How to improve the surgery backlog during COVID-19

A new paper suggests three solutions to addressing the backlog of non-urgent surgeries delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a surgeon, I understand why hospitals needed to delay many elective surgeries to ensure there was enough space and health care workers available to take care of the sickest patients with COVID-19,” says Jessica Billig, M.D., a resident physician of plastic surgery at Michigan Medicine and lead author of the paper published in Annals of Surgery. “But we know that continuing to delay these surgeries could result in poor health outcomes for our patients. Which makes us ask, how can we start to work through the backlog of surgeries efficiently and swiftly?”

Billig and her co-author, Erika Sears, M.D., an assistant professor of plastic surgery at Michigan Medicine, provide three strategies to address the need for surgical care:

1. Continue to grow telemedicine. The pair notes that broadly adopting the way telehealth appointments were implemented for postoperative care in the past, and expanding it to some initial surgical consultations, could continue to grow the service and make medical appointments easier on the patient.

2. Expand operating room schedules and ambulatory surgery center capacity. They suggest operating outside of normal working hours, accommodating more outpatient surgical patients at ambulatory surgery center sites and performing minor procedures in the clinic setting to free up operating room space for more complex procedures.

3. Be transparent with patients about surgical billing. Billig and Sears note that many patients are experiencing unemployment and monetary strains due to the pandemic. They encourage surgeons, practices and health care systems to provide patients with access to transparent pricing. Surgeons should also consider location when they are performing a procedure. For example, if it was performed in a clinic, could it result in less out-of-pocket expenses for the patient?

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This Is How Long Coronavirus Actually Lasts If You Get Sick

As the coronavirus epidemic continues in the US, you might be wondering just how long you'll be sick if you do contract COVID-19. Every case is different, but after months of scientific study and data collection, experts have a fairly good idea. Here are the symptoms you'll be dealing with, when they'll likely strike, and how long it will take until you're fully recovered and can safely emerge from self-isolation. 

When do the first COVID-19 symptoms appear? 

Not everyone who gets COVID-19 has symptoms—in fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) says 80% of infections are mild or asymptomatic. Yet those who do may develop fever and chills, a cough, muscle or body aches, fatigue, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or a loss of taste or smell. Other people with COVID-19 have reported headache, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Yes, that’s a pretty large window. But a recent study by US immunologists, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, narrowed it down. They analyzed more than 180 COVID-19 cases and found that, on average, it takes just over five days for COVID-19 symptoms to hit. 

The research team also found that 97% of people who get the virus will develop symptoms within 11 days from the time they are first infected. Any of these symptoms can strike at any time during the course of the illness, from day one to the last days.

How long does it take to recover? 

The COVID-19 recovery period depends on the severity of the illness. If you have a mild case, you can expect to recover within about two weeks. But for more severe cases, it could take six weeks or more to feel better, and hospitalization might be required.  

According to the CDC, older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions, like heart or lung disease or diabetes, may be at risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19.

What is ‘viral persistence,’ and how does that affect the course of the disease?

Sometimes the coronavirus sticks around longer than expected—and scientists are still trying to figure out why that happens in some patients, how it varies by individual, and exactly how long the virus stays alive inside the body. This is known as viral persistence, and it affects how long someone is contagious and therefore how long they should stay in isolation. 

“Viral clearance is the disappearance of an infecting virus, either in response to a therapeutic agent or as a result of the body’s immune response,” Dr. Bailey explains. “This implies recovery from infection and lack of ongoing contagiousness. On the other hand, viral persistence is the continued presence of a virus, usually within specific types of cells, after resolution of symptoms of the acute viral infection.”

Viral persistence is seen in HIV, chronic hepatitis, chickenpox/shingles and herpes simplex, and Epstein-Barr. While it’s not typically a characteristic of acute respiratory infections such as COVID-19, research suggests that some people do have persistent COVID-19 infections. One study from China published in Quantitative Imaging in Medicine and Surgery demonstrates this: In the study, a woman had mild COVID-19 symptoms, which disappeared after 2–3 weeks. However, she retained a positive diagnosis status for over two months. 

When can you safely go out in public?  

The biggest risk of going out in public after having COVID-19 is transmitting the virus to others. If you follow the guidelines, however you can minimize the dangers.  

