College students work hard, and many are looking for ways to improve their studying and learn more effectively. Getting more sleep and more exercise would probably help, but up to a third are trying ADHD medications to see if pills can give them that extra boost. A small, recent study shows that they’re not getting the effect they’re looking for. We’re not talking, here, about teens who have ADHD. There’s ...

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Facebook. Where else could I stumble on a video of a baby hippo taking a bath, or Toto’s Africa performed on solo Harp? But among the shares and silliness and talent, there’s a dark side to Facebook. It’s become a fast way for quacks to push their scams and empty your wallet. Just today in my feed I received a promoted post about a “food sensitivity test.” I’m not going to link directly ...

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A doctor writes prescription, pharmacist fills prescription, insurance covers prescription. Simple, right? But that’s not the way it works anymore. Some changes are good. Gone are the cryptic abbreviations and illegible handwriting -- replaced by computer printed scripts, or better yet scripts magically transmitted via the ether. But along with fewer errors there’s even less transparency on pricing and coverage. Patients, who haven’t been to pharmacy school and couldn’t possibly decode the pages of ...

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“Polio. I’ve seen polio.” Last night, I was speaking with one of the most experienced pediatricians I’ve ever met, Dr. Jack Burstiner. I’ve known him for 50 years. I would have known him even longer if I had been born earlier. He lived in my neighborhood, two doors down. He was my pediatrician. Jack is almost 90 years old. But he still looks like a pediatrician. He’s got a smile a child ...

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Urgent care centers are way ahead in prescribing unnecessary, potentially harmful antibiotics that are doing no one any good – at least no patients any good. The owners of the urgent care centers are the ones who are benefitting. And you and your family are being bilked, misled, and harmed. A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine looked at the proportion of antibiotic prescriptions that were made for viral respiratory ...

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You’ve probably already seen the news: A 6 year old boy in Florida has died of rabies. He had handled a sick bat (some reports said he was trying to rescue the critter), and that was enough contact to transmit the virus. Once symptoms begin, rabies in almost always fatal -- so the only way to prevent this from happening again is to avoid contact, and get rabies ...

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Concussions and football have come up before, and the news so far has been discouraging. We want kids to stay active, and football is one of the most popular boys’ sports out there. But we know that some prominent professional athletes have had serious, cumulative brain damage from years of football – sometimes brain damage that has destroyed their lives. What about high school football, or football ...

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When a drug is especially dangerous, or even potentially-maybe-especially dangerous, the FDA requires manufacturers to put a black box warning on the product insert. A black box warning is supposed to very explicitly say “buyer beware," more than just the typical list of potential side effects mumbled by Mr. TalkFast at the end of a drug ad.  It’s easy to ignore the wordy mumbling. The black box: That’s supposed to ...

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Competition often works. Competing dry cleaners or donut shops must either improve the quality of their product or keep their prices low, or customers will go somewhere else for their cruller fix. In time, the better businesses -- the ones that provide tastier pastries at a lower price -- will thrive, and less-good, more-expensive businesses will go away. In the long run, all customers benefit from competition between businesses. That’s how ...

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Advocacy groups have been busy lately with their fancy-pants chemical detection science instruments, and their press releases have made it into the news. But is there news here, and are these chemicals something parents really need to worry about? First it was a big lead from the New York Times called “The Chemicals in your Mac and Cheese.” The article started:

Potentially harmful chemicals that were banned from children’s teething rings and ...

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