The test spotted clenbuterol in the cyclist's system, a drug that's long been used by bodybuilders to increase muscle mass and reduce fat. Clenbuterol also boosts energy -- actually, the drug's short-term effects are similar to amphetamine drugs.
But the drug is also given to cows, chickens and pigs, to hurry up the animals' growth before we eat them, and that's why some sports medicine experts are siding with Contador. Anyway, he would've had to eat "vast quantities of meat" for the drug to have had an affect on his performance, Dr. Andrew Franklyn-Miller, a sports medicine expert at the Centre for Human Performance in London and a team doctor for Britain's rowing team, told AP.
We can't decide if this makes the idea of brain surgery more or less terrifying: Instead of sawing through your skull, neurosurgeons have found another way of getting at your brain -- tunneling through your eye socket.
Surgeons make a tiny incision behind or through the eyelid, then make a small hole through the eye socket to reach the brain. The new approach, pioneered by surgeons at the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Washington Medical Center, protects important arteries and the nerves for sight and smell, according to a news release from UC San Diego. The new technique -- called transorbital neuroendoscopic surgery, or TONES -- works for patients with cerebral spinal fluid leaks, optic nerve decompression, cranial base fractures and removal of tumors.
And with a surgery like this one, there's no huge, scary, transcranial scar. In fact, there's no scar at all -- it's a version of the growing number of "natural orifice" surgeries, intended to reduce scars, pain, infection and recover time. Last month, our senior health writer, JoNel Aleccia, wrote about these kinds of surgeries, talking to a San Diego physician who'd removed all kinds of organs from all kinds of places -- including pulling a gallbladder or an appendix out of the mouth, and a weight-loss surgery that removed part of a woman's stomach through her, ah, vagina.
Actually, the whole eye socket thing doesn't sound that bad, after all.
Some lucky folks don't get stinky pee after eating asparagus. And some other lucky people can't smell yours.
Here's a question about urine we never thought about but now has us rather curious: Does everybody make that icky smell after eating asparagus and some people simply can't smell it -- like those guys on the bus who seem incapable of sensing their own ripe body aromas -- or is it some people just don't turn asparagus into chemical weaponry?
About 8 percent of 38 test subjects who ate roasted asparagus (yum!) did not have smelly pee. About 6 percent could not smell the odor. One lucky person could not do either.
Why would anybody care? Well, it all has to do with individual genetic variation and metabolism, which is kind of interesting. But there might be a practical implication, too. The no-smell folks might not be able to detect a compound related to the one in smelly asparagus pee, mercaptan, which is added to natural gas to make it noticeable.
We don't really want you commenting on this post, because we feel that enough has been said about asparagus and pee for the day. But if you insist, go on.
It’s not enough that they suck our blood and put us on edge every time we stay in a hotel room. Now, bedbugs are mucking up our love lives.
According to a new survey by the Facebook dating app, AreYouInterested.com, 45 percent of singles polled said they would cancel a date if someone admitted to a bedbug infestation.
“I consider bedbugs to be in the same category as murderers or drug addicts,” says Karen Tom, a thirtysomething writer from Manhattan. “That’s an undesirable category, something that would endanger my welfare, my personal well-being. I don’t want anyone at my house with bedbugs.”
Could you actually pick up bedbugs from someone you’re dating?
Yes and no, says Dr. Richard Zack, associate professor of the department of entomology at Washington State University.
“These are not like head lice or pubic lice – those live on people,” he says. “Bedbugs are very different from that. If you had a date and went out to a bar and had a drink with someone and then they dropped you off at your place with a good night kiss, you would not catch bedbugs from them.”
If things went particularly well, however, you might be both smitten – and bitten.
“If you were dating someone and you were sleeping with them in their bed and they had bedbugs, then you would catch them,” he says. “But you’d have to be someplace where the bedbugs were and then you’d have to bring them back, like if you had an overnight bag with you. That’s how they get around.”
“It’s like the new thing that gets you blacklisted from your friends,” says Tom, who admits that if a long-term boyfriend came down with an infestation, she wouldn’t kick him to the curb.
