NY Times article: Effects of Social Environment on PTSD

So is the traumatic event more than just the event itself — the event plus some crucial aspect of social environment that has the potential to either dull or amplify its effects?”

Life Interrupted - chronicles a 24-year old's experiences as a young adult with cancer

Her writing appears weekly, on Well NY Times. 

Like a lot of other young people, I never thought about health insurance until I got sick. I was 22, and my adult life was just beginning. But less than a year after walking across the stage at my college graduation, I received an unexpected diagnosis — acute myeloid leukemia — and with it came a flurry of consultations, tests and appointments. From early on, my doctors told me I would need chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.

Life, Interrupted

Suleika Jaouad writes about her experiences as a young adult with cancer.

But before the shock of the news could settle in — before I could consider where and how I would be treated — I did what most Americans must do when beset with a medical crisis: I called my insurance provider.

"Helpless" vs "Mastery/Growth" Students

"someone’s theory about intelligence may not make much difference when times are easy. But when failures accumulate, those who believe that they can improve their basic abilities are far more likely to weather the storm" 

According to this article, our motivations and beliefs about learning and intelligence affect how we overcome failure….

Being bilingual 'boosts brain power'

Learning a second language can boost brain power, scientists believe.

The US researchers from Northwestern University say bilingualism is a form of brain training - a mental “work out” that fine-tunes the mind.

Speaking two languages profoundly affects the brain and changes how the nervous system responds to sound, lab tests revealed.

Experts say the work in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides “biological” evidence of this.

For the study, the team monitored the brain responses of 48 healthy student volunteers - which included 23 who were bilingual - to different sounds.

They used scalp electrodes to trace the pattern of brainwaves.

Under quiet, laboratory conditions, both groups - the bilingual and the English-only-speaking students - responded similarly.

But against a backdrop of noisy chatter, the bilingual group were far superior at processing sounds.

They were better able to tune in to the important information - the speaker’s voice - and block out other distracting noises - the background chatter.”

Matching Patients with Clinical Trials

A growing number of patient-advocacy groups are playing matchmaker, linking patients to researchers who need them for clinical trials.

The move comes as a persistent shortage of volunteers has slowed trials of new treatments for cancer and other diseases, which typically involve a patient receiving a drug or a placebo. People, including healthy volunteers, also are urgently needed for studies to contribute to the overall understanding of diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, experts say.”


Testing I, II, III

A look at the types of clinical trials and what happens in each phase


• Treatment trials test new treatments, new combinations of drugs, or new approaches to surgery or radiation therapy.

• Prevention trials look for better ways to prevent disease in people who have never had the ailment or to prevent a disease from returning. These approaches may include medicines, vitamins, minerals, vaccines, or lifestyle changes.

• Diagnostic trials are conducted to find better tests or procedures for diagnosing a disease or condition.

• Screening trials test the best way to detect certain diseases or health conditions.

• Quality-of-life trials, also known as supportive care trials, explore ways to improve quality of life for people with chronic illnesses.


• Phase I: Researchers test a new drug or treatment in a small group of people (20-80) for the first time to evaluate safety, determine a safe dosage range, and identify side effects.

• Phase II: The studied drug or treatment is given to a larger group of people (100-300) to see if it is effective and to further evaluate its safety.

• Phase III: The studied drug or treatment is given to large groups of people (1,000-3,000) to confirm its effectiveness, monitor side effects, compare it to commonly used treatments and collect data that will allow the treatment to be used safely.

• Phase IV: After a drug or treatment is on the market, this phase is used to delineate additional information, including its risks, benefits, and optimal use. Source: ClinicalTrials.gov

Assessing Quality Of Life and How it is Transforming Health Care

Great article on how asking a simple question like “How is your health affecting your quality of life?” is transforming health care. So important, especially with patients suffering chronic illnesses. 

Make the Home safer for Children

Here is an article on the hazard of stairs in the home. Reminds me of a big bump/scar I have on my inner lip. According to my mother, I fell down the stairs and needed stitches on my lips. Still have the scar to prove it. 

(Source: )

Scientists Find Mutation causing Neurodegeneration

The researchers found that a mutation in just one of the many copies of a gene known as U2 snRNAs, which is involved in the intricate processing of protein-encoding RNAs, causes neurodegeneration.

Fruitfly Genome mapped in 3 dimensions

The 3D map, published today in Cell, shows that the fly genome is divided into distinct physical domains. Actively expressed genes were found within the same physical domains, and genes that were repressed as a result of epigenetic marks (chemical groups added to the DNA and its associated proteins that don’t change its coding sequence) were found in other distinct physical regions.

The team identified specific proteins associated with the domain boundaries, and hypothesized that they might stop interactions outside these domains. Although this seems true to an extent, Cavalli explains that it is “still not quite right”.

Study shows memory loss can start as early as 45


Objectives To estimate 10 year decline in cognitive function from longitudinal data in a middle aged cohort and to examine whether age cohorts can be compared with cross sectional data to infer the effect of age on cognitive decline.

