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Top Stories: Dr. Google, No More Salt, and Human Nature Versus HIV

Should You Mix Those Two Drugs? Ask Dr. Google

Next time you want to know whether it's all right to wash down a muscle relaxant with your heart medication, your best bet might actually be a Google search. A new study shows that analyzing the queries made to Google and other search engines can reveal possibly dangerous drug interactions faster than the Food and Drug Administration can track them.

Salty Food May Be a Culprit in Autoimmune Diseases

How many people do you know who suffer autoimmune diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome and type 1 diabetes? The incidence of these diseases has become more prevalent in recent decades, and scientists have identified a possible culprit: salt. A new study posits that excess salt spurs the development of harmful immune cells, which have been implicated in the development of autoimmune illnesses. Although researchers have yet to confirm the link between salt and human autoimmune disease, it might not be a bad idea to start following the advice your doctor has been giving you for years and finally cut down on salty food.

Human Nature Sinks HIV Prevention Trial

A trial of HIV prevention medications aimed at women, including pills and vaginal inserts, has failed, but for rather surprising reasons. Researchers found that the study's participants just weren't taking the anti-HIV medications that protected them from contracting the illness. Those involved with the study say they've learned that they may need to pay attention not just to effective forms of biomedical intervention, but also to what people say they want, need, and are willing to use.

Bid to Restrict Polar Bear Trade Fails

Depending on whom you ask, polar bears are an endangered, threatened, or, at the very least, vulnerable species. The animals are directly threatened by the effects of climate change: Their habitat is melting away. Still, about 800 polar bears are hunted each year. A recent bid to restrict the trade in polar bear parts, including skins which sell for up to $5000, was shot down at an endangered species meeting in Bangkok this week. The United States and Russia supported additional protection for the bears, but Canada, Greenland, and Norway did not.


Fermilab Researchers Could Face Furloughs

This week, the head of the Department of Energy spelled out some of the potential effects of sequestration: furloughs for 2000 Fermilab employees, the cancellation of research grant programs, and delays in major research facility upgrades.