Humans 2.0 - "With CRISPR, scientists can change, delete, and replace genes in any animal, including us. Working mostly with mice, researchers have already deployed the tool to correct the genetic errors responsible for sickle-cell anemia, muscular dystrophy, and the fundamental defect associated with cystic fibrosis. One group has replaced a mutation that causes cataracts; another has destroyed receptors that H.I.V. uses to infiltrate our immune system." [more inside]
The Lost Girls: 'Misdiagnosed, misunderstood or missed altogether, many women with autism struggle to get the help they need.' Part of Spectrum's Sex/Gender in Autism special report. [more inside]
The American Cancer Society released new guidelines today recommending that women start getting the tests later, at age 45, and only every other year. [more inside]
Can’t Swallow a Pill? There’s Help for That [New York Times]
Most children start swallowing pills around age 10, said Dr. Tanya Altmann, a pediatrician in Calabasas, Calif., and a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. And 20 percent to 40 percent are unable to swallow a standard-size pill or capsule, according to a recent study in the journal Pediatrics. [...] Many never outgrow the problem.[more inside]
New Ebola vaccine shows 100% success rate in clinical trial. Today the World Health Organization has announced that the rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine had a 100% success rate in preventing onset of the disease if administered within 10 days of exposure (n=4,000). In response to the current outbreak in West Africa that has afflicted over 27,000 and killed over 11,000, this collaborative effort led by the WHO pushed the vaccine through a process that usually takes more than a decade in just 12 months. Official paper from The Lancet here (pdf).
New research into the pain processing of mice has found male and female mice process pain differently, and the discovery may also apply to other species, including humans. Scientists are now questioning what this means for the future of medical research, which until now, has had a strong bias towards experimenting on male mice. [more inside]
Medical Fat Shaming Could Have Killed Me Sex educator Rebecca Hiles (Frisky Fairy) details the years of being told to lose weight to deal with her persistent cough before doctors finally diagnosed her with lung cancer. Part I of her cancer story.
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) report, submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, makes a historic change: for the first time since 1980, the report no longer recommends the restriction of dietary cholesterol nor of total dietary fat. An article published today in JAMA calls on HHS and USDA to heed the DGAC report. The article goes on to praise the report's new emphasis: reducing consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates, and increasing consumption of whole foods (even those high in fats).
New U.S. government research indicates that female military veterans commit suicide at nearly six times the rate of other women and at rates nearly equal to that of male veterans -- a finding that surprised researchers because women are generally are far less likely than men to commit suicide. The findings raise questions about the backgrounds and experiences of women who serve in the United States' armed forces. [more inside]
Loaded with Lead. America has an estimated 10,000 gun ranges and 40 million annual recreational shooters. But when guns are fired with lead-based ammunition, they spread a toxin: lead vapor and dust. A year-long Seattle Times investigation shows that due to poor ventilation and contact with lead-coated surfaces, thousands of workers, shooters and their family members have been contaminated and been made sick at shooting ranges nationwide. Reckless range owners/operators, unenforced regulations as well as a lack of oversight and inspections are to blame. [more inside]
For the past few years, a small group of psychiatrists, researchers, educators, and game designers have run a quiet but intense footrace to become the first to earn FDA approval for a medically sound, prescription-strength video game for ADHD. That’s not a metaphor. They are seeking approval for a game that a doctor can actually prescribe..In this excerpt from his new book, posted on Medium, journalist Greg Toppo discusses a variety of new neurogames and how they may in the future treat conditions like ADHD and anxiety, strengthen skills like multitasking and mindfulness, and reduce the need for pharmaceutical interventions for children. (Fair warning, the article has an animated header image that may annoy, so you may want to scroll right on down past it before you start reading.)
The CRISPR Revolution [ungated: 1,2,3] - "Biologists continue to hone their tools for deleting, replacing or otherwise editing DNA and a strategy called CRISPR has quickly become one of the most popular ways to do genome engineering. Utilizing a modified bacterial protein and a RNA that guides it to a specific DNA sequence, the CRISPR system provides unprecedented control over genes in many species, including perhaps humans. This control has allowed many new types of experiments, but also raised questions about what CRISPR can enable." [more inside]
Fish oil: it's been touted as a solution to heart health, dementia, glaucoma, and a host of other ailments. Unfortunately, it turns out that most of the evidence for its benefits is equivocal at best. And it turns out that fish oil isn't particularly useful for our pets, either. Worse, it turns out that the foundational study that kicked off interest in fish oil as a supplement is not quite as promising for fish oils as it is usually construed and cited. Given that fish oil can induce strokes in high quantities (and may interfere with treatments like chemotherapy), is poorly regulated, and is expensive, should we be promoting fish oil supplements as strongly as we do?
