Health Advice



Looking up From a Lockdown

Scott LaFee on

Pandemic-related lockdowns have become associated with a host of personal and social ills, from loneliness and isolation to poor schooling to increased rates of drug use. But a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry surveyed 385 caregivers of children ages 6-16 and found that some people have discovered an upside to being stuck at home.

To wit:

-- Forty-four percent described a growth in family relationships.

-- Twenty-two percent described a greater appreciation of life, often involving a reassessment of their personal values and priorities.

-- Twenty-two percent said the slowdown of daily activities allowed them to pursue a healthier lifestyle.

-- Sixteen percent described increased spiritual growth.

-- Eleven percent said the lockdowns spurred new discoveries and opportunities.

Cup O' News

More news percolating on the coffee front: Three new, large studies of heart disease suggest that drinking one or more cups of caffeinated coffee daily may reduce the risk of long-term heart failure. It was not clear why, but the researchers noted that the studies involved drinking black coffee, not beverages loaded with sugar or cream, or drinks like lattes and macchiatos.

Interestingly, the heart benefit did not seem to apply to drinking decaffeinated coffee.

However, pregnant women might want to refrain from the brew. Another study has found that caffeine consumed during pregnancy can change important brain pathways in the developing child, perhaps leading to behavioral problems later in life, such as attention difficulties or hyperactivity.

Body of Knowledge

Roughly half of mental disorders begin before the age of 14.

Get Me That, Stat!

New data out of Denmark suggests people ages 70 and older are having fewer strokes and fewer people of all ages are dying from strokes. The findings report the incidence rate of stroke in people ages 49 and younger was steady, though some studies indicate it's rising.

The researchers attributed the improvement to better treatment of stroke factors, such as high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation and declining smoking rates, as well as to improvements in stroke care.


30: percent of persons with COVID-19 in small study (177 people) who said they experienced lingering symptoms up to nine months after diagnosis.

Source: University of Washington

Doc Talk

Crepitus: those popping, creaking and cracking sounds that your joints make. It derives from the Latin word for "rattle." The word "decrepit" goes back to the same root.


Phobia of the Week

Dishabiliophobia: fear of undressing in front of someone.

Food for Thought

Carrots are a good source of beta carotene, which is the precursor of vitamin A. But the full nutritional benefits of carrots (i.e., vitamin A helps reduce "bad" cholesterol) require the presence of an active enzyme called BCO1, which helps convert beta carotene into usable vitamin A.

How much BCO1 your body produces is genetically determined. Some people with less active levels of the enzyme need other sources of vitamin A. That may be up to 50% of the population, which should turn to animal-based sources of vitamin A, such as milk and cheese.

Best Medicine

Some people say leafy greens are best for colon health, but fiber makes a good No. 2.


"Vegetables are interesting, but lack a sense of purpose when unaccompanied by a good cut of meat." -- writer Fran Lebowitz (1950-)

Medical History

This week in 1867, The Lancet published a paper by Joseph Lister, the first of a series of articles on his discovery of antiseptic surgery. Lister applied Louis Pasteur's idea that the microorganisms causing gangrene might be controlled with chemical solutions. Since the use of carbolic acid (phenol) was known as a means of deodorizing sewage, Lister tested the results of using a solution of it for spraying instruments, dousing surgical incisions and applying it to dressings. Upon finding this procedure substantially reduced the incidence of gangrene, Lister published his results.

Med School

Q: What causes hiccups?

A: The ancient Greek physician Galen thought hiccups were violent emotions erupting from the body; others suggested they were a sign of liver inflammation. Modern evidence points to spasms in the diaphragm, the large muscle between the chest and abdomen that aids in airflow during breathing.

Hiccups are involuntary contractions of the diaphragm and can be triggered by a number of things causing irritation of the nerves controlling it: a full stomach; heavy drinking; rapid shifts in temperature inside or outside the stomach; and certain emotions, such as shock or excitement.

So Galen was at least partly right.

Last Words

"I didn't want to leave this world without knowing who my descendant was; thank you, Michael." -- American dancer and actor Fred Astaire (1899-1987), referring to pop star Michael Jackson


To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate Inc.



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