Posts made in July 2019

Trump ‘grasps at straws’ on campaign website

August 1, 2019

Slightly more than half (51%) of U.S. voters already think that President Donald Trump is a “man of straw,” according to a poll released this week by Fox News. Now, the other half can buy a box of ten plastic straws—laser-engraved with the name, TRUMP—on  the Trump/Pence campaign website for $15.

This marketing ploy is being used at a time when environmentalists are trying to wean the public off plastic. Several major U.S. cities have moved to ban single-use plastic straws from restaurants and coffee shops. A number of businesses have switched to paper alternatives —or have adopted a policy only to provide plastic straws upon request.

The campaign website says, “Liberal paper straws don’t work. STAND WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP and buy your pack of recyclable straws today.”

What’s more, it’s working. The U.S. president’s re-election campaign has raised nearly $500,000 selling the red plastic straws, alone, according to a report by Canada’s National Post.

In fact, in a July 18 tweet, Brad Parscale, the U.S. president’s 2020 campaign manager, said they had to restock the merchandise after selling out with their first several thousand orders.

The move comes after Parscale tweeted about his frustration with paper straws, when one he was using ripped: “I’m so over paper straws. #LiberalProgress. This is exactly what [Democrats] would do to the economy as well. Squeeze it until it doesn’t work,” read the tweet.

Research contact: @nationalpost

A remedy for rip-offs: HHS announces plans to import lower-cost drugs from Canada

August 1, 2019

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on July 31 that the agency, in concert with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA, is publishing a Safe Importation Action Plan for procuring certain drugs originally intended for foreign markets.

Among the medications that U.S. patients would be able to procure at lower prices would be insulin used to treat diabetes, as well as drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disorders, and cancer.

Specifically, according to a report by the Associated Press, the Trump administration said Wednesday it will create a pathway allowing Americans to legally and safely import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada for the first time, reversing years of opposition from federal health authorities amid a public outcry over high prices for life-sustaining medication

“President Trump has been clear: For too long American patients have been paying exorbitantly high prices for prescription drugs that are made available to other countries at lower prices,” stated said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, adding, “When we released the President’s drug pricing blueprint for putting American patients first, we said we are open to all potential solutions to combat high drug prices that protect patient safety, are effective at delivering lower prices, and respect choice, innovation and access.”

Azar further noted, “This is the next important step in the Administration’s work to end foreign freeloading and put American patients first.”

The Action Plan outlines the government’s intention to pursue two pathways to allow safe drug importation from foreign markets:

  1. Through a notice of proposed rule-making (NPRM), HHS and FDA would propose to rely on the authority under current federal law (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, Section 804) that would, when the rule is finalized, authorize pilot (or demonstration) projects developed by states, wholesalers or pharmacists and submitted for HHS review, outlining how they would import certain drugs from Canada that are versions of FDA-approved drugs that are manufactured consistent with the FDA approval. The NPRM would include conditions to ensure the importation poses no additional risk to the public’s health and safety and that the demonstration projects would achieve significant cost savings to the American consumer.
  2. Through guidance, FDA would provide recommendations to manufacturers of FDA-approved drugs who seek to import into the U.S. versions of those drugs they sell in foreign countries. Under this pathway, manufacturers would use a new National Drug Code (NDC) for those products, potentially allowing them to offer a lower price than what their current distribution contracts require. To use this pathway, the manufacturer or entity authorized by the manufacturer would establish with the FDA that the foreign version is the same as the U.S. version and appropriately label the drug for sale in the United States. This pathway could be particularly helpful to patients who take significantly high-cost prescription drugs.

“We support the President and Secretary’s efforts to bring down drug prices for Americans. The FDA has a unique role to play in promoting competition that in turn can help reduce drug prices and improve access to medicine for Americans,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, M.D. “Driving down drug prices requires a comprehensive approach and we must continue to look at all innovative solutions to this challenge.”

Research contact: digital@hhs.gov

Moscow Mitch denies he is aiding Kremlin

August 1, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is angered by his new nickname, Moscow Mitch. On July 29, he strode to the Senate floor to defend his decision to block an election security bill and lashed out at critics who suggested he was helping Russia—complaining that they had engaged in “modern-day McCarthyism” to “smear” his record.

