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October 29, 2014
[flu] Experts: If You Don’t Get A Flu Shot, You’re Stupid. And A Dick … Leigh Cowart on why you should get a flu shot. … ‘Everyone six months of age and older should get vaccinated for seasonal influenza, especially those at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications. According to Dr. Damania, those most at-risk for developing flu-related complications include the very young, the very old, those with immune system problems like HIV and cancer patients, and sufferers of other chronic diseases such as diabetes, COPD, and CHF. However he is careful to note that during the H1N1 outbreak, they saw “young, healthy people dying all over the place from the flu.” So everyone should get immunized, unless they have a severe chicken or egg allergy, have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccine, or a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, or are under six months of age. These unlucky folks can’t get immunized and will just have to hope that everyone else gets a flu shot, giving them a chance to cash in on some community immunity.’
July 11, 2014
[disa] Nature’s Most Perfect Killing Machine… a profile of the Ebola virus… ‘I first read Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone when I was 11 years old or so, and have since been in the habit of weighing every potential catastrophe against “death by Ebola virus disease.” The book is lurid and dramatic; the iconography of a dying patient crying blood and shitting out their intestines is, I admit, compelling. Terror-inducing as it may be, though, it’s perhaps not the most accurate portrait of the threat this particular monster poses…’
January 28, 2014
[health] How do vaccines cause autism? … a useful website for anti-vaxxers.
November 8, 2013
[health] Setting the Record Straight: Debunking ALL the Flu Vaccine Myths … With flu season’s arrival this is a very timely debunking of myths about Flu vaccines … ‘Myth #18: If I get the flu, antibiotics will take care of me. (No, they can’t.) Influenza is a virus. Antibiotics fight bacteria (anti = “against”; biotics = “of life,” referring to living bacteria, not to viruses). All the antibiotics in the world won’t help you fight off a flu infection.’
March 27, 2013
[funny] The Venn Diagram of Irrational Nonsense‘In my gross over simplification the vast majority of the multitude of evidenced-free beliefs at large in the world can be crudely classified into four basic sets or bollocks. Namely, Religion, Quackery, Pseudoscience and the Paranormal.’
January 25, 2013
[health] What Doctors Won’t Do … Doctors discuss which medical treatments they would avoid … ‘I would never avoid having my children vaccinated. Several years ago, I volunteered with Médecins Sans Frontières and spent six months in Angola. I’d expected the poverty, but it was the arrival of kids suffering from severe illnesses that should never have occurred – illnesses easily prevented elsewhere, like measles, or tetanus – that saddened me most. That, and the quiet humility with which families would queue for hours under a scorching sun to receive their vaccines.’
January 8, 2013
[disease] Charlie Brooker On The Norovirus:

The fascinating pitter-patter of stomach contents against the back of your teeth as a fearsome torrent of spew erupts from within like a liquid poltergeist fleeing an exorcism. The impressive way your backside emits high-pressure jets of hot fluid, like the Hulk squeezing silty boiled water from a Fairy Liquid bottle by clenching it abruptly in his fist. The searing aftermath, as your throat rages as though sandpapered and your anus screams like a scalded button. This is nature in all its raw majesty. Film it in HD, get David Attenborough to record the soundtrack, and you’ve got a Sunday evening treat for millions.’

November 23, 2011
[eyes] Monroe or Einstein: Check If You Need Glasses at Your Computer … find out if you are shortsighted …

Do You See Einstein Or Monroe?

September 23, 2011
[comics] Chiropractic … a beta-version of a comic strip about Chiropractic Therapy for Darryl Cunningham’s Science Tales book.
May 6, 2011
[comics] How 2000AD artist and MS sufferer John Hicklenton chose to end his life

…he decided to finish the battle on his own terms. Even when we went to Dignitas,” Lavis recalls, “it was, ‘I’m pulling the pin on the hand grenade. I’m murdering MS. It’s not murdering me.’”

