Probative Pee, Pilgrim Obesity, and Med School Baked Bribes

He tweets, he (doesn’t) score!

We all know that less sleep equals poor job performance. Up way too late on a Sunday night means you might fall face first into your keyboard the next morning and accidentally send an email that ends with “hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.” So, yeah, sleep is important.

It’s especially important when you are a professional athlete and your entire livelihood depends on you being in tip-top shape. Researchers from the State University of New York at Stony Brook studied the performance of NBA players in relation to their late-night Twitter binges. Unsurprisingly, tweeting in the wee hours correlated with fewer points and fewer rebounds in the next day’s game. We’re sure coaches are just thrilled to hear about their players spending precious night hours @-ing random trolls on Twitter. Does this mean less tweeting and more sleep means anyone can be the next LeBron? Or, um, the next @KingJames? Probably not … but give it a try.

Poppy seeds and probative pee

As you tuck into your Thanksgiving leftovers, give a thought to a valiant physician who ate and drank – and peed – for science. Not just once, but twice.

At the recent Pain Care for Primary Care symposium in San Diego, Mount Sinai Beth Israel addiction specialist Edwin Salsitz, MD, gave a presentation about drug screening and mentioned his own homegrown investigation into two reputed sources of false positives.

A few years ago, a patient tested positive for opiates and, like many before him, blamed his fondness for poppy-seed bagels. Dr. Salsitz asked the patient to buy him a poppy bagel from his usual source, then the doctor went home and ate it on a Sunday prior to collecting his own pee. The doctor’s subsequent urine test was positive for opiates, and the patient was off the hook. (For more about the poppy-seed menace to accurate opiate testing, check this clinical update from the Aegis testing company.)

Later, it was time to check another possible urban legend. Dr. Salsitz got some mate de coca tea from a friend who’d returned from South America. Again, he took time out of a Sunday, this time to enjoy a hot beverage, mate de coca style, and collect his own pee. The urine test was positive this time, too – for cocaine.

The moral of the story? If you have a drug test looming, be safe and just stick to a croissant and coffee.

Psst … want a cookie?

In medical school, the best and brightest sacrifice their bodies and social lives to absorb knowledge like human sponges. Or maybe it’s where they absorb cookies in exchange for positive end-of-course evaluations.

Investigators from the University of Münster (Germany) decided to give 118 of the school’s third-year medical students a little test. During a course on emergency medicine, some groups were given access to free chocolate cookies (Discus deliciosum spp.) in their sessions, and some groups were not. When it came time to fill out their “student evaluations of teaching” at the end of the semester, the “cookie group” was more generous in its ratings of the course material and gave significantly higher scores to the teachers and to the course overall, compared with the control group (Med Educ. 2018 Oct;52[10]:1064-72).

Why Myles Standish wasn’t fat

In the autumn of 1621, obesity didn’t dine with the 53 Pilgrims who gave culinary thanks for surviving their first disappointing Boston Bruins season. Er, for their first harvest after a brutal New England winter. Why was that first Thanksgiving such a svelte affair, free of the high-BMI epidemic that afflicts so many Bruins faithful nearly 4 centuries later? Was it the free-range turkey? The lean venison? The Wampanoag guests’ demands for a DASH-diet dinner?

Pilgrim exiles in Plymouth, Mass.

A modern study may help reveal the historical truth: 17th century Plymouth Plantation wasn’t yet bisected by the 21st century Cape Cod traffic snarling the Pilgrims Highway, a.k.a. Massachusetts Route 3.

It was Spanish researchers, not English Puritans, who unbuckled the portly puzzle’s Pilgrim hat. Investigators with the Barcelona Institute for Global Health examined the link between traffic noise exposure and obesity markers among a group of Swiss adults. The verdict? Those exposed to the highest levels of traffic noise ran the greatest risk of becoming obese. Specifically, every 10-decibel rise in road noise packed on another 17% increase in obesity. Seems tractor-trailer downshifts and honking horns may disturb sleep, gridlocking glucose metabolism and diverting everyone to the nearest drive-thru.