C-Sections: The Ultimate in Planned Parenthood

It’s a staple of movies and television sitcoms. Think Charlotte in Sex and the City. A hugely pregnant woman is going about her life—say enjoying a meal in a fancy restaurant, or taking a Yoga for Mommies class, or strolling the produce aisle looking for mangoes—when suddenly she clutches her belly, looks down at her feet, … Read more

Alzheimer’s: Would You Want to Know Your Risk?

Alzheimer’s disease is the downside—and looming threat—of rapidly improving longevity. Not surprisingly, aging is the single greatest risk factor for developing the disease. For the 65 and older population of the United States, the odds of having Alzheimer’s are 1 in 6.86. For those 85 and older in the US, the odds jump to 1 in 1.57 (63.7%). … Read more

The odds a person will be diagnosed with leprosy in a year

1 in 2,930,000 The odds a person will be diagnosed with leprosy in a year are 1 in 2,930,000 (US, 2007). Sources & Definitions SOURCE(S) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [Summary of notifiable diseases—United States, 2007]. Published July 9, 2009 for MMWR 2007;56(No. 53):[inclusive page numbers]. CALCULATION(S) BY BOOK OF ODDS BASED ON Population … Read more

The Costs of Food Poisoning

Dining at the venerable Harvard Faculty Club is a cherished tradition for many, including current and former faculty and alumni of the prestigious university. But this spring, over 300 people became ill with a norovirus,. The infection can be transmitted directly from person to person, but it is far more often spread through food which … Read more

The Relative Rarity of Tetanus

Few young baby boomers went tromping through the backyard without the parental warning, “Don’t step on a rusty nail. You’ll get lockjaw!” echoing behind them. There was a certain urgency in the warnings that today’s children just don’t hear from their parents. Lockjaw, or tetanus, a brutal bacterial infection, is now entirely preventable, thanks to … Read more

Hollywood’s Juicy Fruit, Starving on the Vine

Even a partial list of body image problems that a child may run up against can be petrifying—anorexia nervosa, bulimia, body dysmorphic disorder, severe calorie restriction, low self esteem, self harm. High fashion and Hollywood aren’t fully to blame for the prevalence of these problems—that would be a tough case to argue—but they certainly haven’t helped. Lindsay … Read more

Broken Heart Syndrome

It’s a timeworn theme, dying of a broken heart. The poet of the Psalms recognized that “by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken” (Psalms 15:13). In Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, a broken heart takes Enobarbus. In Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Yeomen of the Guard, it takes Jack Point. More recently (and non-fictionally), some imply it hastened … Read more

The Very High Odds of Hypertension

Just having our blood pressure tested can raise it. Hearts tend to speed up as the nurse squeezes the upper arm into a black cuff, tightened with Velcro, to measure how well our arteries are handling the 2,000 gallons of blood tumbling through each day. The reading will depend on the condition of the heart … Read more