The coronavirus pandemic has dominated the headlines and our daily lives for most of this year. Medical News Today have covered this fast-moving, complex story with live updates on the latest news, interviews with experts, and an ongoing investigation into the deep racial disparities that COVID-19 has helped unmask.

However, this has not stopped us from publishing hundreds of fascinating stories on a myriad of other topics.

We focused on the science of healthy aging this week, launching a new hub that includes the latest installment in our popular “medical myths” series. We also published a Special Investigation into how health influences voting behavior, and we reported on how scientists could use honeybee venom to treat cancer.

Our coverage of the surprising reason that a ketogenic diet may protect against Alzheimer’s disease also proved to be a popular choice for our readers this week.

We also published an article explaining the differences between in vivo and in vitro studies.

Here are 10 recent stories that people may have missed amid all the COVID-19 fervor. We also reveal our most-read article of the year so far.

1. Medical myths: All about aging

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Addressing the ‘inevitabilities’ of aging.

This week, we launched a major resource focusing on healthy aging. It contains 60 articles covering the science of aging, age-related conditions, mental health, exercise, and nutrition.

The leading article in our healthy aging hub is the latest installment in our “medical myths” series. This week, we turned our attention to the decline associated with aging. Is it really inevitable, and what can we do to combat it?

Learn more here.

2. How does health influence voting behavior?

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Research suggests that there is a complex relationship between health and voting.

Health is one of the top issues in the 2020 election, yet low voter turnouts are consistently associated with poorer health.

In this Special Feature, we unpicked the complex relationship between health and voting. We asked why poor health reduces the likelihood that people will vote and what policymakers can do about it.

Learn more here.

3. Honeybee venom kills aggressive breast cancer cells

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Carefully targeted melittin from honeybee venom may kill aggressive breast cancer cells.

This week, we reported on what Prof. Peter Klinken — the chief scientist of Western Australia — called “another wonderful example of where compounds in nature can be used to treat human diseases.”

Scientists have found that the active component of honeybee venom rapidly kills two types of difficult-to-treat breast cancer cells. How it does this may also make it useful in combination with existing chemotherapy drugs.

Learn more here.

4. Keto diet may reduce Alzheimer’s risk by altering gut fungi

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A ketogenic diet may help cut the risk of Alzheimer’s by influencing the population of gut microorganisms.

A new pilot study has found an association between eating a Mediterranean-style ketogenic diet and a reduced risk of developing mild cognitive impairment. The researchers attribute this to the way the diet altered the fungal population in the gut.

However, the study was small and limited, including only 17 participants. Other variables — such as lifestyle, sex, and ethnicity — may also have an effect on the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and the gut’s microorganisms.

Learn more here.

5. Every human gut may have a unique viral composition

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Research suggests that each human gut may have a unique composition, with viral diversity being particularly high in infants.

Fungi aren’t the only thing present in the human gut. This week, we also reported on research using the newly created Gut Virome Database, which is the world’s first comprehensive database of the communities of viruses that are present there.

Researchers were able to ascertain that the viral composition of each human gut environment is likely unique and contains 542 distinct viral populations, on average.

Scientists could use this knowledge to design therapies that use bacteriophage viruses to push the microbiome back toward a healthy state.

Learn more here.

6. Study finds what you eat is linked to when you eat

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A high intake of calories in the evening may link to a poor quality diet.

People who consume most of their calories in the evening tend to consume more of them and have a lower quality diet. That was the key finding in a new study of hunger rhythms that MNT covered this week.

For many people, hunger peaks at around 8:00 p.m., but this may have implications for how healthful their diet is. The study found that people who consumed more of their calories during the evening tended to have significantly poorer quality diets.

Learn more here.

7. What are the benefits of peppermint oil?

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Peppermint oil derives from the peppermint plant, which is a hybrid of spearmint and water mint.

In this new article, we looked at where peppermint oil comes from, how people can use it, its potential benefits, and the risks of using it.

A few studies have suggested that peppermint oil can reduce abdominal pain, indigestion, and nausea. One small study also found an immediate and significant boost in grip strength and jumping performance in participants who had consumed an oral dose of peppermint oil 5 minutes before.

Learn more here.

8. Healthful meals on a budget: Meal plans and food options

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Healthful meals can be inexpensive and convenient, and adopting certain strategies can help.

Our readers spent an average of over 6 minutes each with this article on preparing cheap, nutritious meals for a whole week.

Many parts of the developed world, including the United States, contain food deserts. These are areas wherein people have limited access to varied, healthful food every day. Planning ahead can be vital for people living in these areas.

The article also offers vegetarian and vegan options and lists a dozen cheap, healthful foods that are useful to keep in the pantry.

Learn more here.

9. What is the difference between in vivo and in vitro?

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In vitro tests (pictured) occur outside of a living organism.

As well as coming to MNT for the latest medical news or in search of answers to specific health-related questions, we know that many of our readers look to us to build their scientific knowledge.

This recent article explains the terms in vivo and in vitro, which often appear in the context of medical research. What exactly do these terms mean, and where do they come from?

Learn more here.

10. How much should I weigh for my height and age?

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Body mass index (BMI) takes into account both height and weight but not body composition.

For our final choice this week, we were curious to see which of all our articles this year has been the most popular.

This helpful guide to what a person’s ideal weight might be — and how height, age, and other factors affect it — is the clear winner, with over 8 million views to date.

It includes interactive tools to give our readers a better idea of how much they should weigh. It also explains why BMI may not be the most useful measure of health.

Learn more here.

We hope that this has provided a taste of the range of stories that we cover at MNT. We will be back with a new selection next week.

Coming soon: A sneak preview of what’s in our drafts folder

We publish hundreds of new articles every month. Here are some upcoming articles that may pique our readers’ interests:

  • Testosterone therapy to treat obesity: Does it work?
  • Is a common class of drugs increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease?
  • Do vitamin D levels in the blood predict future health?