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Cancer trials can lack clear information on biopsies

People participating in cancer drug trials aren't always given the most straightforward explanation of possible risks and benefits from invasive procedures that may be involved, according to a new study. Biopsies of tumor tissue can help researchers figure out how well a test drug is working - but the invasive, sometimes painful procedures are typically of little benefit to study participants themselves.

Published: 9 Nov 2012

Hospitals go beyond "Do not resuscitate"

New Brunswick's largest health authority announced this week it will move from a do or do not resuscitate policy to one that gives patients more choices about end-of-life care, as hospital authorities nationwide increasingly push for Canadians to be clear about their wishes well before they're clinging to life. […] "I'm sure they've got good intentions in doing this, I'm sure they're wanting to be guided by the patient's wishes and I guess best interests," said Margaret Somerville, the founding director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law at McGill University.

Published: 9 Nov 2012

Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, falls on Nov. 13

For about a billion revelers around the world, that means it's time to start thinking about sweets -- specifically the South Asian confections called mithai. […] "Sweets are a sign of positive things, that life is good," said Arvind Sharma, a professor of religion at McGill University. "When you offer something to god and then give it to someone to eat, it becomes sacred."

Read more at Wall Street Journal (Asia)

Published: 9 Nov 2012

The smelly side-effects of our meat-eating ways

Meat production stinks. And I’m not referring to worries about bacterial contamination; I mean it literally stinks. Here’s the story. Hold your nose.

Published: 29 Oct 2012

Joe Schwarcz: No need to be wary about wash-and-wear

Some of you may find this surprising, but I don't mind ironing. Unlike giving a lecture, writing a column or appearing on TV or radio, you get immediate gratification. You see the results of your efforts. Wrinkles that were there before are gone. I suspect, however, that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for this task. The textile industry realizes this as well, and has responded by producing a variety of "durable press" fabrics that can withstand wrinkles. But withstanding allegations of toxicity is more of a challenge.

Published: 22 Oct 2012

PONDER Project: Building brain muscle

Our brains, as much as our bodies, need exercise. And if you build brain muscle, you protect yourself from neurodegenerative diseases  - like Alzheimer's. Jens Pruessner, the director of the McGill Centre for Studies in Aging, puts it like this: dementia is like climbing down a mountain -- it takes longer to reach the bottom if you start at 1,000 feet, than if you start at 100 feet. To help us stay up on that mountain, the centre has launched the PONDER project with the Douglas Mental Health University Institute.

Published: 22 Oct 2012

New volunteers help keep book fair going strong

The 41st edition of the McGill Book Fair takes place Tuesday through Thursday at Redpath Hall, 3461 McTavish St., just south of Doctor Penfield Ave. The event, which is open to the public, begins at 1 p.m. on Tuesday; on Wednesday and Thursday, doors open at 9 a.m. Closing time throughout is 9 p.m. All proceeds are used to support McGill scholarships and bursaries. The fair has raised more than $1.5 million since its inception in 1971 and the 2011 edition raised $74,430.

Published: 22 Oct 2012

Cuddle your kid!

New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof

As the presidential candidates debate how to strengthen America, maybe they can learn from rats.

A McGill University neurologist, Michael Meaney, noticed that some of the mother rats he worked with spent a great deal of time licking and grooming their babies. Other rat moms were much less cuddly.

This natural variation had long-term consequences. Meaney’s team found that when the rats grew up, those that had been licked and groomed did better at finding their way through mazes.

Published: 22 Oct 2012

Businesses can help upgrade public recreation space

Montreal's 1,200 public parks could benefit if politicians are open to some private or non-profit participation in upgrading parks and playgrounds, several experts said.

"Why not? It's a version of what we did in the 1970s," Mc-Gill University architecture professor Pieter Sijpkes said.

As a student in the early 1970s, Sijpkes and some friends got donated scraps of wood, metal, plastic and brick, and turned two abandoned CN rail lots in Point St-Charles into playgrounds. He also helped start community gardens in the area.

Published: 1 Oct 2012

Prof. Joe Schwarcz on genetically modified food

A recent French study that purports to show a link between the consumption of genetically modified corn and a variety of ailments, including cancer, was just the tasty morsel that critics of genetically modified foods hungered for. For many scientists, however, the study proved to be a source of indigestion.

Published: 1 Oct 2012

We Quebeckers are happy people: study

Think of it as the echo of the Quiet Revolution.

A dramatic rise in the satisfaction of Quebeckers has transformed them from the most disgruntled of Canadians to the most contented in less than three decades, according to new research.

Published: 26 Sep 2012

Unraveling the ill effects of early-life adversity

Scientists have begun to tease apart how stress, social isolation, and deprivation early in life can harm children's brains and lead to behavior and mental health problems later in life. Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital reported last week that mice raised in isolation not only behave differently, they have thinner insulation around brain cells in a key region of the brain. These changes cause signals to travel more sluggishly through the brain and appear to be irreversible.

Published: 25 Sep 2012

McGill, Hebrew U students study together

From a discussion with a Mohawk leader in a traditional longhouse at Kahnawake to an exchange with a justice at the Supreme Court in Ottawa, 10 Israeli university students were given an intensive introduction to Canada. These law students from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Hebrew U) and 10 McGill University law students were participants in a new summer exchange program in human rights law. The young Israelis and Canadians spent a month together in Montreal, three weeks of that in the classroom at McGill taking five one-credit courses in Human Rights and Armed Conflicts given by McGill and Hebrew U professors.

Published: 25 Sep 2012

A towering figure: Melvin Charney leaves a legacy

Next time you see a fanciful chair or temple dangling in mid-air over René Lévesque Blvd., take a moment to think about Melvin Charney.

Published: 20 Sep 2012