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Widespread placebo prescriptions prompt debate over the ethics of overmedication

According to a recent study, doctors sometimes prescribe treatments they don’t have any evidence for. Is this ethical? Almost all UK GPs have at some point given a patient a treatment they don’t need. This is according to the results of a survey of 783 of them across the country,…

Vial of easily weaponized virus goes missing in Texas

A virus that authorities worry could easily be weaponized as an aerosol went missing last week from a medical research facility in south Texas, an official at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston said Saturday. About a quarter of a teaspoon of frozen viral material went missing…

Violence and vaccine fears keep polio from disappearing

Sixty years after the first successful polio vaccine trial, the disease has been wiped out in much of the world, but violence, conspiracy theories and lack of cash keep it from disappearing. “The world is closer than ever to eradicating polio,” said Oliver Rosenbauer, spokesman for the World Health Organization’s…

Tortoises thrive on coral atoll where the creatures outnumber humans 10,000-to-one

It is perhaps not surprising that there are only a handful of humans on one of the most remote islands on Earth, coral atolls far out in the turquoise seas of the Indian Ocean. What is unexpected are the 100,000 giant tortoises — more than are found on the world…

Teenage cancer deaths cut to half of what they were in the 1970s

Almost half as many teenagers and young adults are dying from cancer today as did in the 1970s, according to a report from Cancer Research UK published Monday. Deaths between 2008-2010 in this age group were around 300 a year, down from 580 a year in the period 1975-1977. The…

Forensic scientist uses secret technique to rehydrate mummified corpses from old homicides

Mexican forensic expert Alejandro Hernandez dips dry, yellowish cadavers in a see-through bath, hoping his technique to rehydrate mummified bodies will solve murders in crime-infested Ciudad Juarez. The city bordering Texas has endured drug-related violence and a wave of murders of women in recent years, with bodies dumped anywhere and…

Officials mystified at seal pup found 6 miles from water

A seal pup was found in a forest in eastern Sweden on Sunday almost six kilometres (four miles) from the closest body of open water, raising questions as to how it got there, Swedish media reported. “A somewhat confused person called and said he was out walking in the woods…

Poachers already killed 15 rare rhinos in northeast Indian preserve in 2013

A gang of poachers killed a rare one-horned rhino at a wildlife park in northeast India, taking to 15 the number of such beasts slaughtered this year, an official said on Sunday. Heavily-armed poachers fired at the rhino late Saturday inside Assam state’s Kaziranga National Park and its horn was…

Scientists unravel genetic code of esophageal cancer

Scientists said Sunday they had found mutations in 26 genes that may cause oesophageal cancer, a breakthrough they hope will lead to new drugs for the deadly and increasingly frequent disease. A team of experts in the United States unravelled the genetic code of tumour cells from 149 patients, which…

Researchers link ‘unfounded’ wars to increased risk of PTSD

New research suggests that post-traumatic stress disorder is linked to social morality, a finding that helps elucidate the relationship between politics and veterans’ mental health. “The clinical psychological literature suggests that a key factor in PTSD experienced by soldiers at war is the guilt that is experienced from perpetrated acts…

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