Taking Canadian Highway 63 straight north from Fort McMurray, during the half-lit hours of the morning commute, I moved past the old downtown, with its bars and weekly-rate hotels, past the sprawling suburbs and high-speed ring road, into expanses of peat-rich muskeg and forests of tamarack and spruce. As the sun climbed, cars became scarce and the road seemed to stretch endlessly toward the horizon. Traveling from McMurray to McKay doesn’t take long—it’s less than 40 miles—but the transformation you see in that short distance is astounding.
A landmark study indicates that seven pesticides, some widely used, may be causing clinical depression in farmers. [more inside]
One day in the fall of 1981, eight men in their 70s stepped out of a van in front of a converted monastery in New Hampshire. They shuffled forward, a few of them arthritically stooped, a couple with canes. Then they passed through the door and entered a time warp. Perry Como crooned on a vintage radio. Ed Sullivan welcomed guests on a black-and-white TV. Everything inside — including the books on the shelves and the magazines lying around — were designed to conjure 1959. This was to be the men’s home for five days as they participated in a radical experiment, cooked up by a young psychologist named Ellen Langer.
"Trust Women" is a popular motto in the pro-choice movement. It sounds a little sentimental, doesn't it? Part of that old sisterhood-is-powerful feminism it is fashionable to mock today. But "Trust Women" doesn't mean that every woman is wise or good or has magical intuitive powers. It means that no one else can make a better decision, because no one else is living her life, and since she will have to live with that decision—not you, and not the state legislature or the Supreme Court—chances are she is doing her best in a tight spot.How Pro-Choicers Can Take Back the Moral High Ground: an excerpt from essayist and poet Katha Pollitt's latest book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights. [more inside]
"But it wasn’t sugar, heaps of which are sucked down daily by the middle and upper classes, that guided his and my grandma’s dental fates. And it wasn’t meth. It was lack of insurance, lack of knowledge, lack of good nutrition – poverties into which much of the country was born." Sarah Smarsh in Aeon on the sociological, political, and medical intersection of bad teeth.
"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]
Eating healthy food and eating together is important. But if you hate to cook, what's the best way to do that? (SLNYT)
Three North Carolina researchers spend 18 months learning about the food and cooking choices of almost 200 households. They learned, perhaps unsurprisingly, that simply encouraging households to cook healthier meals at home was unlikely to address the challenges to healthy eating most families face. [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.
The art world's food fetish is nothing new, triggering equal parts salivation and repulsion we gorge on so-called 'food porn' every day, saturating our screens with sugar. But beneath that candy-cane filter there's a darker side to our fetishisation of all-things sweet. With their Twix noses, salami decolletage and strawberry laces spewing from donut-shaped carverns, James Ostrer's saccharine-warped creations are delectably disturbing. Born out of a textbook childhood junk addiction, his new series Wotsit All About takes sugar worship to the extreme, sculpting mutated, larger-than-life candy characters from truck-loads of pick 'n' mix favourites. Pushing his sitters to the extreme he smothers them in cream cheese, frazzles and ice-cream cones, the food masks leaving a claustrophic, bitter-sweet taste on the tongue. Interview with the photographer. [NSFW]
Texting can be a real pain in the neck (and what to do about it)
"Imagine a job where about half of all the work is being done by people who are in training. That is, in fact, what happens in the world of biological and medical research." --- NPR reports [audio] on postdocs & the scientific workforce as part of a series on the funding crisis in biomedical research. The series also includes When Scientists Give Up [audio], and U.S. Science Suffering From Booms And Busts In Funding [audio].
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.
Why Walking Helps Us Think: [The New Yorker] In a variety of ways, going for a stroll keeps our brains on their toes.
The health benefits of drinking. "The U.S. public health establishment buries overwhelming evidence that abstinence is a cause of heart disease and early death. People deserve to know that alcohol gives most of us a higher life expectancy—even if consumed above recommended limits."
"EPA defines environmental justice (EJ) as "the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies." To effectively address EJ concerns, the Agency recognizes that communities must be the driver for local solutions. However, far too many communities lack the capacity to truly affect their environmental conditions." [more inside]
“It’s just like something from science fiction. It’s something that you’d see in a movie or in a book on aliens from another planet. It’s out of this world.” [closeup images of human skin that may be disturbing] Morgellon's disease [no images] is the topic of this week's Stuff You Should Know podcast. [no transcript] A CDC study could not identify a cause, and the medical community's consensus is that it is a form of delusional parasitosis, but conspiracy theories abound [images]. (previously)
Dr Google always thinks it's cancer, except when it's lupus. So how do you find reliable health information online? The (US) National Institute on Aging has some good rules of thumb, and the National Library of Medicine has a simple tutorial. Many of us, though, might prefer a list of general trustworthy resources. Here are some of my favorites, including some Australian and UK resources that American MeFites might not know. [more inside]
Why the modern bathroom is a wasteful, unhealthy design (The Guardian): "Piped water may be the greatest convenience ever known but our sewage systems and bathrooms are a disaster" [more inside]
A Republican panel of the D.C. Circuit has ruled [.pdf opinion] in the case of Halbig v. Burwell that a drafting error in the Affordable Care Act provides subsidies exclusively to state-based exchanges and not to federally-facilitated ones, even while subjectively intending to provide subsidies in both cases. The ruling threatens to take away federal subsidies for insurance sold on Obamacare exchanges in 36 states.
