Vaping probably isn’t good for you but at least it’s better than smoking

Vaping probably isn’t good for you but at least it’s better than smoking

Vaping probably isn’t good for you but at least it’s better than smoking

Electronic cigarettes may be less risky than the regular kind, but that still doesn’t mean they’re safe, according to the most exhaustive review of the research yet.

The booming, $10-billion vaping industry is expected to grow to $34 billion by 2021, but there’s still a lot scientists don’t know about how e-cigarettes affect health. So Congress asked a panel of experts to wade through more than 800 scientific studies. The result, published today by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, reports that swapping e-cigarettes for the regular kind reduces some of the health risks associated with smoking. But overall, the report calls for more research into the health effects of vaping, especially since e-cigarettes are the favored tobacco product of middle and high school-aged students.

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Podcast: Are we heading towards a male fertility disaster?

Podcast: Are we heading towards a male fertility disaster?

Podcast: Are we heading towards a male fertility disaster?

It’s a disaster of titanic proportions, says Hagai Levine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A study he published this year found a 50 per cent decline in sperm counts among Western men from 1973 to 2011. On top of that, sperm production declines with age, and more men are leaving it later to have kids. “I am very worried,” he says. “We cannot escape from it.”

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Cancer Drug Fund didn’t deliver value ‘to patients or society’

Cancer Drug Fund didn’t deliver value ‘to patients or society’

Cancer Drug Fund didn’t deliver value ‘to patients or society’

A fund that was established in England to increase access to cancer medicines has been found to have provided little clinical benefit.

The Cancer Drugs Fund, which ran from 2010 to 2016, cost more than £1 billion, and gave people access to expensive new cancer drugs not routinely available on the NHS.

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Police warned of drug so powerful it can kill in one breath

Police warned of drug so powerful it can kill in one breath

Police warned of drug so powerful it can kill in one breath

The US opioid epidemic may be getting even worse. Preliminary data suggests overdoses are soaring, while law enforcement officials have been warned about the dangers of fentanyl after it caused a police officer to collapse.

In a speech this week, the US Drug Enforcement Administration deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein noted preliminary data suggesting drug overdose deaths rose nearly 20 per cent in 2016, compared with the previous year. Official rates won’t be available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) until later this year, but data compiled by the New York Times suggests overdose deaths in the US probably exceeded 59,000 in 2016.

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Police warned of drug so powerful it can kill in one breath

Police warned of drug so powerful it can kill in one breath

Police warned of drug so powerful it can kill in one breath

The US opioid epidemic may be getting even worse. Preliminary data suggests overdoses are soaring, while law enforcement officials have been warned about the dangers of fentanyl after it caused a police officer to collapse.

In a speech this week, the US Drug Enforcement Administration deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein noted preliminary data suggesting drug overdose deaths rose nearly 20 per cent in 2016, compared with the previous year. Official rates won’t be available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) until later this year, but data compiled by the New York Times suggests overdose deaths in the US probably exceeded 59,000 in 2016.

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Buyer beware: Should genomic firms resell your data?

Buyer beware: Should genomic firms resell your data?

Buyer beware: Should genomic firms resell your data?

IF YOU’RE not paying for it, you’re the product, as the saying goes. Use a “free” online service and you are paying with personal data. But when it comes to genomics, you both pay and are the product. Firms charge people who want to understand their genetics – sometimes on the basis of dubious science – but also the biotech companies that buy aggregated genetic data to shape their products (“DNA testing firms are cashing in our genes. Should we get a cut?“).

Shouldn’t donors get a cut? The firms argue there’s no value in a single DNA sequence, but that research using the aggregated data could benefit everyone, and the tests incentivise donation. So we should let them get on with it.

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A new way to warm up frozen tissue could help with the organ shortage

A new way to warm up frozen tissue could help with the organ shortage

A new way to warm up frozen tissue could help with the organ shortage

A new way to warm up frozen tissue using tiny vibrating particles could one day help with the problem of organ shortages.

We know how to cool organs to cryogenic temperatures, which is usually below 320 degrees Fahrenheit. But the organs can’t be stored for long — sometimes only four hours for heart and lungs — because they get damaged when you try to warm them up. As a result, more than 60 percent of donor hearts and lungs aren’t transplanted. In a study published today in Science Translational Medicine, scientists used nanoparticles to warm up frozen tissue quickly and without damaging the organs. Within a decade, this could lead to being able to store entire organs in organ banks for a long period of time, the authors say.

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Alphabet seeks 10,000 volunteers — and their health data — for a massive medical study

Alphabet seeks 10,000 volunteers — and their health data — for a massive medical study

Alphabet seeks 10,000 volunteers — and their health data — for a massive medical study

Alphabet’s Google division is, fundamentally, in the business of selling data. That is a useful thing to keep in mind when Alphabet’s Verily comes calling for your medical data. But Google is also inarguably useful; this is why, despite knowing that my every move is being tracked by the company, I still make use of Google search, Gmail, and Google Docs, among its other myriad services. Verily’s Project Baseline is, in some sense, the health equivalent of those kinds of services — it has the potential to greatly expand our knowledge about what human health looks like. Not incidentally, the project will be of service to Verily as well.

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