Tag Archives: Health

Dr. House, cobalt and beer

No, it’s not one of those “name three things that don’t go together” deals, it’s a strange but true story that started with a German patient with strange symptoms that no one could figure out. But a doctor at the Centre for Undiagnosed Diseases in Marburg, Dr. Juergen Schaefer, a ‘House’ fan, recognized the symptoms from an episode featuring a patient with a deteriorating artificial joint  and was able to determine he was suffering from cobalt poisoning as a result of an old pair of hip replacements. Once the metal joints were replaced with ceramic he made a partial recovery (some of the damage was permanent).

But, you ask, what about the beer? It turns out that cobalt poisoning is extremely rare, mostly confined to steelworkers (cobalt is used as an additive). But there was also another group that was affected, beer drinkers in 1960s Quebec. That’s because a brewery, Dow, added cobalt sulfate to its beer to help foam stability. Although most drinkers had no problems with the beer, very heavy drinkers ingested enough cobalt to come down with symptoms. Dow went out of business in 1997, sales never having recovered from the incident.

One diabetic’s take on Google’s Smart Contact Lenses

Om Malik, himself a diabetic, looks at Google’s Smart Contact Lenses.

While I was aware that diabetics must be aware of a number of health issues (in addition to their blood sugar levels) the recommendation against contact lenses is new to me. Diabetic health is definitely an area that could use some automation, obviously, but smart contacts aren’t the answer.

23andMe Is Terrifying, But Not for the Reasons the FDA Thinks

After bailing out of the approval process, 23andMe’s DNA testing kit was (technically) banned from sale by the FDA. But it’s still for sale.

Charles Seife in Scientific American says that’s not the reason you should be concerned. That’s because 23andMe’s real business isn’t medical research, it’s data collection.