Health-conscious people are haunted by the idea that they “should” correct their posture, and many fight a chronic, uncertain and tedious battle against crookedness. But is it necessary? After working as a massage therapist for many years, I became confident that poor posture is a “real” thing. I think it is sometimes a factor in chronic pain, mostly later in life, and probably can also be improved in some cases with a little effort. But it’s not a straightforward business, this posture stuff! There aren’t many “easy wins” for people here. And there’s plenty of potential to waste time and money — or even get hurt. Delving deeper into the topic as a journalist, studying the scientific literature and learning more from countless readers and experts, I have developed many reasonable doubts about posture’s importance.
Your new kidney is in the cloud. When former software developer David Jacobs was fortunate enough to get a kidney transplant eleven years ago, it occurred to him that there had to be a better way to match recipients with potential donors... so he bankrolled a company, and designed the cloud-based software needed to do it. As a result, thanks to paired kidney exchanges, a single kidney donation in San Francisco is saving six lives over the next few days... and will soon be saving a total of twelve lives, while removing people from the kidney waiting list, reducing the organ wait time for patients who don't have the time to spare.
The annual James Dyson Award is open to current and recent design engineering students. The winner this year is James Roberts with his inflatable incubator MOM. The device costs around £250 compared to £30,000 for modern incubators and could prevent up to 75% of fatalities in premature birth cases in the developing world.
It's easy to break a patient like Rogelio—Mexican and poor and chronically ill—down to his potassium level and to make medical decisions according to a number. But that's only part of the story of how the undocumented ill are cared for here in Houston. Within this city's history—a history that includes segregation during the 1960s, a large immigrant population, strong economic growth over the past half century, not to mention the world's largest medical center—is the story of how Houston sought local solutions to provide compassionate care to its indigent and undocumented, the latter of which, some might say, have helped the city grow.Dr. Ricardo Nuila reports from the emergency room at Houston's Ben Taub Hospital, where Harris County's undocumented ill can avail themselves of some of the country's best health care: Taking Care of Our Own. [more inside]
Locked-In Man - "Martin Pistorius spent more than a decade unable to move or communicate, fearing he would be alone, trapped, forever. NPR's new show Invisibilia tells how his mind helped him create a new life."
How Tripping On Mushrooms Changes The Brain - "New research [pdf] suggests that psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, sprouts new links across previously disconnected brain regions, temporarily altering the brain's entire organizational framework." [more inside]
"During the 2013-2014 flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 46 percent of Americans received vaccinations against influenza, even though it kills about 3,000 people in this country in a good year, nearly 50,000 in a bad one." [more inside]
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.” However, that’s not what the epidemiology of the disorder suggests. By age 35, half of all people who qualified for active alcoholism or addiction diagnoses during their teens and 20s no longer do, according to a study of over 42,000 Americans in a sample designed to represent the adult population.
Only a quarter of people who recover have ever sought assistance in doing so (including via 12-step programs). This actually makes addictions the psychiatric disorder with the highest odds of recovery.Metafilter's own maias on myths surrounding the disease(?) of substance addiction, and their impact on medicine and policy.
Since 2006, Alice Proujansky has photographed childbirths around the world for a project entitled 'Birth Culture.' Her intent is to highlight 'the universal aspects of childbirth, elements that are culturally-specific and the struggle to provide women with safe, respectful maternity care.' Images: Photographer's site. NYTimes Gallery. Agnostica. Slate. Some photos may be NSFW.
Sorry You Were Tricked Into a C-Section What disapproving friends don’t understand about cesarean births
"Postpartum depression isn’t always postpartum. It isn’t even always depression. A fast-growing body of research is changing the very definition of maternal mental illness, showing that it is more common and varied than previously thought." ‘Thinking of Ways to Harm Her’ and "After Baby, an Unraveling". [more inside]
Why Did AIDS Ravage the U.S. More Than Any Other Developed Country?
Solving an epidemiological mystery
Solving an epidemiological mystery
"If an NHS trust proposed today that it was going to introduce Viagra sales reps into men's genitourinary wards, or reps for walking aids to orthopaedic wards, the very least you'd expect would be some stout resistance. It is a measure of the strength of the association between "motherhood" and "buying stuff" that the presence of commercial representatives on maternity wards has been tolerated for so long."[more inside]
Post-operative Check: "It's okay that you don't remember me. My name is Shara, and I'm part of the surgical team. I'm checking to see how you're doing after your surgery. Do you know where you are right now?" [more inside]
Scientists Progress in Quest to Grow Muscle Tissue in Labs - "The researchers are now working on optimizing the growth of human muscle tissue, including finding a way to get blood flow to the tissue, the best source of cells and the best growing medium for the cells."
