When we think of mental illness we’re likely to recall experiences, behaviours, and psychological states that are bad for the individual: a person with severe depression loses all interest in life; another with anxiety might not be able to leave the house; auditory hallucinations can be terrifying; paranoia can make social interaction impossible; and delusions take the person away from a shared reality.
Among the great lies I learned in medical school was that a human being was the product of a sperm and an egg. Yes, these gametes are necessary, but they are hardly sufficient to create and sustain a human life. Each one of us stays alive only with the help of trillions of other organisms – the human microbiome – that live on and in every surface of our body exposed to the outside world.
For millennia, mankind has understood that we can apply heat to raw food materials to make them safe to consume and keep their quality for longer. Cooking is even credited as being key to human evolution, as its discovery (a trick unique to humans) greatly reduced the amount of energy bodies needed to digest and extract nutrients from food, allowing saved energy to be diverted into useful pathways such as those which developed more sophisticated brains.
Sun exposure is the primary risk factor for skin cancer: increased exposure due to ozone depletion is expected to lead to increases in the incidence of skin cancers, including melanoma. Sun exposure in childhood is predictive of skin cancer later in life.
Americans spend more money on health than anyone else in the world, yet they live shorter, less healthy lives than citizens of other rich countries. The complex reason for this is the multiple factors that affect our health. The simple reason is the fact that people seldom talk about these factors. Here are five things […]
Gender inequality persists in all sectors of society, including science and medicine disciplines. While female clinicians and researchers are increasing in number and now comprise almost 50% of medical school graduates in the United States, they remain underrepresented in scholarly publications and academic positions (20% to 49% of researchers in 12 countries and regions). Although nearly half of medical […]
A recently published paper in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology has attracted much media attention for its analysis of a subject that has long been debated: how do our beliefs about male-female differences influence our decision-making? Specifically, do our beliefs about the pain expressions of boys and girls influence our assessment of their pain experience? The authors found that when adult […]
What’s wrong with using the word “spectrum” to describe autism? Perhaps some would suggest that the precise terminology used for referring to these medical conditions is relatively unimportant. In fact, the current terminology facilitates views that distort or oversimplify reality and may be causing harm.
As a father of a young ice hockey player, I’m all too familiar with every parent’s concern about concussions. As a neuroscientist, I chose not to accept that it was okay to rely on subjective and error-prone tests to understand how best to care for our brains after concussion. We dared ourselves to think bigger, and to […]
Female microbiologists many not have had professor or doctor in front of their names, instead listed as laboratory assistants or technicians, but in many cases their skills were critical for numerous notable discoveries. It is worth reminding ourselves who they are and how they changed the world for good.
Bob Marley sings, “One good thing about music—when it hits you, you feel no pain.” Although this may be the case for some people and in some circumstances, we dispute this statement as a global truth.
As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, many dread the incapacitated hangover of the day after – when the nausea hits you and you cannot do anything but lay in bed and every movement worsens your pounding headache. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have ways to lessen the burden of alcohol-induced hangover? A hangover is a complex […]
A young patient, let’s call him Chad, goes to the doctor. He complains of attacks of nausea from the moment he wakes up in the morning. Sometimes his belly hurts as well. It’s been happening, on and off, for years. He gets cold and shaky. At times, it will progress to full-fledged vomiting, uncontrollable with any medications. The nausea is unbearable. Sometimes, getting in a very hot shower will take the edge off the nausea, but not always. In many cases a trip to the emergency room is needed for rehydration and intravenous anti-nausea medications.
Schizophrenia is the most iconic of all mental illnesses but both its conceptualization and causes remain elusive. The popular image portrays patients convinced of being persecuted and hearing voices that nobody else can hear.
With increasing age, blood pressure rises as a consequence of arterial stiffness, caused by the biological process of ageing and arteries becoming clogged with fatty substances, otherwise known as arteriosclerosis. Large hypertension trials showed that lowering blood pressure in people over 60 is beneficial and lowers the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and all-cause mortality, even in people over 80. Since arterial hypertension, high blood pressure in the arteries, is the most important preventable cause of cardiovascular disease, it seemed obvious for at least two decades to treat hypertension without restrictions even patients over 60.
Healthcare for black people seems to hover somewhere between willful neglect and overt malfeasance. We need only look to the ongoing lead poisoning disaster in Flint, Michigan, or the black maternal mortality crisis as examples.