Daily Archives: December 1, 2016

Pet Allergies

Growing up I was always jealous that most of my friends had dogs because I really wanted one. My dad is allergic to both cats and dogs and whenever he is around one, he begins to sneeze a lot. Seeing my dad be allergic to pets like that, I am fortunate that I don’t have the same or any allergies at all. However, I always wanted to know why he developed certain allergies for pets and I was the lucky one being allergic to nothing.

allergic-to-dogsSome of the most common allergies come from pets and food, especially dairy products and nuts. Developing allergies can be different for everybody. Maybe you were born with it and later in your life your body outgrows the allergy. On the other hand, its possible to develop an allergy when you are older, which unfortunately is unlikely to go away. What happens is your body’s immune system comes in contact with a certain particle, for example outdoor allergies, and thinks it’s harmful. In the articleWhen Allergies Suddenly Develop, Jennifer Scott explains that your body then produces antibodies called Immunoglobulin E, where they attach themselves to cells releasing a chemical called Histamine. From the website WebMd, histamine gets rid of whatever that allergy is, which can be through sneezing, coughing, itchy or teary eyes. To stop these symptoms, its common to take an anti-histamine. So overall, common allergies are found to be an overreaction of your body’s immune system, believing something that is harmful when it’s actually safe.

It’s hard to know if and when you will have an allergy since they can appear at any time. However, there has been some controversy over if you can protect yourself from allergies at a young age. Scientists claim that if infants, under the age of one, are under the same roof as dogs, they are more likely to be protected from that allergen when they are older. To prove this,t1larg-baby-dog-gi a longitudinal study was performed where scientists tracked people for 18 years to see their outcomes. According to the article, Baby’s First Year Important for Pet Allergies, author Joe Brownstein says the scientists studied 565 children from birth until they were 18 years old. They used interviews to research the amount of exposure their children got from cats and dogs. At the age of 18, the scientists would take a blood sample to identify different immune-system proteins, which are like antibodies, that fight away any dog or cat allergen.  The study found that most children exposed to pets under the age of one, wound up having a 50% lower risk of getting a pet allergy later in their life.

This study has some interesting results, however after looking more into it, it seems there have been some conflicting results. Recently, Dr. Tolly G. Epstein an assistant professor at Ohio’s University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, believes the previous situation mentioned remains in a grey area and he believes that parents shouldn’t listen to those results just yet. Overall, its seems that more studies are needed to be conducted in order to find the validity of all of these results, but it makes sense that building up your child’s immune system could potentially protect them later in life. If the case is that infants living with pets under the age of one decreases the chance of obtaining that allergy, then it’s possible in the future people can take advantage and try to lower the risk of their kid’s allergies.

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What is Social Media’s role in our news today?

So let’s ask ourselves, where do we get most of our news today?

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It used to be by newspaper and radio, while later transitioning into television news stations. However, our news recently has recently been dominated by social media and our cellphone applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit.

There exists both positive and negative implications of our news source to be shifting towards social media outlets.

I believe the critical, breaking news is now being able to be sent almost in “real-time” and instantaneously. This week, an  armed knifeman attacked and hospitalized 11 on Ohio State University’s campus. The entire attack lasted a mere two minutes thanks to quick official response but also thanks to the social media presence in a large campus like Ohio State. After mere minutes of the attack, the entire campus was notified of the assailant and was in lock down. Emergency situations like this often benefit from today’s strong media presence.

I believe there are also serious negative consequences for shifting towards a social media driven news society. During 2015, in midst of the election season there was a story claiming that Ford Motor Co. was moving truck production from Mexico to Ohio went viral on Facebook. The post was thought as to be “neither entirely true nor completely false” as it falls into a grey area of news. Since these stories do not get fact checked by an editorial staff or credible journalists the stories can be entirely misleading to the general public.

First it is important to note that Facebook is foremost a tech company and not a company specialize in news like a CNN or FOX News. However the general public often fails to differentiate the one from the other. False posts on Facebook undermine its credibility and its audience don’t know which are true or false.

Also, many companies can have the option to advertise on sites like Facebook which can highlight certain stories while burying others.

I believe that switching to social media driven news society has both its positive and negative impact on society and if Facebook can filter out the false stories or have higher editorial standards for posts that end up on the left side of the home page, sites such as Facebook may end up building up its credibility.

Thanks for the read!