January 24, 2011
[health] How Does Homeopathy Work?‘Please note that corrections will not be accepted unless accompanied by robust, peer-reviewed, scientific data.’
November 19, 2010
[health] The Launch Of Bipolar Disorder … fascinating look at the marketing of Bipolar Disorder in the 1990’s … ‘Once the medical elites were bought and sold on the new disease, armies of industry representatives descended on clinicians, to ‘educate’ them and teach them how to recognise the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Bipolar patient advocacy groups sprang up, generously supported by pharmaceutical companies; freelance journalists were hired to write magazine articles on the latest advances in psychiatric science; websites were created…’
October 22, 2010
[health] A Handy Alternative Therapy Flowchart … a useful guide … [via jwz]

A Handy Alternative Therapy Flowchart

August 8, 2010
[brains] Brain Drain … the New Yorker takes a look “neuroenhancing” drugs …

Alex remains enthusiastic about Adderall, but he also has a slightly jaundiced critique of it. “It only works as a cognitive enhancer insofar as you are dedicated to accomplishing the task at hand,” he said. “The number of times I’ve taken Adderall late at night and decided that, rather than starting my paper, hey, I’ll organize my entire music library! I’ve seen people obsessively cleaning their rooms on it.”

August 1, 2010
[health] On Being Sane In Insane Places … long disturbing report on a now classic experiment where a number of mentally healthy people pretend to have mental ilness to enter a psychiatric hospital and once they are in return to their normal behaviour and then report on how they are treated …

One tacit characteristic of psychiatric diagnosis is that it locates the sources of aberration within the individual and only rarely within the complex of stimuli that surrounds him. Consequently, behaviors that are stimulated by the environment are commonly misattributed to the patient’s disorder. For example, one kindly nurse found a pseudopatient pacing the long hospital corridors. “Nervous, Mr. X?” she asked. “No, bored,” he said.

July 30, 2010
[comics] My Favourite Medical Graphic Novels … a list of comics exploring health and medical themes … On Epileptic by David B: ‘In Epileptic there are no happy endings, no miracle cures, but we are left with a deeper understanding of how illness can affect a family. Not recommended for newly diagnosed epileptics. An upsetting masterpiece.’
July 5, 2010
[science] The Undead Henrietta Lacks And Her Immortal Dynasty … Adam Curtis has posted his BBC documentary on the story of Henrietta Lacks on to his blog‘Henrietta Lacks’ cells are immortal.’
June 30, 2010
[comics] Homeopathy … another comic on health and science issues from Daryl Cunningham

