FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
July 17, 2014
iStock

More than 700,000 prescriptions are written for niacin each month in the United States, but a new study finds that the pills might do more harm than good.

Niacin is a B vitamin, and is often given to patients who need to lower their "bad" cholesterol while raising the "good" kind. Researchers at Oxford University studied more than 25,000 people in Europe and China who took niacin while undergoing standard cholesterol treatment. The "bad" cholesterol (LDL) did decrease, but the niacin was also linked to a 32 percent increase in diabetes over four years. There were other side effects, like bleeding, heartburn, and stomach ulcers, and taking niacin didn't seem to lower rates of chest pain, stroke, or heart attack.

"On the basis of the weight of available evidence showing net clinical harm, niacin must be considered to have an unacceptable toxicity profile for the majority of patients, and it should not be used routinely," Dr. Donald Lloyd-Hones of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine wrote in a commentary. The Mayo Clinic still recommends taking niacin, but only after consulting with a doctor.

The report was published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Catherine Garcia

9:25 a.m. ET

After years of delay, Twitter feuds, and technical difficulties, Kanye West has finally bestowed upon us his seventh album, The Life of Pablo. You can stream it through Tidal, buy it from his website, or just watch a couple of his Saturday Night Live performances below. Here's "Highlights":

And this is "Ultralight Beam." Enjoy. Julie Kliegman

8:07 a.m. ET
Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images

In his first full day in Mexico, Pope Francis spoke directly to the issues facing the nation Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"I beg that you not underestimate the moral and antisocial challenge which the drug trade represents for Mexican society as a whole, as well as for the church," he told church leaders at a Mexico City cathedral.

The pope also delivered a speech to politicians alongside President Enrique Peña Nieto. Francis stressed the need to care about the common good, not just those who are privileged.

"Each time we seek the path of privileges or benefits for a few, to the detriment of the good of all, the life of society becomes a fertile soil for corruption, drug trade, exclusion of different cultures, violence, and also human trafficking, kidnapping, and death, bringing suffering and slowing down development," Francis said. Julie Kliegman

7:39 a.m. ET
Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images

In 2015, 3,545 civilians were killed due to war in Afghanistan, while 7,457 were injured, the United Nations said in a report released Sunday, The Associated Press reports.

That's a 4-percent decrease in deaths, but a 9-percent increase in injuries. The majority of the violence can be attributed to civilians caught in the ongoing crossfire between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Julie Kliegman

February 13, 2016
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Donald Trump is backed into a corner in South Carolina, where he has been routinely booed by the debate audience for everything from insulting Jeb Bush to insinuating 9/11 was George W. Bush's fault. Perhaps as a result, when Ted Cruz turned his criticism on Trump, Trump came back swinging with a particular vengeance.

"You are the single biggest liar, you're probably worse than Jeb Bush," Trump said — a mighty insult in his book. Trump added that Cruz is a "nasty guy."

"This guy lied about Ben Carson…and he just continues," Trump went on.

However, Trump was met with what is becoming a familiar sound this Saturday: Boos. Watch below. Jeva Lange

February 13, 2016
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are the only Cuban-Americans on the South Carolina Republican debate stage, and things got especially heated and personal when Cruz criticized a time Rubio went on Univision to speak in Spanish about his immigration policy.

When Rubio was given the chance to respond, he snapped, "I don't know how [Cruz] knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish."

Cruz countered by shouting in Spanish at Rubio. "We can do this in Spanish, if you want," he roughly said.

Some Spanish speakers took issue with Cruz's reply, however:

Nevertheless, Rubio didn't take Cruz up on the challenge, continuing on in English — but it was a moment for the books. Watch below. Jeva Lange

February 13, 2016

Jeb Bush and Donald Trump locked horns for the second time in the South Carolina Republican debate when Trump took a swing at one of his favorite subjects of ridicule — the Bush family.

"I am sick and tired of him going after my family," Bush began in response, going on to say that, "While Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe."

Trump interrupted, pointing out that 9/11 happened while George W. Bush was in office — and was greeted with a round of angry boos.

"He had the gall to go after my mother," Bush went on. "My mom is the strongest person I know."

But Trump, never one to cede the last word, quipped, "She should be running." Jeva Lange

February 13, 2016
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

After Jeb Bush explained his policy for going after ISIS at the GOP presidential debate in South Carolina Saturday night, Donald Trump ripped into the former Florida governor — and was met with ferocious boos from the audience. "Jeb is so wrong, Jeb is absolutely so wrong," Trump said of Bush's call to dispose of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, only to get the audience hissing.

Trump wasn't put off. "You know who that is? That's Jeb's special interest and lobby talking," he said, drawing his second round of boos.

"I only tell the truth, lobbyists," Trump replied. Jeva Lange

See More Speed Reads