Medical Notes 18-49


Medical Notes this week…

Skin cancer death rates around the world have skyrocketed over the last 30 years… and almost all of the increase is among men. A study presented to the World Congress of Cancers of the Skin shows that among the world’s 18 richest nations, men’s skin cancer deaths have risen by at least 50 percent in eight of them. Among women, the increase is much more modest and in some countries, women’s skin cancer deaths are in decline. Researchers say it appears that men are much less likely to protect themselves against the sun.

People with autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, systemic lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis have a higher heart attack risk than others… and now doctors believe they’ve found one reason. A study in the journal Cell Metabolism finds that the culprit is an overabundance of an immune molecule called IL-17. Researchers say the molecule prompts the walls of the blood vessels to store too much collagen… trapping cholesterol and making the blood vessels stiff. A number of drugs which target the immune molecule are already on the market.

And finally… if you’ve ever been to the emergency room in a lot of pain, you’ve probably had to choose your pain level based on the “smiley face” scale. But now doctors are working on a more objective measure of pain. A study presented to the Society for Neuroscience shows that using scalp electrodes and an EEG to measure specific brain waves is much more accurate, and could help people to more quickly get the pain medication they need.

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18-24 Segment 2: Living Through Excruciating Pain

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On October 1, 2003, Dr. Christina Crosby’s life was changed by a bicycle accident. She was paralyzed and had to learn to re-navigate her life as a quadriplegic. As a Professor of English and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University and author of A Body, Undone: Living On After Great Pain, her life now may be considered a heroic triumph by some. But, Crosby says many don’t understand what it’s like to live with continuous pain. She explains more about her experiences and thoughts on living in agony.

Crosby describes the sensation she feels in her body as a continuous buzz of neurological pain. While she can feel physical touch, her body is still paralyzed, which is frustrating, to say the least. Crosby’s experiences are paralleled by those of millions of Americans in chronic pain, whether from an accident like Crosby’s or something as common as arthritis. Crosby points to one particular frustration in her life, found in the doctor’s office: the 1-10 pain scale. Feeling and pain can’t be quantified, she says, and require more comprehensive language to accurately address the subjectivity.

A life in pain not only involves constant frustration and suffering but also can alienate the individual from their loved ones and society. Because of  pain’s invisibility and resistance to easy description, it gets in the way of many experiences and relationships. Furthermore, Crosby explains the struggle with loss, as the individual frequently grieves what they used to be. The desire to not forget has to be balanced with the need to move forward, Crosby says. There is still life while in pain, but it requires patience and understanding from the one suffering and those around them.

For more information about living in pain or about Crosby’s book, visit the links below.

Guest:

  • Dr. Christina Crosby, Professor of English and Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University and author of A Body, Undone: Living On After Great Pain

Links for more information:

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Coming Up On Radio Health Journal Show 17-22

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Alternatives to Opioids for Pain: Americans consume 80 percent of the opioid painkillers prescribed worldwide, ultimately resulting in the deaths of more than 20,000 Americans each year of overdoses of these drugs. The crisis is making doctors look at alternative medicine therapies for a substitute for these drugs. Experts discuss modalities that have shown success.

Giggling Epilepsy: Epilepsy can show itself in many ways, including as episodes of giggling and laughing. An expert discusses the case of a nine-year old boy with such seizures, the danger they posed, and the novel way he was treated.

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Subscribe and review on iTunes!

16-25 Segment 2: Living Through Pain

man having a neck pain against a white background

 

Pain is an often misunderstood reality for millions of people. A noted university professor who became a quadriplegic in a bicycle accident discusses her constant pain and the way it changes life.

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Subscribe and review on iTunes!

Click here for guest information and the transcript