Politics Are Tricky but Science Is Clear: Needle Exchanges Work

For decades, public health experts have known that syringe exchange programs reduce the spread of certain viral infections — like H.I.V., hepatitis B and hepatitis C — by removing contaminated syringes from circulation.

They have known that programs using sterile injection equipment are both safe and save money.

And yet they are rarely seen in the United States.

Evidence abounds that they work. A study of the first American program — started in the Tacoma, Wash., area in 1988 — found that use of the exchange was associated with a greater than 60 percent reduction in the risk of contracting hepatitis B or C. Another study of over 1,600 injection drug users in New York found that those who didn’t use a syringe exchange in the early 1990s were more than three times as likely to contract H.I.V.

Austin Frakt, New York Times, September 5, 2016

Is Terrorism Getting Worse? In the West, Yes. In the World, No.

If it feels as if terrorism deaths are rising in the West, it’s because they are. Yet the numbers remain relatively small, and globally, deaths from terrorism appear to be declining, not rising.

According to two big databases, the number of people who died in terror attacks in North America and Western Europe rose markedly in 2015, claiming more than 200 lives. This year, according to one count, it is on track to be even worse.

But terrorism in the West is rare. In the parts of the world where it is more common — deaths in those regions are in the thousands rather than the dozens — terror attacks appear to be decreasing.

Margot Sanger-Katz, New York Times, August 16, 2016

States’ efforts to curb fracking-related earthquakes appear to be paying off

Stopping an earthquake before it starts? It sounds like a feat possible for only a superhero.

But policymakers in Kansas and Oklahoma are showing that insofar as humans are causing earthquakes, they can stop them, too. After restricting oil and natural gas operations in certain hot spots, Oklahoma is feeling an average of about two earthquakes a day, down from about six last summer, and Kansas is feeling about a quarter of the tremors it once did.

Jen Fifield, Washington Post, August 15, 2016

How Birth Year Influences Political Views

Links to Information on 2016 Presidential Polls
















Gene test can reduce chemo use among breast-cancer patients, study says

Doctors have long known that many early-stage breast cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy don’t actually need it to prevent recurrence of the disease after surgery. But they haven’t known exactly which patients might safely skip the toxic treatment.

A European study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine sheds new light on the issue, concluding that many such patients might be able to avoid chemo.

The key factor: Nearly half of the patients considered at high risk for recurrence might actually be low risk based on genetic factors, researchers found.

Laurie McGinley, Washington Post, August 24, 2016

Growing Older, Getting Happier

Older people tend to be happier than younger people, and their happiness increases with age, a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reports.

Researchers contacted 1,546 people ages 21 to 99 via random telephone calls and found that older age was, not surprisingly, tied to declines in physical and cognitive function. But it was also associated with higher levels of overall satisfaction, happiness and well-being, and lower levels of anxiety, depression and stress. The older the person, the study found, the better his or her mental health tended to be.

Nicholas Bakalar, New York Times, August 24, 2016

How to Eat Healthy Meals at Restaurants

Most meals at American restaurants aren’t healthy. They’re packed with processed food and enough calories to cover two or three sensible meals.

Yet it’s entirely possible to eat both healthy and tasty restaurant meals. And because eating out is one of life’s great pleasures, we’ve put together this guide to smart restaurant eating. It ranges from undeniably healthy meals — with a rich variety of foods, heavy on fruits and vegetables, light on sugar — to fast-food meals that are at least better than the alternatives if you find yourself eating at McDonald’s.

Every lunch or dinner here stays under 750 calories — about one-third the number many adults should eat in a day — and many meals are well under; the breakfasts are under 500 calories. We’ll start with some good news: The restaurant scene has never been better.

Josh Barro, Claire Cain Miller, Darcy Eveleigh, David Leonhardt, Matt Ruby and Rumsey, Taylor, New York Times, April 27, 2016

More Older People Are Finding Work, but What Kind?

The rules of the job market aren’t the same for older workers.

As men and women 55 and older looking for employment probably suspect, at a certain point the kinds of jobs available to them narrow significantly. New research by Matthew Rutledge, an economist at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, found that they are increasingly being funneled into what he describes as “old-person” jobs.

And not surprisingly, older workers with the least education have the narrowest set of opportunities, though Mr. Rutledge found this effect was small.

Quoctrung Bui, New York Times, August 18, 2016

Think It’s Hot Now? Just Wait

This map provides a glimpse of our future if nothing is done to slow climate change. By the end of the century, the number of 100-degree days will skyrocket, making working or playing outdoors unbearable, and sometimes deadly. The effects on our health, air quality, food and water supplies will get only worse if we don’t drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions right away.

Heidi Cullen, New York Times, August 20, 2016