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Showing posts from September, 2018

3.7. LE = life expectancy

According to the World Health Organization, women outlive men in every country in the world. Why is that, when women face a wider variety of stressors, are more likely to be victims of sexual violence, and experience more chronic diseases, depression and anxiety? In addition, women today (for less pay) share the same financial pressures, long hours at the office, and potentially unhealthy diet and habits (drinking and smoking) as men. Some scientists attempt to explain the 3-7 year difference between male and female life expectancy with biology.
In general, women experience chronic diseases like cardiovascular issues and diabetes later in life than men, and with less severe complications. Hormones may be partially responsible for this difference. Estrogen lowers harmful cholesterol and increases good cholesterol. Testosterone does the exact opposite for men, increasing their risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Once diagnosed with chronic diseases, women also score h…

3.6. Chromosomes = genetic material

Some genetic and chromosomal diseases are serious, and lethal. In fact, most chromosomal anomalies result in spontaneous loss of the pregnancy, because human beings need to have more or less the same bits and functions to survive, even in utero.
With autosomal dominant diseases like Huntington's disease or Marfan's syndrome, children of the affected parents have 50% chance of developing loss of control over motion and cognition, or having Rachmaninoff-sized hands and eventually dying from a tear in a weakened aorta. 
The recessive diseases require both parents to be carriers, and when two carriers meet and fall in love and statistically (this is just statistics--obviously this is an all-or-nothing event) 25% of their children get the little "a"s instead of big "A"s in the punnet square, where complications like cystic fibrosis, PKU, Tay-Sachs, and sickle cell can happen.
Conditions associated with the X chromosome appear more often in men because they only…

3.5. Dentis = teeth

Teeth are one of our most primal weapons. When push comes to shove, the last thing one can do is bite.

Humans have 32 teeth; snails have tens of thousands, lined up on their tongues. (But humans still win because they mash up snails and make them into face cream.)
Narwhals, the unicorns of the sea, have one long tooth for a horn. The teeth of living rabbits, squirrels and other rodents never stop growing.

Teeth can be removed (not with ease) and worn around the neck as a warning to enemies, or hidden in a dollhouse as a souvenir.

Dermoid cysts can grow on any part of the body, and occasionally sprout hair or teeth. Several cultures have myths of the vagina dentata, ranging from literal, fish-down-there, to metaphorical.The horror movie Teeth provides a literal, visceral interpretation.

Sometimes an editor says of a manuscript, "The writing has no teeth. It needs teeth."

Insect may not have teeth, but they can certainly "bite," with effects ranging from annoying to …

3.4. Infection = invasion

Fungi can hijack ant brains and turn them into zombies; humans have found Botfly larvae in their balls and Aspergillus (fungus) in breast implants. Infections may come from bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. Human minds can also be afflicted, if not infected, by anxiety, fear, stress, trauma, and even romantic obsession.

People are normally covered in bacteria but do just fine thanks to their immune systems. However, particularly powerful strains reside in the hospital: Methicillin resistant Staph aureus (MRSA), Vancomycin resistant enterococci (VRE), and C. diff (what's left--and keeps coming out--after too many antibiotics kill the good gut flora.)
Bacterial meningitis is much worse than viral meningitis, though they're both bad news. Viruses can wait on surfaces for hours, days, or weeks until a sucker picks them up and lets them in.
Yeast can grow in the mouth, or down there (a "superinfection"--oh no!) Athlete's foot doesn't always stay on the foot …