A new 3D printed membrane acts like an artificial pericardium to continuously monitor and regulate the heart's beating
Insomnia causes depression as much as depression causes insomnia: Three surprising points from a fascinating episode of KQED Forum [audio, no transcript] with guest Dr. Michelle Primeau of the Stanford School of Medicine.
First story: Treating Insomnia to Heal Depression,
Follow up a couple of days later: Double Effectiveness of Depression Treatment by Treating Insomnia,
Two readers (both psychiatrists) respond, and
A NYT editorial. [more inside]
- Insomnia has long been taught to be a symptom of depression, but in many cases is a cause of depression.
- CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is an effective treatment for both insomnia and depression.
- CBT can be more effective and longer lasting than sleeping pills
More than half the population of small, rural Madras, Oregon (population: ~6059) and its surrounding community is served by one clinic: Madras Medical. At the beginning of 2006, the clinic's doctors and nurses decided to ban pharmaceutical reps from visiting their practice. No more free lunches. No more free drug samples. No more gifts. And yet.... "It's made us better doctors." (Via) [more inside]
A junior doctor writes about the experience of watching the slow deaths-by-old-age of the elderly. (see also How Doctors Die).
An in-depth talk at Google that sums up the scientific research on living a healthy life with lots of practical advice.
"India's supreme court has ruled against Swiss drug giant Novartis in a landmark case that activists say will protect access to cheap generic drugs in developing nations." [more inside]
Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us. Summary: Inside the Cover Story. Related video: The Exorbitant Prices of Health Care [more inside]
“The gap between what patients and doctors expect from these procedures, and the benefit that they actually provide, shows the profound impact of a certain kind of mechanical logic in medicine,” he explains. “Even though doctors value randomized clinical trials and evidence-based medicine, they are powerfully influenced by ideas about how diseases and treatments work. If doctors think a treatment should work, they come to believe that it does work, even when the clinical evidence isn’t there.” [more inside]
100 Really, REALLY Useful Web Sites for Nurses | 100 Educational Twitter Feeds for Med Students | What Really Happens on a Hospital Night Shift? | 10 Hotel Health Traps You Should Really Beware Of |The ABCs of Vitamins and much more.
The New Yorker's take on Dr Mehmet Oz.
Jennie Linn McCormack "isn’t the only woman in recent years to be prosecuted for ending her own pregnancy. But her case could change the trajectory of abortion law in the United States": The Rise of DIY Abortions. [more inside]
Feeling a little bit worn? Need to upgrade your body? We've been doing it for a long time. An overview of more recent advances (PDF) and a near-future timeline. [more inside]
291 diseases and injuries + 67 risk factors + 1,160 non-fatal complications = 650 million estimates of how we age, sicken, and die
As humans live longer, what ails us isn't necessarily what kills us: five data visualizations of how we age, sicken, and die. Causes of death by age, sex, region, and year. Heat map of leading causes and risks by region. Changes in leading causes and risks between 1990 and 2010. Healthy years lost to disability vs. life expectancy in 1990 and 2010. Uncertainties of causes and risks. From the team for the massive Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2010. [more inside]
On November 30, the Tampa Bay Times published a sympathetic profile of Spring Hill, FL resident Gretchen Molannen: "Persistent genital arousal disorder brings woman agony, not ecstasy." Her condition, also known as PGAD, is a rare sexual disorder (not recognized by the DSM,) 'characterized by spontaneous, persistent, unwanted sexual arousal unrelated to feelings of sexual desire.' The Times reported that Ms. Molannen's condition had virtually destroyed her personal and professional life and led to several suicide attempts. One day after the article was published, she successfully committed suicide. [more inside]
Drug-resistant and "extensively" resistant strains make containment and treatment of tuberculosis ever more difficult. Fortunately, researchers based in Switzerland have (re-)discovered a naturally-made antibiotic called pyridomycin, which will kill isoniazid-resistant M. tuberculosis bacteria.
The Medical School at the University of California, San Francisco “presents Mini Medical School for the Public, a series of programs providing an opportunity to learn about health and the health sciences directly from UCSF faculty members and other nationally-recognized experts.” Videos particularly geared toward integrative medicine and healthy living can be found here. (Most of the videos are between sixty and ninety minutes long.) [more inside]
A new model for the American health care system: The Cheesecake Factory
Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM) is a new advocacy group of senior medical practitioners and researchers seeking to drive "complementary and alternative medicines" from universities around Australia, and to make non-evidence based therapies ineligible for private health insurance. Naturally, this has caused a fair degree of outrage and pushback from the CAM sector.