health


It happens to all guys, sure, but not being able to perform in bed has left many men feeling like they could die of shame. But it turns out, that sensation is not actually shame – it is probably just a heart attack! Okay, it’s a heart attack with a side of shame.

In a totally uncalled for addition of grave injury to demeaning insult, a recent study by German researchers indicates that erectile dysfunction may be more than just an embarrassing problem in the bedroom. Men who suffer from ED are twice as likely as their more virile counterparts to die of heart attacks or cardiovascular disease. They also have a slightly increased risk of stroke, just for good measure. All of which just seems kind of shitty and unfair to dudes who have enough problems already, but there you have it.

Speaking as someone who has done it, I can say with some degree of authority that quitting smoking completely sucks. You’re on edge all the time, you snack constantly, you have nothing to do in the morning before you use the bathroom, and perhaps most galling, you have to work through an entire day without a series of ten minute breaks. Like a Normal.

This is why no one ever quit smoking because they wanted to. Instead, the main reason people quit smoking is Fear of Chronic Disease. Which is a perfectly reasonable fear, mind you, and thus a perfectly rational reason to quit smoking.

Unless quitting smoking also makes you significantly more susceptible to a DIFFERENT chronic disease.

As it turns out, this is exactly the case. According to a Johns Hopkins study recently released in The Annals of Internal Medicine, breaking the habit can raise a person’s chances of developing Type II Diabetes by up to a staggering 70%. The heightened risk is tied to the aforementioned snacking and weight gain often associated with giving up smoking.

The researchers point out that this weight loss, and the diabetes risk tied to it, can be tempered by seeking help from a doctor while quitting. But at this point, we have to ask ourselves – do we really want to live in a world where everyone is short-tempered, on a diet and under the constant supervision of a doctor?

I think we call all agree that this is a scenario in which the living would envy the dead.

Researchers in Germany have developed a drug that, when taken through the nose during a late night cram session, seems to improve retention and memory formation in college students who get a good night’s sleep after taking the drug. In other words, the Germans have invented cocaine, but made it significantly lamer. Good job, Germany.

I guess… nobody told Germany about cocaine? That seems sort of unfair. I mean, they did pretty well fuck up the first half of the twentieth century and all, but seriously, that shit was years ago.

I just hope no one was planning on winning a Nobel Prize in medicine for this, because they already gave those out today, and the team of American researchers who discovered DNA telemorase landed it. It’s  safe bet that, after giving the requisite speech about how this validates the entire field of study they’re engaged in, the winners almost certainly proceeded to revel in wads of money and the adulation of their peers. And you can bet they went out and threw down some of that fat Nobel cash on a bunch of blow like right thinking Americans, who could not be less interested in lame ass German nasal spray for brain function.

So you know that HPV vaccine, the one that protects young women against a commonplace sexually transmitted virus that is causally related to more than 90% of cervical cancer cases? Turns out it may also help prevent certain types of breast cancer, which were found to contain HPV cells in a recent Australian study. Which begs the following very reasonable question: if the HPV vaccine has such potential to prevent suffering later in life, why are so many doctors in the United States loathe to innoculate young women with it?

While saying that the reason is ignorance or prudishness may be over simplifying the matter… it also may not. Gardasil is the latest vaccine to be taken out to the pseudo scientific woodshed with hysterical anecdotes and unpleasant but unsubstantiated tales of woe managing to drown out the reams of scientific data that say Gardasil is safe. While numbers of adverse reactions are statistically tiny, the web is replete with horror stories linking Gardasil to seizures and paralysis. There is, of course, no proven link between the tens millions of doses of Gardasil that have been administered and any symptoms more severe than fainting and blood clotting in tiny numbers of patients. While these potential side effects are serious and physicians should no doubt watch for them, side effects both real and imagined are being used more and more to spook young women and their parents into not getting the vaccine, or at least putting off the decision to vaccinate.

This wouldn’t be a problem, except that the three shot Gardasil regimen is only effective in preventing HPV – not in treating it, which is why all three shots have to be administered prior to sexual activity. This means the longer young women put off getting the vaccine, the less likely it is it will be effective.  And while the Moral Majority complains about the vaccine promoting promiscuity and teen sex and conservative doctors wring their hand and look for reasons not to administer the vaccine on right wing blogs when they can’t find any in medical journals, the FDA has approved Gardasil for use in young men as well to prevent them from carrying or spreading the disease, and from suffering the penile cancer that it is linked to later in life.

While nations across the world marked the 70th anniversary of World War II, Bush apologist and Rumsfeld groupie Victor David Hanson used his National Review column to ask the question that was on absolutely nobody’s mind  – Was WWII ultimately worth it? His perhaps surprising answer? A strong maybe.

But thanks to German AIDS awareness group Regenbogen e.V., that’s not the dumbest piece of WWII related news this week. The group is responsible for what purports to be an AIDS awareness commercial supporting their “AIDS is a mass murder” campaign that is actually a steamy sex tape which is totally hot until you realize the dude in it is totally Adolf Hitler. Who is…apparently giving someone AIDS? I guess. Anyway, not cool, Regenbogen e.V.! Now I’ve got a half stack over history’s greatest monster! How am I supposed to be okay with that?

“The campaign is designed to shake people up… Because anyone can become infected,” states the Regenbogen website. Even Hitler. And also, according to their accompanying posters, Sadaam Hussein and Stalin. The message that the group, which is totally not trying to be controversial for the sake of directing publicity towards themselves, comes through loud and clear – people with AIDS are evil and genocidal. And have facial hair. But mostly are evil.

Thanks to science for proving this week that what I and the bunch of drunks I associate with have always thought is both actual and factual – sweet mother alcohol is actually good for you.

It’s good for your mind – teetotalers may be more prone to depression than folks who are inclined to knock back a few, news which should come as a surprise to no one anywhere.

Perhaps counterintuitively, booze is also good for your body, and not just in a sissy ‘a glass of red wine a day’ kind of a way. People who consume alcoholic drinks are more likely to exercise than their abstaining counterparts, with heavy drinkers getting the most strenuous workouts.

Of course, there’s no arguing that alcohol does have some detrimental effects. For instance, alcohol consumption makes it harder for hamsters to get up in the morning, according to a recent study. Then again, what’s so pressing about the lives of hamsters that they need to get up at the crack of dawn, anyway?

Scientists have known for some time that the appendix isn’t just a relic of evolution that’s stuck around too long, mucking up the works of the modern human body. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center showed years ago that the oft maligned organ acts as a place of refuge for the good bacteria that keep the human digestive system ticking away like a fine Swiss clock.

But a recent study by the same researchers shows that ill understood bacterial sac may be more important and interesting than anyone ever knew. The study, recently published in The Journal of Evolutionary Biology, shows that, at 80 million years old, the appendix has been quietly plugging away at it’s inglorious work for longer than most researchers suspected. It also turns out that appendices are more common than once thought – not only do many species have them, but appendices developed independently in marsupials and mammals, suggesting that their purpose may be as important as it is poorly understood.

But all due credit to the John Paxson of the gastrointestinal tract – the thing is still a patently unpleasant bag of bacteria that’s remarkably prone to infection, and people who lose theirs seem to live happily and healthily afterwards. So if it does get infected, you need to remove the appendix. Let me repeat that for the cheap seats – you need to remove the appendix – not just say you’ve removed it and leave it inside a person like a ticking time bomb of bacteria and pus. That’s just fucked up.

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