Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Another one of those juxtaposition posts

Okay, you caught me, I use this trick a lot.

In the new JAMA (argghhh, subscription only) there's a summary by Bridget Kuehn of recent research that finds that when exposed to cocaine, lower status monkeys are more susceptible to addiction than the alpha monkeys who get all the best bananas and monkettes. These experimenters relate this finding to the number of a specific kind of dopamine receptor in the animals' brains, of which the boss monkeys have more. Both classes of monkeys lose D2 receptors while they are actively using, but the high status monkeys grow them back faster and are also less likely to relapse. Assuming this is also true of humans (and we can't do the experiment), their proposed solution is a drug that makes you grow D2 receptors.

Now, while it is true that we can't do the experiment, there has already been plenty of sociological research which shows that middle class and above type people are just as likely, if not more likely, than people from less privileged backgrounds to try illicit drugs. But it's the people who don't have good jobs to go to on Monday morning or futures worth preparing for who are more likely to end up addicted. (And please don't even ask me about the scene at my old college. I know plenty of people who were flying through the ozone every weekend, who are now pouring martinis on the roof deck on Martha's Vineyard every July.) I don't know if that has anything to do with D2 receptors and frankly, I don't care, because the first solution I think of for that problem is not yet another pill. It's creating opportunity for more people, which I consider superior to creating a new model of oppressed drudge with extra D2 receptors.

Then we come to new research by Thompson, Tangen, Goodman, and etc. etc., which finds in a prospective cohort study (very strong design) that men without diagnosed cardiovascular disease at baseline, who have or develop erectile dysfunction, are at much higher risk for heart attacks, strokes etc. than men who continue to lift the bale, as it were. The reasons are undoubtedly that not being able to get it up is a symptom of conditions that are risk factors for CVD -- smoking, obesity, lack of fitness, circulatory impairment, and so forth. But we all know what a guy is supposed to do nowadays if Private Partz won't snap to attention -- ask the doctor for the little blue pill. Maybe it would be an even better idea to figure out exactly why the soldier is AWOL and fix the problem -- then you wouldn't die of a heart attack.

Pretty soon, they'll come up with a pill for not liking your boss, another one for hating all the TV shows that are on, a pill for people who don't take their pills, and the major breakthrough, a pill to cure being mad at the government.

No comments: