Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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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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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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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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Why is addiction treatment so slow to change?

The US taxpayers fund the overwhelming majority of addiction research in the world. Every year, Congress channels about $1 billion to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). An additional almost $0.5 billion is separately given to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), my own workplace for the past decade.

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Another unpleasant infection: Zika virus

Over two years ago I wrote that “new viruses are constantly being discovered… Then something comes out of the woodwork like SARS which causes widespread panic.” Zika virus infection bids fair to repeat the torment. On 28 January 2016 the BBC reported that the World Health Organization had set up a Zika “emergency team” as a result of the current explosive pandemic.

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Seven reasons why your medications are not working properly

What happens when medication doesn’t bring your condition under control? Usually, it’s not just one single issue but various factors that contribute to the problem. Your doctor will work to figure out why–and from there, create a new plan of attack. Finding the right combination of medications may require some trial and error.

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Nils Alwall: The quiet, unassuming Swede

During the night, between 3rd and 4th September 1946, things were stirring in the basement of the internal medicine department, at the university hospital of Lund, Southern Sweden. A 47-year-old man had been admitted for treatment. His main problem was uraemia (urea in the blood), but he was also suffering from silicosis (a lung disorder), complicated by pneumonia.

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The truth behind the restaurant industry [quiz]

While the common image of a “restaurant employee” is the server, there are others in the restaurant industry who also face the hardships of working in the restaurant industry: discrimination, low wages, and lack of benefits. All these contribute to a dark side of the restaurant industry, and some restaurants are fighting to change the status quo. Do you know the truth behind the restaurant industry?

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World Cancer Day – a reading list

Every year, World Cancer Day aims to save millions of preventable deaths, by raising awareness and education about the disease. Whether you are a health professional, a carer, patient, policy-maker, or simply looking to get involved – we can all to our bit to help reduce the global burden of cancer.

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