Obesity is unnatural, but it’s natural to try for it.
This morning I sat on a panel for medical students; the subject was obesity. Nationally, as anyone who hasn’t been hiding under a rock knows, the picture is not pretty-in fact it’s pretty ugly. By the standard definition, obesity means a Body Mass Index (BMI; weight in kilos over height in meters squared) above 30, and in about 15 years starting in 1990 we went from 22 percent to 33 percent obese.
Now, I don’t care what you call it or Read more
Can genes explain brain disorders? Yes. Sometimes.
Over the past few weeks two articles have shown the promise and the difficulty of studying brain genes. One appears in the New England Journal of Medicine of May 20, and zeroes in magnificently on a gene for Tourette’s Syndrome. Read more
In breast cancer, promising approaches of twenty years ago are still…promising.
Today I talked about breast cancer to an audience already energized about Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Among other things, I told them that diseases need lobbies, and that breast cancer has one, having learned from the AIDS awareness movement, which in a momentous few years in the 1980s turned our country toward committed prevention.
But in breast cancer, science has made limited progress Read more
It’s always wrong to panic, but it’s never wrong to be prepared.
There is an ancient relationship between humanity on the one side, and parasites, microbes, and viruses on the other. It has been rightly called an evolutionary arms race—or more exactly, a series of them—and I will return to that idea in a moment.
But the writer in me prefers another metaphor, used by the virologist Richard Krause as the title of a book: The Restless Tide. As the subtitle explains, Read more
Is obesity an epidemic? Is it even a disease? Semantics aside, it’s huge and growing burden.
I’m writing this in an airport, and a couple of hours ago as a line of passengers filed past me in the airplane aisle, I noticed, as I often do, that some of them were not just overweight—many are that—but obese. I remembered from yesterday’s news that some airlines are considering charging such people for two seats. It seems unfair, and yet… Read more
Thank "goodness," for sure, but stop and ask yourself how the goodness might have come about.
I have to say that at the Salk Institute "Beyond Belief 2006" conference, I was most moved and impressed by the philosopher Dan Dennett's contribution. It was phoned-or I guess emailed-in, because the poor guy was flat on his back in a hospital bed recovering from a dissecting aortic aneurysm.
An excellent new study once again takes us back to the future.
Last week’s issue of The New England Journal of Medicine carried another powerful vindication of The Paleolithic Prescription, a book co-authored by Boyd Eaton, Marjorie Shostak and me just twenty years ago. Boyd and I fired the first salvo in the same journal in 1985, with an article called “Paleolithic Nutrition.”
Scientists should lose the hype and just get on with the work
This week I went to the funeral of an unsung great man of math education, Steve Sigur, who taught at a local school for thirty-five years. He was always described as a gentle bear of a man, and that he was.
With his great height, huge belly, and big red scraggly beard, he looked like a mountain man, Read more
"Maladaptive" habits help the poor cope with their stressful lives, and the best healers don't blame them.
I recently had the privilege of "shadowing" one of the best docs I know as she made hospital rounds at Grady. Grady is one of those places-like Los Angeles County Hospital, Cook County Hospital in Chicago, and Kings County in Brooklyn where I volunteered as a high school kid-
Whose genome matters more–the weirdest mammal or the decoder of DNA?
This month my mailbox has been filled with genomic goodies. Last month we had Jim Watson’s very own genome–the discoverer of DNA is out there now with all his base pairs.
May 1st, Nature reported on variation in eight human genomes, not counting Jim’s. The idea was to spot “one-armed bandits,”