health

typography can save the world just kidding

22.jpg

Google is engaged with one of the country’s largest health-care systems to collect and crunch the detailed personal health information of millions of Americans across 21 states.

The initiative, code-named “Project Nightingale,” appears to be the biggest in a series of efforts by Silicon Valley giants to gain access to personal health data and establish a toehold in the massive health-care industry. […] Google began the effort in secret last year with St. Louis-based Ascension, the second-largest health system in the U.S., with the data sharing accelerating since summer, the documents show.

The data involved in Project Nightingale encompasses lab results, doctor diagnoses and hospitalization records, among other categories, and amounts to a complete health history, including patient names and dates of birth.

Neither patients nor doctors have been notified. At least 150 Google employees already have access to much of the data on tens of millions of patients, according to a person familiar with the matter and documents.

Some Ascension employees have raised questions about the way the data is being collected and shared, both from a technological and ethical perspective, according to the people familiar with the project. But privacy experts said it appeared to be permissible under federal law. That law, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, generally allows hospitals to share data with business partners without telling patients, as long as the information is used “only to help the covered entity carry out its health care functions.”

Google in this case is using the data, in part, to design new software, underpinned by advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning, that zeroes in on individual patients to suggest changes to their care.

{ Wall Street Journal | Continue reading }

oil on panel { Mark Ryden, Incarnation, 2009 | Work in progress of the intricate frame for Mark Ryden’s painting Incarnation }

Holihowlsballs and bloody acres!

23.jpg

Do a country’s inhabitants get happier as it gets richer? […]

In Britain, for example, happiness fell sharply during the two world wars. It began to rise again after 1945, peaked in 1950, and then fell gradually, including through the so-called Swinging Sixties, until it reached a nadir around 1980.

America’s national happiness, too, fell during the world wars. It also fell in the 1860s, during and after the country’s civil war. The lowest point of all came in 1975, at the end of a long decline during the Vietnam war, with the fall of Saigon and America’s humiliating defeat.

In Germany and Italy the first world war also caused dips in happiness. By contrast, during the second world war these countries both got happier as the war continued. […]

A one-year increase in longevity has the same effect on national happiness as a 4.3% increase in gdp. […]

it is warfare that causes the biggest drops in happiness. On average it takes a 30% increase in gdp to raise happiness by the amount that a year of war causes it to fall. The upshot appears to be that, while increasing national income is important to happiness, it is not as important as ensuring the population is healthy and avoiding conflict.

{ The Economist | Continue reading }

the noxiousness of its effluvia in lacustrine marshes, pestilential fens, faded flowerwater, stagnant pools in the waning moon

32.jpg

Whatever goes down the sink, shower, washing machine and toilet is transferred to one of about 14,000 U.S. wastewater treatment plants. While those plants are good at neutralizing sewage microorganisms that can make people sick or pollute waterways, they can miss chemicals that are linked with our changing lifestyles.

The biggest change since most treatment plants were designed? The explosion of pharmaceutical use by Americans. […] About 60% of American adults take at least one prescription pill every day. Residue from those pills travels to treatment plants and waterways.

{ Axios | Continue reading }

cabinet, wood, glass, metal, paint assorted marine debris, plastic, rope { Mark Dion, Cabinet of Marine Debris, 2014 }

‘O teach me how I should forget to think.’ –Shakespeare

7.jpg

Targeted Memory Reactivation During Sleep Improves Next-Day Problem Solving

Many people have claimed that sleep has helped them solve a difficult problem, but empirical support for this assertion remains tentative. […]

In the evening, we presented 57 participants with puzzles, each arbitrarily associated with a different sound. While participants slept overnight, half of the sounds associated with the puzzles they had not solved were surreptitiously presented.

The next morning, participants solved 31.7% of cued puzzles, compared with 20.5% of uncued puzzles (a 55% improvement). […]

These results demonstrate that cuing puzzle information during sleep can facilitate solving, thus supporting sleep’s role in problem incubation.