“A friend of mind lived in a building with bedbugs and she was being demonized for it. She said it was like in the early ‘80s when people didn’t know what AIDS was and were freaked out about it and didn’t want to have anything to do with people who had it. I think it’s a little different but there is some ostracizing going on.”
Zack says that if someone with a bedbug infestation spends the night with you, ask them to stow their overnight bag in your garage or other out-of-the-way spot. And have them thoroughly shake out anything they bring into your house such as pajamas or a change of clothes.
As for crossing them off your friend (or love) list, though, that’s totally unnecessary, he says.
“You don’t need to ostracize them,” he says. “They’re not carrying bedbugs around with them.”
In case you missed it, the Swiss finance minister Hans-Rudolf Merz has become an Internet hit after laughing uncontrollably while making a speech to parliament about spiced meat imports. Over 1 million people have watched him crack up over “Bündnerfleisch” on YouTube.
Sure, air-dried meats are just plain funny. But funerals – not so much.
Still, Stephanie Auteri, a 30-year-old writer from Clifton, N.J., says she burst out laughing at the wake for her friend’s father. Over a decade later, she still cringes at the memory.
“I went with another friend of mine and I was twisted up inside with anxiety. As I approached the front of the room and my grieving friend, the anxiety burbled up inside of me, forcing its way out as laughter,” she says.
According to Robert Provine, professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and author of “Laughter: A Scientific Investigation,” cracking up – even at a funeral or formal state event – isn’t all that unusual.
“Laughter is not under much conscience control,” he says. “We don’t decide to laugh, it just happens. It’s like crying in that respect. Most laughter is for no reason; it’s not a response to a joke. It’s a response to other people.”
Spontaneous laughter is very much a social function, he says, something that usually doesn’t happen if we’re alone. Laughter also breeds more laughter (poor Hans-Rudolf tries to stop tittering a number of different times but can’t) and is contagious, causing other people to laugh, which in turn stimulates additional laughter from the first person.
Uncontrollable laughter isn’t always funny, of course. An ill-timed outburst can sometimes be a symptom of multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, or a rare form of an epileptic episode known as a galastic seizure.
Usually, though, it’s just something spontaneous that happens when we’re around other people, says Provine, who says the best way to stop a laughing fit is to go off by yourself.
As for what exactly was cracking up the Swiss finance minister, that remains a mystery. Although Provine has a theory: “Maybe he knows something about Swiss meats that we don’t know.”
Have you come down with an epic case of the giggles at some inappropriate moment? Do tell!
It’s not exactly Love Potion No. 9, but giving a guy squirt up the nose of a “cuddle” hormone may make him sweeter, according to new research announced in the journal Psychological Science.
In a study conducted at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Columbia University, 27 healthy men in their 20s were tested on their social competence, then were given either a nasal squirt of oxytocin or a placebo.
A naturally-occuring hormone, oxytocin is known to regulate prosocial behavior in both animals and humans and is said to be responsible for everything from bonding with baby to better orgasms. For women, oxytocin plays a major role in birth, lactation and maternal bonding. In men, it's linked to sexual arousal. It also helps with trust and pair ponding in both genders.
As a result, it’s been dubbed the “hormone of love” or the “cuddle chemical.”
Upon being given a blast of either oxytocin or a placebo, the men in the study were asked to perform an “empathic accuracy task,” such as watching videos of people discussing emotional events from their lives.
Move over, Monday Night Football. Hello, Lifetime channel!
After watching the videos, the men rated how they thought the people in the videos were feeling, then researchers tallied the results. The less socially adept men who were given the so-called “hormone of love” performed significantly better.
The guys who already had high scores in social proficiency -- the easygoing extroverts -- were just as empathetic whether they had the oxytocin or the placebo.
“Our data show that oxytocin selectively improves social cognition in people who are less socially proficient, but had little impact on more socially proficient individuals,” said Dr. Jennifer Bartz, assistant professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and lead author of the study told Science Daily .
Does this mean some kind of anti-shyness drug is on the way? Or how about a nasal nudge for insensitive boyfriends? Don’t hold your breath.
The oxytocin findings will be used to help treat people with disorders like autism, a disorder that predominantly affects men, says Bartz.
Bella (Kristen Stewart) and her vampire boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattison) of the "Twilight" series may be inspiring some teens to take their love nips a little too far.
