“The Ig Nobel Prizes honour achievements that make people LAUGH, then THINK. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honour the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology. Every September, in a gala ceremony in Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre, 1100 splendidly eccentric spectators watch the new winners step forward to accept their Prizes. These are physically handed to them by genuine (and genuinely bemused) Nobel Laureates.” (improbable.com)

 

10 awards "were presented" on the night of Thursday to Friday Polish time. The event was organised by the magazine “Annals of Improbable Research.” For the third time due to the pandemic, the ceremony was a pre-recorded teleconference. The prizes, including virtually worthless $10 trillion Zimbabwean banknotes, were presented by real Nobel Prize winners, including Frances Arnold (Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2018), Rich Roberts (Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology in 1993) and Donna Strickland (Nobel Prize in Physics in 2018).

 

The Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine this year went to Marcin Jasiński, Martyna Maciejewska, Anna Brodziak, Michał Górka, Kamila Skwierawska, Prof Wiesław Jędrzejczak, Agnieszka Tomaszewska, Grzegorz Basak and Emilian Snarski from the Medical University of Warsaw. As they showed, oncology patients undergoing radio- and chemotherapy showed fewer harmful side effects if they were given ice cream. The issue in question is oral mucositis. Aggressive treatment leads to the destruction of the epithelial cells lining the gastrointestinal canal, and this exposes the damaged tissues to the risk of infection. Ulceration in the mouth, on the gums and/or tongue, the increase of saliva secretion and swallowing difficulties may occur. In extreme cases - especially when combined with nausea and vomiting common with chemotherapy and radiotherapy - eating is almost impossible.

 

The typical preventative measure is cryotherapy - usually sucking on ice chips. But patients do not always fully comply with ice cryotherapy because it gets uncomfortably cold. In particular, paediatric cancer patients tend to respond better when ice is substituted for ice cream. There have been no studies on this until now - a gap was filled by the Poles, who compiled data on 74 people with an average age of 58 who underwent stem cell transplantation as part of cancer therapy. Only 28.85 per cent of patients who underwent cryotherapy with ice cream developed oral mucositis, compared to 59 per cent of those who did not receive cryotherapy. As can be seen from this, the consumption of ice cream is a good preventive measure in the development of oral mucositis in cancer patients.

 

The full list of winners is available here.

 

In the coming weeks, there will be winners’ lectures available on the website ➡️ improbable.com