TIME Mental Health/Psychology

Naps May Help Babies Retain Memories, Study Finds

A 30-minute nap is thought to be an appropriate sleeping time

Taking naps after learning new information may help increase a baby’s memory, a new study suggests.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is based on tests of six- and 12-month-old babies to see how they retained memories, using a puppet with a removable mitten attached to a bell. Researchers repeated a sequence of actions using the contraption, several times, before the infants took naps of varying lengths.

Those who took naps that lasted longer than 30 minutes were more likely to remember how the device worked than babies who napped for only short periods after the lesson, the New York Times reported. Sleeping has long been tied to improving memory among humans. A recent study by researchers in Montreal found that children who get a good night’s sleep perform better in math and languages. So it makes sense that the benefits of sleep would also help infants.

Study author Sabine Seehagen of Ruhr University Bochum in Germany told U.S. News and World Report it was “quite unlikely” that the babies who didn’t nap simply didn’t remember the information because they were tired. Rather, it’s likely that the actual act of sleeping helped the babies to retain the new knowledge.

[NYT]

TIME ebola

Ebola Epidemic May End by June 2015 In Liberia

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At one time in 2014, Liberia experienced the fastest growing number of Ebola cases SCOTT CAMAZINE—Getty Images/Photo Researchers RM

That’s only if current hospitalization rates continue, say researchers

Understanding the ebb and flow of the Ebola outbreak that erupted in West Africa last year—and continues to percolate in the three hardest hit countries—is critical to stopping it. That means knowing who’s getting infected, where the highest rates of transmission are occurring and which strategies work best to control its spread.

Scientists initially thought that even if almost every infected person could be hospitalized, it wouldn’t stop the rapid spread of the Ebola virus for months to come. But researchers in the U.S. are now predicting in the journal PLOS Biology that the epidemic in Liberia, which at one point had the biggest explosion in Ebola cases, could peter out by June 2015.

MORE: TIME Person of the Year: The Ebola Fighters

In coming up with their predictive models, the researchers, led by John Drake University of Georgia, took into account data from previous outbreaks of Ebola, as well as probabilities about infection rates among healthcare workers, family members of the infected and those who are exposed to the virus during burials.

In order for Liberia’s Ebola outbreak to end, new hospital beds would have to be added at the same current rate (300 were provided between July and September 2014), the study authors concluded. That would allow 85% of infected patients to be treated with the nutritional and hydration therapy that is critical to overcome the infection. If new beds aren’t continually added, then hospitalization rates could drop back down to 70%, and cases may start to outpace public health workers’ ability to contain the disease.

MORE: U.N. Official Says Ebola Can Be Beat in 2015

Burial practices need to change as well. Cultural norms include touching the bodies of the deceased, which spreads the Ebola virus in a community. Safer burial practices, in which infected patients are isolated from healthy people, are keeping transmission levels under control, the authors say.

MORE: Ebola Vaccine Is Safe and Effective, According to First Study

The key to reducing the number of Liberia’s Ebola cases by summer is ensuring that anyone who is sick is hospitalized. “These modeling exercises suggested that in the absence of rapid hospitalization of most cases, none of the proposed scenarios for increasing hospital capacity would have been likely to achieve containment,” the authors write. “Continuing on the path to elimination will require sustained watchfulness and individual willingness to be treated.”

TIME Research

Why the U.S. Is Losing Its Edge on Medical Research

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The United States may no longer be the leader in medical research due to lack of funding

Funding for medical research in the United States is in a sorry state, but other parts of the world are experiencing the opposite, according to a new study published Tuesday in the journal JAMA.

Limited funding is one of the reasons there was no Ebola vaccine approved when the current outbreak got so bad and it’s why already hard-to-fund research for infectious diseases and addiction don’t often make it to clinical trials. For decades the U.S. was responsible for over half of the world’s total funding for medical research. But looking at funding for U.S. and international research from 1994 to 2012, the study authors found current trends are telling a different story.

Research funding from the United States dropped from 57% of the global pool in 2004 to 50% in 2012. Asia on the other hand tripled its investment in research over the same period, from $2.6 billion in 2004 to $9.7 billion 2012. America also experienced a drop in its share of life science patients, with its share of highly value patents filed by American inventors dropping from 73% to 59% from 1981 and 2011.

Overall, research funding in the United States has dropped 0.8% every year from 2004 to 2012.