“The[y] … [don’t] let a little thing like reality get in their way,” said McConnell in a nearly 30-minute speech , according to a report by The Washington Post.

The Republican ringleader—who has blocked every bill passed by the Democratic House during this session—saw fit to say, “They [perceived] the perfect opportunity to distort and tell lies and fuel the flames of partisan hatred, and so they did.”

McConnell was responding primarily to an opinion column by The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, published July 26 under the headline, “Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset.”

The majority leader used what is usually a speech on the Senate’s upcoming workweek to issue an angry denunciation of the column and some liberal commentators on MSNBC—accusing Senate Democrats of helping fan the liberal flames, the news outlet reported.

Last week, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified to Congress about Russian interference in the 2016 election and about whether President Trump had tried to obstruct the inquiry. Casting Russian sabotage as a serious threat to the United States, Mueller warned that interference efforts were happening “as we sit” in the hearing rooms.

Hours after Mueller’s testimony, Democrats tried to get the Senate to vote on bipartisan election security legislation. Republicans objected. The next day, Democrats tried to get a vote on a bill that would have authorized hundreds of millions of dollars to update voting equipment. McConnell objected, The Washington Post noted.

Fred Hiatt, The Post’s editorial page editor, defended Milbank’s column and criticized the GOP leader for invoking McCarthyism.  “Dana Milbank’s column was a legitimate exercise in commentary, making the argument that Senator McConnell’s blocking of elections-security legislation will harm the United States and work to Russia’s advantage. Of course it’s equally legitimate for Mr. McConnell to express a contrary view, but the Milbank argument has nothing to do with McCarthyism,” Hiatt said in a statement.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

For good gut bacteria, how about ‘dem’ apples?

July 31, 2019

How does the old saying go? “One hundred million bacteria a day will keep the doctor away?” Researchers at the Graz University of Technology in Austria have found that a typical 8.5-ounce apple contains about 100 million bacteria, mostly in the seeds and skin.

And while that may sound a bit alarming at first, they say that, when it comes to gut health, the more bacteria the better.

What’s more, Study Finds reports, organic apples contain even more diverse bacterial-goodness than conventional apples—potentially making them healthier, tastier, and better for the environment.

“The bacteria, fungi, and viruses in our food transiently colonize our gut,” the study’s senior author Professor Gabriele Berg, of Graz University of Technology, said in a recent press release. “Cooking kills most of these, so raw fruit and veg[gies] are particularly important sources of gut microbes.”

Berg and her team set out to find the best fruit source for beneficial gut microbes, so they decided to set their sights on one of the most popular fruits worldwide: the apple. “Eighty-three million apples were grown in 2018, and production continues to rise,” Berg says. “But while recent studies have mapped their fungal content, less is known about the bacteria in apples.”

Researchers analyzed and compared the bacteria levels in regular store-bought apples and organic ones. Each apple was broken down and analyzed piece by piece, i.e., stem, peel, seeds, etc.

Both types of apples displayed generally the same amount of bacteria — 100 million, mostly in the core of the apple. For example, if you remove the core, a typical apple’s bacteria count drops all the way to a measly 10 million.

However, the organic and processed apples differed when it come to variety of bacteria. Organic apples displayed much more diverse communities of bacteria than the regular samples. This is noteworthy because when it comes to gut health, diversity is even more important that quantity.

“Freshly harvested, organically managed apples harbor a significantly more diverse, more even and distinct bacterial community, compared to conventional ones,” Berg explains. “This variety and balance would be expected to limit overgrowth of any one species, and previous studies have reported a negative correlation between human pathogen abundance and microbiome diversity of fresh produce.”

Furthermore, organic apples only were shown to contain Lactobacilli, a fairly well-known probiotic. Conventional apples on the other hand, contained bacteria known to harbor pathogens. The research team even say that organic apples contain much more of a specific bacteria, methylobacterium, known to enhance flavor in fruit.

These findings mesh well with another recent study that found fungal communities among organic apples were much more diverse compared to regular apples grown using pesticides.

Berg and her team say that one day microbiome information on fruits and vegetables may be as readily available as more traditional nutrition information.