Bizarre teen trends have been horrifying parents for generations, but health officials are warning that a vampire-inspired biting fad could be dangerous, not to mention disgusting.
Teenagers obsessed with the “Twilight” vampire saga, or those simply fascinated with fangs, reportedly have been biting each other -- hard – and then licking or sucking the blood.
“These are kids who think they are real vampires,” said Dr. Orly Avitzur, the medical advisor to Consumers Union, the agency that publishes Consumer Reports magazine.
Avitzur said conversations with teens and sessions spent trolling vampire-related teen Web sites convinced her that the trend was taking hold. Indeed, groups like “I drink blood,” a category at www.experienceproject.com, and “I want to be a vampire” at the site www.43things.com are filled with apparent posts from young people with a yearning for blood.
“Having that thick, warm copper-tasting blood in my mouth is the best thing I can think of!” wrote a teenager identified as “GothicGirl10” this year. “Sometimes my boyfriend lets me feed off him. I let him feed off me as well.”
Such talk alarms medical experts, who warn about the dangers of blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis and HIV, as well as the risk of nasty infections. Typically, 10 to 15 percent of human bites wounds become infected.
“If you break the skin, your mouth is pretty dirty,” said Dr. Thomas Abshire, a pediatric blood and cancer specialist and spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. “The human mouth flora is dirtier than a dog or cat’s.”
Equally worrisome is the motive behind the acts, the idea of branding or owning another person, the experts said.
“If you think about it, there is such glamorization in those teen vampire movies, they make it seem so sexy and appealing and intriguing,” Avitzur said. “It’s all mixed up with passion.”
But at least one teen who likes to bite says adults have got it all wrong. Michael Kaplor, 16, of Dallas, says he was biting his girlfriend intermittently for more than a year because the intimacy of it, not for any gothic obsession.
“It’s really gotten a bad rap because of this whole vampire thing,” said Kaplor.
In reality, he said, a lot of teens bite – and leave marks – for the thrill of it.
“You feel it for a considerable amount of time afterwards,” he said. “It’s the way you receive happiness.”
Some people do draw blood, but that’s where Kaplor draws the line.
“Kids don’t understand how dangerous blood is,” the high-schooler said, “especially if it’s not your own blood.”
Do you know teens who’ve turned vampire obsession into a real-life drama? Tell us here.
Chelsey Hersey, a 22-year-old a contestant on "America's Next Top Model," falls into a (bigger) gap.
Clearly, Tyra Banks reads the Body Odd. We recently told you about the unlikely rise of the diastema (so hot right now), and on last night's "America's Next Top Model," one of the aspiring models got a makeover that included some terrifying dental work.
Chelsey Hersey, a 22-year-old blonde from Idaho, came to the competition with an adorable gap between her two front teeth -- a gap that Banks wanted to make even wider, in an attempt to make her look more like gap-toothed model and actress Lauren Hutton. So a cosmetic dentist, using what looked like a gigantic power tool, shaved off 0.25 millimeters off each tooth.
Shudder. My teeth still hurt just thinking about it.
We all get a little irritable after one too many cups of coffee, but a Kentucky man is claiming that too much caffeine actually caused him to unknowingly strangle his spouse.
Charged with murdering his wife, Amanda, in May of 2009, Woody Will Smith, 33, is claiming at his trial that he ingested so much caffeine – in the form of soft drinks, energy drinks and diet pills -- that it rendered him temporarily insane.
Could consuming too much caffeine make a person lose touch with reality and send them into a murderous rage?
“If you’re an individual who has an underlying abnormality -- bipolar disorder or manic depressive illness or paranoid schizophrenia – caffeine could precipitate a manic episode,” says Dr. Alan Hirsch, neurologist and psychiatrist and founder of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. “But that’s if you already have one of those disorders.”
A combination of caffeine-laden sodas and drinks and diet pills, though, might make a “normal” person manic, he says.
“Amphetamines alone can induce psychosis,” he says. “If he were taking a prescription such as Ritalin or a street drug like speed, those alone could induce mania in somebody who’s normal. Add caffeine to it and it would help precipitate that.”
But just because a person is manic – or temporarily psychotic – doesn’t mean they’ll become violent, he quickly adds.