“In most instances, contagiousness is negligible after 10 days, but this period may be more prolonged, e.g. two weeks or more, in those with an impaired immune system,” Charles Bailey, MD, medical director of infection prevention at St. Joseph Hospital and Mission Hospital in Orange County, California, tells Health. “If feasible, prolonging isolation for such people should be considered, perhaps to two or even three weeks, and they should be encouraged to wear a mask when they do venture out in public.” (As should everyone who goes outside and isn't able to socially distance.)

If you do come down with COVID-19, the best way to determine whether you’re still contagious is to get tested, but that’s not an option for everyone. “Currently, there is limited repeat testing ability due to supply shortages, so we rely on symptom-based resolution,” Jorge Vournas, MD, medical director of the Emergency Department at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance, California, tells Health. 

Your doctor will be able to advise you based on your overall health and the severity of your illness, but the CDC recommendation is to wait at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms and three days free without fever, provided your symptoms are improving. 

And venturing out into the world again doesn’t mean throwing caution to the wind—far from it. Dr. Vournas advises being “extra cautious for several weeks.”  

“Practice physical distancing, wear a mask, and wash hands regularly—these are the best practices at the moment,” he says. “There is no good reason to not be too careful. In addition to the common recommendations, be careful with who you interact with, especially high-risk elderly and those with comorbid conditions,” aka, health complications or impaired immunity.  

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.

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How Dantu Blood Group protects against malaria—and how all humans could benefit

The secret of how the Dantu genetic blood variant helps to protect against malaria has been revealed for the first time by scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the University of Cambridge and the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya. The team found that red blood cells in people with the rare Dantu blood variant have a higher surface tension that prevents them from being invaded by the world’s deadliest malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.

The findings, published today in Nature, could also be significant in the wider battle against malaria. Because the surface tension of human red blood cells increases as they age, it may be possible to design drugs that imitate this natural process to prevent malaria infection or reduce its severity.

Malaria remains a major global health problem causing an estimated 435,000 deaths per year, with 61 percent occurring in children under five years of age. P. falciparum is responsible for the deadliest form of malaria and is particularly prevalent in Africa, accounting for 99.7 percent of African malaria cases and 93 percent of global malaria deaths in 2017.

In 2017, researchers discovered that the rare Dantu blood variant, which is found regularly only in parts of East Africa, provides some degree of protection against severe malaria. The intention behind this new study was to explain why.

Red blood cell samples were collected from 42 healthy children in Kilifi, Kenya, who had either one, two or zero copies of the Dantu gene. The researchers then observed the ability of parasites to invade the cells in the laboratory, using multiple tools including time-lapse video microscopy to identify the specific step at which invasion was impaired.

Analysis of the characteristics of the red blood cell samples indicated that the Dantu variant created cells with a higher surface tension—like a drum with a tighter skin. At a certain tension, malaria parasites were no longer able to enter the cell, halting their lifecycle and preventing their ability to multiply in the blood.

Dr. Silvia Kariuki, of the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Kenya, said: “Malaria parasites utilise a specific ‘lock-and-key’ mechanism to infiltrate human red blood cells. When we set out to explain how the Dantu variant protects against these parasites, we expected to find subtle changes in the way this molecular mechanism works, but the answer turned out to be much more fundamental. The Dantu variant actually slightly increases the tension of the red blood cell surface. It’s like the parasite still has the key to the lock, but the door is too heavy for it to open.”

The Dantu blood group has a novel ‘chimeric’ protein that is expressed on the surface of red blood cells, and alters the balance of other surface proteins. In Kilifi, a town on the Kenyan coast, 10 percent of the population have one copy of the Dantu gene, which confers up to 40 percent protection against malaria. One percent of the population have two copies, conferring up to 70 percent protection. By contrast, the best malaria vaccines currently provide 35 percent protection.

Because humans have evolved alongside malaria for tens of thousands of years, some people in the worst affected areas have developed genetic resistance to the disease. The most famous example is sickle cell trait, which confers 80 percent resistance to malaria, but can cause serious illness in those with two copies of the gene. There is currently no evidence that the Dantu variant is accompanied by other health complications.

