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Plumbing Problem

The Scariest Thing About Sandy

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Forget the rain, the wind, the surge. Worry about your plumbing. Dr. Kent Sepkowitz on the public-health threat to the water supply—and why government works.

With Sandy bearing down upon us, many people are worried important things: Will work be canceled tomorrow? What about the elevators—will I have to hoof it up nine flights to get home? And what if cable service gets screwed up and I miss the next episode of Homeland?Not small issues to be sure, but way off the mark. What we all should be worrying about is plumbing. It’s not the water lashing the beaches that matters; it’s the water in your faucet and toilet.

Womb Wars

Make Birth Control Free!

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A recent study showed that when contraception was free of charge, abortion rates went way down. But free birth control could have a much wider effect on society, argue Brian Alexander and Larry Young.

What would happen if birth control were provided to women free of charge? A lot of good things. A recent study in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology showed a dramatic decrease in abortion rates among women who were given free contraception. But the implications of the study are far bigger, and longer lasting, than just preventing abortion. Those implications have to do with what happens when unwanted pregnancies turn into babies. They show why conservatives ought to be supporting easily available contraception, not opposing it.

Culprits

Policing Meningitis

Pouya Dianat / AP Photo

What was going on at the Massachusetts business under investigation in one of the worst manufacture-related outbreaks in U.S. history? Dr. Kent Sepkowitz on why regulation matters.

The national outbreak of fungal meningitis related to therapeutic spinal injections officially became a historic health catastrophe this week as cases continued to pile up--more than a dozen new ones reported over the last 24 hours--and the FDA sent members of their Office of Criminal Investigation to seize whatever could still be seized from the infamous New England Compounding Center (NECC).The sad story grows sadder with each update. The count is now 247 cases and 19 deaths with many more certain to come.

Rear-Ended

You Injected What Where?!

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Illegal butt pumping is not just for transgenders anymore. The rising demand for the derriere extraordinaire has driven desperate people to put their lives in the hands of anyone wielding a needle. Lizzie Crocker and Caitlin Dickson report.

It used to be a transgender thing. For Ruby Corado, a night out in her 20s meant strapping on a prosthetic posterior, stuffing her bra with toilet paper, and scrambling to keep her fake assets in place. Meanwhile, her silicone-plumped friends moved freely on the dance floor. One evening in 1999, her transgender club hosted a beauty pageant. After a parade of voluptuous trans women worked the crowd, a man named “Jose” took the stage to pitch the product he said could give anyone the same seemingly perfect body.

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11 Reasons Chocolate’s Good for You

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It turns out that chocolate—especially dark chocolate—reduces body mass, prevents blood clots, improves numeracy, may prevent cancer, and doesn’t ruin your complexion.

A new study suggests that eating chocolate can help you stay thin. Researchers at the University of California-San Diego found that people who frequently eat chocolate have lower body-mass indexes than people who don’t. Other evidence indicates that chocolate can also ward off strokes, heart attacks, and diabetes. So here are 11 reasons to indulge in some s’mores this summer (no word yet on the health benefits of marshmallows) …1. Chocolate decreases stroke risk A Swedish study found that eating more than 45 grams of chocolate per week—about two bars worth—led to a 20 percent decrease in stroke risk among women.

Medication

Xanax and Booze: Deadly Duo

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There were reports that bottles of Xanax were found in Whitney Houston’s hotel room. Casey Schwartz looks at what the drug actually does, and how mixing it with alcohol can be fatal.

In the wake of Saturday’s news that Whitney Houston had been found dead in the bathtub of the Beverly Hilton hotel, the exact cause of her death remains a matter of speculation. Houston was reportedly found submerged under water, but whether she drowned because she was unconscious or she was already dead before she slipped under water, there still remains the question of which chemicals were involved in the process.Houston had battled publically with pills, alcohol, and cocaine in the past.

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Should You Quit the Pill?

Ian Hooton, Science Photo Linrary / Corbis

A new study adds support to the theory that birth-control pills can kill your libido. Do the drawbacks outweigh the benefits? Lizzie Crocker investigates.

It’s not the most common side effect, but it’s not unheard of either: For some women, birth-control pills dull their libido to the extent that they defeat the purpose of taking it in the first place.An Indiana University study presented this week at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting examined the sexual side effects of all hormonal forms of birth control through a survey of 1,101 women, half of whom were using non-hormonal contraception.

HEALTH

Jobs’s Unorthodox Treatment

Justin Sullivan

Some of Apple trailblazer Steve Jobs’s cancer treatment choices, from alternative therapies to a liver transplant, may not have extended his life—and may have even shortened it, reports Sharon Begley.

Steve Jobs was right to be optimistic when, in 2004, he announced that he had cancer in his pancreas. Although cancer of the pancreas has a terrible prognosis—half of all patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer die within 10 months of the diagnosis; half of those in whom it has metastasized die within six months—cancer in the pancreas is not necessarily a death sentence.The difference is that pancreatic cancers arise from the pancreatic cells themselves; this is the kind that killed actor Patrick Swayze in 2009.

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25 Most Alcoholic Beers

Looking for a better buzz from your brew? From Sam Adams’s Millennium (20 percent) to Super Chicken (11 percent), The Daily Beast finds the U.S. ales with the most alcohol per ounce.

Forget taste. Disregard color. Don’t even consider the head, the level of carbonation, the hops, or the malts. In the latest battle of the beers, only one feature matters—how much alcohol is brewed into each ounce.Last year, two European brewers went tap to tap trying to create the most concentrated ale. BrewDog, a Scottish microbrewer, first released Tactical Nuclear Penguin, a beer with 32 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). Their beer was bested three months later by the German beermaker Schorschbrau, whose Schorschbock has 40 percent.

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15 Shocking Exercise Facts

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What do dark chocolate, casual Fridays, and graduating from high school have in common? According to research, they all improve your workout. Anneli Rufus on the secrets to good exercise.

1. People who exercise as little as 15 minutes a day have a 14 percent lower mortality risk than people who don't exercise at all. That statistic covers all causes of death, which translates at age 30 to a three-year increase in life expectancy. When it comes to cancer, those who work out 15 minutes daily are 10 percent less likely to die of it than those who don't exercise at all. Every additional 15 minutes of daily exercise reduces the all-cause mortality risk by another 4 percent and the cancer mortality risk by another 1 percent.

5 Secrets for Better Health Care

Johns Hopkins Hospital surgeon Marty Makary shares the five insider tips to getting top-notch medical care. First stop? The internet.

  1. Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? Play

    Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?

  2. The Number: $5.7 Billion Play

    The Number: $5.7 Billion

  3. The War on Waxing? Play

    The War on Waxing?

Books

Healthy Reads

The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project

The famous Grant Study tracked hundreds of Harvard men from youth to death to determine what predicts contentment.

Waste

Has the War on Cancer Failed?

Unlikely Cures

An Epidemic of Absence

A Selfish Read

What Richard Dawkins Reads

Nicomachean

How to Be Ethical