-Sammy Lee

Does Alcohol Actually Help Your Health?

alcoholContrary to my previous post, articles have been published dismissing the correlations between moderate alcohol consumption and increased health. There have been numerous studies claiming that there is a relationship between moderate alcohol consumption and increased health, but the results of these studies aren’t necessarily accurate.

A published finding done by a team of researchers found that these previous studies and meta-analyses were heavily manipulated in design and characteristics. The major problem was that the researchers had compared moderate drinkers with people who abstained from drinking alcohol without taking third variables into account. These third variables included health issues and previous brushings with substance abuse, meaning that the comparison between drinkers and non-drinkers was faulty, because they didn’t take into consideration the possibility that moderate drinkers were already healthier than non-drinkers. Not only this, but studies linking an increase in health and moderate drinking failed to account for the economic standings of the different groups of people. Moderate drinkers are more likely to belong to a higher economic class, meaning they probably have more access to health benefits than non-drinkers (of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all moderate drinkers belong to higher economic classes, they’re not mutually exclusive). In reality, researchers found that the people who had the best lifespan were people who only drank occasionally- meaning they consumed less than one drink per week.

With these findings, it’s easy to see that the claims that moderate alcohol consumption improves health are falsifiable. Mostly because these studies weren’t done correctly and didn’t take into consideration third variables, which makes me wonder how they were published in the first place if they were alcohollldone incorrectly. These studies show that if there actually is a correlation between moderate drinking and increased health, it’s probably due to something besides alcohol. Realistically, the best way to improve your health is through adopting a healthy lifestyle, preferably one that has little to no alcohol consumption.

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A Runner’s High (knees)

As demonstrated in this video by Scientific American, elite sprinters have a different motion that average sprinters. This disparity is characterized by their quick striking feet that don’t involve the heel. In order to do this, sprinters lift their knees high enough to make a piston-like movement towards the ground.uahsdiufasif

When phrased that way, becoming a sprinter sounds easy. Just adjust your running stride to lift your knees higher and build leg muscles until no one can catch you. Unfortunately, your genetics might not let you rise to the top all that easily.

The Study:

The gene ACTN3, or the “speed gene”, has been linked with faster twitching muscles, therefore causing a quicker sprinting motion. In order to test if the gene physically changed the composition of the muscles for non-athletes that had the gene based on observation and data collection, Researchers studied the muscle fibers through a biopsy test. The subjects were then put under certain tests to study the velocity and power they could demonstrate.

The Results:

The researchers found that, despite having the speed gene, subjects did not have any difference in viscoelasticity (the ability of the muscle to twitch) compared to people without the gene. However, the subjects with ACTN3 showed greater power and faster overall muscle contraction than subjects without the gene.

So what does all that mean? That study demonstrates how the speed gene is very cool. It does not create any changes in physical appearance or influence a muscles’ viscoelasticity, it just makes the muscles contract faster and with more power than those without it.

When the finding initially came out initially in 2003, according to the Chicago Tribune, the idea of the nurture of the athlete vs the nature of the athlete debate was cleared up. In an attempt to avoid racial stereotypes, people have attacked the idea that the reason that people of African decent find their way on the podium in Olympic sprinting events because of genetics. This inadvertently resulted in the ignoring of scientific data in order to preserve what they perceived to be a respectful outlook.

Research, such as the one attributed by the Tribune, clearly link athletes of African descent with higher concentrations of the speed gene than caucasian or Asian athletes.

This flaw caused by hypersensitivity to anything that differentiates races is similar to the battle against the theory of global warming that we discussed in class. People’s incorrect notion of what is fact compared to what is actual fact has blurred the scientific truth of the findings on global warming just as it has blurred the data on what makes a great sprinter.

 

Chameleon’s Color Change

Many animals depend on camouflage to either hunt their prey or even hide from their predators for example, many types of frogs, butterflies, and owls are a small portion of the total number of animals that use camouflage. They most likely have evolved over time to help increase survival and reproduction rates. It’s interesting to see how their camouflage works, but I am focused on one animal in particular, the Chameleon. The chameleon is a special case because instead of having one color, their body changes color based on something else. Now that I mention that, do you wonder why they do and how?

After doing some research, chameleons skin color change is in fact not for camouflage, but to regulate their body temperature and to communicate with others. Mary Bates, author of the chameleonarticle How Do Chameleons Change Color? explains that chameleons actually can’t generate their own body heat. Changing their skin to a dark color allows the chameleon to warm up by absorbing the sun’s heat and with the opposite they can change to a light color to simply reflect the light to cool off. In addition to heat change, male chameleons can change their color to a dark bold color to show they are aggressive or to a bright color to assert their dominance.

