Jonathan Lambert

Here's a bit of heartening news to consider this Fourth of July: Democracy is good for our health.

A study published in The Lancet in April analyzed how the "democratic experience" of a country impacts the health of its citizens. The results were a clear win for democracy.

Competitive runners (myself included, once upon a time) will try almost anything that could give them a natural edge in their next 5K or 10K.

Down concentrated beet juice before a race? I've done it.

Eat chia seeds by the handful? Yep.

Altitude tents that mimic life at 10,000 feet? If only I had the money.

But new research hints that, perhaps, someday I may add consuming bacteria to that list.

Humans have made an indelible mark on the planet. Since the mid-20th century, we've accelerated the digging of mines, construction of dams, expansion of cities and clearing of forests for agriculture — activity that will be visible in the geological record for eons to come.

Some scientists are calling it the Anthropocene era, or the age of the humans ("anthropos" is Greek for human).

Two people got very sick, and one died, during a trial of an experimental procedure known as fecal transplant, according to a statement issued Thursday from the Food and Drug Administration. As a result, the agency is suspending several clinical trials investigating the procedure until safety standards can be assured.

In 2000, the Pan American Health Organization announced a monumental public health achievement: Widespread vaccination efforts, overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, had effectively eliminated measles from the United States.

The disease, which before the vaccination era affected 3 million to 4 million people in the U.S. each year, was now isolated to small, contained outbreaks connected to international travel.

This year's record-setting outbreak threatens that achievement.

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