Amanda MacMillan

New York City Is Going to Fine People Who Don’t Get the Measles Shot. Is It Ever OK Not to Be Vaccinated?

New York City declared a public health emergency this week in light of an ongoing measles outbreak, as Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that unvaccinated individuals could face fines of $1,000. Measles cases are at a five-year high in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also reported this week, with 465 cases across the country—many of which are occurring within Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn.

Is Lyme Disease Curable?

In much of the country, spring and summer mean warmer weather and spending more time outdoors. Unfortunately, it also means that the ticks that carry Lyme disease bacteria may be out in full force, especially in wooded or grassy areas.

How Do You Get Lyme Disease?

Now that winter has transitioned to spring and temperatures are warming up in much of the country, you’re likely to start hearing a lot about Lyme disease. Rates of this tick-borne illness have been rising steadily in the United States over the last two decades, with most infections happening in April through October.

Do Wireless Bluetooth Headphones Really Increase Cancer Risk?

The internet is abuzz today with worries about the latest tech-fad-turned-health-hazard, with headlines warning that wireless headphones—like Apple’s trendy AirPods—are a potential source of cancer. And yes, articles claiming that the little white devices could “pump radiation into your brain” certainly caught our attention. But before we freak out too much, let’s look at all the facts.

More Young Women Are Having Heart Attacks. This Might Be Why

Over the past 40 years, doctors have gotten a lot better at treating heart disease. In the 1960s, it wasn’t unusual for adults to die or become severely disabled from heart attacks in only their fifth or sixth decade of life. And while heart disease is still the number-one killer in the United States, it’s also no longer a guaranteed death sentence, thanks to newer medications, improved surgical techniques, and better understanding of the disease.

7 Ways Daylight Saving Time Can Affect Your Health

We’ll lose an hour of sleep as we “spring forward” this weekend, turning our clocks an hour ahead on Sunday morning. And while we’ll gain an extra hour of daylight in the evenings, we’ll lose it in the morning—waking up, and maybe even heading off to work or school, before the sun comes up.

Can You Die From Measles? Why Doctors Are So Worried About Recent Outbreaks

Since the beginning of this year, 159 cases of measles in 10 states have been confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a lot for just two months, especially for a disease that, back in 2000, was declared eliminated from the United States. (For comparison, most recent years haven’t seen that many cases in an entire 12-month span. Two exception were 2018, which saw 372 cases, and 2014, which saw 667.)

Jussie Smollett Lied About Being the Victim of a Hate Crime, Police Say. Why Would Someone Do That?

When news broke that actor Jussie Smollett was under arrest for allegedly faking a hate crime against himself in January, America reacted with shock, anger, and serious confusion. Chicago police chalked up his actions to his dissatisfaction with his salary and his role on the television show Empire. But many of us wondered: What else was going on in the actor’s head?

This Weird Bump on a Man’s Tongue Turned Out to Be a Rare, Fast-Growing Cancer

Everybody knows that somebody—or maybe you are that somebody—who freaks out about every new bump or blemish, convinced that it’s some harbinger of deadly disease. Of course, it’s usually not, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry, right? That was certainly the case with the patient featured in the latest edition of the New England Journal of Medicine’s Images in Clinical Medicine series. What started as a bothersome lump on the man’s tongue turned out to be a rare form of cancer.

This At-Home Stool Test Is Just as Effective as a Colonoscopy

The colonoscopy might be the most dreaded of all health screenings. Uncomfortable and intrusive, it can be a literal lifesaver—but currently, only 60% to 65% of adults who should be up to date on this important test actually are. The procedure, in which a long, flexible tube is inserted into the rectum, detects signs of (or precursors to) colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States.

This Man’s Weird Rash Turned Out to Be a Fungal Infection You Can Get From Gardening

Mold can be pretty gross—and potentially hazardous to your health—whether it’s growing on a stale piece of food or lurking on the walls of a damp room. Now picture that same type of mold growing on your skin, or even inside your body. This week’s New England Journal of Medicine has a creepy story (complete with photos!) of an unlucky man in China who had to deal with just that.

‘Zombie Deer Disease’ Is Infecting Animals Across the Country—Are Humans at Risk?

There’s a deadly disease spreading among elk and deer in the United States, and now experts are warning that it may one day be transmittable to humans who eat meat from wild game. The infection, known as chronic wasting disease, is related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease—which explains the equally terrifying nickname this illness has been given: zombie deer disease.

