alabama, and a 60 percent chance on the coast.

Pages