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Showing posts from November, 2011

Scientists and Tattoos

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A surprising number of scientists have tattoos hidden under their lab coats and these tattoos are examples of their cool geekiness.   Prof Sandeep Robert Datta has a tattoo of a twisting ladder of DNA.  The DNA message spells out the initials of his wife, Eliza Emond Edelsberg.  True love manifested through amino acids that are the building blocks of protein!!!  
Science journalist, Carl Zimmer, posted a blog at Discover Magazine and asked scientists if a tattoo like this was a trend.  Without trying, he became the curator of tattoos and a scholar of science ink.  He found out that many scientist sport tattoos of carbon atoms, DNA, ancient fish, embryos...just about anything that interests them and is meaningful.  He has published a book called Science Ink.

Body ink has been around for thousands of years.  Two hikers climbing the Austrian Alps discovered the freeze-dried body of a 5,300-year-old hunter whose skin was preserved in the ice.  He had tattoos made from fireplace ash rubbed…

Thanksgiving Idea

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Happy Thanksgiving to EverythingHealth readers.

Thanks to KM for this way to appreciate Thanksgiving.  I did it and it only took about 7 minutes.  Here's the concept:

Get a piece of paper or a word doc on your computer.  Write one thing you are grateful for for each year of your age.  If you are older, you have lots of reasons to give thanks.  Don't over think it or try to put it in order of "importance".  No-one has to see it,  but the act of giving thanks for your life is an exercise that will improve your entire being.

Have a great day and Thanksgiving weekend.






Smoking is still a Huge Problem in the U.S.

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I live on the West Coast and where is rare to see a smoker.  Because it is not socially accepted,  smokers are not out in the open.  They lurk behind buildings to take a smoke break at work and I don't even own an ashtray for friends because none of my friends smoke.  But San Francisco isn't the rest of America.   In 2010 there were 45.5 million Americans who smoke, with men smoking more than women.  Tobacco remains the single largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States.  Each year approximately 433,000 people die of smoking-related illness.

Here are some more stats on American adult smokers.  The highest prevalence is American Indians/Alaska Natives (31.4%) followed by whites (21%).  Smoking incidence decreases with increasing education and improved economics.  By region, the Midwest has the most smokers in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia (22-27%).  That is huge.

California and Utah have the lowest percentag…

Amazing Spider Animation

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This is one of the most accurate and beautiful pieces of animation I've ever seen. And I love the title: "Loom" (Warning: if you are arachnophobic you may wish to avoid but if you want to see nature at her best, the detail is amazing.)

Hat tip to Micro Voyage and the creators at Polynoid

Yoga for Back Pain

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Low back pain is one of the most common conditions to affect humans.  More than 80% of Americans experience low back pain at some time in their lives and "chronic" pain is on the rise as people live longer and get heavier.  Numerous studies have shown that doctors and patients underutilized exercise as a treatment for chronic back and neck pain even though it has been shown to be effective.  A new study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that showed yoga to be an effective treatment for chronic low back pain.

The study authors took two groups of patients and compared yoga to usual care for chronic or recurrent low back pain. All patients received a back pain education booklet, but the study group also received a gradually progressing yoga program delivered by 12 teachers over 3 months.  The teachers were from 2 yoga associations - The British Wheel of Yoga and Iyengar Yoga and the sessions they taught were the same.  They focused on foundational elements of yog…

Answer to Medical Challenge-Yellow Nail Syndrome

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Yesterday's Medical Challenge answer was clear to some readers and a mystery to others.  The answer was:
#4  Yellow Nail Syndrome.  Although nails can become discolored from nail polish, the medical Yellow Nail Syndrome is a sign of a serious disorder and not well understood.  It is believed to be associated with  restrictive lung disease or  (rarely) problems with lymphatic drainage channels. (good memory, Grady Doc!)



Because these nails stop growing and become thicker, they are susceptible to fungal infections too.  Those who guessed Onchomycosis were not far off.   Onchomycosis is very common and the fungus infection causes lifting of the nail from the nail bed.



Psoriasis of the nail can also cause changes that can be confused with Yellow Nail Syndrome.   Ninety-five% of these patients have cutaneous psoriasis also.

Thanks for your diagnosis in this challenging case!















Medical Challenge

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This weeks medical challenge from the New England Journal of Medicine is a hard one.  Patients come all the time with nail problems and most are easy to diagnose.  Full disclosure to my readers...I missed this one.   A couple of hints...all of the nails are obviously affected.  Click on the image to enlarge and make your diagnosis in the comments section.   I will post the answer tomorrow so be sure to check back and see how you did.

1. Melanoma
2. Onychomycosis (fungus)
3. Psoriasis
4. Yellow-nail syndrome
5.  Zinc deficiency

Good luck!


Ode to Andy Rooney

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Andy Rooney, the broadcaster with a wry look at life, has died at age 92.  He worked up to the end after delivering his 1,097th commentary on life.  Andy Rooney had a knack of picking a topic that no-one had thought about, comment on it and listeners would say "Oh yea, that is so true".  He touched a nerve in modern American society.  Here are my Andy Rooneyisms:
Why do we have foods like "Go-Gurt"?  Is it so hard to eat yogurt that we need to make it faster?  Does squeezing it into your mouth from a tube save time?  Have you ever been late to something because you were "eating yogurt"?  When did we end up with 700 TV channels?  How did that happen? And why, when I'm watching the news, do I have to see a streaming commentary about different news across the bottom of the screen?  Aren't the 700 channels enough?  Do we need to be seeing several things at one time on each channel?  What happened to elevator operator jobs?  There was a time when someone …

Follow Up on 1991 Gulf War Veterans

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Remember the 1991 Gulf War between the United States and Iraq (aka: "Operation Desert Storm")?  A new study has been published in the American Journal of Epidemiology that assessed the health status of 5,469 deployed Gulf War veterans compared to 3,353 non deployed veterans.  At 10 year follow up, the deployed veterans were more likely to report persistent poor health.  The measures were functional impairment, limitation of activities, repeated clinic visits, recurrent hospitalization, perception of health as fair or poor, chronic fatigue syndrome illness and post-traumatic stress disorder.

From 1995 to 2005, the health of these veterans worsened in comparison to the veterans who did not deploy to the Persian Gulf.  A study done in the United Kingdom that compared Gulf War veterans to UN peacekeepers who served in Bosnia and other non-deployed Gulf War soldiers found the same thing.  The deployed veterans had significantly worse health in all realms. 

This was a longitudinal…