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Health/Medicine
Status: Parody
image Panexa is a drug you need to take, no matter what may, or may not be, wrong with you. As the Panexa site states:

No matter what you do or where you go, you're always going to be yourself. And Panexa knows this. Your lifestyle is one of the biggest factors in choosing how to live. Why trust it to anything less? Panexa is proven to provide more medication to those who take it than any other comparable solution. Panexa is the right choice, the safe choice. The only choice.

Now, Panexa is pretty obviously a parody of pharmaceutical advertising. For those to whom this isn't immediately clear, the Important Safety Information listed on the site should remove all doubts. (Side effects include: shiny, valuable feces composed of aluminum and studded with diamonds and sapphire... everything you think you see becomes a Tootsie Roll to you... inability to distinguish the colors 'taupe' and 'putty.') The Panexa site was created by Jason Torchinsky, who's a member of the comedy group the Van Gogh-Goghs and a contributor to Stay Free! Magazine (which interviewed me a couple of months ago, though I don't know if the interview ever ran in the magazine).

However, the parody was apparently lost on CafePress, which Stay Free! Magazine was using to sell Panexa t-shirts. Carrie McLaren, the editor of Stay Free!, reports that:

After a reader sent me a note wondering what happened to our Panexa merchandise, I noticed that Cafepress has removed it due to copyright and trademark infringement!... Apparently, one of the genuises in Cafepress's police division thinks Panexa is an actual product and that we are infringing. I sent Cafepress an email about this and am awaiting a response.

Maybe there are new copyright laws that prohibit anyone from making fun of pharmaceutical companies. Wouldn't surprise me a bit. (via J-Walk)
Categories: Health/Medicine, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Nov 03, 2005
Comments (15)
Status: Hoax
image According to the HETRACIL website, "HETRACIL is the most widely prescribed anti-effeminate medication in the United States, helping 16 million Americans who suffer from Behavioral Effeminism and Male Homosexuality Disorder." In other words, it's supposedly a drug to treat homosexuality. The look and feel of the site is pretty convincing, perfectly imitating the bland soothing nature of other pharmaceutical sites. And it's plausible that some drug company could try to devise such a product, given that up until the late 1960s the American Psychiatric Association actually did list homosexuality in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders as a psychiatric disorder. However, as far as I know, no drug company is currently developing a treatment for homosexuality. In other words, HETRACIL is a hoax. This is revealed on homomojo.com in an interview with Benjamin, the creator of the HETRACIL site. The interview explains that "What he intended with these creations was to spur conversation on a “what if” scenario in which a cure for homosexuality (or at least feminine tendencies) becomes a reality. What would be the ramifications to society if sexual orientation could be manipulated?"
Categories: Health/Medicine, Psychology, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 01, 2005
Comments (25)
A report in the Daily Mail claims that doctors stranded in New Orleans hospitals after Katrina hit decided to give some patients lethal doses of morphine, rather than watching them die in agony. A few bloggers are suggesting this report has all the markings of an urban legend, given that it's based on only one identified source. If so, it wouldn't be the first urban legend emerging from the disaster. However, the recent discovery of 44 dead bodies in a New Orleans hospital would seem to add credibility to this report.
Categories: Death, Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 13, 2005
Comments (19)
New Scientist has flagged a product whose promoters are guilty of making a few misleading claims. It's Neaclear facial cream, and it's advertised as containing a "powerful combination of liquid oxygen, vitamins C & E, sage, chamomile, seaweed and rosemary, coconut oil, sweet almond oil and hydroquinone." The company even boasts that they're the first company "to combine stabilised liquid oxygen into all of its products." New Scientist notes that "We have certainly never heard of a skin cream that contains liquid oxygen, the temperature of which is normally somewhere below -183 °C."
Categories: Advertising, Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Fri Sep 09, 2005
Comments (15)
A French woman, Francoise Gaellar, had a kidney transplant two days after Princess Diana died in a car crash. She believes that she received Diana's kidney. As a consequence, she now feels urges to speak in English:

"I found myself speaking English to my friends, something I don't normally do because I have no reason to," she says. "I cannot explain why I did this."
Is this evidence of a fanciful nature, or an indication she had indeed received an organ from an English-speaker? Improbable though it sounds, there are many documented accounts of organ recipients taking on characteristics of their donors.


The French authorities aren't allowed to say who people get their organs from. They also aren't about to reveal what happened to Diana's body after she died. But a Hospital spokesperson did say that: "Because of bioethical laws and other considerations, it would have been impossible for this type of transplant to have taken place in a French hospital involving a British citizen, particularly when that person was the Princess of Wales."
Categories: Death, Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Thu May 26, 2005
Comments (20)
The website of the British firm Health and Safety Management Consultants offers a list of 'hidden dangers'. For instance, did you know that 10,700 people in the UK are injured every year while putting their socks on? That two women have been killed by lightning hitting the underwiring of their bras? That more people are injured by flowerpots every year than by hedge trimmers? And that "the number of injuries inflicted by vegetables remains unacceptably high, at 13,132"? Most of these statistics seem to come from the Home and Leisure Accident Statistics Report produced by the Royal Sciety for the Prevention of Accidents. So they're probably fairly credible. But obviously the figures don't give any indication of how serious these injuries were... or the context in which the accidents occurred.
Categories: Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Sun Mar 27, 2005
Comments (13)
image A lot of people lately are wearing those yellow LiveStrong bracelets that help support the Lance Armstrong Foundation's efforts to fund cancer research. But the rumor going around is that if you do wear one of them, you better hope that you don't get into an accident and end up at the hospital, because the bracelets look exactly like the yellow wristbands that hospitals place on 'Do Not Resuscitate' patients. Apparently there is some truth to the rumor. Some hospitals do place yellow wristbands on DNR patients. However no one has ever been left to die because of a mix-up involving a LiveStrong bracelet and a DNR band. Nevertheless, some hospitals reportedly are taping over LiveStrong bracelets, just to be safe.
Categories: Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Mon Mar 14, 2005
Comments (20)
I received this email from 'Kurto': i have been a frequent visitor of your site for some time now. Recently this bombardment of advertisements about "The Catch" has been bothering me. The ad's contain figures stating million of Canadians have the Catch, and there's no cure. I'm curious to what exactly they're referring to. The website they encourage people to visit is http://curethecatch.com i have doubts to the validity of this so called disease. See if you can dig up any dirt on this.

