research

Supplement or Detriment: The Danger in Your Daily Gummies

Thinking like the doctor… Medication adherence is one of the biggest problems of healthcare today. Over one-third of patients prescribed medications never even fill the prescription. Half of those who actually receive a prescription follow it correctly. Treatments for precise ailments that are proven based on years of studies, trials, and experiments and not necessarily more expensive than supplements are ignored while nutritional supplement usage skyrockets. WHY??   Disney -versus- Thinking like the patient… You’re studying for exams and the only food delivery still open is Dominoes, which you’ve had for dinner the past three nights. You know you’re not getting the nutrients you need to function your best cognitively, physically, or emotionally, so some protein powder or vitamin gummies would perfectly make up for that, right? Both perspectives seem fairly reasonable. The doctor just can’t wrap her head around why her patients put so much blind trust into potentially detrimental pills with minimal (if any) evidence behind them while frequently ignoring their prescriptions. The patient is conscious of her poor health choices and feels proud and responsible for taking her health into her own hands. Conscious of the effect she is expecting, she likely may see a change because of her expectations.   However, it is important to be aware of the harms that these supplements can cause as well. The FDA outlines some of these issues nicely....

The Rare Rarity of a Ravenous Condition

Dear Sam, First of all, let me start by answering the question in your last letter. I am not well or unwell, just different. I am in a state of mind and body so rare that it is inconceivable for the everyday human being. I was about to say “normal” rather than “everyday,” but what exactly is normal? Is being able to sleep for seven hours at a stretch normal? Maybe for people without insomnia. What about being able to feel pain? Clearly I am one of the few lucky (or unlucky) ones who would be considered abnormal by that standard! Yes, you’ve guessed it right. I have Hereditary Sensory Neuropathy Type I (HSN Type I). Here’s what my hotshot neurologist stated as he triumphantly claimed the diagnosis of my condition: “Chris, based on the multitude of tests we have run and the differential diagnoses we have ruled out, it appears to me that you may have Hereditary Sensory Neuropathy Type I. It is a rare, genetic condition. The reason you are unable to feel pain or temperature changes in your extremities is because the nerves in the area have degenerated. Our main cause of concern is maintaining your health as it stands and preventing any grave injuries than may result from your pain insensitivity. In patients like you, it is not uncommon to have injuries that go undetected...

Groundbreaking Cancer Treatment

Check out this incredible video of some new groundbreaking cancer treatments. In medical school, especially the first year, students are often exposed to a lot information that pertains to cancer, as well as some popular and commonly used drugs to treat cancer. It is always amazing to see what researchers are coming up with in modern medicine.     In a study conducted by the Royal Marsden Hospital and Institute for Cancer Research, scientists found that a combination of two melanoma treatments from Bristol-Meyers Squibb was able to halt cancer progression for up to 12 months in approximately 60% of cancer sufferers. The international trial involved 945 patients receiving a combination of two immunotherapy drugs, ipilimumab and nivolumab. James Larkin, FRCP, PhD, the UK’s Chief Investigator for numerous clinical trials in cancer-related research, says that combining these two drugs is like “taking two brakes off the immune system [sic] rather than one so the immune system is able to recognize tumors it wasn’t previously recognizing and react to that and destroy them.” (via BBC News) However, it should be noted that the occurrence of side effects such as headache, fatigue, and rash were almost doubled versus treatment with just one of the drugs. Excited to learn more?? Click here to read more about this research on BBC...

As Bad As It Gets, At Least You’re Not Having Sex With a Duck

Yeah, med students have it tough. But this short video about the duck’s substantial … um, evolutionary adaptations will make studying for the USMLEs seem like a walk in the park....

Scientists are Growing Mini Brains to Study Neurological Disorders

  Austrian researchers are growing cerebral organoids, a form of human tissue that resembles a developing brain, in order to study neurological disorders. The organoids are developed from adult fibroblasts (skin cells) and manipulated into pluripotent stem cells, able to develop into a myriad of body parts. The researchers are able to coax the stem cells into becoming neurons which they study to learn more about neurological diseases like autism or schizophrenia as well as potential cure.   Click here to read an article about this research in Technology...

Is There Such a Thing As Screening for Cancer Too Early?

Starting medical school, conversations swirl around the necessity of when and who to screen for certain diseases, such as breast cancer. Many factors play a role in these decisions such as, average age of onset of a disease, sex, race, ethnicity, geography, and more complicated factors that doctors and scientists all try to take into account when determining when screening exams should be given and who they should be given to. In particular, the necessity of breast cancer screening has been frequently debated amongst the medical community. When to screen, and who will pay for the screening, have been amongst the most hotly debated topics centered around this issue.   A recent report from NPR has found that mammograms for women in their 40s have limited value according to a review from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.  The WHO committee and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force agreed on the limited value of mammograms for women at this age but faced serious backlash for the financial implications these reviews could have. The study that the WHO IARC is basing their conclusions on found inadequate evidence that would support mammograms for women in their forties. Following these results, the US Task Force will then review public comments and responses before making their official recommendation. Whatever the recommendation may be, Congress can still mandate mammogram coverage...

The Science Behind Your Daily Cup of Joe

On average, according to Dunkin’ Donuts, the company sells approximately 30 cups of coffee per second! That is a wake up call in itself. Reddit | Gif-Me-A-Break That’s not counting Starbucks, and all of the other coffee houses and chains across the country and across the globe. It would be an understatement to say that students enjoy coffee, most thrive off of it. So, how does caffeine (unless you’re a decaf person) act on the brain to cause the positive effects many feel from coffee? Caffeine is itself a stimulant in the brain. According to Harvard Medical School, however, caffeine also blocks a chemical called adenosine. Adenosine is responsible for inhibiting excitatory transmitters, such as dopamine, in the brain, that make you feel alert and happy. Caffeine blocks adenosine, therefore enabling the excitatory transmitters to be released at higher levels, thought to be responsible for the increased alertness and mood felt with caffeine. Caffeine may even help to improve learning and memory, within moderation that is. Both the FDA and the EFSA say that 400mg of caffeine is the max daily dosage one should reach: this is the equivalent of five espressos or two grande iced coffees from Starbucks. So, next time you are looking to wake up, drink up!...