Findings from the Gut—New Insights into the Human Microbiome

People who like milk chocolate have slightly different microbes in their intestines than those who prefer their chocolate dark, although researchers do not know why. Significant differences in the so-called microbiome are also found in individuals based on whether or not they eat a lot of fiber or take certain medications—such as the diabetes drug metformin, female hormones or antihistamines. But all these variations account for only a small fraction of the microbial diversity seen in the guts of northern Europeans, according to new research published today in a special section of Science. Of the half-dozen microbiome articles in the journal, two studies stand out as being among the largest

Asperger’s Are Us Offers Comedy for All

L-R, Jack Hanke, Ethan Finlan, New Michael Ingemi and Noah Britton Photo by Andrew Cohen The four members of Asperger’s Are Us decided a long time ago that their main goal would be to amuse themselves. But after nearly a decade of laughing and writing punch lines together, Asperger’s Are Us, which is probably the only comedy troupe made up of people on the autism spectrum, is on the cusp of comedic success. A documentary about the group premiered at the SXSW conference in Austin in March and was recently sold to Netflix. The troupe is also preparing for its first national tour this summer. Click here to see this piece on NYTimes.com Comedy might be a surprising choice for someone with

Do Genes Time One's Loss of Virginity?

Walk into any middle school classroom and it’s obvious that puberty hits some kids earlier than others. Some students daydream about kissing while others are still planning their latest LEGO creation. Now a new study suggests that the genes that drive puberty also influence some of the next stages of sexuality: age at first intercourse and—for women—age at first birth. Of course, genes are not the only factor. Parenting, religion, social mores, peers and many other factors come into play. But researchers at the University of Cambridge estimate that genetics can explain about a quarter of the difference in the likelihood that an individual will have sex relatively early or wait to start. By c

The Cancer Defense: Against cancer, new enhancements to the body's own immune system are looking

If Michelle Boyer had received her diagnosis of advanced and aggressive skin cancer in 2010 instead of 2013, she would almost certainly be dead by now. Melanoma, the most lethal form of skin malignancy, had spread from a mole on her back to her lungs, and she knew her prognosis was grim. But beginning in May 2013, the 29-year-old Seattle resident started a series of revolutionary treatments—some of which first became available in 2011—that prompted her immune system to identify, attack and shrink the tumors. Although Boyer still has cancer and the immune-boosting drugs have taken a toll on her body, she is grateful to be alive and hopes that either her current course of therapy or the next o

About me

Cover COVID-19 

and patient safety

for USA Today.

Former long-time health/science

journalist, contributing to The

New York Times, The Washington Post, 

Scientific American.com, and others. Journalism educator and book author.

Contact:

kweintraub@usatoday.com

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