Quickies: Testing Activity Trackers, Trusting Dr. Google Over Actual Doctors, and Mycotoxins

  • Activity Trackers Compared: Most Suck at Tracking Your Sleep – “Your fitness tracker may claim to measure your sleep, but how accurate is it? To find out, sleep specialist Dr. Christopher Winter tested several popular trackers in a one-night sleep study in his lab.”
  • Why You Trust the Internet More Than Your Doctor – “Doctors used to be among the highest-trusted professionals in the community, but now we’re the enemy. A brief perusal online will show that we in the medical field are all in Big Pharma’s pocket. Doctors aren’t esteemed now, we’re dangerous.”
  • The Troubled History of the Foreskin – “Circumcision has been practised for millennia. Right now, in America, it is so common that foreskins are somewhat rare, and may become more so. A few weeks before the protests, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had suggested that healthcare professionals talk to men and parents about the benefits of the procedure, which include protection from some sexually transmitted diseases, and the risks, which the CDC describes as low. But as the protesters wanted drivers to know, there is no medical consensus on this issue. Circumcision isn’t advised for health reasons in Europe, for instance, because the benefits remain unclear. Meanwhile, Western organisations are paying for the circumcision of millions of African men in an attempt to rein in HIV – a campaign that critics say is also based on questionable evidence.” Surprisingly, this article is not NSFW unless you shouldn’t be reading about foreskins at work.
  • Are Mycotoxins The New Gluten? – “Goodbye gluten, hello mycotoxin. The mold byproduct hiding in everything from dog food to coffee is poised to become the next health buzzword.” Gotta stay on top of the trends, you know!
  • Internet Memes And ‘The Right To Be Forgotten’ – “For those who did not grow up in an era where everything got recorded, it’s hard to imagine the mortification of having our silliest teenage moments live on forever, beyond a photograph stowed away in mom’s garage.”
  • Bet You Didn’t Know About the Earth’s “Second Moon” – “The Moon isn’t alone in the sky. Sure, we’ve launched hundreds of man-made objects into the space around Earth, but even before we got there, Earth and the Moon had a little companion. This tiny, rocky world is named 3753 Cruithne, which comes from Old Irish and refers to the early Irish people and their king, Cruidne. You can forgive your parents and your grade-school teachers for not mentioning it though: The object was only discovered in 1986 and its orbit mapped in 1997.”

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Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. Is the problem with trusting doctors (in part) the fact that it is so hard to see one?

    Here’s what I mean: leaving aside the people who say “I saw on the Internet that carrots make you grow an extra head” or “shampoo gives you scalp cancer” (I remember that one in particular)…

    Going to a doc is a pain. You can’t get time off work, or your health plan has a big deductible for a specialist, or worse yet you need two appointments because your plan requires referrals for stuff you KNOW who to go to already (for my sprained ankle I need an orthopedist, I can figure out that a gastroenterologist is probably the wrong one).

    So we are all left with quick lookups on Google, because we need to do something NOW and waiting 10 hours to see someone for what might be a minor problem is not an option. You’re left in the position of being forced to trust Google or WebMD or whomever on the ‘net because getting a simple answer from a doc in a way that is sort of timely is well nigh impossible.

    There are lots of reasons for this, and some of it is the economics of health care as practiced in the US. (The phenomenon of not trusting doctors seems to be something that positively correlates with a lack of easy access, but I haven’t got numbers to back that up). Doctors for all kinds of reasons are forced to take on hundreds of patients to make a living, and the primary care physician who can take care of the routine stuff is rapidly becoming an endangered species, at least from an economic perspective.

    Either way, I’m positing that it’s a combination of the scare stories we hear, the very real breaches of trust from the medical profession, and on top of that, just not being able to get to a doctor who can help on the same day without visiting an ER. When you can get someone to help you out easily and quickly, your perception is, I suspect, much different than when getting to see the person who is ostensibly interested in your health is difficult at best. (The death of house calls is a big factor I bet — it is much easier to trust the person who cared enough to come over than the one at the office).

    1. Not to mention that there simply aren’t enough doctors, which means it takes more time. And you might even feel guilty about it, because other people might be in worse shape than you.

      Back in the pre-ACA days (and still a problem in states that nullify the ACA), there was the ‘treat and street’ phenomenon: If you didn’t have insurance, they’d treat you, but it’d be more “Take this drug, now leave so I can treat someone with insurance.” (This wasn’t just callousness: Hospitals have to make ends meet, and with so many uninsured Americans, treat and street was…better than nothing.)

  2. Well, I don’t trust doctors because I am an overweight woman and doctors refuse to treat any of the issues I come in with.

    This didn’t used to be true. I used to be depressed and anorexic. My health problems that brought me to the doctor were usually an ear ache or a bad cough. But now, as a well adjusted adult who has endometriosis, so immune system is terrible. I get sick more often than the average person. I also happen to be kinda chunky. I find going to the doctor incredibly stressful and I really have no reason to trust doctors because they don’t trust me :/

  3. Can’t believe you mentioned circumcision and the comments haven’t erupted like a beehive poked with a stick. That article was probably the best, most complete thing I’ve ever read on the subject. There’s very little I could add to it. And not just because I largely agree with its conclusion. I think it would be very informative to anyone on either side of the debate who took the time to read it all.

  4. Funnily enough, most men in sub-Saharan Africa are circumcised, either because it’s traditional (such as the Xhosa or Masai or Yoruba or Lemba) or because they’re Muslim (such as about half of Nigerians), so I’m not quite sure what they hope to accomplish by encouraging circumcision in sub-Saharan Africa; you might as well focus a circumcision campaign on Israel for similar results.

    It’s missing the part where Morris’ webpage falsely claims American Indians practiced circumcision. (Which is hilarious, since the anthropologist Aleš Hrdli?ka put rest to that myth a century ago.) Or the part where he links to just-north-of-legal child porn.

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