What does it mean to die of ‘natural causes’?

(CNN)When a death is by “natural causes,” what does that phrase mean? Or, rather, what is “unnatural” about something that happens to everyone? Is it just for the old? Does cancer count as “natural?” It might not seem to mean much at all. But when a death certificate says a person’s death was “natural,” it is really ruling out the involvement of external causes. The person did not take their own life and they were not killed by somebody else or in an accident such as a car crash or drug overdose. “It’s solely and exclusively due to natural causes, a natural disease process —infection, cancer, heart disease, all of those things that are going to carry us off at …

First Big Survey of Births Finds Millions of Missing Women

Every time a man ejaculates, he produces somewhere between 40 million and 1.2 billion sperm. About half of those tiny swimmers carry an X chromosome and about half carry a Y. So you’d think that the odds that one or the other would be the first to fertilize an egg would be about the same as a coin flip. And yet, for as long as people have been keeping records, nature shows a different, dependable pattern: For every 100 babies born biologically female, 105 come out biologically male. Scientists have speculated this mysteriously male-biased sex ratio is evolution’s way of evening things out, since females consistently outlive their XY-counterparts—for every man that reaches the age of 100, four women have …

New York’s Vaccine Order Shows How Health Laws Are Failing Us

On Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came out with its latest measles numbers and, let’s be honest, they weren’t great. At least 465 cases across 19 states have been reported so far this year, including 78 in the last week alone. Nationwide, that means more people have caught the notoriously contagious disease in the past three and a half months than all of last year. According to the CDC, it’s the “second greatest number of cases reported in the US since measles was eliminated in 2000.” As outbreaks continue to spike around the country, local governments are increasingly feeling pressure to do something about them. On Tuesday, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio declared a …

Daily or high-potency cannabis increases risk of psychotic disorder, study finds

(CNN)Legalization of marijuana, both for medical and recreational use, continues to spread across the globe even as the possible health risks (or benefits) are not fully known. Case in point, according to new research, people who use cannabis daily, as well as those who use high-potency weed, may be three times more likely to develop psychotic disorder than never-users. “Psychotic disorder,” precisely, is what was studied, said Dr. Marta Di Forti, lead author and a clinician scientist at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London. “We are talking about people who meet diagnostic criteria [and] come to the attention of mental health services to receive treatment for psychosis. So they have to have symptoms of psychosis across …

Newly discovered Alzheimer’s genes further hope for future treatments

(CNN)An analysis of the genetic makeup of more than 94,000 people in the United States and Europe with clinically diagnosed Alzheimer’s led to the discovery of four new genetic variants that increase risk for the neurodegenerative disease. The study’s findings will not change anyone’s “day-to-day life or medical practice any time soon,” said Heather Snyder, the Alzheimer’s Association’s senior director of medical and scientific operations, who was also not involved in the new research. “That said, they do give us potentially useful insights into the bodily processes that may cause or interact with the changes of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias,” Snyder added. Unprecedented numbers Led by a team from the University of Miami’s Hussman Institute for Human Genomics, an …

$375,000 price leads disabled mom to ration meds

(CNN)Bhanu Patel couldn’t believe the news. The cost of the medication that allows her to move — the one that enabled her to walk stairs again — shot up to $375,000. The disease attacked her hip muscles and abdominal muscles first, then her back muscles she said. Just trying to stand up to walk was agonizing. She dragged herself across rooms and up and down stairs to get around her home. For two years, she wore three back braces on top of each other to allow her to stand. The disease even attacked her tongue, making it difficult to eat. She lost a lot of weight, and her muscles atrophied. Every aspect of her life was impacted. When she was …