Health & Spirit

Rich in Hype

Scott LaFee on

Take a pint of whole blood and extract all of its red blood cells and what's left is platelet rich plasma, a concentrate of platelets (cell fragments that promote clotting) and a variety of growth factors that proponents say stimulates healing when re-injected into soft tissue injuries.

The treatment is quite popular, especially with professional athletes and celebrities. NBA star Stephen Curry has used it on an ailing knee; Kim Kardashian gets "vampire facials," in which scores of micro needles inject PRP. The treatment supposedly stimulates collagen and elastin fibers, producing smoother, blemish- and wrinkle-free skin.

PRP treatment isn't new, but it's also largely unproven. In a recent published study, researchers surveyed what's empirically known about PRP treatments. Turns out, not much. They concluded that there's been so much media hype about PRP -- often focusing on celebrity use and endorsements -- that no one has needed to prove it actually works by investing in a proper clinical trial.

If it's good enough for the Kardashians...

Body of Knowledge

A normal breath takes five seconds: two to inhale, three to exhale.

Get Me That, Stat!

There are 3 million adults and 470,000 kids living with epilepsy, according to the Centers for Disease Control, or just over 1 percent of the U.S. population.

Number Cruncher

A large Dairy Queen Oreo Cookies Blizzard shake (500 grams) contains 1,010 calories, 333 from fat. It has 37 grams of total fat or 57 percent of the recommended total fat intake for a 2,000-calorie daily diet.

It also contains 70 milligrams of cholesterol (23 percent); 770 mg of sodium (32 percent); 148 grams of total carbohydrates (49 percent); 2 g or dietary fiber; 113 grams of sugar and 19 g of protein.

Stories for the Waiting Room

Ear infections are one of the banes of childhood, but there's good news: They've become less common since children began getting vaccines that protect against bacteria that often cause them. Researchers followed 615 kids over a decade to track how often they got ear infections following a pneumococcal conjugate vaccination, first licensed in 2000.

At age one, 23 percent had experienced at least one ear infection. That's a significant decrease compared to similar 1989 study. According to STAT, the researchers also reported that Streptococcus pneumoniae - a bacterium targeted by the vaccine and formerly a primary cause of ear infections -- is no longer the most common culprit.


1: Ranking of first aid among Boy Scout merit badges

Source: Boy Scouts of America. Incidentally, the least popular merit badge is bugling.

Doc Talk

Bolus: a large dose of a drug that is given (usually intravenously) at the beginning of treatment to raise blood-level concentrations to a therapeutic level. It can also refer to a rounded mass of food or pharmaceutical preparation ready to swallow, or to a mass passing through the gastrointestinal tract.

Phobia of the Week

Apotemnophobia: fear of persons with amputations

Never Say Diet

The Major League Eating record for huevos rancheros is 7.75 pounds in 10 minutes, held by Richard "the locust" LeFevre. Warning: Most of these records are held by professional eaters with apt nicknames; the rest by people who really should find something better to do.

Best Medicine


A medical school professor is giving a lecture, using slides to discuss different patient cases. He brings up an x-ray image and says, "As you can see, class, this patient limps because his right fibula and tibia are radically arched."

Turning, he points to a student in the front row, and asks: "You, what would you do in a case like this?"

The student stares at the x-ray, ponders for a moment and then replies, "I suppose I would limp, too."


"We never repent of having eaten too little."

--Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

Medical History

This week in 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed the first U.S. law requiring inspection of meat products, specifically export shipments of salted pork and bacon and imported cattle, foods and drinks. The act was prompted by European nations banning American meat exports due to fear the products were infected with trichinosis. Those nations removed the restrictions the next year.

Self Exam

Q: Which human organ(s) can regenerate?

a) Liver

b) Stomach and liver

c) Fingernails

d) Pancreas

A: a) The liver is the only human organ capable of truly regenerating itself, though many other organs and tissues have notable self-repair abilities. In live liver donations, 40 to 60 percent of a donor's liver may be transplanted into a recipient, with both livers eventually re-growing to normal size.

Medical Myths

The myth that people use only 10 percent of their brains has a long history. It's been bandied about for at least a century. Modern imaging studies, however, show that no area of the brain is completely silent or inactive. Next on the list of things to study: Whether some people use even 10 percent of their brains.


"S = k log W"

Engraved on the Vienna tombstone of Ludwig Boltzman (1844-1906).

Boltzmann was an Austrian physicist who made fundamental contributions to statistical thermodynamics and mechanics. He was an early proponent of the controversial atomic theory. The formula represents Boltzmann's explanation for entropy of a system (how energy dissipates and changes). When his peers rejected the formula, Boltzmann committed suicide.


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