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How People Get Hurt in All 50 States

Medical codes can get incredibly specific. When you go to the hospital, the doctor won’t just enter your diagnosis as “concussion” or “traffic accident”—you’ll go into the system as suffering from an “animal-drawn vehicle accident” or having been in an “unarmed fight or brawl.” The beauty of these medical codes is that you can track exactly how many people went to the hospital after crashing their horse-drawn buggy. The healthcare search site Amino recently did exactly that, finding out the causes of a disproportionate number of injuries in every state through health insurance claims.

Amino’s researchers combed through 244 million health insurance claims in its database between 2012 and 2016, looking for the injuries that stuck out in each state compared to the national average. Tennessee, for instance, sees 1.6 times more injury diagnoses related to motor vehicle crashes than the national average.

The data (larger image here) represents only injuries that were reported and recorded by doctors, so it’s possible that a ton of people get in fist fights in places other than New York but just don’t go to the doctor for it. The data is simplified so that the 3000 medical codes for physical injuries down are combined into 170 common terms, like calling all 38 types of contusions “bruising.”

Amino found that New York is home to over 10 percent of the medically documented fist fights (the aforementioned unarmed brawls). There were 35,000 New York fist fight injuries diagnosed during the period analyzed, compared to around 296,000 nationally. Indiana’s most disproportionately common injury is “struck by object.” Rural states like Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Idaho, and Nebraska were home to a disproportionate number of the 43,000 “animal-drawn vehicle accidents” across the country—with 1000 (two percent of the national total) taking place just in Nebraska. Hawaii sees far more patients after “near drowning” than other states, as you might suspect of a state surrounded by water.

The major question is, what’s happening to people’s faces in Louisiana? And why are Missouri’s animals so dangerous?

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Why You Should Think Twice About Drinking From Ceramics You Made by Hand
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Ceramic ware is much safer than it used to be (Fiesta ware hasn’t coated its plates in uranium since 1973), but according to NPR, not all new ceramics are free of dangerous chemicals. If you own a mug, bowl, plate, or other ceramic kitchen item that was glazed before entering the kiln, it may contain trace amounts of harmful lead.

Earthenware is often coated with a shiny, ceramic glaze. If the clay used to sculpt the vessel is nontoxic, that doesn’t necessarily mean the glaze is. Historically, the chemical has been used in glazes to give pottery a glossy finish and brighten colors like orange, yellow, and red.

Sometimes the amount of lead in a product is minuscule, but even trace amounts can contaminate whatever you're eating or drinking. Over time, exposure to lead in small doses can lead to heightened blood pressure, lowered kidney function, and reproductive issues. Lead can cause even more serious problems in kids, including slowed physical and mental development.

As the dangers of even small amounts of lead have become more widely known, the ceramics industry has gradually eliminated the additive from its products. Most of the big-name commercial ceramic brands, like Crock-Pot and Fiesta ware, have cut it out all together. But there are still some manufacturers, especially abroad, that still use it. Luckily, the FDA keeps a list of the ceramic ware it tests that has been shown to contain lead.

Beyond that list, there’s another group of products consumers should be wary of: kiln-baked dishware that you either bought from an independent artist or made yourself. The ceramic mug you crafted at your local pottery studio isn’t subject to FDA regulations, and therefore it may be better suited to looking pretty on your shelf than to holding beverages. This is especially true when consuming something acidic, like coffee, which can cause any lead hiding in the glaze to leach out.

If you’re not ready to retire your hand-crafted ceramic plates, the FDA offers one possible solution: Purchase a home lead testing kit and analyze the items yourself. If the tests come back negative, your homemade dishware can keep its spot on your dinner table.

[h/t NPR]

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Marathon Running Won't Undo Poor Lifestyle Choices, Study Suggests
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Even marathon participants can't outrun an unhealthy lifestyle, according to a new study highlighted by The New York Times.

For years, expert opinion has been mixed on whether long-distance running helps or hurts hearts. In the 1970s, research suggested that marathon running and a heart-healthy diet would completely prevent atherosclerosis (a buildup of harmful plaque in the arteries). But since high-profile runners have died of heart attacks, scientists in the 1980s began to worry that running might actually harm the vital organ. Compounding this fear in recent years were studies suggesting that male endurance athletes exhibited more signs of heart scarring or plaques than their less-active counterparts.

Experts don't have a verdict quite yet, but researchers from the University of Minnesota and Stanford and their colleagues have some good news—running doesn't seem to harm athletes' hearts, but it's also not a panacea for heart disease. They figured this out by asking 50 longtime marathon runners, all male, with an average age of 59, to fill out questionnaires about their training, health history, and habits, and then examining them for signs of atherosclerosis.

Only 16 of the runners ended up having no plaque in their arteries, and the rest exhibited slight, moderate, or worrisome amounts. The men who had unhealthy hearts also had a history of smoking and high cholesterol. A grueling training regime seemed to have no effect on these levels.

Bottom line? Marathon running won't hurt your heart, but it's not a magic bullet for poor lifestyle choices.

[h/t The New York Times]

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