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While You Were Sleeping 

Last Updated: 12/12/2016 9:28 am
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A San Francisco man tore a 2.5-centimeter hole in his esophagus after eating a hamburger topped with ghost pepper puree, and was hospitalized for 23 days. As reported in a recent Journal of Emergency Medicine article written by physicians at University of California at San Francisco, the man was diagnosed with Boerhaave's Syndrome (spontaneous esophageal rupture) after consuming the ghost pepper in a spicy food challenge. Ghost peppers measure 1 million units on the Scoville scale, a system used to gauge the heat levels of chili pepperss. A bell pepper measures zero on the scale, a jalapeño falls between 2,500 to 8,000 units.

Source: Washington Post

The World Health Organization has reported that vaping and e-cigarettes do not stop people from smoking, causing a split within the public health community. An early November meeting in Delhi discussed the future of tobacco control, and included the 180 countries that have signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control treaty. The topic of the meeting's divide was a market newcomer—vaping. WHO issued their report, based on London health research company Cochrane's data, after inquiries about scientific information for or against nicotine-delivery devices like vapes or e-cigs arose. Scientists are still uncertain about vaping's effects on public health, and some parties think that the tobacco industry may be using the e-cigarettes to covertly continue marketing tactics.

Source: Guardian (UK)

Delhi's pollution problem shut down schools for three days in November. Numbers of the air pollutant PM2.5, which causes lung clogging, were reported at 90 times higher than what the World Health Organization deems safe. WHO estimates that about 620,000 people die every year in India from pollution-related diseases, and measurements taken by the US Embassy placed the city's Air Quality Index at a rate two-times higher than the "hazardous" level early in November. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has implemented a series of measures to reduce the smog, which has been attributed to the soot-releasing fireworks set off during the Hindu Festival of Lights, Diwali. Construction and demolition work was halted for five days, water was sprinkled on main roads, and citizens were urged to stay indoors. Multiple protesters rallied at Jantar Mantar, flooding social media with #MyRightToBreathe. Air pollution has been a steady issue in India, with previously imposed traffic restrictions and burning bans already in place.

Source: BBC

Paralyzed people may experience more day-to-day freedom in the future, with the advancements of a new brain implant. Nick Ramsey, a specialist in brain-computer interfaces at the Brain Center Rudolf Magnus at UMC Utrecht in the Netherlands, presented his new brain-computer interface work at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in November. Ramsey worked with a woman diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, a neurological condition that destroys voluntary muscle control, usually leading to complete paralysis. The woman received a brain implant called an electrocorticograph (ECoG), a brain signal-reading device that wirelessly connects to a device on the chest, and then to a computer tablet. It functions similarly to an EEG. The ECoG is small and lightweight enough for the patient to use at home or outdoors without a doctor's supervision. Ramsey says that after six months of training, the woman has 95 percent accuracy in her ability to communicate. In the future, Ramsey hopes that the software's typing speed will improve, and be able to help perform a wider range of functions, like turning on a television or making a phone call.

Source: Ars Technica

This year's Global Drugs Survey has determined that gender impacts how the body responds to MDMA. The Global Drugs Survey is a UK-based data research company that is used for tracking drug usage, often cited in reports. Women are two to three times more likely to seek emergency medical treatment for symptoms of anxiety, agitation, hallucinations, and extreme sweating than men after taking ecstasy. The survey's founder, Dr. Adam Winstock, said that there has been a four-fold increase in British women seeking emergency medical treatment after taking MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, in the last three years. Winstock also estimated that 200,000 British people use ecstasy every weekend. Too high of an MDMA dosage can cause the user's body to retain extra water, leading to brain swelling. The female hormone estrogen impairs the body's ability to release water, making women especially susceptible to the drug's harmful side effects.

Source: Guardian (UK)

Following the unexpected result of Election Day 2016, the debate over the functions of the Electoral College has been reawakened. Similar to the 2000 election, when George W. Bush beat Al Gore after losing the popular vote, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but Donald Trump gained the highest number from the electoral college—leading to his win. Some states have already begun to look at ways to reform the system. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is a movement and agreement among the states and District of Columbia to align the electoral vote with the popular vote. Eleven states, including New York, have already adopted the NPVIC agreement. The agreement would only go into effect if states with an absolute majority of 270 electoral votes, enough to elect a president, decide to pass it.

Source: NationalPopularVote.com

Bob Dylan will not be attending the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy says. The legendary Highway 61 troubadour won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature in October. The Nobel Prize Committee hosts an annual event to be attended by prizewinners, where they are expected deliver a lecture and receive their awards. Dylan's win for the poetic expression and his contribution to the American song tradition has caused backlash—some feel that the prize should have gone to a more traditional author—as has his refusal to attend the ceremony. Dylan was "very honored," for his win and regrets not being able to receive it in person. In the past, Nobel laureates Doris Lessing, Harold Pinter, and Elfriede Jelinek have not attended the ceremony.

Source: Guardian (UK)

Labatt Brewery is no longer offering free beer for life to its retired employees. Anheuser-Busch InBev, a Belgian-based corporation that also runs Budweiser, Corona, Beck's, Stella Artois, and Michelob Ultra, owns the Canadian beverage maker. The company has decided to phase out the beer for life perk to cut rising overall costs to maintain full benefits for employees. Other measures have included lowered wages and previously reduced benefits. Worker benefits range from a free case a week to eight 24-bottle cases in a year. "It's a loss to a class of former employees," said Labbatt retiree Larry Innanen,"It means something. It's material to them.

Source: New York Times

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