Medicine: Shoshin Beriberi

Beriberi is a deficiency disease (lack of vitamin B1), commonest among Orientals, who eat polished rice, and Western alcoholics, who eat next to nothing. The Japanese have described an acute form of the disease, which kills suddenly by causing the heart to collapse; they call it shoshin (from sho, acute damage, and shin, heart). Now West meets East as two Detroit doctors report in the New England Journal of Medicine that shoshin beriberi may kill U.S. alcoholics, too.

A woman of 37 was admitted to Detroit Receiving Hospital because she could hardly breathe. A bizarre symptom was the cyanosis of her...

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