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Reducing False Positives in Prenatal Genetic Screenings

Prenatal testing is worrisome enough, now researchers have discovered a simple reason for many inaccurate results.

Image via pixabay user Skitterphoto

Prenatal screening in its present form is a developing technology, constantly being spurred onward by the demands of curious expectant mothers worldwide. What mothers may not realize is that while low-risk testing for abnormalities may be more credible than, say, a horoscope, sometimes the results can be unreliable.

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Science Can't Explain Why You'd Ever Eat a Placenta

Does eating your placenta actually do anything? No one really knows.


University of Buffalo psychology professor Mark Kristal has been studying placentophagia—the act of eating one's placenta after childbirth—for more than four decades. Even he doesn't know why most humans don't eat placenta like many of our fellow mammals—or why some outliers among us do. "People will do anything," Kristal said in support of his latest study, which attempts to get to the bottom of human participation in the eating of afterbirth.

No human culture regularly ingests placenta. But Kristal notes that a comprehensive 1980 anthropological survey found that many cultures expressed a taboo against the practice, suggesting that placenta consumption is not entirely outside the realm of human experience. (After all, writes Kristal, "a taboo against eating rocks is unnecessary"). A common reaction to placentophagia found in that survey was this: "animals do that, we are not animals, therefore we should not do that." (Test your own level of revulsion by checking out this photograph of a goat eating a placenta).

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Rough Cut: Weighing the Emotional and Medical Cases Against Circumcision

I'm not sure any medical study could actually convince me to change my longstanding opposition to circumcising newborns.

A slowly percolating body of evidence suggests that circumcision could have real—if not always drastic—health benefits in men. New research out of Australia suggests that uncircumcised men are 50 times more likely than circumcised men to develop penile cancer. In South Africa, adult male circumcision has been linked to huge drops in HIV transmission in the region. One CDC study of men in Baltimore found that among straight black men who had been exposed to HIV, those who contracted the virus were twice as likely to be uncircumcised. The CDC has considered recommending routine circumcision in an effort to fight HIV.

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