Health Advice



Weighting No Longer

Scott LaFee on

Legislators in nine states, from California to Massachusetts, are considering bans on the sale of unregulated diet pills and supplements to minors. Only New York currently has a ban in place.

Nearly 1 in 10 adolescents reportedly uses some type of poorly regulated, nonprescription weight loss product. The products, which broadly behave like stimulants and are sold in pharmacies, grocery stores and online, can pose immediate cardiac risk and longer-term risks like disordered eating.

Service Dogs for PTSD Veterans

In the largest study of its type, funded by the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that veterans who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder endure less severe symptoms and experience significantly less depression and anxiety when they have a psychiatric service dog.

It was also the first study on this topic to use blind ratings, meaning that clinicians who assessed patients' outcomes didn't know whether they had a dog or not. All participants had full access to other types of mental health care during the study, which suggests service dogs should be given in combination with standard care, the authors wrote.

Body of Knowledge

It's estimated that 20% to 30% of people bite their nails, according to a 2017 paper published by dermatologists at Weill Cornell Medicine. The percentage among teens approaches 45%. Nail-biting is called onychophagia. The first nail clippers were patented in 1875, but the type most commonly used now did not debut until 1881.


1 in 6: Ratio of patients who experienced withdrawal symptoms after discontinuing antidepressant medications (Source: BMJ)

Doc Talk

Cicatrization: The process of forming a scar

Phobia of the Week

Sociophobia: Fear of social evaluation (Hey, no one's judging here)

Best Medicine

A great way to lose weight is to eat while you are naked and standing in front of a mirror. Restaurants will always throw you out before you can eat too much.

Hypochondriac's Guide

Pica is an eating disorder in which a person compulsively eats things that aren't food and don't have any nutritional value or purpose; anything from dirt and chalk to coffee grounds, eggshells, paper and feces. The condition can affect anyone at any age but tends to occur most often in young children, people who are pregnant or those with certain mental conditions, such as autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disabilities or schizophrenia. Pica sometimes goes away on its own, such as after pregnancy or when a child outgrows the behavior. Treatment primarily involves different types of behavioral therapy.



"Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you've got to start young." -- American President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

Medical History

In 1872, New England sea captain John F. Blondel of Thomaston, Maine, patented the doughnut cutter but not the hole. In 1847, another New England ship captain named Hanson Gregory was said to enjoy his mother's pastries, which were made using a deep-fried spiced dough with hazelnuts or walnuts packed in the middle where the dough might not thoroughly cook.

Captain Gregory claimed credit for the idea and, by extension, the name of the treat, though some sources say the name "doughnut" derives from their early form as nut-sized balls of sweetened dough.

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, yet they're still hard to figure out. Here's an actual title of actual published research study: "Etude sur la pendaison."

Or in English: "The Hanging Study."

In the early 1900s, Nicolae Minovici, a Romanian forensics scientist, wanted to know more about the effects of hanging, beyond the obvious end result. So he hanged himself 12 times for up to 25 seconds with an assistant nearby. He survived all his experiments to publish his study in the Library of Criminology in 1905, reporting that some early symptoms of hanging are vision problems and ringing in the ears.

Minovici died in 1941 at the age of 72, reportedly from an illness affecting his vocal cords.

Med School

Q: Can you put in order, from most to least, the relative amounts of these five elements in the human body: hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, carbon and calcium?

A: In terms of mass percentage: oxygen (65%); carbon (18.5%); hydrogen (9.5%); nitrogen (2.6%) and calcium (1.3%). All other elements in the body measure less than 1% in mass each, some only in trace amounts.

Curtain Calls

While boating off the Florida Keys, 55-year-old Judy Kay Zagorski of Michigan was killed in 2008 when a 75-pound spotted eagle ray leapt out of the water and struck her in the head, causing multiple skull fractures and direct brain injury. The ray died too.


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