Tag Archives: health

Tiger gave everyone AIDS

OK, not that one.

Researchers say they may have traced the origins of the AIDS virus to an ancient tiger that lived either thousands or millions of years ago:

It appears the virus took on a bit of a tiger’s genetic material, scientists say, and a remnant of that cat remains in the virus to this day. That tiger, in fact, may have bitten a monkey, setting off an evolution of the virus that ultimately led to its infection of humans.

If true, these findings should do much to exonerate the monkeys we’ve been blaming for AIDS this whole time. When reached for comment, one monkey said “I told you it wasn’t our fault you hairless assholes, now throw some more bananas in this cage before I throw shit at you. By the way, what exactly is a medical testing lab? Do I have to fill out a survey or something? What are you doing with that dentist drill?”

AIDS May Date Back to Ancient Tiger [HeathDay]

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Friday Random 10: Fading Spirits Edition


Sad news from Mars this week as NASA officials are openly questioning the future of the Spirit rover, which has been cruising the surface of the red planet for six years. It’s not out of batteries or anything. It’s just kind of, well, stuck:

In April, Spirit’s wheels broke through a hard crust on the Martian surface and encountered loosely packed fine sand beneath. Initial attempts to drive the rover out ended up with it instead sinking deeper into the trap.

Engineers set up a sand box at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and positioned a sister rover inside to try to figure out a way for Spirit to free itself.

“We’ve pretty much exhausted all the possibilities, all the things that we can do on the ground,” rover project manager John Callas told Discovery News.

With the cold Martian winter on its way, the Spirit could be in danger of dying if it can’t get out of the soft sand and toward the sun — where its solar panels could collect enough energy to keep it alive during the winter. I think I speak for all robot enthusiasts when I say “Beeeep boop, brave Spirit. Beep boop beeeeeep.”

The songs:

Save us S.O.S. — Hot Hot Heat
My Little Corner of the World — Yo La Tengo
Naked as a Window — Josh Ritter
Everybody Knows that You Are Insane — Queens of the Stone Age
Hold Time — M. Ward
Bright Lights — Pete and the Pirates
Dominos — The Big Pink
How To Fight Loneliness — Wilco
Your Southern Can is Mine — The White Stripes
Let’s Not Shit Ourselves — Bright Eyes

Bonus video:

Brooklyn Zoo — Ol’ Dirty Bastard (Kind of a requiem on the 5-year anniversary of his death)

The Rules: The Friday Random 10 is exactly that — random. We open up our iTunes, set the thing on shuffle, and listen to 10 songs. We are not permitted to skip any out of embarrassment or fear of redundancy. Commenters are encouraged to post their own.


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You can, in fact, freeze your ass off

Pax Arcana

The Scandinavian nations boast some of the healthiest people on earth, with Iceland, Sweden, and Finland placing in the top 3 on Forbes’ list of the healhiest nations (Norway was disqualified for filling out its paperwork in troll blood).

I always assumed that the good health of those people was due to their outdoorsy lifestyle and — let’s not mince words here — vomitous cuisine. But if this New York Times article is to be believed, it may have more to do with the fact that most Scandinavians live in ice palaces carved into the sides of glaciers.

snuggieAs it turns out, the human body contains a substance called brown fat that can burn huge quantities of calories when activated. To activate the fat, you merely have to sit on your ass in a room that is between 61 and 66 degrees.

Doctors discovered this by running several trials in which human test subjects were asked to sit in a chilly room for a few hours and submit to blood tests. Just kidding — they froze the shit out of some mice:

Recently, Dr. Kozak put mice predisposed to obesity in a cold room, 41 degrees, for a week. The animals activated their brown fat. As a result, they lost 14 percent of their weight, which constituted 47 percent of their body fat, while eating a high-fat diet with two and a half times more calories than they had consumed at room temperature.

“That’s just by going out in the cold, without any drug treatment,” Dr. Kozak said. But, he cautioned, mice, small animals with a comparatively huge surface area, are easily chilled. “Put the mouse in the cold,” he added, “and it becomes a heat producing machine.”

Brown fat is common in babies, though most doctors thought it disappeared as people grew older. However, recent tests indicate that adult humans have hidden pockets of brown fat scattered throughout the body — such as on the sides of our necks. Thinner people and those with lower blood sugar tend to have more brown fat, indicating that active quantities of the stuff are burning calories faster than in fat people.

In other news, I’m moving to L.A. next week to open a chain called Pax Arcana’s Brown Fat Activation Emporium. I think we can all agree that forcing aging celebrities to sit in a freezing ass room for 8 hours at a time can be both hilarious and profitable!

Calorie-Burning Fat? Studies Say You Have It [NYT]


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“Dude, are my balls supposed to, like, be this color?”

Pax Arcana

Everybody knows Michael Phelps should be frozen solid, ground into a fine powder and left to melt in the hot sun for having the temerity to be photographed indulging in recreational drug use. It was an affront to Jesus, your grandmother, and the American flag.