“The big jump is not that that you can cause someone to be psychotic, it’s that most people who are psychotic or manic don’t kill anyone,” he says. “An act of murder would be extraordinarily unusual for an individual who’s transiently psychotic.”
Rather than precipitating a murderous rage, Hirsch says a caffeine overdose would most likely cause an individual to have increased heart rate, increased sweating, shakiness, headache, abdominal pain, rapid speech, and disjointed thoughts.
“They’d have fluctuations of emotions from high to low and would be irritable and angry and feeling pressure, but they wouldn’t be murderous,” he says, comparing the “caffeine intoxication” defense to the so-called Twinkie defense.
“Murder would be very, very unlikely,” he says. “Caffeine is the number one drug in the U.S. If caffeine insanity led you to be murderous, you’d find dead bodies at Starbucks. You’d be seeing murders all over the place.”
How about you guys? Are you crazier after too much caffeine -- or not enough?
Remember the terrifying tale of the eyeworm? We told you a few months back about a man who returned from a missionary trip to Central and West Africa with a worm in his eye. Now, a similar case has happened in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
The Associated Press reports that poor John Matthews believes he picked up his little stowaway when he was in Mexico or while turkey hunting. Doctors at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics zapped his eye with a laser to kill the worm. And this is where it gets gross: according to the Telegraph Herald of Dubuque, Iowa, Matthews said he "could see it from behind, moving, trying to dodge the laser."
To prevent fetid feet, wash them with anti-bacterial soap and always wear clean, absorbent socks.
Nobody likes to be told their feet stink. In fact, an 18-year-old Washington woman recently stabbed a man for saying as much when she took off her shoes at a party.
The man suffered a punctured lung but is expected to recover. The woman was charged with second-degree assault with a deadly weapon.
That's certainly an over-the-top response to being teased about your smelly feet. But why, exactly, do our tootsies sometimes smell worse than old potatoes? And is there anything we can do about it?
According to Brooklyn podiatrist Dr. Howard Dinowitz, the feet contain a disproportionate amount of sweat glands -- about 250,000 -- and “when you have that many sweat glands, things are bound to happen.”
Sweating alone doesn’t cause a bad smell, though. It’s the bacteria on our skin that eats the sweat -- bacteria that thrive in the warm, damp, dark environment found within our socks and shoes.
Then there’s funk caused by fungus.
“Funguses are known to breed heavily in shoes or materials that don’t breathe,” says Dinowitz. “Ultimately, it’s the fungal germ cells that really do smell. If you ever take a whiff of a bad fungus infection, it’s horrible.”
Luckily, there are plenty of things we can do that don’t involve flying into a knife-wielding rage when someone complains about our reeking feet.
To reduce bacteria, wash your feet with antibacterial soap and always wear clean, absorbent socks. Alternate shoes, too, allowing them to “air out” between wearings. To reduce the sweat, change your socks often, buy odor-eating shoe inserts and use antiperspirant on your feet. Antifungal powder sprinkled into your shoes can also help, says Dinowitz.
One last thing -- if you're suffering from toxic sock syndrome, see a doctor, particularly if you’re sensitive about it. You may have a condition called bromhidrosis, or excessive body odor, which can be helped by washing with antibacterial creams or taking oral medications.
A man named Josh is confronted with the amount of pizza he eats in a year on the TLC show "Freaky Eaters."
Janet Helm writes: One guy is addicted to raw meat. A woman only wants to eat french fries. Another man lives on pizza.People with food obsessions are the focus of a new show called “Freaky Eaters” that premiered this month on TLC. The series, based on a British show of the same name, profiles people who the hosts say have bizarre culinary compulsions.
Each week, psychotherapist Mike Dow and celebrity nutritionist J.J. Virgin sweep in to stage a food intervention and fix the freakiness in 22 minutes. But while the show claims it helps a freaky eater “confront the painful truth behind the food obsession and come face to face with the destructive side effects of their addictions,” judging from the first few episodes, some of the treatments may be wackier than the so-called disorders.