A new study by Stanford anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann and others found that voice-hearing experiences of people with serious psychotic disorders are shaped by local culture – in the United States, the voices are harsh and threatening; in Africa and India, they are more benign and playful. This may have clinical implications for how to treat people with schizophrenia, she suggests.
Sorry You Were Tricked Into a C-Section What disapproving friends don’t understand about cesarean births
Justine Griffin, a reporter for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, decided to become an egg donor. She documents her journey in a three-part feature, The Cost of Life: "This began as a way for me to honor a childhood friend who passed away and a hopeful account of my experience with the fertility industry. But it devolved into a tangle of broken promises, scary science and questionable experiences — ending with a ruptured cyst on my ovary and a fear that my future reproductive health may be in jeopardy." [more inside]
"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]
How the U.S. Health Care System Compares Internationally - "The United States health care system is the most expensive in the world, but this report and prior editions consistently show the U.S. underperforms relative to other countries on most dimensions of performance. Among the 11 nations studied in this report—Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States—the U.S. ranks last, as it did in the 2010, 2007, 2006, and 2004 editions of Mirror, Mirror. Most troubling, the U.S. fails to achieve better health outcomes than the other countries, and as shown in the earlier editions, the U.S. is last or near last on dimensions of access, efficiency, and equity." [full report (pdf)] [more inside]
"If you sit down more than 11 hours a day, one study suggests, you’re 40 percent more likely to die in the next three years than I am. I’m standing up. I’ve been standing up all day. I’ll be standing up all month, in fact, without a break. I expect at the end of that month I’ll be sore but triumphant, glowing with smug enlightenment..."
Spray on some friendly bacteria and skip the soap? (NYT) Plenty of people have tried the 'no-poo' method to switch from shampoos, but what about skipping everything, and adding some bacteria instead? We bathed without soap for a long time and antibacterial soap is really bad for us. AOBiome wants you to think Bacteria is the New Black.
Why Did AIDS Ravage the U.S. More Than Any Other Developed Country?
Solving an epidemiological mystery
Solving an epidemiological mystery
Schoolyard bullies may worry that their victims are free to be sniveling, cowardly worms with almost zero repercussions. But, fortunately, they'll get their comeuppance when they grow up and die of heart disease or cancer. "Bullying Is Good For Your Health." (Being bullied is bad for it.)
Humans have co-evolved with the resident microbes that call us "home", known as the microbiota, consisting of trillions of cells that colonize our bodies. The microbiota carry out many beneficial functions, such as producing vitamins, aiding in digestion, and protecting against invading microbes, but disruption from antibiotics or delivery by Caesarian section may have consequences for human health. Recently, antibiotic use has been linked with obesity and asthma. Using both human studies and experimentally observed mice, we are beginning to understand how antibiotics may lead to the disappearance of microbes and to identify key microbes that impact our health.[more inside]
"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]
In many parts of the world, women are having more Cesarean sections than medically necessary. Recent abuses of pregnant women in Brazil have sparked a small, vocal movement of activists who want mothers to have more say in the delivery room. (SLATLANTIC)
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."
For nearly two hundred years America was one of the healthiest and longest-lived countries, but today, over thirty countries have better health by many measures. What happened? "If the culprit of the decline in health is not health care, are individual health-related behaviors, often blamed for the high death rates in some groups, causing our low ranking in health? Apparently not." [more inside]
Mental health problems are on the rise among UK academics amid the pressures of greater job insecurity, constant demand for results and an increasingly marketised higher education system. [more inside]
Last Day for Last Abortion Clinic in the Rio Grande. “Honestly, I think they’ll go south of the border, if they have to,” said a 23-year-old woman who was one of the last patients to be seen at the clinic and who traveled to San Antonio for her abortion last month. “It’s cheaper and it’s closer. To go to San Antonio is so much more of a hassle and costs a lot more.”
A new 3D printed membrane acts like an artificial pericardium to continuously monitor and regulate the heart's beating
Here's a multi-media webpage (text and photos, plus scroll down for the enlightening and well-made video) that spells out what's going on right now down Texas way: Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas.
My right arm seemed no longer a part of my body. I couldn’t control it; it was limp at my side, like the worst dead arm you can imagine, but completely out of nowhere.
A new Report on the State of Health + Urbanism (pdf) from MIT looks at the relationship between urban planning and public health, with some surprising findings. The cities covered are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. [more inside]
"Danger in the Ring." According to Karen, a doctor in the emergency room asked her over the phone: “Was your daughter using birth control?” Karen said, “Yes, NuvaRing.” He removed the device and said, “I thought so, because she’s having a pulmonary embolism.” [more inside]