Health & Spirit

The Joy of Soy

Scott LaFee on

In 1999, the Food and Drug Administration approved the health claim that consumption of soy protein (as opposed to animal products) helped protect against heart disease. The agency doesn't do that very often -- only 12 times in fact -- and it has never rescinded an approved claim.

But it's thinking about it now. In recent years, the link between soy consumption and heart health has been challenged and the benefits are no longer so clear-cut. The FDA is launching public hearings on the topic, eventually to decide whether to knock the soy claim status to "qualified," which requires less evidence.

Uber for Birth Control

Nurx is an app that's been called the "Uber for birth control." It allows patients to purchase a variety of contraceptives with the touch of a smartphone button. It also provides access to Plan B and Ella, two forms of the morning-after pill. The app is popular and expanding, but its spread into conservative states has aroused ire from pro-life groups who view morning-after contraception as akin to abortion, though science argues otherwise. Some pro-life groups are lobbying state lawmakers to reduce or eliminate access to the Nurx app and similar services.

Body of Knowledge

The average person can expect to breathe in about 40 pounds of dust over his or her lifetime.

Get Me That, Stat!

A new Lancet Commission report puts numbers to the health toll caused by pollution. The report says diseases driven by pollution, such as cancer and heart disease, accounted for 1 in 6 six deaths worldwide in 2016. The vast majority of these deaths -- more than 90 percent -- occur in low-income and middle-income countries, primarily among minority populations.

Number Cruncher

A single Johnsonville original bratwurst sausage (112 grams) contains 270 calories, 198 from fat. It has 22 grams of total fat or 34 percent of the recommended total fat intake for a 2,000-calorie daily diet.

It also contains 60 milligrams of cholesterol (20 percent); 810 mg of sodium (34 percent); 2 grams of total carbohydrates (1 percent); 1 gram of sugar and 15 g of protein.

Never Say Diet

The Major League Eating record for jellied cranberry sauce is 13.23 pounds in 8 minutes, held by Juliet Lee. 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.

Doc Talk

Digging for worms: varicose vein removal surgery

Phobia of the Week

Aichmophobia: fear of needles and other pointed objects

Hypochondriac's guide


First noted among 19th century French Canadian lumberjacks (and thus the name), "Jumping Frenchman of Maine disorder" is a rare neurological malady in which sufferers suddenly leap and scream in sudden fear at the slightest provocation.

The cause is unknown, but the condition is believed to be due to a hypersensitive, involuntary startle reflex.


"Health is merely the slowest way one can die."


Medical History

This week in 1979, artificial blood was transfused for the first time in a patient by doctors at University of Minnesota Hospital. The patient was a Jehovah's Witness, who had refused a transfusion of real blood due to his religious beliefs.

Self Exam

Q: What is the ratio of people with an extra rib?

A: 1 in 200 persons. In most cases, there's an extra rib on both sides. The condition occurs more often in women.

Medical Myths

Carbonated water is just as good at rehydrating you after exercise as flat water, provided you drink enough of it.

Final Words

"My work is done, why wait?" --American instant photography pioneer George Eastman (1854-1932) in his suicide note. (He suffered from chronic pain and limited functionality due to a spinal illness.)


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