"Humans as Superorganisms: How Microbes, Viruses, Imprinted Genes and Other Selfish Entities Shape Our Behavior" by Peter Kramer and Paola Bressan discusses the idea that an individual homo sapiens is only one component of the human superorganism we call a person, focusing on the psychological and psychiatric ramifications thereof. (Paola Bressan previously.)
Worm fever, headmouldshot, quinsy, Derbyshire neck, and other medical terms of the 18th and 19th centuries.
This photo depicts Dr. Anandibai Joshi of India, Dr. Keiko Okami of Japan, and Dr. Sabat Islambouli of Syria, three women who became doctors in 1885, at least two the first female physician in their own country, and 36 years after Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States. (All three completed medical school at the Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania.) Be sure to click "See More" to read the full post at the first link. (Previously, on the lives of trailblazing women in medicine.) [more inside]
Moses, meanwhile, stepped out into the searing midday heat and stretched her legs. She saw six people sitting on the concrete steps of an office across from her lab. Some had been nurses and researchers at Kenema; a couple were part of a newly formed survivors’ union. That’s how they’d heard about Moses’ mission. All six had been infected with Ebola and survived. Hypothetically, that made them immune to the disease. That’s why Moses had returned—to harness that immunity to try to ensure Ebola never killed anyone again.
Esteemed PBS series Frontline has produced a new documentary profiling a number of trans children and their families in the U.S. today: Growing Up Trans. There will be a Google Hangout with the producers and several of the film's subjects on July 1, at 3 PM EST. Inside, please find a number of articles released by Frontline to flesh out the film. [more inside]
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]
For most of US history, our relationship with death was more intimate than it is today. Americans often died at home and remained there until burial, where they were washed, wrapped in shrouds, and laid out on boards while the family made preparations for a funeral feast and an at-home funeral. In addition to family, women known as “Layers Out of the Dead,” helped take care of the immediate tasks following a death. This homespun approach to death largely persisted until the Civil War, when embalming, hospitals and eventually funeral directors changed the way we dealt with our deceased. But now, with home funerals and even green burials slowly regaining acceptance, a new generation of “Layers Out of the Dead,” are emerging.
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).
Euthanasia for psychiatric patients was rare in the early years of the law, but patients complained that they were being unfairly stigmatized: psychic suffering, they argued, was just as unbearable as physical pain. Like cancer patients, they were subjected to futile treatments that diminished their quality of life. Dirk De Wachter, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Leuven and the president of the ethics commission for the university's psychiatric center, said that he reconsidered his opposition to euthanasia after a patient whose request he had rejected committed suicide. In 2004, she set up a camera in front of a newspaper office in Antwerp and set herself on fire.Rachel Aviv traveled to Belgium, where euthanasia has been legal since 2002, to report on the complications and consequences that surround the practice of assisted suicide and euthanasia for psychiatric patients: The Death Treatment.
A Sea Change in Treating Heart Attacks (NYT) Dr. Mahesh Bikkina, the director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Paterson, N.J., tells his trainees about the old days: heart muscles that tore, with blood leaking out of holes, and valves that ruptured, leading to sudden death if not repaired immediately with open-heart surgery. “I tell them you will read about these things in textbooks,” Dr. Bikkina said.“You will almost never see them.”
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]
"The limb, developed by Professor Hubert Egger of the FH Upper Austria (University of Applied Sciences), allows wearers to tell which surface they are walking on and dramatically improves amputee's balance and coordination. The development could wipe out the phenomenon of phantom pain, where amputees can experience severe discomfort as the brain receives no neural feedback from their missing limb." [more inside]
Nebraska became the 20th state to adopt a law that makes it possible for nurses in a variety of medical fields with most advanced degrees to practice without a doctor’s oversight. Maryland’s governor signed a similar bill into law this month, and eight more states are considering such legislation, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Now nurses in Nebraska with a master’s degree or better, known as nurse practitioners, no longer have to get a signed agreement from a doctor to be able to do what their state license allows — order and interpret diagnostic tests, prescribe medications and administer treatments.
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]
The Last Day of Her Life. When Cornell psychology professor Sandy Bem found out she had Alzheimer’s, she resolved that before the disease stole her mind, she would kill herself. The question was, when? [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.)
An avalanche of unnecessary medical care is harming patients physically and financially. What can we do about it? By Atul Gawande, previously on Metafilter.
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]
In the coverage and discussions, our voices are unheard, our lived experience silenced from a discussion that impacts our lives in a way that journalists and think-piece writers and even doctors cannot understand. I struggle sometimes when I hear stories of people with cancer that most likely would be cured if only they followed the treatment regime suggested by their doctors who make the decision to follow a [complementary and alternative medicine] remedy. Not even your doctor will judge you though.Elizabeth Caplice writes about of living with (likely terminal) cancer, the temptation to believe in miracle cures when the reality of having to undergo cancer treatments are so dire and how little cancer patients themselves are heard in the ongoing debates about treatment and alternative medicine.
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?
The nurses and doctors summoned to the hospital room of 16-year-old Pablo Garcia early on the morning of July 27, 2013, knew something was terribly wrong. Just past midnight, Pablo had complained of numbness and tingling all over his body. Two hours later, the tingling had grown worse.
A five part series from Backchannel at Medium.