The study has been published in the July 24 edition of the scientific journal, Frontiers in Microbiology.

Research contact: @StudyFindsorg

Facial recognition goes to camp

July 31, 2019

 “Hello Mudddah, Hello Faddah, Here I am at Camp Granada. Camp is very entertaining.  And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining.”

Those lyrics were written by comedian Allan Sherman—and produced as one of the most popular songs of 1963. Meant to satirize the sleepover camp experience through the eyes (and vocal cords) of a homesick child, the song is punctuated by the chorus, “Take me home, Oh Muddah, Fadduh, Take me home. I hate Granada.”

But the reality is that, when kids leave for summer camp for the first time (or any time), their parents miss them, too—and wonder what they are doing, if they are making friends, and if they are settling in. They wait anxiously for cards and emails—and check the camp’s daily photos for what they hope will be a happy and smiling face.

And that part is getting easier all the time: Summer camps across the country are allowing parents to  opt into facial-recognition services to receive photos of their camper without having to sift through hundreds of group shots for proof that little Susie is having a good time climbing ropes, The Wall Street Journal reported on July 30.

Camp photographers can upload photos to a service, where they are scanned and identified. Parents then receive photos of their kids via text or through a website.

Waldo Photos of Austin, Texas, Inc. is one of the services, now offered at more than 150 summer camps across the country. The service is starting to be adopted by schools and sports leagues, too.

Camps either pay for Waldo, themselves, and offer it to parents or they ask parents to pay directly at a price of $1 to $2 per child a day, the Journal reports. If parents want to sign up to receive photos through Waldo, they have to submit a reference photo of their child so that the artificial intelligence (AI )can detect a match. The images are stored until a parent asks for them to be deleted.

Is that a good thing?

Rodney Rice, Waldo’s founder, said the facial data the company uses to identify kids would be no good to anyone else. “The misperception is that facial recognition is a fingerprint. I could hand a 40-digit alphanumeric hash to Google or Facebook and they couldn’t do anything with it,” he said. “I’m a father of three and I’d have never started this business if I was going to be putting kids at risk.”

Privacy and cybersecurity experts say parents may well trust a company’s intentions, but what happens if the company changes hands? Waldo’s privacy policy contains the boilerplate legalese explaining that if the company were sold, its customers’ personal information could be transferred.

While commercial applications of facial-recognition software abound—and bear their own fair share of controversy—the fact that this latest wave is geared toward children has privacy experts and politicians urging parents, camps, and school districts to think twice.

Concerns over this precious data—children’s faces—range from accuracy to abuse, the Journal says. Could it one day be used for purposes other than that for which it’s currently intended?

In the movie, Minority Report, biometric systems created for marketing are commandeered to hunt down citizens suspected of wrongdoing. There’s no evidence of this happening yet, but as science fiction goes, it’s not too far-fetched.

“We’re in the very early stages of commercial, nongovernmental use of facial recognition and we shouldn’t be waiting until harms occur to do something, we should be acting now to mitigate the harms,” Nathan Sheard, a grass-roots advocacy organizer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the news outlet.

Facial data also is coming under scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission—which earlier this month launched a review of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a 1998 law that requires children’s websites to obtain parental consent before collecting, using or disclosing a child’s personal information. The FTC now is seeking comment on whether the definition of “personal information” should be expanded to include biometric data.

The makers of facial-recognition software argue that concerns about the technology are overblown because people don’t really understand it. For these companies, facial data isn’t captured and stored as a usable image, but rather as lengthy chains of numbers and letters that can only be deciphered by proprietary software. Developers argue the data would be meaningless to anyone who doesn’t have their model.

“At some point we have to stop and ask ourselves whether the costs to our privacy are no longer outweighed by the benefits,” Sean McGrath, managing editor at ProPrivacy.com, a digital privacy advocacy group, told the Journal, adding,. “With facial recognition, more than any other technology, we’re at one of those watershed moments where we really need to step back and assess the bigger picture.”

Julie Jargon, a tech writer for The Wall Street Journal advises parents to ask the following questions before consenting to facial recognition for their children:

  1. Where will my child’s facial data be stored and for how long?
  2. Will the data be shared with third parties and, if so, what are their policies for storing and sharing the data?
  3. Are there purposes for the data other than what’s being advertised? For example, will my child’s facial data be used to train AI for law enforcement or corporate partners?
  4. What happens to my child’s data if the service provider is sold?
  5. What happens to the data if I decide I no longer want to use this service? Will it be deleted immediately?