Dr. Alejandro Marin-Menendez, of the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “The fact that we see the most protective adaptations in areas where malaria is most prevalent tells us a lot about how these parasites have influenced human evolution. Malaria is still an incredibly destructive disease, but evolutionary adaptations like sickle cell trait and the Dantu variant may partially explain why the mortality rate is much lower than the rate of infection. We’ve been fighting malaria parasites for as long as we’ve been human, so there may be other adaptations and mechanisms yet to be discovered.”

Researchers suggest one of the most significant implications of the study stems from the fact that the surface tension of human red blood cells varies naturally, generally increasing during their approximately 90-day lifespan. This means a proportion of all of our red blood cells are naturally resistant to infection by malaria parasites, and it may be possible to develop drugs that take advantage of this process.

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Biomarker reveals how aggressive biliary tract cancer is in patients

The cancer called biliary tract cancer (BTC) is not the most widespread form of cancer. In western countries, about 1.6 in 100.000 gets the diagnose every year. It is, however, a very aggressive form of cancer.

The majority of patients with BTC are diagnosed with advanced disease and has an average survival of only 1 year from initiation of chemotherapy. With such narrow survival windows, it is crucial to improve our understanding of the disease.

Now, researchers from Biotech Research & Innovation Centre at the University of Copenhagen and Herlev and Gentofte Hospital along with collaborators from Rigshospitalet and Sygehus Lillebaelt have identified a biomarker that can tell doctors how aggressive a patient’s disease may be.

“We have found a biomarker that reliably predicts how aggressive a patients disease will evolve, which in the future could help doctors in the hospitals make the right decisions about chemotherapy for the benefit of each BTC patient,” says Jesper Andersen, Associate Professor at BRIC.

Biomarkers can used for more than the diagnosis

The researchers measured the levels of two inflammatory proteins and a biomarker commonly used in pancreatic cancer before and during chemotherapy in patients with advanced BTC and found that patients with higher levels of these markers before chemotherapy had a lower survival rate. Especially one protein called IL6 (interleukin-6) proved to be superior to the other markers in predicting those patients at greatest risk of death.

“A common misperception may be that biomarkers are mainly needed to diagnose a specific cancer type, but diverse biomarkers are also needed to guide clinical decision-making throughout each patients’ individual journey. These types of prognostic and predictive biomarkers deserve increased attention, in particular as they are playing important roles in the increasingly individualized management of more common cancer types”, says Jesper Andersen.

There are several markers to predict patients at greatest risk of death, however it was confirmed that the prognostic information provided by measuring IL-6 is not captured by other inflammatory markers already in routine clinical use. For instance, about 10 percent of the population does not express the marker that is normally measured (CA19-9) to predict the patient clinical outcome. Therefore, the course of disease cannot be predicted for these patients using CA19-9, for which IL-6 may be used instead.

Inhibiting IL-6 may improve response to chemotherapy

By inhibiting signaling of the protein IL-6 in a mouse model of human BTC, researchers discovered that the response of mouse tumors to chemotherapy significantly increased.

“Our data suggests that inhibiting IL-6 signaling may extend therapeutic benefit compared to chemotherapy alone. However, this will require careful evaluation in randomized clinical trial settings. Such a trial is currently ongoing at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital and results from this and potential future trials will contribute to our knowledge in regards to the potential of targeting the IL-6 pathway in patients with BTC”, says Jesper Andersen

Large sample size made possible through collaboration

Researchers studying BTC face a data-challenge since only 1.6 per 100,000 of Western populations are diagnosed with BTC annually. This makes it difficult to collect comprehensive amounts of patient data. Therefore, one of the key strengths of this study lies in the patient numbers attained and analyzed in this rare cancer demographic, amounting to 1590 serum samples from 452 patients with advanced BTC.

Furthermore, the study explores advanced BTC patients who represent the majority of patients at diagnosis, while the majority of previous BTC studies published to date have focused on early stage disease.

“It is imperative to increase representation of these patients with the worst prognosis in subsequent studies. These studies should also include longitudinal sampling throughout the patient’s clinical history, as we have done here”, says Jesper Andersen, group leader at BRIC.

The sample size achieved in this study was only made possible through the comprehensive collaboration between Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, Rigshospitalet and Sygehus Lillebaelt in Denmark.