The data shows that globally, most countries are cutting back. But the United States used to have a unique edge when it comes to science innovation and funding.

MORE: 1 Million People Have a Disease You’ve Never Heard of

The researchers argue that the United States needs to start looking for other ways to fund research, whether it be through taxes, tax breaks or the adoption of bonds for biomedical research, in a similar way to how bonds have helped build environmentally sustainable infrastructure. In a corresponding editorial, Dr. Victor J. Dzau, the president of the Institute of Medicine, and Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg, the presidential chair of University of California, San Francisco, say researchers themselves need to be part of the solution too. They write: “It is the responsibility of the research community to ensure that money for research will be used effectively and efficiently. A first step is to reduce redundancy and duplication of research through better grant selection and coordination.”

MORE: Why You’ve Never Heard of the Vaccine for Heroin

Ultimately, if the United States wants to maintain its standing as a leader in medical innovation, it needs to start considering non-traditional approaches to research funding, the authors say. They add that even public support has dropped for biomedical research, being replaced with concerns like domestic security, immigration and the economy, possibly due in part to the fact that in the public eye, there haven’t been many breakthroughs in areas like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

“Given global trends, the United States will relinquish its historical innovation lead in the next decade unless such measures are undertaken,” the authors conclude.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

7 Foods That Taste Better Now Than They Will All Year

Never know what’s growing now? Let’s take it one season at a time, with the Foods That Taste Better Now Than They Will All Year.

It’s bleak, it’s cold, it’s polar vortexy. But there’s still delicious food popping out of the ground—and some of it tastes even better now than it will in the hot summer sunshine, when fruits get all the glory. Vegetables can taste their sweetest in the winter. That’s because when the temperatures drop, these hardy plants break down their stores of energy into sugar, then safeguard that sweetness in their cells to protect it from the cold, says Joan Casanova, spokesperson for Bonnie Plants. For these plants, frost equals tastiness, so embrace your early-year bounty.

Kale: The cold-weather king, bitter kale is made mellower by the bitter cold. It can thrive in temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit, Casanova says.

Brussels sprouts: If you still think you hate Brussels sprouts, try them now. They’re sweeter than summer sprouts, she says. (Failing that, of course, try frying them with bacon.)

Kohlrabi: “Cabbage turnip” in German, this knotty, weird-looking root vegetable is a survivor. “Kohlrabi does not like hot summer temperatures at all, but thrives in cool weather,” Casanova says. “Transplants can be put out six weeks before frost with an expected harvest in only a few short weeks.”

Mustard greens: The peppery plant kicks its way through the winter, and always tastes sweeter when it’s nipped by frost.

Parsnips: Yes, even foods that aren’t green can withstand the cold. The pale parsnip, which looks like a yellow-white carrot, is best harvested after a hard frost, Casanova says.

Collards: “They grow best in full sun, tolerate partial shade, are rich in vitamins and sweetened by frost,” she says.

Cabbage: It may look like a delicate flower, but some types of cabbage can survive temperatures as low as 26 degrees, Casanova says, making it ideal for a winter harvest.

TIME Insects

‘Super Mosquito’ Resistant to Malaria Insecticide Found in Mali

Bed nets can't hold back new breed of mosquito

Interbreeding between two mosquito species has created a new “super” species that is resistant to bed nets treated with malaria insecticide, a new study has found.

The species has been found in the West African country of Mali and, according to research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is a result of an evolutionary change caused by the introduction of the treated nets to the environment.

The treated nets have been credited with helping reduce the number of malaria deaths over the past decade. The World Health Organization reports deaths have decreased by 47 percent since 2000. According to a press release from the University of California at Davis, specialists were not surprised by the emergence of an insecticide resistant species.

“Growing resistance has been observed for some time,” said lead researcher and medical entomologist Gregory Lanzaro in the release. “Recently it has reached a level at some localities in Africa where it is resulting in the failure of the nets to provide meaningful control, and it is my opinion that this will increase.”

The scientists are urging the development of “new and effective malaria vector control strategies.”

Read next: How To Stop Chikungunya

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

17 Ways Your Job is Making You Fat

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Be on the look out for these work-related waistline expanders

Packing on pounds while climbing the corporate ladder? You’re in good company: in a 2013 Harris Interactive survey of more than 3,000 workers conducted for CareerBuilder, 41% of respondents said they’d gained weight in their current jobs. Workers who spend long hours sitting at a desk (like administrative assistants) and have high stress levels (like engineers and teachers) were more likely to have gained weight.

