Health Advice



A Different Kind of Twindemic

Scott LaFee on

Twin births have been in decline in the U.S. for the last decade, falling roughly 3% per year, after previous decades of growth. The pandemic changed that. The CDC reports that after falling 7% from 2019 to 2020, twin births bounced back 2% from 2020 to 2021.

Researchers think part of the reason may be that many parents who were using infertility treatments put such efforts on pause during the pandemic. Twins and other multiple births occur more often when infertility treatments are used.

Jargon Oblivion

A recent study investigated to what degree patients understand their doctors when discussing their case or condition. No surprise. Researchers found significant deficiencies, a phenomenon they dubbed "jargon oblivion."

In other words, physicians' penchant for using medical terminology that is unknown, unclear or confusing to patients.

Here are three statements used in the study. What is the message?

No. 1: You've just had surgery for cancer. Afterward, your doctor gives you your test results and says, "Your nodes are positive." What is the doctor is telling you?

No. 2: Your doctor says, "Your neuro exam is grossly intact." Is that good news or bad?

No. 3: Your doctor asks if you've been febrile.

Answers: 1. If a cancer test turns up "positive" results, the news is not. In this case, cancer has been detected in the nodes. 2. A "grossly intact" neuro exam is good news. It means nerves are functioning the way they're supposed to. 3. Febrile means having or showing signs of a fever.

The study authors said clinicians need to try to avoid using confusing terms when speaking to patients. Instead of advising patients to NOP, the Latin term "nil per os" or nothing by mouth. They should just say, "Don't have anything to eat or drink."

Get me that, Stat!

A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology reports that Black and Hispanic patients with cancer who are nearing the end of life are less likely than white patients to get needed opioid medications to control their pain, and at lower doses.

The disparity was particularly striking for Black men, who were also more often required to undergo urine tests that screen for drugs.

Mania of the Week

Phaneromania: an irresistible desire to pick at superficial body parts, such as scabs, fingernails or pimples

Best Medicine

A man lost his ear, but surgeons were able to take a pig's ear, shape it accordingly and suture it into place. Weeks later, the patient returned for a checkup. The patient complained, "Doc, I keep hearing this noise and it's driving me crazy." The physician nodded, unconcerned. "Don't worry, it's just a bit of crackling."


"You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day unless you're too busy, then you should sit for an hour." -- Zen proverb


Medical History

This week in 1819, John Bostock delivered the first clinical description of an allergy to the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society meeting in London. Bostock's paper, dubbed "A Case of the Periodical Affectation of the Eyes and Chest," was actually a description of his own personal sufferings. In 1828, he gave a longer, more detailed paper describing 28 more cases, all generally alluding to what doctors began calling "Bostock's catarrh," otherwise known as hay fever, an allergic reaction to pollens of grasses, weeds and trees.

Ig Nobel Apprised

The Ig Nobel Prizes celebrate achievements that make people laugh, 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 psychology went to John E. Mack of Harvard Medical School and David M. Jacobs of Temple University for their published work that concluded that people who believe they were kidnapped by aliens from outer space probably were, with the aliens' primary focus being "the production of children."


Q: How many different pairs of nerves connect the central nervous system to the rest of the body?

a) 12

b) 31

c) 43

d) 50

A: c) 43. Twelve nerve pairs are connected to the brain, while the remaining 31 are connected to the spinal cord.

Medical Myths

All fat is not bad. Saturated and trans fats have been linked to increased risk for heart disease or stroke, but healthy fats like monounsaturated (found in olives and other plant oils, avocados and certain nuts and seeds) and polyunsaturated fats (sunflower and other plant oils, walnuts, fish and flaxseeds) can actually reduce cardiovascular disease risk.

If a product is labeled "fat-free," that doesn't mean it's healthier, especially if that means the food contains added sugars and refined carbohydrates.

Last Words

"I desire to go to hell, and not to heaven. In the former place I shall enjoy the company of popes, kings and princes, while in the latter are only beggars, monks, hermits, and apostles." -- Italian Renaissance diplomat, philosopher and writer Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)


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Copyright 2023 Creators Syndicate Inc.




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