Drugs almost always have a wide range of different actions, some expected and others unintended. Like you, I suspect the cardiovascular protective effects of statins are due to mechanisms other than cholesterol reduction. For example, statins also increase endothelial nitric oxide production by upregulating endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS).

A 2003 journal article concluded the following: "There is increasing evidence, however, that statins may also exert effects beyond cholesterol lowering. Indeed, many of these cholesterol-independent or 'pleiotropic' vascular effects of statins appear to involve restoring or improving endothelial function through increasing the bioavailability of nitric oxide, promoting re-endothelialization, reducing oxidative…


Couldn't agree more, the sociological notion of race has no scientific basis. I have oftentimes heard the argument that race must exist because people look different and these kinds of differences can be clustered into broad groups, but the genetic signatures that correlate with large land masses are neither exclusive nor unique to any particular group of people. The idea of race serves to reflect patterns of social and economic inequity. Race is socially constructed, not biologically based.


Children climbing trees
Children climbing trees
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

COVID-19 / SCIENCE / HEALTH

It’s more than just a matter of scientific curiosity.

When the pandemic first began, infectious disease experts, epidemiologists, and the general public were operating under the assumption that while children could certainly catch the novel coronavirus (the youngest cases have been only days old), they appeared unlikely to develop severe symptoms. These patterns contrasted with those of other viral illnesses such as the flu where both the very young and the elderly are typically at greater risk for complications. Dr. Bharat Pankhania of the University of Exeter notes, “People tend to get more ill at the extremes of age as they have lower resilience.”

As the pandemic progressed, reports…


The British chemist discovered the structures of penicillin, insulin, and B12 (cobalamin) using X-ray crystallography

Today marks day 34 in my ongoing battle with COVID-19. Should I recover, I promise to share the details of my journey. For now, while I have the chance, I would like to acknowledge a brilliant, tenacious British chemist on what would’ve been her 110th birthday.

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, born May 12, 1910 in Egypt but raised in England, was fascinated by crystals from a young age and received a book authored by Nobel Prize-winning physicist William Henry Bragg on her 16th birthday, sparking her interest in X-ray crystallography. Hodgkin studied physics and chemistry as an undergraduate at Somerville College…


COVID-19 / MEDICINE / HEALTH

PCR-based nasal swab testing and serological antibody testing both have certain limitations.

As more and more state health departments and private enterprises continue to ramp up testing capacity for COVID-19, several health experts warn that test results are not 100 percent accurate and should be interpreted in the context of clinical presentation and exposure risk.

The most commonly used PCR-based nasal swab test to detect SARS-CoV-2 is highly specific but not very sensitive, meaning positive results are more useful than negative results. In other words, a positive result almost guarantees infection with the novel coronavirus but a negative result cannot rule out the presence of infection.

“The issue with the tests for…


The novel coronavirus is not a “laboratory construct” but the result of natural evolution

Ever since the novel coronavirus began sweeping the globe, misinformation has spread just as quickly. Accusations have been made by politicians in both the United States and China that the COVID-19-causing coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) may have been manufactured in a laboratory. According to the results of a new article published in Nature Medicine, the new coronavirus is not a “laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus” but emerged as a result of natural evolution. This most recent report helps clear up some of the confusion surrounding the origins of the disease.

The novel coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2
The novel coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2
The novel coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2 (Image Credit: AFP)

Earlier this year, a preprint published online on the bioRxiv…


Does this commonly encountered scenario in Hollywood hold up under medical scrutiny?

Today, we are tackling a medical myth that is commonly perpetuated in popular culture that you can shock a heart out of asystole. We’ve all seen it. A dramatic movie scene in which a patient flatlines and the healthcare workers immediately move to pull out the defibrillator in a last-ditch effort to save a character’s life. It’s high stakes. It’s dramatic. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, teeming with anxiety. But it would never happen in real life.

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Image by GrafiStart on Adobe Stock

The medical term for a flatline is “asystole,” meaning there are no heart contractions. Defibrillators are designed to produce…


In order to forge new discoveries, we can’t think in black-and-white terms or blindly accept consensus dogma

The other day, a friend of mine wrote to me saying she had recently been listening to lectures by Dr. Shamini Jain. Unfamiliar with the name, I looked her up, came across her website, and began listening to her TED Talk on healing. While hearing her speak, I felt a deep sense of camaraderie with many of the experiences she was describing.

Like her, I have seen many scientific paradigms upended during my lifetime, such as the still widely circulated myth that neurogenesis doesn’t occur after childhood or the assumption that lymph nodes don’t exist in the brain. As was…


The annals of history are filled with the scientific contributions of countless inimitable women, such as astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt, chemist Rosalind Franklin, mathematician Ada Lovelace, inventor and actress Hedy Lamarr, geneticist Mary-Claire King, and biochemist Jennifer Doudna, just to name a few. This past October, astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch completed the first all-female spacewalk, which lasted seven hours and 17 minutes, outside the International Space Station.

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Christina Koch, left, and Jessica Meir were part of NASA’s 2013 class of astronaut trainees. (Image Credit: NASA/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science — and the World by Rachel Swaby recounts the stories of many more women whose work changed the course of civilization. Seismologist Inge Lehmann discovered…

Nita Jain

Microbes, mitochondria, metabolism, nutrition, diabetes, trivia, music, prefer acoustic to electric, consilience humanmicrobes.substack.com

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