Dr. Howard Markel

's Most Recent Stories

  • September 29, 2014

    Early on the morning of Sept. 29, 1982, a tragic, medical mystery began with a sore throat and a runny nose. It was then that Mary Kellerman, a 12-year-old girl from Elk Grove Village, a suburb of Chicago, told her mother and father about her symptoms. They gave her one extra-strength Tylenol capsule that, unbeknownst to them, was laced with the highly poisonous potassium cyanide. Mary was dead by 7 a.m. Within a week, her death would panic the entire nation. And only months later, it changed the way we purchase and consume over-the-counter medications. Continue reading

  • August 15, 2014

    Besides being a beloved baseball star, Babe Ruth was one of the first cancer patients to receive a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, a practice that doctors still use today. Continue reading

  • July 30, 2014

    Forty-nine years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson found himself in Independence, Missouri. Although he was surrounded by a gaggle of politicians, distinguished guests and Secret Service agents, the president was armed only with a fountain pen, a bottle of ink and a sheath of papers. Seated directly beside him, so as to accommodate the newspaper photographers and the television cameras, was Independence’s favorite son, the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman. Continue reading

  • June 16, 2014

    In 1972, the New York Times reported that more than 3,000 people in the U.S. choked to death that year, making it the sixth most common cause of accidental death. Up until that time, the usual response upon discovering a choking person was to slap him or her on the back. But many doctors insisted that a blow on the back tends to drive the object downward, lodging that obstruction even more tightly in the airway. It was precisely this scenario that inspired a Cincinnati surgeon named Henry J. Heimlich to search for a better way to rescue a choking victim. Continue reading

  • May 22, 2014

    May 21 marks the founding of the American Red Cross. Over its 133-year history, it has provided a wide menu of services to help the needy, disaster victims, military personnel and their families. The American Red Cross is also a major participant in the collection, processing and distribution of blood and blood products, the development of educational programs on health, preparedness and safety, and, in partnership with other affiliate organizations of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, relief and development efforts all over the world. Continue reading