Research contact: @WSJ

Virginia State Dems and Black Caucus boycott Trump speech at Jamestown ceremony

July 31, 2019

In a speech interrupted by a Muslim lawmaker who heckled him—and boycotted by the Virginia State Democratic legislative caucus, as well as the Black Legislative Caucus—President Donald Trump commemorated the 400th anniversary of American democracy in Jamestown, Virginia, on July 30.

Indeed, as Trump delivered a text intended to celebrate America’s self-rule and to dispel his own image as a racist—following a week in which he had disparaged legislators and activists of color, including The Squad of four progressive female lawmakers in the House; Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), and the Reverend Al Sharpton—a lone protestor rose from the audience to take him to task.

Ibraheem Samirah, a Democrat serving the state’s 86th District in Virginia’s General Assembly—and a son of Palestinian refugees who was separated from his father in middle school when the senior Samirah was not allowed to return to the United States—stood and held up signs that read “deport hate” and “reunite my family.”

A third message said “go back to your corrupted home,” the Washington Times reported.

Although he was escorted out of the venue, Samirah said in a statement that he was confident his constituents would rather have him protest than “passively accept” Trump’s presence.

Other lawmakers had voiced their disapproval before the speech. The Black Legislative Caucus announced on July 29 that its members would not attend the celebration, saying that Trump’s participation is “antithetical to the principles” for which the group stands. Caucus members instead planned alternative commemorative events in Richmond.

“Surely there’s a better voice for such an occasion,” Delegate Lamont Bagby (D-74th District-Virginia)  –who heads the Black Caucus– wrote on Twitter.  

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney resigned from the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation’s steering committee for the commemoration event, writing in his resignation letter that Trump “denigrates our democracy” and has no place at the event, the Times reported.

“We will not be attending any part of the commemorative session where Donald Trump is in attendance,” the Virginia House Democrats said on Twitter. “The current President does not represent the values that we would celebrate at the 400th anniversary of the oldest democratic body in the western world.

According to a report on the event by The New York Times, as he took questions for over ten minutes following his speech, President Donald Trump appeared not to know that a boycott was in place, saying he would be “shocked” if opponents of color were declining to attend the event.

“If that’s the case, they’re fighting against their people,” Trump said, repeating an unverified claim that his administration had been receiving calls nonstop praising his comments on Baltimore as a vermin- and rat-infested city. “The African-American people have been calling the White House. They have never been so happy about what a president has done.”

“I think I’m helping myself,” Trump said. “These people are living in hell in Baltimore.”

Research contact: @WashTimes

Change of heart: Doctors find safer alternative to cardiac surgery

July 30, 2019

Just the thought of cardiac surgery is enough to strike fear into almost any heart. But now, patients with aortic stenosis—who previously were subjected to open-heart surgery for aortic valve replacement—can get a much less-invasive procedure, with no incision to the chest or ribs required, AARP reports.

It’s the type of surgery that rock icon Mick Jagger had last April, before being able to hit the road with The Rolling Stones for their “No Filter Tour.”

Although under-diagnosed and under-treated, aortic stenosis is a common form of heart valve disease. Dr. Michael Mack, a leading heart surgeon at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano, told AARP that up to 12% of the elderly population has some form of aortic stenosis.

Replacing the standard open-heart surgery is a less invasive procedure known as TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement), a procedure during which a new valve is inserted into the heart through a leg artery.

TAVR typically used to be reserved for patients who were considered to be unable to withstand surgery. Now new research suggests that TAVR may be the safest option for many healthier patients as well.

Two studies, presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 2019 annual meeting, found that among relatively healthy patients needing valve replacement there were fewer deaths or serious strokes after TAVR: One study showed only 1%  for TAVR patients, compared with 2.9% for those who’d had open-heart surgery; the other showed similar death rates but fewer serious strokes.

stopping the heart while a new valve is sewed in to replace the old one.

