I came across a discussion post in the NY Times Online Opinion Pages called “Do We Want to be Supersize Humans?” The discussion, about the relationship of our bodies to economic and health factors, is mainly superficial and not exactly informative, but I guess what can you expect from a newspaper blog. However, the book the debate is responding to looks like an interesting read: The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World since 1700 by Roderick Floud, Robert W. Fogel (Nobel Prize recipient for economics), Bernard Harris, and Sok Chul Hong. The book is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.

I have read articles that talk about human stature as an indicator of economic status – during/after times of poverty, the human tends to shrink, and I am curious about this forthcoming book’s stance on this issue. Considering the book is limiting itself to the Western World, much of the world is excluded. I am wary that the claims in the book that are specific to that part of the world will be extended to the rest of the world’s population. However, it is also interesting to think about China and India’s relationship to this study with their growing economies and prosperity.

As one of the NY Times discussion pages “We Won’t Become Giants” addresses, are we growing infinitely bigger?

articles… and some resources…

If you haven’t already checked on these articles and resources, I’d recommend it. Sorry I’m behind schedule a bit – some are from last week.

The Women’s Health Initiative and the Body Politic” looks at our perception of women going through menopause. We treat this “condition” as an illness with various treatments including hormone therapy (estrogen and progestin) and hysterectomy. These treatments can be controversial and sometimes harmful for the patient, including a higher risk of breast cancer for those taking both hormones.

A couple articles on exercise: “What’s the Best Exercise?” and “Is Sitting a Lethal Activity?

There seems to be much controversy about how one should exercise and how much. Is walking  better than running? Do you really need 30 minutes 5 days a week? Part of the problem seems to be that anything considered to be outside “thin” is seen to be abnormal by most people. I can think of sitting through many an exegesis by particular people I know about the “problem” of “fat people who don’t exercise.” Exercise may seem to be obvious, but it’s not. Bodies vary in ability, thyroids process differently.

I also came across this feature in the Health section of the NY Times called “Patient Voices” that chronicles experiences of various diseases/disorders including HIV/AIDS, lupus, OCD, ADHD, and many others. It’s multimedia with video interviews. If you’re interested in other patient forums specific to your illness/etc., you can try PatientsLikeMe. I originally wasn’t accepted into the forum because my particular condition wasn’t included. However, I received an email from the site that finally accepted me! There is also healthtalkonline as a resource too.

Narcissism and the DSM

Supposedly the APA (American Psychiatric Association) is revising the DSM’s (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the “Bible” of psychiatry, approach to diagnosing personality disorders, including dependent, histrionic, schizoid, paranoid, and narcissistic.  Could be interesting outcomes for future psychiatric treatment.

To read the full article about the potential revisions in the NY Times, “Narcissism:  The Malady of Me,” click here.

drug trials

An article in this weekend’s NY Times, “New Drugs Stir Debate on Rules of Clinical Trials,” brings up issues of the current system of clinical drug trials in the US required for FDA approval before hitting the market.  This article looks at PLX4032, a new drug used to shrink melanoma tumors and help improve quality of life, though maybe without extending life expectancy.  Two cousins are at the center of this article, both with melanoma, both in the clinical trial, though one was given the new drug and one was put in the control group, meaning he received standard chemotherapy treatments. The one in the group with the new drug improved and the one that received the control died.

This issue brings to the fore what many doctors in the article say is a dated drug approval system.  There are three phases a drug must pass before FDA approval, each phase with a different set of rules and criteria.

Recently, a new drug for lupus treatment, Benlysta, passed through Phase III, but I still haven’t seen it on the market – supposedly it will be available by the end of the year and will be the “first new approved drug for people living with lupus in more than 50 years” – Benlysta website.  50 years is an extremely long time for those living with this chronic to wait, while in the meantime being treated by drugs originally made as antimalarials – the connection between the antimalarials and positive reaction in lupus patients still being unknown.  Is this system working?  Or is it not?

July 1 = new insurance! for some…

Starting July 1st, many “high-risk”, uninsured individuals will be able to apply for insurance through the government – either their state government if it chose to do its own thing or through the federal government if their state chose to not implement the programs on its own.  However, only those individuals with pre-existing conditions who have not had insurance for the past 6 months will be able to apply.  This legislation is a good start to help those of us who are as of now “uninsurable,” but this measure still leaves out many that need care now.  Who can wait 6 months?

To read yesterday’s article from the New York times, click here.

To see a map that the National Association of Insurance Comissioners made to show how each state is participating, click here.