Issue 29: Boners, CRISPR, Weed, Facebook, Depression, and Google

Erection a Great Indicator for Men’s Health

A recent study on men between the ages of 60 and 78 revealed that those experiencing erectile dysfunction are twice as likely to get heart attack, stroke, or die of some other heart problem. Think about it this way; a healthy erection is no longer a symbol of youth, but health. It might be obvious that if one is having a hard time pumping blood into their corpus spongiosum, their hearts are simply not pumping well in general. Don’t be ashamed. Just ask for an electrocardiogram (ECG) along with that Viagra.

CRISPR Friend of Foe?

The novel, gene editing technology, CRISPR, has recently gotten so much attention and got people’s hopes up as a possible cure for cancer. Even CMS will start paying for it, too. But recently, two new studies published in Nature (respectable AF journal) showed that its science is kind of problematic for a drug. Here’s the science: The checkpoint p53 gene works to regulate mutated DNA. But it turns out CRISPR only really works best when the p53 gene is turned off. This result can be interpreted in many ways, but it got investors scared and plummeted stocks. Let’s give this hyped technology more time before we mess our genes and natural defenses up.

Puffing Trees for Pain Relief 

From the Movie Pineapple Express

The good ole state of Illinois recently passed a bill that would allow patients suffering from chronic pain to get prescribed medical marijuana instead of opioids. The bill was meant to address the growing opioid epidemic in which 13,000 people in Illinois overdosed last year and 2,000 died. On top of that the homies at the CDC say that there is no good scientific evidence that opioids treat chronic pain and that 1/4 of patients prescribed develop long term addiction. The bill received bipartisan support but is still awaiting a final signature by the Republican Gov Bruce Rauner. If the bill becomes finalized patients could get purple haze or OG KUSH at their local dispensary with just a doctor's note. No fingerprints, background check, or months of red tape needed. Before we get to excited though, scientists still haven't gotten around to conducting rigorous clinical trials to see if weed actually does help with chronic pain. They're probably too busy eating taco bell and watching cartoons. In addition the DEA still classifies marijuana (as well as LSD) as schedule 1 - which indicates highly addictive and of no scientific benefit. Clearly the squares at the DEA need to chill the F out. Politicians who backed the bill hope that the opioid OD's will decline after the law gets passed. 

Facebook is the New New Crystal Meth

Artwork by Jim Carrey

Ok well maybe not exactly, however, a growing number of physicians are becoming concerned about social media addiction. Dr Richard Graham, A UK adolescent psychiatrist, publicly stated that the rise of social media platforms such as FB and Instagram are leading to a public health crisis in which young people are hooked on likes. Children's charity 5Rights wants the government to classify social media as a "social harm" and have lawmakers mandate health warnings prior to use. A study released by the Royal Society of Public Health called #StatusofMind described the numbers. 7 out of 10 people in the UK report being cyberbullied and a whopping 9 out of 10 girls who use social media are unhappy with the way they look. Maybe it's time to get off the gram and cold turkey of those FB likes. 

Your Medications Might be Causing Depression

Depressed? Taking prescription drugs? A new study revealed that the more number of prescription medications that patients are taking, the higher their risk of depression. In a study that surveyed thousands of patients across the US found that about 15% of patients taking three medications were experiencing depression while compared to 5% for those who don’t take any and 9% for those taking two. The catch here is that these medications often come with a million side effects that often includes suicide and depression, but the public perhaps is not fully aware about their real-life repercussions. Maybe we have something to blame other than hump day for our horrible mood.

Google Wants to Help Doctors Write Notes

From the movie the Internship

The Big G (Google) is seeking to employ AI and voice tech experts to create digital assistants that can listen in on doctor patient conversations and automatically record them in the EHR. The initiative is part of Google Brain's healthcare strategy. The Google team is collaborating with the Big S (Stanford) to create these digital scribes. Google's not the only one doing this though. They have a few competitors including startups Augmedix and Suki. If these companies are successful they could eliminate the countless hours doctors spend on charting. 

Hope you enjoyed this issue! See ya next week!