Darryl Cunningham On Homeopathy

May 20, 2010
[comics] The Facts In The Case Of Dr. Andrew Wakefield … a powerful and concise comic on the MMR Vaccine Controversy from Daryl Cunningham.
May 17, 2010
[history] Scott and Scurvy … a long wonderfully written look at the history behind the treatment of scurvy and how the was cure was misunderstood and forgotten at the start of the 20th Century … ‘They had a theory of the disease that made sense, fit the evidence, but was utterly wrong.’
April 2, 2010
[health] Snake oil? Scientific Evidence For Health Supplements … brilliantly done infographic from David McCandless.
July 24, 2009
[health] Kill or Cure? … a website analysing The Daily Mail’s cancer coverage… ‘Help to make sense of the Daily Mail’s ongoing effort to classify every inanimate object into those that cause cancer and those that prevent it.’
July 6, 2009
[swineflu] Pig Death Flu Apocalypse Virus … Tom Reynolds — a London Ambulance Man — on Swine Flu‘Our call rate has gone from the normal 4,200-4,500 calls per day to around 5,200-5,700 in the last few days. This is an increase of around 26% Rather obviously this is having us run ragged.’
January 13, 2009
[health] The Daily Mail Oncological Ontology Project‘A blog following the Daily Mail’s ongoing mission to divide all the inanimate objects in the world into those that cause or cure cancer.’ [via Mondo a-go-go]
December 30, 2007
[house] It Could be Lupus — a compilation of House lupus moments. And remember: It’s not Lupus, it’s never Lupus. (more…)
November 17, 2007
[dna] 23AndMe Will Decode Your DNA for $1,000. Welcome to the Age of Genomics — from Wired‘We will, counterintuitively, face even more pressure to conduct our lives carefully, strictly, and cautiously; we’ll practice the art of predictive diagnosis and receive a demanding roster of things to avoid, things to do, and treatments to receive — long before there’s any physical evidence of disease. And, yes, we will know whether our children are predisposed to certain traits or talents — athletics or music or languages — and encourage them to pursue certain paths. In short, life will become a little more like a game of strategy, where we’re always playing the percentages, trying to optimize our outcomes.’
August 12, 2007
[tv] The Real Doctor House — I’m relieved to find out that that the real House doesn’t have a borderline personality disorder. .. ‘Unfortunately, many of the patients Bolte sees are victims of iatrogenic, or doctor-caused, illness. Simply put, they have been misdiagnosed, overmedicated to the point of sickness, or given treatment inappropriate to their conditions. On occasion, this has led to shouting matches with more conventional docs, like the dermatologist colleague who burst into Bolte’s office one day and harangued him—in front of another patient—for telling the mom of an acne-ridden teen to stop feeding her child so much junk food. There’s no evidence that diet has anything to do with acne, the dermatologist shouted. Bolte begged to differ and cited the literature. “The pharmaceutical industry has trained even doctors to believe that there’s a pharmaceutical answer to everything,” he says, shrugging.’ [via Ask Metafilter]
April 17, 2007
[health] Ask Metafilter: I am a Mutant with an enlarged brain, I’ve had a device implanted into my head but its very sensitive to electromagnetic fields.. please help me avoid them.
February 28, 2007
[funny] Vita Radium Suppositories (for restoring Sex Power) … ‘Recommended for sexually weak men who, however, should use the NU-MAN Tablets in connection for best results. Also splendid for piles and rectal sores.’
October 8, 2006
[futures] The Coming Death Shortage — interesting look at what happens in the near future as people live longer and longer lives … ‘Steve Jobs and Stephen Wozniak founded Apple in their twenties; Albert Einstein dreamed up special relativity at about the same age. For better and worse, young people in developed nations will have less chance to shake things up in tomorrow’s world. Poorer countries, where the old have less access to longevity treatments, will provide more opportunity, political and financial. As a result, according to Fred C. Iklé, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “it is not fanciful to imagine a new cleavage opening up in the world order.” On one side would be the “‘bioengineered’ nations,” societies dominated by the “becalmed temperament” of old people. On the other side would be the legions of youth—”the protagonists,” as the political theorist Samuel Huntington has described them, “of protest, instability, reform, and revolution.”‘
May 10, 2006
