Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World


Saladin’s Islamic State

Aleppo, Mosul, Tikrit, Acre… Until just a few years ago, these names meant little to the average American. Now they are all too familiar, as are the atrocities being committed there in the name of religion. Eight hundred years ago the situation in that region was much the same, except then, Christians were committing acts of cruelty no less numerous or shocking than Muslims.

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FEMS Microbiology Letters

Towards a global approach to combat antibiotic resistance

The eradication of infectious diseases in the 20th century is arguably one of the most important achievements in modern medicine. The treatment of such illnesses as tuberculosis, leprosy, syphilis, cholera, pertussis, or diphtheria with antibiotics have reduced suffering, increased hygiene, enormously improved lifestyle, and skyrocketed life expectancy around the globe – particularly in developed countries.

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The true meaning of cell life and death

Two hundred years ago, William Lawrence blew the roof off the Hunter Lecture Series at the Royal College of Surgeons by adding the word “biology” to the English language to discuss living physiology, behavior, and diversity as a matter of gunky chemistry and physics, sans super-added forces.

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E-cigarettes may lead to youth tobacco use

This past summer, the Atlanta suburb of Roswell, Georgia, banned use of e-cigarettes and vapor pens in public parks. Officials enacted the restriction not because of rampant use of the devices in the city but, as mayor Jere Wood said, to “get ahead of the curve. Smokeless device use is soaring. To fulfill demand, vapor shops are popping up all over.

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Cancer is no moonshot

A tired old elephant hunched in the room as President Obama announced the launch of a new moonshot against cancer during his State of the Union address a month ago. We’ve heard that promise before. On 23 December 1971, when President Nixon first declared a national war on cancer, he also based his conviction on the successfully completed moonwalk.

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The perils of salt

The Amazonian Yanomami Indians famously manage on only 50 mg (1 mmol) of sodium chloride per day, while in more developed societies, we struggle to keep our average intake below 100 times that level.

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Keep your friends close… Really?

Who has never been embarrassed by a close other? Imagine you and your best friend dress up for the opera, both of you very excited about this spectacular event taking place in your home town. It is the premiere with the mayor and significant others attending. You have a perfect view on the stage and it seems a wonderful night.

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Should primary schools be responsible for childhood obesity prevention?

In most developed (and many developing) countries, childhood obesity has become much more common over the last few decades, and it is now regarded as one of the most serious global public health challenges of the 21st century. In England, one in five 4-5-year-olds are now overweight or obese, rising to one in three 10-11-year-olds.

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A short history of the mosquito that transmits Zika virus

Question: What do Napoléon Bonaparte, Walter Reed, the Panama Canal, and the Zika virus all have in common? Answer: The Aedes aegypti mosquito. Although its official common name, according to the Entomological Society of America (ESA), is the “yellowfever mosquito,” Aedes aegypti is also the primary vector of dengue, chikungunya, and the Zika virus.

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Why we need “mystery shoppers” directly observing health care

Considering the well documented problems of medical error, it’s remarkable that it’s rarely observed. Of course there is much scrutiny of the data that is generated during the health care encounter, but that is not the same thing. For instance, while quality measures track data on how well blood pressure is managed, there are not measures of whether blood pressure is actually measured accurately.

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Sex in older age: Can the brain benefit?

We’ve all heard the phrase “use it or lose it,” and there are many other examples in the media of how we can keep our brains sharp as we age. Research has shown that what is good for your heart is good for your brain, in the biological sense – but what about in a romantic sense?

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9780198717607 (1)

Future predictions for stem cell research

We took some time to interview Shaun McCann, a man responsible for carrying out the first ever bone marrow transplant in Ireland, in 1984. Getting to know Shaun, we discussed his formative years, the risks involved in the early days of stem cell transplants, and the trials he has faced in over four decades of medicine.

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Celebrating 40 years of the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy

“The knowledge of the capabilities of antibiotics is still essential to control infections which nowadays are more complex and often occur in patients whose defences are compromised by other forms of medical and surgical treatment” wrote Professor J. D. Williams in his first Editorial in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (JAC) in 1975.

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Lead poisoning of Flint, Michigan—penny wise, pound foolish, and criminal

The tragedy of children poisoned by lead-contaminated water in Flint, Michigan is not an isolated incident. More than 11 counties in New Jersey have children with higher lead levels than those of Flint. Since 2008, drastic cuts in funding for public health programs across the board have slashed programs to educate parents and pediatricians to test young kids for lead poisoning or test water for its residues.

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Why ‘ageism’ is bad for your health

According to research conducted by Levy, Slade, Kunkel, and Kasl in 2002, the average lifespan of those with high levels of negative beliefs about old age is 7.5 years shorter than those with more positive beliefs. In other words, ‘ageism’ may have a cumulative harmful effect on personal health. But what is ageism – and what is its impact, both for society and healthcare?

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17585368 gerontologyseriesb

The importance of long-term marriage for health and happiness

Each year around Valentine’s Day, a new crop of romantic comedies hit the silver screen. Viewers wait in anticipation for the on-screen couple’s first kiss, or the enviably lavish wedding. But what happens to that couple, many decades after the first kiss or exchange of rings? Recent research shows that long-married couples exchange love and emotional support, but also regularly engage in spats or minor conflicts which affect older adults’ health in both expected and surprising ways.

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