Health & Spirit

Make it a Trouble

Scott LaFee on

A new National Institutes of Health study says visits to the emergency room linked to alcohol use and abuse have risen nearly 50 percent between 2006 and 2014, with the largest increase among females and drinkers who are middle-aged or older.

Roughly 5 million Americans are transported to hospital emergency rooms each year for medical emergencies caused or exacerbated by alcohol, primarily acute alcohol consumption (too much to drink) or the consequences of chronic alcohol consumption (too much to drink over time).

Researchers noted that the number of Americans who drink alcohol and the amount of alcohol consumed nationally has remained stable. The problem is that a percentage of drinkers are consuming too much and too often. Men still account for more alcohol-related visits to the ER, but the number is rising among women, primarily driven by chronic alcohol abuse.

Body of Knowledge

Human taste buds regenerate every seven to 10 days, but not forever. By age 60, most people have permanently lost half of their taste buds.

Get Me That, Stat!

Clinical trials are the last and perhaps most important step before a new or experimental drug or therapy is approved for general public use. By law, sponsors of completed clinical trials are supposed to report their findings -- good or bad -- but that has not been the case.

The good news is that a new STAT investigation says trial sponsors have gotten better, disclosing 72 percent of required results as of September 2017 compared to just 58 percent in 2015. The not-so-great news is that results of four out of every 10 trials were reported after the legal deadline (one year following the trial's completion).

Number Cruncher

One maple-frosted doughnut from Dunkin' Donuts (70 grams) contains 270 calories, 135 from fat. It has 15 grams of total fat or 23 percent of the recommended total fat intake for a 2,000-calorie daily diet.

It contains 0 milligrams of cholesterol; 340 mg of sodium (14 percent); 32 grams of total carbohydrates (11 percent); 1g of dietary fiber (4 percent), 14 grams of sugar and 3g of protein.


30: Percentage of women in science, technology, engineering and math professions who say they've experienced gender discrimination at work

30: Percentage of STEM women who say they earn less than male peers in same roles

Source: Pew Research Center

Doc Talk

NPO: An abbreviated medical instruction, usually in writing, that means "nothing by mouth." It derives from the Latin "nil per os," which translates as "nothing through the mouth."

Phobia of the Week

Metathesiophobia: fear of change

Never Say Diet

The Major League Eating record for onions is 8.5 ounces (three Maui onions) in 1 minute, held by Eric Booker. Whether anybody lingered to congratulate Booker on the record is not known.

Best Medicine

--Sponsored Video--

A man goes to the doctor and complains that his wife can't hear him.

"How bad is it?" asks his doctor.

"I have no idea," replies the husband.

"OK, do this test," says the doctor. "Stand 20 feet away from her and say something. If she doesn't hear you, get closer and say the same thing. Keep moving closer and closer, repeating the comment until she does hear you. That way we'll have an idea of her range of hearing loss."

The man goes home, sees his wife in the kitchen chopping vegetables for dinner. From 20 feet away, he says "What's for dinner?" No response. From 10 feet, he repeats the question with no answer. From five feet, the same thing. Finally, he's standing right behind her: "What's for dinner?"

The wife turns, looks at him and says, "For the fourth time, beef stew."


"Neurotics complain of their illness, but they make the most of it, and when it comes to taking it away from them, they will defend it like a lioness her young."

--Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

Medical History

This week in 1998, a top tobacco company executive acknowledged the health risk of tobacco products while under oath to Congress. Steven Goldstone, RJR Nabisco chairman and CEO, came at a hearing where industry leaders were pushing Congress to enact a $368.5 billion deal giving them partial immunity from future lawsuits. Just four years earlier, seven tobacco industry executives had stood before the House Commerce Committee and sworn nicotine was not addictive.

Self Exam

Q: How many muscles are there in your fingers?

A: Trick question. Your fingers contain no muscles, other than arrector pilli (tiny muscles attached to hair follicles that allow the latter to stand on end or create "goose bumps." Finger movement is created through the stretching and contraction of tendons extending from the palm and forearm. You can see those tendons at work by watching your wrists move when your fingers move.

Med School

Q: When it debuted in 1886, Coca-Cola was sold as a therapeutic beverage. What did it do?

A: The soft drink was first marketed as a nerve tonic to relieve exhaustion, thanks in part to ingredients like caffeine and cocaine (9 milligrams per glass). The latter was removed in 1903. Original Coke was also alcoholic.

Curtain Calls

Lawrence of Rome, one of Pope Sixtus II's deacons, was purportedly roasted alive on a giant grill in during the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Valerian in 258 AD. It's said Lawrence joked, "I'm well done. Turn me over." Lawrence was later elevated to sainthood and is now considered the patron saint of cooks, firefighters and comedians.


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