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

Healthcare

In Elemental. More on Medium.

An invisible virus exposes critical blind spots in science and society. But will we learn?

Photo: MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram/Getty Images

Plaguing the world for more than a year, the coronavirus has forced reckonings in everything from scientific understanding to heart-wrenching inequities in health care and the economy. Given the human tendency to ignore history, here, for the record, are seven vital lessons we can take from the Covid-19 pandemic, which could start benefiting us now and for generations to come.

1. Virus science just underwent a paradigm shift

Sanitizing groceries and drowning our homes with bleach was wrongheaded, in hindsight. That early advice reflected an outdated view of how the coronavirus, influenza, and other respiratory viruses spread, some of it based on experiments done in the 1930s.

Combining…


Yale’s Dr. Grossman challenged dogma to change the outcome for infants

Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images

This story starts with a puzzle. Can you think outside the box? If so, try solving the following challenge. Imagine this nine-dot puzzle is printed on a sheet of paper. Now, with a pen, connect all the dots, drawing just four straight lines without taking your pen off the paper.


Yazzie, 31, is one of eight women helping run the health clinic in Navajo Mountain, a chapter of the Navajo Nation that straddles the border of Arizona and Utah. Photography by Sharon Chischilly for Elemental

Roxanna Yazzie works long hours to keep her community safe from Covid-19

Even in winter, when temperatures drop to below freezing and the dirt roads are coated in snow or ice, Roxanna Yazzie slings her clinic badge over her down jacket, pulls up the hood of her green jacket, and makes for work.


Weight stigma in health care can impact the care people get for Covid-19

Illustration by Anson Chan for Elemental

On October 24, Amanda Martinez Beck of Longview, Texas, told her husband: “You need to take me to the ER.” Their whole family had tested positive for Covid-19 a week earlier — Beck’s husband, Zachary, is an English professor and their best guess is that he brought the virus home from campus, or that Beck picked it up at the community pool where she sometimes swims. Within a few days, Zachary and their four children were all on the mend. But despite prescription albuterol, steroids, and antibiotics, Beck was still coughing and sleeping in a recliner at night because staying…


‘What would have happened if my parents did not have an oncologist-in-training as their daughter? What happens to the Black patients?’

Photo: Stígur Már Karlsson,Heimsmyndir/Getty Images

Part one: It’s everywhere

My first prostate cancer patient was my father. He is the man who taught me to be frugal. He is parsimonious until he gets to talking, and then all you want to do is listen. His laugh is boisterous and genuine. It is pure magic when it rises from someone who otherwise seems so stern. He worked two jobs when I was very little, one as a United States Postal Service mail carrier and the other delivering papers for a now-defunct newspaper in Denver. His father left his mother and eight siblings when he was young when they lived in…


The pandemic has made things more dire — but there are reasons to feel hopeful

Photo: d76 masahiro ikeda/Getty Images

This story includes descriptions of people experiencing suicidal ideation, which may be disturbing to some readers. If you or someone you know need help, consider calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800–273–8255 or the Trevor Project Hotline (for LGBT youth) at 866–488–7386.

If Brooklyn Scherer hadn’t been able to transition into her true gender identity, she says she wouldn’t be here today.

Raised as a boy by conservative parents in the suburbs of Seattle, Scherer, now 37, buried her true identity for decades. She’s also autistic, she tells Elemental, which led to further social isolation. …


Exact Sciences employees, Scarlett Lee and Xavier Robinson, holding samples. Photography: Lyndon French

Colon cancer screening should begin at age 45, new guidelines say. During a pandemic, this at-home poop test has emerged as a key solution.

As the number of Covid-19 cases began to explode in the U.S. in March and April, Americans retreated to their homes and put routine medical care on the backburner. Not getting Covid-19 — and protecting health care workers against the disease — became the collective goal. Traditional doctor visits plunged, elective procedures were canceled, and any other care deemed nonessential — including cancer screenings — essentially came to a halt. Specifically, the number of colonoscopies, the bedrock of colon cancer screening, fell nationally by 90%.

The disruption at Exact Sciences was almost immediate. The company is the maker of a…


Screenings save lives, but can do serious harm too

Photo: andresr/Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic will surely prompt more death from causes beyond just Covid-19. There will also be a notable number of deaths from cancer since delayed screenings and diagnoses will mean worse outcomes for many. The Director of the National Cancer Institute predicts as many as 10,000 additional deaths from colon cancer (4,700) and breast cancer (5,300) over the next 10 years as a result of just a six-month delay in screenings.

But there is a critical element missing from such alarming statistics.

Counterintuitively, the delay in screening will also probably reduce some sickness and death, and save the health…


The Election & Your Health

A look at what’s at stake for America’s gaping health disparities

Illustration: Olivia Fields

As the country careens towards a presidential election in the midst of a raging pandemic, the dueling headlines on public health and politics are a stark indication that, no matter who wins in November, this election will have profound, far-reaching consequences for your physical health and well-being. All this week, Elemental is running a series of stories detailing what’s at stake, from insurance coverage to plans for a pandemic still in progress. Here’s what you should know about the implications of the election on health for people of color and the LGBTQ+ community.

Social determinants of health — including education…


The Election & Your Health

A look at what’s at stake for the Affordable Care Act

Illustration: Olivia Fields

As the country careens toward a presidential election in the midst of a raging pandemic, the dueling headlines on public health and politics are a stark indication that, no matter who wins in November, this election will have profound, far-reaching consequences for your physical health and well-being. All this week, Elemental is running a series of stories detailing what’s at stake, from insurance coverage to plans for a pandemic still in progress. Here’s what you should know about the implications of the election on the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Since the moment it was signed into law by President Barack…

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