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There’s a Little Zebra in All of Us

December 2, 2017

Nature has an interesting way of identifying animals in the wild. Lions have their manes, leopards have spots. Tigers and zebras have stripes. And apparently, so do people.

Blaschko Lines are common skin patterns that were first identified in 1901 by a German dermatologist named Alfred Blaschko. Over the course of years of examining thousands of patients, he often observed people who exhibited unusual patterns of stripes and swirls that encompassed their entire bodies. Some patterns were restricted to an arm or a leg. Other patients had stripes that ran from head to toe, beginning on their face, migrating to their chest and wrapping around their backs. He called them Blaschko Lines.

After a while, Blaschko noticed that virtually all of his patients that exhibited Blaschko Lines did so in very predictable manners. Looking like a pair of glasses that were painted on with ink, the lines began on the face, circling eyes and lips, then wrapping around the neck and the back of the head. They ran down both arms, legs and curved around his patients’ sides, much like tiger stripes. Interesting though, the lines never crossed the mid-section of his patients’ bodies. Instead, they met in artistic swirls, meandering in an “S” wave over the abdomen, an inverted “U” shape running from the breast to the upper arm, dipping down into a large “V,” before ending in the small of the back. After examining hundreds of patients with Blaschko Lines, he drew an initial, crude diagram of the patterns: read more

All Entries Appearance Health Life and Death Medicine

Is Your Gray Hair Increasing Your Risk for Heart Disease?

December 2, 2017

Unless you’ve been sequestered from television news and social media, you probably know that heart disease is the leading killer in the U.S., responsible for killing over 800,000 people a year. That’s more people than cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined. Over 92 million Americans are currently living with some form of cardiovascular disease, to the tune of $316 billion in health costs and loss of productivity.

Common risk factors for heart disease include:

  • Hypertension
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Family history
  • Gender
  • Age

The newest risk factor for heart disease is gray hair. Yes, you heard that right.

Before you go running for a box of “Just for Men,” it’s important to understand that it’s still early – researchers are only beginning to understand the relationship between gray hair and heart disease; more specifically, atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

One widely-accepted risk factor for heart disease is advancing age. Along with gender and family history, age is considered one of the non-modifiable risk factors. Almost from birth, coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood to the heart) begin to accumulate plaque, made up from cholesterol, fat, calcium and other material on the lining of the arteries. The result over time is a narrowing of the internal diameter and inflexibility of the artery walls. read more

All Entries Appearance Health Life and Death Medicine Technology Weight Control

Body Mass Index – Overweight or Overfat?

December 2, 2017

If you’ve recently visited your doctor, chances are he discussed a new term you’ve never heard of: body mass index, or BMI. But, what is BMI? And, how does it affect your health?

A Primer on Obesity

Muffin top. Love handles. Beer belly. Call it what you want. Most of us are familiar with the struggle of managing our weight. A 2007 survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that 63% of American men and women are overweight or obese. Weight loss has become a $20 billion industry, responsible for the South Beach Diet, Weight Watchers, the Atkins Diet, Nutrisystem and more.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease claims more than 610,000 deaths a year – that’s one-fourth of all annual deaths. While there’s nothing you can do about risk factors like advancing age and gender, other factors like living a sedentary lifestyle and obesity can be successfully managed and reduce your risk for heart disease.

As you gain weight, you put more stress on your heart in an effort to pump blood around to an ever-increasing body size, leading to hypertension. Weight gain is often associated with higher triglycerides, higher LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and lower HDL cholesterol (the good kind). Next, comes arthritis, joint pain, and the threat of stroke and diabetes. Eventually, you realize it’s time to make a change. read more

All Entries Appearance Fashion History Humor The Arts

Footnotes – Interesting Facts About Shoes and Who Wears Them

April 20, 2017

When you look down at your feet, do your shoes give away your birthplace, income level or your social status?  Do they tell the world what you do for a living, what your hobbies are or whether or not you’re married? Well, they used to.

You Are What You Wear

Shoes have been around in one form or another for thousands of years. Some of the earliest shoes were actually sandals worn by Egyptians and depicted the owner’s pecking order in society. Peasants tended to wear “comfortable” sandals made from woven papyrus with a flat sole that were lashed to their ankles with reeds. More affluent citizens could be identified by sandals with pointed toes – especially if they were colored red or yellow. If you were a slave, chances are you went without shoes altogether.

When Moses climbed Mount Sinai to chat with God, the big guy obviously wasn’t impressed by his footwear. Instead, he commanded Moses to “Put off thy shoes, for the ground whereon thou standest is holy.” Discarding one’s shoes was and continues to be in many societies a demonstration of humility and piety. But, for the rest of us, shoes continue to speak volumes about who we are, how much money we make and what we do for a living. Many Greek aristocrats owned so many pairs of shoes that they hired slaves to carry them when they traveled. read more

All Entries Appearance Health Home Life Humor Medicine

You Think You Have it Bad?

April 20, 2017

If you’re one of those people who wake up in the morning complaining about “not feeling yourself” or are constantly hunting down new pimples and fighting back the hair in your ears, you could have bigger problems.

Here are six syndromes and disorders documented in the medical literature of unusual maladies that have made the news but possibly missed your attention. While none of them are considered life-threatening disorders, they do represent some of the nasty tricks the body plays on us.

Who is That in the Mirror?

Take the case of Robert (not his real name) who was recently diagnosed with Capgras Syndrome, a rare psychological disorder that makes the sufferer suspicious of their own reflection in the mirror – or anyone else’s.

Capgras victims have difficulty making physical and emotional connections with the people, places and things that they see, even if they’ve been a part of their lives for years. They’ll see their reflections in a mirror or other shiny surfaces and wonder who the stranger is that’s peering back at them. read more

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