Posts tagged with "Futurism"

Terrible things are happening to men who got penis enlargement

February 9, 2024

Preying upon perhaps one of the biggest male insecurities, a Beverly Hills-based urologist’s controversial treatment has turned out not only to be too good to be true—but to have a very dark side as well, reports Futurism.

In an investigation originally conducted and published by ProPublica, James Elist and his enhancement device—known as the “Penuma” (an acronym for “Penis New Man”)—take center stage in this drama populated by men who, after getting the implant, had grotesque complications that included festering wounds and extreme pain during urination and sex.

Though Elist’s literature suggests that implantation of the Penuma, a block-like silicone device implanted through an incision in the shaft of the penis, is “reversible,” it seems clear from example after example of extreme complications that it’s anything but.

“To fully consent to a procedure, the patient needs someone to tell him everything,” Thomas Walsh, a reconstructive urologist who has treated patients with post-Penuma implantation complications, told ProPublica. “He doesn’t need a salesman. The problem here is that you’ve got someone who is inventing and manufacturing and selling the device. That personal investment can create a tremendous conflict of interest.”

Walsh removed the implant belonging to a patient whose name ProPublica listed only as “Mick” to protect his identity. After finally rejecting Elist’s directive not to seek advice online or from other doctors, Mick, who had lost sensation in his penis, was horrified to learn that there were tons of other deeply unsatisfied customers who had complications even worse than his own.

From broken implants to holes that spew out amber-colored fluid, the stories of Penuma implants gone wrong are enough to turn one’s stomach. But prior to this latest investigation, articles singing Elist and his device’s praises in GQ and other news outlets contributed to making him a standout surgeon in the packed Beverly Hills market.

Perhaps the most depressing part of Mick’s story—a consequence from which he suffered and was far from alone—is that following the removal of the implant, he found that his penis had actually lost length.

“It’s like he also snipped the possibility of intimacy away from me,” a Hollywood executive who had had multiple surgeries with Elist, told ProPublica.

Although the doctor insists that there are more satisfied customers than unhappy ones, the list of issues not only with the implant itself but also with the consent process is harrowing. For instance, men were being given forms to sign after getting shots of narcotics. Foreign-born patients were being given forms to sign in English and after waking up from anesthesia for what they thought was a vein-cleaning procedure, found a strange object had been implanted into their shafts.

The entire debacle is a gross reminder not only of the potential issues with any cosmetic procedure—but also of the lengths, pun intended, to which people in our culture will go to “improve” or “enhance” their bodies. That men are willing to undergo such surgeries is as much an indictment of society at large as it is on the doctors who capitalize on their insecurities.

Research contact: @futurism

New study finds that patients do not regain weight if they stop taking Ozempic

February 1, 2024

The emerging consensus about semaglutide—the active ingredient in the buzzy drugs Ozempic and Wegovy—had been that there was a crucial catch: If patients stopped taking it, they’d soon regain the weight, locking them into an expensive and lifelong pharmaceutical habit.

But, Futurism now reports, new data now contradicts those findings—at least for some patients. As a new survey from the health software company Epic Systems indicates, two -thirds of patients who used semaglutide injections correctly were able to keep off the weight they’d lost for as long as a year after discontinuing their prescriptions—which flies in the face of reports from people who regained the weight after getting off the drug.

The results didn’t hold across the board. Of the more than 20,000 people surveyed by the firm’s research arm, nearly 18% said they regained all of the weight they had lost—but still, 56% said that they kept the weight off, and more than half of those respondents said they continued to lose weight in the year after stopping their injections.

In other words, a great range of outcomes are possible, depending on the specific person—results that once again add to the growing and sometimes contradictory canon of studies and anecdotes regarding semaglutide; as it continues to grow ever more popular, controversial, and difficult to obtain.

Part of a class of drugs known as GLP-1 agonists that mimic the stomach enzyme that makes us feel full; the actual functioning of semaglutide is still something of an open question in the medical community, because, like antidepressants, nobody’s entirely sure how it works.

