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Category Archive: Medicine

Sep 21 2013

What are oncogenes?

madpiratemyers

I’m trying to raise money for the The Leukemia &amp Lymphoma Society, and I promised to do a few things if we reached certain goals. I said I’d write a post explaining what oncogenes are, while wearing a pirate hat, if we raised $2500. So here you go, arrr. If you want more, go to …

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Sep 19 2013

The real creeps are the Republicans

I watched this ghastly video supported by the Koch brothers, and my jaw dropped and I said “Holy shit.” Literally. Not a metaphor. They are trying to scare women away from getting a Pap smear and turning gynecological exams into a creepy episode, all in the name of squashing government-insured health care. We’re just going …

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Sep 06 2013

The New Age can be as deadly as Catholic ignorance

Read this story about abortions: it’s not anti-choice. It’s anti-science and anti-medicine. It’s appalling. She contrasts brutal “Western Science” with its machines (and also its caring people: ignore her colorful descriptions of the technology, and her experience with people in the abortion clinic was one where she was asked if she was sure she wanted …

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Aug 31 2013

Thanks, M.D. Anderson, for adding another confounding variable

I’ve been talking to my class this week (and it’s going to be a theme next week) about the difficulty of analyzing epidemiological data on cancer — that there are so many steps to cancer progression and so many environmental and genetic inputs to the disease that sorting them all out is extremely complex. What …

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Aug 19 2013

Know somebody who is avoiding vaccinating their children?

Tell them to go read this article summarizing the case for vaccinations. How do we know that scientists and doctors are right? I’ve been asked about this quite a bit lately. One person asked me “why aren’t we getting peered reviewed research from other points of view?” The reason is quite simple: there isn’t any.

Aug 16 2013

Forest for the trees…

Something that really, really annoys me is reading a paper discussing a rich and complex data set in which the authors squink their eyes tightly and use statistics to zoom in and stare fixedly at one parameter. It happens all the time. It’s as if some scientists think it’s a triumph to reduce a phenomenon …

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Aug 11 2013

But what about the baaaaabies?

Nicotine is a teratogen — it’s known to have all kinds of interesting effects on the developing fetus. It’s very strongly associated with low birth weight, increases the likelihood of premature placental detachment, and it also causes deficiencies in lung development. You shouldn’t smoke during pregnancy (or use nicotine patches or any of the other …

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Jun 22 2013

Cystic Fibrosis is all your fault

Cystic Fibrosis is a serious genetic disorder caused by the inheritance of a defective transporter protein. It leads to an accumulation of mucus and fluids in the lungs that can cause progressive scarring and damage to the tissue, and eventually loss of so much lung function that respiration is inadequate, and the victim dies. It’s …

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Jun 12 2013

Anti-vaxxers are as bad as creationists

In Australia New Zealand: It started when seven-year-old Alijah got a small cut on the bottom of his foot in December 2012. "Of course we didn’t think it was too serious, it was just a little cut but a couple of days later he started getting symptoms like a stroke on the side of his …

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May 14 2013

Angeline Jolie just became an even more interesting person

Wow. Jolie is a beautiful woman who makes a living as an actress, where looks can be important, and she discovered that she carried an allele of BRCA1 that puts her at a very high risk of coming down with breast cancer sometime in her life. She looked at her situation rationally — she is …

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