Strangers in a Strained Land

By Scott LaFee

April 6, 2016 6 min read

To paraphrase Tom Petty's song, you don't want to live like a refugee. Aside from the obvious and incredible hardships of, say, not having safe or consistent food and shelter, there's the mental toll of an uncertain future.

A study of 1.3 million Swedish residents found that schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis affect 4 in 10,000 Swedish-born residents. Among refugees in the country, the number was three times as high.

The study doesn't prove cause and effect, but researchers suggest that the trauma of being a refugee is a factor. "Our findings support the possibility that exposure to psychosocial adversity increases the risk of psychosis," psychologist Anna-Clara Hollander of the Karolinska Institutet told STAT. "Clinicians and health service planners should be aware of early signs of psychosis in vulnerable migrant populations."

Call Waiting

The human papillomavirus vaccine quite effectively protects against nine strains of sexually transmitted virus that can lead to some cancers, but full dosage requires three injections at different times. Sometimes that means children or teens don't return for all three shots.

A study of 65 parents whose daughters got at least one of the shots found that the failure to follow up may be due to a failure to communicate. Sixty-five percent of the parents said they thought their child's doctor's office would contact them about second and third doses. When that didn't happen, the full vaccine didn't happen either.

Body of Knowledge

Your eye has the resolution of a 576-megapixel camera. The camera on the iPhone 6, by comparison, is 8 megapixels.

Get me That, Stat!

One in four deaths worldwide is due to people living or working in an unhealthy environment, according to the World Health Organization. Air, water and soil pollution and chemical exposure resulted in 12.6 million deaths in 2012.

Life in Big Macs

One hour of digging ditches burns 578 calories (based on a 150-pound person) or the equivalent of 0.8 Big Macs.


2,819: Estimated number of E. coli infection cases prevented between 1996 and 2009 by PulseNet, a reporting system operated by the CDC that keeps track of foodborne illness outbreaks

16,994: Estimated number of prevented Salmonella cases

37 million: Estimated savings, in dollars, for public health agencies due to the prevented cases

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Mania of the Week

Onychotillomania: compulsive picking at the fingernails

Best Medicine

The mother of a teenager called his doctor, fearing he was ill.

"My son must have a fever," she said. "He hasn't taken his motorcycle out all day."

"Do you have a thermometer," asked the doctor.

"No," she said. "A Kawasaki."

Hypochondriac's Guide

Cold urticaria is an allergic reaction to cold, resulting in hives or large, itchy red welts on skin exposed to a cold stimulus, such as an ice cube. The condition is usually temporary, but can become chronic. It can be inherited or acquired, most often occurring between the ages of 18 and 25. Some antihistamines help treat the condition, but the usual therapy is simply to stay warm.

Medical History

This week in 1932, after five years of painstaking research that involved the sacrifice of literally thousands of lemons, C. Glen King, a professor at University of Pittsburgh isolated, identified and synthesized a crystalline substance called vitamin C. The discovery made it possible to develop new, easier methods to prevent scurvy and other diseases involving vitamin C deficiency.


Q: On average, how often should a person urinate each day?

a) 3-5 times

b) 6-8 times

c) 9-10 times

d) As often as needed.

Answer: d) obviously works for everybody, but b) is also correct. Most adults urinate roughly once every two to four hours when awake, for a total of six to eight times every 24 hours. Frequency, though, depends on a lot of factors: amount of fluid consumed, body size, hydration level, fluid losses from exercise or other activities, medical conditions and medications.

Translational Meds

Ella, or ulipristal, is an emergency contraceptive taken after having sex without birth control or when a birth control method has failed. It is not used as a regular form of birth control. Its active ingredient — a synthetic hormonal steroid called ulipristal acetate, stops or delays release of an egg from an ovary. It also can make it harder for a fertilized egg to attach to the uterus. It should not be used to terminate an existing pregnancy.

Med School

Q: How much does all of the bacteria in a healthy human body collectively weigh?

A: 4 pounds

Curtain Calls

In 1986, a Brink's armored truck guard named Hrand Arakelian was fatally injured by several 25-pound boxes of quarters that fell on him after the vehicle's driver suddenly braked.

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

Photo credit: Ajay Suresh

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