Livin' on the MDedge

The dementia height advantage, and ‘human textile’


Soylent stitches are people!

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Ask anyone in advertising and they’ll tell you that branding is everything. Now, there may be a bit of self-promotion involved there. But you can’t deny that naming your product appropriately is important, and we’re going to say with some degree of confidence that “human textile” is not the greatest name in the world.

Now, we don’t want to question the team of French researchers too much. After all, according to their research published in Acta Biomaterialia, they’ve come up with quite the nifty and potentially lifesaving innovation: stitches made from human skin.

By taking sheets of human skin cells (eww) and cutting them into strips, the researchers were able to weave the strips into a sort of yarn, the advantages of which should be obvious. Patients can say goodbye to pesky issues of compatibility and adverse immune response when doctors and surgeons can stitch wounds, sew pouches, and create tubes and valves with yarn crafted from themselves.

We just can’t get past the name they chose. Human textile. The process of making them is gruesome enough already. No need to call to mind some horrific dystopian future in which cotton can no longer grow and we have to recycle humans (alive or dead, depending on how grim you’re feeling) in big industrial textile mills to craft clothing for ourselves.

It’s just too bad Charlton Heston is dead; he’d have made a great spokesperson.

Towering over dementia

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Let us take a moment to pity the plight of the shorter brother. Always losing the battle of the boards in fraternal driveway basketball games. Never reaching the Pop-Tarts cruelly stashed high in the pantry by one’s taller, greedier sibling. Always being addressed during family dinners as “Frodo.”

And new research findings add to the burden borne by altitude-impaired brothers everywhere: Being the short one may boost your risk of dementia.

Danish researchers at the University of Copenhagen examined the potential role that height in young adulthood plays later in dementia risk. The planet’s taller-brother Danes (the world’s third-tallest nation) analyzed data from more than 666,000 Danish men, including more than 70,000 brothers.

They found that, for every 6 cm of height in those above average height, the risk of dementia dropped 10%. And that inverse relationship between height and dementia risk held even in the shared environments of families: Being the taller brother delivered relatively more dementia protection. Even being smarter, better educated, and savvier at playing point guard didn’t erase shorter brothers’ dementia/height disadvantage.

Before you take solace in a Coors stubby, littler brothers, let’s remember the advantages shorter siblings still enjoy: Never being called “Ichabod.” Walking tall in low-ceilinged parking garages. Fitting comfortably into 911s and F-18s alike. Draining threes from anywhere in the driveway.

Oh, and clearly being Mom’s favorite.

Swinging for longevity

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They say that laughter is the best medicine, but we always assumed that it applied to the people doing the laughing.

That may not be the case, according to a report presented at the American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference in Dallas.

It may be even better to get laughed at, and Adnan Qureshi, MD, of the University of Missouri, Columbia, and associates have data from the Cardiovascular Health Study of adults aged 65 years and older to prove it.

It’s all about the golf. The 384 golfers among the almost 5,900 participants had a death rate of 15.1% over the 10-year follow-up.

As for the nongolfers – the ones who make fun of golfers’ clothes and say that golf is boring, who joke about riding around in carts and hanging around with old people, who laugh because the lowest score wins, who say it’s easy to hit a little white ball that’s not even moving, who think an albatross is just a bird ... um, we seem to have gotten a bit off topic here.

Anyway, the death rate for the nongolfers in the study was a significantly higher 24.6%. So, suck on that, nongolfers, because it looks like the golfers will be having the last laugh. In plaid pants.

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