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December 2016

Two offbeat topics to round out the year

This HND piece covers two somewhat unique and completely unrelated topics: Polydactyly and black-eyed kids.

I've always thought that people with functional six-fingered hands are more common than reported, simply because there's no reason TO report it. Indeed, the best way for a parent to handle this is to tell the child that it may be "abnormal," but absent the difficulty in obtaining gloves, it might really be a gift. If anything, such kids will probably end up being more popular than average.

Officially, most polydactyly involves small, useless digits that are usually removed in early childhood.

As to the black-eyed kids, we describe the most reasonable explanation that I—as a connoisseur of the bizarre—have ever heard.

Read the complete article.

A sunny disposition without sun damage: Vitamin D and good health

This HND piece tries to tone down the sun exposure hysteria, just a wee bit. You see, exposure to those awful rays is still the easiest way to get your very necessary Vitamin D.

In fact, there's plenty of data suggesting that many of us are Vitmain D deficient, and that all of this heliophobia could be part of the reason. There's also loads of info to suggest that occupational sun exposure does not increase risk of melanoma, even of melanomas situated on the head and neck. What's more, Vitamin D has been shown to have some protective actions against many forms of cancer.

Read the complete article.

Yet more infection control issues at the VA

This HND piece covers one more infection control problem at a VA hospital, only this time, it involves dental work. What makes this one so bad is that there is absolutely no mystery as to what went wrong.

You see, the unnamed dental offender didn't use the disposable drill bits provided to him by the agency. Oh, no. This genius preferred to use his own personal bits, only he...forgot to sterilize them. Now, they'll be testing nearly 600 of his patients for HIV, hep B, and hep C.

More details in the piece. Read the complete article.

A look at medicalization

This HND piece starts off by discussing some key points from the excellent 2007 book The Medicalization of Society: On the Transformation of Human Conditions into Treatable Disorders. It then works its way to a few comments on the long-running JAMA Internal Medicine series called "Less is More."

Among other things, the book questions the notion of Adult ADHD, whereby most of the supposed victims are self-diagnosed. And there is also the bizarre abuse of human growth hormone on kids who might be only slightly below average height.

By the time this over-treatment works its way into the "Less is More" series, we are looking at some pretty dangerous abuses, including the gross over consumption of proton pump inhibitors, and the absurd condition known as "prediabetes."

Read the complete article.