TAVR was first introduced into the United States in 2006; since then, it has received FDA approval in stages. Today, doctors are performing about 60,000 TAVR procedures and about 50,000 surgical valve replacements every year in the United States.

The fact that the studies found that TAVR was safer for the lowest-risk patients “was kind of a surprise to everyone,” Mack notes. “Everyone figured it would be pretty much the same.”

The procedure will now need to be approved by the FDA for use in this group considered at low risk for surgical complications. But approval won’t mean that surgery will no longer be used for valve replacement; Mack estimates that 25% of patients are not candidates for TAVR, including those who have blockages in their leg arteries or have a particular kind of heart anatomy that makes the procedure too risky.

He offers another caveat: The trials followed patients for only a year after the valve replacements, “and we really don’t know if [the TAVR] valves last as long as surgical valves.” All patients will now be followed for ten years to find out how well they hold up. “It was a pretty compelling study,” he concludes, “but not the final answer.”

Research contact: @AARP

3M invents an ‘outside the box’ shipping idea

July 30, 2019

Nearly 2 billion Americans (1.92 billion, according to Hosting Facts) will buy something online in 2019—and that means that roughly 2 billion cardboard boxes will arrive at U.S. homes this year; carrying a variety of smallish items that will be stuffed safely into place in biggish shipping containers with wasteful plastic fillers.

And since the most popular items to buy online are pieces of clothing and fashion accessories, chances are that many of these boxes will be used again, for returns.

But now, all of that’s about to change. Just as the Palm Pilots of the 1990s disappeared in favor of smartphones at the turn of the century, our conventional packing materials are about to see a transformation.

The Minnesota-based materials company. 3M—which to date has, perhaps been best-known for its lines of Scotch tape and other tapes, as well as Post-It notes— is releasing a new type of packaging that requires no tape on the outside and no filler materials. What’s more, the new packaging can be customized to fit any object under three pounds (which, 3M says, accounts for about 60% of all items that are bought online and shipped).

Indeed, 3M claims that the material, called the Scotch Flex & Review Seal Shipping Roll, can:

  • Reduce the time needed to pack items for shipping
  • Cut back on the amount of packaging materials required for each shipment (with no need for tape or fillers), and
  • Slash the amount of physical storage space needed in ground and air vehicles just to accommodate the packages.

According to a report by Fast Company, the new roll is made out of three layers of different plastics developed by 3M—among them::

  • A gray, internal adhesive layer that sticks to itself (you’ll see why in a moment);
  • A middle cushioning layer that seems similar to bubble wrap in the way that it protects items during shipping; and
  • A tougher outside layer that is tear- and water-resistant.

The rolls are available in assorted sizes, almost like wrapping paper: 10-foot, 20-foot, and 40-foot rolls are available now; with prices ranging from $12.99 to $48.99, and a 200-foot bulk role will be available in August.

To use the Flex & Seal, you just place your item on the sticky gray side of the material, fold over enough material to encapsulate your item, and press the adhesive sides together to seal it up. The gray side of the packaging will stick to itself, and not the object you want to ship, and 3M says the seal is robust enough to stay in place during shipping—no tape required.

After about 30 seconds, during which you can reposition the item if you didn’t seal it to your liking the first time, the adhesive gets so strong that you have to tear the plastic a bit if you want to pull it apart. That protects your package from tampering, while making sure it’s easy enough to tear open or cut with scissors on the other side.

The Flex & Seal is one way that 3M is trying to get in on the gold rush of the on-demand economy. The U.S. Postal Service handled more than 6 billion packages in 2018, and UPS recently reported net income of $1.69 billion in the second quarter of 2019, up from $1.49 billion during the second quarter in 2018.

When 3M started doing ethnographic research to understand the problems these merchants had, the team found that people were so accustomed to thinking shipping had to be done using boxes, filler, and tape that they didn’t even see it as a problem—just a necessary evil. “It was the bane of their existence,” Remi Kent, who oversees business globally for 3M’s Post-it Notes and Scotch Brands, told Fast Company. “But they didn’t know of any other alternative. They’d have up to 10 steps for preparing, packing, and shipping.”

