Paste Not

By Scott LaFee

March 27, 2019 6 min read

The Centers for Disease Control estimates nearly 40 percent of U.S. kids ages 3 to 6 are spreading too much toothpaste on their toothbrushes. The advised amount is roughly a pea-sized blob to avoid swallowing too much fluoride.

Small, unintentional ingestions of fluoride may cause stomach upset, though toothpaste concentrations are quite low, just enough to do the job of remineralizing and repairing tooth enamel. In large amounts, however, fluoride can result in serious toxicity.

The CDC also found that nearly 80 percent of parents with babies aren't brushing their baby's teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts, which the CDC recommends.


Television commercials for drugs are neither rare nor novel. Usually, they involve depictions of active, handsome people who don't look at all sick, depressed or in need of the latest pharmaceutical. In coming months, however, ads by Johnson & Johnson might warrant a second glance. The giant drugmaker says it intends to start listing its products' prices, i.e., what a person might pay out of pocket for an advertised drug.

It would be the first North American drug manufacturer to do so.

Get Me That, Stat!

Obesity and cancer is not a good mix. Researchers recently compared data from 25 states on cancers diagnosed between 1995 and 2014 and then looked at cancers associated with obesity, such as multiple myeloma and thyroid and kidney cancers. They found that those cancer rates are rising — just like obesity rates — with the rates fastest among adults ages 25 to 49. (However, the cancers are still much more common among adults ages 50 to 84.)


89: Percentage of persons surveyed who used at least one digital health tool, such as a website or wearable device, in 2018, up from 80 percent in 2015

Source: Rock Health

Mania of the Week

Epomania: An intense, crazy desire to write epics (I could go on ...)

Never Say "Diet"

The Major League speed-eating record for potato wedges is 3.74 pounds in 8 minutes, held by the aptly named Gravy Brown. Another case of "If at first you don't succeed, fry, fry again."

Best Medicine

Patient: "The doctor says I have acute appendicitis."

Visiting friend: "Compared to whose?"


"How do you tell the psychiatrists from the patients in the hospital? The patients get better and leave." — Author Lisa Scottoline, "Every Fifteen Minutes"

Medical History

This week in 1953, Jonas Salk announced his new vaccine to immunize people against polio.

Perishable Publications

Many, if not most, published research papers have titles that defy comprehension. They use specialized jargon, needlessly complex words and opaque phrases like "nonlinear dynamics." Sometimes they don't, and they're still hard to figure out. Here's an actual title of actual published research:

"Chickens prefer beautiful humans" by Stefano Ghirlanda et al. Human Nature, 2002.

Ghirlanda and colleagues at Stockholm University trained chickens to react to average human male or female faces and then exposed them to series of faces to assess their variable reactions. They determined the chickens preferred faces that were consistent with human sexual preferences, such as large eyes and lips, straight teeth, etc. They concluded that human preferences arise from general properties of nervous systems rather than face-specific adaptations.


True or false: There are "true" ribs and "false" ribs.

A: True. The human body contains 12 pairs of ribs. The first seven sets of ribs are considered "true" ribs because they directly attach at the front of the body to the sternum or breastbone. The next three sets of ribs are considered "false" because they are not directly attached to the sternum but rather connected by costal cartilage. The 11th and 12th ribs are considered "floating"; they don't attach to the sternum at all.

Fit to Be Tried

There are thousands of exercises, and you've only got one body, but that doesn't mean you can't try them all.

Your gluteal muscles are comprised of three muscles (maximus, medius and minimus) that make up the buttocks. They're important for a lot of different kinds of movement, mostly involving the hips and knees. Glute bridges are a simple way to work out the entire posterior chain.

Lie face-up with knees bent, feet flat on the floor and arms straight at your sides with your palms facing down. Pushing through your knees, raise your hips by squeezing the glutes, core muscles and hamstrings. Your upper back and shoulders should remain on the floor while your knees-hips-chest form a straight diagonal line. Pause for a second and then return to starting position.

Do two or three sets of 10 to 12 reps.

Curtain Calls

Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, whose artifacts and treasures include the famous buried terracotta army, died after ingesting several pills of mercury, which he believed would grant him eternal life. He was misinformed.

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

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