Every month, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN—the longest-running magazine in the U.S. and an authoritative voice in science, technology and innovation—provides insight into scientific topics that affect our daily lives and capture our imagination, establishing the vital bridge between science and public policy.

>> Key information from this month’s issue:

Type 2, or adult-onset, diabetes is on the rise. But now scientists find that the incidence of type 1 diabetes is also soaring at a rate of 3 to 5 percent a year worldwide. Previously called juvenile diabetes, it can be crippling and lead to early death. Though the cause is still a mystery, hygiene, gluten-rich diets and obesity have all been implicated as culprits. Future research and public heath measures that explore prevention methods are needed. See: Science of Health: A Diabetes Cliffhanger

Conventional wisdom holds that screening for prostate cancer saves lives. Studies show, however, that screenings do not greatly decrease the risk of death, and hundreds of thousands of men have likely suffered severe side effects as a result of unnecessary treatment. In most cases, screening for prostate cancer but being less aggressive in treatment may prove to be an effective compromise. See: Medicine: The Great Prostate Cancer Debate

President Obama’s chief science advisor John Holdren is in favor of cooperating with China on future space missions.Federal legislation known as the “Wolf clause” prohibits NASA from pursuing such joint efforts. The White House is pushing back, trading legal memos with congressional investigators on the constitutionality of the Wolf clause. See: Advances: Tensions over Taikonauts

Thanks to multiple factors, from the evolution of insecticide resistance to increased international travel, bed bugs have returned. Scientists recently identified several aspects of bed bug biology and behavior that could lead to novel ways of detecting and eradicating the pests. See: Sustainability: More Food, Less Energy

Worldwide, we are eating more chocolate. Americans are projected to spend $700 million on chocolate for Valentine’s Day alone. But the cacao tree—the source of chocolate—is under threat from pests, fungal infections, climate change, and farmers’ lack of access to fertilizers and other products that enhance yields. Researchers are working to bolster the fragile tree through selective breeding, farmer education and pest-management techniques. See: Sustainable Agriculture: The Future of Chocolate

The effect of dust on the atmosphere is complex and poorly understood, which makes predicting how the earth is changing increasingly difficult. Though much time and money have been spent studying pollution, scientists have only recently begun to appreciate the complex relationship between natural dust and the atmosphere. Dust can have a big influence on climate, cloud formation, and the fertilization of oceans and rain forests. See: Environment: Swept from Africa to the Amazon

The $50,000 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN Science in Action award, powered by the Google Science Fair, will be given for the first time in 2012. The award will celebrate a project that addresses a social, environmental or health issue and makes a practical difference in the lives of a group or community. See: From the Editor