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HEALTH
July 11, 2011 | By Jessica Pauline Ogilvie, Special to the Los Angeles Times
This November, voters in San Francisco are expected to weigh in on a controversial topic: whether parents should be allowed to circumcise their baby boys. The proposition, backed by members of an anti-circumcision group that calls its members "intactivists," has ignited heated debate. It's hardly a new issue. Historians have found evidence of circumcision dating to ancient Egypt. Since then, the practice has gone in and out of public favor for myriad reasons, including hygiene, religion, cultural norms and beliefs about masculinity.
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SCIENCE
July 11, 2012 | By Erin Loury, Los Angeles Times
Treatment drugs can do more than improve the health of people with HIV: If administered early, medications can also reduce the spread of the disease to sexual partners and may help stem the AIDS epidemic. But many logistical hurdles stand in the way of making this strategy feasible, affordable and effective, according to experts writing in Tuesday's edition of the journal PLoS Medicine. The medications in question are antiretroviral therapies, which prevent HIV from multiplying and drastically diminish the amount of virus circulating in the blood.
SCIENCE
July 30, 2013 | By Karen Kaplan, This post has been corrected, as indicated below.
Women, wouldn't you like to know your precise risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer? And wouldn't you like to know what changes you could make in your life to reduce that risk? Researchers from the National Cancer Institute would like to help you. They've just published a study in the journal PLOS Medicine that takes a significant step toward that goal. Ruth Pfeiffer , a senior investigator in the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, and colleagues focused on the predictive value of more than a dozen variables, including a woman's body mass index , number of children she has, how long she took birth control pills, whether she used hormone therapy to treat symptoms of menopause, family history of gynecological cancers, and use of cigarettes and alcohol.
SCIENCE
July 9, 2013 | By Melissa Healy
In a finding likely to reignite debate over proposed new limits on abortion, British researchers have found that years ago, women who terminated a pregnancy increased their risk of giving birth prematurely in subsequent pregnancies, but that with modern procedures the danger has all but vanished. The researchers suggest the shift is the result of a growing use of oral medication to induce or aid in abortion, and a decline in surgical abortions that may injure a woman's cervix. The study looked at 732,719 first births by women in Scotland between 1980 and 2008 and found that during the early 1980s, women who'd had one abortion or more had a higher rate of preterm births during later pregnancies.
SCIENCE
September 5, 2012 | By Thomas H. Maugh II
Researchers have discovered a gene mutation that protects people in Southeast Asia against malaria in much the same fashion that a sickle cell trait protects Africans from the disease. But while the sickle cell protects against the frequently lethal form of the disease caused by the parasite Plasmodium falciparum , the newly discovered gene mutation protects against Plasmodium vivax , which is generally thought to be more benign. Malaria causes an estimated 1 million deaths per year worldwide, and at least half the world's population lives in areas at risk for the disease.
SCIENCE
May 12, 2009 | Thomas H. Maugh II
Taking folic acid supplements for a year before conception reduces the risk of very premature birth by at least 50%, researchers reported Monday. Shorter courses of the supplement were not as effective, according to the study of nearly 35,000 women reported in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine. Folic acid's effectiveness in reducing the risk of neural-tube and other birth defects -- even without such a long course -- is long established.
NEWS
December 8, 2011 | By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times/For the Booster Shots blog
These days, it's just good to have a job. But remaining gainfully employed can take a toll on health, especially if your work has you up at odd hours and sleeping irregularly. Shift work, say two studies out this week, poses particular problems for women, who appear to be at greater risk of Type 2 diabetes and possibly breast cancer if they maintain work schedules that mess with their internal clocks. Researchers have uncovered a host of links between humans' respect for their circadian rhythms and their health prospects.
NEWS
June 20, 2012 | By Mary MacVean
Multinational food corporations have a growing influence on the health of people around the world, including obesity, and their actions need greater scrutiny, according to an editorial Tuesday in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine. The editorial kicks off the journal's three-week series looking at what it calls “Big Food.” The first articles, and the editorial, criticize not just the food companies but also officials charged with protecting public health. “The big multinational food companies control what people everywhere eat, resulting in a stark and sick irony: one billion people on the planet are hungry while 2 billion are obese or overweight,” the editorial says.
SCIENCE
July 2, 2013 | By Melissa Healy
The twin plagues of economic hardship and low academic attainment turn out to be an inflammatory problem, not just for society but for the human bodies beset by them. And for many, including those in minority groups who disproportionately experience stunted economic and academic prospects, high rates of Type 2 diabetes are the common result, a new study says. The new research, based on a long-running study of British government workers, offers a partial explanation for a trend that is firmly established in industrialized democracies -- that where calories are plentifully available, those clinging to the lower rungs of the economic ladder are most likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.
NEWS
January 5, 2011 | By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times
Before embarking on a medically invasive, expensive and emotionally taxing effort to get pregnant through in vitro fertilization, it sure would be nice to get a good sense of whether it’s likely to work. After all, only about 1 in 4 attempts resulted in a live birth as recently as 2007. So researchers from England and Scotland scoured data from more than 144,000 IVF cycles in the United Kingdom and looked for factors that might predict which couples stood the best chance of having a baby with assisted reproduction and which faced long-shot odds.
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