Health & Spirit

Stemming the Tide

Scott LaFee on

Judging from the ubiquity of advertising by clinics touting stem cell-based treatments for everything from pain management to cancer, it may come as a surprise to learn there are very few actual stem cell therapies that are FDA-approved. Despite a crackdown by federal authorities on unlicensed stem cell clinics making unproven claims, they continue to abound: more than 700 of them nationally, with large numbers in California, Texas and Florida.

A new study found that two-thirds of these clinics featured licensed physicians but nearly half lacked a doctor formally trained in the area the clinic purported to treat. This was especially true for nonorthopedic specialties, in which only 19% of the companies had a physician trained in the appropriate specialty.

Get Me That, Stat!

An international survey by Wellcome Trust of 140,000 people in 140 countries asked about their attitudes toward science and health. Almost 75% said they trust a doctor or nurse more than friends, family or other sources for health advice.

Roughly 80% thought vaccines are safe. The country with the highest percentage of people who did not think so was France, at 1 in 3 persons.

Men were more likely to claim an understanding of science than women, as were those 29 years old and younger. Almost two-thirds of people around the world expressed an interest in science, but one-third of those surveyed in Africa and Central and South America didn't feel science benefitted them.


Doc Talk

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis: The actual description of this medical condition is only a bit longer than the word itself: a lung disease caused by inhaling fine ash or sand dust. Think something like black lung. The word is an invention, created in 1935 by the president of the National Puzzlers' League as the longest word in the English language, at 45 letters. Physicians probably don't actually use the term because, aside from not remembering how to spell it, the word doesn't fit in a medical record.

Mania of the Week

Metromania: An obsession with writing in verse (What could be worse?)


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