health

No zombies in Chernobyl, but plenty of other horrors

No zombies in Chernobyl, but plenty of other horrors

On Friday, the new horror flick CHERNOBYL DIARIES will no doubt have folks all over the country screaming and holding their hands over their eyes. Those of us old enough to remember the actual Chernobyl disaster, in which a nuclear reactor northeast of Kiev, Ukraine exploded, might take some comfort in this: the world’s worst nuclear disaster is far enough in the past that we can make scary movies about it. The nuclear industry might even embrace the film, as it allows them to figuratively pat us all on the head and remind us that radiation doesn’t really turn people into zombies.

Earth Week Activity: Take a walk (like the rest of the world!)

Earth Week Activity: Take a walk (like the rest of the world!)

It’s Earth Week again, and, more and more, we treat this event as a sort of green New Year’s Day: what changes can I make to benefit the natural environment? For many of us Americans, the answer could be as simple as “take a walk.”

It turns out that Americans walk less than the citizens of any other industrialized nation. Unless we live in dense urban centers, we drive to work, drive to the store, and often even drive to places to, well, take a walk. Despite this being the most natural of activities, we design it out of our daily lives: how many suburban subdivisions have sidewalks, much less stores, restaurants, and other destinations within walking distance. Shoot, we even speed it up when we have to do it: think of the moving walkways in airports.

Gulf dolphins suffering from liver and lung disease — Hard partying lifestyle probably not to blame

Gulf dolphins suffering from liver and lung disease — Hard partying lifestyle probably not to blame

Oil’s a natural substance, right? A little bit can’t hurt you. That seems to be the position of those pushing for a return to pre-BP oil spill levels of oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. And the spill itself: that was so two years ago. Everything’s fine now.

A (food) forest takes root in a (food) desert

A (food) forest takes root in a (food) desert

How do you make a food desert bloom? The range of solutions to these urban areas without ready access to fresh food has included full-service grocery stores, farmers markets, and even small urban farms. All of these answers, of course, require someone (usually from outside the community) to make produce available. What if there was a way for food desert residents to just gather their own fresh food?

DC Environmental Film Festival meets World Water Day

DC Environmental Film Festival meets World Water Day

I’m sure it wasn’t lost on the organizers of this year’s Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital that the second week of screenings and events overlapped World Water Day on Thursday. Of course, it was probably also easier to book space in conjunction with this particular environmental event than one occurring, say, next month (which…

THE CITY DARK: What we lose with lots of light

With greenhouse gases causing potentially cataclysmic shifts in weather patterns, and various human-made chemical compounds finding their way into our food, water, and air, the idea of light pollution may seem a bit amusing. It’s light! It’s not going to kill you – right?

Today is World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day

Today marks “the beginning of the end of AIDS”:

“Getting to Zero” is the theme of the UNAIDS efforts (the joint United Nations program on AIDS/HIV).
Bono was on The Daily Show last night promoting his activist organization, One, and his fundraising one, Red.
Add a patch to the One and Red campaigns’ 2015 Quilt, pledging to buy at least one Red gift this holiday season, and you’ll get to choose one of The Killers six consecutive Christmas songs benefiting Red for free.

A new dating site for people who can't have intercourse

A new dating site for people who can't have intercourse

In contrast to the above post title, the title of the Time article we just read is “A New Dating Site for People Who Can’t Have Sex.” These are two very different things: you can have sex without having intercourse (hello, oral, manual, frottage, etc.), but if you can’t have sex then that implies you can’t do anything sexual. We thought this new dating site, 2date4love, was for people who can’t or don’t want to have any (or much) sex, be it because of illness, faulty equipment, low libido, asexuality, age, past trauma, religious reasons or whatever. But it turns out the site is targeted at people who can’t have intercourse (says so right on the homepage).

STOVEMAN: Bringing clean cook stoves to the developing world

STOVEMAN: Bringing clean cook stoves to the developing world

Episode 1: Woodwalk from The Paradigm Project on Vimeo.

