Articles of Interest This Week

ON health study

My weekly list of articles of interest.


From the UK, more data showing that the Cancer risk is much greater among men. Lifestyle factors (drinking and eating habits) are the likely the cause. And New Study Shows How Stress Feeds Cancer Cells provides confirmation of the contribution that stress can make to accelerating cancer growth rates.

To further deepen our understanding, at the genetic and molecular level, a Mass cancer mapping centre opens in the UK. Over time, this should provide more insight why drugs fail and lead to more personalized treatment. And RNA Fragments May Yield Rapid, Accurate Cancer Diagnosis provides hope that non-invasive early testing will become possible, rather than current biopsy techniques.

Drawing on the work of Freud and Rank (The Denial of Death), James Salwitz talks about how the ‘culture of cure’ in medicine prevents treating the non-animal or non-medical nature of people in Man: the demi-god dies. This hampers end-of-life discussion, where the spiritual and emotional have to come to the fore.

A reminder of the care that cancer (and other) organizations have to take in choosing celebrities to headline fundraises in Great cause, poor choice, criticizing the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation for selecting Jenny McCarthy, known anti-vaccine activist, to lead an exercise workshop. Personally, never understand the need for such celebrities to attract support for a worthwhile cause. Couldn’t they find someone more inspirational than a ‘television personality’ without this anti-vaccine and anti-health baggage? In the end, the Foundation bowed to public pressure and cancelled McCarthy’s visit (their ‘Komen moment’?).

And a lovely post by The Franco-American Flophouse about post-cancer treatment recovery, and the mixed emotions and feelings that go along with this in On Parole. Some good tips on how to get back to ‘normal’ – or more accurately, find a ‘new normal’ (e.g., writing, music, friends, reading and, in her case, discovering a new church and congregation).

Health and Wellness

An interesting discussion of the evolutionary roots of some of today’s conditions and diseases in Patients and Evolutionary History, suggesting alternative, behavioural changes to address some of these (e.g., the obvious ones like reducing sugar intake, more exercise, and some less so, e.g., more time outside and less screen or reading time to reduce near-sightedness).

I haven’t posted much on eHealth and mHealth recently but this recent piece What Does the Ideal Hospital mHealth Strategy Look like? struck me as one of the better ones, from both the perspective of health care workers and patients (I particularly like the idea of a ‘formulary’ of approved apps to guide patients).

Earlier, I posted the wonderful 23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our … video on the benefits of walking.

A doctor, a filmmaker and their video cure for health care tells the story of Dr. Mike Evans and the other people behind that and other health related videos.

As always, André Picard cuts through the posturing and politics on mandatory  flu shots and health workers in Health workers should make flu shot a point of pride.

Largely common sense, 6 ways to avoid illness when travelling provides some good tips, particularly important the more ‘exotic’ the travel destination.

A good interview with Lyle Palmer, the Executive Scientific Director, of the large-scale Ontario Health Study, outlining the success to date and next steps (about 230,000 Ontarians, broadly representative of Ontario’s population in socio-economic terms (less so in terms of diversity), have signed up, including yours truly. A good public health long-term study that integrates questionnaires and health records from provincial medicare from all participants, complemented by blood work and assessments from some. About 13 minutes here.


One day we’re up, one day we’re down. The poignant tale of the current Canadian Finance Minister, coming to terms with health issues and the need for openness, is yet another illustration. Given the obvious change in his appearance and performance, due to his treatment with Prednisone (steroids) for a rare skin condition, bullous pemphigoid, remaining in the denial stage was no longer an option.

While initial reporting was discrete on the psychological side-effects of  Prednisone (e.g., depression, irritability, confusion), recent reporting (e.g., Side effects of Flaherty’s treatment don’t affect his performance, spokesman says) has openly discussed these. All of us who have taken Prednisone are familiar with these, and how it is not easy for us and those close to us. I cannot help asking, who was the ‘idiot’ on his staff that allowed him to red-eye to Europe for a full day of Davos meetings and interviews in his condition? Hopefully, despite the demands of his position, he will be cut some slack to help his recovery.

Yet another in a series of studies showing how bad we are at multitasking (Are Those Who Multitask Most the Worst at It?). My personal sense is, like most skills or talents, some people are better or worse than others (e.g., some politicians and senior policy makers), what is more important is for each of us to have a better read on our ability, and adjust accordingly.

A nice post from Blessings in Disguise on just how hard it is to change one’s behaviour, with a number of tips (start, baby steps, reward, be accountable, and replace) in Monday Motivation: Change.

And a good short video (2 minutes) on the writing process and creativity by Ira Glass, that applies to so many other areas of life:

Lastly, some of you may have read of Amy Webb’s data driven data approach. I loved this comment from her paediatrician when she applied her obsession with data (can’t describe it any other way) to raising her child:

[My husband and I] were tracking all possible data. It went way beyond poop. We were trying to figure out when she was most attentive so that we could occupy her – flash cards, me playing piano with her. By her six month visit, we asked her doctor to give her a grade, so that we knew whether or not we were making good progress. He gave her an A, and he gave us a C-. He told us to put the binder away and to stop making scatter plots of her … well, of her everything.

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