Tiny, poor, diabetes-wracked Pacific island nations want to ban junk food, despite risk of WTO retaliation

In the poor, remote island nations of the South Pacific, the Type-II diabetes rate ranges from 19% to 34%, a devastating health statistic that is challenging the countries' economies and wellbeing. Read the rest

Dollar-a-dose, off-patent drug being marketed in the US for $89,000 as a muscular dystrophy treatment

Deflazacort, a steroid, can be purchased online from non-US sources for $1.00, but now it's being marketed by Illinois's Marathon Pharmaceuticals for $89,000 as Emflaza, to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which predominantly affects men in their 20s. Read the rest

Watch this fellow's amazing daily photo video of his weight loss

The best part of the video is the increasing happiness and confidence you can see on his face as his body transforms. (Isou Dw)

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Thinnest-ever electronic tattoos are capable of precision health monitoring

The graphene temporary tattoo seen here is the thinnest epidermal electronic device ever and according to the University of Texas at Austin researchers who developed it, the device can take some medical measurements as accurately as bulky wearable sensors like EKG monitors. From IEEE Spectrum:

Graphene’s conformity to the skin might be what enables the high-quality measurements. Air gaps between the skin and the relatively large, rigid electrodes used in conventional medical devices degrade these instruments’ signal quality. Newer sensors that stick to the skin and stretch and wrinkle with it have fewer airgaps, but because they’re still a few micrometers thick, and use gold electrodes hundreds of nanometers thick, they can lose contact with the skin when it wrinkles. The graphene in the Texas researchers’ device is 0.3-nm thick. Most of the tattoo’s bulk comes from the 463-nm-thick polymer support.

The next step is to add an antenna to the design so that signals can be beamed off the device to a phone or computer, says (electrical engineer Deji) Akinwande.

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In one day, Trump and Republicans shattered the norms of decency, political transparency, and accountability

In a 24-hour period, America experienced: its next president giving a press-conference in which paid shills applauded or booed as suited his needs; its next president wielding a binder of blank pages as a prop, declaring it to be his "conflict of interest plan"; its next president setting out a way to launder bribes through the State Department; its Congress holding a 1AM vote to ban the Budget Office from investigating the real costs of legislation; its Senate voting to strip 22 million people of health-care (including me and my family). That was all in one day. Read the rest

Researchers discover that experimental Alzheimer's drug causes teeth to regrow tissue lost to cavities

A paper from a group of Kings College London researchers documents an unexpected and welcome side effect from an experimental anti-Alzheimer's drug called Tideglusib: test subjects experienced a regeneration of dentin, the bony part of teeth that sits between the pulp and the enamel. Read the rest

Bernie Sanders uses poster-sized screengrab of a Trump tweet to remind us of promises on health care and social security

Remember when Donald Trump tweeted that there would be no cuts to "Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid?" So does Bernie Sanders, and he wants us all to bear this in mind as the Republic Congress prepares to gut all three. Read the rest

How a triple-amputee doctor is helping to change the way we die

Jon Mooallem's beautiful profile of BJ Miller tells the tale of how Miller lost three of his limbs in a stupid accident and became a pioneer of palliative medicine: but for me, it's also a story of the very best of San Francisco's blend of technology, optimism, compassion and exuberant weirdness -- a blend that has been changing for the worse since the dotcom bubble of the turn of the century. Read the rest

A virus first found in chickens is implicated in human obesity

As someone who's struggled with his weight all his life (and who comes from a family with similar problems), I've long been fascinated with the science of weight and obesity; many years ago I listened to a Quirks & Quarks segment detailing the theory that the modern obesity epidemic was the result of a bird flu that affected our gut flora and changed our metabolisms to make us hungrier and more susceptible to convert the food we ate to fat. Read the rest

Bernie Sanders calls for a national day of rallies to defend health care from Trump: Jan 15

Trump promised not to take away peoples' health care, but of course he's going to do that: Bernie Sanders has joined with the Democratic Party leadership to send a letter to the Democratic caucus in Congress asking them to join him in leading rallies across America on Jan 15, under the banner "Our First Stand: Save Healthcare!" Read the rest

Insiders: America's largest chain of psych hospitals kidnaps people seeking care, drugs and holds them until they're out of insurance

Universal Health Services (UHS) is the largest chain of psychiatric facilities in the USA, with 2.5x more beds than its closest competitor, and dozens of whistleblowers from inside the company told a Buzzfeed reporter that they were pressured to find pretenses to lock up people who voluntarily presented for assessments, holding them against their will until their insurance ran out, with massive bonuses for executives who increased profits (and much smaller bonuses for execs who improved health outcomes for patients). Read the rest

Entrepreneurs explain how Obamacare let them found businesses and create jobs

Obamacare has some significant structural problems, all stemming from the way it gives the whip-hand to insurance companies, who get to demand ever-larger sums from both the government and Obamacare users; nevertheless, the ability to get insurance makes an enormous difference for people contemplating starting innovative businesses and stepping away from big, lumbering corporations that are big enough to extend coverage to their employees. Read the rest

UK hospitals shut down by malware, advise patients to go somewhere else for the duration

3 NHS hospitals under the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust have been infected by "a virus" that administrators detected on Sunday; the hospitals are on limited operations and turning away patients until the hospitals can "isolate and destroy" the malware. Read the rest

Chicago emergency room preps for big patient increase during World Series

With a 20 percent increase in patients during the Major League Baseball playoff games in Chicago, the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center is preparing for a very busy World Series weekend there. Of course they expect alcohol-related injuries, from falls to DWI-related auto accidents, but cardiac issues are also expected to drive emergency room visits from emotional fans.

(Watching the baseball games) could increase their level of anxiety, hence exasperating some of their cardiac issues," emergency department director Anna Scaccia told WGN-TV.

"Taking their medication as prescribed per their physician, trying to stay as calm as possible. I know that can be difficult.”

(image by Brent Payne, CC via Flickr) Read the rest

Camp Sundown, where kids allergic to sunlight can gather

Liza Mandelup directed this lovely short documentary on a camp for children with xeroderma pigmentosum, or XP, a genetic skin condition which makes those with the trait extremely sensitive to sunlight. Activities happen during the night, allowing these young people to enjoy the outdoors together. Read the rest

Girl Scouts of America have licensed Girl Scout Cookie cereal rights to General Mills

The company says it will start selling Caramel Crunch and Thin Mints breakfast cereals in January. It's not clear how the deal is structured and whether the cereals will be promoted as a way to make a charitable contribution to the Girl Scouts. Read the rest

St. Jude heart implant devices can be hacked, security researchers say

Security experts hired by the short-selling firm Muddy Waters said in a legal brief filed today that cardiac implants made by St. Jude Medical can be hacked. If hackers can pwn your heart device, the researchers say, they can kill you--from as far away as 100 feet.

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