April 8, 2012

Happy Easter! More interesting reads

Happy Easter everyone!

To celebrate, here are more interesting articles that have been sitting in my browser tabs for ages:

1. The 8-hour Sleep Myth

Ah sleep.  We all need more of it.  This article however, has an interesting take on exactly how we should get our daily dose of sleep, arguing that we were meant to actually have 2 sleep periods rather than a single one through the entire night.  Not sure how convinced I am about the article, but it is interesting to think about, especially in light of the new Hunger Games series, which brings the question of survival to the forefront.  (I still wish that people who talk about how novel an idea the Hunger Games are knew about Battle Royale, the Japanese movie that had a very similar premise, but came out almost a decade earlier, in 2001.  I have yet to see it, but hope to soon.  And I think even before that movie, it was a short story.  Anyways, moving on).

2. Speaking of sleeping and beds, women (who like having intercourse without procreative consequences) around the world, rejoice!  Male Birth Control

So, I don’t know how true this is, but apparently, a form of male birth control has been found through clinical trials in India that is “100% effective,” and reversible!  Don’t believe me?  Read the article for yourself.  Basically in requires injection of the vas deferens (the tube the sperm go down to come out of) with a polymer gel that breaks apart sperm, and if you want to reverse it, you just inject something else (I guess to break down the gel), and you can make babies again in 2-3 months.  Supposedly these trials have been going on for 25 years, and it has been shown to be safe.  I do wonder whether there’s any data on the children that are born after the reversing of the gel… It’s certainly an intriguing concept though.

On another note, I wonder if people would get up in arms about this from an ethical/religious standpoint.  Because unlike female contraception, which can be seen as abortion (such as the morning after pill) if one believes life begins at conception, male contraception would prevent the conception in the first place.  However, it could perhaps be argued that this would destroy potential life, which is what procreation was meant for in the first place.  Or maybe people won’t care at all.  We shall see I guess.

3. Clothing and perception: the White Coat

And now, for a psych experiment!  It seems that when people (undergraduates in this case) are given a white coat to wear, it will help them have heightened awareness and attention… but only if they are told it is a doctor’s coat, as vs. a painter’s coat (even though it is the same coat).

I do agree with the ending paragraph though.  I think that the effect does wear off over time, although some remnant is still there, especially for symbolic clothing – like a military/police uniform… and I guess the white coat, too (but it depends on the situation).  White coats in labs no longer mean much to an actual scientist, because in most labs, (sadly for safety officers and possibly the scientists’ own personal health), people don’t actually wear the coats most of the time.  But for the medical doctor, it may mean more, because you wear it right before seeing patients.  At least for us, at my school, the only time we are required to wear our white coats is if we’re going to see patients, so for us med students, I guess it’s symbolic.  But even I, as a first year, am starting to treat it as just another (somewhat bothersome) article of clothing I need to put on. So maybe the social phenomena in this study is something that happens only for people who perceive the symbolism of something that is not of their own profession/religion/culture/etc.

Random thought(s):  I wonder why the URL link says r=2 on it, even though the article is one page long.  Wonder what r=1 is?  *checks*  Oh… same article. lawls.  I also enjoyed the correction at the end because I actually was wondering at the ambiguity of the sentence talking about the hot drinks, thinking it didn’t really make sense for people to rate people with hot drinks in their hands as personally warmer, but it would make sense perhaps for people who held hot drinks to think others were personally warmer.  Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m a dork.

4.  And now, fatty/fried food lovers rejoice!

For a study in Spain now shows that fried foods do not in fact increase your risk for heart disease and  death!  Of course, this is a GREAT example of why you should never read articles at face value and should instead always read them in context, because, as you can even see in the limitations and conclusions of the study, “Our results are directly applicable only to Mediterranean countries with frying methods similar to those in Spain. Firstly, oil (mainly olive and sunflower) rather than solid fat is used for frying in Spain…Secondly, consumption of fried foods in Spain is not a proxy for fast food intake. Fast foods are generally prepared by deep frying with oils used several times, and are consumed mostly away from home…Moreover, we can assume that oil is not reused many times for foods consumed at home; however, the cardiovascular effects of food fried with overly reused oils merit further research,” amongst other things.