Unfortunately our righteous fury at Phelps’ satanic devotion to commie-weed may manifest itself too late to satisfy our bloodlust. According to this article, Phelps may catch pot-induced testicular cancer before we can properly bask in our own glory for having flung him down a well of shame and contrition:

Researchers in the US have found that men who regularly smoke cannabis have a 70 per cent increased risk of testicular cancer. The risk was highest – twice that of those who never used the drug – in those who smoked it at least once a week or had a long history of use, beginning in adolescence.

The study is based on findings from 369 men with testicular cancer who were questioned about their history of cannabis use. The results were compared with 979 men who did not have cancer. Cannabis was linked with testicular cancer independently of smoking, drinking and family history.

Specifically, the wacky weed seems connected to an aggressive type of cancer called nonseminoma, which accounts for 40% of all testicular cancer and tends to affect younger men — especially video store clerks and that guy who delivered your pizza but ate two slices.

Soon, Matthew McConaughey will regret his decision to play the bongos

All I know is this is going to make the yearly physical a lot more interesting. The last thing you want to hear when your doctor has his hands all over your nugget pouch is “So, do you party or what?”

Cannabis linked to testicular cancer [Independent UK]

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We are all equally as likely to die


Pax Arcana

This may be nitpicking, but is anyone else bothered by the grammatical construction contained in the following sentence?

A new study, which followed the health of more than 90,000 women over an average of more than seven years each, found that those who attended services were one-fifth less likely to die than those who did not.

I was under the impression that all of us — with the possible exceptions of Larry King and Joe Paterno — were equally as likely to die. That is to say we are all going to, at some point, expire. And become zombies.

Patterns: Better Health for Religiously Observant [NYT]

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Vegetarians are getting dumber

Pax Arcana

Scientists at Oxford University have discovered that people who consume an all-vegetable diet are six times more likely to suffer from “brain shrinkage,” which sounds like a made-up disease from a slapdash 1970s sci-fi movie.

As it happens, the human body — which evolved over a few hundred thousand years to digest meat as part of its natural diet — needs Vitamin B12 to maintain a healthy brain weight. Physical and mental tests on more than 100 subjects revealed that those who consumed only vegetables were more likely to suffer brain atrophy:

“This study suggests that simply adjusting our diets to consume more Vitamin B12 through eating meat, fish, fortified cereals or milk may…prevent brain shrinkage and so perhaps save our memory,” said study researcher Anna Vogiatzoglou. “Research shows that Vitamin B12 deficiency is a public health problem, especially among the elderly, so more Vitamin B12 intake could help reverse this problem.”

Look at the bright side, vegetarians — your rapidly shrinking brains make you less attractive targets for zombies. The robots, however, do not discriminate. So watch your fucking back, dummy.

Meat-Free Diets May Be Bad For The Brain [FPD]


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The Red Sox are good for you

Pax Arcana

It appears that watching punchy ragamuffin Dustin Pedroia trot around the bases (and pump his arms like an officious schoolyard bully from Our Gang) is not only annoying to Yankee fans, but may also make Red Sox fans healthier. Or something.

Can D.P. cure your V.D.?

Freakonomics points to a three-year-old issue of a Blue Cross & Blue Shield publication called HealthDay that reports that Boston-area hospitals reported fewer emergency room cases during important Red Sox games during their 2004 championship season. Tracking both Nielsen TV viewership numbers and local emergency room visits, the researchers found an average of 31 emergency room visits per hour among all playoff games.

But the story gets more interesting depending on who’s winning:

The last games of the American League championship and World Series were the most watched, respectively, as the Red Sox showed off their winning ways. Between 55 percent and 60 percent of Boston-area households tuned in to each of these games, and during those times ER visits dropped about 15 percent below normal volume.

The fifth American League game — a Red Sox victory coming on the heels of a surprising late-in-the-game comeback in the series’ fourth game — also had strong viewership, and ER attendance during this game dropped to 5 percent below normal, the researchers found.

On the other hand, a Red Sox loss in the third American League game against the Yankees and their near-loss in the fourth game in that series provoked a drop in viewership. During those less-than-stellar Red Sox performances, visits to the ER rose to 15 percent above normal, the researchers reported.

The researchers say the most likely explanation is that people feeling ill will postpone their visits to the ER if there is an exciting game on the tube. Many doctors say this is in itself is a symptom of the growing trend of people using emergency rooms for convenience rather than emergencies. I say there are only two types of bagels worth eating — sesame bagels and everything bagels.

When Red Sox Are Hot, ER Visits Cool [HealthDay]


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Your menu is lying to you

Pax Arcana

I have a bit of news to share this morning, but first I want you to brace yourselves.

You ready?

As it turns out, those nutritional information guides at chain menus are less accurate than Ray Allen in the postseason.