The truth is, there are lots of reasons your work could be affecting your waistline. “It really has to do with diet, physical activity, and behavior,” says Katherine Tryon, a medical doctor with the Vitality Institute, a global research organization based New York City. Here are some potential factors, and how to steer clear of their consequences.

Hours of sitting

The most obvious cause of work-related weight gain is the lack of physical activity many employees get from (at least) 9 to 5, and in the CareerBuilder survey, workers pointed to “sitting at my desk most of the day” as the number-one reason for their expanding waistlines. Though it’s true that research shows people who stand or walk throughout the day burn more calories, which can translate to fewer pounds gained over time, a 2013 British study failed to find a strong link between time spent sitting and obesity. The authors say that while sedentary behavior certainly doesn’t help, there are clearly other factors fueling weight gain as well.

Your long commute

In addition to time spent at a desk, the average American spends 25.4 minutes commuting to work and then again to get home, according to the US Census Bureau, and the American Community Survey shows that 86% of workers commute by car. Those who take public transportation to and from work tend to have lower BMIs than those who drive or ride in a car, found a 2014 study published in the British Medical Journal, as do those who walk or ride their bikes. “Businesses need to think about ways to turn commuting into a healthy activity, like offering bike racks and showers to their employees,” says Dr. Tryon.

On-the-job stress

Boss on your case again? Try not to freak out: High levels of the stress hormone cortisol can trigger fat and sugar cravings, and can also cause the body to hang onto fat and store it around the midsection. And a 2014 German study found that work-related stress is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

You may also feel like you need to forget healthy habits in order to get ahead, says Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, author of Eating in Color. “Maybe you used to go for a walk at lunch but then you change jobs or get a promotion, and suddenly all eyes are on you,” she says. “You may feel like your daily break from the office is no longer acceptable, so you put in the extra time and your weight suffers.”

HEALTH.COM: 11 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Belly Fat

Late nights

Employees who burn the midnight oil to meet deadlines or keep up with heavy workloads may also blame their restricted sleep schedule for excess weight gain. In a 2013 University of Pennsylvania study, adults who got only four hours of shuteye a night for five nights in a row gained more weight than those who got eight hours, thanks to the extra meals (and higher-calorie foods) they consumed during late-night hours.

Adults who work multiple jobs, who start work early in the morning, or who commute longer distances are more likely to go without full nights’ sleep, according to a 2014 study also by University of Pennsylvania researchers. The authors suggest that flexible start times may help workers get more sleep overall.

Your lunch options

People who work in or commute through neighborhoods with a lot of drive-thrus are more likely to stop at them, and they’re also more likely to have higher BMIs, according to a 2014 British study. In fact, the study group with the most exposure to takeout joints on the way to and from work was almost twice as likely to be obese, compared to those with who were least exposed. “If you don’t have healthy lunch options nearby, you may need to make a real effort to prepare and pack your own food ahead of time,” says Largeman-Roth.

Lack of wellness programs

Dr. Tryon’s own research suggests that employers have a unique opportunity to improve public health by offering incentives and tools, like reduced insurance premiums and weight-loss support groups. But a 2014 research review from Hampshire College found that only 25% of large companies, and only 5% of small businesses, offer comprehensive wellness programs. Why? Companies say the programs cost too much and that they don’t want to meddle in their employees’ business.

HEALTH.COM: 10 Types of Hunger and How to Control Them

Candy jars and freebie tables

In any office, there’s someone who always keeps a bowl of candy out, says Largeman-Roth, and if you’re a dieter or a binger or a stress eater, that person is the enemy. “We know that when you put something delicious out on prominent display, people are going to eat much more of it than if it was tucked away in a desk drawer out of sight.” The same goes for the leftover desserts or doughnuts lurking in the kitchen, she adds. “If there’s a common area for sweets and you know it’s a weakness, you may need to steer clear and not let yourself be tempted.”

Coworkers’ eating habits

If you frequently go to lunch with your colleagues, their unhealthy dietary choices may rub off on you. A 2014 review study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that people tend to conform to “eating norms” in social settings. In other words, if you know other people are ordering high-fat foods, you’re more likely to do the same. This makes sense, especially in a work setting, says Largeman-Roth. “You want to fit in—no one wants to be known as the girl who only eats tofu or drinks green smoothies, so you go along with the crowd even if it’s not what you’d normally order,” she says.

