It’s Much Easier to Catch the Flu Than we Realised, New Research Finds

Aside from getting vaccinated (which everyone should), an important strategy to evading the flu is regularly washing your hands and avoiding contact with the sneezes, coughs, and snot of sick people. Read More >>

A Toxic Plant Might Help Us Find a Legit Male Birth Control Drug

The quest to find an effective male birth control pill is like Charlie Brown from “Peanuts” trying to kick the football: Always seemingly within grasp, only to be stopped by Lucy (or disappointing study results) at the last second. Most recently, in 2016, a large clinical trial of a contraceptive injection was stopped early, after men reported more side effects than expected, including serious emotional problems and mood swings—one volunteer even committed suicide during the study. Given the history of difficulty in this field, we present a newly published study with extremely measured optimism: The authors of a paper in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry say they’ve stumbled onto another potential male contraceptive, a compound derived from a plant extract that hunters in Africa have long used to create poison-tipped arrows with. Read More >>

Just Get The Damn Flu Shot

The flu tends to be the leaky basement pipe of disease: It’s easy enough to avoid doing something about it, right up until the point it completely bursts and ruins your month. But the flu is much more deadly than a flooded basement. Even at its weakest in recent years, the flu has killed 98 people in Britain this winter. And while this current flu season isn’t the world-shattering pandemic seen in 1918-1919, when a particularly bad strain infected around a third of the world’s population and killed 20 million to 50 million people, it’s gearing up to be the one of the worst in years. Hospitals in the US have had to set up emergency tents in their car parks to accommodate the deluge of flu victims. All of which is to say: For the love of god, no matter what your friends or family tell you or the rumours you’ve heard, just get the damn flu shot. It’s not too late. Read More >>

Impoverished Black Teens Talk About Depression Differently

Depression is an equal opportunity malady. It affects people from all walks of life, be they rich or poor, young or old, or black or white. But it’s apparent there are some groups who more vulnerable to depression than others, such as those living in poverty or who regularly face discrimination. A recent study, published in the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, suggests that different groups of people also talk about depression differently. In particular, poorer black kids discuss their feelings of depression differently than other demographic groups. Read More >>

People Are Really Great at Forgetting If Their Jeans Are Made Through Child Labour

We humans are plenty talented at seeing, hearing, and speaking no evil. But when push comes to shove, as a recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research demonstrates, we’re also great at forgetting any evil existed at all—especially if that memory loss will make our buying choices a little less guilt-ridden. Read More >>

This Is Why You Should Never Hold in a Sneeze

A recently released case report, courtesy of the BMJ, reaffirms one of life’s important lessons: Don’t try to hold back a sneeze. Especially, don’t do it by plugging up your nose and mouth—you just might end up in the emergency room with a gaping hole in your throat. Read More >>

A Creepy, Crawling Robot Baby Reminds Us That Carpets Are Disgusting

To the untrained eye, babies are nothing more than drooling, crying blobs who do basically nothing all day. But a recent study published in Environmental Science & Technology has found that babies are actually drooling, crying blobs who stir up impressive clouds of bacteria, dirt, fungi, and bug bits wherever they crawl. And all it took to figure this out was creating a foil-covered robot baby. Read More >>

Experimental Weekly Pill Could Make HIV Treatment a Lot Easier to Swallow

The current slate of treatments for HIV have been nothing short of life-saving. These antiretroviral therapy (ART) drugs, as they’re known, keep people with HIV healthy and virtually virus-free, with relatively minor side effects—so long as they take the pills daily. The biggest reason why some people can’t keep up with daily treatment is access: Many people, particularly in poorer areas of the world, simply can’t afford a lifetime supply. But there’s also a problem of adherence—as much as 30 percent of people can’t stick to the needed daily regimen of ART. To help remedy this commitment gap, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard Medical School have created a tiny star-shaped cargo container, packed inside a gel capsule, they hope can parse out a week’s supply of ART with one dose. Read More >>

The Kids Are Boning Less 

Kids these days just aren’t that into each other, according to a new report released last week by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report, based on nationally representative survey data of children living in 29 US states, found that the “proportion of high school students nationwide who had ever had sexual intercourse decreased significantly during 2005–2015 overall.” Read More >>

Scientists Discover 16th-Century Child Mummy Actually Had Hepatitis B, Not Smallpox 

It’s a microscopic case of mistaken identity. A new study published in PLOS Pathogens has found that a 16th-century mummified child may have actually been infected by an ancient strain of hepatitis B, not smallpox as scientists believed for decades. But the finding, if correct, adds even more mystery as to how this still widespread, often fatal virus has evolved and plagued humanity over centuries. Read More >>

Can You Tell Which of These Faces Is Ever-So-Slightly Sick? 

People can tell that you’re sick with just a seconds-long glance at your face, a study published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B suggests. And all the researchers had to do to discover this bit of insight was inject healthy people with a bit of E. coli. Read More >>

This Small Device Could Silence the Maddening Symptoms of Tinnitus

Millions of people suffer from a medical condition known as tinnitus, a disorder that can be so tormenting that it makes Edgar Allen Poe’s talking, taunting raven sound charming. People with tinnitus are plagued by phantom noises, usually ringing or buzzing, sometimes to the point where they can no longer work or function. Worse still, cases are often chronic and incurable: Current treatments include cognitive behavioural therapy to help people manage the distress it causes, using actual sounds to mask the ringing, or invasive brain surgery that often doesn’t work. But the findings of a new study, published today in Science Translational Medicine, seem to offer something much more promising—a noninvasive treatment that attacks the root source of tinnitus while making life noticeably easier for its sufferers. Read More >>

An Experimental Drug for Obesity Shows Promise In Treating Alzheimer’s—At Least In Mice 

The race to find a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia is littered with false starts, dead ends, and fiery crashes. That caveat aside, there has been some promising research indicating a class of drugs originally created to control diabetes and fight obesity could also help slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s. A new study in mice, published recently in Brain Research, now suggests we could supercharge this cognitive protective effect by using a drug that interacts with three hormones connected to diabetes. Read More >>

A 2-Year-Old Chimp Named Betty Died From Common Cold Virus We Didn’t Even Know Chimps Could Catch

Since time immemorial, humans have had a knack for being complete and utter dicks to the other animals we share our planet with. Often, we even manage to screw things up for other species without meaning to. A study published earlier this month in the journal of Emerging Infectious Disease has retroactively uncovered one such incident: That time we gave a town of chimpanzees a cold bug that ultimately left five dead, including an adorable 2-year-old baby named Betty (pictured above). Read More >>

Is Video Game Addiction Unscientific Bullshit?

The World Health Organization is on the verge of officially recognising a phenomenon that researchers have been studying since the Super Nintendo era: video game addiction. Scientists and public health advocates who back the move say that compulsive video-game playing is a discrete disorder that can seriously damage a person’s mental and physical health. But other experts say that classifying a common behaviour like gaming as a potential disease is scientifically unsound and might even repopularise an old stigma against gamers. Read More >>