Not all vitamins are created equal. Especially troubling, gummi "prenatal" vitamins that don't contain any
calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, or iron. As Joss Fong points out at Double X Science, not only are pregnant women one of the few groups that can be shown to statistically benefit from taking vitamins, the missing iron is also one of the key things those women need. So why can you label a vitamin "prenatal" if it doesn't contain nutrients that are crucial to pregnant women? Consider this another friendly reminder that the dietary supplement industry is largely unregulated
and doesn't have to answer to the FDA, except in a few, very specific circumstances. — Maggie
Medical photographer Norman Barker captures the biological beauty of human disease -- microbes, cysts, diseased cells, as they appear out of context and close up. A professor of pathology and art at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine, Barker's new book is titled "Hidden Beauty: Exploring the Aesthetics of Medical Science." Above left, the Hepatitis B virus, and right, a fine collection of gallstones.
"Hidden Beauty: Exploring the Aesthetics of Medical Science" (via Smithsonian)
Researchers at Imperial College London have invented an electric surgical knife that comes equipped with a built-in mass spectrometer
. Electric knives cauterize wounds as they cut, which produces smoke. The iKnife will be able to analyze the chemistry of that smoke to determine, for instance, whether the tissue that was just cut was cancerous or not — allowing doctors to make decisions in the OR that would, today, require them to take samples, send those samples to a lab, and maybe schedule a second surgery. — Maggie
It probably won't hurt, and it could help, says Scott Gavura at Science Based Medicine. But it's also worth taking a closer look at the nuance behind probiotics
, too. These are promising medications and a fascinating field of research, but educating yourself on what we do know and what we don't (especially when it comes to purity of various products) is a really good idea. — Maggie
Maximum Fun, the outfit that produces two of my favorite podcasts (Bullseye and Judge John Hodgman) has announced a new show. It's called Sawbones. Jesse Thorn says: "It's about the history of medicine, particularly the crazy bits. It's hosted by Dr. Sydnee McElroy & Justin McElroy. Justin's also one of the hosts of My Brother, My Brother & Me, one of our most popular shows. And they're married. Sydnee's a medical history nut, and Justin good at bothering his wife about things, so they are a good team."
In Ancient Egypt, doctors applied electric eels to patients with migraines. In the medieval times dentists burned candles into patients’ mouths to kill off those pesky invisible worms gnawing at their teeth.
Read the rest
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
From Retraction Watch
: The Indian Journal of Surgery has retracted a 2011 paper entitled "Penile Strangulation by Metallic Rings". The reason: The authors apparently self-plagiarized the report from an earlier 2005 paper. Please insert your own jokes here. — Maggie
Doctors know he died of a heart attack, right? And he's not actually
Tony Soprano, so the chances of someone secretly killing him and making it look like a heart attack are small. So what's the point? Accuracy, says David Dobbs at Nautilus. Research shows that doctors make a lot of mistakes when it comes to assessing death.
Fifteen-to-thirty percent of the time, diagnoses of death are incorrect. Five-to-ten percent of the time, that mistake contributed to the patient's death. — Maggie
Just a reminder: Vitamins aren't inert. They actually do things in your body and we don't totally understand yet what all they do, how they do it, and how much extra vitamin supplementation is too much
. Meanwhile, the vitamin and supplement industry remains largely unregulated. Most doctors probably wouldn't tell you to stop taking vitamins, but the concerns voiced by Dr. Paul Offit in a story at CNN aren't ridiculous and should help convince you to make sure that you're talking with your doctor about the supplements and vitamins you take, and to be leery of megadosing on any vitamin. — Maggie
Stanford researchers developed a retinal prosthesis that wirelessly transmits images from a video camera in a pair of glasses directly to a chip implanted inside the retina tissue. The innovations of lead scientist Daniel Palanker and his colleagues is that their system does away with any cable between the implant and the video eyeglasses, and buries the chip in the sub-retinal layers of the eye instead of on its surface to eliminate a kind of interference. They published their latest breakthroughs in the science journal Nature Communications. From Medical Daily:
In this study, Palanker's team from the Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory placed these second-generation implants into the retinas of rats with or without macular degeneration. The researchers found that the new bionic retinas could transmit images into the minds of rats, which was observed by measuring brain activity in the visual centers of the rodents' brains.
"Solar-Powered Bionic Eye Developed By Stanford Scientist
" (Medical Daily)
Restoration of Sight to the Blind: Optoelectronic Retinal Prosthesis (Daniel Palanker)
Fine artist Angela Palmer takes CT/MRI scanner of people and animals, engraves the data onto thin glass sheets that are then combined into 3D sculptures. Recently, she's used the same technique to reproduce data from the Kepler telescope too.
"Angela Palmer: Life Lines"
"Kepler: Goldilocks" (NASA)
Two doctors have written a really fascinating analysis of the history and economics of health insurance that will make our current U.S. system seem even more ridonculous than it already did
. — Maggie
Papercraft artist Horst Kiechle created an incredible anatomical model, complete with removable organs, and posted all the templates and instructions online for free. "Paper Torso"
In 1961, Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Barney Rubble, and literally a thousand other cartoon characters (see vide above), was in a terrible car crash that put him in a coma. Nothing could rouse him until his surgeon addressed him as Bugs Bunny. Of course, Blanc's response was: "What's up, Doc?" Here's a 2012 short episode of Radiolab where they interview the surgeon, a neuroscientist, and Mel Blanc's son, Noel.
"What's Up, Doc?" (Radiolab)