Thinking About Sex vs. Actually Doing It

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

People put an awful lot of effort into having sex. Other than hunger, thirst, and seeking shelter, it is perhaps the strongest urge that humans have. It’s no wonder that young men spend time in the gym and buy fancy sports cars; equally, it’s no wonder that young women spend hours in front of the mirror and buy lots of clothing. We have a strong biological impulse to get laid, and these are the most widespread ideas we have to accomplish that. Continue reading

Drug Overdose: The Real American Epidemic

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Recently, there has been much talk of various “epidemics” in America. The three most commonly mentioned are suicide, gun violence, and drug overdose. A close examination of the data, however, reveals two surprises: First, one of them is not actually an epidemic. Second, one of them is a much bigger epidemic than most people realize. (See chart.) Continue reading

From Which Cancer Will You Die?

This article was originally published on RealClearScience.

Despite our best efforts, the cumulative mortality rate remains 100%. Though biomedical scientists have not made any progress in lowering that number, they have helped change how we die. In 1900, for instance, the top three causes of death were due to infectious disease: pneumonia/influenza, tuberculosis, and gastrointestinal infection. But thanks to medical advances, today, the top three causes of death are due to lifestyle and genetics: heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease.

Many Americans pessimistically believe that we are losing the so-called “War on Cancer.” That is patently untrue. Still, about 25% of Americans will end up with “cancer” written on their death certificates. Continue reading

CDC Lost Its Ebola Gamble

The Ebola situation is testing the world’s best infectious disease team, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at its ability to perform crisis management. While the immediate threat in the United States appears to be receding, it is far from clear that we’re up to facing a stronger test. Read the rest at USA Today.

Are Liberals or Conservatives More Anti-Vaccine?

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Thanks to my favorite troublemaker, Hank Campbell, the “who is more anti-vaccine” debate has sprung up again. In 2012, we co-authored a book, Science Left Behind, in which we argued that the anti-vaccine movement began with the political Left, but spread to religious conservatives and libertarians. However, because the most visible public spokespeople for the anti-vaccine movement (e.g., Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Bill Maher, and Jenny McCarthy) are mostly on the political Left, we continue to believe that the Left should bear most of the blame. However, some writers argue that the anti-vaccine movement is truly a bipartisan phenomenon.

New CDC data helps shed some more light on the issue. The CDC has compiled an updated list which depicts vaccine exemption rates in each U.S. state. (See map.) Continue reading

To End Suicide Epidemic, Make Guns Harder to Get

This article was originally published on RealClearScience.

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report is a fascinating treasure trove of the macabre. Recently, it published a chart depicting how Americans committed suicide by age group in 2011. (See above.) While firearms are the most popular method in all age groups, a fascinating trend emerges: As age increases, suffocation (including hanging) becomes less popular and firearms become more popular. Why? Continue reading

In U.S., Hispanics Live Longer than Others

This article was originally posted on RealClearScience.

Today (Monday, Sept. 15) is the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Undoubtedly, one of the topics that will be discussed in the media over the next 30 days is healthcare in the Latino community. Last year, for instance, CNN ran an article that discussed how Hispanics were less likely to seek out treatment for mental health issues, possibly because of a stigma that exists in the community. Continue reading