Health & Spirit

D for Don't Know

Scott LaFee on

For a long time, it's been debated whether taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy provide particular health benefits. Advocates, backed by some studies, say vitamin D reduces the risk of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. Others, backed by some studies, say there's no convincing proof. A new analysis of 43 randomized, controlled trials on vitamin D found that, well, the debate will go on. The analysis concluded that many past studies were too small or flawed to produce reliable findings one way or another.

A Pregnant Pause

A global initiative, launched in 2012, to improve access to contraceptives for women living in the world's poorest nations appears to be bearing fruit. A new report published by Family Planning 2020 says more than 309 million women and girls are now using a modern method of contraception in 69 targeted countries, up 38.8 million women over the last five years. The biggest gains were in Africa. Researchers say the increased use of contraceptives has prevented millions of unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions and thousands of maternal deaths.

Body of Knowledge

On average, a person's left hand does 56 percent of typing, which makes it more worthy of picking up that Big Mac. (See Life in Big Macs below.)

Get Me That, Stat!

An estimated 6 million American adults have Alzheimer's disease or mild cognitive impairment, which sometimes is a precursor to AD. The National Institutes of Health predicts that number will jump to 15 million by 2060 as the population ages.

These numbers are higher than previous estimates. Researchers used new methodology that included people with biomarkers or other evidence of possible preclinical AD, but who were not yet impaired by dementia.

Life in Big Macs

One hour of typing burns 102 calories (based on a 150-pound person) or the equivalent of 0.1 Big Macs.


60: Projected percentage of children today who will be obese adults by age 35

Source: New England Journal of Medicine

Never Say Diet

The Major League Eating record for shrimp cocktail is 15 pounds in 8 minutes, held by Joey Chestnut. Chestnut, of course, is among the most famous of professional eaters, holder of multiple world records. This particular record underscores that fact that he is just crustacean his opposition.

Doc Talk

Coag panel: A test used to determine the clotting (coagulation) factors of a patient's blood

Phobia of the Week

Ligyrophobia: Fear of loud noises

Best Medicine


Q: What's the most commonly misspelled blood group?

A: Typo.


"I was going to have cosmetic surgery until I noticed that the doctor's office was full of portraits by Picasso."

--Comedian Rita Rudner

Medical History

This week in 1809, Dr. Ephraim McDowell (1771-1830) performed the first ovariotomy or surgical removal of an ovarian tumor. Local physicians had concluded that Jane Todd Crawford, 45, of Motley's Glen, Kentucky was pregnant with twins. ) McDowell thought otherwise and instead removed a 22-pound ovarian tumor - in an era without anesthesia. Crawford quickly recovered and lived to be 78.

Med School

Q: What is the "Lazarus phenomenon?"

A: In rare, but documented, cases, people who appear to have died (not breathing, no pulse or heart rate, etc) come back to life. Usually the originating event is cardiac arrest, followed by the disappearance of vital signs. But minutes later, the signs return. More formally known as "auto-resuscitation" and poorly understood, a chief factor may be the buildup of pressure in the chest caused by CPR. When efforts to revive fail and signs of life appear gone, CPR stops, pressure declines and the heart restarts on its own. Unfortunately, in the vast majority of cases, the seeming return from the dead is short-lived and the person soon succumbs to heart failure, which may have always been the underlying threat.


On a tombstone in a Vermont cemetery:

Sacred to the memory of

my husband John Barnes

who died January 3, 1803

His comely young widow, aged 23, has

many qualifications of a good wife, and

yearns to be comforted.

Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate Inc.


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