FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.

posted on 02 January 2016

2015, The Year The Was: Health And Medicine

from The Conversation

-- this post authored by Jessie Schanzle, The Conversation

As we eye a brand new year, it's good to look back and see what stories 2015 brought us. Here is a look at what kept the health and medicine desk busy over the past year.

Thinking about the immune system

At this time last year, a measles outbreak was brewing in California, eventually spreading to a number of other states and putting vaccines back in the headlines. Our experts examined why herd immunity matters, or how vaccine exemptions for school children can have an effect on rates of vaccine-preventable disease, and how a vaccine can change the way we perceive the disease it prevents.

Are we prepared for a major infectious disease outbreak (by the way - do you know the difference between an outbreak and an epidemic)? Over the summer we brought you a piece by Bruce Ribner, the director of Emory University's serious communicable disease unit (which cared for the first Ebola patient to be treated in the US), reflecting on that experience and how we can prepare for infectious disease outbreaks in the future. He says that the big risk we face is our own short attention spans.

Speaking of vaccines and infectious disease, did you know the composition of bacteria living in your gut (the gut microbiome) can influence how effective a vaccine is? It turns out that our complex bacterial ecosystem that lives in our guts actually has a big role to play in the development of our immune system. In fact, rising rates of antibiotic use might play a role in the rise of immune disorders, like allergies. Aside from a healthy crop of bacteria, research shows that a few intestinal worms might actually do you some good.

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act celebrate after the Supreme Court up held the law in the 6-3 vote at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, June 25 2015. Reuters/Joshua Roberts

The Affordable Care Act

In June, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) survived yet another challenge in the Supreme Court. If some details about how the ACA works still elude you, you're not alone. Law professors helped to explain the ACA in blog posts and newspaper articles, and it seems the Supreme Court (and their clerks) were paying attention.

While the ACA is making it possible for more people to get insurance, research shows that young people or those buying insurance for the first time often aren't quite sure what terms (like deductible) actually mean. And health care remains expensive, which means that medical debt - and bankruptcy - are growing problems.

What about drugs?

One of the biggest stories of 2015 is the ongoing opioid addiction crisis. Over the past year, we've looked at whether stricter controls on certain classes of opioids, like Vicodin, would curb abuse, how the increase in prescription opioid painkillers has changed the demographics of heroin use and how the stigma against people who use heroin can make it harder for them to get help and treatment.

Opioids aren't the only drugs in the headlines. While a handful of states have legalized recreational marijuana, that might not lead to more addicts. And the use of untested and unregulated synthetic drugs is growing. These drugs, often designed to mimic the effects of marijuana (hence the common but inaccurate name, synthetic marijuana), emerge from underground labs where chemists can create new formulas as quickly as the old ones are identified and banned.

Switch it off. Lightbulb image via

Turn off the lights

I hope that the winter holiday means some of you are getting a bit more shut-eye. It turns out flexible work schedules can lead to a bit of extra sleep. And those hours spent in dreamland aren't just critical for your physical health - you can also unlearn social biases while you slumber.

With the winter solstice behind us, we can look forward to our days getting a tiny bit longer - but darkness is good for you too. We may underestimate how important time in dark is to our health, so maybe it's worth embracing these long winter nights.

Top reads for 2015

So what were our readers' favorite stories for 2015? Here are the top 10 most-read articles for the year.

The ConversationJessie Schanzle, Editor, The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical News Post Listing

Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.

You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.

Econintersect Contributors


Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF

The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.

Take a look at what is going on inside of
Main Home
Analysis Blog
Taking a Wrench to Healthcare
Rising Tide Does Not Lift All Ships
News Blog
Consequences Of Rising Income Inequality
America's Most Competitive Renters: Why Many Are Choosing To Rent
Historical Echoes: The Bank Teller Action Figure, Or It's All In The Packaging
Infographic Of The Day: The Oil Market Is Bigger Than All Metal Markets Combined
U.S. 2016 Election Divides Advanced And Emerging Economies
Which Countries Read The Most
The World's Most Expensive Retail Locations
How To Help Energy Demand Match Renewable Supply
Music Subscriptions Revive Revenue
How The Space Station Avoids Junk In Space
Infographic Of The Day: The Most Popular Jobs In A Decade
Early And Late Cycle Verdicts Are Baseless
The Surprising Divergence Of Employment And Capacity Utilization
Investing Blog
FinTech Is Taking A Bite Out Of Banks
Options Early Assignment - Should You Worry?
Opinion Blog
The Beer Goggles Stock Market
US 2016 Election: Will US-China Relations Change
Precious Metals Blog
Preparing For Post-Election Social Unrest
Live Markets
21Oct2016 Market Close: Major US Indexes Close Flat On Low Volume, Crude Prices Resume Climb, US Dollar Stabilizes In Mid 98 Handle, Yes, Most Investors Are Worried Which Way This Market Will Go
Amazon Books & More

.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government

Crowdfunding ....



Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day


Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution



  Top Economics Site Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2016 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved