Category: Screening

Halloween MRI Special: Guts, Brain, Skeleton, etc (in fact, *my* guts, brain, skeleton, etc)

Welcome. Mwa-hah-hah-hah-hah-ha!

Yes, it’s Halloween, a sort of Beta Christmas. And as is typical, local streets and shops are festooned with images of witches, pumpkins, ghosts, and — of course — skeletons. Because skeletons are scary, you see.

In an age of austerity, it is good to consider ways of cutting out unnecessary expenditure. With this in mind, I offer you here some home-grown guts and gore: namely, some MRI images of my own innards, all pimped up GIF-wise for your entertainment.

Get prepared…

…to be SCARED!

glOm (makeGIF)

For the especially confused, this is my chest and neck

You see? It’s true. I have no heart.

This one gives a side-on view of the above. Again, no heart:

glOI (makeGIF)

Somewhere in there are some prolapsed discs

And this last one’s my fave. It features pretty good detail on my upper spine, spinal cord, brain stem, and cerebellum:

glOp (makeGIF)

That beauty of a cerebellum is why I’ve such excellent
fine-motor co-ordinitoanjkbkjb

So what have we learned from all this? Well, MRI scans offer some pretty clear images of soft tissue inside the body, all by beaming some magnetic waves in there and measuring what happens (see here for more). Secondly, try to avoid growing old, if at all possible — your proneness to semi-random muscle-tears and spinal disc herniation just escalates. And thirdly, GIFs are fun, fun, fun!

Compliments of the season to you all…

Cancer: Misinformation is a risk factor too

People who know me personally will know that I don’t take cancer lightly (for various reasons I won’t go into here). So I am always a bit reluctant to criticize people who make the fight against cancer their life’s mission. After all, there are easier jobs. But cancer is not just a physical illness; it’s also a taboo-laden, paranoia-attracting, terror-inducing cultural obsession. And that means that most people’s understanding of it will be a product of much more than merely reliable information and sound judgement. A whole lot of psychology will be in the mix too.

That’s why professional cancer docs need to be especially careful when communicating information to the general public. Ditto mainstream intellectually-driven news media. At this stage, some newspapers (such as the Daily Mail) are such laughing stocks in the world of cancer hysteria (Ben Goldacre famously described them as being “on an ongoing ontological program to divide all inanimate objects into ones that will either cause or cure cancer“), it is difficult to read their cancer stories with a straight face (see here and here). Other newspapers, such as the Guardian, (probably) deserve to be taken more seriously.

But, when it comes to medical scares, even the Guardian can play with fire now and again. Today’s piece on cancer, while mostly wholesome, might just be a case in point.

Continue reading “Cancer: Misinformation is a risk factor too”

Happy Meals make you unhappy? Not so fast…

So here is even more scientific research into the non-obvious consequences of eating junk food. As regular readers will know, we’ve recently heard of a couple of studies claiming that eating chocolate either (a) helps you lose weight or (b) helps you lose even more weight. Of course neither is true. Or at least neither study really enables such an inference to be drawn. Instead, the researchers and/or media seemed to merely jump to those conclusions (perhaps revealing their pro-choc biases by doing so).

Of course, not everyone is biased in favour of junk food. Oh no. Plenty of people are dead set against it. Lots, for example, have quite a negative view of fast (fried) food — such as hot dogs, French fries, and hamburgers — especially when they’re produced by large-scale multinational fast food chains. (At this point, it may interest you to know that the Wikipedia entry for ‘Big Mac’ is locked against new edits.)

I can’t say I disagree with the objectors. Such foods generally make you fat and unhealthy, being composed as they are of gratuitously enormous amounts of calories, saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium. And while others might argue that people have a right to eat themselves silly if they want to, the type of fast food we’re talking about often appears to be targeted at people who are poorly equipped to understand the relevant health considerations. People such as kids, for example (yep, kids are people too).

Obsessed with 'Ice Age 3'? Then why not eat a Happy Meal?

So when we hear news that eating fast food not only makes you fat and unhealthy, but also makes you clinically depressed, I guess we might be inclined to accept this at pretty much face value. After all, bad things are bad, aren’t they? Hmm. I know you want me to say ‘yes’. Well, erm, in this case at least, it’s unclearContinue reading “Happy Meals make you unhappy? Not so fast…”

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