Category: Health and Wellness

Women and Alcohol: Let’s Talk About the Real Problem

The CDC’s recent sexist and patronizing warning about women and alcohol managed to outrage huge numbers of people and provoke some excellent responses from commentators throughout the nation. Did the statement get released just before Super Bowl Sunday — a day when drinking spikes, followed by an increase in calls to rehab centers.? What were… Read more →

Sex and Gender in a Petri Dish

The HeLa cell line, infamously derived in 1951 from the tumor of Henrietta Lacks, was cultured and immortalized to provide standardized research material for scientists, generating an astonishing 74,000 scientific publications. HeLa, originating from “female” cells, became the most widely used cell line in twentieth century biomedical science, including in critical areas such as cancer… Read more →

The History of a Wrist: When Historians Fall Over

In mid-September, I fell over my back door step and landed on my wrist. The pain was so bad it made me vomit, and a lengthy trip to the local Minor Injuries Unit ensued. X-rays were done and a partial plaster cast applied, only to be removed 24 hours later at the Trauma Unit in… Read more →

Happy Miscarriages: An Emotional History of Pregnancy Loss

An article published earlier this year in Obstetrics and Gynecology exposed Americans’ misunderstandings about miscarriage. A team of researchers asked over 1,000 adults about their knowledge of miscarriage, including how common it is and why it occurs. Among the more common misperceptions: 55% of respondents reported that miscarriage was uncommon (occurring in 5% or less… Read more →

Milk Sharing: What History Can Teach Us

Milk sharing has been in the news lately. In 2013, Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH analyzed over 100 samples of breast milk being sold online and found that 10% of the samples were contaminated with cow’s milk. Almost 75% of the samples contained disease-causing bacteria, presumably linked to poor collection and storage practices.1 As… Read more →

Toxics in our Living Rooms

The comfortable chair that I just bought and sit in for hours each day is giving me a sore throat and making my eyes sting. I know that sounds crazy, but I’ve been experimenting for about a month now, and I can say for certain that after about a half hour of sitting in it… Read more →

Premature Birth and the Right to Grieve

There are quite a few ways to experience loss of pregnancy. When I was expecting my own daughter, no woman ever warned me about what could go wrong during pregnancy and delivery. I was told to be wary of sharing the news of pregnancy until the end of the first trimester, but also that I… Read more →

Placentophagy Isn’t New, But It Has Changed

Over the last several years, placentophagy has slowly crept into that vicious public media arena known as “the Mommy Wars.” While placentophagy (the act of ingesting your own placenta after giving birth) has not provoked the same kind of mother-on-mother vitriol that say, breastfeeding has, it has elicited a rather swift and scientifically fueled smack-down… Read more →

Big Promises, Bigger Failures: When Public Education Makes You Sick

Promises, promises… We take it as a given that schooling is good for us, that overall population health increases with increased educational attainment. Indeed, from their founding, public schools have promised to improve population health as part of their basic mission. As a result, in the name of health concerns, schools have long held a… Read more →

A Pot of Herbs, A Plastic Sheet, and Thou: A Historian Goes for a “V-Steam”

The first time I walked into the women’s area of my local Korean spa a few years back, my nose and my medical-history Spidey Sense both twitched. The unmistakable herbal scents of mugwort and yarrow were in the air, pleasant but almost strong enough to make me cough. Clearly there was some sort of medicinal… Read more →