You may consider cooking a necessity, or maybe even a hobby… but probably not a health risk. For over two billion people in the developing world that still cook over open fires, though, cooking is hazardous: not only is it responsible for millions of deaths from lower respiratory disease, but it’s also a contributor to deforestation (and subsequent degradation of land quality). Additionally, in wood-poor regions, it’s a practice that requires a lot of time… women may spend most of one day collecting cooking wood that will last for only two days.

Love hurts…but sometimes sex hurts more

Love hurts…but sometimes sex hurts more

For the past few weeks we’ve been talking about sex that hurts — and not in a heartache kind of way. Two weeks ago we published an excerpt from When Sex Hurts: A Woman’s Guide to Banishing Sexual Pain. Then last week we published a basic overview of the causes of painful sex. So many women still don’t admit to having this problem — they may write in to an anonymous advice column like ours, but they won’t necessarily admit it to their gynecologist. Today we present a Q&A with Dr. Caroline Pukall and Dr. Andrew Goldstein, coauthors of When Sex Hurts, addressing some of the most common questions they hear about painful sex.

What is the most common cause of sexual pain?

There are many causes of sexual pain, the most common being vestibulodynia, the most common type of vulvodynia, which is chronic vulvar pain which has no known cause. Vestibulodynia is characterized by a severe burning pain at the entrance of the vagina during activities that involve vaginal penetration; the most common complaint of women with this condition is dyspareunia — pain during sexual intercourse. Women with vestibulodynia may also have pain during nonsexual activities, such as gynecological examinations.

What's up with all the organic food recalls?

What's up with all the organic food recalls?

Organic food’s supposed to be safer than produce, meat, and dairy raised by conventional methods… right? Organic growers and ranchers are no doubt dealing with that question regularly over the past couple of weeks: between recalls of salmonella-contaminated sprouts and ground beef possibly laced with E. coli, it’s likely many are questioning the value of organics.

Fighting that beer belly with… beer

Fighting that beer belly with… beer

The discussion surrounding the obesity epidemic has centered on dietary norms, school lunches, processed foods, and agricultural subsidies. Beer drinking hasn’t received a ton of attention in this discussion, but if a student at Denver’s Regis University has his way, the battle against the beer gut may be waged with an intriguing weapon… more beer.…

Green hip hop vs. the plastic bag

Green hip hop vs. the plastic bag

Let’s face it: an awful lot of environmental activism leans towards the stern and dour side. Getting artists involved (particularly as artists, not spokespeople) can shake that up… and even add an element of fun to a serious message.

That’s the approach non-profit Green Sangha took to its Rethinking Plastics campaign. Yes, the campaign page has all sorts of good scientific information on the costs of single-use plastic shopping bags, but to make the message a bit more catchy, they also produced a hip hop video featuring socially conscious artists AshEl Eldridge and Jenni Perez. The information here is also solid: “Plastic State of Mind” ties in everything from litter to the BP Oil Spill to dioxins in breast milk into its rap. The ultimate message: ban the bag.

A new vibe to save the ta-tas

A new vibe to save the ta-tas

Remember all that pink last month? October was National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t keep supporting the cause now that it’s November. Evolved manufactured a new little powerful vibe that’s waterproof and multi-speed called Faith, and a portion of all sales go to the Save the Ta-Ta’s Foundation.…

Emergency Bras at the 20th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony

Emergency Bras at the 20th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony

The 20th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, which honors achievements that “first make people laugh, and then make them think,” was held Harvard University last Thursday. On hand to help honor the 2010 prize laureates was Dr. Elana Bodnar, last year’s winner of the Ig Nobel Public Health Prize for her Emergency Bra, a…

National school lunch program comes to the big screen

National school lunch program comes to the big screen

LUNCH: THE FILM may sound like a spoof of some kind, but filmmaker Avis Gold Richards, and her team at Birds Nest Productions couldn’t be more serious about their exploration of the National School Lunch Program, and its potential connections to childhood obesity, and the illnesses related to it.

