and other adventures

I am the “Bad Medicine” columnist for the newswire, the “Armchair Astrophysics” columnist for Mercury magazine, and a contributor to several other magazines, newspapers, websites, and K-12 resources.  Follow me on Twitter @wanjek for for critical commentary on science and health news.

Below are links to invited commentary about my book Spacefarers, along with my Bad Medicine column among the more than 500 from that have appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, Huffington Post, Scientific American, Yahoo News and other news outlets.  Above is a photo of a neighborhood rice field in Japan, where I try to visit each year.


America’s triumphant return to space? Or 1981 all over again?

Baltimore Sun (op-ed)

June 4, 2020

“How Space Tries to Kill You and Make You Ugly”


April 26, 2020

Move over, Mars: why we should look further afield for future human colonies

BBC Science Focus Magazine

March 31, 2020

Let's move to Mars: the best books about our future in space

The Guardian

March 23, 2020

50 years after Apollo 11, here’s why we aren’t back on the Moon

Baltimore Sun (op-ed)

July 18, 2019

Live Science


Skin microbes betray your age

Take That Back: The Top Scientific Retractions of 2019

Barefoot Walking Gives You Calluses That Are Even Better for Your Feet Than Shoes

Scott Kelly's Year in Space May Have Aged Him — But He's Mostly Fine

What Are Superfoods?

Being a Night Owl Really Can Hurt Your Mental Health


The Real Fake News: Top Scientific Retractions of 2018

Men Who Smoke Pot May Have Lower Sperm Count

Babies Create a Mental Map of Their Body Before They Ever Leave the Womb

It Might Stress You Out to Know What Stress Is Doing to Your Brain

Salmonella Hides Its Tail to Stay Invisible to Immune System

Brain Cancer's 'Immortality Switch' Turned Off with CRISPR

How Close Are We, Really, to Curing Cancer with CRISPR?

Could Aspirin Help Prevent Alzheimer's Disease? Mouse Study Says Maybe.

Here's How Much Exercise You Need to Give Your Brain a Boost

Game-Changing Study Finds Dozens of Genes Tied to Depression

Here's Why Antibiotics May Give Viruses a Leg Up

Your Pee May Reveal Your True Biological Age

No Needles: Contact Lens Could Monitor Glucose for People with Diabetes


December 2017

Lies, Mistakes & More: These Scientific Papers Got Nixed in 2017

November 2017

How Your Brain Wiring Drives Social Interactions

Forget Cyborgs — Biohybrid Robots Are Almost Here 

October 2017

Sweet Lullaby: Scientists Uncover How Herpes Virus Sleeps and Wakes

Say What? Computer Game Improves Hearing in Noisy Situations

September 2017

Babies Learn Perseverance by Watching You Sweat

August 2017

Hunter-Gatherer Gut Microbes Show What We're Missing

People Who Get Less REM Sleep May Be at Greater Risk of Dementia

July 2017

Why You May Not Have to Finish All Your Antibiotics

How 'Bad' Gut Bacteria Can Change Their Evil Ways

June 2017

Doctors Want Sugar and 'Cancer-Causing' Foods Out of Hospitals

Who Would Win a Human-vs.-Chimp Wrestling Match?

May 2017

Chronic Pain May Stem from Pain Receptors in Hiding

3D-Printed 'Eyes' Could Help Blind Children's Faces Grow Naturally

Robot Completes Delicate Eye Surgery in First

April 2017

How Bright Lights May Help Wake Patients from a Coma

March 2017

Why Breathing Deeply Helps You Calm Down

How Fast Will Your Brain Age? Scientists Identify Key Gene

New Policies Would Threaten Autism Research, Experts Say

February 2017

Europeans Brought New, Deadly Ulcer Bacteria to Americas

Hear This: Scientists Regrow Sound-Sensing Cells

Depression Can Affect New Fathers, Too

Sleeping Shrinks the Brain … and That's a Good Thing

Scientists Untangle the Soy-Breast Cancer Paradox

January 2017

Can a Roommate's Genes Influence Your Health?

