Can We Defend Ourselves Against Brain Tumors?

Eleven years ago this week, my 67-year-old mother died from a brain tumor. It was Glioblastoma multiforme, an insidious fourth-stage cancer that, without treatment, usually kills within three months. Treatment options are miserable for the patient and not terribly effective; for those who opt for surgery and radiation/chemo, the cancer almost always returns within a year […]

This Year’s Flu Vaccine Is Shoddy: Four Reasons to Get It Anyway

Influenza hit the US hard this winter. In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that influenza had reached epidemic proportions across large swaths of the country. Most of us think of the flu as an inconvenience, but the virus can be deadly. In early January, a 26-year-old radiology technician in Wisconsin died […]

Polio and a Father’s Certainty

A couple of weeks ago, I was researching the history of polio vaccination, and I stumbled across a photo that stopped me cold. There was Jonas Salk, the researcher who developed the polio vaccine we use in the US today, giving his son a shot. The caption reads: “Peter Salk receiving the inactivated poliovirus vaccine […]

Polio: No End in Sight

Since the launch of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988, intense vaccination campaigns have dramatically reduced the number of cases of polio worldwide. Between 1988 and 2000, the number of polio cases dropped 99 percent — from 350,000 to just 3,000. But the polio eradication effort appears to have stalled out. Despite an investment […]

Flu Season

Last fall, ninth-grader Jordan McFarland received a jab of seasonal flu vaccine and the vaccine to prevent pandemic H1N1 virus. The next day, he got a bad headache and the chills. His muscles began to spasm and shake. He couldn’t walk. One of the people working at Jordan’s after-school daycare called 911. He was diagnosed […]