So how does this actually happen? In the same article, Mary Bates writes that the outer layer of skin on the chameleon is transparent plus they have multiple layers of skin like humans. Beneath those layers are special cells called chromatophores. At each level of skin, these chromatophores contain small sacs of different kinds of pigments, which is basically the coloring matter for the animal’s skin. Now at the deepest level of skin, there are melanophores, which are star shaped cells that extend towards the surface of the skin. These melanophores are filled with brown melanin, similar to humans. Mary Bates says that on top of2-1-howdochamele the skin are different types of cells correlating to different colors. For example, on the skin of the chameleon, there are cells called iridophores which reflects blue and white lights. In addition, other cells like xanthophores and erythrophores contain pigments like red and yellow which are then reflected off of the chameleon’s skin.

Now to change its color, the chameleon’s nervous system would take over and based on the chameleon’s behavior, certain chromatophores would begin to expand or contract allowing the change of color you would see in its skin. Overall, chameleons are not the only animal where this color change happens, in fact it happens to many others for similar reasons.

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UV Beads

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As a child, I would go to church and make bracelets and I would get these little beads that I never paid much attention to. Uv beads are the tiny white beads used for bracelets that change color in the light.  As someone could have guessed it is in the Uv light that the uv beads change colors. The beads can change up to 50,000 times until it is no longer affected by the uv light. Uv beads are also used to detect whether or not a sunscreen is good enough. There is a chemical inside the uv beads that make them change color. There has to be a 300-400 electromagnetic radiation in order for the beads to change.  The dye molecules found in the beads are made up of two conjugated systems. They form into one system. According to a source “When excited with UV radiation, the resulting larger planar conjugated molecule absorbs certain wavelengths of visible light resulting in a color” (1) This seems very exciting as I never knew the beads I used as a child were up beads. I presumed the beads came in those colors. Although they can change color according to the same source it says that “heat from the surroundings provides the activation energy to change the molecule back to its colorless structure” (1) They can serve as colorful beads for one project and return to white beads for another project. Liquid nitrogen can make beads not be able to turn back to their original white color. UV beads are a cheap way to have uv detectors. I also believe using Uv beads are a great way for children to learn about uv and electromagnetic radiation. I did not find that uv beads were used in any other studies to test things out. It would be nice to see if uv beads served a better purpose and could be used more.

Source:

(1) Bell, Jerry A. “Visualizing the Photochemical Steady State with UV-Sensitive Beads.” J. Chem. Educ. Journal of Chemical Education 78.12 (2001): 1594. Web.

SPF 15 or SPF 100? Or tanning oil?

Living at the beach, my mom has always shoved the idea of wearing sunscreen all the time is super important. Not only for preventing skin cancer but just taking of my skin in general. Whenever I come home from the beach with the back of my legs absolutely fried she gets pissed. She gets even more pissed when my face gets burned. I always argue back with her telling her I used sunscreen, but she never believes me. One day she bought me SPF 75 and I told her I wouldn’t use it because it was “too strong” and would prevent me from getting tan. But then I heard that any SPF after 30 is basically the same as 30, so I decided to google and research around what the actual differences in levels of SPF are.

According to dermatologist James M. Spencer, the SPF 30 can block up to 97% UVB rays whereas the SPF 15 can block up to 94% of UVB rays. You would of thought that there would be more of a difference since 30 doubles 15 but really there is only a 3% difference. There is also only an additional 1% difference between SPF 45 and 30, since SPF 45 only blocks about 98% of UVB rays. After seeing the minute differences in coverage between the SPF’s I insisted that my SPF 30 would work just the same as the 75 she bought me. Especially after reading the part of the article where Spencer even recommends his patients in his dermatologist office to use SPF 30.

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Most people think that using a higher SPF is better for you, but expert Dr. Wang has found that there are actually disadvantages to using products with very high SPF’s. For example, SPF’s of 50 or higher contain higher UVA protection. UVA protection is important, but when you have too much of it actually accelerates skin aging and can even cause skin cancers.  In the short run, using high SPF’s may be beneficial to not getting a sunburn, but in the long run they increase the amount of skin-damaging radiation to your body than lower SPF’s.

