Health Advice



Restored Hearing Not Nearing

Scott LaFee on

Even as medical science expands its abilities to regrow cells to restore lost functions, hearing loss remains a stubborn, unsolved challenge. Researchers now may know why. The inner ear's hair cells, which pick up sound vibrations, don't regenerate after being damaged, which is why hearing loss is irreversible.

Scientists have discovered that other types of cells turn into hearing hair cells during early prenatal development, thanks to a molecule called H3K4me1. But that molecule goes away, apparently before birth, stopping the ability of other inner ear cells to turn into hair cells. If scientists can find a way to mimic the role of H3K4me1, they might be able to eventually create new hair cells.

If It's Not One Thing

A new study finds that some men with metastatic prostate cancer are dying instead of other noncancer-related conditions. Researchers surveyed data from 26,000 men with metastatic prostate cancer. Nearly 64% of those who died had died at follow-up due to prostate cancer, but 17% died of causes such as cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cerebrovascular disease. An additional 5% died of nonprostate cancers.

Prostate cancer survival rates are improving, but the findings, said the researchers, point to the need to counsel patients about other health risks.

Body of Knowledge

The human fetus lives in fluid but does not feel wetness. It's a bit like a person swimming underwater: They do not feel the water as much as they notice changes in pressure.

Get Me That, Stat!

Genomic studies have become a useful tool to assess and predict cardiovascular risk, but they are fundamentally limited. New data shows that nearly 80% of participants in these studies are of European ancestry, though this demographic makes up only 16% of the world's population.


59: Percentage of American adults surveyed who said they had experience some kind of pain in the previous three months

39: Percentage who said pain involved back

37: Percentage who said it involved lower limbs

30: Percentage who said it involved upper limbs

22: Percentage who said it involved head

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Doc Talk

Frotteurism: a psychiatric condition that involves touching or rubbing one's genitals up against a nonconsenting person in a sexual manner

Phobia of the Week

Trypophobia: a fear of holes (perhaps the fear of trypping into one?)

Best Medicine

Doctor: "What seems to be the problem?"

Patient: "I have a sore throat. I ache. I have a fever."

Doctor: "Sounds like some kind of virus."

Patient: "Everybody in my office has it."

Doctor: "Well then, it's probably a staff infection."



"One of the delights known to age, and beyond the grasp of youth, is that of Not Going." -- English novelist J.B. Priestley, (1894-1984)

Medical History

This week in 1983, David Vetter, "the boy in the bubble," underwent a bone marrow transplant operation in the hope that it could help him develop the immune system he lacked. Vetter was born with a genetic disease called severe combined immunodeficiency and had spent his entire 12 years protected, but isolated, in a sterile plastic "bubble." The hope was that bone marrow from his 16-year-old sister would stimulate growth of his immune system. Less than two months later, however, Vetter died of Burkitt's lymphoma. An autopsy revealed that his sister's bone marrow contained traces of a dormant virus, Epstein-Barr, which went undetected in pre-transplant screening.

Perishable Publications

Many, if not most, published research papers have titles that defy comprehension. They use specialized jargon, complex words and opaque phrases such as "nonlinear dynamics." Sometimes they don't, yet they're still hard to figure out. Here's an actual title of an actual published research study: "miR miR on the wall, who's the most malignant medulloblastoma miR of them all?"

miRs are non-coding genetic elements that play important roles in regulating gene expression. Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor in children.

Fit to Be Tried

There are thousands of exercises, and you've only got one body, but that doesn't mean you can't try them all: Burpees have a funny name (named after physiologist Royal H. Burpee, who created them as part of his PhD thesis), but they are serious work, good for cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength.

1: Start by standing upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms down at your sides.

2: With your hands out in front of you, start to squat down. When your hands reach the ground, pop your legs straight back into a pushup position.

3: Jump your feet up to your palms by hinging at the waist. Get your feet as close to your hands as you can get, landing them outside your hands if necessary.

4: Stand up straight, bringing your arms above your head and jump.

5: This is one rep. Complete three sets of 10 reps as a beginner.

Med School

Question: Who was Cushing's disease named after?

A: Peter Cushing

B: Christine Cushing

C: Harvey Cushing

D: Otto Cushing

E: No one. Cushing describes a physical aspect of the disease.

Answer: C. Harvey Cushing (1869-1939) was a pioneering American neurosurgeon and the first to describe a hormonal dysfunction that results in upper body obesity, thin limbs and bones so weak they easily fracture. Peter Cushing (1913-1994) was a British actor. Christine Cushing is a Canadian celebrity chef. Otto Cushing (1820-1942) was an American artist.

Last Words

"He's got several units of Phoenix police on his tail right here and, uh, Jim, stay with him, looks like he's gonna try and take another vehicle here. We'll see if they block him in there. Looks like they've got him blocked in there, but he did get h... " -- Scott Bowerbank, pilot for KTVK's Newschopper3, which was involved in a 2007 mid-air collision with KNXV-TV's Chopper 15 while both were covering a police pursuit. All four occupants of the two helicopters will killed; there were no ground casualties.


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