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How even a short walk can boost your memory

How even a short walk can boost your memory: Exercise improves concentration and problem-solving skills, scientists discover

  • Scientific review found people improved on memory tests after exercising 
  • Findings come from 13 studies which were analysed by Swedish researchers 
  • Exercise is believed to increase levels of a protein called ‘brain-derived neurotrophic factor’ which is thought to be important for memory function

A short walk, run or bike ride could provide a memory boost in less than an hour.

A scientific review looked at people aged 18 to 35 who walked, ran or cycled at moderate to high intensity and then took tests such as remembering a list of 15 words.

The participants, who exercised in bursts of two minutes, or 15 minutes, half an hour or an hour, improved on tests and showed better concentration and problem-solving skills.

The findings come from 13 studies which were analysed by Swedish researchers.

A short walk, run or bike ride could provide a memory boost in less than an hour

The authors, from Jonkoping and Linkoping universities, conclude: ‘This systematic review strongly suggests that aerobic, physical exercise followed by a brief recovery… improves attention, concentration, and learning and memory functions in young adults.’

Exercise is believed to increase levels of a protein called ‘brain-derived neurotrophic factor’ which is thought to be important for memory.

But not everyone is a natural athlete or has hours to work out. 

The review wanted to see if a single bout of exercise could have an effect, so looked at studies exploring this with young adults over ten years.

The review, published in the journal Translational Sports Medicine, found exercise from two minutes to an hour improved memory and thinking skills for up to two hours.

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New connections reveal how cancer evades the immune system

If cancer is a series of puzzles, a new study pieces together how several of those puzzles connect to form a bigger picture.

One major piece is the immune system and the question of why certain immune cells stop doing their job. Another piece involves how histones are altered within immune cells. A third piece is how a cell’s metabolism processes amino acids.

“Nobody knew if those questions were all connected. We were able to place several of these puzzles together and see how it works,” says Weiping Zou, M.D., Ph.D., Charles B. de Nancrede and a Professor of Surgery, Pathology, Immunology and Biology at the University of Michigan and director of the Center of Excellence for Immunology and Immunotherapy at the U-M Rogel Cancer Center.

Zou is senior author on a paper published in Nature that includes multiple labs from the Rogel Cancer Center and collaborators from Poland.

The study found a connection between these three separate puzzles that suggests targeting the amino acid methionine transporter in tumor cells could make immunotherapy effective against more cancers.

It starts with T cells, the soldiers of the immune system. Cancer can turn these cells abnormal, preventing T cells from mounting an attack against it. The question is: what causes this?

Researchers looked at the tumor microenvironment, specifically how tumors metabolize amino acids. They found an amino acid called methionine had the most impact on T cell survival and function. T cells with low levels of methionine became abnormal. Low methionine in the T cells also altered histone patterns that caused T cells to be impaired.

Introducing tumor cells to the picture creates a fight between the tumor cells and the T cells for methionine. Over and over, the tumor cells win, taking the methionine from the T cells and rendering them ineffective.

Previous research has considered a systemic approach to starve tumor cells of methionine, with the idea that the tumor cells are addicted to it. But, Zou says, this study shows why that approach may be a double-edged sword.

“You have competition between tumor cells and T cells for methionine. The T cells also need it. If you starve the tumor cells of methionine, the T cells don’t get it either. You want to selectively delete the methionine for the tumor cells and not for the T cells,” Zou says.

In fact, the study found that supplementing methionine actually restored T cell function. High enough levels of methionine meant there was enough for both tumor cells and T cells.

One key is that tumor cells have more of the transporters that deliver methionine. The researchers found that impairing those transporters resulted in healthier T cells as the T cells could compete for methionine.

Zou was awarded a $3.2 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to advance this work.

“There are still a lot of mechanistic details we have not worked out, particularly the detailed metabolic pathways of methionine metabolism. We also need to understand how metabolism pathways may be different from tumor cells and T cells. We hope to find a target that is relatively specific to tumor cells so that we do not harm the T cells but impact the tumor,” Zou says. This work will be the focus of the new grant.

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How the hand gesture for talking on the phone has changed

Daniel Alvarado’s TikTok post has done the circuit, making headlines on HuffPost, Fox News, and BuzzFeed. When something hits platforms that diverse, you know something’s up. And that’s because Alvarado’s video (via TikTok), which has racked up more than 307,000 likes to date, encapsulates something we’ve all been whispering about since 2007, when smartphones started taking over our lives (via Science Node).  

