Health & Spirit

Fatty Breath

Scott LaFee on

When you exercise, you burn carbohydrates, such as sugar. If you exercise long and hard enough, you burn fat too. Currently, the only way to know for sure when you're actually burning fat is to measure biomarkers in blood or urine, which is obviously problematic if, say, you're in the middle of a swim or long run.

Swiss researchers, however, have developed a small sensor that detects the presence of a particular biomarker that is expelled with breathing: acetone. (It leaks into the breath from the blood supply feeding pulmonary alveoli in the lungs.

The sensor is about the size of a quarter, and appears reasonably accurate in tests. Researchers are working to make it more efficient and smaller. They're also working on chips to detect airborne biomarkers that test for kidney function and lung cancer.

Salad Days

Iowa State scientists say adding a bit of soybean oil to your salad boosts the body's ability to absorb seven different nutrients in salad vegetables, such as vitamin E and K. That's good news for dieters worried about the added calories of salad dressing, though researchers still cautioned restraint. U.S. dietary guidelines recommend about two tablespoons of oil per day. Another reason not to go overboard: The study was small, just 12 participants.

Body of Knowledge

A knee jerk reflex takes about 30 milliseconds, or 30 one-thousandths of a second.

Get Me That, Stat!

The National Center for Family & Marriage says 13 percent of American adults lived alone in 2015, up 1 percent since 1990. The share of people under age 45 and over age 65 hasn't changed much, but the middle years -- 45 to 65 -- have a lot, which has some demographers worried since loneliness is linked to a host of physical, mental and social ills.

Number Cruncher

A McDonald's hash brown patty (56 grams) contains 150 calories, 81 from fat. It has 9 grams of total fat or 14 percent of the recommended total fat intake for a 2,000-calorie daily diet.

It also contains 310 milligrams of sodium (13 percent); 15 grams of total carbohydrates (5 percent); and 1 g of protein.


104: Average number of hours that a driver in Los Angeles spends sitting in traffic each year

107: Average number of hours that a driver in New York City spends looking for parking

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation

Never Say Diet

The Major League Eating record for frozen yogurt is 10.5 pounds in 6 minutes, held by Matt Stonie, who naturally remained stony-faced during what must have been a major "ice cream headache."

Doc Talk

Homonymous hemianopia: term describing similar loss of vision in both eyes.

Phobia of the Week

Anuptaphobia: fear of remaining single (unmarried)

Best Medicine


A doctor was giving a lecture to a group of medical students at a teaching hospital.

Pointing to an x-ray, he opined: "As you can see, this patient limps because his right fibula and tibia are radically arched."

The doctor then turned to the class and asked a young man in the front row: "What would you do in a case like this?"

The young man replied, "I suppose I would limp, too."

Hypochondriac's Guide

Geographic tongue involves psoriasis-like symptoms of the mouth, most notably harmless but potentially painful lesions on the tongue. Raised red and white patches form, often irregularly shaped and resembling landmasses. The cause is not known, but the condition may result from stress, hormonal disturbances or nutritional deficiencies.


"I saved a man's life once," said Granny. "Special medicine, twice a day. Boiled water with a bit of berry juice in it. Told him I'd bought it from the dwarves. That's the biggest part of doct'rin, really. Most people'll get over most things if they put their minds to it, you just have to give them an interest."

--British author Terry Pratchett in the 1987 novel "Equal Rites"

Medical Myths

You can find them at swap meets, alternative health stores and occasionally the odd purveyor of trinkets: copper bracelets that allegedly cure arthritis. Makers claim absorption of copper from the bracelet through the skin helps speed natural regeneration of cartilage, whose progressive deterioration is the cause of arthritis. But there's no proof that copper can be absorbed through the skin and most people get sufficient copper in their ordinary diets (vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains). Conversely, excessive copper can result in poisoning. In severe cases, leading to liver damage.

Med School

Q: Where is the glabella?

A: It's the space between your eyebrows.


On a headstone in a Thurmont, Maryland cemetery:

"Here lies an Atheist

All dressed up

And no place to go."


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

Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate Inc.


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