Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five 227

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Just when you thought your brain could unwind on a Friday, you realise that it would rather be challenged with some good old fashioned medical trivia FFFF…introducing Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five 227.

Question 1

In 1979 a study was conducted at a tea plantation in Sri Lanka, what was given to the tea pickers to increase their productivity?

+ Reveal the Funtabulous Answer

  • Iron supplementation
  • 199 subjects were either given placebo (calcium lactate) or 200 mg of ferrous sulphate for one month.
  • Iron supplementation was significant in those who were moderately anaemic (Hb <9.0 g/dl), increasing their daily tea picking productivity from 15.6 to 17.5 kg/day (p<0.01). [Reference]

Question 2

Doctor Duncan is a pub in Liverpool, but who is doctor Duncan?

+ Reveal the Funtabulous Answer

  • Britain’s first ‘Medical Officer of Health’ appointed 1st January 1847
  • The passing of the Public Health Act (Sanitary, 1846) led to the establishment of the role of medical officer of health in Liverpool, and William Henry Duncan was appointed to ensure that sanitary conditions were improved in order to stem the spread of disease. [Reference]
  • The number of Medical Officers of Health grew exponentially in the Victorian era (now amalgamated into the Royal Institute of Public Health and Hygiene after numerous reforms). Responsibilities of MOHs focused mainly on areas of water supply, sewerage, street lighting and paving, new buildings and housing, nuisance removal, food inspection, infectious diseases, fever hospitals, sanitary burial, regulation of markets, offensive trades and slaughterhouses.


Question 3

How effective is prayer if you are the monarch?

+ Reveal the funtabulous answer

  • Francis Galton published a satirical review of prayer including a table from Dr Guy’s memoir in the Journal of the Statistical Society (Vol. XXII p355) – unfortunately I am unable to track the original reference.
  • The table shows that despite a nation praying every Sunday for the longevity of the Royal House they have the shortest life expectancy. This of course does not take into account whether being a Royal is inherently risky and prayers are therefore protective. [Reference]

Question 4

What is Stendhal syndrome?

+ Reveal the Funtabulous Answer

  • “It is a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly beautiful or a large amount of art is in a single place.”
  • The renowned 19th century French author, Stendhal, experienced the condition on a visit to Florence in 1817. A Florentine psychiatrist reported a series of 106 visitors admitted to hospital between 1977 and 1986 after experiencing acute transient psychiatric symptoms in response to viewing the art of Florence. She dubbed this phenomenon “Stendhal syndrome,” a term that was subsequently popularised in the 1996 thriller of the same name by Italian director Dario Argento. [Reference]

Question 5

What is the “King’s Evil”?

+ Reveal the Funtabulous Answer

  • It has several mentions in the works of Shakespeare, one of which occurs in Macbeth (iv.3)

Macduff. What’s the disease he means?
Malcolm. ’Tis call’d the evil:
A most miraculous work in this good king;
Which often, since my here-remain in England,
I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven,
Himself best knows: but strangely-visited people,
All swoln and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
The mere despair of surgery, he cures,
Hanging a golden stamp about their necks,
Put on with holy prayers: and ’tis spoken,
To the succeeding royalty he leaves
The healing benediction.

  • Scrofula is cervical tuberculous lymphadenopathy.
  • The term King’s Evil refers to the fact that it was firmly believed that scrofula could be cured simply by the touch of the reigning monarch.
  • The practice began with King Edward the Confessor in England (1003/4-1066) and Philip I (1052-1108) in France. Some monarchs touched many people. King Henry IV of France touched up to 1500 victims at one time. The last English monarch to carry out this practice was Queen Anne, who died in 1714, but it continued in France. Louis XV touched more than 2000 scrofula victims and the last French monarch to do this was Charles X in 1825. (A nod to Michelle Johnston) [Reference]

…and finally

Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five 227
Neil Long

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Author: Neil Long

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