The BMJ asks "Does Peppa Pig encourage unnecessary use of primary health care resources? [more inside]
The word from the doctors came early this week: They had tried one cocktail of antibiotics after another, but Mallory Smith’s fever and chill and chest rattle were only getting worse. They were out of options. Her father, though, had an idea. He wanted to infect Mallory with a virus — one carefully selected to kill the bacteria that had colonized her lungs. It was hardly foolproof, and it would require special emergency approval from the federal government, but it might just do what the antibiotics couldn’t.
Down with Copay. The history of copays in the American health system, and why they shouldn’t be allowed to exist.
In 2014, the American College of Physicians went so far as to recommend against pelvic exams, citing the "harms, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, pain, and discomfort" associated with speculum examinations. -- The Speculum Finally Gets a Modern Redesign (Arielle Pardes, Wired)
The online people-who-love-to-smoke community is one of the most supportive and kindly corners of the internet I have ever encountered, especially for a group entirely preoccupied with the abetting of a habit that is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide. I’m not sure if this is a particularly illuminating observation, whether it says something profoundly terrible about humanity and where it is headed, or whether this is something we should find solace in. I change my mind about it a lot.*present company excluded
...said Paul Young in 1978, shortly before mislaying his hat. But toast is a food which raises many questions. What is toast? Where did the word come from? What is a cruminal? Are British people strange or normal? What do some Brits accompany their breakfast toast with? What is French toast? And Texas toast? Is the avocado on toast (thanks, Gwyneth) thing over yet? Is marmalade only eaten on toast? Is burnt toast a health risk? Is salad cream on toast nice? Or combining chocolate spread and cheese (police)? Has every conceivable variation of Nutella on toast (and French toast) been explored (so good)? Can toast be safely made in space? Can (or should) a bagel be toasted? Seriously, a jaffa cake filling? And is toast research influenced by Big Butter? [more inside]
Oncologists have to give bad news. But we can’t help it when our imaginations are held captive by a particular patient.
How Mushrooms Became Magic - "Psilocybin affects us humans because it fits into receptor molecules that typically respond to serotonin—a brain-signaling chemical. Those receptors are ancient ones that insects also share, so it's likely that psilocybin interferes with their nervous system, too. 'We don't have a way to know the subjective experience of an insect', says Slot, and it's hard to say if they trip. But one thing is clear from past experiments: Psilocybin reduces insect appetites. By evolving the ability to make this chemical, which prevents the munchies in insects, perhaps some fungi triumphed over their competitors, and dominated the delicious worlds of dung and rotting wood." (via) [more inside]
Consumers have grown accustomed to being told by insurers — and middlemen known as pharmacy benefit managers — that they must give up their brand-name drugs in favor of cheaper generics. But some are finding the opposite is true, as pharmaceutical companies squeeze the last profits from products that are facing cheaper generic competition. Out of public view, corporations are cutting deals that give consumers little choice but to buy brand-name drugs — and sometimes pay more at the pharmacy counter than they would for generics. - Take the Generic, Patients Are Told. Until They Are Not.
Researchers at the NIH have completed a controlled study of Gary Taubes’ theory that efficient body fat loss requires carbohydrate restrictions, with some interesting findings. In an in-patient setting with obese volunteers eating 1900 calories/day, a carb-restricted diet (140 g carbs/day) led to sustained increase in fat oxidation, decreased insulin secretion, and loss of body fat compared to subjects’ baseline diets. However, restricting dietary fat to 17g/day instead caused subjects to lose significantly more body fat (500g/day) than on the carbohydrate-restricted diet (53g/day), with no change in metabolic fuel selection. [more inside]
Food Fatness Fitness is a multidisciplinary scholarly blog on the "power, politics, and practices of food and eating" by a diverse group of researchers and academics. [more inside]
A possible consequence of high health and prescription insurance copays and premiums: some Americans appear to be ordering antibiotics online intended for ornamental aquarium fish to treat human ailments. "Because of a legal loophole, fish antibiotics, which are formulated to dissolve in a tank, do not require a veterinarian's prescription, unlike similar medications for cats, dogs and other animals." But there are a lot of reasons why this is a bad idea. [more inside]
A newly published meta-analysis of 185 studies of 42,935 male-bodied people from 1972-2011 [pdf] found that sperm concentration has fallen by 52.4% in North America, Europe Australia and New Zealand—with no sign of stopping. No significant trends were seen in South America, Asia and Africa, but the authors noted that limitations in the underlying studies made it impossible to rule out a significant trend in those continents as well. [more inside]
Josh Friedman, tv writer and showrunner of the (late, beloved) tv series Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles, shares some thoughts on dealing with cancer. Cancer doesn’t give a damn how tough you are. Cancer doesn’t care if you stared down the North Koreans, or won the Tour De France, or wrote two seasons of a scary robot show.
