BIG BOX OF SMALLPOX When a smallpox attack looked like a real possibility last fall, smallpox vaccines were in desperately short supply. Or were they? U.S. officials announced last week that the 15.4 million freeze-dried doses left over from the early '70s can be diluted fivefold--stretching the stockpile to more than 75 million--and still remain potent. Meanwhile, a French drug company offered up a forgotten cache of 85 million more doses. That should tide us over until year's end, when new vaccines are due.
FULL FRONTAL Mammograms are notorious both for recording false positives and for not spotting real tumors. Now a study shows that detection can be dramatically improved with one simple step: correctly positioning the breast. The position in the device, it turns out, is even more important than sharpness of the image.
DIABETES EPIDEMIC Just because you've never tested positive for diabetes doesn't mean you're O.K. A federal study reports that a record 17 million Americans have diabetes and nearly 16 million have a condition scientists are calling pre-diabetes. The condition is reversible with weight loss and exercise, which is why the government is urging middle-aged Americans to get screened.
Sources: Good News--New England Journal of Medicine and Aventis Pasteur; American Journal of Roentgenology. Bad News--American Diabetes Assn.