Baseball Is Life

By Scott LaFee

September 4, 2019 6 min read

A new study finds that major league baseball players tend to fare better, healthwise, than the general population. Researchers looked at nearly 10,500 players from 1906 to 2006 and found that compared to the male population in general, they had significantly lower rates of death.

A longer baseball career equated with lower rates of death from overall causes but was associated with higher rates of cancer deaths. (Chewing tobacco?)

Other studies have found that professional baseball players tend to have better health outcomes than professional football players, possibly because the latter typically weigh more and get hit a lot, especially in the head.

Body of Knowledge

Other primates, such as the great apes, have flat nasal openings, which are much more effective at inhaling air than the protruding human version. Some researchers have suggested that people evolved noses that poke out as a byproduct of our big, expanding brain. The growing cerebellum forced human faces to become smaller, which likely impacted the nose as well.

Get Me That, Stat!

For every 10% increase in gun ownership, there's a 13% increase in domestic homicide (the death of an intimate partner or other family member) using a firearm, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Mark Your Calendar

There's a lot to be aware of this month. September is awareness month for childhood cancers and obesity, atrial fibrillation, food safety, sickle cell, sepsis, Alzheimer's disease and pediculosis prevention. That last item refers to head lice, which makes sense because most kids are returning to school and, well, heaven knows what.


620: Percentage growth of telehealth (consulting a doctor over the phone) between 2014 and 2018. The service was most used by female patients and those ages 31 to 40.

Source: FairHealth

Doc Talk

Fasciculation: Those moments when localized muscle fibers beneath your skin involuntarily twitch. It's caused by spontaneous depolarization of a lower motor neuron leading to the synchronous contraction of all the skeletal muscle fibers within a single motor unit, but that's probably more than you need or want to know.

Mania of the Week

Onychotillomania: Obsessive picking at the fingernails

Best Medicine

An old man went to the doctor complaining of a terrible pain in his leg.

"I am afraid it's just old age. There's nothing we can do," the doctor said.

"That can't be!" cried the old man. "You don't know what you're doing."

"Why do you say that? How can you possibly know I'm wrong?" countered the doctor.

"Well, it's quite obvious," the old man replied. "My other leg is fine, and it's the exact same age!"


"I'm 59, and people call me middle-aged. How many 118-year-old men do you know?" — English writer Barry Cryer, who made the comment in 1995. He's now 84.

Medical History

This week in 1891, the first operation to suture the pericardium (the membrane enclosing the heart muscle) took place at City Hospital in St. Louis. Henry C. Dalton, professor of abdominal and clinical surgery at the Marion Sims College of Medicine, repaired a 2-inch gash in the pericardium of James Cornish, a 22-year-old man who had suffered a stab wound in a fight. The operation was unprecedented because it involved opening the chest cavity at a time when contemporary medical opinion disapproved of surgical treatment of heart wounds.

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 2014, the Ig Nobel Prize in public health went to a team of researchers from Japan, the United States, India and the Czech Republic for investigating whether it is mentally hazardous for a human being to own a cat (assuming a cat would deign to be owned).

Actually, the researchers were looking at the relationship between cat bites and human depression. They examined the electronic health records of 1.3 million patients, of which 750 were treated for cat bites, 1,108 for dog bites and 117,000 for depression. Depression was found in 41.3% of patients with cat bites and 28.7% of those with dog bites.

The researchers said there was no known causative link to explain these associations but vowed to continue their work, doggedly.

Medical Myths

Each year, nearly half a million persons in the U.S. undergo surgery to repair knee cartilage that has torn, often because of osteoarthritis. The tear is painful, and many patients assume that if it is not surgically treated, the pain will linger.

But in a study, when patients with a torn meniscus and moderate arthritis were randomly given either surgery or six months of physical therapy, both groups improved — and to the same extent.

Curtain Calls

American stunt performer Bobby Leach died in 1926 after a botched amputation of an infected leg, which he had broken slipping on an orange peel.

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: skeeze at Pixabay

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