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Stories by Katherine Harmon

Pediatricians Group Praises Benefits of Circumcision for Male Infants

Evidence for the long-term health benefits of circumcision for newborn boys has been mounting for years. Today the influential group the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) declared that the procedure is, indeed, beneficial—and that it should be covered by public and private health insurance plans...

August 27, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

50 Shades of Sea Slug Sex: It's Stranger Than You Think

Two-part barbed penises, a physical struggle and 20 minutes of penetration. That's how some sea slugs do it. But the real shocker is that, for one species at least, those in the female role seem to engage in these bizarre, violent sexual encounters more often than might be biologically necessary.Nothing about sea-slug sex sounds like fun...

August 24, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

1 in 5 Rx's for Seniors Is Inappropriate

Take two of these—or should that be three? Or one?Congress recently took steps to improve the safety of children’s drugs. Now, a new study finds that those on the other end of the age spectrum also frequently receive medication that may put their health at risk.Approximately 20 percent of prescriptions that primary care providers give to patients over the age of 65 are inappropriate, according to the study, published online August 22 in PLoS ONE ...

August 22, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Octopuses Gain Consciousness (According to Scientists' Declaration)

Elephants cooperate to solve problems. Chimpanzees teach youngsters to make tools. Even octopuses seem to be able to plan. So should we humans really be surprised that "consciousness" probably does not only exist in us?This privileged state of subjective awareness in fact goes well beyond Homo sapiens , according to the new Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness (pdf), which was signed last month by a group of cognitive neuroscientists, computational neuroscientists, neuroanatomists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists who attended the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and non-Human Animals at Cambridge University in the U.K."The weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness," the scientists wrote...

August 21, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Is Your Slimmer Self Waiting Online?

Losing weight and keeping it off is a common goal—and constant challenge—for millions of Americans. And people spend loads of cash on specialized diet and weight loss programs, meetings, even personal coaches...

August 16, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Brain Scans of Hoarders Reveal Why They Never De-Clutter

Jill, a 60-year-old woman in Milwaukee, has overcome extreme poverty. So, now that she has enough money to put food in the fridge, she fills it. She also fills her freezer, her cupboard and every other corner of her home...

August 6, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Medical Technology Donations Often Fail to Help

In the U.S. it can be difficult to avoid getting an MRI, laboratory analysis or at least an X-ray in any given year. But in poor areas, medical technologies—from expensive screening machines to simple devices—are often as rare as specialists who know how to work them...

August 1, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Free Birth Control, Reproductive Services for Women Starting August 1

Since last August, I've been counting down the days until my 30th birthday this Wednesday. You see, I've got money coming my way—not just in the form of birthday checks from my grandmother and aunts—but an even larger chunk of change, spread out over the entire year...

July 31, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

How Computers Could Reduce the Spread of HIV

Condom use, earlier treatment and increased education have gone a long way to reducing HIV spread in the U.S. Nonetheless, some 4,000 inhabitants of New York City still became infected with HIV in 2009.Injection drug users make up a small portion of the new infections (just over 4 percent in NYC, and about 9 percent nationally), but they represent a finite and targetable population that can benefit from low-cost and well-vetted programs, such as needle exchanges.Establishing even better needle exchange programs or more widespread substance-abuse treatment opportunities might help to limit these new infections among drug users...

July 27, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

Skin Bacteria Are Your Friends

Americans have been on an antibacterial kick for the past several years. Our hand soap, dish soap, and body wash have morphed into an arsenal of bug-killing napalm, eliminating all but the heartiest of bacteria.And there are, indeed, some scary microbes crawling around out there—Staph and C...

July 26, 2012 — Katherine Harmon

First Prehistoric Snake Slithered Out on Land-Not at Sea

Sorry, sea serpents. Snakes, it seems, slithered off their lizard legs on land. A new analysis of a primitive snake fossil suggests that these animals emerged from a line of burrowing reptiles.Snakes are in the same reptilian order that includes lizards, but just how and where they split off to live their legless lives has been a bit of a mystery...

July 25, 2012 — Katherine Harmon
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