Only the tip of the iceberg: How toxins cause disease

Although the word toxin sounds scary, most people don't grasp precisely how toxins interact with human physiology and how long this has been a problem for humans. Doctors noticed almost two hundred years ago that toxins like mercury were causing "mad hatter disease." It was also known that toxicity from leaded water pipes was a major cause of the decline of the Roman Empire. But in the past, these toxins were largely limited to occupational exposure. Only people who performed certain specific tasks- coal miners, who inhale coal dust, for example-were known to be casualties. Doctors didn't consider the rest of the population to be at risk. But with the explosion of industrial activity and products, that has changed. Following more research, scientists and perceptive clinicians now better understand that toxicity affects most-if not all-of the population. The more research...

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Clean your room! The problem with completing household chores in a timely manner

Chores are the worst. I'm trying to construct an alternative theory of myself in which I'm a tidy person. It's not going well. Walking my recycling from my apartment to the trash room down the hall takes me anywhere from two minutes to a month. I hate looking at broken-down boxes and empty LaCroix cans in my apartment, but studies say humans are bad at prioritizing long-term goals over instant gratification, and I apparently find doing anything else much more gratifying. It doesn't take a scientist to explain why I might put off other things, such as doing my dishes. Those are annoying and kind of gross, and the primary reward is just being able to use them in the future. Still, at a certain point, the anxiety of not having done these tasks surpasses the annoyance of doing them...

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Information overload: Attention is not a resource but a way of being alive to the world

We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom.' Those were the words of the American biologist E O Wilson at the turn of the century. Fast forward to the smartphone era, and it's easy to believe that our mental lives are now more fragmentary and scattered than ever. The 'attention economy' is a phrase that's often used to make sense of what's going on: it puts our attention as a limited resource at the center of the informational ecosystem, with our various alerts and notifications locked in a constant battle to capture it. That's a helpful narrative in a world of information overload, and one in which our devices and apps are intentionally designed to get us hooked. Moreover, besides our own mental wellbeing, the attention economy offers a way of looking at some important social problems: from the...

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Multimillion $ industry: Colonoscopy found to be far more ‘dangerous and potentially deadly’ than previously thought

The procedure known as colonoscopies as a prophylactic for colon cancer is a multimillion dollar industry. Every year, over 14 million perfectly healthy individuals age 50 and up, submit themselves to this invasive procedure hoping to detect colorectal cancer. But is it really effective? It's a Painful and Dangerous Procedure It's actually far more dangerous-and potentially deadly-than they'd like to admit. According The Annals Of Internal Medicine's report on colonoscopies, an estimated 70,000 (0.5%) will be injured or killed by a complication related to this procedure. This figure is 22% higher than the annual deaths from colorectal cancer itself - the very disease the device was designed to prevent. According to the Telemark Polyp Study I, colonoscopies actually increase mortality by 57% . For every person saved by a colonoscopy, 56 people suffer serious injury. A person can live for...

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Women who emotionally abuse men

We've all seen it. And heard it. You're in a restaurant. There's a man there with his girlfriend. As people are eating and socializing, you can't help but notice. When the man tries to speak, he is cut off by his girlfriend. She mocks him when he tells a story that might make him look good, and finishes his jokes for him. When the waiter brings the menus, she makes fun of his selection. While she complains about spending money on him all the time, you can't help but notice that he is paying for all of her drinks. By the end of the night she is berating him outright, and as they exit the restaurant, the woman is in a full rage spiral, yelling about something unrelated to anything that has happened in the last three hours. No one...

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