Category Archives: Health

Bill Bryson’s new book

NPR Morning Edition: Bill Bryson’s Latest Is A Different Kind Of Journey — Into ‘The Body’.

“Bill Bryson is beloved for his travel writing, but his new book takes us not to Australia or to Europe or to Iowa, but on a journey inside our own bodies. And it’s called — naturally — The Body. Bryson says he’s genuinely fascinated by the ways our bodies work. “I mean, once you start delving into the body and how it’s put together, and what a miracle life is when you think about it,” he says, “each of us is made up of 37 trillion cells, and there’s nothing in charge. I mean all of those cells, you just have chaotic activity going on, and little chemical signals going from one cell to another. And yet somehow, all this random chaotic activity results in a completely sentient, active, thinking human being.””

NPR Book Review: Bill Bryson’s ‘The Body’ Is Missing His Characteristic Wit, Ingenious Way Of Analysis. By Kamil Ahsan.

“The truth is, it’s just not clear who The Body is for. Is it the sort of book targeted to the children bored by textbooks, or is it targeted to the casual adult reader? Is it meant for people who care for and know about the human body, or is it for people who know nothing about it? It is a strange burden to put on a writer to expect an entirely different book than the one that is present, but for many long-time Bryson fans, this may be exactly the conundrum.

And no matter who the reader is, it is hard to imagine The Body making the kind of incredible impact that A Short History did, especially in a time when so many wonderful books with similar scope exist.”

I loved “A Short History of Nearly Everything” (and many other of Bryson’s books) and was very much looking forward to reading Bryson’s new book, but now I’m not sure I want to read it. The author recommends four other books on the same subject that he thinks are better, so maybe I’ll read one of those instead?

“Wash your hands, you filthy animals!”

I’ve recently discovered This Podcast Will Kill You by hosts Erin Welsh and Erin Allmann Updike, who are both disease ecologists and epidemiologists, so they know what they’re talking about. I’ve found the episodes I’ve listened to so far not only very informative, but entertaining as well!

Two of my favorite episodes so far (published in May 2019):

Episode 26 Vaccines Part 1: Let’s hear it for Maurice

Episode 27 Vaccines part 2: Have you thanked your immune system lately?

Link via MetaFilter.

Every damn myth debunked in one.

Vice: The Most Overhyped Wellness Promises, Debunked. “Here’s some healthy skepticism about Keto, colonics, charcoal, and more.”

“Behold our ever-growing list of today’s most pervasive wellness lies (or are they misunderstandings? Misguided hopes and dreams?). Click through on each one for a clear, deeply researched, as-definitive-as-possible explanation, gathered from experts and years of scientific research. You won’t find any thin claims based on small studies or experiments on cells or mice, unless we’re using them to point out how insufficient the research is on a given subject.”

The list includes 44 myths and links to extensive articles about each one.

Link via MetaFilter.

“Once they start exercising and experience the benefits, they become very committed to routine exercise”

NPR Health: Exercising To Ease Pain: Taking Brisk Walks Can Help. “For people who live with chronic pain, getting up, out and moving can seem daunting. Some fear that physical activity will make their pain worse. But in fact, researchers find the opposite is true: The right kind of exercise can help reduce pain.”

“”Movement is essential for nutrition of the cartilage,” says Dr. Virginia Byers Kraus, a professor at Duke University’s Molecular Physiology Institute who serves on the research and medical committees of the Arthritis Foundation.

“Cartilage doesn’t have a blood supply but does have living cells,” she explains. “So the way it gets nutrition is by dynamic motion — putting weight off and on as you walk and move. The fluid inside the joint flows into and out of the cartilage like a sponge, so all the nutrients in the joint fluid get into the cartilage” and help slow any degradation there.

Neuroscientist Benedict Kolber with Duquesne University in Pittsburgh says exercise may also cause changes in the brain that can make a big difference in damping down pain.

“Exercise engages the endogenous opioid system,” he says, “so our bodies make opioids and use these opioids to decrease pain.”

In addition to other mechanisms still being worked out, natural opioids are thought to bind to the same receptors in the brain as opioid painkillers, Kolber says, but without the complications or potential for addiction. “There are some circumstances,” he says, “in which your body can produce so much of these natural opioids that you actually get some sense of euphoria” — hence the term runner’s high, a phenomenon athletes have long described.

Kolber says exercise also seems to activate parts of the brain that are involved in decreasing pain. “We get pain signals that are coming from our hands to our spinal cord and up to our brain,” he says, “and then we get these control systems — parts of our brain that seem to be activated in exercise — and that then turns down the pain system.”

And finally, Kolber says, exercise also seems to decrease stress. And stress can make people more sensitive to pain.”

Ärmere Familien stärker betroffen

Deutsche Welle: Studie weist Plastikrückstände in Kindern nach. “Das Umweltbundesamt hat in einer Studie bei fast allen untersuchten Kindern Kunststoffe im Körper gefunden. Bei bestimmten Stoffen ist die Belastung gesundheitlich bedenklich.”

“Auf 15 unterschiedliche Plastikinhaltsstoffe wurden insgesamt 2500 Kinder untersucht. Die Studie erstreckte sich auf den Zeitraum von 2003 bis 2017. Das Ergebnis alarmiert:

“Abbauprodukte von elf der 15 untersuchten Plastikinhaltsstoffen wurden im Urin von 97 Prozent aller Kinder gefunden. Das ist natürlich dramatisch. Solche Stoffe gehören nicht in den Körper der Kinder”, sagte die umweltpolitische Sprecherin der Grünen-Bundestagsfraktion, Bettina Hoffmann.

Hinzu komme, dass solche hormonstörenden Stoffe möglicherweise Zivilisationskrankheiten wie Fettleibigkeit, Fruchtbarkeitsstörungen, Krebs und Entwicklungsverzögerungen verursachen könnten.”