My friends and I go to the beach almost every day in the summer and this past summer all of us girls tried to get as tan as we could since we were all going off to colleges in cold places. We applied sunscreen but then applied loads of tanning oil over it. I’ve always wondered if tanning oil actually worked or if it was more of a placebo effect; telling myself that I was getting more tan by applying more tanning oil.

Tanning oil attracts and focuses the UV rays of the sun onto your skin. The key to tanning oil is that it accelerates the process of the skin receiving the UV rays which then speed up the melanocyte’s ability to make melanin. The more melanin present in your skin, the tanner you will look, which is obviously what people want. But most people don’t know the dangers of tanning oil. Since most tanning oils consist of about SPF level 4, UV radiation have more access to damaging your skin cells and cause mutations in cell’s structure leading to skin cancer.

Next summer, I think I’ll lay low on the tanning oil and stick with SPF 30.

Works Cited: http://www.webmd.com/beauty/features/high-spf-sunscreens-are-they-better

http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/ask-the-experts/does-a-higher-spf-sunscreen-always-protect-your-skin-better

Picture: http://www.bananaboat.com/products/sport-sunscreen-lotion

http://images.ulta.com/is/image/Ulta/2211901?$detail$

Parkinson’s Disease may be Linked to Stomach Microbes

Currently there are 10 million people worldwide living with Parkinson’s Disease, in the U.S. alone there are 60,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Parkinson’s affects 50% more men than it does women with the average age of onset at 60. Like many diseases Parkinson’s is thought to be incurable but with the breakthroughs we are having every day in science it is not surprising that someone may have found the link to Parkinson’s through one of our many stomach microbes. Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that we know slowly, or immediately, deteriorates the Neurons in the brain leading to loss of motor control and a decrease in the dopamine levels.

Hypothesis

Gut bacteria’s may have a link to Parkinson’s Disease in that Gut Bacteria, or a lack-thereof, tends to lead to Parkinson’s or Parkinson’s like symptoms. One key factor as to why they looked at Gut Bacteria instead of continuing to search the brain of patients for clues, is because many Parkinson’s patients have many Gastrointestinal problems such as constipation precede the major ailments of Parkinson’s. Now this is not saying that because you get constipated you have a higher risk for Parkinson’s the scientist in question merely saw the link between major constipation found in Parkinson’s patients.

Experiment

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First scientist begin with raising three different set of Genetically Modified Mice, in different sets of cages, with Parkinson’s like disease either in normal cages, non-sterile cages, or in a germ-free environment. The mice in germ-free environments displayed fewer motor deficiencies and reduced accumulation of mis-folded proteins, specifically the Alpha-Synuclein Protein found in Neurons,  protein aggregates in brain regions involved in controlling movement. When put through a test of moving across a beam, removing adhesives from their nose, and scaling down a pole these mice had an almost normal level or performance when compared to mice without the Parkinson’s like disease.

Contrasting that, the same mice that had been raised in Germ-Free environments reacted poorly to experiments with microbial metabolites called “short-chain fatty acids” or when they received fecal transplants of stomach microbes from patients with Parkinson’s disease the poor reaction lead to worse motor symptoms then when not experimented with these injections.

Now when comparing the two against each other the scientist drew the conclusion that stomach microbes deteriorate motor symptoms by creating the environment that possibly increases the risk of increased accumulation of mis-folded protein aggregates.

Side notes

I would be falling into the Texas Sharpshooter problem if I did not state that in this study stomach microbes cooperated with a specific genetic factor to influence the risk for developing Parkinson’s disease. The scientist used specific genetic mouse models that would summarize motor symptoms through the Alpha-Synuclein accumulation found in brains of Parkinson’s Patients. Also genetically normal mice, that is mice who had not been raised specifically for the Parkinson like diseases, did not develop the same motor symptoms the other mice had when receiving the fecal transplants from patients. There was also the fact that confounding variables such as pesticide exposure also played a role in the disease.

Conclusion

The findings of the experiment suggest a couple of things, first that probiotic and prebiotic therapies have a huge potential to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Contrasting to that the idea of using antibiotics or fecal microbe transplants are not a viable therapy option at this time but might be in the future with more research. Sampson, one of the researchers, is quoted with saying “Long-term, high-strength antibiotic use, like we utilized in this study, comes with significant risk to humans, such as defects in immune and metabolic function… Gut bacteria provide immense physiological benefit, and we do not yet have the data to know which particular species are problematic or beneficial in Parkinson’s Disease.”