What studies have shown, however, is that these drugs can provide significant health benefits that aren’t just limited to weight loss. On the flip side, research also has indicated that semaglutide carries the risk of some serious side effects; which can include everything from nausea and diarrhea to stomach paralysis and, in some rare cases, renal failure and pancreatitis.

Between the hype surrounding these drugs and the sober studies about some of their scarier-sounding side effects are the increasing number of personal stories doctors and journalists have begun compiling about them.

From The Messenger‘s report about a woman who regained all the weight she lost on Wegovy to NBC‘s interviews with the family of a man who died by suicide on Ozempic and now wants to get suicidal ideation included on the drug’s warning label, media reports about semaglutide have been quite the mixed bag.

It’s hard to imagine how people considering taking semaglutide or any other related GLP-1 agonist manage to sift through the noise and decide whether to take the drug for themselves, especially with the meme-ification of Ozempic bestowing it with an almost mystical quality in the minds of people with weight on the brain.

Research contact: @futurism

Driver slightly injured in first Cybertruck crash

January 9, 2024

It was only a matter of time before the first Tesla Cybertruck was involved in a collision.

Futurism reports that, just before 2023 drew to a close, a Toyota Corolla crashed into a Cybertruck that was traveling along a road near Palo Alto, California—an accident that’s attracted immense scrutiny due to the Cybertruck’s unconventional and widely criticized design.

According to a statement released by the California Highway Patrol, the Toyota swerved and hit a dirt embankment on the right shoulder, reentered the road shortly, crossed the double yellow lines, and crashed into a Cybertruck that was traveling the other way.

The Tesla driver “sustained a suspected minor injury,” and “declined medical transportation.” No other “injuries were reported,” per the CHP—suggesting that the Corolla driver walked away unscathed despite images showing the vehicle’s airbags deploying.

“It does not appear that the Tesla Cybertruck was being operated in autonomous mode,” the statement reads.

While we await further details regarding the injuries and the investigation still remains “ongoing,” the crash highlights the potential risks of driving a vehicle as stiff as the Cybertruck. For decades, carmakers have designed vehicles to have crumple zones, which protect the driver during a collision. The Cybertruck, on the other hand—with a design that represents a notable departure from conventional car composition and materials—has raised concerns among experts.

Apart from potential risks for the driver, experts have also pointed out concerns over pedestrian safety. The 6,600-pound EV has extremely limited sight lines and lacks visibility of what’s going on in front of the vehicle—and that’s without getting into its ultra-hard exterior.

“The big problem there is if they really make the skin of the vehicle very stiff by using thick stainless steel, then when people hit their heads on it, it’s going to cause more damage to them,” Adrian Lund, the former president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), told Reuters last month.

European regulators have expressed similar concerns, and the truck is more than likely never making it across the pond.

Tesla, however, has maintained that the Cybertruck is much safer for those behind the wheel and others sharing the road.

Yes, we are highly confident that Cybertruck will be much safer per mile than other trucks, both for occupants and pedestrians,” CEO Elon Musk tweeted.

The company also has claimed that the truck’s “front underbody casting is designed to break into small pieces,” which “helps reduce occupant impact by absorbing and dispensing energy.”

Tesla only began delivering Cybertrucks to long-waiting customers late last year, and only time will tell whether it’s a “guideless missile” or the latest and greatest in driver safety.

Research contact: @Futurism

Amazon caught selling bathroom spy cam disguised as clothes hook

December 13, 2023

Here’s a nightmare: You’re about to take a shower when you discover that the plastic clothes hook on the wall contains a tiny camera recording your every move, reports Futurism.

That’s exactly what happened to a foreign exchange student—a minor at the time —when she was about to bathe inside a West Virginia home, according to the BBC. And though Amazon is now facing a lawsuit over the chilling incident; these hidden cameras are still being sold on its website, such as this one for $42.99.

The student from Brazil alleges in her lawsuit against Amazon that she had discovered the spy camera in a bathroom designated for her use in 2022. She was staying at the home of a man who apparently bought the camera to record her undressing.

