April 7, 2014

Link dump

Since I also have accumulated many many tabs since the last time I posted, here are some medical/science-y related things that I found interesting (this was originally going to be part of the previous post, but I realized I have too many things to share, and the post was getting too long, haha).  In no particular order:

3-D floating, holographic bodies have now been developed at the University of Michigan to help with anatomy/dissection!  I’ve actually seen some of the virtual anatomy lab tables they mention in the article at some of the AAMC conferences before and thought they were really neat (just too expensive for our school probably), but this takes that a step even further!  It would be even cooler if they could add tactile information (like perhaps a pressure glove that can help simulate what things should feel like)

Here’s a really neat article on using Disney to reach an autistic child – which I love both because it’s a very moving story, and because it’s another reason to love Disney 🙂  It show how important it is in medicine/healthcare to think outside the box – how thinking creatively to a problem can help connect people in totally unexpected ways.  Which actually also reminds me of this moving story of Carly.

Here’s a few articles relating to music:
1) Ever get a song stuck in your head?  That’s called an “earworm” – great name huh?  You can thank the Germans for that.  This article briefly outlines what types of songs/conditions get songs like “Let it Go” stuck in our heads.
2)  Here are some random facts about listening to music and how it can affect your life.  These are all presumably based on research (I have to admit I did not go and check all the links for the studies behind these, but at least they have them so you can look them up yourselves if you want to verify the information presented).
3) If you loved The Sound of Music as much as I did growing up, and ever wondered what the real von Trapp family was like (yes, they were real people!), here is a comparison of the movie with the true history/personality of the von Trapps.

Here’s a few articles relating to nutrition sciences:
1) Visceral fat (known as the “bad” fat around your organs, which if accumulated may be detrimental to your health) has been linked to cells expressing the Wt1 gene, which may continue to act as a source of this fat in adults, modifiable through diet.  These cells are also the ones that may develop into the protective lining (mesothelium) around these visceral fat areas. Pretty interesting!
2)  A pretty good article that discusses the use of antibiotics potentially contributing to the obesity epidemic, and also touches upon one of the mechanisms behind it through modification of the gut microbiome.  Something to think about I think, for the future – truly, physicians need to be good stewards of antibiotics and not just give them out to anyone who has the sniffles or asks for them (not only for this reason, but because of the increasing cases of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that are now cropping up due to overuse of these meds).
3)  Apparently, there are two forms of the major milk protein casein that can be dominant in milk – A1 and A2.  According to this article, milk with predominantly A1 protein has been linked to a variety of diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and even autism or schizophrenia, while A2 is more digestable by humans.  However, as the article says, “the evidence is far from conclusive”, so take it with a grain of salt (especially given some of the comments below).  I do think t’s an interesting concept though, and one that might merit investigation.

And finally, people are starting to believe the Black Death in Europe in the Late Middle Ages was actually a pneumonic plague (spread from human to human through the air), rather than bubonic (disease form that causes infection through the lymphatic system in humans, spread by rat fleas).  Makes sense to me – I always thought it seemed to spread way too quickly for fleas to be the culprit.

That’s it for now, but there’s a whole other window with even more (older) tabs that I have yet to get to… hopefully that happens soon…


edit: Well, it looks like I was wrong, and I only have a couple more links (most of the other tabs were funding sources that I was looking into for a potential overseas research thing I was looking into, hah.  So just ended up bookmarking most of those).  So here are the other links:

Here’s a good resource if you’re interested in knowing what the latest consensus is in science about nutrition and how it affects cancers of various types/areas.

Speaking of areas in the body, here’s an um… enlightening article on what the female pleasure areas look like when they wake up, so to speak.  Kind of interesting, and also makes sense.  Share it with your SO’s, folks.

And finally, just because it’s too good not to share (and since it’s exactly what I’m doing right now, it seems to fit well), here is a non-scientific, but still interesting and very amusingly accurate picture of why people procrastinate.  And also an equally hilarious and illustrated follow-up to the article, including a few words of advice on how to beat the habit.

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! 🙂

June 4, 2012

Food for thought

Throughout my classes in med school, no matter what organ system we are covering, we are always given statistics and risk factors for diseases.  Included in those lists are invariably obesity, diabetes, and smoking.  A few professors even explicitly say that the top two things people could do to present illness and disease is to quit smoking and lose weight.  Given that, do you think it’s ok for doctors to refuse non-emergency treatment for patients who don’t stop smoking or lose weight?  Well, according to this article, 54% of doctors in the UK apparently do.

Personally, I have to say I agree with them.  Maybe it’s my Asian upbringing, which teaches holistic lifestyle practices, but I do believe that a doctor should not be expected to be a miracle worker.  If a patient refuses to cooperate with their own health, a doctor should not be obligated to treat that person when it may do them no/much less benefit, and also uses up resources that someone else might have benefitted a lot more from.

It’s like the issue of compliance – whether patients follow what doctors tell them or not (things like taking medications on time, getting refills on time, coming to scheduled appointments and follow-ups, etc).  Doctors often decide on treatment regimes based not only on the medical condition, but on patient compliance.    Which makes sense.  You don’t want to send someone home with medications if you know they might forget to take it at the right times, for example, especially if it’s critical that they take it to prevent something bad from happening.  Instead, you might want to keep them in the hospital for a few days and have them on an IV drip to ensure the medication will be given at the right times and dosage.

So  why isn’t the same true for patients who don’t agree to take initiative in their own health and well-being?  Of course, it can be argued that people of lower education may not grasp the severity of the situation, which may be true, although it can also be argued that part of a physician’s job is to be an educator in healthcare.

Along those lines, perhaps part of what doctors need to learn is how to communicate effectively and connect with patients so that they will listen to their medical advice.  This article gave a few good tips on how to get people to listen to you better, which I thought could be useful both in and out of the clinic.

I guess that’s enough rambling for now.  Thoughts?

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