What to Know About the Nutritarian Diet—and Why It’s So Hard to Follow

When Joel Fuhrman, MD, became involved in nutritional science more than 30 years ago, the family physician couldn’t find a diet he felt was truly optimized for improving health, boosting longevity, and reducing risk of disease. Sure, some diets limited calories and shunned unhealthy fats and sugars, but many of them also allowed for other less-than-ideal food groups, he thought, or were too loose and vague with their instructions.

The Fertility Diet Was Created to Help Women Get Pregnant. Here’s Why It Could Also Help You Lose Weight

Every year, U.S. News and World Report ranks several dozen of the most popular diets from best to worst. Many of those diets focus on weight loss, heart health, or overall healthy living. But one eating plan has a much more specific goal than that: The Fertility Diet, which tied this year for 11th overall best diet, was designed to help women get pregnant.

Marijuana Use Linked to Higher Sperm Count, Suggests Surprising New Study

Men concerned about their fertility are often warned away from marijuana use, which has been linked to lower sperm counts in previous research. But a new study of more than 600 males suggests that a little cannabis use may not actually be so bad for dudes’ reproductive health: In fact, study participants who had smoked marijuana at some point in their lives had significantly higher sperm concentrations than those who’d never used the drug.

Can You Catch the Flu and a Cold at the Same Time?

It’s cold and flu season, which means that—like every year around this time—these two viruses are circulating throughout much of the country. Influenza is currently widespread in 36 states, the CDC reported last week. And while common cold numbers are harder to come by (since most of us don’t go to the doctor for treatment), we all probably know someone—or have been that someone—who’s fallen victim to coughing and sneezing in recent weeks.

This Woman Returned From Her Tropical Vacation With a Maggot Living In Her Forehead

Have you ever returned from vacation worried about what might have crawled into your suitcase or hitchhiked home on your clothing? A case report in this week’s BMJ highlights an extreme (and we really mean extreme) version of this common concern: A British woman who’d recently visited the Ugandan rainforest unwittingly brought back a tropical fly larva—burrowed in her forehead.

This Woman’s Red, Ring-Shaped Rash Turned Out to Be a Sign of Anal Cancer

Skin lesions and rashes are often signs of allergies or irritation, but occasionally they can signal even larger and longer-term underlying health issues. Such was the case with a 73-year-old woman’s skin condition highlighted this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, which turned out to be a symptom of anal cancer. And we’ve got to warn you, it’s one of the most bonkers rashes we’ve ever seen.

10 Ways to Sleep Better All Winter Long

Getting a good night’s sleep in the middle of winter may seem like it should be no problem. After all, it’s the season of long nights, cozy blankets, hibernation, and snuggling up by the fire. But for all the same reasons winter and sleep go together so well, the opposite can also be true: For some people, winter can wreak havoc on sleep quality and quantity.

A Baby Caught Chlamydia From Her Mother—In Her Eyes

Chlamydia is generally thought of as a sexually transmitted disease, and one that affects the reproductive organs—causing discharge and pain during urination or sex, for example—above all else. But a photo published in today’s New England Journal of Medicine shows that the infection can also occur in a much more visible place: the eyes.

Your Eye Color May Affect Your Risk of Winter Depression

For some people, colder temperatures and shorter days bring to mind beautiful winter wonderlands and cozy nights by the fire. For others, however, winter can be downright depressing. Now, scientists say they may have a clue as to why some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) while others don’t: According to one recent study, eye color may play a significant role. 

New Jersey Medical Center May Have Exposed This Patient to Hepatitis B—Could It Happen Near You?

Nearly 4,000 patients of a New Jersey medical facility received some worrying news recently when they were urged to get tested for HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. The HealthPlus Surgery Center in the town of Saddle Brook informed people who underwent procedures between January 1 and September 7 of this year that they may have been exposed to the three viruses, due to “lapses in infection control in sterilization/cleaning instruments and the injection of medication.”

This 84-Year-Old Man’s Fingers and Toes Turned Black Because of Inflammation In His Arteries

Photographs of medical conditions aren’t usually pretty (and that’s an understatement), but they’re definitely fascinating—and they can almost always teach us something about our bodies and our health. Take, for example, photos in today’s New England Journal of Medicine that demonstrate what can happen when chronic inflammation goes unchecked throughout the body. Here’s a hint, and a warning for squeamish readers: It involves blackened fingers and toes.

Can Emergen-C Actually Prevent a Cold?

If you find yourself reaching for a packet of Emergen-C every time you feel a tickle in your throat, you’re certainly not alone. The fizzy orange power—a mix of vitamins C and B, along with other nutrients—has become a mainstay of medicine cabinets, winter-weather survival kits, travel packing lists, and even wedding weekend goodie bags.