{ Sage | Continue reading }

art { John Gerrard, Western Flag (Spindletop Texas), 2017 }

I am dying, Egypt, dying

22.jpg

A new drug, created to treat just one patient, has pushed the bounds of personalized medicine and has raised unexplored regulatory and ethical questions.

The drug, described in The New England Journal of Medicine, is believed to be the first “custom” treatment for a genetic disease. It is called milasen, named after the only patient who will ever take it: Mila (mee-lah) Makovec, who lives with her mother, Julia Vitarello, in Longmont, Colo. […]

Milasen is believed to be the first drug developed for a single patient (CAR-T cancer therapies, while individualized, are not drugs). But the path forward is not clear, Dr. Yu and his colleagues acknowledged. There are over 7,000 rare diseases, and over 90 percent have no F.D.A.-approved treatment […]

Tens of thousands of patients could be in Mila’s situation in the United States alone. But there are nowhere near enough researchers to make custom drugs for all who might want them.

And even if there were, who would pay? Not the federal government, not drug companies and not insurers, said Dr. Steven Joffe, professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Unfortunately, that leaves it to families,” he added. “It feels awfully uncomfortable, but that is the reality.”

That means custom drugs would be an option only for the very wealthy, those with the skills to raise large sums of money, or those who gain the support of foundations.

Mila’s drug development was mostly paid for by the foundation run by her mother, but she and Dr. Yu declined to say how much was spent.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

screenprint on Perspex { Bridget Riley, Untitled [Fragment 3/11], 1965 }

‘Insufficient sleep lowers lifespan, but it means you spend more hours awake per day… could outweigh dying sooner?’ –NeuroSkeptic

3.jpg

Social media consumption plays an important role in everyday life and, thus, one would expect that this topic is reflected in dreams. […] Social media dreams were quite rare (two percent of all remembered dreams)

{ Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking | Continue reading }

Scientists disagree as to what extent dreams reflect subconscious desires, but new research [2009] reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology concludes that dreams do influence people’s decisions and attitudes.

{ American Psychological Association | Continue reading }

quote { NeuroSkeptic | more }

Sleep no more

32.jpg

Humans need more than seven hours of sleep each night to maintain cognitive performance. After ten days of just seven hours of sleep, the brain is as dysfunctional as it would be after going without sleep for 24 hours. […]

The best ways to train your body to fall asleep quicker is to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even if you don’t have a good night of sleep.

{ Quartz | Continue reading }

photo { Thomas Prior }

The eye could not see from any point

5.jpg

There’s been an explosion of interest in the use of psychedelics in psychiatry. […]

Psychedelics have mostly been investigated in small studies run by true believers. […] Some of the most exciting psychedelic findings have already failed to replicate […]

Ketamine is the best comparison for psychedelics. […] Like psychedelics, it got hyped as an exciting new innovation that was going to revolutionize everything in psychiatry (in this case, depression treatment). But it’s been in pretty common (albeit non-formulary) use for five years now, and nothing has been revolutionized. […]

Between 10% and 50% of Americans have tried psychedelics. If psychedelics did something shocking, we would already know about it. […]

Even if all of the above are wrong and psychedelics work very well, the FDA could kill them with a thousand paper cuts. Again, look at ketamine: the new FDA approval ensures people will be getting the slightly different esketamine, through a weird route of administration, while paying $600 a pop, in specialized clinics that will probably be hard to find. Given the price and inconvenience, insurance companies will probably restrict it to the most treatment-resistant patients, and it probably won’t help them (treatment-resistant patients tend to stay that way). Given the panic around psychedelics, I expect it to be similarly difficult to get them even if they are legal and technically FDA-approved. Depressed people will never be able to walk into a psychiatrist’s office and get LSD. They’ll walk into a psychiatrist’s office, try Prozac for three months, try Wellbutrin for three months, argue with their insurance for a while, eventually get permission to drive to a city an hour away that has a government-licensed LSD clinic, and get some weird form of LSD that might or might not work, using a procedure optimized to minimize hallucinations.

