Is There Still Free Will in Addiction?

“Was my brain hijacked by drugs — or was I willfully choosing to risk it all for a few hours of selfish pleasure? What makes people continue taking drugs like street fentanyl, which put them at daily risk of death? These questions are at the heart of drug policy and the way we view and treat addiction. But simplistic answers have stymied efforts to ameliorate drug use disorders and reduce stigma. Research now shows that addiction doesn’t ‌‌mean either being completely subject to irresistible impulses, or making totally free choices. Addiction’s effects on decision-making are complex. Understanding them can help … Read More

How the FDA Can Improve Public Health — Helping People Stop Smoking

“Cigarette smoking remains the leading preventable cause of illness and death in the United States. One in eight U.S. adults smoke, with the highest prevalence among some of the groups that are affected by the greatest health inequities. Although most people who smoke are aware of the associated health risks and want to quit, many are unable to do so because of nicotine dependence. [..] Although studies show higher rates of successful quitting among people who use a medication approved for smoking cessation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), only one third of people use evidence-based cessation treatments when … Read More

Black Smokers at Center of New York Fight to Ban Menthol Cigarettes

“Well intentioned as the [proposed menthol-flavored cigarette] ban may be, it has angered some Black leaders, including a group of ministers who have rallied against Ms. Hochul’s proposal because they worry it could increase encounters between Black people and the police if menthol cigarettes were to go underground and authorities crack down on sellers. Other Black opponents of the ban suggest it may be discriminatory, a heavy-handed crackdown on the preferred nicotine fix of Black smokers, even if African American men have the highest rates of lung cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some smokers said that if the … Read More

e-Cigarette and Cigarette Use Among Youth: Gateway or Common Liability?

“Sun et al studied more than 8000 cigarette-naive youths from [Population Assessment on Tobacco Use and Health (PATH)] waves 3 to 5. They found that youths who had used e-cigarettes at baseline (wave 3) had higher odds of continued cigarette smoking, but the absolute risks of continued smoking at wave 5 were very small and did not significantly differ by baseline e-cigarette use. Moreover, the prevalence of frequent smoking, defined as 20 or more days in the past 30 days, 2 years later (wave 5) was so low (0.2%), the authors could not model this outcome due to its rarity. In … Read More

Association of Cardiovascular Health With Life Expectancy Free of Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Cancer, and Dementia in UK Adults

“The concept of cardiovascular health (CVH) was proposed by the American Heart Association (AHA) in 2010 and is composed of both lifestyle factors and biological metrics. The original algorithm for evaluating CVH was the Life’s Simple 7 (LS7) score. In 2022, the AHA published the new algorithm for evaluating CVH, the Life’s Essential 8 (LE8) score, on the basis of feedback on the LS7 score and new evidence. The LE8 score adopts a new scoring algorithm and incorporates sleep health into CVH.8 Intriguingly, previous studies have shown that having a higher CVH level was not only associated with a lower … Read More


The New England Journal of Medicine’s Lisa Rosenbaum speaks with University of Pennsylvania’s internal medicine physicians Paula Chatterjee (also a health services researcher) and Atheen Venkataramani (also a health economist and founder of Penn’s Opportunity for Health lab) about the role of values in health care, social determinants of health and what physicians can do to improve U.S. health care. An excerpt of the audio interview: [Rosenbaum] Atheen, I know that you also had a formative experience, I think when you were a resident at MGH. Can you talk a little bit about that and how that experience informed your … Read More

Think of Everything You Hate About the Internet. Now Add A.I.

“In 2021, I interviewed Ted Chiang, one of the great living sci-fi writers. Something he said to me then keeps coming to mind now. “I tend to think that most fears about A.I. are best understood as fears about capitalism,” Chiang told me. “And I think that this is actually true of most fears of technology, too. Most of our fears or anxieties about technology are best understood as fears or anxiety about how capitalism will use technology against us. And technology and capitalism have been so closely intertwined that it’s hard to distinguish the two.” [..] We are talking so much … Read More

Christian Californians may have a solution to America’s obesity

Lessons in longevity from Seventh-day Adventists Excerpt – “Seventh-day Adventists believe God made the body as a temple to hold the soul,” says Hans Diehl, a best-selling author on health and nutrition, and a lifelong Adventist. [..] “We believe that taking care of the body is proper. It’s honouring God,” he says. Devout followers eat mostly plants—vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and whole grains. Some eat animal products, but most do so sparingly. [..] One Seventh-day Adventist community, Loma Linda, California, has been dubbed a “Blue Zone”—an area of the world with a large share of centenarians—by two researchers, Michel Poulain … Read More

How a depression test devised by a Zoloft marketer became a crutch for a failing mental health system

“The PHQ-9 became a means for time-crunched primary care doctors, under pressure to see more and more patients in shorter appointments, to dole out prescriptions with barely a conversation. Despite its prevalence, data suggesting that PHQ-9 has actually improved outcomes is ambiguous at best. Meanwhile, mental health outcomes for patients are dismal and only getting worse, with depressive symptoms and suicide climbing ever higher. A combination of good intentions and straightforward business savvy lies behind the PHQ-9. Pfizer invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in its development [..]. The company naturally hoped its investment would pay off with increased Zoloft … Read More

Effect of a Telephone Health Coaching Intervention on Hypertension Control in Young Adults: The MyHEART Randomized Clinical Trial

“[Introduction] [..] MyHEART is a multicomponent, patient-centered, and theoretically based; it includes 4 evidence-based self-management components: (1) telephone-based health coaching with adult education specialists to teach and monitor self-management skills, (2) documentation of coach-patient telephone contacts, (3) individualized hypertension education materials, and (4) home BP monitoring. [..] The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of MyHEART on clinical outcomes, ie, the change in systolic and diastolic BP (primary) and hypertension control (secondary) after 6 and 12 months, compared with usual care. [..] [Methods] [..] The inclusion criteria included (1) aged 18 to 39 years at enrollment; … Read More