From predicting the advance of pests to studying the behavior of tumors, this science has a lot to do for medicine.

Mathematics, that great unknown

The math They are everywhere. Many people do not understand it and insist on associating them with that tangle of algorithms and formulas that were brought to them by their heads during their student days, but the truth is that they continue to use them every day in places as diverse as the bank, the supermarket, the kitchen or the living room of their house, when they watch television.

Without them I would not exist internet nor the mobile phones, nor would anything be known about universe, nor could we live in buildings with a large number of floors without them falling down …

But that’s not all, because mathematics is also a fundamental tool in the field of medicine for which, for obvious reasons, the population tends to feel much more predilection.

And it is that, since already in 1927 Kermack y McKendrik designed a model for the prediction of the distribution of infectious diseases that cause pests, many mathematicians have decided to apply their studies to the medical branch, in order to anticipate the steps of such terrible diseases as, for example, the Cancer.

Save mothers and babies

One of the most recent and interesting applications of mathematics in the field of medicine is the one investigated by the project Predictive Spatial Analysis of maternal and neonatal mortality for public health intervention evaluation in Ghana, which analyzes the deaths of newborns and their mothers in this country, in which the mortality rates during labor they are frighteningly alarming.

The investigation, which is being carried out by researchers from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology of Kumasi Ghana, in collaboration with the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and with the support of the Women for Africa foundation, it intends to analyze how these deaths are distributed, looking for aggravating factors such as female genital mutilation, which occurs more frequently in some specific regions of the nation.

This is expected mathematical model can save many lives, but it does not stop there, because thanks to this program a great boost is also being given to the careers of some Ghanaian women scientists, a country in which it is not easy to reconcile the female sex with science.

Calculations and nutrition

This is one of the most frequent uses of math in medicine, although it is something so common that it sometimes goes unnoticed.

And it is that the nutritional requirements of a person depend on many factors, such as their complexion, his age or his physical activity; so it is necessary to adjust them with the help of mathematical formulas, marked by percentages and fractions that establish what nutrients and in what quantity each individual should consume, in a personalized way.

Study cancer

This is one of the most interesting applications of mathematics in medicine, although its use has been interpreted in some cases wrong, leading to the generation of false expectations among the population.

It was 2005 when the press exploded with the case of Antonio Brú, a teacher of physics and mathematics from Complutense University of Madrid, who claimed to have discovered a formula that predicted the behavior of solid tumors, and that thanks to her he had cured a terminally ill person.

It was undoubtedly great news, which rekindled the hopes of the sick and their families, but soon began to spread. deflate, after many professionals in the field claimed that their ad had been precipitate and quite lacking in scientific rigor.

It is true that his mathematical model was interesting, so at the beginning he had the support of Jose Luis Subiza, an immunologist from Clinical Hospital of Madrid, that provided him with the necessary means to apply his theory to tumor cells, both human and mouse.

The results in the second case were positive, but they were not validated in humans, so in statements to the newspaper The world of Subiza himself, he decided to separate himself completely from him, considering that his hopeful announcements lacked solidity and were “a leap into the void“.

Later Brú applied for funding to continue his tests on human cells and these were denied; so, even though it is still active, its history is almost forgotten, but the idea of ​​using mathematics to predict the cancer advance it is not bad, so many other scientists have followed in its footsteps; trying to analyze the results with caution.

A clear example is that of scientists from the Queen Mary University and the Cancer Research Institute, from London, which in 2016 published in Nature a study looking at how many types of cancer, such as cancer lung and that of colon, follow a theoretical model that describes the proliferation and the accumulation of the genetic mutations in a single and rapid expansion.

Said pattern would obey a mathematical law present in the evolution of many other natural phenomena, as the course of the riverbed Nile river o la star luminosity, so it would not be unreasonable that it was also behind the advancement of tumors.

It is still early to launch the bells to the flight, but again it seems to confirm that mathematics is behind the course of this terrible disease and that, knowing it well enough, human beings may one day be able to anticipate its movements and, who knows ?, maybe win the game.