Some Leading Questions About Lead

The ancients were drawn to lead because of its combination of properties: low-melting, very malleable and resistant to corrosion. But it turned out to be very toxic. Although lead's dark side was revealed a long time ago, lead poisoning is still not a thing of the past. The health of workers and children continue to... Continue Reading →

The Causes of Heart Disease: Mostly Not Genetic

Some diseases such as chicken pox, TB, maple syrup urine disease and sleeping sickness are rooted in a single cause of a viral, bacterial, genetic and parasitic nature, respectively. But the two most common cardiovascular diseases, atherosclerosis and stroke, which combine to be the number-1 killer of humans worldwide, result from several factors, most of which... Continue Reading →

The Promise of a Non-addictive Opioid

As far back as the late 1800s heroin was once hailed with the promise of being an abuse-free opiate. Although dozens of other opiates have been created, no one in the past 12o years has succeeded in creating a side-effect-free and non-addictive opioid. But by using a new approach, there is a chance that a German team led  by... Continue Reading →

The Causes of Hangovers

If you want to make two dull but reliable predictions,  one would be that the sun will still be there for us in 2017. Our star will continue to offer stability for another 5 billion years, a number as hard to imagine as the fact that France produces 4.3 billion litres of wine annually. Another sure-to-materialize prediction is... Continue Reading →

Carfentanil has killed hostages and even moose!

Carfentanil is a potent opioid, one of many molecules from the Pandora's box of organic chemistry labs.  Derived from fentanyl, another synthetic morphine-like compound,  carfentanil has been deliberately introduced into samples of  heroin. Frontline emergency responders have been advised to wear masks and gloves to avoid ingesting minute amounts of the drug. It's also been described as a substance designed to knock out elephants. I will describe a couple... Continue Reading →

Not Yawning at Pure Science

The world would be a different place if people valued science, even as a hobby. In the same way that cities invest heavily in building indoor pools and artificial turf for amateur swimmers and soccer players, respectively, a society that relishes science for curiosity's sake would alternately build centers for amateur research. The thought was inspired by a doctor's answer to... Continue Reading →

Cancer Prevention

There's a valuable book out there on cancer prevention written by Richard Beliveau, a biochemist who specializes in cancer prevention and by Denis Gingras, an oncology researcher, both of whom work at UQAM. They start with the following tantalizing question: Why do many spontaneously formed cancerous lesions remain latent in one person and yet develop into cancer in... Continue Reading →

Takotsubo: Broken-Heart Syndrome

Perhaps because so many of us complain about light stress, we sometimes underestimate the impact of both chronic stress and intense stress brought on by the death of loved ones or by a sudden romantic breakup. Doctors had long known about various forms of cardiomyopathy, a functional or structural abnormality in the ventricular muscular wall of the... Continue Reading →

Drugs: Simple Solutions Won’t Cut It

The legality of a substance of misuse is not correlated with its perceived harm. This was the conclusion of a 2012 study published in the British Medical Journal. The data was based on consultations with 292 addiction specialists and psychiatrists working with substance misuse across Scotland.  The "combined harm" includes damage to both the individual drug user and society at... Continue Reading →

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