Archive for the ‘Medicine’ Category

Coffee v. Strokes: Coffee Wins

February 22nd, 2009
Does coffee help prevent strokes?  Photo courtesy of

Does coffee help prevent strokes? Photo courtesy of

Doctor David Liebeskind of UCLA et al. announced late last week at the International Stroke Conference an interesting finding with regard to the relationship between coffee consumption and…wait for it…strokes.

While previous publications have touted the seemingly beneficial effects of coffee drinking, how it relates to strokes was not established.

But after looking at daily coffee intake amongst a sample of over 30,000 individuals (of which, over 9,000 were coffee drinkers), they found lower incidences of strokes in those who drank more coffee.  In other words, those who imbibed at least 6 cups a day had fewer strokes than those who drank 3-5, who had fewer than those who drank 1-2, who had fewer than those who didn’t drink any.

If that wasn’t enough, the incidence of cardiac disease, diabetes, and hypertension was also lower for those who drank more coffee.

Right about now you might be asking why this is. Is coffee good for you? Should I drink more? The simple answer is, nobody knows.

Which implies that despite these findings, caution is in order.  The results represent correlations, not necessarily cause and effect.  The authors state that the mechanism behind these “benefits” is as yet unknown and more research is required.

For example, it is possible that those who drink a lot of coffee have greater wealth and thus better access to health care than those who drink less.  After all, last I checked 6 cafe mochas at Starbucks can easily set you back $20 a day. Which is about the cost of a very good PPO with a very good health insurance company here in California.

Source: International Stroke Conference Oral and Poster Presentations

Biology, Medicine

Coaxing HIV Out of Hiding with Clever Engineering

May 8th, 2008

When it comes to combating HIV, doctors and scientists have an arsenal of drugs and regimens to choose from. Unfortunately, none are 100% effective because of the one sinister trait of HIV – it’s ability to hide and lay dormant in T-cells for years or decades.

Which is why flushing HIV out of T-cells has been on the forefront of medical science for years. Through experimentation it’s been shown that two naturally occurring plant compounds, Prostratin and DPP, in combination with other drugs are able to push HIV out of T-cells with about 80% efficacy. Sure, it’s not 100%, but experimentation had been hampered by the availability of these compounds.

They come from scarcely found plants from far away places and produce variable yet meager quantities of these valuable compounds. In other words, they must be extremely expensive and hard to come by.

Fortunately, there are real people out there who actually performed very well in Organic Chemistry. And it is they who come to this story’s rescue.

Read more…

Biology, Chemistry, Medicine

Sorry, Sick Kids = No Posts

April 28th, 2008

Arg.  I have a number of posts nearly ready to go, but with sick kids it’s hard to get these out.  Their lack of sleep translates to my lack of sleep which means, no posts.  I hope to get this back on track in the next few days, so stay tuned!


Tainted Marijuana Leads to Lead Toxicity

April 9th, 2008

Lead and Pot Don’t MixWe at TinySci don’t condone drug use, and with this finding to be reported in tomorrow’s New England Journal of Medicine, there’s another good reason to be wary. Doctors in Leipzig, Germany were alarmed by a recent dramatic jump in lead poisoning amongst its residents. After decades of seeing no such cases, 29 appeared during a 3-4 month period within four hospitals in the area.

Clinicians were able to put two and two together after noticing a trend amongst these patients: they were young unemployed smokers with body piercings.

Oh yes, and they all smoked pot. Read more…


AHA Promoting Hands-Only CPR

March 31st, 2008

BaywatchDoes this put Baywatch out of a job?!  Well, actually, no. The new CPR standard being promoted by the American Heart Association applies only to adults who suddenly collapse, mainly due to cardiac arrest. The new standard states that only rapid chest compressions (approximately 100 per minute) are required until emergency help arrives, alleviating the need for mouth-to-mouth, which, for some odd reason, always left a bad taste in the mouth of the general public (ewww, I know, sorry!).

It was the work of recent studies which indicated a similar success rate equal to the mouth-to-mouth method, and the desire to simplify CPR which prompted the change.

Does this spell the end of Baywatch? Hardly. The AHA is also quick to point out that mouth-to-mouth is still recommended in drowning or carbon monoxide cases, and with all infants and young children.

Source: American Heart Association


Breast Milk – It Does a Brain REAL Good

November 6th, 2007

Maternity by PicassoNow yet another reason to breastfeed: help make your kids less stupid. Though, it works only if they’re lucky enough to have a particular variant of the FADS2 gene. Actually, this variant is in about 90% of the human population. And those lucky 90% would have experienced a measurable and significant improvement in IQ if they were also breastfed as babies. While the improvement is only by about 7 IQ points, it’s probably enough to make the difference between going to UCLA or USC (I’ll let you decide which one is better). The researchers theorize that the FADS2 variant allows the people who have it to metabolize particular fatty acids present in abundance in breast milk, all to the benefit of the developing brain.

Ethically, it makes me wonder – how much is the FADS2 gene and where can I get one?

Primary Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Secondary Source: New York Times

Medicine ,


October 31st, 2007

SquirrelIf you’re from New Jersey you’ve probably known about this for a while and have long since been able to breathe very longs signs of relief. Otherwise, this is news to you as it was to me. It turns out that the EPA had been doing routine testing of squirrels which lived near a dump to see if they were…er…fit for human consumption. The EPA said no because of elevated levels of lead found in their systems. But today, hurray-hurray, it turns out the EPA made a mistake with their testing and found that these squirrels were fine for eatin’ after all.

What does this have to do with science? Maybe….good scientists should try to repeat their results so they don’t have to unnecessarily inconvenience…uh…rodent eaters?

Note to PETA: Don’t shoot the messenger!
Recipes: Backwoods Bound
Song: Squirrels, by the Beastie Boys
Source: AFP

Medicine , ,

News to Snooze To

October 29th, 2007

sleep.jpgHow’s this for a guilt-less nap? Naps are good for your mental state, with positive effects lingering onto the following day. Plus, they don’t interfere with evening sleep. Siesta anybody?
Source: Cornell


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