health

Orpheus with his lute made trees

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News of the successful use of ether anesthesia on October 16, 1846, spread rapidly through the world. […] Incredibly, this option was not accepted by all, and opposition to the use of anesthesia persisted among some sections of society decades after its introduction.

We examine the social and medical factors underlying this resistance. […] Complications of anesthesia, including death, were reported in the press, and many avoided anesthesia to minimize the considerable risk associated with surgery. Modesty prevented female patients from seeking unconsciousness during surgery, where many men would be present. Biblical passages stating that women would bear children in pain were used to discourage them from seeking analgesia during labor. […] In certain geographical areas, notably Philadelphia, physicians resisted this Boston-based medical advance, citing unprofessional behavior and profit seeking.

{ Journal of Anesthesia History | Continue reading }

photo { Peter Martin, Greenwich Village Nudes, Figure #1, 1951 }

Article IV. La liberté consiste à pouvoir faire tout ce qui ne nuit pas à autrui.

{ Mike Flemming, Hair Flip (The End of Authentic Gestures), 2014 }

But joys all want eternity — Eleven!

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Lucid dreams are when you know you’re dreaming and you can consciously control events as they unfold: it’s like being the director and star of your own Hollywood movie. It’s estimated that about 20 per cent of people get to enjoy them fairly regularly (at least once a month). For the rest of us, a new study in the journal Dreaming suggests a really simple way to increase your odds of having lucid dreams – just start making more frequent use of the snooze function on your alarm clock.

{ BPS | Continue reading }

Why bodybuilders are a poor source of pharmaceutical advice

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“Can I ask you why you’re buying fat-free half-and-half?” I said.

“Because it’s fat-free?” she responded.

“Do you know what they replace the fat with?” I asked.

“Hmm,” she said, then lifted the carton and read the second ingredient on the label after skim milk: “Corn syrup.” […]

The woman apparently hadn’t even thought to ask herself that question but had instead accepted the common belief that fat, an essential part of our diet, should be avoided whenever possible.

Then again, why should she question it, given that we allow food companies, advertisers and food researchers to do our thinking for us? In the 1970s, no one questioned whether eggs really were the heart-attack risk nutritionists warned us about. Now, of course, eggs have become such a cherished food that many people raise their own laying hens. Such examples of food confusion and misinformation abound. […]

Our beloved kale salads are not “healthy.” And we are confusing ourselves by believing that they are. They are not healthy; they are nutritious. […] If all you ate was kale, you would become sick.

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

I’m not that genie in a bottle, I’m in a bag

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As Stewart Brand acutely says, most of the things that dominate the news are not really new: love, scandal, crime, and war come round again and again. Only science and invention deliver truly new stuff, like double helixes and search engines. In this respect, the new news from recent science that most intrigues me is that we may have a way to explain why certain diseases are getting worse as we get richer. We are defeating infectious diseases, slowing or managing many diseases of ageing like heart disease and cancer, but we are faced with a growing epidemic of allergy, auto-immunity, and things like autism. Some of it is due to more diagnosis, some of it is no doubt hypochondria, but there does seem to be a real increase in these kinds of problems.

Take hay fever. It is plainly a modern disease, far more common in urban, middle-class people than it used to be in peasants in the past, or still is in subsistence farmers in Africa today. There’s really good timeline data on this, chronicling the appearance of allergies as civilization advances, province by province or village by village. And there’s really good evidence that what causes this is the suppression of parasites. You can see this happen in eastern Europe and in Africa in real time: get rid of worms and a few years later children start getting hay fever. […]

But how many of our modern diseases are caused by this problem—an impoverished ecology not just of parasites but of commensal and symbiotic micro-organisms too? Do kids today in the rich world have unbalanced gut flora after an upbringing of obsessive hygiene? Probably. How many diseases and disorders are the consequence of this? More than we think, I suspect—multiple sclerosis, obesity, anorexia, perhaps autism even.

[I]f you take the gut flora from an obese person and introduce it into a mouse with no gut flora, the mouse puts on weight faster than does another mouse with gut flora introduced from the obese person’s non-obese twin.

{ Edge | Continue reading }

Her long slender bare legs were delicate as a crane’s and pure save where an emerald trail of seaweed had fashioned itself as a sign upon the flesh

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Many people are keen on getting a skin tan despite being aware of warnings of health hazards. The present study investigates differences between women regularly using sunbeds and a control group of non-users in the areas of self-concept, narcissistic regulatory modalities, social assertiveness and generalized self-efficacy.

