Health Culture Daily Dose #17

Additional stories related to health. Categories include: More articles on Health Care Reform, History of Medicine, Medical Journalism, Medical Technology, Medical News, Pharmaceuticals, Pop Culture, Social Media and the Internet, and The So-Called Obesity “Epidemic.”


A ‘Common Sense’ American Health Reform Plan (The New York Times – Uwe Reinhardt)
After studying this nation’s perpetual “national conversation” on health reform for over three decades now, I am firmly convinced that any health reform that is the product of logical cerebral processes automatically misjudges what Americans appear to see as “simple common sense” in health care.
The Experts vs. The Public on Health Reform (Kaiser Family Foundation)
In repeated Kaiser polls, we see a divide between what experts believe and what the public believes about some of the key issues in health reform. There is a wide gulf on basic beliefs about what is behind the problems in the health care system and key elements of reform.

Will the Lobbyists Make Meaningful Health Care Reform Impossible? (Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review – Maggie Mahar)
“In a policy-making environment that is so clearly and openly influenced by money,” it’s just not likely that “Congress will be able to achieve health care reforms that are in the public interest.” I disagree. I believe economic pressures are pushing us toward a political turning point.



Strep throat may have killed Mozart (Reuters)
The death of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at the age of 35 may have been caused by complications stemming from strep throat.


Prone to headaches? Drink coffee. No wait, don’t. (Los Angeles Times)
Sometimes there are reports in which a foodstuff or habit prevents and causes something in the same study.



Vitality, Connecting Pill Bottles to the Internet, Nudges People to Remember Their Meds (Xcomony)
It’s a wireless, Internet-connected medicine bottle cap that blinks and plays a tune when it’s time to down your pills. Sold out on Amazon, but it should come back in stock. There are lots of stories and videos on this. Search for GlowCap.
An HIV-Blocking Gel for Women (University of Utah News Center)
University of Utah scientists developed a new kind of “molecular condom” to protect women from AIDS in Africa and other impoverished areas.


New See-All Eyeglasses: A Consumer’s Report (The New York Times)
The problem they … solve brilliantly is where bifocals, computer glasses and progressives have all failed …: going back and forth between computer screen, laptop computer display and books, magazines and newspapers.

Knee plug

Mimicking Human Cartilage to Repair a Knee (The New York Times)
Now companies are developing potentially simpler knee patches: small, off-the-shelf plugs engineered to mimic the composition of human bone and cartilage.


Scientists find nerve cells responsible for itch (Reuters)
Researchers have found specific nerve cells responsible for itchiness, a discovery that could lead to better treatments for skin conditions.
The Itch (The New Yorker – Atul Gawande)
Its mysterious power may be a clue to a new theory about brains and bodies. [This is a great article. You’ll never be able to forget the woman who had an unrelenting itch on her scalp.]

Whole grain cereal

Relation Between Modifiable Lifestyle Factors and Lifetime Risk of Heart Failure
This study was of men only. The lifestyle factors were: body weight, smoking, exercise, alcohol intake, consumption of breakfast cereals, and consumption of fruits and vegetables. I was curious about the breakfast cereals. Is there a correlation because these men ate cereal rather than bacon and eggs? Or because they ate breakfast at all? It appears to be only whole grain cereals that are positively associated with reduced risk of heart failure. I’m going to look into this some more. In the meantime, I’ve started eating Grape Nuts.
Breakfast Cereals and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in the Physicians’ Health Study (Obesity)
These results suggest that intake of breakfast cereals might confer a lower risk of DM [type 2 diabetes]. Consumption of whole-grain products may help lower the risk of DM.
A Prospective Study of Whole-Grain Intake and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in US Women (PDF)
The overall protective effect of whole grains was observed for individual whole-grain foods, including dark bread, whole-grain breakfast cereal, popcorn, oatmeal, brown rice, wheat germ, bran, and other grains. This consistent finding suggests that something present in whole grains may be responsible for the observed protective effect, even though the nutrient content of different whole-grain products may vary. These results are also in close agreement with previous findings from both metabolic and epidemiologic studies on the protective role of dietary fiber in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Eating chocolate

Chocolate ‘cuts death rate’ in heart attack survivors (AFP)
Heart attack survivors who eat chocolate two or more times per week cut their risk of dying from heart disease about threefold compared to those who never touch the stuff, scientists have reported. [“Two or more times per week.” I like the “more” part.]
See Does chocolate prevent heart disease?
Gene Cuts Need for Sleep (WebMD)
People with rare gene mutation refreshed by 6-hour sleep
Cannabis may prevent osteoporosis (BBC News)
Researchers looking at the effects of cannabis on bones have found its impact varies dramatically with age. The study found that while the drug may reduce bone strength in the young, it could protect against osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones, in later life.


Regina Benjamin

Does it matter what the doctor weighs? (The Los Angeles Times)
Some say it matters to patients that physicians practice what they preach. But heft and ill health aren’t always synonymous. … [Surgeon General Dr. Regina] Benjamin hasn’t responded publicly to criticism that her extra pounds may set a poor example.


Medical Groups Promoted HPV Vaccine Using Drug Company Money (The Washington Post)
At least three medical associations promoted a vaccine that protects against a sexually transmitted virus using funds provided by the vaccine’s manufacturer, according to a new analysis being published in Wednesday’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.


Mad Men logo

Race And Mad Men (The Atlantic)
“Yet race is treated with politeness, distance, restraint, and a heavy dose of sentimentality. For a show that takes place in the early ’60s, as race riots are breaking out, this is a glaring omission.” I actually think it’s a beautiful, lovely, incredibly powerful omission. … The people in that world barely see black people.


Facebook can threaten relationships, study says (The Los Angeles Times)
A Canadian report finds that postings on the social media site can trigger escalating feelings of jealousy between romantically involved individuals.
Cyborg Status (Forbes)
If you could have computer chips wired into your brain, would you?
How Happy Is the Internet? (Science)
Blogging about your crummy day? Writing a song about unrequited love? Your words may help researchers monitor society’s mood swings.
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