{ Slate Star Codex | Continue reading }

‘Buying a 25-year-old 757 is like buying a bag of Cheetos. It’s a lot of food for a low price.’ –Greg Raiff, CEO of Private Jet Services

22.jpg

“In many countries, poor diet now causes more deaths than tobacco smoking and high blood pressure […] we have shown that, at the population level, a low intake of healthy foods is the more important factor, rather than the high intake of unhealthy foods”

[…]

more than half of all global diet-related deaths in 2017 were due to just three risk factors: eating too much salt, not enough whole grains and not enough fruit.

{ CNN | Continue reading }

If you’re vegetarian, use the kombu in your dashi, but skip the bonito flakes

21.jpg

The goal of this study is to determine if thong underwear use is associated with a higher report of urinary tract (UTI) or vaginal infections. […] We found that thong use is not associated with UTI, BV, or VY. Instead, sexual behaviors and hygiene choices are risk factors for these infections. We recommend that providers take a more complete sexual history to identify these risk factors rather than focusing on underwear as a primary risk factor.

{ Site | Continue reading }

unrelated { A man in Chicago attempted to board a plane butt naked }

screenprint on Perspex { Bridget Riley, Untitled [Fragment 2/10], 1965 }

Jambalaya!

27.jpg

For every 100,000 inhabitants, Okinawa has 68 centenarians – more than three times the numbers found in US populations of the same size. Even by the standards of Japan, Okinawans are remarkable, with a 40% greater chance of living to 100 than other Japanese people. […]

one of the most exciting factors to have recently caught the scientists’ attention is the peculiarly high ratio of carbohydrates to protein in the Okinawan diet – with a particular abundance of sweet potato as the source of most of their calories. […]

Despite the popularity of the Atkins and Paleo diets, there is minimal evidence that high-protein diets really do bring about long-term benefits.

So could the “Okinawan Ratio” – 10:1 carbohydrate to protein – instead be the secret to a long and healthy life? […]

The typical Okinawan centenarian appeared to be free of the typical signs of cardiovascular disease […] Okinawa’s oldest residents also have far lower rates of cancer, diabetes and dementia than other ageing populations. […]

Genetic good fortune could be one important factor. Thanks to the geography of the islands, Okinawa’s populations have spent large chunks of their history in relative isolation, which may has given them a unique genetic profile. […]

It is the Okinawans’ diet, however, that may have the most potential to change our views on healthy ageing. Unlike the rest of Asia, the Okinawan staple is not rice, but the sweet potato. […] Okinawans also eat an abundance of green and yellow vegetables – such as the bitter melon – and various soy products. Although they do eat pork, fish and other meats, these are typically a small component of their overall consumption, which is mostly plant-based foods.

The traditional Okinawan diet is therefore dense in the essential vitamins and minerals - including anti-oxidants - but also low in calories. Particularly in the past, before fast food entered the islands, the average Okinawan ate around 11% fewer calories than the normal recommended consumption for a healthy adult.

{ BBC | Continue reading }

photo { Stephen Shore, New York City, New York, September-October 1972 }

Newman and I are reversing the peepholes on our door so you can see in

33.jpg

An electronic synapse that fires millions of times faster than the ones in your brain could be used to build artificial neural networks.

[…]

A clinical trial of drugs called mTOR inhibitors found that they boosted elderly people’s immune systems, potentially extending their life spans. Another trial in progress is testing senolytics, drugs that eliminate the senescent cells that make aging bodies break down.
[…]

A team that built a brain-to-brain communication device in 2015 has now expanded it to three people, paving the way for larger groups to transmit thoughts directly to one another.

[…]

An ordinary smartphone can be used to track people on the other side of a solid wall by detecting how their movements distort the signals from any Wi-Fi transmitters in the area.

{ Technology Review | Continue reading }

image { Google hires camel for desert Street View, 2014 }