There’s a name for humanity’s collective addiction to smartphones. It’s called nomophobia (via HelpGuide). Like other addictions, it’s linked to increased anxiety, stress, sleep problems, and even narcissism. And now there’s a hand gesture, too. It’s there to remind us that the smartphone has permanently changed the world we live in today. Alvarado’s video proved it. 

How do you signal with your hands that you’re talking on the phone? If you raise your hand to your cheek, extending your pinky and your thumb, you’re a Baby Boomer. Or, perhaps you’re Gen X. Maybe you’re even an older Millennial. You grew up in an age where you fought with your siblings for the privilege to use your corded, banana-shaped phone to leave a voice message on your crush’s answering machine. A voice message, imagine. 

How Gen Z makes the hand gesture for talking on the phone

How does Gen Z — a generation so addicted to technology that they risk personal safety — signal that they’re on the phone? They do what Alvarado’s kids did on his TikTok video. They lift a hand, palm flat, to their ears, as if they were talking on a smartphone. But wait, that’s not all. As BuzzFeed observed, kids these days have no idea why you’d need to “hang up” a phone either. “Mind-blowing,” says Alvarado. And really, it is. 

It’s not just about generational shifts in communications that are leaving everyone over 25 years old feeling like they’re in the Paleolithic age. (If a Gen Z tried to signal to a Baby Boomer, “hey, call me,” all they’d likely get in response is, “does your face hurt, darling?”) No, Alvarez’s video signals something much more mind-boggling: a shift to a world where our everyday, physical lives are defined by the applications we’ve installed onto a small, flat rectangle with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities. Not everybody’s been asked along for the ride. 

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How beneficial is a family meal?

The family meal has long been associated with numerous health and wellbeing benefits for both adults and children, but researchers from Flinders University’s Caring Futures Institute are questioning where the hard evidence is to support this emotive belief.

With changing pressures influencing a modern family’s time commitments, lead researcher Georgia Middleton is examining whether the longstanding ideal of the family meal is still a viable option for many time-poor families, and whether trying to pursue the traditional model of the family meal ideal is introducing unnecessary increased pressures to families.

She found a lack of conclusive evidence about the benefits family meals have on health, through examining existing family meal research, but has identified a need to shape a clearer model of ideal family eating habits through further research.

The resulting study—”What can families gain from the family meal? A mixed-papers systematic review”, by Georgia Middleton, Rebecca Golley, Karen Patterson, Fairley Le Moa and John Coveney—has been published by Appetite.

“Our aim is to find what is the most beneficial meal model, in ways that maximise nutrition and health, enjoyment and engagement, adaptability and efficiency,” says Ms Middleton, a Ph.D. candidate at Flinders University’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences. “At the moment, there are many people trying to chase the ideal of the family meal model that might be introducing yet more pressures to family life.”

As a consequence of identifying gaps in assessment of family meal benefits, Ms Middleton is now calling for participants in new research that will provide detailed snapshots of how families eat in diverse Adelaide suburbs—initially targeting the areas surrounding Ferryden Park in the west, and Burnside in the east.

Participants in the new study will be reimbursed for their time with an $80 gift voucher and the chance to win one of six Sprout Cooking School ‘Quick. Easy. Healthy’ cookbooks. Details can be found on the study website: https://www.facebook.com/thefamilymealstudy

“We are currently looking for families, with at least one child aged 12 years or under living at home, to participate in a virtual interview to discuss their current experiences with the family meal, and the work involved in bringing the family together for the family meal today,” explains Ms Middleton.

While their systematic review found a lack of causational evidence that family meals are beneficial to health, this does not mean family meals are not beneficial for health, or that families should stop engaging in them.

“More work is needed in this area to better understand the relationship between family members and meals, especially if we are to continue promoting the family meal as a health and wellbeing strategy for families,” she says.

Looking at research conducted in the past 10 years, Ms Middleton found that existing studies into family meals do not clearly determine whether changes in health outcomes are due to changes in the family meal, or changes to other behaviours.

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Your Lifestyle Choices Are Causing Great Damage to Your Health- Here’s How You Can Ward Off Autoimmune Diseases

Doing what’s convenient has become almost second nature to us. Whether it’s staying back at work, giving up on sleep to complete pending tasks, or opting for a quick and easy-to-eat meal, we constantly make choices that are bad for us. We’ve become our own worst enemies! And, the numbers are there to prove it. In the last three decades, the rate of autoimmune disorders has increased drastically.