Speedy TB Treatment Could Combat Drug Resistance

'Donkey Kong' Smashes Neuroscientists in Thought Experiment

Peekaboo! Baby Brains Process Faces Just Like Adult Brains Do


December 2016

Nice Try: Top 5 Retracted Science Studies of 2016

Older But Wiser: Why Risky Behavior Declines with Age

November 2016

'Miniantibodies' Reduce Inflammation and Pain

Marijuana-Like Drugs May Offer Addiction-Free Pain Relief

The Grime on Your Smartphone Can Reveal Your Secrets

October 2016

Astronauts' Back Pain Has Surprising Cause

On a Long Trip to Mars, Cosmic Radiation May Damage Astronauts' Brains

Deadly Mixture: Scientists Uncover Harmful Drug Interactions

Like Fatty Foods? There's a Gene for That.

September 2016

Primates, Including Humans, Are the Most Violent Animals

Fat Flora? Gut Bacteria Differ in Obese Kids

Hospitals Jack Up Costs 'Strategically,' Study Finds

August 2016

Scientists Deliver Opioid-Like Pain Relief Without Addiction Risk

In a First, Drone Used to Collect Medical Samples from Rural Village

Scientists Home in on the Human 'Sociability' Gene

July 2016

Brain Cells Call for Help: Discovery May Aid Stroke Treatment

Stem Cells Could Replace Hip Replacements

June 2016

For Kids with Eczema, 'Soak and Smear'

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Reduce Risk of Fatal Heart Attack

AI Boosts Cancer Screens to Nearly 100 Percent Accuracy

Food Labels Have You Confused? Try the No-Label Diet

Soda Pop Music? Entertainers Endorse Junk Food, Study Finds

May 2016

Stung for Science: Meet the Man Who Measures Pain

Christina's Diagnosis: Famous Painting Gets New Look

Bionic Implant Improves Vision for Some Eye Patients

Eye Scan May Detect Early Signs of Alzheimer's Disease

April 2016

Scientists Find New Way to Tan or Lighten Skin

Zap! Sparking the Brain Stimulates Creativity

Are You Impulsive? Maybe Your Brain Is to Blame

Brains Scans Reveal How People with Insomnia May Be Wired Differently

March 2016

Is 'Cat Litter' Parasite Making You a Rageaholic?

Brain Scans Show How Alzheimer's Emerges

'Overdosing' on Exercise May Be Toxic to the Heart

February 2016

This Sugar May Be New Weapon Against Fructose

Mini-Brains Allow Scientists to Study Brain Disorders

To Stop Brain Shrinkage, Start Moving

Low B12 Seen in Aging, Autism and Schizophrenia

January 2016

'Water Jets' May Stem Tide of Student Obesity

Baking-Soda Ingredient May Lower Risk of Premature Death

Mysterious Cancers of 'Unknown' Origin in Men Traced Back to HPV

Scientists Make Gains on ‘Universal’ Ebola Medicine


December 2015

Suspect Science: The Top 5 Retracted Papers of 2015

Flower Aroma Is a Honeybee's Chill Pill

Cocoa Helps Kidney Patients Stave Off Heart Failure

Novel Chemical 'Washes Away' Alzheimer's Plaque in Mice

November 2015

Speaking More Than One Language Eases Stroke Recovery

Brain Scan May Predict Chance of Coma Recovery

October 2015

Cutting Sugar Made Obese Kids Healthier in 10 Days

Magnets Might 'Unlock' Paralyzed Arm After Stroke

Poop Goes Mainstream: Fecal Transplants Get Past the 'Ick'

Ground Control to 'The Martian': Good Luck with Them Potatoes

Are Healthy School Lunch Programs a Waste?

September 2015

Vaccines May Protect Kids Against Strokes, Too

Common Brain Tumor More Likely in Obese People

Children's Hormone Treatments May Have Planted Alzheimer's Seeds

Deadly Parasite Could Be Zapped Like a Cancer Cell

August 2015

'Lego-Stacking' Technique Could Help Scientists Grow Human Organs

'Science of Mom': Author Sifts Through Childrearing Facts & Fictions

Breast-Fed Babies Show Buildup of Potentially Harmful Chemical

July 2015

Being Transgender Has Nothing to Do with Hormonal Imbalance

Obamacare, Nixoncare: Health Care Debates Are All About Politics

Should Placebos Be Used to 'Treat' Patients?

June 2015

Sugary Drinks Kill 184,000 People Every Year

Unhealthy Data? US Dietary Guidelines Criticized

Can Chocolate Really Benefit Your Heart?

