Today’s IFOD is a chain of facts, loosely related.
Fact Number One: Every human born prior to 1898 has died. The total number of human beings who have died: about 100 billion.
Fact Number Two: It is estimated that the cause of death for about half of those 100 Billion people is malaria.
Fact Number Three: The first known usage of the “magic word” abracadabra comes from Roman Emperor Caracalla’s physician, Serenus Sammonicus, who in the 2nd century AD “prescribed” that Caracalla and his court wear an amulet inscribed with the word abracadabra to ward off malaria. Use of amulets and charms with the word abracadabra inscribed on them were used to “cure” disease well into the 18th century. Abracadabra amulets may have had staying power over the centuries to some success due to the placebo effect.
Fact Number Four: The placebo effect is a remarkable phenomenon in which a placebo – a fake treatment – can sometimes improve a patient’s condition simply because the person has the expectation that it will be helpful.
Studies have shown that the placebo effect can work even when you know you are receiving a placebo. A seminal study from 2014 study was led by Ted Kaptchuk at Harvard and related to migraine pain medication. In the study one group took a migraine drug labeled with the drug’s name, another took a placebo labeled “placebo,” and a third group took nothing. The researchers discovered that the placebo was 50% as effective as the real drug to reduce pain after a migraine attack.
Fact Number Five: Migraines are the 3rd most common illness in the world and the 6th most disabling. Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. households includes someone with migraine. 12% of the population suffers from migraine: 18% of American women, 6% of men, and 10% of children experience migraines. Every 10 seconds, someone in the U.S. goes to the emergency room complaining of head pain, and approximately 1.2 million ER visits are for acute migraine attacks.
Fact Number Six: There were 141.4 million ER visits in the U.S. in 2014. 40 million of those were injury-related. 7.9% of those visits resulted in hospital admission. Top reason for visiting ER: stomach/abdominal pain, followed by chest pain, cough, fever, headache/migraine, back pain, shortness of breath, vomiting, injury and alien baby infestation. *
The alien baby chestburster scene from the movie Aliens (totally gross – don’t watch unless you totally dig this sort of thing):
An even grosser, more horrible alien coming out of a chest from the movie “The Thing” (1982) – definitely don’t watch this one:
* The “alien baby infestation” is not a real cause of ER visits. Total fake fact. The rest of the facts today are true.