In one episode, Dow and Virgin attempt to get a french fry obsessed woman to shun her potato fixation by forcing her to eat fries that have been dyed blue. A young girl is told to paint with broccoli stalks and jelly to help her better embrace vegetables. Another woman who is supposedly addicted to sugar is blind-folded and fed raw kale to help her retrain her taste buds. (That didn’t go over so well.) A pizza-addicted guy suddenly feels like he can ditch his daily pizza habit after an emotion-filled session with his parents helps him realize that they’re not disappointed in him after all.
The tone of the show is just so dramatic – with such language as “solving the mystery” and beating the “addiction that is destroying his life.” Really? Maybe these folks are just extremely picky eaters and need to get out of a rut. Maybe they do need to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle. But are these truly addictions?
As a registered dietitian, I’m conflicted about reality shows like this. Maybe some of these people do have eating disorders that need more help than what they’ll get in front of a camera. Ongoing sessions with a therapist or a registered dietitian who specializes in disordered eating would be more beneficial than a quick, televised fix that gets them to temporarily step away from a french fry.
In the Florida girl's case, low baritone-type sounds like dog barks caused as many as 25-30 seizures a day, says Dr. Paul R. Carney, a pediatric neurologist and professor at the University of Florida. The girl likes music, he says, but found that some songs could trigger a seizure, including one by Hannah Montana. (He doesn't recall the title.)
At first, doctors figured she needed a shrink. But that didn't help, and she ended up seeing Carney, who diagnosed a condition called "reflex epilepsy" about two years ago.
People with the condition seem to suffer seizures when the circuitry of the brain processes a trigger (like a sound) and amplifies it, says Dr. James Geyer, a neurologist and epilepsy specialist in Tuscaloosa, Ala. "It's like abnormal feedback off a microphone," he says, and may be related to a glitch in the body's "startle" response.
"I actually had a patient a number of years ago with reading-related epilepsy," Geyer says. "If he read something in a book with a certain type of font, he'd have a seizure." (Geyer doesn't remember the kind of font it was -- we’re just hoping it’s not the one this is written in.)
Doctors treat reflex epilepsy with anti-seizures medication and tell patients to avoid their triggers. Geyer says it's the equivalent of the old joke: "It hurts when I do this," a patient tells his doctor. "Then don't do that," the doctor says.
There's good news in Florida: the 12-year-old girl is on medication and now only has about one seizure a week. "Her prognosis is actually good," Carney says. "In a lot of people, these seizures go away over time."
The prognosis for Hannah Montana? Not so optimistic. The girl seems to have outgrown the singer and doesn't listen to her anymore. If she's lucky, she'll outgrow her seizures too.
Linda Carroll writes: Pregnant and looking for a way to quell your morning queasiness? You can forget about nibbling on ginger, tossing back Vitamin B tablets, and wrapping sea-sickness bands around your wrist, a new report suggests.
After poring through data from 27 studies that included more than 4,000 women, researchers from the Cochrane Collaboration concluded that there is no therapy proven to be reliable and safe for morning sickness. The report evaluated evidence on numerous treatments, including ginger, Vitamin B6, acupressure, acustimulation (mild electrical stimulation of an acupuncture point), and anti-vomiting drugs.
“A number of studies we looked at appeared to show benefits, but in general the results were inconsistent and it was difficult to draw conclusions about any one treatment in particular,” says Anne Matthews, the report’s lead author and a researcher at the School of Nursing at Dublin City University in Ireland. “We were also unable to obtain much information about whether these treatments are actually making a difference to women’s quality of life.”
Matthews and her colleagues suggest that doctors tell their patients that there is no evidence showing that there is a safe and effective treatment for morning sickness.
Dr. John Fisch begs to differ.
“It’s hard to prove that these therapies work because there’s a very, very strong placebo effect when it comes to nausea treatments,” says Fisch, a clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Magee-Women’s Hospital at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “So rather than tell a woman we can’t do anything for you, we’ll try a number of different things and in many cases we can help.”
In more than 20 years spent taking care of pregnant women, Fisch believes he’s gleaned some wisdom on the topic of morning sickness. “There is no magic bullet,” he explains. “But many things have some usefulness and basically the best course is to try a few different things and see if they are helpful.”