"Remote Presence" by Susan Palwick (Lightspeed, April 2017) is an SF/F novelette that draws heavily on the : "Every three years, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations conducted a weeklong on-site accreditation survey of each hospital in the country. The survey was thorough, merciless, and struck apocalyptic terror into hospital administrators ... Roxanne blew out a sharp breath. 'We can't have revenants in the building. That's one of the requirements.'" Spiritual Care Volunteers: A Training Resource [PDF] is a manual produced by NHS Wales that offers more practical insight into healthcare chaplaincy.
Even within America’s imperfect health system, death in childbirth is not an inevitability. The American maternal mortality rate has been increasing. But thanks to Stanford's California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC), it's dropping in California -- now at 7.3 deaths per 100,000, half of what it was in 2006. Why is it so high in the rest of America? And what is California doing to make childbirth safer for women?
You know what's kinda relaxing? Watching smart people give advice about their field of expertise. When they happen to also be talented comedic actors, it's even better. So please enjoy "Wood Support" with Nick Offerman and "Doc Support" with Ken Jeong (Part of ).
A Mexican Town Is Giving Americans Something Donald Trump Can’t: Affordable Dental Care Trump’s anti-Mexican rhetoric doesn’t worry the 600 dentists in Los Algodones or the US “dental refugees” they treat, many of whom voted for Trump. “We’re helping the United States take care of the people they are not able to.”, John Stanton/BuzzFeed News (previously: 1, 2)
The Story of the Jane Collective, the Women Who Started an Illegal Abortion Service - a comic by Rachel Wilson and Ally Shwed
This visualization is a modified version of Chernoff Faces, a technique that maps multiple statistical values to the features of a face. Because it's 2017, we expanded on the technique and made Chernoff Emojis. Each part of the emoji is controlled by the state's ranking in a given metric, which range from the uninsured rate to the percent of adults who report getting enough sleep.
The Blood Of The Crab [Popular Mechanics] “Their distinctive blue blood is used to detect dangerous Gram-negative bacteria such as E. coli in injectable drugs such as insulin, implantable medical devices such as knee replacements, and hospital instruments such as scalpels and IVs. Components of this crab blood have a unique and invaluable talent for finding infection, and that has driven up an insatiable demand. Every year the medical testing industry catches a half-million horseshoe crabs to sample their blood. But that demand cannot climb forever. There's a growing concern among scientists that the biomedical industry's bleeding of these crabs may be endangering a creature that's been around since dinosaur days.”
Butter or Margarine? In Dunkin’ Donuts Lawsuit, Man Accepts No Substitutes [The New York Times] “If you order chicken, you expect chicken. If you order a coffee, you expect a coffee. But if you order butter, is margarine or a vegetable spread an acceptable substitute? It wasn’t to Jan Polanik, who sued 23 Dunkin’ Donuts locations in Massachusetts for serving him “margarine or a butter substitute” instead of butter with his bagels between June 2012 and June 2016. He filed a pair of class-action lawsuits in March against franchise owners who are responsible for multiple stores. He paid 25 cents for butter and was not told a substitute was used, according to the suits.”