Design Prospective cohort study. At study inception in 1985-8, there were 10 308 participants, representing a recruitment rate of 73%.

Setting Civil service departments in London, United Kingdom.

Participants 5198 men and 2192 women, aged 45-70 at the beginning of cognitive testing in 1997-9.

Main outcome measure Tests of memory, reasoning, vocabulary, and phonemic and semantic fluency, assessed three times over 10 years.

Results All cognitive scores, except vocabulary, declined in all five age categories (age 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, and 65-70 at baseline), with evidence of faster decline in older people. In men, the 10 year decline, shown as change/range of test×100, in reasoning was −3.6% (95% confidence interval −4.1% to −3.0%) in those aged 45-49 at baseline and −9.6% (−10.6% to −8.6%) in those aged 65-70. In women, the corresponding decline was −3.6% (−4.6% to −2.7%) and −7.4% (−9.1% to −5.7%). Comparisons of longitudinal and cross sectional effects of age suggest that the latter overestimate decline in women because of cohort differences in education. For example, in women aged 45-49 the longitudinal analysis showed reasoning to have declined by −3.6% (−4.5% to −2.8%) but the cross sectional effects suggested a decline of −11.4% (−14.0% to −8.9%).

Conclusions Cognitive decline is already evident in middle age (age 45-49).

Sex Education for Teenagers, Online and in Texts - NY Times

"Sex education is a thorny subject for most school systems; only 13 states specify that the medical components of the programs must be accurate. Shrinking budgets and competing academic subjects have helped push it down as a curriculum priority. In reaction, some health organizations and school districts are developing Web sites and texting services as cost-effective ways to reach adolescents in the one classroom where absenteeism is never a problem: the Internet."

Study: Bad Relationship With Mom May Lead to Weight Gain


This is a really interesting study.

(via milkshaykh-deactivated20120929)

New Yorker's Living Longer

Bloomberg announced Tuesday that New Yorkers are living longer than ever despite crime and other hazards associated with the nation’s largest city. According to statistics compiled by city health officials, city residents also pile up more years than the average American.

The city’s latest health stats show that babies born in the city in 2009 have a record-high life expectancy of 80.6 years — an increase of 3 years since 2000.

The life expectancy of 40-year-olds living in New York also rose at a steeper rate between 2000 and 2009 compared with the nation, up to 82 years from 79.5 years, city officials said.

Acetaminophen-Asthma Link

Acetaminophen increases the risk of childhood asthma.


Dr. John T. McBride, Akron

Children’s Hospital.

The sharp worldwide increase in childhood asthma over the past 30 years has long perplexed researchers, who have considered explanations as varied as improved hygiene and immunizations. Over the last decade, however, a new idea has emerged

The asthma epidemic accelerated in the 1980s, some researchers have noted, about the same time that aspirin was linked to Reye’s syndrome in children. Doctors stopped giving aspirin to children with fevers, opting instead for acetaminophen. In a paper published in The Annals of Allergy and Asthma Immunology in 1998, Dr. Arthur Varner, then a fellow in the immunology training program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, argued that the switch to acetaminophen might have fueled the increase in asthma.

Since then, more than 20 studies have produced results in support of his theory, including a large analysis of data on more than 200,000 children that found an increased risk of asthma among children who had taken acetaminophen. In November, Dr. John T. McBride, a pediatrician at Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio, published a paper in the journal Pediatrics arguing that the evidence for a link between acetaminophen and asthma is now strong enough for doctors to recommend that infants and children who have asthma (or are at risk for the disease) avoid acetaminophen.

Dr. McBride based his assertion on several lines of evidence. In addition to the timing of the asthma epidemic, he said, there is now a plausible explanation for how acetaminophen might provoke or worsen asthma, a chronic inflammatory condition of the lungs. Even a single dose of acetaminophen can reduce the body’s levels of glutathione, an enzyme that helps repair oxidative damage that can drive inflammation in the airways, researchers have found.

Read More

(Source: The New York Times)

"How Doctors Die" -- A doctor writing about why most doctors DON'T push for a lot of end-of-life interventions in their own healthcare.


Powerful article, with insight on how many doctors refuse to receive the very life-prolonging (but NOT life-improving) interventions which they feel “pushed” to provide for many terminal/critically-ill patients.

Personally, I’m “No Code”, and ever since med-school ICU rotations, I’ve often spoken with my medical colleagues about my mental list of conditions for which “If I had X diagnosis or X medical situation, just let me die.” Who has two thumbs and isn’t going to die riding a ventilator? THIS DOC.

Furthermore, I strongly believe that we (Americans and the US healthcare system) do not utilize Hospice Care soon enough/often enough for terminally ill people. The average American terminally-ill patient is enrolled in hospice less than 48 hours before he/she dies… yet doctors can certify a patient to receive hospice services if the doctor just thinks that it would be “reasonable to expect that this patient could pass away from a medical condition within the next 6 months.” And as this article states, many hospice patients have longer QUANTITY of Life, along with infinitely-greater Quality of Life, while on hospice.


Thanks for the heads-up on this article, doctom666!