Constant office parties

If your workplace is the type that marks every single birthday, anniversary, and promotion with cake and cookies, watch out: Nearly one in five respondents to the CareerBuilder survey said that these celebrations contributed to their weight gain.

“Employers may see these events as fun perks that boost company morale, so it can be quite controversial to suggest that they may not be so good for their health,” says Dr. Tryon. “The challenge here is in finding ways to celebrate and reward workers that doesn’t necessarily involve forcing sugary foods on them.”

HEALTH.COM: 11 Foods That Make You Hungrier

The vending machines

When you’ve got back-to-back meetings and even the cafeteria is too far away, the vending machine can be your savior—at least temporarily. But most of those packaged snack options are high in calories and low in nutrients, says Largeman-Roth.

Instead, try to keep healthy snacks like apples or fruit-and-nut bars at your desk. Before you give into a soda craving, drink a glass of cold water. (Chances are you don’t actually need the caffeine, not to mention the calories.) And if you must visit the vending machine, opt for a small pack of unsalted nuts or trail mix, which has protein and healthy fats to fill you up.

The elevator

When’s the last time you took the stairs at work? Taking the stairs, even if that means changing into sneakers on your lunch break or getting off the elevator a flight or two early in an office high-rise, can add valuable calorie-burning steps to your day, says Dr. Tryon. Employers should take note, too. “Simple environmental changes, like lighting stairwells to make them more appealing for people to use, can create a healthier environment and healthier workers,” Dr. Tryon says.

Lack of sunlight

If you work in a windowless cubicle and you arrive at work before the sun comes up, you could be missing out on a powerful, all-natural weapon against obesity. A 2014 Northwestern University study found that exposure to the sun was associated with BMI, and that getting bright light in the morning hours seemed to have a slimming effect. Light helps to regulate circadian rhythms, which in turn regulate energy balance and expenditure, say the study authors. They suggest getting 20 to 30 minutes of sunlight between 8 a.m. and noon each day to avoid unwanted weight gain—yet another argument for walking to work or taking that mid-morning break!

HEALTH.COM: 14 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism Right Now

Business trips

All the wining-and-dining on business trips can add up: dinners on the company tab, lavish meals with clients or associates, and the lure of regional cuisine are all likely to trigger overeating, even for someone who’s normally very healthy at home, says Largeman-Roth. Plus, traveling for work two weeks or more a month was linked to higher BMI, higher rates of obesity, and lower self-reported health in a 2011 Columbia University study. The authors note that 81% of business trips are taken in cars, and that travelers are likely sitting for long hours and making poor food choices.

Overnight shifts

Night-shift workers may be at an even higher risk of obesity than daytime desk jockeys, according to a 2014 University of Colorado at Boulder study. Researchers found that participants burned fewer calories over a three-day period when they slept during the day and stayed up (and ate) through the night than when they followed a normal schedule. The body’s circadian clock can shift over time, the researchers say, but because shift-workers tend to revert to a normal schedule on their days off, their bodies never fully adapt to their work schedules.

Distracted eating

Eating at your desk every day works against your waistline in more ways than one. Not only do you miss out the exercise you would have gotten by walking a few blocks to the sandwich shop, but you’re likely missing out on the full experience of eating. “You’re multitasking—answering emails, making phone calls, doing online shopping—and you’re not focusing on the enjoyment or the fulfillment of your food,” says Largeman-Roth. “And an hour later, you’ve almost forgotten you ate lunch and you’re already grabbing something else, not realizing you just had a full meal.”

HEALTH.COM: 13 Comfort Foods That Burn Fat

Your digital devices

Job-related obesity triggers don’t always disappear when you leave the office. In an ever-connected society, many employees find themselves tied to a mobile phone even in their so-called off hours, making it harder for them to escape work stress and demands.

Frequent use of these devices has also been linked to increased rates of sedentary behavior, which can in turn lead to unwanted weight gain. In a 2013 Kent State University study, people who used their cell phones most often were also most likely to forego opportunities for physical activity.

Happy hours and networking events

In many offices, after-work drinks are an expected part of the job—it’s where you bond with your coworkers, earn points with your boss, or blow off steam when a project doesn’t go your way. “You feel like you can’t say no, because you don’t want to be the person who’s killing the party,” says Largeman-Roth.