And on a more somber note: Doctors Cheated on Exams

This one is an interesting read that I’ve had as a tab since almost the beginning of the school year since I never got around to reading it (until now).  It talks about cheating in the Board certification exam for radiology – basically how for years, radiology residents would memorize certain questions on the exam, and get together with other radiology residents to compile a list (called the “recall”) and send it to the next year’s residents.  That of course, is blatantly cheating – in med school, we all have to sign an Honor Code before each test stating we will not cheat or engage in that kind of behavior… in fact, one student got kicked out this year for violating the Honor Code.  And yet, this is happening all the way at the residents’ level?  Quite surreal.

Of course, you have to wonder a bit at the guy (Webb) who complained about this practice to superiors and started this big investigation because he was trying to take the high moral road… but 1. he failed the first round (would he have brought it up if he had done well/passed?) and 2. his unprofessionalism, which resulted in his firing – “He was reprimanded last year for making “sexual comments” to another doctor and for “other conduct unbecoming an officer.” That led to his firing from the radiology program.”  That doesn’t seem to moral to me.

My personal thoughts are to wonder whether there are any test prep materials like Princeton Review or Kaplan for these kinds of tests like there are for so many other things (SAT’s to GRE’s to MCAT’s, to USMLE Step 1 test books).  If not, though I don’t condone the practice of copying the test questions and answer choices directly, I can see why the recalls could be helpful as a resource in terms of practicing test-style questions and seeing what areas one needs to study more (just like any other test prep book).  However, if there ARE test prep materials, then I wonder why residents don’t use those instead.

It is interesting to note that this issue only seems to pertain to the radiology specialty in partiular. “Dr. Kevin Weiss, president and CEO of the American Board of Medical Specialties, said he had not heard about anything similar to the radiology testing issue in other medical specialties. The ABMS is the umbrella group for 24 boards and 152 specialties and sub-specialties.”

And with that, I now conclude the second round of interesting medical reads on zee internetz.

Happy Easter everyone! 🙂

GI Fun Facts – Part I (?)

Filed under: Fun facts — sanguinemare @ 2:15 pm
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Here are some fun/medical facts we have learned from GI so far (during material for the first test):


  • Appendicitis usually starts out hurting near the umbilicus (belly-button) because of referred pain (organs have something called “visceral nerves” which don’t have pain receptors), but when it gets more inflamed, that’s when it starts hurting in the right lower quadrant of your abdomen (because that’s when it presses on your peritoneum (the inside lining of your stomach), which DOES have pain sensors).
  • Cholecystitis (gall stones) are formed if you have either too much cholesterol or if you have too little bile salts (b/c excess cholesterol starts crystallizing around the bile salts).  Treatment?  Synthetic bile salts or surgical removal of the gallbladder (which means bye-bye ability to eat fats :/)

Fun facts

  • Chewing gum actually uses up a lot of energy – if you chew gum continuously while you’re awake for a year, it is estimated that you will lose 5kg!
  • Hiccups are from spasms of the epiglottis and esophagus.
  • Swallowing is a very complex process which involves the food in your mouth turning into a bolus, then your tongue pushing it to the back of your throat (pharynx), the epiglottis (a flap at the opening of your airway) closes to block off the airway so that the food can slide behind the trachea into the esophagus, and then peristaltic waves help push the food down.  Speaking of the esophagus, did you know the top third is skeletal muscle (voluntary), the bottom third is smooth muscle (involuntary), and the middle third is both?
  • Lifesavers were called that because they had a hole in the middle, so if you swallowed it down the wrong tube, you could still breathe.
  • It takes about 10 seconds to get food from your mouth to your stomach (less for liquids of course).  This is called primary peristalsis (you can’t feel secondary peristalsis).
  • Food actually shoots out of your stomach into the small intestine in jets!  (It’s not a smooth transition/squishing out).
  • Food empties completely out of your stomach by ~100 min after you eat.  It takes 2 more hours to empty completely out of the small intestine (food moves at about 5cm/min).
  • You will eat about 30 tons of food in your lifetime.
  • Red bull is called what it is because it has a lot of the amino acid Taurine in it. Tau- as in tauros, the bull.

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