Health + Medicine – Analysis and Comment

Some people believe stretching reduces the risk of injury, reduces soreness experienced after exercise, or enhances sporting performance. natalie/Flickr

Health Check: do you need to stretch before and after exercise?

Many people stretch when they exercise or play sport. Others don’t stretch but feel they should. And some people don’t see any reason to stretch at all.
‘The people of the United Kingdom’ felt the tobacco industry’s record of addicting children and then killing one in two of those who don’t escape their clutches did matter. Chad Kainz/Flickr

We got an FOI request from Big Tobacco – here’s how it went

Cancer Council Victoria is contesting British American Tobacco's request for survey data about teenagers' smoking habits. Here's the story of a UK research group who faced a similar request.
Killers who deliberately commit their acts in public places are often motivated by revenge. Reuters/Chris Keane

What motivates public place murders?

Classifying killers into particular types is intuitively appealing. It helps us make sense of what otherwise seems senseless. But this approach tells us only the smallest fraction of their motivation.
Women with DCIS or stage 0 breast cancer have the same chance of dying from breast cancer as the rest of the population – 3.3%. CristinaMuraca/Shutterstock

Treating ‘stage 0’ breast cancer doesn’t always save women’s lives so should we screen for it?

We're told that finding symptoms of disease early will prevent the more serious consequences. But for pre-cancerous lesions, also known as stage 0 breast cancer, the picture is much more complicated.
Mental health problems are common in young people but very few seek professional help. Alain Wibert/Flickr

Is ‘headspace’ really improving young people’s mental health?

The number of youth mental health centres known as headspace has rapidly expanded in the last decade. But we have yet to see evaluation of whether the services improve young people’s mental health.
The idea of ‘family balancing’ is based on the belief that children come in two genders that have essentially different traits. Jason Pratt/Flickr

Choosing children’s sex is an exercise in sexism

The risk of harm in sex selection stems from the fact that parents don't desire any child, they want a child of a particular sex, who is to remain within the limits of binary gender roles.
Should parents be allowed to select the sex of their child through IVF when there’s no compelling medical reason to do so? Marcus Hansson/Fkickr

Why we should consider whether it’s time to allow sex selection in IVF: NHMRC

The National Health and Medical Research Council call for public submissions on whether sex selection should be allowed without a medical reason recognises changing social attitudes.
We’re more likely to recall memories and information we’ve used frequently rather than those obtained at a particular age. Kristo-Gothard Hunor/Shutterstock

Passage of time: why people with dementia switch back to the past

People with dementia judge the passage of time differently, and can access remote memories from many decades ago while being unable to remember events of the past few hours.
Two news outlets have alleged there was widespread cheating in endurance sports between 2001 and 2012. Peter Mooney/Flickr

The science of doping and how cheating athletes pass drug tests

Organisers of the World Championship in Athletics will be on their toes after recent revelations of mass doping by endurance athletes. Here's what you need to know about doping and how to evade it.
‘Leaky vaccines’ don’t affect the ability of the virus to reproduce and spread to others; they simply prevent it from causing disease. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District/Flickr

Are vaccines making viruses more dangerous?

Media coverage of a recent study involving a "leaky" vaccine raised questions about the possibility that they could make viruses more dangerous.
Detecting viruses in wild-caught mosquitoes provides intimate detail of disease transmission cycles. University of Washington SPH/Flickr

How a new test is revolutionising what we know about viruses in our midst

We monitor mosquitoes to help predict and control virus outbreaks. And a new technique for collecting mosquito saliva from the field has made the process both more sensitive and inexpensive.