Over medium.

November 21, 2014

 The Incredible. Edible.

Because of their cholesterol content, egg yolks were once considered off-limits for many. The advice on the yolk has changed. Research shows that dietary cholesterol has minimal impact on blood cholesterol. That said, the American Heart Association recommends that we limit our dietary cholesterol to 300milligrams (mg) per day. One egg has about 200 mg.

 Ebola update.

 In the U.S. No new cases have been reported this week.

 Worldwide. As of November 14, the CDC estimates that there are 15,145 total cases of Ebola and 5,429 deaths.

Looking for the cure. The Gates Foundation is giving $5.7 million to fight Ebola. They plan to work with private sector organizations to research and produce a cure.

 Obamacare, Explained.

This regular section explains parts of the lengthy Affordable Care Act. This is a weekly newsletter (and I skip some weeks). It will take a very long time (especially if I keep skipping weeks).

 Pre-existing conditions are the term for medical conditions people have when they’re looking for health insurance. Think diabetes, asthma, cancer, and even pregnancy. Before Obamacare, health plans could deny or charge higher prices to people who had them. Under Obamacare, insurance companies can’t ask about health status. They can factor in three things when setting a rate – age, location, and tobacco use.

P.S. The enrollment period is here. It began on Saturday and lasts for about three months. The website seems to be working. Phew. You may recall that there were some issues last year.

 Oops. It turns out the White House made a math error. They overreported the number of signups under the Affordable Care Act by nearly 400,000 people. Some people with separate medical and dental plans were counted twice, so the administration reported that 7 million had enrolled in coverage, instead of the correct figure of about 6.7 million.

 That sounds familiar.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). A type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons and usually occurs during winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. Symptoms include: sadness or anxiety, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping, and changes in weight. Feels like winter is here in Bosotn. Sad. Treatments include light therapy, talk therapy, and antidepressant medications.

Causes of death in the U.S. Then and now.

The New England Journal of Medicine looked back over a century to see how the causes of death in America have changed. They certainly have changed. Teaser: in 1900, a leading cause of death was pneumonia or influenza. Check out the chart. “In many respects, our medical systems are best suited to diseases of the past, not those of the present or future.”

 Teeny tiny bites. Nibbles.

 For 31 years. Since 1983, gay and bisexual men in the U.S. have been banned from donating blood. That may change. This month, a recommendation was made to rethink it and the FDA will decide on December 2.

 Chin up. Looking down at your phone is not good for your spine. It adds excess stress, up to 60 pounds of pressure, depending on the angle.

That’s trillion, with a T. The global cost of obesity is estimated to be $2 trillion per year. Almost 30% of the world’s population is obese.

Cooties are for real. Serious kissing (lasting more than 10 seconds) can transfer about 80 million bacteria.

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21 days.

November 7, 2014

Ebola.

 In Texas. As of today, the 21-day monitoring period for those who came in contact with the three people diagnosed with Ebola in Texas – Thomas Eric Duncan and nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson – comes to an end. The state breathes a sigh of relief.

In NYC. One U.S patient remains in isolation. Craig Spencer is a Doctors Without Borders volunteer who was diagnosed when he returned from caring for Ebola patients in Guinea. Spencer is being treated at New York’s Bellevue Hospital. He is in stable condition and has started to pass the time by playing the banjo. 

Worldwide. As of October 31, the CDC estimates that there are 13,567 total cases of Ebola and 4,960 total deaths.

Donations by country. Click here to see a chart that displays Ebola aid pledged by country.

One option. Facebook users can send money to one of three Ebola-relief charities using a donation button that went live on the site this week.

Brittany Maynard.

Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old suffering from terminal brain cancer, ended her life on Sunday. Maynard was diagnosed with a stage 4 malignant brain tumor in January and given six months to live. Last month, she announced that she planned to end her life at her home in Portland, Oregon, with help from her doctor. In an op-ed, she wrote, “After months of research, my family and I reached a heartbreaking conclusion. There is no treatment that would save my life, and the recommended treatments would have destroyed the time I had left.”

Death with Dignity Act. In 1997, Oregon enacted the Death with Dignity Act, which allows terminally ill residents “to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose.” Similar laws exist in Washington and Vermont. Maynard’s death brought attention to the debate about physician-assisted suicide nationally.

Obamacare, Explained.

This regular section explains parts of the Affordable Care Act. This is a weekly newsletter. It will take a very long time.

The individual mandate requires most Americans to purchase health insurance coverage. It encourages people who are unlikely to buy coverage, like healthy twenty-somethings, to find a health insurance plan.

Are there any exceptions? Yes. For example, exceptions are made for those who can’t find an affordable plan or are a member of a federally recognized tribe. But, most Americans are now required to purchase coverage or pay a penalty.

What is the penalty? In 2014, the penalty for not having coverage is $95 or 1% of income, whichever is larger. It will increase in subsequent years. In 2015, it rises to $325 or 2% of income. The federal government collects the money through the tax filing process.

 Please remove the mini Twix bars from my home.

The Halloween Candy Buyback program, founded by a Wisconsin dentist, offers to buy candy for $1 per pound from the patients in his office. Word is spreading. This year, more than 2,500 dentists and orthodontists across the country are participating. The treats are shipped to U.S. troops overseas.

I feel a cavity. This year, Halloween candy sales in the U.S. were expected reach an estimated $2.5 billion, an increase of about 1.8% compared to last year.

Fall risks.

As the population ages, the number of older Americans who fall and suffer significant injuries is on the rise in a serious way. In 2012, more than 2.4 million people over 65 were treated in emergency rooms for injuries from falls. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in people over 65.

There are ways to decrease the risk. Like tai chi and avoidance of sleeping pills.

FYI. While osteoporosis is more common in women, men are also at risk.

A big difference.

In October, Massachusetts became the first state to require price tags on health care. A new law forces private health insurers to provide prices of services, from office visits to surgical procedures. One example of information gathered: The cost of an MRI of the upper back in Boston ranges from $614 to $1,800.

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