[belly] Why doesn’t my belly button heal over? — also answers the important medical conundrum: Where does belly button fuzz come from? … ‘Belly button fuzz (or lint) comes from the clothes you wear. Some fabrics shed more than others. Some shapes of belly buttons are better collectors. A hairy belly button will collect fuzz better than a hairless one.’
March 26, 2006
[gross] My Eyeball Just Fell Out of Its Socket — What should you do? … ‘The treatment for globe luxation is pretty simple: Doctors apply some topical painkillers, hold back your lashes, and poke your eyeball into its socket by pressing on the white part with gloved fingers. (In some cases, they’ll use a simple tool like a bent paperclip to shoehorn it back into place.)’
March 3, 2006
[ukblogs] On The Power Of Blankets — Tom Reynolds on why a blanket is like a E.M.T’s towel‘Doing CPR on the floor for an extended period of time can be wearing on your knees – a folded blanket makes a nice cushion to rest on while pounding away on some dead person’s chest.’
January 17, 2006
[birdflu] Headaches? Runny Nose? Body Aches? Try: Lemsip Max Avian Bird Flu Capsules [via Bowblog]
December 17, 2005
[flu] Jon Ronson: ‘Recently I mentioned here that I have a stash of Tamiflu, bought over the internet. I keep it safely in the medicine cabinet, even though I’ve appraised the situation and don’t believe that an avian flu pandemic will hit. I base this assessment on the fact that we didn’t all die of CJD, and also I’ve an idea that the sort of people who don’t believe in the imminence of a bird flu pandemic are enlightened freethinkers and that’s how I like to see myself.’
August 29, 2005
[birdflu] H5N1‘News and Resources about Avian Flu’
September 24, 2003
[alcohol] Never Again — anatomy of a hangover … ‘Alcohol is an evil blunderbuss of a drug. Any other drug, like frusemide, or amphetamine, is taken in a teeny pill, where each molecule runs to its little receptor to exert its effect. Which is not to say that either of them are safer. But when you drink, as I did last night, a 40% alcohol drink such as whisky, then 40% of what you ingest is pure drug. In the case of a litre bottle, which two of us unwisely made a pretty good stab at polishing off between us, that’s more than a Coke can of pure drug. It doesn’t go to a neat little receptor site. It enters every cell in your body and stops it working properly, and just happens to hit the GABA cells in your brain first, rendering the subject, for want of a better word, pissed.’ [Related: Hangover Cures from H2G2]
August 24, 2003
[language] Doctor Slang is a Dying Art — Amusing article about the acronyms doctors use to describe their patients … ‘The increasing rate of litigation means that there is a far higher chance that doctors will be asked in court to explain the exact meaning of NFN (Normal for Norfolk), FLK (Funny looking kid) or GROLIES (Guardian Reader Of Low Intelligence in Ethnic Skirt).’ [via My 2p]
August 11, 2003
[size] Do Penis Enlargement Pills Work? — a brave blogger intends to find out and report back … ‘I took two pills yesterday (after lunch and after dinner). I noticed a “tingly” sensation in my penis when I got my first post-pill erection last night. It was quite strange, like I could feel the blood filling it up.’ [via Kottke's Remaindered Links]
April 27, 2003
[health] Confessions of a Ten-a-Day Man — William Leith looks at the painkilling industry in the UK … ‘Imagine this as a business proposition. You buy a cardboard tub of fluffy white powder for around £100. Then you turn the powder into a quarter of a million pills, which you sell at 10p per pill. Every cardboard tub you buy makes you a profit of £24,900. The powder is pure ibuprofen. The pills are painkillers. The company is Boots, which owns a subsidiary called Crookes Healthcare, which manufactures Nurofen. Sounds good, doesn’t it?’
April 24, 2003
[blogs] It’s A Zoo Out There — on-the-spot blog of a young Doctor in Singapore dealing with SARS … ‘I just feel very vulnerable right now, but what to do. I dread the day when I take my temperature and it is high…’ [via Guardian Weblog | Related: SARS Watch Blog]
March 17, 2003
[sars] SARS resources and comments — disturbing on-the-spot account from Hong Kong of the new lethal pneumonia called SARS … ‘Note that ICU staff are not going home to their families. As a physician, I find that observation chilling.’ [via Boing Boing]
December 18, 2002
[drink] Hangover Cures — from H2G2‘Hair of the Dog — A tot of alcohol in the morning. For some particularly nasty hangovers, this can be useful, although the bad news is that the effect is only temporary. The liver attacks poisons in a certain order, with ethanol first. Once all the ethanol has been broken down, it starts on the methanol, which releases formic acid into your system and makes you feel bad. Hitting the liver with another dose of ethanol causes it to stop processing methanol and start on the new threat, but the methanol will have to be processed sometime so you are only postponing the hangover until later.’
