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Q&A: Rebecca Skloot on Seeing “Henrietta Lacks” Come To Life Onscreen

When Rebecca Skloot was 16 years old, her biology teacher wrote a name on the blackboard: “Henrietta Lacks.” He explained that Lacks was a black woman whose surgeon had extracted cells from her tumor in 1951. They turned out to be the first human cells to survive indefinitely in a laboratory. Billions of so-called HeLa cells lived in labs around the world and had helped produce treatments for leukemia, influenza, Parkinson’s disease, and many other ailments. Read more about Q&A: Rebecca Skloot on Seeing "Henrietta Lacks" Come To Life Onscreen »

Racism Might Be Bad for Your Heart Whether You’re Black Or White

Racism hurts the heart. Both black and white residents of counties where whites reported more racist attitudes were more likely to die from heart disease than those in areas with lower racial bias, according to a recent study from Berkeley psychology researchers. The relationship between whites’ racial bias and death rates was more pronounced for blacks, according to the study, which appeared in the journal Psychological Science last fall. Read more about Racism Might Be Bad for Your Heart Whether You're Black Or White »

Bittersweet News for Dieters and Diabetics: New Study Suggests Grapefruit Really Helps

In the pantheon of fad diet crazes, perhaps the most enduring is the grapefruit diet—over the years it has inspired countless overweight Americans to guzzle grapefruits and their bitter juice in hopes of shedding pounds. But although fad diets are typically synonymous with dubious science, new UC Berkeley research suggests the grapefruit diet might actually work, at least on tubby rodents with a taste for Brie and butter. Read more about Bittersweet News for Dieters and Diabetics: New Study Suggests Grapefruit Really Helps »

The Weather When You Were In Utero? Study Suggests it Influences Your Heart Attack Risk

Fall and winter birthdays can be a real drag.

September celebrants will forever have their special days clouded by the beginning of a new school year. October through December birthdays are too closely clustered to all the good holidays, leaving the rest of the year a giftless wasteland. And while all the Geminis and Cancers get to have their parties in the park, the children of winter are forced to blow out their candles indoors and out of the gloom. Read more about The Weather When You Were In Utero? Study Suggests it Influences Your Heart Attack Risk »

Gut Check: Based on New Microbe Study, Should We Blame Geography for Obesity?

Does this bacteria make me look fat?

I ask because in the latest search for causes of the obesity epidemic, the one victim of sausage-like finger pointing is the community of microbes residing in the human gut. And according to the surprising recent work by UC Berkeley grad student Taichi Suzuki, it seems that where you live goes a great way to determining what microbes you have. Read more about Gut Check: Based on New Microbe Study, Should We Blame Geography for Obesity? »

The Teeming Metropolis of You

You are mostly not you.

That is to say that 90 percent of the cells residing in your body are not human cells, they are microbes. Viewed from the perspective of most of its inhabitants, your body is not so much the temple and vessel of the human soul as it is a complex and ambulatory feeding mechanism for a methane reactor in your small intestine.

This is the kind of information microbiologists like to share at dinner parties, and you should too, especially if you can punctuate it with a belch. Read more about The Teeming Metropolis of You »

From the Fall 2011 The Good Fight issue of California.
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