But calories from alcohol—and from those appetizers Susie in accounting just ordered for the table—can add up quickly. And because booze lowers inhibitions and stimulates appetite, the more you drink, the harder it will be to resist those pre-dinner snacks.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Addiction

The Problem With Treating Pain in America

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A new federal report reveals holes in how we treat chronic pain

Chronic pain affects an estimated 100 million Americans, and between 5 to 8 million use opioids for long-term pain management. Data shows the number of prescriptions written for opioids as well opioid overdose deaths have skyrocketed in recent years, highlighting a growing addiction problem in the U.S. In response, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a report on Monday citing major gaps in the way American clinicians are treating pain.

In September, the NIH held a workshop to review chronic pain treatment with a panel of seven experts and more than 20 speakers. The NIH also reviewed relevant research on how pain should be treated in the United States. On Monday the NIH published its findings in the Annals of Internal Medicine, detailing a lack of research into better treatment methods and poor preparedness among physicians. “The prevalence of chronic pain and the increasing use of opioids have created a ‘silent epidemic’ of distress, disability, and danger to a large percentage of Americans,” the report authors write. “The overriding question is: Are we, as a nation, approaching management of chronic pain in the best possible manner that maximizes effectiveness and minimizes harm?”

The answer is no, the report reveals. The number of opioid prescriptions for pain has gone from 76 million in 1991 to 219 million in 2011, and according to recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, the latest figures show around 17,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2011. Between 2007 and 2010, the number of hospitalizations for opioid addiction increased four-fold. As TIME recently reported, the growing opioid problem means the nation also has a growing heroin problem, since both drugs offer similar highs, and heroin is cheaper and doesn’t need a prescription.

MORE: Why You’ve Never Heard of the Vaccine for Heroin Addiction

Past addiction epidemics disproportionally affected non-white, low-income, inner-city citizens, but the current outbreak of prescription painkiller abuse is affecting mainstream white America. “[Past epidemics] made it easier for the public and even healthcare professionals to think about people with addiction as ‘those people,'” says Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the chief medical officer of the rehabilitation nonprofit Phoenix House. “Hopefully that’s changing.”

The NIH says that based on its assessment, healthcare providers in the United States are poorly prepared for managing pain, and many hold stigmas against their own patients seeking relief. “[Providers] are sometimes quick to label patients as ‘drug-seeking’ or as ‘addicts’ who overestimate their pain,” the authors write. “Some physicians ‘fire’ patients for increasing their dose or for merely voicing concerns about their pain management.”

For better care, the NIH says the medical community needs to start applying individualized treatment for chronic pain, and a multi-disciplinary approach should be used. Since pain is both physical and emotional and can affect all aspects of a person’s life, there should be more than one speciality involved in patient management. The NIH says there’s a lack of data that favors long-term use of opioids, and that other treatments like physical therapy and alternative and complementary medicine should be considered.

Clinicians do not have enough guidance when it comes to prescribing strategies, the NIH notes, arguing that the root of the problem is our overall lack of knowledge of how to effectively treat pain. The NIH says new study designs are needed to better research chronic pain treatment.

Critics of the response to the current opioid problem say a lack of federal attention has let the problem grow. “The opioid addiction problem didn’t begin under [President Obama’s] watch, but it’s gotten very bad on his watch,” says Kolodny. “There’s been 175,000 deaths over 15 years and the president cut funding to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and he’s cut funding to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for addiction treatment. I think the federal government is doing an awful job to tackle this public health crisis, with the exception of the CDC.”

The NIH says the challenge of when to use opioids and when to avoid them remains a question that available data can’t answer, and it’s a knowledge gap that needs to be filled as soon as possible. “For the more than 100 million Americans living with chronic pain, meeting this challenge cannot wait,” the report concludes.

TIME vaccines

Disneyland: The Latest Victim of the Anti-Vaxxers

Get your shots first: The Magic Kingdom has the measles
Get your shots first: The Magic Kingdom is feeling sick Barry King—WireImage

Jeffrey Kluger is Editor at Large for TIME.

The happiest place on Earth catches a bad case of measles—and the usual suspects are to blame

Updated: Jan. 23, 2015

Somewhere in Orange County, Mary Poppins and Ariel the mermaid may be running a fever. The same could be true for her coworkers—any of the other 23,000 people (OK, or characters) who punch in for work at Disneyland every day. And the same could be true too for any one of the estimated 16 million people who will pour into the theme park this year.