July 28, 2002
[booze] The Puzzling Red Wine Headache [login as: linkmachinego/linkmachinego] — this link is for Vaughan‘It may be caused by “compounds found in the skins of grapes and they are either naturally occurring or produced through fermentation,” Dr. Freitag said. He would postulate no further. “It’s not as if there are hundreds of thousands of dollars for funding” studies to determine the cause, Dr. Freitag said. There is actually a stigma to studying the subject. “I’ve entertained the idea of looking for grants to study this and I’ve been told, `Don’t go there, it’s bad P.R.,’ ” Dr. Freitag said.’ [via Follow Me Here]
July 19, 2002
[science] Strange Blood — Wired Magazine takes a look at artificial Blood. ‘…we’re in South Africa, where the human immunodeficiency virus has slipped into the veins of at least 4.5 million people. That’s 10 percent of the population. Some estimates put it much higher, at 25, 30, or even 40 percent, and all studies agree that the numbers are climbing, making this country among the hardest hit anywhere. The result, in addition to the obvious misery and death, is a blood shortage of huge proportions. Necessity breeds invention, however, and it can also cut through snares of bureaucracy. As Cappy’s pale, anemic body is wheeled into intensive care, Levien tells the nurses there to “hang a bag of aitchbock.” That’s H-B-O-C, for hemoglobin-based oxygen carrier – the generic term for Hemopure, a therapeutic substance made by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical firm Biopure and approved for use nowhere in the world except South Africa. This is artificial blood, and it’s clean and pure and fresh from the tap – never touched by human hands or human pathogens. To collect Hemopure for an injured South African, you don’t need donor drives or questionnaires or tourniquets or risk. All you need is a head of cattle.’
October 17, 2001
[big questions] Why is Snot Green? … From Notes and Queries. ‘I agree with Dr Powell that is is the enzymes in neutrophils that give snot its green colour. However, I thought this was due to another powerful antimicrobial agent, peroxidase. Incidentally, this is the same enzyme that gives wasabi its green colour – a lovely thought for the next time you’re in Yo Sushi!’
August 1, 2001
[medicine] ickle tackles painkillers … and allows me to dispose of this link I’ve had sitting in my “Must Blog” Folder for ages… the history of aspirin — Rise of the 1p wonder. ‘The trouble for the drug firms is that so many of them make aspirin, and it is so cheap to produce, they make no profit from it. Instead, they are intensively trying to develop so-called ‘super-aspirins’ which are more powerful and can be patented to ensure that they make money. ‘If something is found as a successor to aspirin, it is likely to be expensive. The market is huge – a goldmine,’ said Elwood. But the reason the drug companies don’t like the common aspirin is why patients and doctors do. It’s almost as cheap as chalk – about 1p a pill – and tackles all the big killers: heart disease, stroke and cancer.’
April 22, 2001
[drink] The Ultimate Hangover Cure‘3 Nurofen 1 vitamin C tablet 1 Alka Seltzer 1 can Coca-Cola (not diet) 1 greasy breakfast from office canteen. The next day trying to recover from the effect of some stealthy margaritas, I tried it and it worked a treat; the vitamin C made me feel healthy, the Alka Seltzer with all the buzzing and fizzing perked me up; the breakfast – important to remember the baked beans – filled me up and the Coke… well. I’ve never really known what Coke does but it always feels good the day after the night before. The cardinal rule of hangover cures is that they all include a can of Coke. That is my basic recommendation. But for something with a bit of kick and a more rapid result, the Adam Edwards Hangover Cure is the Exocet missile of remedies; tried, tested, recommended.’
February 12, 2001
[aids] Excellent website with lots of information on the controversial / disturbing theory that AIDS origins lie in a early polio vaccines contaminated with viruses from chimpanzee kidneys. [Related Links: Scientists rule out polio link to Aids]
January 28, 2001
[nasty] What is Botox? ‘Produced by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum , Botox – or Botulinum toxin, to give it its full name – is a nerve impulse ‘blocker’, a medication used to temporarily paralyse muscle function. This has been useful in the treatment of illnesses such as MS and cerebral palsy, but more recently has been used to cure that plague of affluent Western civilisation: wrinkles.’

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