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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Age Wise

Some old brains look and work like those of twenty-somethings

Among the frustrations of growing older, at least for many of us, is the increasing struggle to remember people we’ve met, or what was for lunch yesterday. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out why: Our brains shrink, and communication between different parts gets fuzzy.

But for some older folks, dubbed by scientists as “superagers,” the brain remains remarkably and mysteriously intact, virtually indistinguishable by several measures from the noggins of 20-somethings. …


The Nuance

A prominent U.K. psychologist believes we should change the way we talk about depression, anxiety, and other forms of psychological distress

In 2013, the British Psychological Society published a position statement that raised alarms about “the increasing medicalisation” of mental health care.

In particular, the BPS took issue with the language and criteria outlined in the American Psychiatric Association’s newly updated Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — the DSM-5 — which psychiatrists and many other mental-health experts around the world rely on to guide their work.

The BPS called the DSM-5’s classification models “flawed” and unreliable.

It argued that the DSM-5’s current approach to identifying and labeling mental health problems lacks consistency and scientific rigor, over-emphasizes biological factors and…


A doctor warns about the impact of overprescribing

Seven percent of individuals in the United States are prescribed levothyroxine, a synthetic version of the hormone, thyroxine, which is the main chemical produced by the body’s thyroid gland. The supplemental hormone consistently ranks among the top three prescriptions in the U.S. each year. In the past few days working at the hospital, I noted that one-sixth of the patients I saw were taking levothyroxine. This finding wasn’t terribly surprising to me and seemed like a fairly average sampling based on prior experience.

What has been surprising to me, however, is the mounting evidence indicating that most levothyroxine prescriptions, as…


Will circulating variants of Covid-19 “boost” immunity in vaccinated populations?

As the first group of people to receive Covid-19 vaccines reach the 6 month mark, the natural question in many people’s minds is: how long will this vaccine protect us against the virus? While research shows lasting and powerful protection, there is still concern that that immunity will fade with time. This raises the question of whether boosters are needed to prop up immunity.

With variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus still actively circulating amidst easing restrictions, many vaccinated individuals will likely be exposed to the virus. So the question is, will post-vaccination exposure to Covid-19 serve as a natural booster?


If you’re fully vaccinated, there’s no indication you need a booster yet. But many could urgently use that dose — here’s why.

Last week, the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer held a closed-door meeting with senior U.S. health officials to pitch them on Covid-19 booster shots.

Just a few days prior, Pfizer announced they would ask the FDA to expand the emergency authorization for their current two-dose vaccine to include a third, a booster shot.

We can only speculate on the confidential data presented in that meeting, but the Department of Health and Human Services who convened it issued a statement reflecting what many scientists believe: “At this time, fully vaccinated Americans do not need a booster shot”. …


Because humans have sex. Because I believe in God. Because I am pro-life.

I’ve worked in a county hospital, and I’ve worked in a private clinic. The waiting rooms looked different, the staff’s enthusiasm varied, and the patients of all ages came from different backgrounds, education levels, and phases of their lives. It never ceased to amaze me that despite variation in settings and situations, the look on someone’s face when seeking an abortion has mostly been the same. Eyes diverted toward the floor, shoulders curled slightly inward, hands fidgeting with one another, or arms crossed, the body is closed. She recedes into herself.

Sometimes the guilt is haunting.

She wants to focus…


Age Wise

Either we have a natural shelf life, or mortality plateaus and the sky’s the limit

If you can just make it to 105, your odds of surviving each subsequent year of life seem to level off at about 50/50. That much scientists largely agree on. Yet one of the oldest arguments in longevity research is whether this statistical curiosity represents an actual “mortality plateau,” which would mean there’s virtually no limit to how long any one of us might be able to hang around, biology be damned.

“Death rates, which increase exponentially up to about age 80, do decelerate thereafter and reach or closely approach a plateau after age 105,” scientists reported in a 2018…


Coping With Death

Loss is loss, whether old or new, animal or human

I first saw the story on Twitter. Dr. Ben Janaway, NHS psychiatrist, educator and mental health advocate, posted a photo of himself at the gym — but this was not the usual workout selfie. His jaw set, his face grim, Ben explained that turning pain into physical activity helped him to grieve.

I have followed Ben for a while, though we aren’t personally acquainted outside the digital stratosphere. We both have interests in health access and social justice, and Ben — himself a doctor — is open about his own struggles with mental health. …


The Nuance

NDEs may be a byproduct of an important survival instinct

In 1843, the Scottish explorer and missionary David Livingstone was attacked by a lion.

“I heard a shout . . . and looking half round, I saw the lion just in the act of springing on me,” Livingstone later recalled. The lion clamped its jaws around his shoulder and shook him “as a terrier dog does a rat.”

But then a curious thing happened. The shock of the attack produced what Livingstone described as a sort of dreaminess. “There was no sense of pain nor feeling of terror, though [I was] quite conscious of all that was happening,” he said…


How to live, work, and move in ways that keep your spine healthy

Four out of five. That’s the number of Americans who experience back pain at some point in their lives. It’s the leading cause of disability around the world among adults, second only to infections as a reason for seeking treatment. As a chiropractor, I treat patients with this affliction every day. Back pain has become more prevalent and ubiquitous in our modern world, and much of that has to do with how we interact with our environment.

There are things we do too much of, and others we’re not doing nearly enough — which is causing both structural and mechanical…

Elemental

Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

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