Thirty women users of suntan salons and 34 women who never used one were investigated with standardized psychological questionnaires. In addition, their knowledge about the hazards of using sunbeds and attitudes to tanning were recorded.

Statistical evaluation shows that sunbed users demonstrate more object devaluation: that is, other persons are devalued so that they are not even considered worthy of affection. Furthermore, they also display greater anxiety in their feelings and relationships with others. The results of this pilot study support the hypothesis that a tanned skin, by helping sunbed users to achieve their ideal of beauty, enables them to devalue other people and thus possibly to protect themselves from close relationships.

{ British Journal of Dermatology | Continue reading }

Keep it up for ever never grow a day older technically

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Poor posture can have ill effects that radiate throughout the body, causing back and neck pain, muscle fatigue, breathing limitations, arthritic joints, digestive problems and mood disturbances. It can also create a bad impression when applying for a job, starting a relationship or making new friends.

Poor posture can even leave you vulnerable to street crime. Many years ago, researchers showed that women who walked sluggishly with eyes on the ground, as if carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, were much more likely to be mugged than those who walked briskly and purposely with head erect. […]

In a study of 110 students at San Francisco State University, half of whom were told to walk in a slumped position and the other half to skip down a hall, the skippers had a lot more energy throughout the day. […]

Leaning forward or slouching can also reduce lung capacity by as much as 30 percent, reducing the amount of oxygen that reaches body tissues, including the brain.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer, never to hope again

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A new study published in The Lancet, following one million middle-aged women in Britain for 10 years, finds that the widely held view that happiness enhances health and longevity is unfounded.

“Happiness and related measures of well-being do not appear to have any direct effect on mortality,” the researchers concluded. […]

Researchers decided to look into the subject because, he said, there is a widespread belief that stress and unhappiness cause disease. […]

The new study says earlier research confused cause and effect, suggesting that unhappiness made people ill when it is actually the other way around.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

‘Sound trumpets! Let our bloody colours wave! And either victory, or else a grave.’ –Shakespeare

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By licking a wound it heals faster — this is not simply popular belief, but scientifically proven. Our saliva consists of water and mucus, among other things, and the mucus plays an important role. It stimulates white blood cells to build a good defense against invaders.

{ Lunatic Laboratories | Continue reading }

Blood is a bodily fluid in humans and other animals that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells. […] In vertebrates, it is composed of blood cells suspended in blood plasma. Plasma, which constitutes 55% of blood fluid, is mostly water (92% by volume), and contains dissipated proteins, glucose, mineral ions, hormones, carbon dioxide (plasma being the main medium for excretory product transportation), and blood cells themselves. Albumin is the main protein in plasma, and it functions to regulate the colloidal osmotic pressure of blood. The blood cells are mainly red blood cells, white blood cells (also called leukocytes) and platelets. The most abundant cells in vertebrate blood are red blood cells.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

related { A completely new view of how human blood is made has been discovered by scientists, upending conventional dogma from the 1960s. }

photo { Young Kyu Yoo }

The rain falls hard on a humdrum town, this town has dragged you down

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Group 1 - Carcinogenic:

This is the group for which there is the most evidence of cancer risk. […]

• Arsenic and arsenic compounds

[…]

• Solar radiation
• Tamoxifen6
• Tobacco, smoking, second-hand smoke
• Ultraviolet radiation
• X-Radiation and gamma radiation
• Processed meat

[…]

Group 2A - Probably carcinogenic:

Limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans, sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. […]

• Shift work that disrupts sleep patterns
• Red meat

[…]

Group 2B - Possibly carcinogenic:

Limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans, less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. […]

• Magenta dyes
• Pickled vegetables

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

I want to rock with you (all night)

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{ Dermatologic problems of musicians | Pseudo-Cello Scrotum? | via Improbable }

My name’s Elvira but you can call me tonight

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State-of-the-art forensic technology from South Africa has been used to try and unravel the mystery of what was smoked in tobacco pipes found in the Stratford-upon-Avon garden of William Shakespeare.

Residue from clay tobacco pipes more than 400 years old from the playwright’s garden were analysed. […] Results of this study (including 24 pipe fragments) indicated cannabis in eight samples, nicotine in at least one sample, and in two samples definite evidence for Peruvian cocaine from coca leaves.

{ The Independent | Continue reading }

photos { 1 | John K. }