Sara Cancro, 34, found that simple life-style changes, along with periodic sips of ginger ale and the occasional ginger candy cut back on the queasiness of her first trimester. “The nausea wasn’t constant, but there were some days that I just wished I could go back to bed,” says the Pittsburgh nurse practitioner who is now at her 13th week.
Cancro also turned to dietary changes to keep her morning sickness at bay. “I ate bland foods, switched to frequent small meals and watched my fluid intake,” she says. “I ate the ginger candy when I couldn’t get food.”
There are some women for whom none of the alternative therapies work, Fisch says. And in some cases even anti-nausea drugs can’t completely banish queasiness.
Did anything help you cope with morning sickness? Tell us about it in the comments.
Check out the manly jawline of John Thain, CIT CEO and former CEO of Merrill Lynch. Perhaps testosterone had something to do with the subprime mortgage mess?
While boys are being boys, could they be screwing up the economy?
Economists at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business looked at hundreds of real mergers and acquisitions and found that younger male CEOs are more likely to make bids to acquire companies, and also withdraw those bids if they’re rejected. It’s no coincidence, the study authors write in the journal Management Science, that those younger CEOs typically have more testosterone than older ones.
Like two rams bashing heads, “high testosterone levels make men more likely to undertake dominance-seeking behaviors,” explains Terry Burnham, a Harvard University economist who studies behavior. And that can wreck shareholder value.
We’ve all heard about male CEOs who seem to care more about strutting their big shotness than they care about, oh, investors or the economy. John Thain, former CEO of Merrill Lynch, for instance, was doling out $20 billion in bonuses and buying himself a $35,000 toilet for his office while the bank was fueling the mortgage crisis. Take a look at the guy’s Superman jawline – he’s clearly got some testosterone swirling around.
Burnham proved a link to testosterone in 2007 when he measured levels in males who played the “ultimatum game.” In the game, a “proposer” gets, say, $20. He must offer some of that to a responder. If the responder accepts, they both keep the agreed amounts. If the responder rejects, both get nothing. Rational economics says the responder would accept any ultimatum amount because, after all, he still comes out ahead. But often, when proposers offer low amounts, responders reject out of spite and Burnham showed that far more men with high testosterone levels reject low-ball ultimatums, turning both into losers.
“When your young male CEO is making an acquisition bid, you wonder whether there is economic justification such as shareholder value,” Sauder professor Kai Li said, “or sheer hormone effects at work.” His suggested check on runaway testosterone? “Risk management run by older guys, or females.”
Anna Paquin flashes her diastema at the Entertainment Weekly and Women in Film pre-Emmy Party in West Hollywood, Calif., on Aug. 27.
Does Tyra Banks know this? Models with gap-toothed grins are in -- that's what the Wall Street Journal (arbiter of all things hip) is reporting. The diastema, according to the newspaper, is one of the most sought-after physical features at this year's fashion week in New York.
A gap-toothed smile can be "fixed" with braces, dental bonding or even porcelain veneers. Of course, that's only necessary if you consider it a flaw. A handful of celebrities sport gappy grins, like Madonna, Elton John and "True Blood's" Anna Paquin. And it's said that all the hottest ladies in the 14th century had gaps between their two front teeth; it was considered was a symbol of lustfulness, and the fictional poster lady for it is Geoffrey Chaucer's "gap-toothed wife of Bath" in "The Canterbury Tales."
A giant slingshot. A watermelon. And a woman's face. It'll all make sense after you watch this clip from CBS's "The Amazing Race."
I mean, OUCH, right? But the clip left us wondering: How do you come back from a watermelon smash to the face?!
"She's lucky," says Dr. Stephen Epstein, a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, who practices emergency medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Epstein interrupted a nice day at home with the family for Rosh Hashanah to watch (and rewatch and rewatch) the silly video. In slo-mo. "It looks like the point of impact was sort of between the eyes and the lower part the forehead, 'cause if it hit her nose she would've broken it. It's obviously a lot more force than heading a soccer ball, but it's the same type of thing."
Right after getting watermeloned, we hear the poor lady say "I can't feel my face" and "I have the worst headache." Based on that, Epstein has a hunch that she may have had a concussion.
