The Check-Up: Syringe-Free Blood Samples; Gout on the Rise

Oh, and hot dog chips—today's health headlines

• My sister sometimes faints when she has blood drawn. Can you imagine how annoying that would be? New research could make the vein tap—and syringe—a thing of the past. Canadian scientists have been working on an approach that uses a computer to analyze just a few microliters of dried blood—a tiny sample size requiring only a pin prick. According to the article, “droplets are manipulated onto the sample using electrical signals, and the material needed for analysis is extracted—all on a ‘lab-on-a-chip’ with little manual intervention.” To recap: This process is faster for the lab tech and less painful for the patient. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

• Do you know what gout is? Yeah, I didn’t either until I read this article, which reports that the painful arthritic condition is on the rise. Experts say obesity’s to blame. Reuters Health reports that “that an estimated 4 percent of adults—or 8.3 million people—had gout in 2008. That compares with just over 1 percent between 1988 and 1994.” This news comes on the heels of a government survey, released yesterday, which found that more than half of Americans drink a sugary drink every day, and some drink far more than that. Coincidence?

• And then there’s this: Hot Dog Potato Chips. Yes, they exist.