This Chart Shows You How You’ll Probably Die

Wondering how you’re most likely to die? Skip the online quizzes and morbid daydreaming, and sate your curiosity with this grim government chart.

Source: This Chart Shows You How You’ll Probably Die

I just got my genetic testing back, so I have all kinds of new, way more exotic stuff to worry about. 😀

Wash Your Hands at the Hospital or Doctor’s Office to Avoid Bringing Nasty Germs Home

Encouraging doctors and nurses to wash their hands frequently has always been considered an effective way to curb the spread of infection in hospitals and other health facilities.

But a research letter published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine points to another key group of people who aren’t always keeping their hands so clean and probably should: patients.

Source: Patients Leave the Hospital with Superbugs on Their Hands

Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it when you leave the office, get off the elevator, leave the building and one last time when you’re safely in your car. You are touching thousands of sick people each step of the way.

If you don’t have to touch things in a hospital or doctors office, don’t.  Magazines are probably the worst things to handle – your phone or tablet is a safer option.

To a certain extent you need exposure to everyday germs to stay healthy, but not at that level.

Skip the Handshake and Fist Bump Instead to Keep From Getting Sick

Indirect transfer via surfaces such as computer keyboards and door handles is a potential route of transmission for infectious diseases and efforts are made to control such transfer, particularly in hospitals.  However, direct contact between individuals has the potential for greater efficiency of pathogen transmission, and handshakes are known to transmit bacteria, including potential pathogens.  Nevertheless, some social/professional contexts place great value in the handshake and its quality.  Indeed, health professionals have been specifically encouraged to offer handshakes to meet patients’ expectations and to develop a rapport with them.

Source: The fist bump: A more hygienic alternative to the handshake

It’ll take a while for culture to accept this without thinking you’re desperate to look current. 😉

These Are the Germiest Spots on an Airplane

Anywhere there’s high traffic, and surfaces that can/should be touched…

The general consensus from this study: Airports and airplanes are dirtier than your home (NSF, 2011). Surprisingly, it is the one surface that our food rests on – the tray table – that was the dirtiest of all the locations and surfaces tested. Since this could provide bacteria direct transmission to your mouth, a clear takeaway from this is to eliminate any direct contact your food has with the tray table. It’s also advisable to bring hand sanitizer for any other dirty surface you may touch along your journey.

Take a look at all of the results from the study to learn the other locations and surfaces you should steer clear from.

Source: Airline Hygiene Exposed

If you forget the hand sanitizer, or run low – use other surfaces.  Gloves might attract attention, so use:

  • the non dominant hand
  • knuckles instead of fingers to press buttons
  • elbows work too, but can draw attention to yourself

How Long Will It Be Until You Can Get an Anti-Aging Pill?

Last month a team of doctors and scientists made the case to regulators at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider approving anti-aging drugs as a new pharmaceutical class. Such a designation would treat aging as disease rather than a natural process, potentially opening the door to government funding for anti-aging drug trials.

Source: How Long Will It Be Until You Can Get an Anti-Aging Pill?

Aging is very expensive for post-industrial society. The reason why pensions, retirement plans and government stipends like social security exist is because many old people are not physically able to work anymore and have a huge range of medical conditions, all stemming from the frailty of aging, that need to be treated or, more likely, merely stanched and bailed out like a sinking ship.

A cure for aging would minimize these expenses, but now you have more people in the workforce who aren’t leaving any time soon.  The age of retirement gets pushed back, and the retirement planning changes.  There’s also the sociological impact of older people who continue living – lots these days have grandparents who are incredibly racist/bigoted.  I don’t advocate the death of simply because, but there is something to be said for a generation passing the torch so we can evolve.  Which also plays into health aspects, as an older generation is likely to be susceptible to something future generations might not.

There are some very serious implications to keeping people alive longer.

Shrimpocalypse! How Reintroducing Prawns Could Save Humans from Deadly Disease

It’s a familiar ecology story: human dam-building activities in the 1980s wiped out a species of prawn in the Senegal River by blocking its migration routes. But this tale takes an unexpected turn into human health. A pilot study suggests that reintroducing the prawns to the river wouldn’t be good just for biodiversity—it could also help to control a parasite that causes disease in humans.

The research, published today in PNAS, found that when river prawns were reintroduced to a village’s water supply, the number of parasite-carrying water snails dropped substantially compared to a village with no prawns. This drop had a significant impact on the disease levels of the villagers.

Source: Shrimpocalypse: How reintroducing prawns could save humans from deadly disease

This reads like a poorly constructed experiment. The “control” village really wasn’t. There should have been a third village with a net, and no prawns or medication if they were going to do it correctly.  Or at the very least set up a third net in a similar setting and conduct snail counts in all three. But I could understand the reluctance to withhold medication just for the study, assuming there was enough to go around outside the study area already.

The article didn’t mention if the prawns were edible, but I’d take prawns over snails any day.

Any excuse to use this image…

How the Black Death Advanced Medical Science, With Help From the Pope

One of the most awful diseases in the world caused a surprising advance in medicine. Though the Black Death killed roughly a third of the people in the nations it touched, it ended half a century of religion-induced medical ignorance.

Source: How the Black Death Advanced Medical Science, With Help From the Pope

Did you know: Investigating the cause of death on people is called an “autopsy”, while for anything else?  That’s called a “necropsy”.

Some believe that the black plague made the Renaissance happen, partly because many of the survivors were suddenly rich (from inheriting from a lot of dead relatives) and partly from a drive to put the black death as far behind them as possible. It’s not far fetched – a lot current culture can be traced to impact from either during or after the two World Wars.  Men having short hair and clean shaven is attributed to WW1 trench warfare, lobster changed from food for the poor to high class because it wasn’t rationed like meat…  The predominant language in North America was German until the wars, and largely due to internment camps and the practice around them of confiscating land, business, and money.  The butterfly effect

Papuan Tribe That Ate Brains Developed Resistance to Some Brain Diseases

The story of kuru, as classically told in biology textbooks, is a tragic one. The Fore population in Papua New Guinea ate the brains of their tribe members as an act of mourning, a ritual that allowed a misshapen protein to spread through the population. This caused the disease kuru, which killed as much as 10 percent of the population in the mid-twentieth century.

Source: Papuan Tribe That Ate Brains Developed Resistance to Some Brain Diseases

No one “developed” a resistance to it as a result of eating a brain. They already had it, and the ones who did not died.  This is part of how evolution works – sometimes it’s the benefit of a random mutation, and a lot of death.

I suggest starting with chilled monkey brains before attempting human ones:

You’re More Likely To Have Leprosy Than You Know (And That’s Okay)

For the hypochondriac in all of us! 😉

Leprosy is not a disease of the past. Nor is it particularly rare. It’s one of the many diseases we get without ever knowing we have them . . . most of the time.

Source: You’re More Likely To Have Leprosy Than You Know (And That’s Okay)

The article focuses on various catchy/alarming viruses.  It mentions but largely dances around being an asymptomatic carrier.  A la Typhoid Mary, the most notorious case of an asymptomatic carrier.  Her story is rather sad – she continued to get jobs in kitchens because it paid better than other options.