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November 8, 2019

Weekend reads: People are getting STDs diagnosed on Reddit

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    An STD diagnosis from Reddit. The website Reddit has a page with over 10,000 users that people are using to diagnose sexually transmitted diseases—instead of going to a doctor, according to a study published Tuesday in JAMA. For the study, researchers looked at a random sample of 500 posts to the community and found that 58% were asking for a diagnosis and almost one-third included photos of the STD in question. Almost 80% of those requests were answered in less than a day, the study said. John Ayers, the study's author and vice chief of innovation at the University of California, San Diego, said, "People want real interactions with real people, and they can get that on social media." Instead of trying to guide patients away from sites like Reddit, Ayers said clinicians should "go to them and help them."

    Where the most dangerous germs lurk. Human feces is more likely than food to contain the most dangerous forms of E. coli, according to a new study published in Lancet Infectious Diseases. For the study, researchers examined multiple strains of ESBL-E. coli in human blood, feces, sewage, farm slurry, live animals, and raw food. They found that many of the E. coli strains that can make people seriously ill come from humans rather than food. David Livermore, senior author on the study and professor of microbiology at the University of East Anglia, said, "Good kitchen hygiene remains important, but with these antibiotic-resistant E. coli, toilet hygiene becomes vitally important."

    Danielle Poindexter's reads

    Why some people like TV spoilers. Viewers who are invested in a certain TV show or movie franchise usually go out of their way to avoid "spoilers," or information that ruins the plot or big twist of a story. But film critic Alissa Wilkinson seeks them out, and she recently learned that she's "not alone in liking spoilers," Wilkinson writes for Vox. Benjamin Johnson, an assistant professor of advertising at the University of Florida, and Judith Rosenbaum, an assistant professor of media studies at the University of Maine, have authored several studies about how people react to spoilers. According to their research, people's personality traits and brain processing speed can contribute to how they feel about spoilers. "[I]t may have to do with some people's sense of control," Johnson said. "[I]f you give people spoilers and they don't want them … that can make them feel like they’ve lost control over the viewing experience." But on the other hand, some people who like spoilers may seek them out so they can control their emotions while watching the story. If they already know the ending, they won't have any anxiety about a particularly emotional ending or a big twist. Other people like spoilers because it can increase "processing fluency," which means it helps viewers make sense of events that are happening in the story more quickly. 

    Are humans responsible for spread of cancer in mussels? A contagious form of cancer common in mussels has spread from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere, and now, it's affecting other species, according to research published Tuesday. According to Michael Metzger, a biologist at the Pacific Northwest Research Institute and co-author of the report, humans likely played a huge role in spreading the cancer across hemispheres. According to the researchers, a bay mussel likely developed the first strain of the cancer, called BTN1, in the pacific and spread the cancer to other bay mussels on the coast. However, a second strain of the cancer, called BTN2, was also found in Chilean mussels, which are several thousand miles away from the mussels in the Pacific. According to the researchers, the bay mussels must have hitched a ride on the side of passing ships before being dropped off in Chile. According to Metzger, humans have likely played a role in spreading a few contagious cancers across multiple species.

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