Health, Science, Environment | St. Louis Public Radio

Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

Michelle and Debbie Smith
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Beacon | File photo

Growing up with three brothers in a cramped house just outside Chicago, Michelle Smith delighted in the rare chance to slip into her mother's bra and black wig. As her heart pounded, her excitement was tempered only by the terror of being discovered. Had she been caught, Michelle feared her mother would not be amused by a 6-year-old's attempt to imitate mommy.

That's because Michelle was being raised as a son.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 6, 2009 - "No woman should be lying in a hospital bed, suffering, wondering how she's going to pay for her health care," said Tricia Recker.

A 5-year ovarian cancer survivor, Recker spoke at a health care forum at the Center for Advanced Medicine at Barnes-Jewish Hospital on Dec. 30. She echoed the words of President-elect Barack Obama during the campaign, as he spoke of his own mother's battle with ovarian cancer.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 6, 2009 - Like swallows returning to Capistrano, the eagles are returning to the area north of St. Louis.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 5, 2009 - The Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau is putting a new twist on that pastime that's become a winter tradition in the St. Louis area: eagle watching.

Thanks to the CVB, eagle watchers can use their GPS units to find geo cached treasures with an eagle slant in a new sport called eagle-caching.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 2, 2009 - When women visit Dr. Andrea Stephens for the first time to discuss menopause symptoms, there's a good chance they have gathered just enough conflicting data to make them nervous about hormone replacement therapy.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 31, 2008 - In an old photo, members of the American Red Cross are removing two Spanish influenza victims from a home in St. Louis in November 1918. Both are dead. About 675,000 other Americans died of flu within 18 months, the last months of the First World War.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 21, 2008 - Two-year old Maya Rideout is doing very nicely, thank you. But she wasn’t always a healthy child.

Because her mom, Reggi, developed severe eclampsia during pregnancy, Maya was born three-months early and weighed in at less than 2 pounds. She was on oxygen for 15 weeks after birth. Her muscles were weak, and she developed problems using her left hand, both from being in an incubator for so long. Thanks to physical and occupational therapy, she is fine now, but she has certainly seen her share of doctors and therapists.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 21, 2008 - Back in 1963, a collection of biological specimens from St. Louis played an important role in history. The annual increase in radioactivity in more than 300,000 baby teeth collected from local children, together with a sharp rise nationally in childhood cancers, convinced President John F. Kennedy to sign an agreement ending above-ground nuclear testing.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 17, 2008 - Scientists who study ecology view the world as a patchwork quilt of different environments, all bordering on and interacting with one another.

Consider for a moment a patch of Missouri forest, the sort of place a deer or turkey might live. Ecologists call the collection of creatures that live in a particular place a community — all the animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms that live together in a Missouri forest, for example, are the forest community. Ecologists call the place where a community lives its habitat — the soil, and the water flowing through it, are key components of the forest habitat. The sum of these two, community and habitat, is an ecological system, or ecosystem.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 8, 2008 - Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka is a leading conservationist and mountain gorilla expert as well as the founder and CEO of Conservation Through Public Health . A Ugandan nonprofit, CTPH promotes health care for wildlife and for the people in the nearby communities. She will visit the St. Louis Zoo on Tuesday, Dec. 9, and give a lecture entitled “Gorillas in Her Midst.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 3, 2008 - It would seem I am not alone in losing single socks. My Nov. 19 column exploring why my home seems to lose single socks -- not pairs, but single socks -- has generated a lot of phone calls and e-mails, just as it did when I wrote a similar column several years ago - much more comment than my usual weekly column elicits. In deference to the strong interest expressed by my readers in this issue, I thought it would be interesting to review the many alternative opinions my readers express.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 26, 2008 - Aging is the one aspect of life that none of us avoids, but most of us hate being reminded of. A wide variety of theories have been advanced to explain why humans and other animals age. Most of them focus in one way or another on the general idea that cells, the basic building blocks of our bodies, simply wear out over time.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 21, 2008 - For her whole life, Fran Lang has been finding and listening to voices that are rarely heard.

In graduate school at the University of Chicago, Lang started out studying the language and communications of bats. "My goal was to allow the voices of this unknown creature to be heard and understood," she says.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 21, 2008 - A population of Ecuadorian dwarfs has never seen even one case of diabetes or cancer. A story in the news recently, and again this week, directs attention to the possibility that height may be linked to the development of cancer.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 19, 2008 - When St. Louis investors try to determine how Wall Street's woes have infected Main Street companies, they should keep flu shots in mind.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 18, 2008 - This column represents sort of an anniversary -- I have been writing columns for the Beacon for six months this week. By way of celebrating this, I have elected to rerun an old column -- the most popular column from my three year stint as a columnist for the Post Dispatch. Devoted to explaining how scientists evaluate ideas, It engendered a lot of letters from readers who had their own ideas to contribute, and I hope you too will enjoy it.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 18, 2008 - Quantum mechanics, evolution, brain surgery, genetics, economics, extra-terrestrial life -- these weighty topics were just a few of those discussed recently at the St. Louis Science Center's "Evening with Inspiring Scientists."

To showcase the importance of science and encourage a dialogue between scientists and the public, the Science Center assembled a panel of "star" scientists and science communicators, including astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of NOVA scienceNOW on PBS and director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 18, 2008 - Safe drinking water, which most Americans take for granted when they turn on the tap, is unknown in many countries and regions of the world.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 18, 2008 - In the world of cancer research, the patient is the unsung hero. Without patients and families willing to take part, much of genetic research into the origins of cancer would not be possible. With this partnership, scientists at Washington University in St. Louis are the first to sequence the complete genome of a tumor and compare it, side-by-side, with the genome of healthy cells from the same person. It is, they hope, a step toward personalized cancer treatment.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 14, 2008 - A recent day-long scientific meeting and forum on floods offered diverse perspectives on why floods and flood damages are increasing, and offered helpful remedies. The Center for Environmental Sciences at St. Louis University brought together experts in hydrology, meteorology, engineering, conservation, biology and environmental law.

Among the major conclusions that are well supported by data and seemed to be accepted by practically all speakers are :

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