Longer Looks: Racking Up The Steps; Confusing Diet Advice; And The Price Of Cellular Therapies
Each week, KHN finds interesting reads from around the Web.
The New York Times:
How Many Steps Should You Take A Day?
Humans, once in constant motion as hunters and gatherers, are moving less than ever. At first, this trend seemed like progress: Transferring our heavy and dangerous work to animals, then machines, enabled more people to live longer. As recently as the 1950s, doctors considered exercise dangerous for people over age 40; for heart disease, which was then killing a record number of Americans, they prescribed bed rest. This was partly based on their concept of what “exercise” was: Early physiologists conducted studies on their (typically young, male) graduate students or on military servicemen — and in order to become more fit than they already were, these subjects needed to work out hard. “The mantra was, You have to go to a gym, you have to do high-intensity physical activity,” says Abby C. King, a professor of health research and policy and medicine at Stanford University: “this sort of ‘no pain, no gain’ phenomenon.” (Tingley, 8/21)
Diet Advice Changes By The Minute. How Are We Supposed To Figure Out What To Eat?
The fact is that adherence is a problem for every healthy diet out there. And given how imperiled our planet is, we should be applauding anyone who is helping in any way to reduce the unsustainable demands the cattle industry (and our national burger addiction) imposes on our land. Even setting aside the health implications, the ethical and environmental rationales for eating a plant-based diet are strong. Still, if once-disciplined vegans are now scarfing down meat and posting videos of themselves doing bacon taste tests with the reckless abandon of an Amish teen on rumspringa, what does that tell us about the hope for long-term compliance on even less restrictive diets? (Swidey, 8/20)
The New Yorker:
The Promise And Price Of Cellular Therapies
For most of the twentieth century, the definition of a drug was simple, because drugs were simple: they were typically small molecules synthesized in factories or extracted from plants, purified, and packaged into pills. Later, the pharmacopoeia expanded to include large and complex proteins—from insulin to monoclonal antibodies. But could a living substance be a drug? Thomas, who saw bone-marrow transplantation as a procedure or a protocol, akin to other organ transplants, would never have described it as a drug. And yet, in ways that Thomas couldn’t have anticipated, he had laid the foundation for a new kind of therapy—“living drugs,” a sort of chimera of the pharmaceutical and the procedural—which would confound definitions and challenge the boundaries of medicine, raising basic questions about the patenting, the manufacturing, and the pricing of medicines. (Mukherjee, 7/15)
The Washington Post:
D.C. Hate Crime Prosecutions Plummet As Hate Crime Reports Soar In Nation’s Capital
Hate crimes are surging across the country, with racist slurs scrawled on schools and houses of worship, assaults on gay and transgender people, and white gunmen targeting Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue and Latinos at an El Paso Walmart. In Washington, the number of attacks investigated by police as bias-motivated reached an all-time high of 204 last year. The District had the highest per capita hate-crime rate of any major city in the country, according to Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino. (Miller and Rich, 8/21)
A Cheap Microscope Could Change How Malaria Is Detected
In the rural parts of Uganda, lab technicians spend hours each day on thankless and seemingly unceasing work. The most common tests they run are for malaria. A technician smears a blood sample on a slide, treats it with dye, and then slowly scans it for cells that contain malaria parasites. She then uses a handheld clicker to record how many parasites she sees. (Yong, 8/22)
The New York Times:
Baby Food, Bassinets And Talk Of Salvation Inside An Evangelical Pregnancy Center
Wendy Ramsey began her day as she often does, in the cool basement of Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church. It was a Thursday, and her first client was coming at noon. She flipped on the fluorescent lights. Racks of infant, toddler and maternity clothes neatly lined the waiting area. Formula and baby food were on the shelf, free for anyone who came. A flier for a local domestic violence shelter was taped to the cinder-block wall, one of its tabs ripped off. (Dias, 8/23)