Hysteria, Witches, and the Wandering Uterus: A Brief History - Or, Why I Teach "The Yellow Wallpaper." An essay that explores The Yellow Wallpaper, the history of "hysteria," and the 2016 election. [more inside]
"Romances and Play-books too much gratifie the Humours of the Populace; but humble and sincere Christians, with Delight recall to minde Gods Mercies, and with Awfulness tremble at His Judgments," quoth the anonymous editor of , a compilation of the weekly bills of mortality collected in the year 1665. While intended to provide a record of the course of that year's plague, these bills inadvertently provide a cross-section of the ways people died in a 17th-century metropolis, including Kingsevil, Grief, Wormes, Lethargy, Griping in the guts, Purples, French-pox, Livergrown, Stone, and Suddenly. [more inside]
How the assumption that males* are the "gold standard" has led science to ignore women, with harmful and even fatal results. [more inside]
The Wellcome Book Prize announced its 2017 shortlist, recognizing the best books--across all genres of non-fiction and fiction--actively engaged with the life-defining forces of medicine, health, and illness. Commenting on the books honored this year, Chair of Judges Val McDermid says, "What these six challenging, diverse and enriching titles have in common is their insight into what it means to be human. Together they form a mosaic that illuminates our relationship with health and medicine. It spans our origins, our deaths and much that lies between, from activism to acts of human kindness." [more inside]
New research indicates we should eat 10, not 5, fruits and veggies a day. Here are some real people who talk about how they manage it.
Is sugar the world’s most popular drug? 'It eases pain, seems to be addictive and shows every sign of causing long-term health problems. Is it time to quit sugar for good?' [more inside]
Feed Your Kids Peanuts, Early and Often, New Guidelines Urge [The New York Times] “Peanuts are back on the menu. In a significant reversal from past advice, new national health guidelines call for parents to give their children foods containing peanuts early and often, starting when they’re infants, as a way to help avoid life-threatening peanut allergies. The new guidelines, issued by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases [Full Text] on Thursday, recommend giving babies puréed food or finger food containing peanut powder or extract before they are 6 months old, and even earlier if a child is prone to allergies and doctors say it is safe to do so. One should never give a baby whole peanuts or peanut bits, experts say, because they can be a choking hazard. If broadly implemented, the new guidelines have the potential to dramatically lower the number of children who develop one of the most common and lethal food allergies, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the institute’s director, who called the new approach “game changing.””
Need to explain current healthcare and medical research topics to people around you? Healthcare Triage offers informative and accessible videos on youtube: Obamacare * Is Marijuana Harmful to Health? * Why You Don't Need to Drink Milk * Exercise is NOT the Key to Weight Loss * GMOs * Is Organic Food Better for Your Health? * The Benefits of Paid Sick Leave for Workers, Employers, and Pretty Much Everybody
Seeker.com: "Two Star Trek 'Tricorders' Have Made It to the Final Round of XPRIZE. This week, Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE officials announced that two teams of finalists have made it to the last round of the competition, having designed tricorder-style medical devices that are actually pretty space-age in look and function. Weighing in at less that five pounds each, the devices can diagnose and interpret 13 different health conditions within minutes, while continuously monitoring five different vital sign metrics." [more inside]
Inside the insectary - "These gene drives, they're able to copy themselves. So instead of half of the offspring inheriting the gene drive, almost all of them do. So what happens is that it spreads and it spreads and it spreads. And this is the fantastic thing. Because it allows that gene to be selfish in a population. And in a very short amount of time you can actually transform an entire wild population into a modified population. It's powerful." (previously: 1,2,3)
A well-stocked and carefully curated medicine cabinet conveyed care and successful home management, while an overstuffed or unconsidered one ran afoul of received ideals of motherhood. Yet while women were responsible for the cabinet’s care and contents, certain products essential to their own health and hygiene were long thought to be inimical to it.A feminist cultural history of the medicine cabinet, an interview with Dr. Deanna Day.
