health

David/Flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

More than 60,000 patients in the U.S. receive general anesthesia every day. But despite the fact that anaesthesia drugs, like ether, have been around for more than 150 years, it's really only been in the past decade or so that we've gained a better understanding of how they work.

Repeated head trauma during football is linked to increased risk of neurodenerative disease, CTE.
Tech. Sgt. Larry A. Simmons / U. S. Air Force

There’s more evidence that playing football can lead to permanent brain damage. But the problem likely isn’t as prevalent as many media accounts have suggested.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease associated with repeated head trauma. Symptoms include dementia and mood or behavioral disorders. It was first described in boxers several decades ago, but has been found in NFL players in the past five years.

Courtesy of Lora Hooper

There are at least as many bacterial cells in your body as their human cells. And there’s a growing recognition that they’re critical for everything from digestion to mental health. They also play a big role in immunity – our ability to fight off diseases. But the relationship isn’t always easy or friendly. For all the good they do, if gut bacteria get into the wrong places, it can be problematic.

There are plenty of self help books out there that offer formulas for success. Now, there’s one that literally offers equations and mathematical models for everything from dieting and money, to marriage and conflict resolution. It’s called The Calculus of Happiness: How a Mathematical Approach to Life Adds Up to Health, Wealth and Love.

Dr. Peter Hopewood talks with Mindy Todd
J. Junker

On The Point, we talk about skin cancer and how we can best protect ourselves from the sun’s damaging rays. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. It's estimated that one American dies every hour from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows new cases of Melanoma in Massachusetts are 26 percent higher than the national average, and Nantucket County has one of the top 5 rates of new melanoma diagnoses among counties nationwide, 146 percent above the national average.

Harvard University

For many in the developed world, life before vaccines and antibiotics is hard to imagine, let alone remember. In a mere matter of decades, we have rapidly reduced the risk of death from common infections and even eliminated some deadly diseases. But disease-causing organisms are fighting back, evolving ways to survive our biomedical weapons.

Healthcare workers during the West African Ebola oubreak.
Image Courtesy: European Commission DG ECHO / Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

Ebola is back. The virus killed more than 11,000 people between 2014 and 2016. It was the largest Ebola outbreak ever documented. Now, health officials say there’s a new outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Officials are reporting four deaths and more than thirty suspected cases of Ebola in the past two weeks. They are also monitoring more than 400 individuals who came into contact with those patients. Still, because the area is so remote, officials say the risk of the outbreak spreading beyond national borders is low to medium.

In 1987, AZT was the first drug approved for use in treating HIV/AIDS.
Wellcome Images / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.en

It’s been thirty years since the first drug was approved to treat HIV/AIDS. That was AZT, in 1987. Since then, anti-retroviral drugs have been helping people live longer, healthier lives after their diagnosis. But just how much has treatment changed?

There's still no cure, and Philip Chan, a physician and HIV researcher at Brown University, says prevention remains a challenge. If current diagnosis rates continue, 1 in 6 gay and bisexual men will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.

J. Junker

Are you addicted to your smartphone? Many of us certainly feel drawn to our electronic devices - and the array of information and activities they offer - in a way we feel uncomfortable admitting. And, while there's some controversy about whether or not the term "addiction" is appropriate, there is growing evidence that things like posting on Facebook can elicit the same brain response as an addictive substance.

Luke Wroblewski / flickr, https://goo.gl/sZ7V7x

An estimated seventy two percent of adults in the United States own a smartphone. For most, they are a handy tool for keeping track of the kids and checking the weather. But, for a growing number, smartphones have become a problem - a conduit to potentially addictive games and social media.

Which category do you fall into? Try answering these questions, giving yourself one point for each "yes" answer. Do you find yourself:

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