The Associated Press filed Freedom of Information requests with the US government to find the evidence behind the Surgeon General's admonition to floss regularly for dental health and found that there was no good evidentiary basis for flossing. Read the rest
When Pagan Kennedy wrote her 2012 New York Times Magazine history of home pregnancy testing, it didn't mention Margaret Crane, the product designer who created, designed and championed the test and all it stood for: the right of "a woman to peer into her own body and to make her own decisions about it, without anyone else — husband, boyfriend, boss, doctor — getting in the way." Read the rest
New research on trends in adult human height over the last century confirm that, no surprise, humans are getting taller overall due to better nutrition and disease control. However according to the health science group Non-Communicable Diseases Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC), the gain in adult height varies dramatically by country. From their paper, published in the journal eLife:
The largest gain in adult height over the past century has occurred in South Korean women and Iranian men, who became 20.2 cm (95% credible interval 17.5–22.7) and 16.5 cm (13.3–19.7) taller, respectively. In contrast, there was little change in adult height in some sub-Saharan African countries and in South Asia over the century of analysis. The tallest people over these 100 years are men born in the Netherlands in the last quarter of 20th century, whose average heights surpassed 182.5 cm, and the shortest were women born in Guatemala in 1896 (140.3 cm; 135.8–144.8).
The scientists' hope is that understanding these changes and distributions could be used "to improve nutrition and health across the world."
"It would also be valuable to understand how much becoming taller has been responsible for improved health and longevity throughout the world," they write."
In a lead editorial in the current Nature, John Wilbanks (formerly head of Science Commons, now "Chief Commons Officer" for Sage Bionetworks) and Eric Topol (professor of genomics at the Scripps Institute) decry the mass privatization of health data by tech startups, who're using a combination of side-deals with health authorities/insurers and technological lockups to amass huge databases of vital health information that is not copyrighted or copyrightable, but is nevertheless walled off from open research, investigation and replication. Read the rest
Researchers at UC Riverside and Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada have published a paper describing their ongoing success in setting a "transparent nanocrystalline yttria-stabilized-zirconia" into patients' skulls, which reveal the patients' brains so that the patients' brains can be zapped with therapeutic lasers. Read the rest
Approximately 350,000 people in the US are diagnosed with gonorrhea each year. According to the CDC, it may soon be untreatable. Currently, the sexually-transmitted disease, not-so-fondly known as The Clap or The Drip, is treated with two antibiotics, azithromycin and ceftriaxone. Data is currently showing a rise in gonorrhea samples that are resistant to those drugs.
Companies are developing new antibiotics but could be "years away," says CDC medical epidemiologist Robert D. Kirkcaldy.
"We think … it’s a matter of when and not if with resistance,” he says. “This bug is so smart and can mutate so rapidly.”
Pete from Doctors Without Borders writes, "Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders have today launched MapSwipe, an app that enables anyone with a smartphone to map the most vulnerable communities in the world. Geo-data is vital for aid agencies responding to emergencies such as disease outbreaks and natural disasters and MapSwipe now gives everybody the ability to contribute directly to these responses. So, instead of Angry Birds or Candy Crush, you can now do something meaningful on your commute! (MSF has developed MapSwipe as part of the Missing Maps project, where thousands of volunteers assist NGOs by mapping their areas of operations on OpenStreetMap.)" Read the rest
A recent study has found that the gay dating app Grindr is a pretty effective way to get black and Hispanic men who like to have sex with men to try home H.I.V. self-testing kits. The home test doesn't require blood, but rather uses a swab of the gums to generate reliable results in 20 minutes. Of the 56 Los Angeles area men who participated in the study and received kits, two men learned from the kits that they were infected.
U.S. military officials are preventing imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning from having contact with her legal team or her friends, following unconfirmed reports that she was hospitalized after a health crisis.
Epipens -- self-injection sticks carried by people with deadly allergies, which have to be replaced twice a year -- were developed by NASA at taxpayer expense, were patented by a government scientist who receives no royalties, require no marketing, and have gone from as little as $60 each to up to $606 in a few short years (during which time the company has switched to selling them exclusively in two-packs). Read the rest
Hannah Cohen is a 19 year old who is being treated for a brain tumor at Memphis's St Jude's Hospital, who is "partially deaf, blind in one eye, paralyzed, and easily confused" -- and who was subjected to a violent beating during a secondary TSA screening while flying home to Chatanooga, TN for the holidays.
"The Dark Overlord" is a hacker who's made headline by advertising the availability of millions of health records on darknet sites, sending samples to news-outlets to validate their authenticity; in an interview with Motherboard's Joseph Cox, Dark Overlord reveals that the disclosures are timed to put the pressure on other victims to pay ransoms to guarantee that their stolen data won't leak. Read the rest
Nicole Nichols' 8-year-old daughter has diabetes; Nichols and her husband have come to rely on Medicaid to help supply life-saving essential medication for their daughter, because their two salaries are insufficient to cover their medical bills, which run in excess of $2000 month in out-of-pocket expenses. Read the rest
In Workarounds to Computer Access in Healthcare Organizations: You Want My Password or a Dead Patient?, security researchers from Penn, Dartmouth and USC conducted an excellent piece of ethnographic research on health workers, shadowing them as they moved through their work environments, blithely ignoring, circumventing and sabotaging the information security measures imposed by their IT departments, because in so doing, they were saving lives. Read the rest