Finally we come to the major conclusion that the most critical part of future experiments is to find specifically which pathogenic microbes contribute to a higher risk of having Parkinson’s later in life. On top of this the researchers have stated that the next major step would be to look for the bacteria that is specific in causing the deterioration of motor usage in patients allowing scientist to create a medicine that halts or greatly decreases the onset of Parkinson’s Disease.

Final Note

We are still years away from finding a cure or even a medicine to combat Parkinson’s but there is hope as this was a huge first step in the right direction. So always hold on to the hope that maybe not in our lifetime but in our children’s lifetimes there will be a preventative medicine that corrections the gene for causing folding in proteins that cause Parkinson’s.


https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161201122159.htm

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867416315902

Concussions, CTE, and the Changes to Football

It’s become a question of huge importance in recent years, especially among fans of professional sports: do hits to the head and concussions in football cause long term disabilities such as CTE? The NFL has begun implementing increased safety measures for players with concussion like symptoms in the wake of the suicides of former players such as Mike Webster, Junior Seau, and others. They have also begun settling lawsuits filed by the families of former players affected by head injuries. But what is CTE and what evidence has been found linking concussions to long term brain damage?

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According to Boston University, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is a disease of the brain that causes tissue to die and leads to symptoms similar to that of an Alzheimer’s patient (forgetfulness, anger, lack of judgement, etc.). It can be caused by repeated blows to the head and symptoms can remain dormant for years after the end of a player’s career. In an article from CNN, it appears there are people working on drugs to treat CTE and, although we’re likely years away from any significant breakthrough, there is at least some hope for former players who are suffering these symptoms.

A study from the Medical College of Wisconsin has found that concussions can change the structure of the human brain, even after symptoms have long cleared up. 35 high school and college football players were studied, with half having had head injuries recently and half serving as a control group. Several different kinds of scans of their brains were done and at multiple times to decrease the possibility of chance results. What they found was that the water in white matter in the brain was moving less in the brains of athletes who had suffered concussions, even half a year after the injuries. However, so far, scientists have not been able to find a concrete link between this damage to the structure of the brain. The outlook from these findings is that it may push coaches and other authority figures to keep players out longer when sidelined with concussions, as the damage is still being done long after the symptoms disappear.

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In short, concussions have come to the forefront of public consciousness in recent years for good reason. While it’s incredibly tragic that so many former players have been affected by concussions and long term brain diseases such as CTE, the outlook is good for the future. New rules have been put in place at all levels of football to keep players as safe as possible. And while a game based around hitting each other may never been 100% safe, they may one day be at least somewhat less dangerous.

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What Are the Damaging Effects of Sexual Assault?

 

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Sexual assault is defined as any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. If a person does not explicitly agree to a sexual act, any further physical contact is considered sexual assault or for instance rape. Sexual assault is NEVER okay & should NEVER be tolerated.


 

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Image taken from https://www.theodysseyonline.com/changing-the-narrative-surrounding-sexual-assault

Why Is It A Relevant Issue?

Sexual assault is a very common crime in the world, and more specifically speaking, in America. Even more specifically, here at Penn State, students receive a substantial amount of alerts reporting alleged sexual assault instances on campus. However, when reading these reports we do not often take into account the effects of these instances. According to “RAINN”, a leading movement against sexual assault, rape, and incest, an American citizen is sexually assaulted every 120 seconds, or two minutes. That rate amounts to an average of 207,754 sexual assault victims a year. This is why sexual assault is such an important issue to promote awareness about. In other words, as I am typing this blog and as you are reading, someone somewhere is being sexually assaulted, which is extremely alarming.

Image taken from http://www.paolabailey.com/sexual_assault_on_college_campuses

Image taken from http://www.paolabailey.com/sexual_assault_on_college_campuses


Where Does Science Come Into Play?

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Image taken from https://lehacker.com/brain-facts-revealing/

Believe it or not, sexual assault actually has many effects on the brain of the victim. Psychological effects on the victim are in phases, which start as immediate effects and turn into chronic effects. However, keep in mind that not every victim reacts to sexual assault the same way. Some examples of immediate psychological effects following a sexual assault include anxiety, shame or guilt, shock, distrust of others, flashbacks, emotional detachment, and fear. Examples of chronic psychological effects are depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, decrease of interest or avoidance in sex, attempted or completed suicide, and low self esteem, even causing a victim to blame him or herself for the attack.