Fewer E.D. ads! New teen-focused recommendations for this sex-soaked culture

Fewer E.D. ads! New teen-focused recommendations for this sex-soaked culture

Teens now spend a whopping seven hours per day on various forms of media. So the American Academy of Pediatrics just issued a revised policy statement, “Sexuality, Contraception, and the Media,” in the September 2010 print issue of Pediatrics (published online Aug. 30). In addition to calling for the creation of a national task force on children, adolescents and the media to be convened by child advocacy groups in conjunction with the CDC or National Institutes of Health, it includes updated recommendations for pediatricians and parents on how to deal with this sex-soaked culture. Among the new recommendations since 2001:

The new abortion providers

The new abortion providers

Dr. Emily Godfrey is our new hero: she had the courage to be featured on the cover of the NYTimes Sunday Magazine last weekend as a doctor willing to provide abortions, not in an abortion clinic but at her practice where she sees all sorts of patients. In case you missed it last weekend, the article titled “The New Abortion Providers” took a fascinating look at the movement to bring this safe, common and legal medical procedure back into hospitals where it’s less vulnerable to attack by anti-choice zealots:

New study says fetuses don't feel pain before 24 weeks

New study says fetuses don't feel pain before 24 weeks

A report by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which was commissioned by the UK’s Department of Health, has found that fetuses don’t feel pain before 24 weeks (and probably not after for some time) for two reasons: 1) the brain is not formed enough to perceive pain, and 2) the fetus is unconscious.

One woman's tale of dying to give birth

One woman's tale of dying to give birth

It’s reasonable to assume that, in this day and age of technological advances and common knowledge about good health, maternal mortality rates should be next to nil. But even in the United States, one of the richest countries in the world, it’s up at 13.3 deaths per 100,000 live births (in 2006), an increase from…

The 50th anniversary of The Pill

The 50th anniversary of The Pill

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Pill, and there’s been some interesting coverage of it by the media. Margaret Marsh, one of the first researchers granted access to the personal letters of the Pill’s co-developer, John Rock, discusses his Catholicism, among other Pill tidbits.

First ob/gyn to sell sex toys to patients

First ob/gyn to sell sex toys to patients

The two of us were just discussing the other day how some ob/gyns totally get that reproduction has something to do with sex and some just don’t. Ask one about Kegels, and she’ll happily stick in a gloved hand to see if you should be doing more of them; ask another, and she’ll look at you as if you’ve just asked about the mating habits of emperor penguins. Which is why it’s kinda cool to hear about Dr. Andrew Scheinfeld, the first American ob/gyn to sell sex toys out of his practice. (He’s based in Manhattan, not Peoria, natch.) The bad news: they’re not covered by insurance…at least not yet.

It's National STD Awareness Month

It's National STD Awareness Month

This is just a friendly neighborhood reminder that April is National STD Awareness Month. Yes, if you’re having sex, you’ve still got to worry about those pesky little infections. As many as one in two sexually active young people will contract an STD by age 25. Young women, in particular, disproportionately bear the burden of…

How Consumer Reports tests condoms

How Consumer Reports tests condoms

Consumer Reports recently tested a whopping 15,000 condoms (bought by one dude!) representing 20 models. Alas, there was no actual-use testing done in the lab on the slab, just the boring scientific stuff: packaging examination, stretching, measuring, filling them with liquid to check for leaks, and inflating them with air to the size of 5-gallon…

What you need to know about the Stupak Amendment

What you need to know about the Stupak Amendment

photo by cliff1066™ There’s been a lot of self-congratulatory back-patting around the House’s passing of the Health Reform Bill this past Saturday — but it’s come at a huge price. The Democratic Congress pretty much abandoned women’s reproductive rights by including the last-minute Stupak-Pitts Amendment to appease some religio-conservative members of Congress, including several male…