Welcome to Impact Factor, your weekly dose of commentary on a new medical study. I’m Dr. F. Perry Wilson of the Yale School of Medicine.
There’s a near truism in dietary science that anything that is too pleasurable is probably not good for you. It holds for ultra-processed foods, refined sugars, alcohol. But there is one stubborn hold out to this trend. One thing you can ingest that provides both pleasure, and, in study after study, health benefits. It’s sort of a unicorn. I’m speaking, of course, of coffee.
It’s time we talk about ivermectin.
Since the first days of the COVID-19 pandemic, various existing drugs have been touted as near miracle cures for the disease. Often, the discussion of agents like hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir, and their ilk veered into the conspiratorial, squelching reasonable scientific discussion. Boosters would accuse detractors of hiding the truth of a safe and effective treatment at the behest of big pharma, or the deep state. Detractors would accuse boosters of bad data analysis and wishful thinking.
Enter Ivermectin, and this meta-analysis of randomized trials by Andrew Hill and his colleagues in Open Forum Infectious Diseases…
Imagine you are about to start a family. Would you want the ability to choose whether your child would have cystic fibrosis or not? Would you want to be able to choose if that first child would be a boy or a girl? Would you want to choose her height? Her hair color? Her risk of diabetes?
These questions have been around since the first bioethicist held court in a university classroom, but only now has technology advanced to the point where we need to consider the practical implications of answering them.
This week, in a New England Journal special…
Last week, I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine from college. Like many docs these days, I find myself doing my best to answer a lot of COVID-related questions from friends and family — ranging from straightforward stuff to edge cases that never seem to quite be covered by the CDC recommendations.
But this one led to a question that I’ve actually been stuck on for a bit — and I want to share my thinking with you.
On March 6th, 2020, I attended a birthday party for my friend Doug.
Though we didn’t know it at the time, this would be the last time we’d gather for a birthday for more than a year. The next week, with the first COVID cases appearing in Connecticut, the world shut down. It’s only now starting up again.
The folks who were at that party all remember it in the same way, as a sort of gauzy past before the realities of the present came crashing down. If we only knew.
I have a love-hate relationship with ultraprocessed foods — those semi-industrial, nutritionally poor, calorie-dense products that line our grocery store shelves screaming at us with their bright colors and empty promises.
I hate them because, well, don’t they just seem emblematic of all that is wrong with our diets today — easy calories, over-salted, over-sugared, and just sort of unnatural.
But I love them because I have kids and well, they’re easy. I know, I’m a bad parent.
So I was struck by this study, in JAMA Pediatrics, examining the effect of ultra-processed food consumption on body mass index, and…
There’s a meme flying around the interwebs that COVID vaccines might render young people infertile. Taken on its own, this may seem like run-of-the-mill antivax fear-mongering, and it is, but this one seems to have some legs. In fact, a UK survey found that one quarter of young women would decline the vaccine, citing concerns about fertility.
This is actually a sort of old vaccine trope — it’s been trotted out, without any evidence, for the polio vaccine, and the HPV vaccine. And I get why it’s so powerful. Fertility is obviously a huge issue — a basic human function…
This week — we’re going to dive into the lion’s den once again with this study, appearing in PLOS Medicine, failing to show a causal link between Vitamin D levels and COVID-19 incidence or severity.
This week, straight from the, that’s-just-crazy-enough-to-be-true file — a study that suggests that perception of bitter taste can predict whether you’ll catch COVID and how bad your disease will be.
And no — before you go there — this is NOT a study that says that the degree to which you lose taste AFTER you get COVID tells you how sick you’ll get. This study, appearing in JAMA Network Open looked at people before they got the disease.
With mask mandates lifting around the nation, there is a palpable sense of relief — and hope for the future.
The end of the pandemic, long-promised, feels like it is in sight, at least in the US. But what does that mean?
For most of the pandemic, herd immunity — when enough people have been vaccinated, or infected by SARS-CoV-2, that the virus doesn’t have enough viable hosts to continue spreading — was synonymous with the end of the pandemic. Sure, we debated about how many people would need to get vaccinated — 70%, 80%, 85% — but we had…
Writing about medicine, science, statistics, and the abuses thereof. Commentator at Medscape. Associate Professor of Medicine at Yale University.