Based on a study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, sexually molested and non-sexually molested children showed various to no psychological effects. Of the twenty-eight children reviewed in the study, the females showed the most extreme levels of emotional distress. Also, almost half of the sexually assaulted children were referred for psychiatric evaluation.  In another study, it was concluded that rape victims with post-traumatic stress disorder show great signs of alexithymia. This basically explains how sexual assault victims can become emotionally deprived.

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Image taken from http://slideplayer.com/slide/5202031/

Multiple studies, including randomized control trials, have also concluded that childhood sexual abuse actually effect the brain’s genital sensation regions, among other things. This can cause sexually abused women to have less desires and sensations sexually. During a randomized control trial, the sexually abused women (out of the twenty-eight total abused women) showed signs of changes in their somatosensory cortexes (“paints a picture” of the body for the brain, and controls sensations) further concluding to have thinning in areas that had genitalia. More details on these studies can be reviewed HERE.

 


Are There Undiscovered Effects?

YES! There are so many victims of sexual assault in the world, so how can we accurately measure the true scientific effects victims face? The before-mentioned effects are the ones noted toimgres be most commonly seen in sexual assault victims, but are there more that have been undiscovered? I think it is interesting to think about, noting that there would have to be huge experiments and surveys done (which still can be inaccurate). This just goes to say that regardless of the mentioned studies, there still is no concrete definition of the effects sexual assault plays on victims. So there has to be many other developing effects on the human brain that we have not yet discovered.


 

Sources

  • Szalavitz, Maia. “Sexual and Emotional Abuse Scar the Brain in Specific Ways | TIME.com.” Time. Time, 5 June 2013. Web. 20 Oct. 2016. <http://healthland.time.com/2013/06/05/sexual-and-emotional-abuse-scar-the-brain-in-specific-ways/>.
  • Heersink, Olivia. “Changing The Narrative Surrounding Sexual Assault.” Odyssey. N.p., 13 June 2016. Web. 20 Oct. 2016. <https://www.theodysseyonline.com/changing-the-narrative-surrounding-sexual-assault>.
  • Thompson, Dennis, Jr. “The Aftermath of Childhood Sexual Abuse.” EverydayHealth.com. N.p., 16 July 2009. Web. 20 Oct. 2016. <http://www.everydayhealth.com/sexual-health/childhood-sexual-abuse.aspx>.
  • “Sexual Violence: Consequences.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 June 2016. Web. 01 Dec. 2016. <http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/sexualviolence/consequences.html>.
  • “Proximate Effects of Sexual Abuse in Childhood: A Report on 28 Children.” Proximate Effects of Sexual Abuse in Childhood: A Report on 28 Children | American Journal of Psychiatry. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 1 Apr. 2006. Web. 01 Dec. 2016. <http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/ajp.139.10.1252>.
  • “Alexithymia in Victims of Sexual Assault: An Effect of Repeated Traumatization?” Alexithymia in Victims of Sexual Assault: An Effect of Repeated Traumatization? | American Journal of Psychiatry. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2016. <http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/ajp.150.4.661>.
  • “The Definition of Alexithymia.” Dictionary.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2016. <http://www.dictionary.com/browse/alexithymia>.

Why do we have accents?

Sitting in class listening to our great foreign instructor, Andrew Read, give his lecture I wondered why we all have accents and what makes them. Obviously it’s because of the areas where we are native from and thats exactly my point, why does living in different areas cause everyone to sound different in speaking. Yes, someone might have an accent because they aren’t speaking their first language, but what about British accents compared to American accents? Both countries are known for speaking english so why is there an accent barrier between us? And that question stands for all countries. Even within our own country we have multiple different types of accents, but why?

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Reading in this article it goes in depth about what makes an accent an accent. You form whatever accent you have from your parents teaching you to speak. Based on your ethnicity and where you are living globally has a big impact on your accent. For example, in the article it states that people from Boston have very recognizable accents because of the deep Irish influence that lives there. The Boston accent is then born from a mixture of the Irish people living there and the American accent they are living around. Also with what language they speak influences their “foreign” accent. Germans have very specific sounds in their language that english speaking people don’t have at all in their language. Therefore, when they try and speak anything other than German, they sound like they have an accent, and vice versa for english speaking people.

