A full-blown nuclear meltdown would be devastating for pregnant women and their fetuses, which are particularly vulnerable to the lasting effects of radiation. Should the worst-case scenario become a reality, it could lead to a generation of children born with all manner of maladies, from congenital malformation to mental retardation.
Christine O’Donnell [may have] crusaded against masturbation in the mid-1990s, denouncing it as “toying” with the organs of procreation and generally undermining baby making, [but[ the facts are to the contrary. Evidence from elephants to rodents to humans shows that masturbating is—counterintuitively—an excellent way to make healthy babies, and lots of them.
“I’m a bit of an overproducer,” says Lynne Feldman, a mother in western Massachusetts who has FedEx’d 250 frozen ounces of her own milk on dry ice to another mother in California.
Adults with the least-healthy habits didn’t fit this pattern, found scientists led by Suzanne O’Neill of Georgetown University. The unhealthier people’s habits were, the more they latched on to genetic explanations for diseases (in particular, colon cancer, skin cancer, hypertension, and lung cancer). “Those most at risk are often the most likely to downplay and distance themselves from threatening health information,” the scientists conclude.
They suspect that this was a defensive reaction, in which people knew at some level that they were engaging in behaviors likely to lead to illness down the road (remember, these were all healthy adults at the time of the survey) but wanted to blame potential health problems on factors beyond their control. In the study, 25 percent of the participants were smokers, another 25 percent were not physically active five days a week, and 36 percent had a body-mass index above 30. If you think your plaque-clogged arteries, uncontrolled diabetes, or lung cancer will be caused by genes in the fertilized egg that became you—rather than your junk-food diet and two-pack-a-day habit—it absolves you of blame.
The reality is that patients want to have a say in what happens to them when they’re sick and, more often than not, they don’t want heroic and often hugely costly measures to save them. In the new study, researchers found that more than 90 percent of the adults who had living wills requested either limited care or “comfort care” at the end of life. Only 1.9 percent (a total of ten patients out of 3,746) asked for “all care possible.” Aggressive medicine does not equal happy patients. Doctors must acknowledge this and have honest and informative conversations with their patients. In another study, published in 2008, researchers found that end-of-life discussions resulted in less aggressive care-including ventilation and resuscitation-and earlier hospice enrollment, which equaled better quality of life for patients.