A little googling reveals that 'The Catch' is a new viral ad campaign dreamed up to promote Virgin Mobile pre-paid phones:

Virgin has started placing teaser ads for its first campaign on subways and buses, with the second phase expected to hit the airwaves after Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson visits Toronto on Tuesday to promote the company's new services. Mr. Rosenberg says the campaign is designed to capitalize on the frustration many consumers feel about the fine print in their current plans, such as long-term contracts and the monthly system access fee. The campaign, created by Toronto ad agency Lowe Roche, is designed to create a not-too-subtle parallel between those frustrations and a fictitious venereal disease called "the catch." Mr. Rosenberg says he doesn't think Canadians will be offended by the ads. And if they are? That's part of what makes Virgin different.

Now Kurto, you aren't a Virgin Mobile ad rep, are you?
Categories: Advertising, Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 28, 2005
Comments (4)
Dakota Therapeutics has issued a press release announcing their exciting new product: the Magnehance. It's "a new magnetic device for erectile enhancement." The mind boggles. I don't quite understand how this thing is supposed to be worn, and (perhaps thankfully) they don't offer any illustrations on their website. But the amount of pseudo-scientific jargon they deploy is quite remarkable:

the Magnehance™ is constructed of a super-flexible form of the high-energy, rare earth magnet known as neodymium iron boron, which is used extensively in magnetic therapy.

Wow. The only thing that would top that is if it were made of 'patented IonXR nanoceramics technology' (but no, that's a different product). Get your orders for the Magnehance in quick, because the first few customers will also receive a 'Free Mini Keychain Digital Camera'. (via Gullibility Isn't in the Dictionary)
Update: Now I can't stop wondering, if someone actually went out in public wearing one of these things, would it start to attract random metal objects (keys, paperclips, etc.)?
Categories: Body Manipulation, Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 17, 2005
Comments (40)
Andy sent me an email pointing out this curious article about an anti-cancer compound found in carrots. It's probably some kind of typo or poor choice of words, but if you read the first and last sentences together it sure sounds like this carrot cure is going to kill you before it has a chance to kill the cancer:

Eating 400kg of carrot every day can help ward off cancer, scientists say. The recent study carried out by scientists at the University of Newcastle said a compound called Falcarinol found in carrot reduced the risk of cancer developing in rats by a third....
Falcarinol protects carrots from fungal diseases, such as liquorice rot that causes black spots on the roots during storage, but scientist say, a person would have to eat 400kg of carrots at once to ingest a lethal dose.
Categories: Food, Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 11, 2005
Comments (10)
image Sufferers of Morgellons disease complain of invisible parasites biting their skin. And they get skin lesions from which sprout strange fibers. And mysterious black spore-like specks appear on their skin. Cases of this strange disease seem to be spreading, especially in the Bay area. One theory is that it has something to do with Lyme disease. Or it may be a case of mass delusion. The medical community seems to think it's mass delusion. Most people who show up complaining of these symptoms get diagnosed with 'delusional parasitosis', which is a psychological problem in which people imagine that they're infested by parasites. Not having any medical qualifications at all, I won't weigh in on whether this is a real disease or mass delusion, but some of the behavior of the patients does sound suspiciously bizarre. Take the case of Theresa Blodgett:

She gathers up the black specks, the mysterious fibers and the small, fuzzy 'cocoons' she finds on her skin and around her home. She tapes the macabre samples to typing paper, but she said no doctor will analyze the collection. Physicians who glance at the specimens dismiss the lot as stray hairs, clothing fibers, scabs and other common household debris, she said.

So either she really is suffering from something and is desperately but unsuccessfully trying to get doctors to pay attention to her, or she's obsessively collecting house dust and stray flecks of dirt and convincing herself that these things are parasites attacking her. (Thanks to 'K' for the links)
Categories: Health/Medicine, Psychology
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 11, 2005
Comments (607)
I'm not a knuckle cracker myself. In fact, I hate it when people crack their knuckles. And I've frequently told people that cracking their knuckles would cause arthritis. After all, that's what everyone says. But according to this NY Times article (republished in the Arizona Republic) it's not true. It's an urban legend.
Just reading this description of what causes knuckles to crack makes me cringe:
The loud pop of a cracked knuckle is caused by synovial fluid, the thick lubricant that surrounds every joint. When the fingers are stretched or bent backward, the bones of the joint pull apart. This creates bubbles of air in the fluid, which subsequently burst.
But as for the evidence that knuckle cracking doesn't cause arthritis, the article cites a 1990 study:
The largest study to explore a link to arthritis was published in 1990 in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. It looked at 300 healthy people older than 45, 74 of them habitual knuckle crackers. The rates of arthritis of the hand were similar in both groups, though the knuckle crackers, on average, had reduced grip strength.
Still, I think I might keep telling people who are cracking their knuckles that it's going to give them arthritis, just to annoy them and maybe scare them into stopping.
Categories: Body Manipulation, Health/Medicine, Urban Legends
Posted by Alex on Wed Feb 02, 2005
Comments (70)
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