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Really it just depends on where you grew up and how the people around you speak, which causes you to speak the same. It’s due to your dialect and how you pronounce things. Growing up in the Philadelphia area I always pronounced the word ‘water’ as ‘wudder’ and never thought anything of it till I realized that’s really only a Philly thing to say. There was always that myth that Australians got their accents from drunken British people, when in reality it was just all the mixtures of British accents coming together into one.

 

3D Printing

Back in high school, I took an elective course called 3d printing. What I basically got to do was learn how to use a certain program, create whatever I wanted, and transfer the file to a 3d printer and print my project. For example, one product I created was a toy train. After saving it img_2481on a USB, I plugged it into a 3d printer and let it go to work. 3d printers work by the machine heats up to a certain degree then begins to lay a synthetic plastic down onto a flat surface and layer by layer it creates the object I want. Here is a close-up video on how the printer works. To the right is the train I printed in high school.

I bring up 3d printers because they have a huge impact on technology today and for the future. In manufacturing, today, 3d printers bring the consumer into its own process at home, offices, industries, and hospitals. 3d printers don’t not strictly print with plastic but in fact there is a wide range of material that can be used including different metals, gold, silver, platinum, sandstone, wax, and other types of plastic. This shows how wide ranged 3d printers can be used and you really can use them for basically anything.

It’s amazing to see how 3d printers have already changed and affected the world. Innovations have changed the way people at NASA, those in any type of medical or science field, manufactures, and many types of other professions, use 3d printers to their advantage to make life easier yet more effective for themselves others.

On July 12, 2016, up at the international space station, crew members began to re-install their 3d printer to continue their research of how these printers can work in a zero-gravity environment. According to the article Research of 3D Printing on the Space Station, author Sarah Loff explains that the crew members are going to begin printing a variety of tools and various parts so they can be sent back to earth to be compared to actual parts. This will give a good idea on how these printers work in space and if scientists need to adjust anything. It will be a huge advantage to have 3d printers work in space. Crew members depend on resupply missions which could take weeks or even months to gain simple tools for their work. With the ability to print in space, Sarah Loff stresses that there will be a dramatic decrease in time to obtain parts and it will ensure greater safety for different space missions.

Another way 3d printers have changed the world is through the medical field. One great advancement that was printed to change the medical field is a cast. Millions of people suffer from broken bones and doctors set them up in either a fiberglass or plaster type of cast. According to Jake Evill’s article about the Cortex Exoskeleton Cast, he writes that the older types of casts tend to be heavy, non-water resistant, smelly, and low tech. However, with the creation of the Cortex Exoskeleton Cast, people can experience a cast that is anatomically fitted, water-proof, light weight, cheap, hygienic, and actually pleasing to look at it. These casts work by patients undergoing an x-ray and a 3d scan of their arm to locate the fracture. Computer software then generates an accurate set up of a cast to support the fracture the patient has. Aimagesfter that, it is simply printed which takes only a few hours. These casts are much better to support the patients fracture than previous types of casts and they are very affordable so they are affordable for many people.

A large problem we have today is people having organ or tissue failure. The way this is treated is usually through an organ transplant coming from a living or deceased person. Many people are in need of one and are put on a list, however it’s very hard to treat everyone in need since the limited number of organs. After reading C. Lee Ventola’s article on Medical Applications for 3D Printing, she also describes that a second problem is that it’s hard to match the tissue with the person and the donated organ. The creation of 3d bio-printing takes advantage of a common 3D printer and uses that type of technology to create cells and bio-materials. Ventola says this is done by a layer by layer technique that prints out droplets of human cells. This can lead to many things including the creation of knee meniscus, heart valve, spinal disk, other types of cartilage and bone, and an artificial ear.

It’s easy to see how amazing 3D printers can be and this is only the beginning. There are endless possibilities in which 3D printers can change any type of field of work, increase safety for others, and reduce health risks. In the future, we hope bio-printing can increase its technology, change roles in personal medication, and a whole wide range of other possibilities. It’s exciting to see what we can do with this technology today, but it will soon get even better.

Picture 2

Can Alcohol Be Good for You?

Whilst doing research for a project in another class, I came across an article titled “7 Health wineBenefits of Drinking Alcohol.” It seemed ironic to me given that alcohol is most commonly associated with health consequences. But at the same time, I recalled reading about how people in France are healthier than Americans despite their higher intake of alcohol. Maybe alcohol consumption does have some benefits, and if so, does a direct link between alcohol consumption and increased health exist?