Part One - How Medical Tech Gave a Patient a Massive Overdose
I am in my first month of nursing school. It is the early 70s and this is a three-year program, hospital-based, all practical training. It is my first day in my first ward...A remembrance, by English professor and disability studies scholar, Janet Lyon.
Franz Anton Mesmer (1735-1815) was a Viennese doctor who incorporated hypnosis (which he called “Animal Magnetism”, meaning that planets had a “tidal” influence on the human body) into his medical practice. His peers considered him a charlatan, but he grabbed the attention of the rich, royal, and famous. And then he volunteered to cure the blind composer and pianist Maria Theresia von Paradis. [more inside]
Every day, news sources report on medical studies that describe promising new treatments. Most of them don't pan out in the end. Julia Belluz reports on "why you shouldn’t believe that exciting new medical study." Her article includes a figure showing which foods are reported to cause cancer and which ones are reported to prevent it. (Spoiler: they're the same foods.)
In the asylums, the garrison hospitals, the rogues’ hovels, and so on back through time, it is possible to see medicine moving toward this moment, when the malingerer ceases to be a monster and becomes a mirror to ourselves.
The world's first successful penis transplant has been performed in South Africa.
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.
Douglas Starr, in Blood, quotes the British Secretary of War, asked in 1937 what the nation proposed to do about a mass blood supply. The secretary was dismissive. Blood could not be stored for long or in great quantities, he said. On the hoof was better. “It was more satisfactory to store our blood in our people.” Janet Vaughan did not agree, and Janet Vaughan did something about it. Her medical director gave her £100, and she sent off her assistants in taxis to find all the tubing that London shops could provide.Longreads profiles Janet Vaughan, a British scientist who found better treatments for anemia than arsenic using herself as a test subject, was a major force in creating London's first blood banks using cheap tubing and ice cream trucks, studied emergency nutrition in a post-liberation concentration Nazi death camp, and continued active research into blood and radiation into her eighties, while occasionally serving as a model for Virginia Woolf characters.
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.
Eddie Marritz, a cinematographer and photographer in remission from small-cell carcinoma, was a participant in one of NYU's Psilocybin Cancer Anxiety research studies. Marritz, and the researchers, take us through the experience. Magic Mushrooms and the Healing Trip. (7 min) [more inside]
How Quincy M.E. Changed American Law and Saved Lives discusses the serendipitous way that a young man's need for medication for Tourette's syndrome came to the attention of a family member of actor Jack Klugman and resulted in the Orphan Drug Act of 1983. (main article by MeFi's own Garius) [more inside]
In memoriam: Dr. Michael Davidson, cardiac surgeon, killed while doing a job he loved. A reflection on bad outcomes versus mistakes and taking risks versus playing it safe.
Medical researchers at Columbia University have developed a smartphone accessory that can diagnose HIV and syphilis in 15 minutes. The device is estimated to cost $34 to manufacture, compared to $18,450 for existing equipment. It also does not require an external power source, which is a major benefit for use in areas without reliable access to electrical power.
"Dying to be free : there’s a treatment for heroin addiction that actually works. Why aren’t we using it?" -- A long-form article, focusing on heroin addiction and its "treatment" in Kentucky, by Jason Cherkis. (Huffington Post Projects) [more inside]
This fundamental lesson is conveyed by a metric known as the number needed to treat, or N.N.T. Developed in the 1980s, the N.N.T. tells us how many people must be treated for one person to derive benefit. An N.N.T. of one would mean every person treated improves and every person not treated fails to, which is how we tend to think most therapies work.So it turns out that e.g. you need 2000 People to take a daily aspirin for two years to prevent one heart attack. [more inside]
Violet Pietrok was born with a Tessier Cleft, a skull defect. Surgeons at Boston Children's Hospital used 3-D prints of her skull to practice before cutting into Violet's own skull to repair the damage.
Cold cream is mostly known from the beauty routines of old ladies or as a makeup remover for stage actors. However, its lengthy history goes back a ways further, to a medical treatment from the Renaissance, perhaps even to the ancient Greeks.
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.
"Look around Endell Street in Holborn today and you could be forgiven for thinking it just an average London street. But one hundred years ago this year, this non-descript spot just off of Shaftesbury avenue was home to an important, and now near-forgotten, part of British history – the Endell Street Military Hospital, the first British Army hospital staffed, and managed, entirely by women.”In WW1 Dr Flora Murray and Dr Louisa Garrett Anderson (daughter of the first Englishwoman to qualify as a physician) were determined to show that there was a place in military medicine for women. This is the story of the Women’s Hospital Corps and the now-forgotten pioneering London hospital they founded.
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."
The Art of Saving a Life, sponsored by the Gates Foundation, is a collection of stories about vaccination and immunization, as told by more than 30 world-renowned photographers, painters, sculptors, writers, filmmakers, and musicians. The intent is to promote vaccination just in time for an international effort to raise funds to inoculate millions, especially in poor nations. The full collection of art will be unveiled over the course of January 2015.
For the first time in nearly thirty years, a new
class of antibiotics may be on the way — and the good news doesn't end there. [more inside]
It’s that time of year again: the British Medical Journal‘s Christmas Edition is out, featuring some of the most hilarious research published since… well, since forever! All this week, Discover's Seriously, Science? will be featuring the best of this and past years’ BMJ Christmas Research Articles to get you in the holiday spirit. First up: Sword swallowing and its side effects [more inside]
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]