Cold Comfort

By Scott LaFee

February 26, 2020 5 min read

New data culled from 677,000 temperatures taken and recorded from 1860 to the early 2000s suggests humans are getting colder. That is, our collective "healthy" temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit appears to be dropping.

The human body works hard to maintain a relatively stable internal temperature best suited to keeping its organs and chemical reactions running smoothly, and potentially harmful infections at bay.

Researchers say modern life, with its reduced exposure to pathogens and infectious diseases, has incrementally reduced the need to keep the body at a steady 98.6 F. And, as a result, humans as a species appear to be getting cooler.

Old Nematode

By tweaking a few key genes, scientists have extended the life span by roughly 500%. Unfortunately, it's the life span of the roundworm, which normally lives around three to four weeks but can survive for several months with genetic modification.

The idea, of course, is to extrapolate the research to humans, finding comparable genes in humans that will produce the same anti-aging result. And so the worm turns ...

Body of Knowledge

The oldest known case of impacted wisdom teeth comes from the skeleton of a 25- to 35-year-old woman who died 15,000 years ago, suggesting impacted teeth are not entirely a modern ailment caused by changes in our dietary habits.

Get Me That, Stat!

It's projected that by 2030, almost half of all Americans will be obese. The prevalence of obesity will be higher than 50% in 29 states in the next 10 years, and no state will have an obesity rate of less than 35%.

Oklahoma, Alabama and Arkansas are projected to have obesity rates of almost 60%; Hawaii, New York and Massachusetts will have the lowest rates, around 40%.

Counts

15: Percentage of people who experience a plunge in blood pressure at the sight of blood, i.e. they are vulnerable to fainting

Source: WebMD

Stories for the Waiting Room

Perhaps one of the magazines you're thumbing through while waiting for the doc to see you is U.S. News & World Report, which recently ranked its "100 Best Jobs," based on salary, unemployment rates, growth volume and future prospects.

Four of the top five were in health care fields: No. 2 dentist, No. 3 physician assistant, No. 4 orthodontist and No. 5 nurse practitioner. The top-rated job was software developer.

Mania of the Week

Morsusmania: an excessive or unbridled enthusiasm for biting (making morsels of us all?)

Observation

"We drink to one another's health and spoil our own" — English writer and humorist Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927)

Medical History

This week in 1984, a hospital in Long Beach, California, announced the birth of the world's first baby conceived by embryo transplant.

Ig Nobel Apprised

The Ig Nobel Prizes celebrate achievements that make people laugh and then think, a look at real science that's hard to take seriously and even harder to ignore.

In 2008, the Ig Nobel Prize in Nutrition went to Massimiliano Zampini and Charles Spence for electronically modifying the sound of a potato chip to convince people chewing the chip that it was crisper and fresher than it really was.

Self-Exam

Q: How many fat cells does the average person have?

A: It ranges quite a bit, but between 10 billion and 30 billion. Obese people can eventually have up to 100 billion fat cells. (You can add fat cells, but you can never get rid of them. Dieting or exercise simply change their size and structure.)

Curtain Calls

According to Diogenes Laertius, Chrysippus of Soli, a third-century Greek philosopher who lived around 206 B.C., died of laughter after he observed a donkey eating his figs. He told a slave to get the donkey some wine, began laughing uproariously at his own wit and then died. No word on whether the donkey got the wine or the joke.

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: Movidagrafica at Pixabay

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