To clear things up, I am only referring to moderate alcohol consumption; do not fool yourself into thinking that excessive binge-drinking will be beneficial to your health, it will not. I am also referring to alcohol consumption amongst people who are at or past the legal drinking age, health benefits are not an incentive to partake in underage drinking. For people who meet these requirements, moderate consumption means, generally, about one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. One moderate drinks refers to 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, and 1.5 ounces of hard spirits. Apparently, health benefits associated with moderate alcohol consumption include lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, lengthening a person’s lifespan, and even lowering the chance of diabetes. However, the claim that most struck me was that alcohol can help moderate Alzheimer’s disease in patients.

Dr. Michael A. Collins, a professor in the Stritch School of Medicine in Loyola University, published a study explaining linkage between moderate alcohol consumption and a decrease in risks of acquiring Alzheimer’s in 143 studies from all over the world, including 365,000 participants. He found that people who moderately consumed alcohol were 23% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. However, the study might not account for third variables, such as a person’s predisposition to developing dementia. Or, the results could be due to chance, even though Dr. Collins looks at a relatively large amount of studies. Not only this, but his findings could suffer from the file-drawer problem or even the Texas sharpshooter fallacy. And, despite all of Dr. Collins research, this study seems to reject his hypothesis and support the null hypothesis instead. Dr. Suzanne L. Tyas, the researcher, explains biological mechanisms, cites other studies, and accounts for third variables, and ultimately concludes that the extent to which alcohol influences the development of Alzheimer’s is still unknown.

Although the validity of alcohol’s role in Alzheimer’s is still in the air, one thing is for sure: it’s best if you don’t excessively drink. Because studies have only shown correlations and no actualy linkage with scientific evidence between moderate drinking and lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s, we can adopt the null hypothesis for now. And, if you consume one standard drink a day and develop Alzheimer’s in your older age, don’t be surprised.

Source 1  Source 2

 

Are peanuts good for the heart?

I noticed recently that advertisements for peanuts had been boasting their effectiveness in reducing the risk of heart disease. Of course, thats difficult to believe at first glance.  When looking further onto the cans of these products they are even certified by the American Heart Association. This led me to believe that this might not be just a marketing trick, this could be true.

The peanut institute contends that eating peanuts only twice a week can reduce your risk of heart disease by 24%. This interesting fact is supported by a study shown by the peanut institute that examined peanuts and peanut products in participants diets and found that participants who ate these products had both lower cholesterol and triglycerides which in turn are good measurements of heart health. The peanut institute, which i’m sure is much in favor of the promotion of eating peanuts gives tons of resources in support of the health benefits of peanuts, so I thought, maybe its just bias?

https://amazingraze.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Nuts-1.jpg

The peanut advertisements and the peanut institute are supported by the FDA which made a statement making it very clear that “an ounce of peanuts a day may help reduce the risk of heart disease.” However, in order to protect against confounding variables, possible study errors,and results due to chance the FDA also makes many disclaimers stating that the evidence does not “prove” the peanuts reduce the risk of heart disease but rather “may reduce” it. This small discrepancy is crucial to the message here.

A Harvard University study saw similar results from its over 3 million participants. The more peanuts the participants ate, the lower the risk seemed to me for heart disease and other illnesses. This study is said to have adjusted for other risk factors however once again, we can’t truly rule out chance. Peanuts are commonly known to be a nice snack, whether alone or possibly with some trail mix. To think that there is a strong possibility that this small, crunchy, snack could be saving our lives little by little could influence people the next time they’re in the store looking for lunch. I”l definitely keep nuts in mind

 

Do babies save marriages?

It is a commonly held belief that babies bring people together, but is that necessarily true. The null hypothesis of this study is that there is no relationship between having children and well-being. On one hand, people view children as a way to bring people together over the celebration of new life. But on the other half, some people view that the stress of being in charge of a child can put too much strain on a relationship for it to last.

In a European study from 2011, researchers did a two-fold research study that looked into both the relationship of happiness and childbearing in different countries as well as childbearing and relationship status. The two went together because you could look at the difference in relationship status as a confounding variable if it was found that it makes a significant difference in someones happiness. Using the European Social Survey, the researchers were able to get accurate statistics of the relationship, although it was limited in some capacity becasue it was originally for comparisons of different countries and not relationship status.

parents and their children reading the bible

In another study done by a team at TIMES magazine, they found that the major factor in differing levels of happiness was the age of the parents. