Health Advice



Got Those Genes at Half-Price

Scott LaFee on

Some folks are seemingly obsessed with bargain hunting or extreme couponing. Assumed to be a habit copied from parents, a new study published in The Journal of the Association for Consumer Research suggests there might actually be a genetic component.

Researchers studied more than 100 pairs of twins (identical and fraternal), comparing their proclivity for searching out deals of all types, from discounts to promotions that involve bonuses like a free gift. They concluded that 70% of the twins' variability in "deal proneness" is associated with genetic factors, which was strongest in identical twins.

Aging Faster Than Time

Chronological age is a measurement of how long you have been alive. It's measured in days, months and years. Biological age is an assessment of how well your body is aging regardless of how old you are chronologically.

Body mass index, smoking, depression and gender (being male) are all factors that negatively influence biological age, that make your body older than time alone would suggest. But when combined, these factors are exponentially more influential to physical and mental health (in a bad sort of way).

Specifically, new research shows that three things interacting are especially worrisome: being male, having a high body mass index and smoking. All together, they age a person exponentially more than each indicator does alone.

Body of Knowledge

Researchers have identified 32 gene regions responsible for shaping facial features, such as the nose, lips, jaw and brows. Researchers said one of the genes appears to be inherited from the Denisovans, an extinct group of humans who lived tens of thousands of years ago.

Get Me That, Stat!

Roughly 1 in 5 Americans has a sexually transmitted infection on any given day, report researchers in Sexually Transmitted Diseases, the journal of the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association. That works out to 68 million folks, mostly ages 15 to 24. Most STIs are preventable and treatable. The most common conditions were HIV and HPV. Untreated, some other STIs can increase the risk of HIV infection.


9: number of times higher the prevalence rate of lupus erythematosus is in females compared to males. It's highest among American Indian women, Alaska native women and Black women.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Doc Talk

Idiopathic: unknown cause

Phobia of the Week

Bathmophobia: fear of stairs or steep slopes

Best Medicine

Today's big question: If the coronavirus isn't about beer, why do I keep seeing cases of it?


"It was not until I had attended a few postmortems that I realized that even the ugliest human exteriors may contain the most beautiful viscera, and was able to console myself for the facial drabness of my neighbors in omnibuses by dissecting them in my imagination." -- British physiologist-biologist-geneticist J.B.S. Haldane (1892-1964)

Medical History


This week in 1822, Charles M. Graham of N.Y. was issued the first U.S. patent for artificial teeth. The record and its details were lost in the great Patent Office fire of 1836, along with an 1817 patent by William R. Eagleson for setting natural and artificial teeth. False teeth had been used since the Colonial years as replacements for rotten teeth, which were extracted to avoid illness. George Washington famously wore them, though they were not made of wood, contrary to myth. His first dentures consisted of human teeth set into carved ivory. In 1789, dentist John Greenwood of New York made Washington a complete set from hippopotamus ivory, gold wire springs and brass screws holding human teeth. Washington's sole remaining natural tooth was a molar, and Greenwood fashioned a hole in the dentures to accommodate it.

Perishable Publications

Many, if not most, published research papers have titles that defy comprehension. They use specialized jargon, complex words and opaque phrases like "nonlinear dynamics." Sometimes they don't, and yet they're still hard to figure out. Here's an actual title of an actual published research study: "On human odor, malaria mosquitoes, and Limburger cheese."

Published in The Lancet in 1996, Dutch entomologist Bart Knols showed that the malaria-spreading mosquito Anopheles gambiae was particularly attracted to human feet and Limburger cheese, both of which can be quite stinky. Knols suggested the latter might be used for mosquito traps.

Med School

Match these five root prefixes with the part of the body they refer to.

1. Encephal/o

2. My/o

3. Hemat/o

4. Oste/o

5. Pulmon/o

a) Lungs

b) Blood

c) Muscle

d) Brain

e) Bone

Answers: 1d. 2c. 3.b. 4e. 5a.

Curtain Calls

Pietro Aretino, an influential Italian Renaissance author and libertine, reportedly died Oct. 21, 1556, of suffocation while laughing too hard at an obscene joke during a meal in Venice. Another account says he laughed so hard he fell out of his chair and struck his head, fatally fracturing his skull.


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