Where's to Your Health

By Scott LaFee

April 18, 2018 6 min read

According to a new ranking by U.S. News & World Report and the Aetna Foundation, the healthiest community in the country is Falls Church, Virginia, based on categories such as education, infrastructure and population health, which takes into account access to care, mental health and health outcomes.

The survey ranked 3,000 communities and regions. In second and third place are Douglas and Broomfield counties, respectively, both in Colorado, followed by Los Alamos County, New Mexico, and Dukes County, Massachusetts. Of the top 10 places, four are in Colorado, and three are in Virginia.

I'm So Hover This

Hoverboards are those two-wheeled skateboard-like battery-powered personal transportation conveyances. They have been around for a few years but were initially popularized and inspired by the "Back to the Future" film series.

They look fun to use — as long as you know what you're doing. A new study published in Pediatrics estimates that there have been almost 27,000 hoverboard-related emergency room injuries since the devices hit the market in 2015. That's a lot, though there have been far more skateboarding injuries during the same time frame: 121,400.

Tween and teen boys are likeliest to be hurt while riding a hoverboard. Fractures, contusions and sprains have been the most common injuries. And though there have been a rash of reports of hoverboards spontaneously catching fire, researchers found no injuries related to that.

Body of Knowledge

True black eyes are not known in humans. Human eye color is a complex trait. Different amounts of different pigments color the eye, from very light blue to very dark brown.

Stories for the Waiting Room

The oldest known prosthetic device is a wood and leather artificial toe attached to a 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy found in a tomb near the city of Luxor in 1997. The toe had been repeatedly refitted for its female owner, a priest's daughter, indicating that she had it tweaked for comfort.

Phobia of the Week

Anthophobia: fear of flowers.

Number Cruncher

Order a Burger King Double Whopper with small fries (but hold the mayo; we're trying to be healthy here) and you get 1,140 calories, 567 from fat. The order has 63 grams of total fat, or 97 percent of the recommended total fat intake for a 2,000-calorie daily diet.

It also contains 170 milligrams of cholesterol (57 percent), 1,790 milligrams of sodium (75 percent), 82 grams of total carbohydrates (27 percent), 6 grams of dietary fiber (24 percent), 11 grams of sugar and 60 grams of protein.

Best Medicine

Patient: How much to have this tooth pulled?

Dentist: That would be $90.

Patient: That much for just a few minutes' work?

Dentist: I could do it more slowly if you'd like.


"I was under the care of a couple of medical students who couldn't diagnose a decapitulation." — Jeffrey Bernard

Medical History

This week in 1966, James M. Schlatter applied for a patent for peptide sweetening agents. His invention eventually led to the marketing of aspartame under the name NutraSweet. A few months earlier, Schlatter had accidentally discovered the first example of such compounds. To pick up a paper, he had licked his finger, tasting an unexpected sweet trace of a substance that had, he realized, earlier splashed onto the outside of a flask he had handled. It was L-aspartyl-L-phenylalanine methyl ester — the primary ingredient of aspartame.

Medical Myths

In an ocean of maritime myths, here's one: Sharks don't get cancer.

In fact, they do. The myth seems to have originated with an observation in the 1970s that cartilage prevents the growth of new blood vessels into tissues. The creation of a blood supply, called angiogenesis, is essential to the survival and thriving of tumors, so angiogenesis has become a common target for developing new cancer therapies.

At the same time, unrelated research was taking note that sharks seem to have relatively low rates of disease, especially cancer. Shark skeletons are composed entirely of cartilage and connective tissue. There is no bone. So some folks quickly drew conclusions, and a market for purported shark cartilage-based anti-cancer remedies was born.

There is no scientific evidence that shark cartilage is useful in treating or preventing cancer or other diseases. Shark deaths caused by cancer have been documented, though many more die to feed the pseudo-drug market.

Curtain Calls

Four skydiving Elvis impersonators were blown off course during a 1996 stunt in which they were supposed to land in the parking lot of a nightclub, which was celebrating its grand opening. One impersonator was killed. A Boston police spokesman was quoted as saying, "Elvis hit town. He just hit it a bit too hard."

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: at Pixabay

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