Issue 40: More older people are smoking weed, selfie harm, DIY respirators in India and more

Baby Boomers are Getting Blazed AF

Elon "Smoke Weed Erryday" Musk

You see Elon Musk blaze up a backwoods on the Joe Rogan experience? That sh!t was epic. Elon ain't the only baby boomer sparkin up though - it turns out adults between the ages of 50 to 64 are increasingly getting high. Federal data shows that 9 percent of adults in this age demographic have smoked weed within the past year which is double what it was a decade ago. After getting lit AF Elon Musk is reportedly planning to put Taco Bell restaurants on Mars. 

Selfie Harm

Kim K doin it for the gram

A recent randomized control study that is getting a lot of attention on reddit examined how taking selfies influences women's mental health. The results are not surprising. Young women who took selfies and posted them online had higher rates of anxiety and felt less physically attractive afterwards compared to the control group. Interestingly even the group that was allowed to edit and enhance their photos with filters still reported feeling less confident and attractive. The study which was published in Body Image is the first time scientists have studies the effects of selfies on mental health in an experimental trial.  

DIY respirator decreases pneumonia deaths by 75% in India

Dr. Chisti Image from BBC

An Indian doctor has created a DIY respirator out of a shampoo bottle that has cut the amount of infant deaths due to pneumonia by 75%. Last year 920,000 children under the age of 5 died of pneumonia making it one of the highest causes of death in developing countries. In Bangladesh pneumonia causes 28% of infant mortality. Dr Chisti, the doctor who created the device also touts how cheap it is. His shampoo bottle respirator can be made with $1.25 compared to the $6000 cost of a traditional standard bubble-CPAP. Dr. Chisti plans to use the new ventilator not just at his Bangladesh hospital but to also test out the device in Ethiopia. Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest. 

CDC says heart disease deaths are preventable

Image from the CDC

The homies at the CDC recently updated their numbers for deaths due to cardiovascular disease in 2015. They say that 415,000 died from heart disease and that these deaths could have been prevented. “Many of these cardiovascular events are happening to middle-aged adults — who we wouldn’t normally consider to be at risk,” CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat said in a statement. “Most of these events can be prevented through daily actions to help lower risk and better manage medical conditions.” The CDC has launched an initiative to prevent a million deaths due to cardiovascular disease by 2022. 

Cells at Work!

From the popular anime Cells at Work! Episode 2

I’ve been watching a lot of Cells at Work! recently, a show in which cells are portrayed as these super cute anthropomorphized workers with different roles in the human body. And to be honest, the existence of “bravery cells” sounds too cute to be real and seems exactly like something that came from the show. But turns out that the universe is too good to us sometimes! An article published in Nature Communications confirmed the existence of neurons known as OLM cells, or bravery cells. Stimulation of these cells propagates a brain rhythm that helps animals feel safe and calm when they are in a dangerous situation, like when they’re hiding from a predator prowling close by. This brain rhythm insulates us from anxiety and the potential risks of our behavior, allowing us to to calmly do seemingly terrifying things like walking between two skyscrapers on a tightrope. What’s awesome is that understanding these cells may play an important role in developing more advanced antidepressants and anxiolytics.

Contributed by Sameera Chaudry from Rutgers 

500 hospitals create company to lower generic drug costs

Image from InterMountain Healthcare

Several hospital groups representing more than 500 US hospitals have created a non-profit generic drug company to fight escalating drug costs and frequent shortages. The company, called Civica Rx, plans to apply to the FDA for permission to make and sell generics by 2019. 

Treating PKU with gene edited bacteria

Startup pioneering gene modified bacteria as a treatment

"In a study carried out over the summer, a group of volunteers drank a white, peppermint-ish concoction laced with billions of bacteria. The microbes had been engineered to break down a naturally occurring toxin in the blood" This quote from the NYT refers to a company called Synlogic that is creating genetically modified bacteria that is capable of treating patients with PKU. As any first year med students can tell you PKU is the result of a mutation that results in toxic levels of phenylalanine building up in the bloodstream. The shake contains harmless e.coli that are modified such that when they reach the gut they can breakdown phenylalanine and prevent toxic levels from building up. So far the therapy has been effective in mice and monkeys. Researchers are now turning their attention to patients with PKU. 

Cancer and Low Academic/Socioeconomic Achievement

Image from Harvard Health

An observational study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showed an inverse relationship between cancer diagnosis in parents and their children's academic achievement. It also found that their earning potential was lower when their parents' cancer was more severe. Children of parents who passed away from cancer had a lower than average GPA 30% of the time. It goes to show that cancer hurts more than just the patient. Although the study was done in Denmark with more than a million children over 20 years ago, be mindful of anyone around you with a family member who has a cancer diagnosis. We can all help battle it together. 

Contributed by Dr. Daniel Oh