New York Times China correspondent Edward Wong describes his life in heavily polluted Beijing
, where he no longer feels safe running outside and, in order to bike around town, dons a black air filter face mask that makes him "look like an Asian Darth Vader". — Maggie
Dr. Stacy Makhnevich was a NYC dentist (billing herself as the "Classical Singer Dentist of New York") who made use of a bizarre form provided by a company called "Medical Justice." Her patients were expected to sign this form, through which they assigned copyright in all their reviews of the dental practice and the doctor to the doctor herself, enabling her to use copyright notices to censor any criticism of her that appeared online. Robert Lee was an unhappy patient who posted a one-star Yelp review in 2010, and subsequently ended up embroiled in litigation against Makhnevich -- a lawsuit that would have likely settled the question of the legality of Medical Justice's adhesion contracts.
But Medical Justice left Makhnevich to fight the claim on her own, and she has subsequently disappeared. It seems she is no longer practicing dentistry, and her lawyers can't locate her and have asked to shut down the case.
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Bacteria are becoming resistant to one of the last classes of antibiotics available
to treat them, writes Maryn McKenna at Nature. Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae are a family of lung, blood, and bladder infections that can turn horribly deadly. Meanwhile, at Scientific American, Charles Q. Choi writes about other scientists looking for ways to turn bacteria against one another, unleashing predatory microbes
that can destroy drug-resistant bacteria. — Maggie
Wales is in the grip of a measles epidemic
, thanks to the anti-vaccine scare more than a decade ago. Once the critical mass of herd immunity dropped below a certain threshold, in came the old, deadly -- and utterly preventable -- disease.
The Anti-Vaccine Body Count
site reminds us that since celebrities like Jenny McCarthy took the cause of scaring parents into avoiding life-saving vaccines, thousands of preventable illnesses and deaths have struck. Since 2007 alone, more than 110,000 preventable illnesses and 1,170 deaths have occurred. In that same timeframe, the number of autism diagnoses linked through scientific evidence and review to vaccination is zero
. (via Making Light
Maggie Koerth-Baker interviews OB/GYN Dr. Jen Gunter, who has personal experience of treating patients forced to seek out distant or questionable abortion providers, and the complications they suffer as a result.
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Human papillomavirus is a well-known and widely researched threat to womens’ health. But men are at risk too, writes Maggie Koerth-Baker,—and the scientific outlook is much more uncertain.
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Tracy Miller, New York Daily News:
"Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, can cause health problems in anyone, not just pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems
, researchers warn in a newly published paper." — Rob
Marie Myung-Ok-Lee in the New York Times:
"I delivered my first donation, in Tupperware, and Gene took it into the privacy of his bathroom. I stayed, just in case I was needed, and after about half an hour, he came out and told me, with a look of wonder, that he was feeling better already. Already? We checked with Dr. Shepard, who told us that, indeed, one can feel the effects that quickly.
Members of the decadent nouveau riche of Shenzhen in South China have provoked online outrage by taking up breast-milk consumption as a high-status health treatment. According to sources quoted in the Times of India, agencies recruit wet nurses from among recent mothers and pay them $2,000-$4,000 to allow rich people to nurse from their breasts, or to pump milk for later consumption.
"This adds to China's problem of treating women as consumer goods and the moral degradation of China's rich," wrote Cao Baoyin, a writer and regular commentator in Chinese media, on his blog.
Breast milk drinking by rich adults provokes outrage in China [Saibal Dasgupta/Times of India]
When eight-year-old Grady Hoffman went into the hospital for a bone-marrow transplant and a two month recovery, he stayed in touch with his family by means of a telepresence robot
that rolled around the house, feeding him video and audio from home and his siblings, and letting him talk to them.
Simon sez, "I'm a 19 year old Computer Science student and increasingly got neck ache from sitting at my computer. I read blog posts on the benefits of standing desks so tried a plank rested on CD drives. My neck felt great but my desk was ugly. So I set about designing the perfect standing desk, combining beauty, functionality, and ergonomics. The result -- which I'm funding on Kickstarter -- is a stunning standing desk precisely laser cut from birch plywood, crystal clear acrylic and soft natural cork with reused glass bottles for legs.
Cork is used to make the entire front edge a soft comfortable palm rest. There is a drawer lined with cork to protect small gadgets. A keyboard shelf slides peripherals away from dust. Backstops with cable slots stop pens or wires dropping behind the desk. The transparent surfaces make finding items in the drawer fast and feeding wires through the cable management hole easy. Finally, reusing bottles for legs means you can select the perfect size to make the desk an ergonomic height for you."
The desks are lovely, but Simon doesn't list any manufacturing experience in his bio. The usual kickstarter caveats apply: even if this is funded, you may never get anything for your money. Simple risers are £50; the desk is £300 and up.
SG Designed Laser Cut Standing Desks
Janet says, "Despite what the official statistics say, metastatic (stage IV) lung cancer is NOT an automatic death sentence. Newer therapies and personalized medicine now offer such patients months or even years of quality time to spend enjoying family, friends, hobbies, even travel and work. Yet insurance companies and doomsday doctors still tell many patients there's no point in pursuing further treatment. I'm an engineer, a writer, and a stage IV lung cancer patient, and I received a letter from my insurance company [ed: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois] saying there was no need for me to have another biopsy because I was going to die anyway. This blog post is my response to that letter."
I was lucky to have enough slides from a 2011 biopsy to have the University of Colorado test my tumor for the relatively new ROS1 genetic mutation in my tumor tissue. Because I tested positive for ROS1, I was able to enter a clinical trial for the targeted therapy crizotinib, a drug which inhibits my ROS1-driven cancer. The trial treatment eliminated both nodules and has given me No Evidence of Disease Status for five months. I am once again able to enjoy traveling, writing, and doing things with my family. If I had not had leftover biopsy slides, an EMN biopsy would have been my only opportunity to obtain enough tissue to test for ROS1. Without that ROS1 trial and crizotinib, I might be dead by now.
Doctors who don’t keep current on new treatment options and then decide a biopsy “is not going to affect long-term health outcomes” for metastatic lung cancer patients are insuring those patients will die sooner rather than later.
That’s not the kind of health insurance I want. Do you?
Insuring the Terminal Patient
The most dangerous time to be a woman in need of a life-saving abortion at a Catholic hospital is right after that hospital has been consolidated into a Catholic system, according the medical demographer Dr. Diana Foster. That's because doctors with more experience in the Catholic system are more likely to secretly offer therapeutic abortions under the table
, and get away with it. — Maggie
David Freedman has a piece at The Atlantic about healthy foods, unhealthy foods — and the "healthy" foods that are actually probably not that healthy, despite coming to you all natural and un-processed
. I want to like the piece more than I actually do. For instance, Freedman has some issues with misrepresenting the positions of the people he's arguing against. For instance, I think he and Michael Pollan would probably agree that downing lots of 300-calorie fruit smoothies isn't the best way to get in shape. But it's an interesting read, especially if you just focus on the key point: Healthy food doesn't have to be limited to what you buy at Whole Foods or the farmer's market. — Maggie