December 19, 2012

A very late post of interesting articles

This is probably a new record for me – having articles open on my computer for 5 months just chilling there until I get time to post them up.  As they accumulate, they have also been increasing the workload of my poor, abused laptop of over 5 years.  (Speaking of – anyone know of any good computers/tablets to buy lately?  Black Friday/Cyber Monday is almost here lol.) Clearly, I wrote this in November, but it is now mid/late December while I’m updating so I guess it’s now been 6 months.. anyways. (Still would love to hear if anyone has good tablet ideas though!)

So here they are, in approximately chronological order:

1. This one was really horrifying to me… I don’t know about you, but I definitely would not consider getting part of my toe shaved off just so they could look thinner.  Apparently, there’s a new fad going around the plastic surgery circuit where people feel they are “toe-bese” and thus go get their toes cut open and trimmed.  It was this post on xanga that first brought this to my attention (like 5 months ago…) and here is the article/video they were getting their info from.  Now don’t get me wrong – if the width of the toe is actually causing a major problem physically, I could understand it.  But just for looks?  :\

2. An interesting and perhaps provocative essay on what really causes people to get fat was posted on the NY Times in June. This article on the results of a clinical trial by Dr. David Ludwig (Boston Children’s Hospital) suggests that the cause of obesity is not really due to fat consumption, but rather to excess carb consumption!  Interestingly enough, my parents recently went to a seminar by this lady (English name Sara) for those who can read Chinese. She was actually a Fulbright Fellow.  She actually also advocates a much lower carb-fat ratio than we (especially Americans) usually.  She also has different ideas of which types of fat are good (normally now, we all believe canola/vegetable oil is the healthiest, but she actually is a proponent of using animal fats for cooking – there’s a lot more to be said on the subject, but I’ll refrain here unless people want more elaboration.  But I will say that I personally have gotten better with certain weird symptoms since eating her diet in late October, and have also lost about 10 pounds of mostly fat weight easily since then, and my parents look a LOT younger and healthier… it actually surprised me how young they looked when they’d visited, after they’d only been on that dietary guideline for a month).

3.  I was talking with a friend earlier in the year about vaccinations and how I wasn’t sure if I would vaccinate my child or not (*gasp*, yes, I know) and another friend had said she and her family was not vaccinated and she probably wouldn’t vaccinate her children either.  Why you might ask?  Well, there are definitely potential side effects to all medications, vaccines included, some of which include death or encephalitis, which is not generally that well known in the public, or even really addressed in medical school.  While from a public health standpoint, it is understandable why vaccines are a good idea, but from an individual standpoint, there is cause for consideration.  So the friend I was talking to had a completely opposite idea of vaccines, but he also likes looking things up, so he stumbled upon this website (Why I Don’t Vaccinate My Children), which seems to have a lot of journal-backed information about what vaccines are made of and potential side effects.  I haven’t personally had time to read everything, but I did skim through some and check the articles, so it does seem legit if you’re interested in exploring the issue.

4. This social/demographic trend article on The Rise of Asian Americans I thought was interesting just because… well, probably because I am Asian-American, and I can resonate with some of the values and stuff said here, but also found the stats intriguing.  Perhaps we will begin to be a group that becomes more involved and makes an impact on American society someday (soon?).  I already see it starting in some areas, so it’s pretty exciting 🙂

5.  Ok, this is for those interested in the debate about marijuana and its effects.  Recently, a study was published that shows persistent use of cannabis (the scientific name for marijuana – specifically, the genus of the plant) starting from a young age results in cognitive and neurological decline that was not reversible even after stopping use of it.  We also just learned in medical school in our neuro module that there is currently speculation and some research that says smoking pot at an early age (18 or younger) significantly increases the risk of developing schizophrenia later in life.  In addition, almost 50% of schizophrenics (if I’m quoting that right) smoke pot.  Correlation doesn’t equal causation true, but a few longitudinal studies are showing that cannabis use significantly increases the chance of getting a psychosis-related illness, and if one was genetically predisposed to schizophrenia, it would cause the symptoms to develop earlier, leading to a worse prognosis and outcome.  Here’s an article that goes in a little more history of these findings.

6. Here’s something interesting for the runners and endurance athletes – a recent article suggests that running too much for too long may take a toll on the heart that is worse than the benefits that can be gained from the exercise.  Some key passages to note: “In a study involving 52,600 people followed for three decades, the runners in the group had a 19% lower death rate than nonrunners, according to the Heart editorial. But among the running cohort, those who ran a lot—more than 20 to 25 miles a week—lost that mortality advantage.” And also “Opinion is nearly unanimous among cardiologists that endurance athletics significantly increases the risk of atrial fibrillation, an arrhythmia that is estimated to be the cause of one third of all strokes.”  This was also in there “Meanwhile, according to the Heart editorial, another large study found no mortality benefit for those who ran faster than 8 miles per hour, while those who ran slower reaped significant mortality benefits,” which is a good thing for me, since I don’t think I can actually run faster than that hah.  Not all experts agree of course, but it’s something to keep in mind.

7. Everyone knows Einstein was a genius – so what was it about his brain that was different from ours?  Or perhaps more accurately, what changed in his brain while he was making his calculations, and can we use it to understand people’s capabilities now?  I’m sure we all know/suspect his brain looks pretty different, but didn’t know how different until 14 pictures from the autopsy were recently brought to light.  Apparently, his frontal and prefrontal cortices (areas of the brain responsible for conscious/abstract thought, planning, and executive function) had more folds than normal, as well as his occipital lobe (visual processing).  He also had an extra fold in his right parietal lobe, which is the side that deals more with awareness (amongst other things).

8. Speaking of brains, here’s a fun article on how training your brain can help stave off the effects of memory loss and cognitive decline as we age.  And of course, it’s also promoting the product Lumosity, which I (am somewhat ashamed? to say) have been playing somewhat consistently over the last two months.  While I have certainly gotten better at the games, I’m not quite as sure whether or not my brain is progressing, but it’s kind of fun and pretty quick as a daily stress reliever.

9. And the last thing I have for you all today is a small article on the benefits of green tea and skin cancer, from a professor I talked with a while back when trying to pick a research mentor for a lab rotation.  On that note, I also found this website on different teas and tea/herbal products (don’t know if their products are any good but was interested in checking it out)

Whew!  Finally cleaned out a good set of tabs. 😀  That’s my gift to myself over the break hehe.  I am now back at home and gloriously stuffing my face at every meal.  Here’s to being done with 1.5 years of med school!

Happy holidays! 🙂

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