With a Grain of Salt

By Scott LaFee

December 12, 2018 6 min read

Patients experiencing heart failure or other serious cardiovascular issues are often advised to cut down on salt intake. One 2017 study suggested consuming a lot of sodium doubles heart failure risk.

Or not. A new review by English scientists finds the evidence is pretty sketchy, with lots of gaps. Looking at nine different studies, the researchers found none provided sufficient proof that consuming less salt lowered risk of stroke, heart attack or death due to cardiovascular issues.

The authors say more robust research is needed to clarify the situation, but in the meantime, they say this is not an invitation to pour it on. There are numerous studies showing that high sodium consumption is associated with hypertension, a major cardiovascular risk factor.

Body of Knowledge

There are as many hairs per square inch on your body as on a chimpanzee. The difference is that most of ours are too light and fine to be easily seen.

Get Me That, Stat!

Roughly three-fourths of fatal automobile accidents that occur between midnight and 3 a.m. involve alcohol, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Three-fourths of drunk drivers involved in fatal collisions are not wearing seat belts.

The average number of accidents increases significantly during the Christmas period — and even more so over the New Year's holiday.


9,500: Number of kids who ended up in emergency rooms with burns from microwaveable instant soup products (from 2006 to 2016)

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics

Doc Talk

SOB: Shortness of breath, not what the doctor really thinks of you

Phobia of the Week

Fayophobia: Fear of elves

Life in Big Macs

One hour of having your hair or nails done by someone else burns 68 calories (based on a 150-pound person), or the equivalent of 0.1 Big Macs.

Stories for the Waiting Room

An estimated 2.5 percent of U.S. children suffer from a peanut allergy, which can be fatal and for which there are currently no approved treatment options. A new experimental drug, according to early testing by its maker, found that two-thirds of children taking the drug AR101 could ingest the equivalent of two peanut kernels and experience "no more than mild symptoms" compared to only 4 percent in the placebo group. More testing, however, is required before the drug can potentially be approved for sale.

Never Say "Diet"

The Major League Eating record for tamales is 70 (each 2 ounces) in 10 minutes, held by Darron Breeden. Another case of here today, gone tamale.

Best Medicine

A psychiatrist congratulates his patient on making significant progress with his therapy.

"You call this progress, doc? Six months ago, I was a Napoleon; now I'm nobody."


"Stressed spelled backwards is desserts."

Medical History

This week in 1844, the first dental anesthetic — nitrous oxide or "laughing gas" — was used by Dr. John M. Riggs for a tooth extraction on Dr. Horace Wells. The previous day, Wells had attended a demonstration of the effects of inhaling nitrous oxide gas by a travelling lecturer named Gardner Quincy Colton. At this demonstration, Wells noticed that a man intoxicated by the nitrous oxide suffered a laceration to his leg but claimed to feel no pain. To test the potential of nitrous oxide as an anesthetic, Wells arranged for Colton to administer nitrous oxide to himself while one of Wells' associates (Riggs) successfully extracted a tooth.

Sum Body

Sinuses are cavities or air-filled pockets, lined with mucous membranes, near the nasal passage. Among their functions, they help filter and add moisture to inhaled air and add resonance to your voice. You have four types:

The ethmoid sinus is located inside the face, around the area of the bridge of the nose. It is present at birth and continues to grow through puberty.

The maxillary sinus is located inside the face, around the area of the cheeks. It is also present at birth and continues to grow through puberty.

The frontal sinus is located inside the face in the area of the forehead. It does not develop until around 7 years of age.

The sphenoid sinus is located deep in the face, behind the nose. It does not typically develop until adolescence.

Med School

Q: What is a meatus?

A: A passage or opening leading to the interior of the body, such as the opening of the ear canal, urethra or nose.


On the headstone of Margaret Daniels' grave in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia:

"She always said her feet were killing her

But nobody believed her."

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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