Breast cancer’s latest saga: misfearing and misplaced goalposts

A new Canadian study adds to the amassing research suggesting that most of what mammography has done is turn healthy people into sick, but grateful cancer survivors. It’s time to change our goals. We… Continue reading

About Christie

Christie Aschwanden is a health columnist for The Washington Post, a frequent contributor to The New York Times and a 2013/2014 Carter Center Fellow. She blogs about science at Last Word On Nothing and she’s the former managing editor of The Open Notebook. Her… Continue reading

Is DCIS cancer?

A generation ago, an oncologist might have gone years without encountering a case of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a precancerous breast lesion. But widespread mammography has led to a sevenfold increase in the number… Continue reading

24 Reasons to Ignore Best Places Lists

The latest issue of Sunset Magazine arrived in my mail last week, and the cover story immediately caught my eye — “24 Best Places to Live and Work 2014.”“Looking for the perfect place… Continue reading

Why you may want to avoid a dementia test

Washington Post, December 13, 2013 Excerpt: Early dementia is difficult to distinguish from mild cognitive impairment, those minor memory blips that sneak up as we age. About one in five people older than… Continue reading

The High Cost of Cheap Chicken

I interviewed more than a dozen experts for this Consumer Reports investigation into the safety of chicken sold in grocery stores. Consumer Reports scientists tested more than 300 samples from chickens purchased in… Continue reading

Book review: Our Pleasure in Others’ Misfortune: ‘The Joy of Pain,’ and What We Get Out of It

Our Pleasure in Others’ Misfortune: ‘The Joy of Pain,’ and What We Get Out of It Review of The Joy of Pain: Schadenfreude and the Dark Side of Human Nature By Richard H. Smith… Continue reading

Run Yourself Smarter: How exercise boosts your brain

Run Yourself Smarter: How exercise boosts your brain New Scientist, November 15, 2013 pdf here: Healthy Body, Healthy Mind The latest science on exercise and the brain suggests that exercise isn’t an enhancer of… Continue reading

I’m just saying no to mammography: Why the numbers are in my favor

Washington Post, October 7, 2013 Excerpt: What my doctor neglected to tell me is that a mammogram was, in my case, more likely to hurt than help me. Few doctors take the time to… Continue reading

The Molester and Me

The Molester and Me My high school coach was like a dad to me, until he abused my teammate and violated us all. Slate, June 7, 2013 Excerpt: For a moment, I felt… Continue reading

Athletes, Stop Taking Supplements

Athletes, Stop Taking Supplements They’re expensive, they don’t improve performance, and they might make you test positive for dope. Slate, July 26, 2012 Excerpt: Hardy is among a growing number of athletes who… Continue reading

How I Found Contentment in My Own Backyard

Could You Find Contentment in Your Own Backyard? Christie Aschwanden spent her youth traipsing around the globe—until she discovered what it meant to find contentment in her own home. O, the Oprah Magazine;… Continue reading

Reader’s Digest: Vitamin Truths and Lies

Vitamin Truths and Lies Why most vitamin supplements won’t make you healthier and might even hurt you. Reader’s Digest, April 2010

Report from the Solutions Summit

Back in early 2013, an email discussion among friends turned into a realization. We were having the same tired discussions about gender bias, over and over. The details might vary slightly, but it… Continue reading

Kids who aspire to pro sports need more play, less practice

Expensive sports camps and intensive practices and team competitions for young kids are becoming more and more common. Efforts to corral children into highly focused sports programs often arise from good intentions, yet… Continue reading

Does CrossFit push people too hard?

It seems as though nearly everyone who has heard of CrossFit has an opinion about it — even people who have never tried it. Aficionados claim that this brand of high-intensity workouts is a fast… Continue reading

The Value of College Sports

As I’ve followed the NCAA basketball tournament (join me and some folks from Radiolab tonight, as we live tweet the final game), I’ve been thinking about the value of collegiate sports. My first experience… Continue reading

How losing my smart phone made me smarter

A few weekends ago, I hiked a deep canyon with a couple of friends. As has become my habit, I toted my smart phone along. I set it to mute so that I’d… Continue reading

Understanding suicide, which is surprisingly common in spring

Washington Post, April 7, 2014 Excerpt: Spring, with its longer days, blooming flowers and rising temperatures might seem like a time of peak happiness, but some studies indicate that suicides are more common in… Continue reading

“We need to sto…

“We need to stop thinking about our breasts as hidden time bombs that are going to do us in at any moment,” says Dr. Susan Love. My latest AnyBody column: Making sense of… Continue reading

The Story I Won’t Tell

I will do anything to avoid not running. Even this… Read The Story I Won’t Tell at Last Word On Nothing

Looking out my window

The view out my office window today. (Click to view photo.)

Death Barged In

Grief is an unbecoming emotion. It’s raw and unvarnished. It exposes truths we’d rather left unsaid. It changes relationships. The people you expect will be there aren’t, and the ones you would never… Continue reading

Is your doctor in good standing?

Recently a reader wrote me to ask how patients can perform background checks on their doctors, to make sure that they’re in good standing. He had a reason for asking: A few years… Continue reading

The Courage to Live It: A Master Class on the Business of Freelancing

Dates: August 24-27, 2014 Place: The Mountain Research Station, west of Boulder Colorado. Deadlines and fees Online Application  You know how to write and you’ve already done some freelancing, but you want to up your… Continue reading

Are You Getting Too Much Medical Care?

Are You Getting Too Much Medical Care? First, do no harm—that’s what medical students are taught. Yet unnecessary drugs and tests, along with overly broad definitions of health conditions, can set you up… Continue reading

Guns on the Brain

The big idea behind embodied cognition is that thoughts and perceptions are not confined to the brain, but extend to the body too. As a result, our bodily states affect how we think… Continue reading

Washington Post: Do Bike Helmet Laws Really Save People?

Do bike helmet laws really save people? Washington Post, June 3, 2013 Excerpt: Mandatory helmet laws, like one brought up in the Maryland legislature this winter, might seem like a no-brainer. Yet when the… Continue reading