Obviously, we don't know what happened behind the scenes, but let’s hope the show producers got her immediate medical attention. Serious head trauma isn’t always easy to spot. A person may seem fine one moment with no obvious head bleeding or fracture. But within a few hours or days, bruising or swelling, severe headache, slurred speech or vomiting could develop. That’s a sign of something way more serious.
"Even though it might be considered ‘just a watermelon’, it still could have posed a potentially serious injury to the head or the neck," says Dr. Dennis Allin, chairman of emergency medicine at the University of Kansas Hospital. "While the woman appears to be fine in the video, many symptoms of head and neck injuries are not immediately apparent."
After a blow to the head, the brain needs time to heal. For kids, that means a few days without contact sports. For this lady -- maybe step away from the giant slingshot.
Does life in the city sometimes seem a little, well, nuts?
Come to find out, research shows that urban areas do tend to have a higher incidence of schizophrenia and psychotic disorders than rural areas.
But why? Is it the stress? The poverty? The drug use? The crime? Is it that guy on the #2 bus who constantly clips his toenails?
Turns out it might just be a lack of potlucks and social mixers.
A new study in the Archives of General Psychiatry looked at more than 200,000 people living across Sweden and determined that the culprit is actually increased social fragmentation, i.e., a lack of social networks, social bonds, community spirit, etc.
“Social fragmentation was the most important area characteristic that explained the increased risk of psychosis in individuals brought up in cities,” wrote Dr. Stanley Zammit, lead author of the study.
Does that mean that living in cities -- especially cities where people never mix or mingle or make eye contact -- makes us crazy?
“Our findings suggest that living in certain parts of cities is associated with an increased risk compared to other areas in cities or rural areas but it’s only a small increase,” says the clinical senior lecturer in psychiatric epidemiology at Cardiff University in Wales. “The lifetime risk of schizophrenia is about 1 percent, so lifetime risk of living in a city might go up to about 1.5 percent -- not a big difference.”
Not a big difference, but coupled with city noise, high costs, increased stress and the occasional break-in, it was enough for Heather Corinna to move to a small Pacific Northwest island after living in Chicago, Minneapolis and Seattle.
“When I was living in a basement apartment in a crummy neighborhood in Chicago, I kept waking up to find my back door open,” says the 40-year-old sexuality educator. “I thought I was just forgetting to lock it until I woke up in the middle of the night and found the janitor of our building sitting in a chair at the end of the bed watching me sleep. He was probably one of the people in that study.”
A photograph of the left eye of Swiss teen shows where he burned his retina with a laser pointer.
Turns out mom was right, yet again. You can put your eye out playing with unsafe toys.
The “toy” in this case was a handheld laser, purchased online by a 15-year-old Swiss boy. According to a letter published in today’s New England Journal of Medicine, the boy had ordered a laser pointer with a green light “to use as a toy for popping balloons from a distance and burning holes into paper cards and his sister’s sneakers.”
Unfortunately, he ended up burning holes in his retinas instead by pointing the laser at a mirror while trying to create a “laser show.”
“He had remarkably reduced vision. He was unable to read a newspaper,” says Dr. Martin Schmid, who treated the boy and penned the letter to NEJM warning of the risk of handheld lasers.
Laser pointers look like pens but shoot out a laser beam. They're often used by lecturers giving presentations, but more powerful versions are used by the military for long-distance signaling.
According to Schmid, who heads the retina unit at Lucerne Cantonal Hospital’s department of ophthalmology in Lucerne, Switzerland, the boy noticed blurred vision immediately after the laser hit his eyes, but was afraid to tell his parents. Instead he waited two weeks, hoping his vision would clear up.
Doctors discovered a hemorrhage in his left eye and scarring in his right. Vision in his left eye improved from 20/50 to 20/25 after doctors gave him an injection -- directly into the eyeball -- of ranibizumab, a drug normally used for people suffering from age-related macular disease.
“The visual acuity will remain reduced,” says Schmid, who says laser pointer-related accidents like this have happened before and are likely to happen again due to the easy availability via the web.
All lasers have to be classified and labeled, but Schmid says many are not -- and kids and parents often don't realize these tools are real and powerful lasers.
The Swiss boy was playing with a laser with an output of 150mW -- that's 30 times the power limit imposed by the Food and Drug Administration for sale in the U.S. Lasers found online often exceed that limit.
