Wednesday, January 28, 2009

You Don't Need That Extra Kidney After All

Donating anything makes people feel good and although donating a kidney falls into the same category, there's always been anxiety about whether it's good for your health. The selfless may sigh in relief - kidney donors have the same risk for disease as non-donors. 

A new study by the University of Minnesota found that kidney donors and non-donors live just as long and have the same rates of contracting disease (including kidney disease). The study reinforces the safety of donating a kidney, which could lead to more donations and transplants. With 78,000 people on the transplant wait list, anything that encourages donations is welcome. Research and doctors hope the study will alleviate some concerns about donating a kidney.  

Originally reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cream Could Make It All Better

Everyone fears them and can get them - sexually transmitted diseases. Yet there's hope for preventing the spread of genital herpes. 

Scientists at the Harvard Medical School have developed a cream that could stop the spread of herpes. The first of its kind, the cream stops the virus from replicating in a new host. It does this by inhibiting the genes the virus needs to replicate. 

Considering half a billion people have herpes worldwide, this is an amazing breakthrough. Even though the disease can be controlled it is often passed between sexual partners, as well as between mother and child. The cream still has to be tested for human use, but the research is promising. 

Originally reported by the BBC.  

Monday, January 12, 2009

2008 - Not So Bad After All

2008 was tumultuous. Headline after headline proclaimed bad news. Yet one journalist, Radley Balko, of Reason Magazine found several reasons why 2008 was a good year despite the economic downturn, natural disasters, political scandals, and high gas prices. Check out his editorial, "The Good News from A Bad Year." The piece is sure to make you feel better about 2008. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tetris Helps Trauma

Everyone loves Tetris, the crazy puzzle game that amuses for hours. But aside from entertaining millions, the game actually helps reduce the effects of traumatic stress. 

A group of UK researchers found the game helps disrupt stressful memories. For the study, volunteers watched a series of stressful images. After viewing the images some volunteers played Tetris for 30 minutes. Those who played the game had lower stress levels compared to those who did not play the game. 

Although playing Tetris after a traumatic event may not be practical, scientists hope the study will contribute to other strategies for dealing with traumatic stress. And for now, people who spend hours playing the game can feel a little more relaxed. 

Originally reported by the BBC. Picture from  Tetris. 

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Mars Rovers Celebrate Five Year Anniversary

Space exploration met a milestone this week. NASA's Mars rovers have been on the red planet for an unprecedented five years collecting data.  The first rover, dubbed Spirit, landed on January 3, 2004, while the second rover, named Opportunity, landed 21 days later. Scientists expected the rovers to survive the harsh conditions for only 3 months. The rovers have exceeded expectations by gathering data about water on Mars and information about the planet's soil. 

The rovers' ability to survive bitter conditions and produce significant data about Mars gives the United States' space program hope. With budget cuts and reduced funding, NASA has still managed to operate  a successful program.  Here's to space exploration! 

Originally reported by the BBC. Picture from NASA.