Category Archives: Science/Medicine

Actual Number of Immunocompromised Americans May be Almost Triple What We Thought

As an immunocompromised person, I thought that this was interesting: The standard line is that under 3% of the U.S. population is immunocompromised either due to disease, to antirejection drugs associated with transplants, or to (frequently cancer) medical treatment.  But Melissa L. Martinson, Jessica Lapham, Prevalence of Immunosuppression Among US Adults (Feb. 15, 2024) suggests that the real number today — due to more immunosuppresive medical treatments? — actually may be over 6.6%:

Of the 29 164 (unweighted) eligible adults, 6.6% (95% CI, 6.2%-6.9%) (weighted) had current immunosuppression based on their reported health conditions, prescriptions, and medical treatments. The weighted prevalence was 4.4% for having an immunosuppressive condition, 3.9% for taking an immunosuppressive medication, and 1.8% for both; the weighted prevalence of having hematological cancer was 0.1%. These categories were not mutually exclusive.


[U]sing the 2021 NHIS, an estimated 6.6% of US adults had immunosuppression. This rate of immunosuppression was higher than the previous national estimate of 2.7% using the 2013 NHIS,1 yet the patterns in the distribution of immunosuppression by sex, race, and age were similar

It’s still a small minority, but it seems it’s a lot bigger than we thought.

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It’s Enough to Keep You Awake

Sleeping too little — or too much — associated with poor brain health:

Sleeping too much or too little is associated with changes in the brain that are known to precede and increase the risk of stroke and dementia later in life, a new study suggests.

In one of the largest neuroimaging studies of its kind, researchers at Yale School of Medicine (YSM) examined the brain images of nearly 40,000 asymptomatic middle-aged adults to understand how their sleep habits may impact their brain health.

I’m sure I should sleep more. But I don’t need more to worry about.

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Electric Lunch

Click for larger imageBetter than science fiction:

A team of researchers at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT-Italian Institute of Technology) has created a totally edible and rechargeable battery, starting from materials that are normally consumed as part of our daily diet. The proof-of-concept battery cell has been described in a paper, recently published in the Advanced Materials journal. The possible applications are in health diagnostics, food quality monitoring and edible soft robotics.

Spotted via Completely Edible Rechargeable Battery Created;

Actually, of course, we won’t feed the robot the edible cells, we’ll eat them ourselves as part of medical devices and maybe ultimately food-quality monitors. As I.K. Ilic, V.Galli, L. Lamanna, P. Cataldi, L. Pasquale, V.F. Annese, A. Athanassiou, M. Caironi. An Edible Rechargeable Battery. Advanced Materials (2023) explains:

In this paper, we present the first edible rechargeable battery based only on organic redox-active materials. All the materials used in the formation of the battery are common food ingredients and additives that humans can eat without harm in large amounts, >100 mg per day. First, we prepared a composite of redox-active food additives and ingredients with activated carbon, a conductive food additive. This allows electrons to flow to and from the redox-active centers. Upon testing the electrochemical performance of these composites, we established two alternatives for cathode and anode materials. We chose the highest and the lowest redox reduction potential materials, namely riboflavin (vitamin B2) and quercetin, and assembled the battery using edible current collectors and packaging. Such a battery can be used to power edible electronic devices operating outside the human body, as well as those operating inside, once the packaging is adjusted for the application. While rechargeable properties of the battery might not be useful for short-lived applications inside the human body, edible devices operating outside the human body can be recharged, prolonging their lifetime. This long-sought achievement not only enables the development of edible electronics, but can also pave the way for the replacement of commercial batteries in ingestible devices, reducing their risk upon ingestion.

Q: How do you classify the role of an edible-battery tester?
A: It’s a high-power job.

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‘Fusion is Only 10 Years Away!’–Nature

According to Nature, there’s a decent chance that commercial fusion reactors will be on sale in 2030, or thereabouts.


Anyway, given that we had thirty-some years of fusion being 30 years away, this does sound like progress, and it’s fueled (ahem) by some significant private-sector money, which may signify something.  Or Theranos.

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Water, Water, Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink?

compressed gas tanks

© 2008 Ildar Sagdejev (Specious), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Or maybe the modern version is “Oxygen, Oxygen, everywhere and not a canister to purify the water”? Wired mag explains, Why Florida’s Covid Surge Is Screwing With the Water Supply (Hint: Oxygen). More people in the hospital means more people need oxygen. But treatment plants also need the gas to purify water.

But remember: people choosing not to get vaccinated–even if vaccination almost entirely protects the 97% of the non-immunocompromised population from serious breakthrough infections of the type requiring hospitalizations–or wear masks in public, which helps reduce transmission of COVID, are making a personal choice that we all should respect. If that purely personal private liberty-loving choice somehow mysteriously has an effect on others, then it is the responsibility of those others–who probably don’t exercise or take care of themselves right–to alter their behavior regardless of the external costs blithely imposed upon the whole state by the freedom-loving among us whom, my commentators and others (like Fl. Gov. Ron DeSantis) instruct, we must coddle and respect and not burden with our greedy desire to do things like drink clean tap water or have an open hospital bed available if we need one.

So, today, I suppose we must invest in home water filters or environmentally hazardous plastic-bottled water, until that runs out, anyway. What? That’s not in your budget? Tough on you, eh? Stand up and learn not to drink so much water! (Wait, staying well hydrated is good for you? But, but…) And, meanwhile, feel the patriotism! And thank Gov. DeSantis for his leadership on the COVID issue! And wait for tomorrow…

Posted in COVID-19, Florida, Science/Medicine | 17 Comments

Reasons to be Cheerful

Rare it is that I find myself almost 100% onboard for an article at, even if it is one of the relatively few right-wing sites I think is worth my time. But Elizabeth Nolan Brown,, 40 Ways Things Are Getting Better hits it out of the park, even if I have a few quibbles, notably…

1. Home entertainment. OK, I would sure have this on the list…but #1?

5. Information access I’d have been tempted to put the Internet #1. The quality of elite medical care [distributed on their #13 (AIDS care) #15 (mental health treatment), #23 (cancer care)] would be the other contender.

8. Attitudes toward LGBTQ people and their treatment under the law. Top five for me.

And I’d put a lot of tech–phones, computers, cameras. Machine Learning in my top ten too.

Musical accompaniment here is either Ian Dury or The Beatles depending on your proclivities,

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