The reason? Measles. The cause? This may not come entirely as a surprise: the anti-vaccine crowd.

Just when you think they’ve been run to ground, shamed into silence, and just when you can watch a whole evening of Jenny McCarthy co-hosting the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square and not hear her utter a word of unscientific nonsense, the anti-vaxxers come roaring back. Only three weeks into 2015 the year’s first stories are emerging about the latest victims of the nation’s declining vaccine rate. And this time, ground zero is the self-proclaimed Happiest Place on Earth, which is in danger of becoming the decidedly less consumer-friendly Most Expensive Disease Vector on Earth.

So far, according to epidemiologists, there are 59 cases of measles across California and 42 of the cases are believed to have been contracted at Disneyland. The outbreak has spread to five other states—which is to be expected when the place that is ground zero for any infection attracts visitors from all over the world. Of the first 20 Disneyland victims, 15 were unvaccinated. Concern about the infections has gotten so great that California State epidemiologist Gil Chavez warned the public that anyone who has not had the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine should avoid all California theme parks “for the time being.”

The Disneyland epidemic is not an aberration. In the past year, California had its highest measles caseload in two decades—66, with 23 of them in Orange County. The U.S. recorded 610 cases total in 2014, triple the number as recently as 2011. In the first half of last year, the CDC reported that 69% of the documented cases (200 out of 288) were among unvaccinated people.

It’s no coincidence, as TIME has reported, that the areas of the country with the highest vaccine refusal rates—Orange County; New York City; Columbus, Ohio; Silicon Valley—have higher rates of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, too. What gives the anti-vaccinators so much power to do so much harm is that once vaccine rates fall below 95%, herd immunity—the protection that a well-vaccinated community offers to the few people in its midst who must remain unvaccinated for legitimate medical reasons—starts to break down. In 2012, California was right at that baseline 95% vaccination rate for measles and whooping cough. It’s now at 92%.

Those small percentages can make huge differences. In 2003, a few provinces in northern Nigeria banned polio vaccines, when local religious leaders claimed the drops were designed to sterilize Muslim girls and transmit AIDS. Within three years, 20 previously polio-free countries recorded cases of the disease—all of them the Nigerian strain.

The reaction to the Disneyland epidemic and the anti-vaccine community responsible for it has been blistering. The Washington Post ran an extensive feature on the disgraced and disgraceful Dr. Andrew Wakefield, whose fraudulent and entirely retracted 1998 study birthed the antivaccine nonsense. A Los Angeles Times editorial laid the blame for current problem directly at the antivaxxers’ feet and made the story Tweetable with a succinct, 78-character indictment: “Disneyland measles outbreak spurred by ill-informed, anti-science stubbornness.”

American anti-vaxxers remain impervious not only to the public shaming, but to other epidemiological warning flags, like the ongoing whooping cough epidemic in California or last year’s outbreaks of measles in New York and mumps in Columbus. As the Disneyland outbreak continues to worsen, the reaction is likely to be more of the same—which is to say denial coupled with a lot of echo-chamber prattle about a bought-off media carrying water for big pharma, plus the usual scattering of glib Twitter code like #CDCWhistleblower, which purports to be final proof of the great vaccine coverup, but which is nothing of the kind.

Hashtag science is not real science, and conspiracy theories have nothing to do with facts. The problem is, children infected with measles—or polio or whooping cough or mumps—are indeed very real. In the age of vaccines, there ought to be no place they feel unsafe—least of all Disneyland.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Health Care

Clinic Loses Accreditation After Joan Rivers’ Death

Joan Rivers-Death Investigation
Yorkville Endoscopy seen in New York, Sept. 5, 2014. Tina Fineberg—AP

The clinic has been cited for multiple errors in its care of the late comedian

The New York clinic where TV personality Joan Rivers underwent vocal cord surgery, before her sudden deterioration and death, will lose its federal accreditation at the end of the month.

As of Jan. 31, Yorkville Endoscopy will no longer receive Federal funds for services given to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, the Huffington Post reports.

Earlier this past year, the New York State Department of Health determined that the clinic made multiple errors during Rivers’ care. Rivers died on Sept. 4 after suffering brain damage from lack of oxygen after she quit breathing during surgery only a few days earlier.

