Smoking Out Users

By Scott LaFee

November 6, 2019 5 min read

A large national survey, taken from 2016 to 2017 and published in JAMA, reports that people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, arthritis, cancer or depression are more likely to say they use marijuana than people without such illnesses.

The numbers skew young, with one-quarter of people ages 18 to 34 reporting current marijuana use but only 2.4% of people 65 and older.

Cancer Counts

More people are getting cancer, but fewer are dying from it. An international study across 197 countries reported there were nearly 25 million cancer cases in 2017, of which 10 million resulted in deaths.

Between 2007 and 2017, cancer incidence rates rose in 123 countries; death rates declined in 145 countries. The most common cancer type in men and women in 2017 was non-melanoma skin cancer. Men died most often from respiratory cancers, while breast cancer was the deadliest among women.

Body of Knowledge

Vomeronasal organs are located inside the nose and are responsible for detecting subtle airborne pheromones from the opposite sex. In modern humans, they don't appear to have much of a role, even lacking nerves connecting them to the brain.

Get Me That, Stat!

Although fewer pregnant women and newborns are dying prematurely around the world, the number who do is still staggering: 2.8 million every year, according to the World Health Organization. Most deaths occur in low-income settings and, according to experts, are preventable.

Mark Your Calendar

November is American Diabetes Month, which seems appropriate given that an estimated 30 million Americans have diabetes, though one-third may be undiagnosed and unaware of their condition. November is also awareness month for diabetic eye disease, healthy skin, lung and stomach cancers and — don't forget — Alzheimer's disease.


1 in 20: Estimated number of Canadian youths (age 10-24) who are hospitalized every day for substance abuse

100,000: Estimated number of persons in U.S. who experience their first episode of psychosis each year

Source: Canadian Institute for Health Information; National Institute for Mental Health

Doc Talk

Chalazion: A slowly developing lump that forms due to blockage and swelling of an oil gland in the eyelid. Unlike styes, chalazions are generally not due to infection and are typically painless.

Phobia of the Week

Barophobia: Fear of gravity (a real downer)

Never Say 'Diet'

The Major League Eating record for "ultimate eating" is Juliet Lee, who consumed seven chicken wings, one pound of nachos, three hot dogs, two personal pizzas and three Italian ices in 7 minutes, 13 seconds. Lee was the 17th-ranked competitive eater in the world when she died Sept. 9, 2019, at the age of 54. Cause of death: Unknown. She weighed 100 pounds.


"The fear of old age disturbs us, yet we are not certain of becoming old." — French philosopher Jean de la Bruyere (1645-1696), who died at age 50

Medical History

This week in 1846, the first U.S. patent for an artificial leg was granted to Benjamin F. Palmer of New Hampshire (No. 4,834). The leg had a pliable joint that worked noiselessly and preserved its contour in all positions, with no exterior openings and internal tendons of gut and springs to provide more elasticity, strength, durability and freedom of motion than previously available.

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 2005, the Ig Nobel Prize in nutrition went to Yoshiro Nakamatsu for photographing and retrospectively analyzing every meal he had consumed over a period of 34 years. (At the time of the award, he was still doing so.) Also known as Dr. NakaMats, he was a prolific inventor, patent holder and purported creator of, among other things, a kind of floppy disk, a toilet seat lifter and a "wig for self-defense."

Last Words

"I go from a corruptible to an uncorruptible crown, where no disturbance can be, no disturbance in the world." — King Charles I of England (1600-1649)

Those words were, in fact, from a last lengthy speech just before his execution. His last actual words were to the ax-wielding executioner and concerned the execution of his execution: "You must set it fast. It might have been a little higher. When I put out my hands this way. Stay for the sign."

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: RyanMcGuire at Pixabay

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