Livin' on the MDedge

Dr. Google, potty pot, Snoopy smells cancer


Paging Dr. Google

When something hurts, itches, or burns, to whom do you turn? Not Mom or your physician – we all turn first to Google.

Japanese business woman kokoroyuki/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Apparently, sharing symptoms with our omniscient virtual overlords is a national pastime. A recent survey found that nearly 90% of people googled their health symptoms well before going to a doctor. Maybe that’s why we keep getting targeted ads for itchy foot cream?

The survey team constructed a map that broke down the most-googled symptoms for each state. While many states’ highest search were related to cold and flu, some places had more intriguing googles.

Californians have issues with sweaty palms, and New Jerseyans are concerned about their lucid dreaming. Wisconsin seems to have an epidemic of “light-colored poop” (must be all the cheese), while South Carolina has the opposite problem – their most googled symptom is “dark green stool.”

Idaho’s biggest health concern was “symptoms of E. coli”; so, if you’re visiting the Gem State, maybe bring your own food.

Find your state here!

Smartphone skull spikes

Ever felt a little down because you’re just a regular Homo sapiens? Thanks to smartphones, you might be the next step on the evolutionary chain!

Cattle skull Dizzo/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Humans have started developing external occipital protuberances – actual spikes – at the base of their skull. Spikes on your skull? How metal is that?

The spike was first observed in 1885. But there has been a rapid increase in the appearance of them, and researchers believe it’s because of smartphones.

Before you start panicking, know that the skull spike is not caused by toxic radiation from your phone. David Shahar’s team from the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia studied thousands of x-rays. They believe that the skull spikes develop because of the constant hunched-neck position we all take as we pore over our devices for hours a day. The spike is most common in younger people – 1 in 4 people aged 18-30 years had it. This calls for a LOT more yoga.

The nose knows cancer

Just when you thought man’s best friend couldn’t get any better, they go and learn how to smell cancer.

Beagle head isolated on a white background igorr1/iStock/Getty Images Plus

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, researchers trained a group of beagles – noted for their superior sense of smell – to sniff out differences in blood samples from healthy patients and those with lung cancer. Snoopy and friends correctly identified the cancerous samples 97% of the time and are now learning how to identify lung, breast, and colorectal cancer using breath samples.

The researchers argued that their findings could pave the way for an over-the-counter test, similar to that used for pregnancy – but where the patient breathes into a device, and it tells them whether they’re positive for cancer or not. However, we suspect the researchers just want to give everyone a dog. There are worse ideas.

And that’s not even the only bit of olfactory-related cancer news we’ve got this week. We’re moving from lung cancer to brain tumors, as a group of researchers at Tampere University in Finland have developed an artificial nose to literally sniff out malignant tissue during surgery.

Electrosurgical resection is common during brain operations, and this process gives off smoke. The nose can detect differences in the smoke from malignant tissue and healthy tissue, allowing the surgeons to more precisely remove tumors from the brain.

No word yet as to whether the surgeons actually have to wear the nose on top of their own, but we can only hope.


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