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According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, breast augmentation is the most popular form of cosmetic surgery in the country. Some women choose to get breast implants for cosmetic reasons, while others use them to rebuild after undergoing mastectomies for breast cancer. In 2018, 310,000 breast augmentations were performed, which is a 4% increase from 2017. However, it comes with many risks that women night not be aware of.

Breast implants aren't permanent and need to be removed or replaced every eight to ten years, yet the FDA says 20% of women have to get their implants removed sooner because of complications. Some complications can include severe muscle and joint pain, scarring, weakness, cognitive difficulties, and rupture. There's even a term for it – "breast implant illness." As bad as those symptoms sound, they can also be worse; 573 people developed a rare form of blood cancer because of their implants, and 33 people have died.

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Health

At Nonprofit Organizations, a Lack of Regulation Invites Failure

Financial mismanagement at Cooper Union has the NY attorney general’s sights set on NGOs.

Cooper Union. Image by I, DavidShankbone via Wikimedia Commons

This April, New York’s Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced plans to crack down on Cooper Union, a private college renowned for its arts and design programs and the practice of offering a tuition-free education. Until two years ago, that is, when the school suddenly started charging a non-trivial $20,000 annual fee to students. According to Schneiderman (and previous investigations by reporters in 2013) the decision to charge directly stems from the failure of the nonprofit institution’s board to manage their endowment and physical assets—which include the land under the Chrysler building. The board allegedly took on unnecessary debts, failed to cultivate donor bases, and never really attempted to diversify their holdings, even in the face of financial instability. As a nonprofit, Cooper Union technically falls under Schneiderman’s regulatory oversight, allowing him to propose and foist a bevvy of procedural reforms and monitoring regimens on the institution, which he says he’s now glad to do. But this willingness goes beyond Cooper Union—according to Schneiderman, he’s apparently planning to put nonprofits on notice, bringing increasing scrutiny to organizations that often fly under the radar.

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Making the Pot Business a Little Greener

Sustainability might be the next big battle for marijuana.

Photo by Psychonaught via Wikimedia Commons

Hezekiah Allen was given his first hard lesson in the weed business back in July 1992. It was just weeks before his ninth birthday when he heard the mechanical roar of helicopters swarming towards his family’s Humboldt County, California home. The choppers hugged close to the ground; Allen could make out the troops’ eyes as his mother ushered him into their family car and peeled down the road from their house. Allen's parents, a schoolteacher and early tech industry worker, supplemented their income by growing and selling marijuana. Now 31, Allen serves as the executive director of the Emerald Growers Association (EGA), a cannabis trade group that works closely with California’s farmers and regulators on public policy. EGA not only promotes economic vitality and social conscientiousness, but they also advocate for eco-friendly practices in the new, wildly unregulated marijuana market.

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Spider Webs and the Battle Over Federal Caffeine Limits

One hundred years ago, the predecessor of the FDA had no data on how caffeine affects humans. Unbelievably, the same is pretty much true today.


A fascinating article in Monday's New York Times looks at the long debate over safe limits for caffeine consumption in the United States. "Long" in this instance means 100 years—journalist Murray Carpenter tells the story of the USDA vs. Coca-Cola, which went to trial a century ago this month.

At the time, Coke contained 80 milligrams of caffeine per serving, as much as a Red Bull today. To defend themselves against the government's charge that caffeine was a harmful ingredient, they hired a scientist to look at the effects of the stimulant on the mental and motor skills of both abstainers, occasional, and heavy users. No one had gathered this kind of data before.

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Food for Thinkers: Synthesizing Food Safety Politics Into Something Edible

Helena Bottemiller makes sense of U.S. food policy—and shares a behind-the-scenes peek at the preparations for a White House State Dinner.

Helena Bottemiller writes daily for Food Safety News and can be found on Twitter @hbottemiller. She is my favorite guide to the Kafka-esque ins and outs of US food policy, managing to write stories about federal oversight and judicial wrangling that not only make sense of how our food system is shaped at the government level, but are actually interesting to read too. I invited her to share what food writing means to her as part of Food for Thinkers week back in January, but a back injury (and subsequent heavy doses of morphine) put her out of action. Now she's back up on her feet, and I'm thrilled to be able to post her belated contribution!

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Infographic About Untested Chemicals in Consumer Products Infographic About Untested Chemicals in Consumer Products

Of the 50,000 chemicals used in industry and consumer products in the United States, only 5 are restricted, and only 300 tested.

There are more than 50,000 chemicals in use in industrial processes and in consumer products that we know very little about from a safety perspective—meaning safe for our health, and safe for the planet. Why? Because, as Scientific American writes, "The 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act does not require chemicals to be registered or proven safe before use."

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