October 13, 2008 |
Does exercise increase the chance of getting sick? It seems that, whenever I ramp up my exercise program, I get colds and sinus infections more often. I was wondering if you could shed some light on this. Babette Palm Springs The answer seems to depend on how hard, how intensely and how often you work out. Research shows that positive changes occur in the immune system during moderate exercise. Immune cells appear to circulate through the body more quickly, and there may even be a temporary boost in the production of macrophages, which are cells that attack bacteria.
August 18, 2008 |
Most deaths in the 1918 influenza pandemic were due not to the virus alone but to common bacterial infections that took advantage of victims' weakened immune systems, according to two new studies that could change the nation's strategy against the next pandemic. "We have to realize that it isn't just antivirals that we need," said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and coauthor of one study. "We need to make sure that we're prepared to treat people with antibiotics," said Fauci, whose study will be released online this month by the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
May 19, 2008 |
Swapping spit: The term takes on a more refined meaning at the new dating site ScientificMatch.com. A prerequisite for signing up -- in addition to having a bit of cash to spare -- involves swishing a cotton swab inside your cheek and mailing a juicy sample of skin cells and saliva. What do you get in return for your DNA-laden drool? A chance at genetic and olfactory harmony. ScientificMatch.
March 10, 2008 |
Until drugs that suppress the body's immune response were introduced in the 1960s, most organ transplants failed. "The drugs are wonderful," says Dr. David Sachs, a professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and director of the Transplantation Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. "They made transplantation possible." The medications can prevent rejection of the organ that occurs even when it is matched by blood type and the six most important surface proteins, called HLA markers.
February 18, 2008 |
In the 1890s, a New York surgeon named William Coley tested a radical cancer treatment. He took a hypodermic needle teeming with bacteria and plunged it into the flesh of patients. After suffering through weeks of chills and fevers, many showed significant regression of their tumors, but even Coley himself could not explain the phenomenon. His experiments were sparked by the observation that certain cancer patients improved after contracting infections.
January 14, 2008 |
Cancer patients and physicians are always looking for therapies free of side effects. But the standard treatments available to them -- chemotherapy and radiation -- typically work via a shotgun approach, indiscriminately killing all rapidly dividing cells whether they're cancerous or not. A long-held notion that the immune response might, in some practical manner, be harnessed to target cancer cells while sparing the rest is now being put to the test.
September 15, 2007 |
Lonely people are more likely to get sick and die young, and researchers say they may have found out why: Their immune systems have gone haywire. Scientists used a "gene chip" to look at the DNA of isolated people and found that people who described themselves as chronically lonely have distinct patterns of genetic activity involving the immune system. The study does not show which came first -- the loneliness or the physical traits.
April 23, 2007 |
IT'S George's fault that I never sang. Freckle-faced, hair-licked, musical-fingered George. Starting in first grade, I sat behind him in the alto row in music class, and that remained my place for eight years of grammar school. He was Mr. Perfect Pitch, the kid who could play "Flight of the Bumblebee" on the piano. I'd open my mouth to sing, and he'd turn around and snap, "You're flat. You're flat." "I've been workin' on the railroad...." I'd begin.
April 16, 2007 |
In 12th century China, a Taoist monk known as Chang San-Feng is said to have studied the physical movements of five animals and concluded that two -- the snake and the crane -- were best suited to overpower opponents who were fierce and tenacious. From that ancient observation, the slow, graceful movements of tai chi were born.
February 10, 2007 |
WE ALL KNOW that bacteria and other microbes can make us sick. Now, it turns out, they might also make us fat. Recent research comparing the "gut flora" of overweight and slender mice -- as well as people -- showed that the microorganism count varied consistently in the two groups. Plump individuals have more of one kind, leaner types have more of another. The cause-and-effect relationship, if one exists, is not at all clear.