Stay Young: Drinking Coffee Adds Years To Your Life

Who knew that your morning cup of joe could actually be doing more than just keeping you awake? Two recently published studies published by the Annals of Internal Medicine show that drinking coffee will decrease your mortality rate, allowing you to actually have more time for more cups of coffee. So all those 2 a.m cups while studying for the MCATs or the 10 p.m cup just when you get back from class have actually been more beneficial than you thought. One study had results that showed lower mortality: During a mean follow-up of 16.4 years, 41 693 deaths occurred. Compared with nonconsumers, participants in the highest quartile of coffee consumption had statistically significantly lower all-cause mortality (men: HR, 0.88 [95% CI, 0.82 to 0.95]; P for trend < 0.001; women: HR, 0.93 [CI, 0.87 to 0.98]; P for trend = 0.009). Inverse associations were also observed for digestive disease mortality for men (HR, 0.41 [CI, 0.32 to 0.54]; P for trend < 0.001) and women (HR, 0.60 [CI, 0.46 to 0.78]; P for trend < 0.001). Among women, there was a statistically significant inverse association of coffee drinking with circulatory disease mortality (HR, 0.78 [CI, 0.68 to 0.90]; P for trend < 0.001) and cerebrovascular disease mortality (HR, 0.70 [CI, 0.55 to 0.90]; P for trend = 0.002) and a positive association with ovarian cancer mortality (HR, 1.31 [CI, 1.07 to 1.61]; P for trend = 0.015). In the EPIC Biomarkers subcohort, higher coffee consumption was associated with lower serum...

This Is How To Take Time Off During Medical School

Here is a list of a few experiences I’m happy that I did to take time off during medical school my first two years.  Recently I was up late clicking through my old Facebook pictures reliving some of the more fun moments of the past few years. As I was doing this I realized that I have done SO MANY amazing and wonderful things since starting medical school. At the beginning of M1 year, everyone tells you (jokingly or not, I can never tell) to kiss your social life (or any kind of life outside of books and medicine) goodbye. I have not found this to be necessary AT ALL and I want to encourage you all to reject this mindset. While it’s true there were times I spent 14 hour days in the library or when I was so stressed about an upcoming lab practical that I couldn’t bear to do anything besides study, there were also many times when I put other things in my life first. I think this has helped me to be more balanced and allowed me to build up a reserve of emotional strength to draw from when it comes to the tough parts of medical school. By having things outside of medical school to plan and look forward to, I don’t let studying completely define who I am as a person, which...

Chef Uy Presents: Blackberry Chia Parfait

Natalie Uy is a resident in Internal Medicine who loves to eat and doodle. Her food blog, Obsessive Cooking Disorder, is a collection of recipes she made during her study breaks and stories on my medical / life adventures. Here is her recipe on how to prepare Blackberry Chia Parfait. Hi everyone, I’m officially done with intern year! Yay! I finished off intern year with VA hospital nights which can be exhausting – if you’ve never been jolted awake from pages at 3am (or worse, hammer pages, which is non stop back to back paging), you’re not missing out on anything. Sometimes you’ll even get 2 or 3 pagers going off simultaneously (“Oh nice, they’re harmonizing” – my med school surgeon attending). While finishing intern year is always a cause for celebration (goodbye waking up earlier to pre-round on patients, endless note-writing, and answering constant pages), I can’t help but have mixed feelings about stepping up to second year, since now I’ll be in charge of the team when it comes to running the team, making decision and handling emergencies. I’m going to miss the ability of saying, “Wait, let me ask my senior…” Although I’m know I’ve learned so much intern year, I still feel like there’s so much I don’t know (I have no idea how doctors managed without internet -all of our medical resources are there, from looking up medication doses...

