Health

"Most people fundamentally misunderstand what happens if you live to be really, really old"

The point of this piece is consistent with one I read a while back: most of the disabilities we commonly associate with old age actually stem from illness. While it's true that illness and aging are positively correlated, the useful message is that if one can avoid illness, the physical and mental toll of aging could well be much less severe than is commonly thought.


"Getting 'inked' may come with long-term medical risks, physicians warn"

The only surprise to me is that the percentage is relatively low.

In what they believe to be the first survey of its kind in the United States, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center have found that as many as 6 percent of adult New Yorkers who get "inked" -- in other words, those who get a tattoo -- have experienced some form of tattoo-related rash, severe itching or swelling that lasted longer than four months and, in some cases, for many years.


"Be Very Afraid of Ticks"

Lyme Disease and much worse.

Let’s start with some facts. Ticks in the U.S. can spread more than 14 diseases. They are “the most significant vectors of infectious diseases in the United States,” according to a write-up from a recent scientific conference. Research suggests that where I live, in the lower Hudson Valley in New York, more than half of adult-stage blacklegged ticks harbor the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. (It’s also carried by one-fifth of nymphal-stage blacklegged ticks—the tiny ones that are hard to see and therefore often go unnoticed for days.) Another one in five adult blacklegged ticks in the region is infected with the bacterium that causes anaplasmosis; one in 30 harbors the potentially deadly deer tick virus; and another one in 30 can pass along the parasite that causes babesiosis. And yes: Ticks can and do often harbor multiple pathogens, so that’s fun too.

Related: "Beware of Ticks: Lyme Disease May Be More Common This Year". (Includes a map of Lyme Disease incidence.)


"Why the Biotech Boom Is No Bubble"

Personalized medicine sounds awesome.

For the last 100 years, drug development consisted of small-molecule treatments aimed at mass audiences. For some patients it worked, for some it didn't; sometimes we knew why, often we didn't; and gigantic pharmaceutical companies grew rich. And then, at the turn of the last century, we began to understand a bit more about human genetics—what makes us all different. We knew not only how many genes there were but also what many of them did. We still don't know what to do with all this information, but we are getting better. And just now we are beginning to translate what we know about human genetics to make medicine. Personalized medicine. We are learning not only what "works" but also what makes us susceptible to illness by deciphering where genetics may load the gun and the environment pulls the trigger, and then devising personalized therapies.

Related: "The history of medicine will seem blunt and random compared with what's coming next" and "New era in the war on cancer".

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