Saturday, December 22, 2007

What is a "Hasselhoff" ???

What is a "Hasselhoff" in doctor-speak? Does eating turkey really make you unusually sleepy? Why is it better to celebrate a big victory with champagne rather than beer?

Those are some of the questions addressed in the British Medical Journal's Christmas issue, which collects some of the more arcane reports the journal received during the year.

A Hasselhoff is a patient who shows up at an emergency room with an injury and a bizarre explanation, said Dr. Paul Keeley of the Glasgow Royal Infirmary in a short compendium of newly minted words used by doctors. The term comes from former "Baywatch" star David Hasselhoff's bizarre 2006 shaving accident in which he struck his head on a chandelier; the broken glass severed four tendons and an artery in his right arm, requiring immediate surgery.

Even snarkier is the term "Ringo," after Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, which refers to a member of a team who is expendable. Draw your own conclusions.

The turkey myth, which often comes up this time of year, is attributed to the supposed high levels of sleep-inducing tryptophan in the birds, wrote Dr. Rachel C. Vreeman of the Indiana University School of Medicine and Dr. Aaron E. Carroll of the Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis in a study of medically oriented old wives' tales that many doctors still believe.

A study of the literature, however, shows that turkey, chicken and beef all contain similar levels of tryptophan, and pork and cheese contain even more. A more likely explanation for drowsiness after Christmas dinner is overeating and, perhaps, consuming wine with the meal.

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