In other health-related news, glue may be the latest thing for eye injuries and spending on prescription drugs grew only incrementally in 2017.

SCOTT LAFEEThe United Health Foundation has come out with its latest annual report assessing the national state of health.

It's the usual mixed bag. Based on multiple factors, including vaccination rates, air pollution levels and health insurance coverage, Massachusetts was deemed the nation's healthiest state, followed by Hawaii, Vermont, Utah and Connecticut. At the other end of the spectrum, Mississippi was No. 50 with Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama and West Virginia filling out the bottom five. Oregon finished at No. 20.

Here's looking at glue

Scientists at the University of Southern California have created a glue that's activated by body heat to seal eye injuries. The polymer glue temporarily seals wounds, solidifying with body heat. It can be repositioned or removed with a bit of cold water. There are millions of eye injuries each year, and many require quick action to prevent vision loss. The glue could be a fast, interim step before any necessary surgery to permanently repair an injury.

Body of knowledge

The growth rate of hair is genetically determined, and varies by individual. However, assorted studies suggest that hair overall tends to grow faster during summer months, possibly due to hormones released more abundantly in warmer temperatures. On the negative side, hair also tends to be shed more frequently and in greater numbers when it gets hot.

Get me that. Stat!

Spending on prescription drugs grew just 1.3 percent in 2016, a sharp drop from 12.4 percent growth in 2015. A big reason for the drop: Less money spent on drugs used to treat hepatitis C. (Though very effective, some of the new drugs are very expensive. A three-month course of treatment can easily cost $70,000 to $100,000.)

Life in Big Macs

One hour of light baking burns 170 calories (based on a 150-pound person) or the equivalent of 0.2 Big Macs. Don't think you can sample your work with impunity: A medium blueberry muffin contains 426 calories.

Stories for the waiting room

The Food and Drug Administration has issued warnings to the makers of Coco Loko, a "snortable" chocolate powder, noting that it contains substances — guarana and taurine — that haven't been studied for inhalation through the nose.

The more obvious question is why anyone would want to consume chocolate this way at all. Purveyors say it provides a temporary "buzz" and reduces anxiety, but doesn't a nice bonbon do the same thing?

Doc talk

Dance: The act of tying a surgical gown behind the surgeon's back, involving a 180-degree spin by the surgeon. As in, "Shall we dance?"

Phobia of the week

Syngenesophobia: fear of relatives (Presumably by now, they've mostly returned home.)

Never say diet

The Major League Eating record for Twinkies is 121 in 6 minutes, held by Joey Chestnut. Unlike the foodstuff (apt description here), this record isn't likely to last forever.

Best medicine

A young man called his mother in Florida: "Mom, how are you?"

"Not too good," replied the mother. "I've been very weak."

"Why are you so weak?"

"Because I haven't eaten in 38 days," the mother answered.

"That's terrible," said the son. "Why haven't you eaten in 38 days?"

"Because I didn't want my mouth to be filled with food if you should call."


"Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again."

— Unknown

Medical history

This week in 1992, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations declared that hospitals without no-smoking indoors policies risked losing accreditation, putting their Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements in jeopardy. It was the first U.S. industrywide ban on smoking in the workplace.


Q: How many organs are there in the human body, and how many are considered "vital?"

A: It's widely believed that there are 79 organs, though there is some debate about what constitutes an "organ." Definitions vary. Five are considered vital and essential to survival: brain, heart, kidneys, liver and lungs.

Medical myths

There is no persuasive empirical evidence that babies get fevers when they teethe, which is almost invariably the immune response to an infection. If a baby is feverish and unresponsive to standard treatment, see a pediatrician immediately.

Last words

"Here am I, dying of a hundred good symptoms."

— English poet and writer Alexander Pope, (1688-1744)


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