Some physicians and many laymen are in the habit of thinking and speaking as if the bulk of the human body could be increased or diminished as simply as we load and unload a vessel: Pour in the cargo and the displacement increases; hoist it out and she rides light on the water. But to feed a patient up or to starve him down is not nearly so simple.
Our state of nutrition depends on the number, the contents and the activities of our body cells; but these cells are not buckets to be filled or emptied at our pleasure. They multiply or atrophy, take up food or reject it, burn fuel or refuse to do so according to their own laws. Without food they can no more do their work than a miner can dig coal or a composer produce sonatas. But no one supposes that you can get
CABOT RC. TWO POSSIBLE CAUSES OF EMACIATION NOT GENERALLY RECOGNIZED. JAMA. 1906;XLVI(11):763–765. doi:10.1001/jama.1906.62510380001001
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