Health & Spirit

A Fishy Drug Problem

Scott LaFee on

Seeking to learn more about the biology of addiction, researchers at the University of Utah have built a system that allows zebrafish to give themselves small doses of hydrocodone, an opioid synthesized from codeine.

After a week, according to STAT, the fish started taking risks if it meant they could get another dose and when the hydrocodone was taken away, they became anxious and stressed, apparent signs of withdrawal.

Zebrafish are a longtime, helpful model for investigating human biology. By showing similar behaviors, researchers hope to better understand the basic mechanisms of addiction afflicting people.

Body of Knowledge

Fingernails grow at 0.02 inches per week, four times faster than toenails. This translates to .0028 inches in a day or 0.000119 inches per hour. The middle fingernail grows fastest; the thumb slowest.

Get Me That, Stat!

Two of the downsides of an aging population: You go to the doctor more often and there's a greater chance you won't hear what he or she tells you. In a recent survey of 100 adults, researchers at University College Cork in Ireland reported that 43 said they had misheard a physician, nurse or both during either a primary care visit or hospital stay.

The study didn't look at whether any of the miscommunications resulted in medical errors but noted that the prevalence of errors generally rises with patients' age.

Life in Big Macs

One hour of showering burns 136 calories (based on a 150-pound person) or the equivalent of 0.2 Big Macs. It also wastes a lot of water.

Doc Talk

Intergluteal cleft: That, um, crease between the two large gluteal muscles you sit on, or more crudely, your butt crack

Phobia of the Week

Fykiaphobia: Fear of seaweed

Never Say Diet

The Major League Eating record for pepperoni and cheese pizzas is 252 slices (2.52 pounds) in 6 minutes, held by Patrick Bertoletti. Warning: Most of these records are held by professional eaters; the rest by people who really should find something better to do.

Best Medicine

A woman walked up to a little, wrinkled, sallow man sitting in a chair on his porch.

"I couldn't help noticing how happy you look," she said. "What's your secret for a long happy life?"

"I smoke three packs of cigarettes a day," the man replied. "I also drink a case of whiskey a week, eat fatty foods and never exercise."

"That's amazing," the woman said. "How old are you?"



"If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as a sorry state as the souls who live under tyranny."

--American president Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

Medical History

This week in 1772, the soon-to-be state of New Jersey passed the first law in the soon-to-be United States to license medical practitioners, except those who do not charge for their services or whose activity is limited to bleeding patients or pulling teeth.

Self Exam

Q: If you spread out an adult human brain, it would be about the size of a:

a) LP vinyl record

b) Pillowcase

c) small table

d) tennis court

A: pillowcase


"She did it the hard way."

--American actress Bette Davis (1908-1989)


To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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