The student points out in her lawsuit that there have been numerous articles in the past warning about the danger of these disguised cameras—one takes the form of a USB charger and another as a smoke detector—over the years, but Amazon has persisted in allowing their sale.

Amazon tried to have the case dismissed, but the legal complaint is going forward.

British privacy activist Gina Martin told the BBC that these type of cameras in disguise are often used to prey on unsuspecting women and girls.

“Retailers do need to be doing more,” she said. “They need to be stamping out hidden cameras, because there are very few instances in which hiding the fact that you’re filming someone is applicable or acceptable.”

Besides these disguised cameras—often marketed as nanny cams—other miniaturized devices, such as tracking tags and other Internet of Things tech, have been used to harass people.

It’s a brave new world. While technology has made it easier to find misplaced keys or luggage, it also has facilitated stalking, control, and abuse.

Research contact: @futurism

Something fascinating happens when you take smartphones away from narcissists

December 11, 2023

What happens when you take a smartphone away from a narcissist? Researchers in Romania—who published a recent study about that exact question in the Journal of Psychology—have found that individuals who exhibit signs of narcissism, which is defined by a sense of both self-aggrandizement and insecurity, are much more stressed out than their less-narcissistic peers when they don’t have their phones.

Known as “nomophobia,” an incredible portmanteau of the words “no mobile phone phobia,” the fear of being without one’s smartphone has become a common experience as we become more and more reliant upon—or addicted to—those tiny computers in our pockets, reports Futurism.

While it’s not at all uncommon to feel a sense of stress or unease when being without one’s phone, psychological researchers Alexandra Maftei and Acnana-Maria Pătrăușanu at Romania’s Alexandru Ioan Cuza University found that the more narcissistic their survey respondents seemed to be, the worse their nomophobia tended to get.

Using an online survey tool, the academics recruited 559 participants between the ages of 18 and 45 from post-secondary schools and universities in Eastern Romania and asked them questions that assessed their narcissistic traits, how stressed out they were, and how addicted to social media they were.

In turn, Maftei and Pătrăușanu found that the higher respondents scored on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory assessment they used, the more phone-addicted and nomophobic they seemed. As such, those who had greater levels of social media addiction and nomophobia also, in many cases, tended to be more stressed.

Interestingly, the younger respondents in the study tended to skew both more narcissistic and more nomophobic, which probably makes sense given that today’s young adults have spent most of their lives online and, in doing so, have had their identities shaped and mediated by social media.

While being on social media all the time is certainly a stressor of its own, the dependence that narcissistic individuals seem to, per this study and others like it, have on social media is likely a compounding factor. When you take that stressor away, it perversely makes narcissistic individuals more stressed—and further study will need to be done to figure out why, exactly, that conundrum exists.

Research contact: @futurism

Forget time travel: Awesome website lets you see which dinosaurs lived near your house eons ago

November 21, 2023

Want to know what kind of dinosaur roamed around your backyard eons ago? Short of hopping into a time machine, check out a fun interactive website that features a 3D view of Earth—as well as the option to see what the planet looked like during pivotal snapshots between 750 million years ago and the present, reports Futurism.
The site—dubbed Ancient Earth and developed by Discord Senior Engineering Manager Ian Webster—also gives you the option to plug in any town or city and plot it back to its location at any given time, plus nearby fossils.

As an example, if you plug in New York City and travel back to 750 million years ago, the map takes you to the Cryogenian Period,  a time when some scientists think the planet was mostly covered with glaciers. A red dot will pinpoint the relative location of the city, which was once located in the approximate middle of the supercontinent Rodinia—a mashup of most of the Earth’s land mass.

For New York City, for instance, the site explains that fossils found in the vicinity include the biped dinosaur Grallator, from the Cretaceous Period; and the Pteranodon, a winged monster from the Late Cretaceous.

You can also “travel” to notable firsts in the planet’s history—such as the appearance of the first green algae, the first insects, or the first dinosaurs.

Webster developed the interactive globe for the The Dinosaur Database, billed as the “Internet’s largest dinosaur database,” back in 2018; and based it on GPlates, software, which enables users to manipulate the planet’s plate tectonics through various time periods.

