Health & Medicine

Books for Troubled Times

Jean E. Thomson Black— Dear Yale University Press Friend, Our mission at Yale University Press is to publish books that, among other goals, stimulate public debate and enhance cultural life. The following titles represent a modest sampling from our history of science and medicine, environmental issues, and natural history lists. The

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Cuba’s Contribution to Combating COVID-19

Helen Yaffe— COVID-19 surged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December 2019, and by January 2020 it had hit Hubei province like a tidal wave, swirling over China and rippling out overseas. The Chinese state rolled into action to combat the spread and to care for those infected.

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Mercury in Fish

Cailin O’Connor and James Owen Weatherall— Elemental mercury is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature. Aristotle called it “quicksilver,” a term that captures its strange beauty. But this particular beauty is also deadly. Exposure to mercury can lead to a host of symptoms: sensations of bugs crawling

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Coronavirus and Autocracy

Frank M. Snowden— Some features of “Wuhan virus” are now apparent. In early December it began its career as a human disease after a “spillover” from its natural animal reservoir—possibly among bats—unleashing a severe respiratory disease. The megacity of Wuhan in central China was Ground Zero for this emerging infection,

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My Doctor Told Me the Cost of the Appointment . . . Give or Take $200!

Peter A. Ubel— I had a persistent skin condition, and my dermatologist thought I should see someone with more experience caring for that kind of lesion. So, I went to a new dermatologist—I will call her Dr. Freezeitoff. At the front desk, the clerk reminded me that Dr. Freezeitoff wasn’t

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Nature’s Remedies: The Environmental Impact of Chinese Medicine in the Global Medical Marketplace

Tamara Venit Shelton— Nearly three years ago, on January 18, 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the World Health Organization and presented a traditional bronze statue used to identify acupuncture points on the human body. The gift was part of the Chinese government’s ongoing campaign to promote Traditional Chinese Medicine,

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The Health Care Debate and the Perils of Medicine for Profit

Frank M. Snowden— Health care is key in the forthcoming US election, with polls indicating that the American people regard the issue—in tandem with the economy—as their top priority. Voters are seriously anxious about current provisions of care and worried about possible further efforts to undermine Obama’s Affordable Care Act. In

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What Got Antivaxxers to Vax in New York City

Richard Robb— In fall 2018, measles returned to New York City. It was hardly surprising, given the alarmingly widespread resistance to vaccination. According to a recent survey, 2% of Americans believe vaccines are unsafe and ineffective and another 6% believe the side effects of vaccination outweigh the benefits. Many antivaxxers maintain

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Remembering (and Forgetting) Epidemics

Kevin Siena— Every year my undergraduates are surprised to learn that 50-100 million people died a century ago during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918–20. We can probably thank the stunning success of twentieth-century biomedicine for this particular episode of historical amnesia. Generations of North Americans raised in relative security

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What Happened to Mescaline?

Mike Jay— In the current psychedelic renaissance, the original psychedelic is conspicuous by its absence. Amid all the buzz around LSD, psilocybin, DMT, ketamine and MDMA, and their potential for psychotherapy and mental well-being, mescaline rarely rates a mention. Yet the term ‘psychedelic’ was coined, in 1954, in response to

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