Invalidating Bloodletting with Science

Blood on the Tracks – Podcast Episode 38

Learn about a piece of epidemiological history: one of the earliest examples of population-level clinical studies influencing medical practice. This podcast tells the story of how French physician Pierre Charles Alexandre Louis studied a group of patients and ended up discovering quantitative evidence on the detriment of bloodletting. Learning the history helps place these tools in a broader context, which isn’t crucial, but interesting nonetheless.

Listen to the Podcast here

The first population study in history was born out of a dramatic debate involving leeches, “medical vampires,” professional rivalries, murder accusations, and, of course, bloodletting, all in the backdrop of the French Revolution. The second of a multipart series on the development of population medicine, this episode contextualizes Pierre Louis’ “numerical method,” his famous trial on bloodletting, and the birth of a new way for doctors to “know”.


Source

Bedside Rounds: Episode 38: Blood on the Tracks (PopMed #2)

Public Health in the Precision-Medicine Era

Ronald Bayer, Ph.D., and Sandro Galea, M.D., Dr.P.H.

“The NIH’s most recent Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories report (www.report.nih.gov/categorical_spending.aspx) shows, for example, that total support in fiscal year 2014 for research areas including the words ‘gene,’ ‘genome,’ or ‘genetic’ was about 50% greater than funding for areas including the word ‘prevention.’…The proportion of NIH-funded projects with the words ‘public’ or ‘population’ in their title, for example, has dropped by 90% over the past 10 years, according to the NIH Reporter.”

“Without minimizing the possible gains to clinical care from greater realization of precision medicine’s promise, we worry that an unstinting focus on precision medicine by trusted spokespeople for health is a mistake — and a distraction from the goal of producing a healthier population.”

Read More


Source

NEJM: Public Health in the Precision-Medicine Era by Ronald Bayer, Ph.D., and Sandro Galea, M.D., Dr.P.H.

Does Pure Nicotine Cause Cancer?

Cigarettes contain many chemicals that increase the risk of cancer. Polycyclic hydrocarbons and tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines are some of the more well-known carcinogens in this class.

But now, e-cigarettes appear to be isolating nicotine, and leaving behind many of the old toxins from cigarettes. This sounds like e-cigarettes may be “better” for the modern smoker. Are smokers of e-cigarettes increasing their chances of cancer later in their lives? If so, what is the risk of cancer from smoking pure nicotine?

For the sake of discussion, let’s ignore the possibility for novel cancer-inducing chemicals introduced from the various oils and heating mechanisms in e-cigarettes. Let’s assume it is possible to have a method of smoking that only exposes the smoker to nicotine and nothing else. Would this method of smoking still cause cancer?

This review of the literature on Nicotine from 2015 suggests the answer is “yes”. Nicotine alone still increases the risk of cancer for the smoker of pure nicotine.

“Several lines of evidence indicate that nicotine may contribute to the development of cancer.

“Evidence from experimental in vitro studies on cell cultures, in vivo studies on rodents as well as studies on humans inclusive of epidemiological studies indicate that nicotine itself, independent of other tobacco constituents, may stimulate a number of effects of importance in cancer development (5, 6).”


Source

NCBI: Nicotine: Carcinogenicity and Effects on Response to Cancer Treatment – A Review

Best Data Science Courses Online

The Best Free Data Science Courses on the Internet

Data science is blossoming as a field at the moment. Popular jargon from traditional statistics to new machine learning techniques are used colloquially in both online articles and day-to-day exchanges. One of the excellent things about data science, noted by David Venturi, is that by nature the field is computer-based. Why not learn about it all for free online then? Venturi has written several articles enumerating lists of massive open online courses (MOOC) relevant to someone interested in only a single highly-ranked data science class, or a complete masters degree in data science for the more dedicated individual. One of the benefits of these courses is they are more poignant and focus on only the knowledge relevant to applying data science skills. Another perk is the nonexistent price tag, as opposed to the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loans one could thrust themselves into while pursuing a data science masters at a formal institution. Venturi explains why he left grad school to learn about data science before finishing his first semester. If nothing else, some of these courses may be useful to supplement a graduate school education.


Sources

FreeCodeCamp.org: David Venturi

FreeCodeCamp.org: The best Data Science courses on the internet, ranked by your reviews

FreeCodeCamp.org: If you want to learn Data Science, take a few of these statistics classes

Medium.com: I Dropped Out of School to Create My Own Data Science Master’s — Here’s My Curriculum

Importance of Stupidity in Science

The Importance of Stupidity in Scientific Research

“Science makes me feel stupid too. It’s just that I’ve gotten used to it. So used to it, in fact, that I actively seek out new opportunities to feel stupid. I wouldn’t know what to do without that feeling. I even think it’s supposed to be this way.”

The more comfortable we become with being stupid, the deeper we will wade into the unknown and the more likely we are to make big discoveries.

“Productive stupidity means being ignorant by choice. Focusing on important questions puts us in the awkward position of being ignorant. One of the beautiful things about science is that it allows us to bumble along, getting it wrong time after time, and feel perfectly fine as long as we learn something each time. No doubt, this can be difficult for students who are accustomed to getting the answers right. No doubt, reasonable levels of confidence and emotional resilience help, but I think scientific education might do more to ease what is a very big transition: from learning what other people once discovered to making your own discoveries. The more comfortable we become with being stupid, the deeper we will wade into the unknown and the more likely we are to make big discoveries.”


Source

The Journal of Cell Science: The Importance of Stupidity in Scientific Research

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