“I’m amazed that geologists collected enough data to actually plot my home 750M years ago,” Webster said when he first released the website to the public.

What’s just as amazing, besides the interactivity, is that the website teaches us that humans take up an infinitesimal slice of geological time—which puts everything in perspective.

Research contact: @futurism

Marathon runners’ bodies appear to be devouring brain tissue, scientists say

November 7, 2023

Talk about using your head. In a recent—although yet-to-be-peer-reviewed —paper, scientists posit that marathon runners’ bodies might turn to brain tissue as a mid-race energy source, gobbling down the mind’s protective myelin layer and turning it into fuel, reports Futurism.

Myelin is a fatty tissue found in our body’s nervous system, coating our brain and nerve fibers in an extensive casing of insulating plasma known as the myelin sheath. And importantly, as Klaus-Armin Nave, a neurobiologist at Göttingen, Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Multidisciplinary Sciences—who was not involved in the study—recently told Science News, it’s long been “thought that myelin sheathes were assembled, inert structures of insulation that don’t change much after they’re made.”

In other words, myelin sheathes formerly were widely thought to be unchanging structures with a single job to do. But according to the paper—published in early October as a preprint—before-and-after scans of a handful of marathon runners’ brains tell a different story: that myelin is a dynamic and adaptable tissue that’s not only available to the body as a reserve energy source during prolonged physical exercise, but also as a replenishable source of fuel to boot.

The study itself was fairly simple. Led by Carlos Matute, a neurobiologist at the Achucarro Basque Center for Neuroscience at the Leioa, Spain-based University of the Basque Country, the scientists took images of four marathon runners’ brains in the 48 hours leading up to, and in the 48 hours after, a big race.

As it turns out, the before-and-after differences in myelin levels appear to be quite drastic, with the “after” scans showing stark declines in the insulating tissue—a finding that seems to support the hypothesis that the runners’ bodies looked to their brains for an extra hit o’ juice to get over the finish line.

“This is definitely an intriguing observation,” neuroimaging scientist at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore Mustapha Bouhrara, who was not involved in the study, told Science News of the research. “It is quite plausible that myelin lipids are used as fuel in extended exercise.”

Perhaps most fascinating, however, is what appears to have happened in the brains of some of the runners in the weeks following the race. According to the study, when the researchers scanned two of the original four marathoners’ heads two weeks after the 26.2-miler, they found that the runners’ depleted myelin appeared to have bounced back in full, suggesting that the stuff is much more adaptable than previously thought.

There are a few notable caveats to this research. Again, it’s not peer-reviewed and four people isn’t a particularly large sample size. There’s also a chance that the depletion seen in the scans is actually a case of dehydration—the channels between myelin’s lipid bilayers are packed with water—although the scientists involved in the study seem pretty staunch in their opinion that dehydration has nothing to do with the changes.

“In our opinion, this is not the case,” Matute told New Science, noting that the 48 hours between the race and the following scans would have given the runners enough time to rehydrate. Another sign that dehydration wasn’t the culprit? Like a dried sponge, a dehydrated brain will shrink; the runners’ scans, said Matute, showed nothing of the sort.

“We saw that there is no shrinkage of the brain at all,” the scientist told New Science.

The paper is very preliminary, in other words, but its findings are thought-provoking, especially considering how little we actually know about our own brains. Hopefully this research warrants future research into the unlikely dynamism of the myelin sheath—and whether marathoners are the only folks who might be tapping into myelin as an energy source.

Research contact: @futurism

The FDA says Ozempic might block your intestines

October 12, 2023

Ozempic, the über-popular injectable diabetes drug, has had to update its potential side-effect warnings to include intestinal blockage, reports Futurism.

As CBS News first disclosed, the Ozempic label change reflects updates posted last week by the Food and Drug Administration—which acknowledged that some users experienced a condition known as “ileus,” which involves a blocking of the intestines.

The FDA stopped short, however, of saying that semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic—as well as Wegovy, its counterpart prescribed for weight loss—was the cause of the condition.

“Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size,” the FDA pointed out in its update published last week, “it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.”

Of the two semaglutide injections and Mounjaro, which affects the body in a similar way but uses the drug tirzepatide as its active ingredient, Ozempic is the last to reflect on its label that ileus has occurred in some of the drug’s users, CBS notes.

This latest label update follows an early August lawsuit from a Louisiana woman, who claims that the drugmakers behind the popular diabetes shots didn’t do enough to warn consumers about its “severe” gastrointestinal side effects.

In the suit, the woman alleges that Ozempic and Moujnaro both caused her to vomit so much that she lost teeth.”As a result of using… Ozempic and Mounjaro,” the suit reads, “Plaintiff was caused to suffer from severe gastrointestinal events, which resulted in, for example, severe vomiting, stomach pain, gastrointestinal burning, being hospitalized for stomach issues on several occasions including visits to the emergency room, teeth falling out due to excessive vomiting, requiring additional medications to alleviate her excessive vomiting, and throwing up whole food hours after eating.”

In a statement to Fierce Pharma, a spokesperson for Ozempic and Wegovy maker Novo Nordisk said that these kinds of GI issues “are well-known side effects” of taking GLP-1 agonists, the class of drugs to which semaglutide belongs.

“For semaglutide,” the Danish company continued, “the majority of GI side effects are mild to moderate in severity and of short duration.”

Although ileus or intestinal blockages weren’t mentioned in that suit, these label updates could serve to protect Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly, the maker of Moujnaro, from legal action—and, hopefully, will be taken into account by patients when weighing whether to take the increasingly-popular injections.

Research contact: @futurism

Neurologists speculate what might be wrong with Mitch McConnell

September 5, 2023

There’s clearly something wrong with Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). Twice now, the 81-year-old politician has frozen in place while taking questions, seemingly unable to speak—both back in July, and then on Wednesday, August 30, reports Futurism.

This past Wednesday, McConnell froze for more than 30 seconds after a reporter asked if he planned to run for re-election during a conference in Covington, Kentucky.

For obvious reasons, voters are concerned. As in the case of California Senator Dianne Feinstein (D), the apparent infirmity—and perhaps even cognitive impairment—of elected officials who refuse to step down raises profound questions about democracy.

Brian Monahan, the attending physician for the U.S. Capitol, released a letter claiming McConnell “is medically clear to continue with his schedule as planned.”

But the video evidence to the contrary has neurologists speculating what might really be going on.

“And I think to me, that was the most alarming piece—that putting this in context of other recent events where clearly Senator McConnell wasn’t feeling like himself is the most concerning thing,” Ann Murray, movement disorders division chief at the Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute at West Virginia University, told NPR.

Murray also agreed that previous comments made by other experts speculating that McConnell was possibly dehydrated or having a partial seizure were all still technically on the table.

Other experts said Monahan’s extremely brief letter, medically clearing the politician for work, fell far short of providing an actual explanation, highlighting how little we actually know.

“If I gave that tape to a medical student and that was his explanation, I’d fail him,” Orrin Devinsky, a professor of Neurology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicinetold The New York Times, referring to Monahan’s account of what happened. “Medically, these episodes need to be taken seriously.”

Several other neurologists told the newspaper that McConnell’s episodes are most in line with focal seizures, which are uncontrolled electrical surges in the brain that can affect muscle activity but do not cause the loss of consciousness.

McConnell had a concussion back in March, which can be a risk factor for seizures. And if there’s one thing experts agree on, it’s that having two episodes in a row is far more of a concern than just one.

“Two seizures you definitely would want to treat,” Sami Khella, the chief of Neurology at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, told the Times. “You don’t want them to happen they’re not good for you.”

Going forward, the situation may get worse. “The more the brain seizes, the more it learns to seize,” Khella added.

At the end of the day, given the lack of a thorough medical diagnosis of McConnell’s current condition, we can only guess as to what the politician is suffering from.

Regardless, even some Republican politicians have come forward; saying that they want more details on McConnell’s condition, if he wants to keep his position as the Senate minority leader.

Research contact: @futurism