The doctor warns no matter what type of laser, people should never shine a laser beam in their eyes or anyone else’s.
Share your stories of teen hijinks turned hazardous in the comments.
Save a strand for the doctor. It could end up saving your life.
A new study shows your tresses store a long-term record of your stresses. And testing a few hairs may be able to predict your risk of an imminent heart attack, according to a report from LiveScience.
Troubles at work? Family strife? Money woes? All that angst is stashed in your hair in the form of cortisol, the so-called stress hormone, Canadian researchers found.
The hormone gets released in the bloodstream when you're freaking out and seeps into your hair follicles. As the hair grows, it provides a timeline of your anxieties -- and the toll they take on your heart.
Gideon Koren, a professor at the University of Western Ontario, took hair samples from 120 men and measured cortisol levels in the 1.2 inches of hair closest to the scalp. That’s about three months worth of growth.
He found that cortisol levels were significantly higher in men who had heart attacks compared with men who had other illnesses.
The finding, published today in the journal Stress, could pave the way for a noninvasive test that lets doctors know when a patient is suddenly a heart attack waiting to happen.
Whoa. Elisany Silva, a 14-year-old Brazilian girl, is 6-foot-9 -- which makes her one of the tallest teens on the planet.
Elisany and her family say they aren't sure why, exactly, she's so tall, because they can't afford to pay a doctor to investigate. But Elisany's still shy of record-breaking territory: According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the tallest man on record is Robert Pershing Wadlow, an American who towered at 8 feet 11.1 inches. And the tallest woman ever was Zeng Jinlian of China, who was 8 feet 1.75 inches tall.
Writes Bill Briggs: Ever grabbed some floor after glimpsing some blood?
Does a mere peek at the red stuff – yours or anybody’s – make you feel woozy and wobbly?
If so, you can thank your Uncle Caveman or Aunt Cavewoman.
This reaction is primeval stuff, buried deep within our brains. It goes by the name "vasovagal syncope." More importantly, medical experts believe fainting at the sight of blood probably helped some of our ancestors survive some horrible things. (So stop teasing folks who take a quick trip to Dreamland whenever they spot the tiniest trickle of the vital fluid: We may owe them our very existence.)
While only a portion of humans experience the phenomenon, “it’s a reflex that’s built into every person on this planet,” says Dr. Fred Jaeger, medical director of the Center for Syncope and Autonomic Disorders at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. He’s studied these bewildering blackouts for 26 years.
“Times of severe stress or injury or fear can trigger the reflex: your blood pressure drops, your heart rate slows,” Jaeger says. Most medical experts speculate that such fainting spells are likely rooted in evolution – an ancient instinct that somehow kept a foothold in our DNA as we spent eons maturing.
“For example, if you’re a caveman and another caveman man comes over and cuts your arm off, the sight of blood or injury may cause you to faint,” Jaeger says. “So when you’re laying there on the ground, you’ll look like you’re dead to the other caveman and he won’t cut your head off.
“This goes back to the time when we were hunter-gatherers, warriors, Cro-Magnon people,” he adds “Vasovagal syncope probably had some benefit – if you were injured and you lived to fight another day, the gene would be carried on. Just like survival of the fittest.”
Another bonus for those early humans who keeled over at first blood: their blood pressures dips and heart rate drops also slowed their bleeding, which helped the stay alive.
While doctors believe the reaction is unique to humans and primates, some animals – like possums and a certain breed of goats – are known to swoon and become momentarily unresponsive when peril is present.
About six in 10 people will faint at least once due to this strange syncope. Common triggers include pain, standing for long periods or standing suddenly after a big meal. When the sight of blood causes the collapse, doctors dub that “phobic fainting.” For people who suffer chronic, fear-based fainting spells, (like going to the dentist) doctors will prescribe medications that work with their brains or nervous systems to keep them upright.
But why do an unfortunate few go horizontal each time they catch a flash of blood?
Researchers are analyzing genes and hormone levels. They’re hunting for clues in enzyme deficiencies.
“What is it in the makeup of easy fainters? We’ve got to suspect they just have this gene that is very easily triggered,” Jaeger says. “But that is the million-dollar question.”
Do you faint at the sight of blood? Tell us about it.