Health Advice



Those Lyin' Eyes

Scott LaFee on

The Eagles may have been singing about something else, but new research suggests that eyes are not necessarily true windows to the soul -- or, more precisely, how another person is feeling.

It's a common notion that "smiling eyes" that involve uplifted cheeks and crinkles around the eyes indicate genuine happiness. They even have a technical name: "Duchenne smiles," after the French anatomist who studied emotional expression.

But Carnegie Mellon University researchers say smiley eyes are not necessarily an indicator of smile intensity. They enlisted volunteers to have their facial expressions recorded as they did tasks designed to elicit various emotions, even pain. After, they were asked to rate how strongly they felt these emotions at the time.

While Duchenne smiles made up 90% of smiles that occurred when positive emotions were reported, they also made up 80% of smiles when no positive emotion was reported.

Body of Knowledge

When you sweat, small amounts of the stress hormone cortisol may be released. Researchers now say they might be able to objectively assess stress levels by having folks use a wearable sensor attached to the skin that monitors and measures cortisol levels.

Get Me That, Stat!

A new study in the Tourism Analysis journal reports that frequent travelers are happier with their lives than people who don't travel at all. In fact, they're exactly 7% happier.

The finding was based on a survey of 500 respondents by the School of Hospitality and Business Management at Washington State University. "Travel" was counted as any time people ventured at least 75 miles from their home.

Doc Talk

Veisalgia: a hangover, from the Norwegian word "kveis," or "uneasiness following debauchery," combined with the Greek word for pain.

Phobia of the Week

Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia: fear of long words

Food for Thought

An avocado a day may help keep nasty gut microbes at bay. Researchers say new data suggests that daily avocado consumption can help improve intestinal health. This is partly due to its high dietary fiber and monounsaturated fat content, and because it appears to influence gut microbes and the metabolites they produce, though more research is needed to pinpoint the exact causes and effects.

Best Medicine

I can tell you a coronavirus joke now, but you'll need to wait two weeks to see if you got it.


"I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin deep. That's deep enough. What do want, an adorable pancreas?" -- Irish-American playwright Jean Kerr (1922-2003)


Medical History

This week in 1983, Barney C. Clark (born 1921), the first recipient of a permanent artificial heart, died at the University of Utah Medical Center after living 112 days with the device. Doctors said Clark's death resulted from massive circulatory collapse. Clark was 61.

Ig Nobel Apprised

The Ig Nobel Prizes celebrate achievements that make people laugh and then think, a look at real science that's hard to take seriously and even harder to ignore.

In 1993, the Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine went to James F. Nolan, Thomas J. Stillwell and John P. Sands, all medical men of mercy, for their painstaking study "Acute Management of the Zipper-Entrapped Penis," published in The Journal of Emergency Medicine.

Enough said.

Sum Body

Five kinds of kidney stones (all painful):

1. Calcium oxalate stones are the most common, a mix of calcium in urine and the compound oxalate, which is found naturally in foods like nuts, chocolate and some vegetables. Oxalate is also produced by the liver.

2. Calcium phosphate stones are linked to people who take the seizure medicine topiramate.

3. Struvite stones are fast-growing mineral deposits that develop as a result of a urinary tract infection.

4. Uric acid stones result from people who eat a lot of red meat, shellfish and organ meats, which contain the organic compound purine, which in turn may trigger more uric acid than the kidneys can excrete.

5. Cystine stones are caused by a rare hereditary disorder in which kidneys excrete excessive amounts of the amino acid cysteine.


"Jeez, he was just here a minute ago." -- American comedian George Carlin (1937-2008). This was Carlin's suggestion for a tombstone epitaph. In fact, after his death, he was cremated.


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