America’s Most Common Drug Ingredient Could Be Making You Less Empathetic

Every week, a quarter of Americans take a painkiller that could be dampening our collective feelings of empathy. In a paper published online this week, scientists claim that acetaminophen, Tylenol’s main ingredient, makes people more likely to think that other people’s pain isn’t a big deal.

Source: America’s Most Common Drug Ingredient Could Be Making You Less Empathetic

Whatever! 😉

Scientists May Have Found Formula For a Painless Existence

Physical pain is a near universal problem, whether its sudden pangs or chronic aches. Yet, researchers’ efforts to quash it completely have fallen short—possibly due to a moonlighting channel in nerve cells. But that may be about to change.

Source: Scientists may have found formula for a painless existence

Congenital analgesia was the affliction of a character in the Millennium series by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. Now I see that the wiki page has been updated with a reference to this study with the woman…

General pain reduction medicines that are not targeted all the time. If you are getting blasted with opioids, you are aiming your guns at the entire body. Opioids, while pretty good at pain reduction, have a lot of negative side effects, not the least of which is just boring old addiction.

Additionally, if you are busy dying of cancer, it probably isn’t all that dangerous, relatively speaking. If hospice care, if you could kill the pain without giving someone mind ruining levels of pain killers, you have done a very good thing. A lot of times to relieve the pain of someone who is dying, you basically have to dump them into a drug induced haze. That is all well and good until that person wants to speak to family. Being able to just turn off the pain without rendering someone incoherent would be a massive boon.

It could also be useful for people who are not dying, but are in agonizing pain. Again, some pain requires basically drugging someone stupid. Sure, there are dangers, but you can live with those. The risk of accidentally harming yourself and not knowing is a lot more appealing than being bed ridden in withering agony in some cases. Finally, if the control is analog, you might be able to dial back pain without turning it off. Imagine if you could dull the pain to level someone will still detect catastrophic damage (I put my hand on a hot stove), but it dulls out lower level chronic pain.

This is a really kick ass and revolutionary break through if it pans out. Near total control over pain using a drug that is almost certainly less harmful than opioids? Yes please! I really hope this turns out to be as good as it looks. If nothing else, it might go a long way to reducing the opiate addictions that our current pain management regimes have a nasty habit of producing.

This Rat Experiment Will Haunt You, But Not For The Reason You Think

This experiment, done on lab rats, isn’t terribly cruel. It will still probably keep you up at night when you’re thinking about hiring an exterminator.

Source: This Rat Experiment Will Haunt You, But Not For The Reason You Think

Pet rats are wonderful. They’re smart, playful, affectionate, and often hilarious. I think it’s important to distinguish between the kind you willingly keep your home, and the wild kind (especially the huge city-dwellers).

Do You Really Need to Take Painkillers Only After Food?

Medical media recently reported that a clinicians’ reference handbook had changed advice on how to take the painkiller ibuprofen – commonly sold under the brand names Nurofen and Advil.

Source: Do You Really Need to Take Painkillers Only After Food?

I highly recommend reading this post about ibuprofen – it’s a serious risk for those of us on blood thinners.  More importantly than ulcers, overuse of NSAIDs is one of the leading causes of kidney failure.

How Drug Companies Seek To Exploit Rare DNA Mutations

Steven Pete can put his hand on a hot stove or step on a piece of glass and not feel a thing, all because of a quirk in his genes. Only a few dozen people in the world share Pete’s congenital insensitivity to pain. Drug companies see riches in his rare mutation. They also have their eye on people like Timothy Dreyer, 25, who has bones so dense he could walk away from accidents that would leave others with broken limbs. About 100 people have sclerosteosis, Dreyer’s condition.

Source: These Superhumans Are Real and Their DNA Could Be Worth Billions

I don’t have a problem with the pharmaceutical companies trying to maximize profits. Profits are necessary to help the market determine how to allocate resources. When a company makes “obscene” profits that is a signal to everyone else that resources should be taken from those enterprises incurring loses and invested in the more profitable ventures.

One the people whose mutation is highlighted in the article reminds me of a character from the book “The Girl Who Played with Fire“, the second part of the Millenium series by Stieg Larsson.  I haven’t seen the American version of the movie for the first book, but enjoyed the books & Swedish movies.