The Reasons Why Sleep Matters

My personal experience has taught me that consistently getting decent sleep is THE most important factor in my overall well-being—more than relationships, exercise, diet, money, or anything else. Let me list the reasons why sleep matters. Obviously I don’t currently, and likely never will (except maybe during research sabbatical), get 8 hours of sleep 7 days per week. But I always get as much sleep as possible. This means that sleep almost always comes before my husband, family, friends, studying, drinking, TV, and whatever else keeps me away from my bed.  (Of course there are exceptions.) A mentor once told me, “Whenever you say ‘yes’ to something, you’re saying ‘no’ to something else.” Sometimes saying ‘yes’ to sleep means my life appears pretty boring from the outside. For example, when I was a 4th year med student on my surgery sub-internship, I woke up at 4:00am every day and usually didn’t get home until 7pm or later. When I got home, I ate dinner while I talked to my husband, showered, and then got in bed around 8:00pm. This was also in July, so I was actually in bed before the sun set every night. This sounds like a really pathetic existence, but I swear I was happy. Giving up some time with my husband after work in favor of getting enough sleep was worth it because I wasn’t...

Do Fidget Spinners Actually Work?

Fidget spinners have become one of the best-selling toys in the nation, sweeping elementary and middle schools, while demanding attention of concerned parents and teachers. The ubiquitous toy—which consists of a small blades that spin around a core—has been banned in many classrooms because they’re viewed as a distraction. But, it turns out fidget spinners are intended to have the opposite effect. The toys are actually meant to relieve lack of focus and restlessness common in individuals with ADHD, anxiety, and autism. Fidget spinners are among a long line of fidget toys—such as stress balls and ballpoint pens—that help limit distraction and improve performance. The utility of fidgeting can be explained using the famous Yerkes-Dodson law of arousal. According to the law, an individual requires a certain level of arousal, or stimulation, to achieve optimal performance. Based on the Yerkes-Dodson law, the spinning blades of a fidget spinner draws the eyes of its user and may provide the individual with an optimal level of arousal—which then helps lead to peak performance on a given task. So, imagine someone’s working on an assignment but, with all the loud noises, their classroom environment is too uncomfortable. There’s too many distractions, or stimuli, which prevent the student from performing well on their assignment. This person might use the a fidget spinner as a way to limit the distractions and reach a level...

Book Review: The Devil You Know

Freida McFadden strikes again with her follow-up story to the life of Doctor Jane McGill, The Devil You Know. This book is a page turner with a romantic edge and relatable characters that make a fictional story seem real. This is the follow up book to McFadden’s The Devil Wears Scrubs; this sequel focuses more on Jane’s personal life, rather than her time doing long hours of residency in the hospital. First, I recommend this book to parents, more specifically, parents with older children. Jane has to deal with all the stresses, fun, and control issues that come with her young redheaded bossy daughter, all while her husband is adjusting to a new job working from home and dodging his parental duties here and there.  The small anecdotes throughout the novel between Jane and her husband are sidebars that every parent can relate too.  For example, McFadden uses a touch of realism to show how even something as small as picking up and dropping off your toddler at pre-school has so many elements to take care of and so many areas where things could go wrong.  I really enjoyed reading these anecdotes and seeing them unfold and go hand in hand with Jane’s marital problems.  She is constantly dealing with real life situations that come with kids like, battling over what to wear to school, or having to tell...

Skywalker-Inspired Bionic Arm Gives Amputees “A New Hope”

US military veterans Fred Downs and Nardi McCauley lost their arms during service to their country. As participants of a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) research study, they have become the first individuals to receive the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) LUKE arm system. The LUKE (Life Under Kinetic Evolution) bionic arm is a novel robotic prosthesis that attaches to the amputee’s limb and replicates many functions of a human arm with the help of sensors and an easy-to-use controller. This device allows users to control multiple joints simultaneously and performs a variety of grips with adjustable grip forces. This technology was made possible by the Army Research Office and funding assistance from the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC). The working prototypes were designed by the DEKA Research and Development Corporation and built by Mobius Bionics, a commercial-scale manufacturer borne out out of the VA’s development efforts after years of research and testing. US military veterans Fred Downs and Nardi McCauley lost their arms during service to their country. As participants of a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) research study, they have become the first individuals to receive the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) LUKE arm system. The LUKE (Life Under Kinetic Evolution) arm is a novel robotic prosthesis that attaches to the amputee’s limb and replicates many functions of a human arm with the help of sensors and an easy-to-use controller. This device allows users...