Mild Concussion? Simple Blood Test Might Detect Injury Up to a Week After

A barely bruised brain can send out molecular SOS signals in the blood for days after an injury, researchers report this week in JAMA Neurology.

The finding suggests that new blood tests, already in development to detect those signals, may be able to identify even the mildest concussions well after a knock to the head.

Source: Mild concussion? Simple blood test can detect injury up to a week after

Concussions are a clinical diagnosis, and not determined by imaging such as a CT scan of the brain.  Most people who have a concussion have a normal CT. From reading the abstract, it appears that the CT was performed to rule out an intracranial lesion (such as a subdural hematoma) which is a related but different issue from a concussion. The utility of the blood test would be to detect evidence of a recent concussive event without the need to perform neurologic testing.

This is an interesting assessment of the news:

Warfarin/Coumadin = Concussion?

Being on warfarin/coumadin does not make us at more risk for concussions – it increases the risk for intracranial bleeding, most often [when it happens] is a subdural hematoma (SDH). Patients with even mild head injuries who are on warfarin/coumadin who come to the emergency department almost always receive a CT scan to check for a SDH. Some recommendations even say that they should all received a second CT in 12-24 hours to check for any delayed bleeding. But this is entirely different than a concussion.

There is a chance that this would help reduce the number of CTs though. The article indicates that the blood tests are elevated in people with SDH as well as other intracranial bleeding types. Therefore it may be possible to derive a guideline that if a patient on warfarin/coumadin with a head injury has a negative blood test, then a scan wouldn’t be necessary. That would definitely be helpful.

Why the Calorie is Broken

I’m kind of pissed at the scientific community for not coming up with something better.

Source: Why the calorie is broken

The problem with many weight loss attempts is that people ‘go on diets’ instead of ‘changing their diet’.  You have to change your diet for weight loss to be effective and stick.

Big Names Gamble Big Bucks on Blood Tests for Early Cancer Detection

Forget biopsies, ultrasounds, mammograms, pap smears, rectal exams, and other unpleasant cancer screenings—the race is now on for simple, affordable blood tests that can detect all sorts of cancers extremely early.

Source: Big names gamble big bucks on blood tests for early cancer detection

This kind of screening is of a very different type to PSA or mammography, where many things can cause elevated PSA or high radio opacity in breast tissue. You are looking either for circulating tumor cells, or as in the Grail case, nucleic acid fragments from said cells. You sequence the DNA you have, looking for known oncogenic mutations. If you find them, the patient has cells with active oncogenes in them. As some oncogenes are known to be particularly deadly, mutant KRAS for instance, they would presumably be prioritized. I would worry more about false negatives than false positives with this technology, as it would presumably not be able to pick up lesser known mutations, and might be completely blind to tumors caused for example by gene amplification.

Why screen early? There are some very rapid cancers, and there are some which appear to be very rapid because they are diagnosed very late. Many of these cancer, pancreatic (and KRAS) being a poster boy ,have been around and undetected for many years, yet the average patient only survives about 6 months after diagnosis. For these cancers, this kind of screening could be a real lifesaver. The average ovarian tumor is 400 grams when detected, and survival is then usually a brutal land war.

We might start screening and then find out tumors can be detected in everyone. This would give us useful data on how frequently cancers arise, and how frequently they are overcome by the immune system. In such a case we would learn not to treat everyone, but maybe wait until certain thresholds were exceeded. Or, since we know what the mutations are the tumor carries, we could use highly targeted immunotherapies, with low toxicity. Everything is impossible to implement perfectly on day 1, but take a look at the landscape, try some things, and learn, and a decade later you have made real progress.

Most People Have Cholesterol All Wrong

Do you know which foods contain good cholesterol, and which contain bad cholesterol? If you think you do, ha! That’s a trick question! Cholesterol in our food doesn’t come in “good” and “bad” varieties, but cholesterol readings from blood tests do, and the two aren’t as closely connected as we used to think.

Source: Most People Have Cholesterol All Wrong

HDL is the one you want to be high; you want LDL to be low.

My doctor told me that my levels were a tad high, but the ratio mattered more.  The best part?  No cholesterol medication suggestion from the doctor.  It really does pay to eat better and look after yourself.

Related: The Dangerous Power of Health Media: 28,000 Quit Statins After Scare Documentary

A $25 Blood Test Could Detect Every Virus That’s Ever Infected You

You’ll probably remember the last time you had the flu, but what about that time you had measles – or was it chicken pox? Your blood knows: it keeps a record of every virus you’ve ever been infected with. A tiny drop of the stuff can now be tested to reveal a person’s viral history.

The test, called VirScan, reveals that adults around the world tend to have been infected by an average of 10 viruses over their lifetime. It could also be used to identify links between viral infections and mysterious diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome.

Source: Cheap blood test reveals every virus you’ve ever been exposed to

The article goes on to largely dismiss the use of the test, as the immune response takes time to build up the antibodies necessary to register an indication of infection.  And points out that we have established symptoms…