Granted autoimmunity is commonly passed down through genetics but, recent research into the field suggests that our environment and life choices are doing greater harm to us.

While it’s true that in today’s day and age, we can’t escape from our sleep-deprived and stressed-out lifestyles but, we can rest assured that switching to better dietary habits will significantly decrease our chances of getting autoimmune diseases, and it will substantially improve the quality of our lives.

How Our Immune System Works

In many ways, our immune system functions similarly to a home security system. Both systems are designed in a manner that ensures intruders are locked outside, while we remain safely inside.

Unlike a security system, however, when our immune system notices any threats in the form of bacteria, parasites, viruses, or any other harmful substances from the outer environment, it instantly activates its inflammatory pathways to ensure their destruction.

However, sometimes our body loses its ability to differentiate between substances that belong inside and outside it. In such cases, it launches inflammatory pathways in a state of “self-attack”. This is what is happening inside our bodies when we have autoimmunity. Basically, it’s like having the home security go off for no reason, rendering us unable to stay inside our home.

Causes of Misdiagnosis

During autoimmunity, it is common for different organs to be attacked. Hence, each of its types is classified according to the organ being affected. Common types of autoimmunity include type 1 diabetes, irritable bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s disease, celiac disease, and Grave’s disease.

Depending on the symptoms that occur, doctors order a biopsy, blood tests, or imaging. Autoimmunity, however, can be gravely complex, and doctors are known to have a hard time coming to a conclusion while dealing with it.

How To Stay Immune

Since studies have proven that the environment can have adverse effects on us, we have to ensure that we limit the multiple stressors present within our lifestyle choices. Yes, this means changing everything, down to the last scratch.

No more overtime, no more sleepless nights, no more unhealthy dietary choices. Remember that autoimmunity is genetic, and we always run the risk of passing it on to the next generation. Switching up our lifestyle for the sake of our health will only cause our bodies to bless us like never before.

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What is numerology and how does it work?

You already believe, at least a little bit, in numerology, if you have a lucky number and think there’s truth to expressions like, “bad things happen in threes.” Numerology is the mystical study of numbers, and similar to astrology, believers say it can offer insights on everything from personality traits to what the future holds (via Allure). If you’re intrigued by numerology, you’re in good company; celebrities ranging from Cardi B to Taylor Swift to Jay Z and Beyoncé have embraced this ancient practice (via Fader), which was founded by ancient Greek mathematician Pythagoras (of the famed Pythagorean theorem.) 

Pythagoras’ ah-ha moment that (a² + b² = c²) was something we all had to learn in high school math, but most of us did not learn the more “New Age” theory that this grandfather of mathematics posited: that certain numbers have specific personal, spiritual and predictive meaning to us. Explained numerologist Felicia Bender: “Numbers carry with them not only a quantitative value, like one apples, two apples, three apples, but also a vibration and a frequency,” she told Women’s Health.

So how can you apply the principles of numerology to better understand your life?

Numerology can give you insight into your life

Your life path number is similar to a horoscope birth chart and will be the basis of all of the numerology insights about your life. You can calculate yours by adding up the numbers in your birthdate. If you end up with double digits, you keep adding together those digits until you reach a single number. So if your birthday is June 5, 1995, you start with your birth year, and add 1+9+9+5, getting the sum of 24. Then you add 2+4 to get 6. You would add to 6 the 6 for June and 5 for the fifth, resulting in 17, or 1+7. That gives you a life path number of 8. Oh, 8. We see you, you overachiever, you (via Numerology.com).

Not sure if you’re doing the math right? There are a number of free numerology calculators online. Once you know your life path number, you will have pre-ordained suggestions for your optimal career paths, what to look for in a romantic partner, and yes, what your lucky number actually is for when you’ve got a lottery ticket or a roulette wheel to spin (via How Stuff Works.

But note that this number is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to numerology; your name also tells a story, as each letter in the alphabet has a numerical value (A=1, B=2, etc.) A psychic advisor can combine these insights with a tarot deck, birth chart and other tools in a more formal reading. If you believe in that stuff, that is. 

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