An employee of the clinic also reportedly took a photo of Rivers during the surgery.

The clinic released a statement, saying: “We are continuing to work with all regulatory bodies. We intend to communicate with CMS and appropriate authorities to have the decision reversed. Yorkville continues to be a licensed facility and perform procedures while cooperating with the regulatory process.”

TIME Heart Disease

Popping Aspirin for Heart Health Could Be a Waste of Time for Some

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The drug is overused in about 12% of heart patients, study finds

Study after study documents the wonders of aspirin for the heart—it can lower levels of inflammation, the trigger that sets off the unstable events of a heart attack, and it also helps blood remain free of viscous traps that can block vessels and slow the flow of blood to the heart. But these studies only support the benefits of aspirin in low daily doses for those who have already had heart events. For people who haven’t yet run into trouble but may be a higher risk of heart issues—including people who are overweight and those with high blood pressure or diabetes—the evidence isn’t so clear.

MORE: Who Should and Who Shouldn’t Take Daily Aspirin

That hasn’t stopped doctors from recommending aspirin to these patients. In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers looked at more than 68,000 people in 119 medical practices in the U.S who hadn’t had any previous heart events, but who were receiving aspirin therapy. 11.6% of them were given the drug inappropriately, the authors concluded; even though they did not meet the criteria that various groups of medical experts established as the threshold for starting the medication, they were still taking it.

Though aspirin is available over the counter, the drug comes with potential side effects that can pose serious health risks, including bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract and brain. “With aspirin being so widely used and being available over-the-counter, the concern I have is that a lot of the use may be leading to side effects that could be preventable by having a discussion between the provider and patient,” says Dr. Salim Virani, from the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Baylor College of Medicine.

MORE: Daily Aspirin May Not Prevent Heart Attacks

Virani says that aspirin use among patients with no history of heart disease varies widely across the country. Among two similar patients randomly assigned to two different doctors, one would have a 63% higher chance of being given an aspirin to prevent a first heart event than the other patient.

Currently, the American Heart Association recommends that aspirin be used in such primary prevention cases only if the person has a greater than 10% chance of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years. This calculation is based on the person’s age, sex, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and whether he or she smokes. Based on a review of the available literature, in 2009 the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force criteria advised starting aspirin for anyone with a great than 6% chance of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years.

Despite these guidelines, most doctors are likely not making the calculations necessary to come up with this score, suspects Virani—regardless of whether they are primary care physicians or heart experts. “We know from prior data that we as providers are not good at calculating the risk of every patient because it takes time,” he says. “You have to get the equations and put all the patient’s numbers in, and in a very busy practice that could be a time drain. So most of the variation we see could be doctors just determining risk by looking at the patient rather than going to the actual data to tell them what the person’s 10 year risk [of heart disease] is.” In fact, 73% of the people in the study, which only looked at heart doctors’ practices, did not have enough information for their physicians to calculate their 10 year risk score. Of those without score data, 97% were missing critical cholesterol level readings.

The overuse of aspirin is concerning, Virani says, because it persists even after he and his colleagues adjusted for potential confounding factors, including the proliferation of statins, the cholesterol-lowering drugs that can also reduce inflammation. Because more people are on statins, including those who have not yet had a heart event, it’s possible that the drugs are lowering the 10-year risk of a heart attack or stroke by more than the other factors that doctors usually use to calculate risk and the need for aspirin. In other words, there may be more people who no longer need aspirin because they are taking statins.

Virani admits that his study still leaves a lot of questions unanswered, like dosage and whether a doctor recommended the drug or the person started taking it on their own.

Part of the reason for the inappropriate use could be an artifact of the aggressive prevention and awareness campaigns surrounding heart disease. Though they’ve been extremely effective at informing people about the many ways to avoid heart trouble, like changing your diet, exercising regularly and taking drugs like statins or aspirin, the message isn’t one-size-fits-all. That’s important for aspirin in particular, since the medication can come with harmful side effects that overshadow any potential benefit they might have. It’s enough of a concern that the Food and Drug Administration recently rejected a request to add primary prevention of heart disease as a benefit of aspirin therapy on the drug’s label.

These latest results only reinforce that decision. It’s clear that when it comes to whether aspirin can prevent a first heart attack, neither doctors nor patients are being guided by the evidence—and that could mean more health complications for more people.

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