50 US Hospitals That Mark Up Prices the Most

May 2015

Blood Pressure Vaccine Moves One Step Closer

Vegan Diet Eases Nerve Pain of Diabetes

Pausing Puberty with Hormone Blockers May Help Transgender Kids

April 2015

Even a Little Walking Can Improve Your Health, Study Suggests

New Advice on What To Do About Seizures

Are Health Apps Harmful or Helpful? Experts Debate

A Longer Life May Lie in Number of Anti-Inflammatory Genes

MRSA Superbug May Get Stronger If You Smoke

March 2015

Superhealing Drug Travels in Nanoparticles to Wounds

Family Income Could Affect Kids' Brain Structures, Study Finds

'MIND' Your Diet, and Protect Against Alzheimer's

Energy Drinks Raise Blood Pressure, Study Finds

Cough Medicine Ingredient May Aid Diabetes Fight

February 2015

Daily Coffee Could Lower Your MS Risk

Obesity Is Complicated and Needs New Approach, Scientists Say

Inflammatory Bowel Disease May Be from Mom's Bacteria, not DNA

Cost-of-Smoking Estimates Were Grossly Exaggerated

January 2015

Cost-of-Smoking Estimates Were Grossly Exaggerated

Psychopaths' Brains Don't Grasp Punishment, Scans Reveal

Gen X and Y: Why You Need to Watch Your Cholesterol Now

How Genes and Environment Conspire to Trigger Diabetes

3,000-Mile Run Across US Has Scientists Following Marathoners

Sound Mind and Sound Body? This Protein Helps Both


December 2014

Nix That: 5 Top Retracted Science Papers of 2014

Imagination and Reality Look Different in the Brain

Dystextia: Garbled Phone Text May Be Sign of a Stroke

Why Painful Memories Linger

Heart Disease and Diabetes Risks Tied to Carbs, Not Fat, Study Finds

November 2014

Many People with Dementia May Go Unscreened, Untreated

No Turkey, Thanks! Stay Vegan for Healthier Holiday

From Birth to Death, Diet Affects the Brain's Health

Cholesterol-Lowing Drug Reverses Memory Deficit in Mice

October 2014

5 Ways to Skip Halloween Candy — Without Getting Your House Egged

Vaccines Do Not Increase Risk of Multiple Sclerosis

HPV Vaccination Rates Still Low for Boys

September 2014

Feeling Bummed? How Disappointment Works in the Brain

Could Taxing Packaged Foods Reduce Obesity?

August 2014

How the Brain Picks Punishments

July 2014

New Drug Could Treat Low Testosterone with Fewer Side Effects

A Common Link Among Female Criminals: Brain Injury

Turn Off to Tuck In: 5 Sleep Tips for Gadget Junkies

June 2014

Cancer-Fighting Diet: 6 Tips to Reduce Your Risk

Broccoli Brew Eases Air Pollution Effect, But Is This Detox?

Learning a New Language at Any Age Helps the Brain

May 2014

If Aired, Tobacco Truths Would Help Smokers Quit, Study Finds

Deadly Heart Disease May Hitch a Ride on Dust Storms

Big, Fat 'F': US Children Fail at Physical Activity

Too Much Iron from Meat May Raise Heart Risks

April 2014

Improve the Food, Not Just the Food Label

The Poop on Pooping: 5 Misconceptions Explained

March 2014

'Anti-Aging' Hormone May Actually Shorten Life

February 2014

Vicious Cycle of Weight Gain, Inactivity Causes Obesity

Vegetarian Diets Lower Blood Pressure Best

Stress Causes Headaches, Scientists Confirm

Chronic Infections Linked with Memory Problems Later in Life

January 2014

Devastating Plague Strains Arose Twice, Could Return

Genome of the Blood-Sucking Hookworm Decoded

Wait Time For Children's Kidney Transplants Varies Widely State To State


December 2013

Oh, Never Mind: Top 5 Retracted Science Studies of 2013

Brains Hardwired to Accept Celebrity Health Advice

Cookin' Up Stem Cells: New Technique Lowers Cancer Risk

November 2013

E-Cigarettes Just More Smoke and Mirrors, Doctors Say

Worried About Dementia? Learn a Second Language

October 2013

Suzanne Somers' Health Advice May Be Dangerously Wrong

Your Liver May Be 'Eating' Your Brain

Eye Drops Could Treat Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Philadelphia Children's Hospital Bans Dietary Supplements

Why Hard Drinkers Have Problems with Bones

Weighty Issue: Is It Healthy for Seniors to be a Little Overweight?