"In 2015 alone, Women on Web*, the Dutch not-for-profit, received more than 600 emails from US women looking for a way to end their own pregnancies. (The group does not send abortion drugs to the US, because the US does not outright ban abortion.) Women on Web agreed to share scores of these emails with the Guardian, providing an unprecedented window into the lives of women who feel they have no other option but to end their pregnancies themselves." [more inside]
Delhi Closes Over 1,800 Schools in Response to Dangerous Smog [The New York Times] “For the first time ever, more than 1,800 public primary schools in India’s capital will close on Saturday to protect children from exposure to dangerous levels of air pollution, the authorities said on Friday. The decision affects more than a million children. A thick, acrid smog has settled over the capital over the past week, a combination of smoke from burning crops in surrounding agricultural states, fireworks on the Hindu festival of Diwali, dust and vehicle emissions. Levels of the most dangerous particles, called PM 2.5, reached 600 micrograms per cubic meter in different parts of the city this week, according to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee. Sustained exposure to that concentration of PM 2.5 is equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes a day, said Sarath Guttikunda, the director of Urban Emissions, an independent research group.” [more inside]
4. More people die of sepsis in the US than HIV, Prostate Cancer and Breast Cancer combinedClick through for more One Health Day Fun Facts from the University of Illinois Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology and the College of Veterinary Medicine! All Fun Facts include references! [more inside]
Broadly takes a deep dive into the racist and sexist history of keeping birth control side effects secret. The Atlantic follows up with an examination of the different stakes of male and female birth control: "...it makes perfect sense that women would be willing to endure all kinds of side effects in exchange for, essentially, freedom. Being able to control whether and when they become pregnant has opened up so many opportunities for women, opportunities that men already had greater access to by virtue of being men. Men's careers, men's bodies, men's control over their own lives, have never been at stake in the same way."
Taller Than the Trees [N/YT] by Megan Mylan - "Japanese men haven't traditionally been caregivers. But for Masami Hayata, it's a crucial part of raising his family." (via)
"[O]ne thing that's really critical from an emotional agility perspective and that's actually really quick and easy to do, is to simply recognize your thought for what it is. It's a thought. Or your emotion for what it is. It's an emotion." An interview with author and Harvard Medical School faculty psychologist Susan David, Ph.D., by Sarah Green Carmichael for Harvard Business Review IdeaCast: Building Emotional Agility [audio + transcript] [more inside]
The Box: The Not-So-Wholesome Reality Behind The Making of Your Meal Kit [Buzzfeed] “Blue Apron wants to revolutionize the food system by selling would-be home cooks all the ingredients they need to make a meal without setting foot in the grocery store. But a BuzzFeed News investigation has found that in the rush to scale its supply chain at the speed of startup, the company has had health and safety violations, violent incidents, and unhappy workers at one of its packing facilities.”
France is ground zero for clinical research on Baclofen, a drug said to eliminate alcohol cravings. The medication will soon be more accessible than ever – but not everyone thinks that’s a good thing. (slTheGrauniad)
A new study suggests that the right gut microbes help infants grow and has profound implications for helping the one in four children globally who suffers from stunting due to chronic malnutrition and poor sanitation, an issue that is only this year finally getting serious attention from world leaders.
As the UK continues to absorb the implications of the Brexit referendum vote, further splits open due to the (possibly overcooked) arguments between TV cooking show hosts. The declaration of one, that “no family should own a deep-fat fryer” leads to the reply that “...the UK was built on chips and spam fritters.” Host hostilities are further inflamed by the cultural flashpoint of whether Jaffa Cakes should, or could, be dunked in tea, with the retort of “We don't do that in the south, you know.” (Previously  and ) [more inside]
Texas has highest maternal mortality rate in developed world, study finds. The rate of Texas women who died from complications related to pregnancy doubled from 2010 to 2014, a new study has found, for an estimated maternal mortality rate that is unmatched in any other state and the rest of the developed world.
"During one of the hikes, she sat down in the middle of the trail and refused to go any further. She was screaming and crying, and then the trainer sat down next to her and realized she was high. Later, the program directors discovered she had a cache of pot brownies in her room. (Edible marijuana products were not on the DO NOT PACK list, specifically.)" Inside The Ranch 4.0 "wellness retreat" where celebrities and the wealthy drop in for long weekends of brutal exercise and just enough food deprivation to feel ecstatically light-headed.
In a letter to the Associated Press, the US Department of Health and Human Services was unable to provide any evidence that flossing is an effective way to prevent gum disease or cavities. Its Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are required by law to be based on scientific evidence, had removed the section on flossing earlier this year.