Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Hot Dog!

Enough principled posts; it's the 4th and that means Americans are in the process of consuming 150 million hot dogs. Mmmm... delicious. Well okay, maybe not. In related news, you may already know that Takeru Kobayashi, the Lance Armstrong of competitive hot dog eating, has been dethroned by California boy Joey Chestnut. In twelve minutes, San Jose State student Chestnut racked up 66 HDBs - that's hot dogs and buns eaten - beating out Kobayahi's 63.

So the issues that strike me as important in a post about the new Nathan's champion include:
  • The consequences derived from equating competitive eating with American freedom.
  • The attention (including my own) placed on this event.
  • This was televised live with color commentary on ESPN.
  • The distraction this is from real problems of hunger and resource disparity in the world, and
  • A medical condition called Boerhaave's syndrome
Since rare medical conditions are sometimes cool to learn about, that's what I will focus on for the rest of this entry. Also known as effort rupture of the esophagus, Boerhaave's syndrome can occur when folks vomit too much or have other underlying disease in the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. Most commonly, esophageal rupture is caused by doctors poking too hard during endoscopy procedures. Given the intense effort displayed on the new champion's face and the immense quantity of processed meat and bread passing through his esophagus, I would bet he has a greater chance than most of rupturing that tube. From a medical resource site commonly used by doctors and med students:
The condition is associated with high morbidity and mortality and is fatal in the absence of therapy.
Treatment is surgical repair.

I am sure my sister will complain that I even turn a simple story about hot dogs into some nerdy scientific explanation. Sorry, kiddo.

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