September 2013

Sleeping Beauty: Science Proves Beauty Rest Is Real

No Excuses: Even 1-Minute Workouts Benefit Health

Helping Kids Shed Weight by Changing Home Routines

Left Brain vs. Right: It's a Myth, Research Finds

August 2013

Diabetes Discovery: Protein Pathway Points to Possible Treatment

Making Adult Hospitals More Like Children Hospitals

Losing Weight: Lifestyle Changes Trump Any Diet

New 'Consciousness Meter' Could Aid Brain-Injury Treatments

July 2013

How Cranberries Stop Bacteria in Their Tracks

Can Acupuncture Help Women Get Pregnant?

Disease Prevention Celebrated but Rarely Practiced

June 2013

Talking Weight with Teens May Lead to Unhealthy Eating

Want to Live Longer? Eat a Plant-Based Diet

May 2013

Obesity Bias Common Among Medical Students

Do Fast-Food Restaurants Fall Short on Their Health Claims?

How to Reduce Gun Violence: Book Finds Common Ground

April 2013

Shaped Like an Apple? Beware Kidney Disease

How School Lunches Can Help Fight Obesity

March 2013

Doctors Detect Obesity Bug on Breath

Whole Grains, Half Truths, and Lots of Confusion

February 2013

‘Resistant’ Starches Heal the Colon, Prevent Cancer & Diabetes

Majority of Missouri Tan Salons Allow Preteens

Doctors Attack Pervasive Obesity Myths

January 2013

Reality Check: 5 Risks of Raw Vegan Diet

2013 Is International Year of … Quinoa


December 2012

Oops! 5 Retracted Science Studies of 2012

Magic for Stroke Patients: The One-Sided Workout

November 2012

Meat, Cooked Foods Needed for Early Human Brain

Researchers Debate a License to Smoke Cigarettes

October 2012

78 Million Americans No Longer Need Vitamin D ... Maybe

For a Healthy Brain, Physical Exercise Trumps Mental Workout

Green Tea's Anti-Cancer Secrets Revealed

September 2012

Secondhand Smoke Kills 42,000 Nonsmokers a Year in US

Zit-Zapping Virus May Wipe Out Acne

August 2012

CDC Recommends Booster Shots for Whooping Cough Outbreak

Summer Is High-Risk Time for Kidney Stones

Japanese Spared of Nuclear Contamination, Study Suggests

Grapefruit Juice Improves Cancer Medication, Study Suggests

Prozac May Be Able to Kill Some Viruses

July 2012

Your Diet Affects Your Grandchildren's DNA, Scientists Say

The Dish on Pasta: Maligned Food Actually a Healthy Carb

New York's Trans Fat Ban Effective, Study Claims

Swine Flu Vaccine May Be Linked to Rare Nerve Disorder

5 More Garden Weeds You Can Eat!

June 2012

When Dieting, Not All Calories Are Created Equal

Surprise Connection Between Gum Disease and Bad Knees

10,000 Microbes Cornered in Map of Human Body

Lack of Vitamin D May Explain Black Americans' Cancer Deaths

May 2012

HPV Vaccine for Teens: Doctors Voice Their Concerns

20% 'Fat Tax' Needed to Fight Obesity

Iron Woman: Paralyzed Mom Finishes Marathon With Bionic Legs

Salt a Leading Killer Worldwide, Scientists Say

Fight Obesity With Economics, Not Health Campaigns, Experts Say

April 2012

Facial Soap's Surprise Wheat Ingredient Triggers Allergies

Hospitals Hope to Kick Own Pollution Habits

Teens With Bulging Bellies at Increased Risk for Hypertension

March 2012

Low-Carb Diets Imperil People Prone to Heart Disease

Special Gut Cells May Help Tame Food Allergies

Red Meat a Ticket to Early Grave, Harvard Says

Dark Meat Can Be Heart Healthy, Study Shows

February 2012

Raw Milk a Raw Deal, CDC Says

Anti-Aging Protein Extends Life Span in Mice, and Maybe Humans

Deadly Alcohol Needs Global Regulation, Health Expert Says

Nature's Rx: Farmers Markets Cropping Up at Hospitals

Sex Education Less Effective in Conservative States

