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What is meningococcal disease? What symptoms should I look out for? And how can I prevent it?

Photo of a teenager sitting on a bed.

Professor Helen Marshall, University of Adelaide

Parents and doctors alike fear meningococcal infection, which has been in the news again. Doctors never want to miss a diagnosis, as early treatment with antibiotics may be life-saving. Parents fear the disease because up to 10% of children who become infected die from the disease and its complications.

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Humans are depleting groundwater worldwide, but there are ways to replenish it

Photo of farm circular fields
Circular irrigation for growing hay and alfalfa near Corcoran, Calif. − a water-intensive system that relies on groundwater pumping. George Rose/Getty Images

Scott Jasechko, University of California, Santa Barbara; Debra Perrone, University of California, Santa Barbara, and Richard Taylor, UCL

If you stand at practically any point on Earth, there is water moving through the ground beneath your feet. Groundwater provides about half of the world’s population with drinking water and nearly half of all water used to irrigate crops. It sustains rivers, lakes and wetlands during droughts.

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Alcohol is harmful, even in small amounts

Photo of man passed out with a bottle of liquor on table
Research increasingly shows that the dangers of alcohol have been downplayed and its benefits exaggerated. Nes/E+ via Getty Images

Alcohol use is widely accepted in the US, but even moderate consumption is associated with many harmful effects

Christina Mair, University of Pittsburgh

Leer en español.

This month, millions of Americans are taking part in “Dry January” in an effort to forgo alcohol for a month and cleanse themselves of the excesses of the holiday season.

Alcohol is the most widely used drug in the world, including in the U.S.

In 2020, nearly 70% of people ages 18 and older in the U.S. said they had consumed an alcoholic drink in the previous year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Additionally, 24% of people reported binge drinking – defined for women as four or more drinks per occasion and five or more drinks per occasion for men – in the previous month.

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The Atlantic is at risk of circulation collapse – it would mean even greater climate chaos across Europe

Photo of ocean waves and dark storm clouds
andrejs polivanovs / shutterstock

Robert Marsh, University of Southampton

Amid news of lethal heatwaves across the Northern Hemisphere comes the daunting prospect of a climate disaster on an altogether grander scale. New findings published in Nature Communications suggest the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, or Amoc, could collapse within the next few decades – maybe even within the next few years – driving European weather to even greater extremes.

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Glyphosate found in pregnant women living near farms

Photo of a farm field near rhomes.
As suburbs encroach on farmland, residents’ risk of exposure to farm chemicals rises. Carly Hyland

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup, is showing up in pregnant women living near farm fields – that raises health concerns

Cynthia Curl, Boise State University and Carly Hyland, University of California, Berkeley

Living near farmland can significantly increase people’s exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the widely used herbicide Roundup, new research shows. This chemical has been connected to health concerns, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma and a higher risk of preterm birth.

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Lizards, fish and other species are evolving with climate change, but not fast enough

Photo of a lizard on a rock
Temperature sensitivity makes western fence lizards vulnerable to climate change. Greg Shine/BLM, CC BY

Michael P. Moore, University of Colorado Denver and James Stroud, Georgia Institute of Technology

Climate change is threatening the survival of plants and animals around the globe as temperatures rise and habitats change.

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Alzheimer’s research benefits a wide range of genetic studies

Photo of cat scans of a human brain
Researchers are zeroing in on understanding what goes awry in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Tek Image/Science Photo Library via Getty Images

Alzheimer’s disease is partly genetic − studying the genes that delay decline in some may lead to treatments for all

Steven DeKosky, University of Florida

Diseases that run in families usually have genetic causes. Some are genetic mutations that directly cause the disease if inherited. Others are risk genes that affect the body in a way that increases the chance someone will develop the disease. In Alzheimer’s disease, genetic mutations in any of three specific genes can cause the disease, and other risk genes either increase or decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

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Warming climate threatens river animals and plants

Photo of a waterfall on a river
The Potomac River spills over Great Falls west of Washington, D.C.. Marli Miller/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

As climate change warms rivers, they are running out of breath – and so could the plants and animals they harbor

Li Li (李黎), Penn State

As climate change warms rivers, they are losing dissolved oxygen from their water. This process, which is called deoxygenation, was already known to be occurring in large bodies of water, like oceans and lakes. A study that colleagues and I just published in Nature Climate Change shows that it is happening in rivers as well.

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A prescription for nutrition

Photograph of fruits and vegetables in a heart-shaped serving bowl,
“Food is medicine” programs recognize the vital importance of fresh produce in a person’s overall health. fcafotodigital/E+ via Getty Images

Prescriptions for fruits and vegetables can improve the health of people with diabetes and other ailments, new study finds

Kurt Hager, UMass Chan Medical School and Fang Fang Zhang, Tufts University

The health of people with diabetes, hypertension and obesity improved when they could get free fruits and vegetables with a prescription from their doctors and other health professionals.

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Cannabis smoke is not harmless

Photo of a hand holding a burning marijuana cigarette.
Cannabis smoke shares many of the same toxins and carcinogens as tobacco smoke. Tunatura/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Many people think cannabis smoke is harmless − a physician explains how that belief can put people at risk

Beth Cohen, University of California, San Francisco

Though tobacco use is declining among adults in the U.S., cannabis use is increasing. Laws and policies regulating the use of tobacco and cannabis are also moving in different directions.

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