On top of the manual labor of shipping lots of products, the rise of fast delivery has also raised consumers’ expectations for small brands, which are now up against the likes of Amazon. “[The online economy] . . . has changed the expectations on both ends, whether you’re an online marketplace owner and small business and you’re responsible for sending, but also the consumer expectations around how and when you expect to receive [packages],” Kent says.

The Flex & Seal is recyclable—it’s made of the same material as disposable plastic bags. But similar to plastic bags, the only way to recycle it is to take it to certain retail stores and recyclers, which might be able to include it in their plastic bag recycling program. That means you can’t toss it in your recycling bin with old milk cartons and empty soda cans. Compared to cardboard boxes, which can be easily recycled, that’s a hassle most consumers likely won’t bother with. Kent recognizes this is a problem, and says the team is working on making it easier to recycle. “We’re looking at how could we change the construction of the material choices so it becomes easier to recycle at your home,” she says. 

Research contact: @FastCompany

Valerie Jarrett: Trump’s attacks ‘are intended to silence [people of color] in obedience’

July 30, 2019

On July 29, Valerie Jarrett, who served as a senior adviser to former President Barack Obama from 2009 through 2017, blasted President Donald Trump for his repeated racist attacks against political opponents, CNN reported.

Indeed, she said, the president’s provocations and taunts against people of color—among them, “The Squad” of four progressive female House legislators, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), and the Reverend Al Sharpton—”are intended to silence us in obedience.”.

On Friday, July 26, Jarrett joined nearly 150 African-Americans who worked in the Obama administration in writing an op-ed published in The Washington Post to support and defend The Squad—Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota), Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts).

Earlier this month, Trump targeted the four women with racist language, telling them “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

All of that, despite the fact that three of the four were born in the United States, and the fourth is a naturalized US citizen.

“What we said in this letter is we’re not going to be sitting idly by. We’re Americans, we’re patriotic, we love our country,” Jarrett said in an interview on CNN with “New Day” co-anchor Alisyn Camerota. “One of the important ways that you demonstrate that love is by speaking up when you see behavior that you think is divisive and destructive to our country, and that’s what we’ve been observing during the course of President Trump’s time in office.”

Over the past few days, Trump continued his attacks against notable people of color by tweeting against both Cummings and Sharpton.

Following a weekend in which he labeled Baltimore, where Cummings lives and which he represents, a “disgusting, rat and rodent-infested mess,” on Monday, in yet another tweet, the president said, “Baltimore, under the leadership of Elijah Cummings, has the worst Crime Statistics in the Nation. 25 years of all talk, no action. So tired of listening to the same old Bull…Next, Reverend Al will show up and complain & Protest. Nothing will get done for the people in need]. Sad!

Jarrett also the noted the correlation between those who criticize the President and those who become targets of his attacks. “It’s this pattern, anyone who speaks up against the president is fair game for this personal criticism and anger, and that’s not what makes our country strong,” Jarrett told CNN.

Research contact: @ValerieJarrett

Could acne treatments be causing acne?

July 26, 2019

There’s a reason why Dr. Pimple Popper of TLC and YouTube fame gets almost 5 million views per video or show.

As Dr. Amy Wechsler, a New York physician who is board-certified in both dermatology and psychiatry, recently told the TODAY Show audience, “There are so many people out there who like to pop their own pimples—they’re usually smaller than the ones that are on these videos—and they get satisfaction out of seeing something come out from the body that they feel like doesn’t belong.”

In fact, a recent story in Medium’s health section, Elemental, reports that acne appears to be “more prevalent than ever”—among both teens and adults.

The Elemental story also cites a statistic from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: Roughly one-third of adult women have acne, while only one in five men do.

Could that be attributed to the fact that many women have more complicated skin care routines—involving the application of multiple over-the-counter and prescription acne medications?

The dermatologists with whom author Markham Heid spoke for the article suggested that some of the most common and popular acne medications, such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, might in fact be affecting the skin microbiome in such a way that acne bacteria is then encouraged to flourish.

Harsh cleansers might do the same thing, they said, as might certain antibiotics and foods. “What we put on our skin can improve or disrupt the survival of these [skin] microorganisms,” said one dermatologist.

“This is something we didn’t know before, but we’re paying attention to now.”

So maybe your next skincare routine should be … just water?

Research contact: @Medium