New Study Shows Promise for Fighting the Flu
New research may one day lead to drugs that combat the flu virus and a vaccine that could work against a wide range of flu strains, according to a new study published online yesterday in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology . "We identified new human antibodies that inactivate influenza, not just bird flu but any of the seasonal influenza viruses that affect us in the winter," researcher Wayne A. Marasco, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, told HealthDay. The researchers found 10 monoclonal antibodies that were able to bind with a protein found in flu viruses; that kept the viruses from invading other cells. The antibodies also provided protection for mice from the H5N1 avian flu, which many experts think could one day lead to a worldwide flu pandemic.
While the new research is promising, the annual flu vaccine for now remains the best way to stave off the flu. Even though last season's flu vaccine was an inexact match for the flu strains that caused most of the illness, it is still worth being vaccinated during such years, health officials note, because doing so may keep you from getting as sick as you would otherwise and may shorten the duration of your illness if you do get sick. If you're a parent, consider U.S. News's Deborah Kotz's take on whether flu vaccines are necessary for kids. Nancy Shute also offers advice on whether you should vaccinate your child against the flu and explains how to keep your family safe from bird flu.
What Rihanna Can Teach Us About Domestic Violence
A photo was leaked to TMZ last week that purportedly shows Rihanna, who was allegedly beaten up by boyfriend (and fellow pop star) Chris Brown. News reports claim that the tattoos visible in it match those the singer is known to have, Deborah Kotz reports. The Los Angeles Police Department issued a statement saying that the "photo has the appearance of one taken during a domestic violence investigation" and calling it an "unauthorized release of a photograph." Reaction to the alleged beating is mixed: Some say the couple should work it out, while others favor Rihanna leaving Brown for good.
But can men who are abusive change? Kotz asked Rita Smith, executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "Some can, but it's unlikely, and there's not a lot of public support for a change in their behavior," she says. As an example of unsatisfactory public reaction, Smith points to blogs "expressing support for Brown's alleged actions, saying that Rihanna is jealous and possessive, as if she's somehow responsible for the violence." In a way, Smith says, the leaked police photo might help people focus on the victim. "There's no way you can look at this photo and think this woman got what she deserved. What can anyone do to deserve this?"
Is Your Job Killing You? How Work Influences Longevity
In an attempt to live longer and protect against health problems, you may have given up trans fats, started to monitor your cholesterol, or learned to work the elliptical trainer at the gym. But there's increasing evidence that another factor may be just as important: your job. A constellation of work-related factors—whether you're employed, how secure you are in your job, how much you enjoy your work—may influence both your day-to-day health and how long you live, Katherine Hobson reports. And that has serious implications, not only for those affected by the current recession but for everyone, all the time.
Our work is intricately tied up with our well-being, says Nortin Hadler, a professor of medicine and microbiology and immunology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and an attending rheumatologist at that university's hospitals. And we know that losing a job is bad for your health, not only from a financial perspective but from a psychosocial one, too. When you lose your job, you lose social ties and often the very structure of your life. After a major downsizing among municipal workers in Finland, the risk of death from a heart attack went up fivefold for those who lost their jobs. It's unclear whether the same mortality trends seen in Europe persist here; studies are ongoing. William Gallo, a research scientist at the Yale School of Public Health, says evidence in the United States has been mixed, but research has found that people who lost a job in their 50s were more than twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke in the next decade as peers who didn't lose their jobs. .