We humans spend about one third of our lives asleep. For much of human history, people have been more vulnerable to enemies and predators while asleep, but yet everyone sleeps and cannot help but do it. So, there must be a good reason for sleep, perhaps an evolutionary advantage.

One reason for sleep is to rest the brain and body, but yet the brain is highly active during sleep. Freud thought that one purpose of sleep was to grapple with negative thoughts buried in the unconscious via dreams. Another theory was that the brain lopped off unused synapses (nerve connections) during sleep to improve its health, much as pruning dead branches from rose bushes improves their health. Sleep also helps consolidate memories and learning.

Within the

Law and medicine are irrevocably bound together. By the term law, I mean laws enacted by politicians that have effects on peoples’ health. Take, for example, laws and rules made during the COVID-19 pandemic. In just the first half of 2020, more than 1,000 laws and orders were issued by federal, state, and local authorities in the US in an effort to reduce disease transmission.

Legal interventions included stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, and travel restrictions as well as more specific

Surgery for breast cancer prevention is the removal of healthy breasts to reduce the risk of breast cancer. This is known as preventative mastectomy, risk-reducing mastectomy, or prophylactic mastectomy. Women with a high risk of breast cancer may consider this option to avoid getting the disease. However, because it is impossible to remove 100% of the breast tissue, a small risk of developing breast cancer may still exist.

The average woman has about a 12% risk of developing breast cancer

In previous columns I have discussed recommendations made by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). This is a quasi-governmental group of medical professionals that looks at the value of screening tests to detect many diseases and conditions. They consider both benefits and harms from testing and screening methods, including both the amount of false positive and false negative results, and the resultant harms or benefits to the health outcomes of individuals. Recently, the Journal of

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is cancer that affects the lower intestine and/or the rectum. Overall, the incidence of CRC has been declining in the U.S., however it still ranks third as a cause of cancer-related death. A closer look at the statistics reveals that the incidence of CRC has been declining in persons 55 years or older, but since the mid-1990s the incidence has risen annually by 0.5 to 1.3 percent in adults aged 40 to 54. The reason for the rising rate in younger people has not been found

As many as 45 million people in the U.S, wear contact lenses, and while wearing contact lenses is generally safe, complications can arise. Many of these complications stem from two factors. The first factor is that the lenses lie in direct contact with the cornea, the outermost layer of the eye. The second factor, really a corollary of the first factor, is that because the lenses have direct contact with the eye, contact lenes must be kept free of contamination as it is a frequent cause of eye

I am a train nut. Some of my earliest and fondest childhood memories include model trains. I was about six years old when my parents (or Santa) gave me a train layout for Christmas. It wasn’t a Lionel set, but a set of cheaper knock-off, Marx trains. My uncle, my mother’s brother, who lived in a big house in Cedarhurst (222 Rockaway Turnpike, built in 1840, which the town foolishly razed), had a huge Lionel layout in his attic. It was my dream to one day own a layout like it but, alas, after he

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