According to a Scripps-Howard investigation, major “casual dining” chains understate the amount of fat and calories in their “health-conscious” menu sections by enough to make your heart explode on contact:

Items were packed in coolers and sent to Analytical Labs in Boise, Idaho. Technicians performed nutritional tests, determining the items’ caloric and fat contents. They did so by breaking the food down in a simulated digestion process.

The lab separated fat and other molecules, then measured them. After determining the amount of fat, protein and carbohydrates in each meal, the lab was able to calculate the overall number of calories.

The Macaroni Grill sample showed the widest variance from the menu’s claims. Its “Pollo Margo Skinny Chicken,” which was supposed to have 500 calories, actually had 1,022, according to the testing. The chicken dinner was supposed to have 6 grams of fat. It had 49.

Right now you’re thinking, “Man, if I’m the owner of some of these chains, I just got busted red-handed. I’d better own up to it.”

That’s why you don’t run a corporate PR consultancy, dumbass.

Quick! To the Douche Cave! We must blame the customer!

A spokesman for the company that owns Macaroni Grill apologized for the incorrect nutritional information.

“On occasion, in restaurant preparation, portion size variances and guest customization of menu items can impact nutritional content,” a company spokesman said in a statement. “To the extent that any of the items were not prepared to our exacting standards, we apologize to our valued guests.”

Your valued guests would accept your apology, but they’re too busy holding down these damn levitating fire hydrants.

Restaurant menu promises buried in calories, fat [Seattle P-I]


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The poor are even better at dying than they used to be

Pax Arcana

While overall life expectancy has risen since the 1960s, the Harvard School of Public Health says poor people are even better at dying than they were back when Pappy would set his own broken leg with an ironing board and a rusty bicycle chain:

“There has always been a view in U.S. health policy that inequalities are more tolerable as long as everyone’s health is improving. There is now evidence that there are large parts of the population in the United States whose health has been getting worse for about two decades,” said Majid Ezzati, associate professor of international health at HSPH and lead author of the study.

Fine, but where are these poor people exactly? My guess is they’re concentrated in suburban New Jersey and Massachusetts, with a strong contingent in the Bay Area.

Damn. Guess I was wrong:

The majority of the counties that had the worst downward swings in life expectancy were in the South, along the Mississippi River, and in Appalachia, extending into the southern portion of the Midwest and into Texas.

Public health outreach programs in areas like Appalachia are notoriously difficult to maintain over time, because local coordinators are often “ate.”

Life expectancy worsening or stagnating [Harvard Gazette]

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Your shoes suck

Pax Arcana

By this time next year, expect to see an awful lot of white people walking around gentrifying urban areas totally barefoot.

That’s because, according to this article in New York Magazine, there is a growing body of evidence that shoes — all shoes — are bad for human feet. They’re so bad, in fact, that they’re destroying the perfect human walking mechanism that took millions of years to evolve or something:

“Natural gait is biomechanically impossible for any shoe-wearing person,” wrote Dr. William A. Rossi in a 1999 article in Podiatry Management. “It took 4 million years to develop our unique human foot and our consequent distinctive form of gait, a remarkable feat of bioengineering. Yet, in only a few thousand years, and with one carelessly designed instrument, our shoes, we have warped the pure anatomical form of human gait, obstructing its engineering efficiency, afflicting it with strains and stresses and denying it its natural grace of form and ease of movement head to foot.” In other words: Feet good. Shoes bad.

Pictured: The official Internettin’ shoe of Pax Arcana

Especially high heels, which over time shorten ladies’ tendons, according to the article. Sometimes the tendons get so truncated that women find they can only be comfortable in high heels. Their feet have become too warped to function naturally.

Okay, but what about a good pair of athletic shoes?

Okay, but what about a good pair of athletic shoes? After all, they swaddle your foot in padding to protect you from the unforgiving concrete. But that padding? That’s no good for you either. Consider a paper titled “Athletic Footwear: Unsafe Due to Perceptual Illusions,” published in a 1991 issue of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. “Wearers of expensive running shoes that are promoted as having additional features that protect (e.g., more cushioning, ‘pronation correction’) are injured significantly more frequently than runners wearing inexpensive shoes (costing less than $40).” According to another study, people in expensive cushioned running shoes were twice as likely to suffer an injury—31.9 injuries per 1,000 kilometers, as compared with 14.3—than were people who went running in hard-soled shoes.

Reporter Adam Sternbergh says few shoe company executives are buying into the biomechanical advantages of bare feet. One who does is Galahad Clark, scion of the C&J Clark shoe company, whom Sternbergh introduces with the following insanely awesome lead-in:

Galahad Clark never intended to get into the shoe business, let alone the anti-shoe business. And he likely never would have, if it weren’t for the Wu-Tang Clan.

Clark — along with Wu-Tang — is among the forefathers of a new movement to create shoes with almost no padding on the soles, to force your feet back into doing what they were meant to do. By extension, he is also nothing to fuck with.

You Walk Wrong [New York Magazine]


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