health and science

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As the current academic year wraps up at colleges and universities around the country, one area school is already preparing to make college life a success for a particular group of students in the fall of 2019. 

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The civil war in Syria has been ongoing for more than seven years. Some estimates put the casualties at near half a million and the chaos of the war has contributed to the global refugee crisis.

More than five million people have fled the country, but there are even more displaced people still living in the wartorn nation, many lacking access to medical care. In response to the crisis, the Isreali Defense Force has enlisted the help of Israeli hospitals, located relatively near the Syrian border, to care for people impacted by the war.

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Doctors define the “perinatal period” as running from before conception, through a woman’s pregnancy, all the way to a year post-partum.  It’s a time when women go through many changes physically - and mentally. But for women who struggle with mental health or substance abuse issues - these changes not only can affect the mother, but the child as well.

Wisconsin Academy of Sciences Arts And Letters

Humans have visually oriented brains. Our vision evolved to help us survive predators and also helped us capture our dinner. As Shiela Reaves says, our vision evolved to help us defeat camouflage.

Reaves is a professor of Life Sciences at UW-Madison, and a member of the UW McPherson Eye Research Institute.

But today there is a different stress on our vision. We are bombarded by images. Some of us look at computer screens all day, absorbing the pictures Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and other apps offer us. We watch many hours of television.

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When you get a cold, or the flu, or other viral illnesses, your immune system adapts to keep you from getting that particular strain of illness again. So, too, with vaccines, which essentially train your body to fight off infection from the virus or bacterium they’re designed to protect you from.

Except your immune system doesn’t always cooperate. Some vaccines need booster shots over time, and some people - especially the elderly - are susceptible to diseases they would not have caught at another time in their life. So what’s going on here?

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Alzheimer’s and other related forms of dementia are increasingly prevalent in much of Western society, as people live longer.  A lot of attention has been paid to how genetics influence our predisposition to Alzheimer’s.  But Doctor Lisa Mosconi says there’s one key component of our environment that we are just beginning to connect more strongly to brain health - eating.

Two decades ago social scientists published landmark research that uncovered some previously undiscovered insights into stressors that affect developing minds.  The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study quantified the traumas that affected 17,000 adult patients, years before.

NASA / via Getty Images News

Astronaut Scott Kelly set what was then an American endurance record when he spent more than 11 months aboard the International Space Station from 2015 to 2016. It was his third time aboard the space station, after a career that also involved flying and commanding Space Shuttle flights.

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Public health statistics show that as much as 20% of the US population will deal with clinical depression at some point in their lives, making it one of the most common mental health disorders.  Even if you don’t suffer from it, there’s a good chance that a friend or family member will be affected.

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Mobile wellness devices such as the Fitbit and Apple or Garmin watches are ubiquitous these days. Many of us wear them to hold ourselves accountable for our physical fitness. But they’re also becoming a tool that employers are using with a separate, but related goal to have healthy employees and controlling healthcare costs.

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Chemotherapy is - in some ways - a medical miracle. It’s proven to kill cancer and every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are helped by these drugs.

But there are also many known side effects to the drugs used in chemotherapy. Perhaps the most noticeable is hair loss, but different kinds of chemotherapy can lead to a variety of life-altering consequences.

Infertility, nerve damage, and anemia are just a few of the many side effects that can come from chemo. Yet another symptom of chemotherapy is the subject of a growing body of research. 

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At UW-Milwaukee, one unusual class being offered in during the spring semester is called “The Art of Being Still” - a course that many of us could use.

The course is being taught by Erin Maris, who owns the E2 fitness facility in Mequon and who teaches a variety of mind-body classes.

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There’s a lot that we can learn from our DNA. Some of it is information that’s important - like whether we’re predisposed to develop a disease. But that doesn't mean we can do something about it.  There is, however, a lot of information that we can use, such as learning how our bodies respond to different kinds of foods.

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In the last few decades autism rates have skyrocketed in the United States. There are theories as to why, but many point to increased awareness and thus diagnosis, as at least partly responsible for the uptick.

Forty years ago, the condition was still relatively unknown to the general public and a diagnosis of autism could mean a lifetime of abuse and discrimination. 

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday announced what the agency calls a "historic action" — the first approval of a cell-based gene therapy in the United States.

The FDA approved Kymriah, which scientists refer to as a "living drug" because it involves using genetically modified immune cells from patients to attack their cancer.

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