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All The News That's Fit: Toilet seat stunts, sandwich records and concussive coconuts

San Diego Union Tribune logo San Diego Union Tribune 6/21/2022 Scott LaFee

June 21, 2022

Get me that. Stat!

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The World Health Organization estimates the global death toll due to COVID-19 in the pandemic’s first two years is 15 million. The U.S. recently passed the 1 million mark for COVID-19 deaths.

Body of knowledge

The Guinness World Record for most toilet seats broken by someone’s head in one minute is 46, set in 2007 by Kevin Shelley of Germany. Shelley did it as a TV stunt. Do not try this at home. It’s bad for the head — yours and the one at home.


1 in 4

Ratio of doctors who say they have experienced mistreatment in the workplace, most often from patients or visitors

Source: JAMA Network Open

Phobia of the week


Fear of mirrors or seeing oneself in a mirror; quite rare in vampires

Never say diet

The Major League Eating speed-eating record for Chock full o’Nuts Date Nut Bread and cream cheese sandwiches is 29.5 in 8 minutes, held by Patrick Bertoletti. Who was, appropriately chock full at the finish, and possibly nuts.

Best medicine

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Smoking will kill you. Bacon will kill you. But smoking bacon will cure it.


“I think it’s really important to take the stigma away from mental health. ... My brain and my heart are really important to me. I don’t know why I wouldn’t seek help to have those things be as healthy as my teeth?”
American actress Kerry Washington (1977-)

Medical history

This week in 1861, English biochemist Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins was born. With Christiaan Eijkman, Hopkins would share the 1929 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for discovering that “essential nutrient factors,” now known as vitamins, are needed in animal diets to maintain health.

Hopkins fed young rats a basic diet which, in addition to the necessary salts, contained a carefully purified mixture of lard, starch and casein (the most abundant protein in milk). After some time, the animals ceased to grow. Then Hopkins demonstrated that it was only necessary to add a very small daily amount of whole milk to their diet for growth to recommence, proving that the presence of other nutrients in the milk was necessary for growth and health.

Perishable publications

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Many, if not most, published research papers have titles that defy comprehension. They use specialized jargon, complex words and opaque phrases like “nonlinear dynamics.” Sometimes they don’t, and yet they’re still hard to figure out. Here’s an actual title of actual published research study: “Injuries due to Falling Coconuts.”

Writing in the Journal of Trauma in 1984, a doctor reviewed four years of trauma admissions at the Provincial Hospital in Alotau, Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea. He determined that 2.5 percent were due to being struck by falling coconuts, and because coconuts can weigh up to 10 pounds and fall from trees as high as 100 feet, the impact when hitting a person’s head can exceed 1 metric ton.

Four cases of patients with coconut-caused head injuries were described. Two required craniotomies, a surgical operation opening the skull to relieve internal pressure from bleeding and swelling, and two died instantly.

Med school

knee © Provided by San Diego Union Tribune knee

Q: What is the largest joint in the human body?

a) Shoulder

b) Knee

c) Hip

d) Ankle

A: b) Knee

Curtain calls

Harry R. Truman was the 83-year-old owner of the Mount St. Helens Lodge, located at the base of the active volcano. In the months leading up to its 1980 eruption, he was repeatedly advised to evacuate. Truman refused, believing that the heavily forested area and nearby Spirit Lake would serve as safety buffers. He also said he couldn’t leave his 16 cats.

Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980. It was subsequently determined that Truman likely died of heat shock in less than a second before his body was nearly vaporized. The pyroclastic flow that followed minutes later buried the lodge under 30 feet of ash.

The cats died too.

LaFee is a health science writer at UC San Diego.

This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.


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