Sugar Should Be Regulated As Toxin, Researchers Say

January 2012

Texting & Walking: Study Reveals Why Combo Is Dangerous

Swallowing Parasitic Worms May Heal Your Ails

Casual Marijuana Smoking Not Harmful to Lungs

'Couch Potato' Pill Prevents Heat Stroke, Study Finds


December 2011

Doh! Top Science Journal Retractions of 2011

For Tooth-Pain Relief, Just Add Sugar

HPV Vaccine Doesn't Make Teens Promiscuous

Doctors Shy to Tell Parents Their Kid Is Overweight

Yeast Sex Life Gets Wild, Especially in Hard Times

November 2011

Dietary Supplements Instill Illusion of Invincibility

Battle Still Rages for Vets in College

October 2011

Mozart's Lost Opus, A Little Colonoscopy Music

Let Kids Gorge on Halloween Candy, Dentists Say

Genetic Code of World's Oldest Person May Reveal Recipe for Long Life

Top 5 Misconceptions About Columbus

Saturated Fat's Dirty Secrets Revealed

Circumcision Funding Cuts Hurt, Doctors Say

September 2011

You, Too, Can Be Iron Man ... Almost

US Bests Canada in Lowering Child Flu Rates

Why Obese People's Brains Cave to Cravings

Study Dumps Colon Cleansing as Useless and Dangerous

August 2011

Will Bill Clinton Turn You into a Vegan?

Hotdogs, Cold Cuts Significantly Increase Diabetes Risk

100-Year-Olds Just as Unhealthy as the Rest of Us

Unhealthy Midlife Leads to Brain Shrinkage, Dementia Later On

July 2011

The Five Healthiest Backyard Weeds

5 Health Benefits of Smoking

Fat Lie: Fat Substitutes Create Real Body Fat

June 2011

Food Type, Not Calorie Content, Matters More in Weight Gain

Europe Calls For Healthy Lunches for Workers

Cigarettes to Get Slapped with Tougher, Bigger Warning Labels

May 2011

Novel Stem Cell Therapy Faces Major Setback

Cellphones Boost Health Across Globe

Religious Passion Tied to Higher Blood Pressure

April 2011

Nuclear Danger Still Dwarfed by Coal

Trust the Government? On Exercise Advice, Yes

From Ouch to Om, Meditation Reduces Pain

Do Natural Aphrodisiacs Work?

March 2011

Bad Habit? You're Fired

Lifestyle Change Still Trumps Best Diabetes Drug

Hair-growth Drug Tied to Male Sexual Problems

February 2011

5 Wacky Things That Are Good for Your Health

The Bitter Side of Diet Soda: Strokes

US Loses Its Fat Supremacy

January 2011

Zicam Prompts Homeopathy's Day in Court

Foods Made of Beetles Now Must Say So


December 2010

Mysteriously missing from my files... Hmmm....

November 2010

Will People Eat Less When Calories Are Posted on Menus?

October 2010

Man Eating Nothing But Potatoes for 2 Months

Catch 22: People Who Avoid the Sun Lack Vitamin D

Education Lacking During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

September 2010

Diet and Exercise Trump Diabetes Drugs

Childhood Obesity Blamed on Virus

Good Lunch Helps Workers Improve Health

August 2010

Homeopathy Shake-Up Goes Global

Whooping Cough Makes Whopping Comeback

Hearing Loss in Teens Spikes Mysteriously

Cancer-Fighting Foods: Facts and Fiction

July 2010

Use of Expert Testimony Questioned in Malpractice

5 Real Hazards of Air Travel

June 2010

Biking and Brisk Walking Can Keep Pounds Off

FDA Cracks Down on Commercial Genetic Testing

7 Foods Your Heart Will Hate

Diet Debate Obscures Truths About Salt Intake

May 2010

Sunglasses Carry Shady UV-Protection Claims, Study Reveals

Allergy Relief Really Is Possible

April 2010

Sugar in Diet Hurts Cholesterol Levels, Too

Surgeons Operate More When They Own the Surgery Center

March 2010

Media Too Optimistic about Cancer, Scientists Say

Unthinkable Way to Save Money: Eat Less