Harrumph. The world’s gone mad

3 minute read

I’m so down my Easter chocolate binge will just get me back to vaguely whimsical.

I’ll be honest with you, gentle readers, this little black duck has found it hard going finding something even remotely amusing to share with you this week. 

I can only assume it’s a pre-emptive case of the classic post-Easter chocolate slump. Or it could be the impact of days of relentlessly depressing headlines. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the sheer agony of realising that the blessed four-day weekend is still three days away. Oh, the humanity. 

I know you rely on your Tuesday scribbler to bring the chuckle, but the state of the world has me resorting to scrolling through #goodboy TikTok and Twitter – I’ll call it X when hell freezes over (preferably with Musky encased) – in search of lovely dogs to stop me spiralling into Putin-Kensington-Palace-Trump-induced rage. 

Here’s one: 

Meanwhile, as if there aren’t plenty of dangerous illicit drugs out there already, now we have to watch out for the synthetic ones as well. 

The recent National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report includes a study out of the University of South Australia, which shows 20 different novel psychoactive substances in wastewater treatment plants across Australia, with synthetic stimulant pentylone present. 

Pentylone, (street name “bath salts”), is a highly potent and unpredictable synthetic cathinone, producing similar effects to stimulants such as methamphetamine or MDMA. This group of drugs produces stronger effects that wear off faster, leading to more frequent use. 

Oh goodie. Note to self – don’t drink the wastewater and steer clear of the bath salts.  

Here, have another dog. Not even a tenuous medical link. I don’t care: 

Meanwhile, here’s another fabulous reason to rejoice at being female. Apparently, estrogen may make women more susceptible to nicotine addiction. Ain’t that great?? 

US researchers found that estrogen induces the expression of olfactomedins, proteins that are suppressed by nicotine in key areas of the brain involved in reward and addiction. They used large sequencing datasets of estrogen-induced genes to identify genes that are expressed in the brain and exhibit a hormone function.  

They found just one class of genes that met these criteria: those coding for olfactomedins.  

They then performed a series of studies with human uterine cells and rats to better understand the interactions between olfactomedins, estrogen and nicotine. The results suggested that estrogen activation of olfactomedins — which is suppressed when nicotine is present — might serve as a feedback loop for driving nicotine addiction processes by activating areas of the brain’s reward circuitry such as the nucleus accumbens. 

Terrific. At least I know now that there are benefits to conquering Menopause Mountain. When my body no longer makes its own estrogen I won’t have to worry about being inclined to take up the durries. 

Here’s what Tom thinks: 

I promise I’ll be an absolute clown-car of rib-ticklery by next week, readers. All that chocolate’s got to be good for something. Happy long weekend! 

Send your smile-inducing stories to cate@medicalrepublic.com.au. 

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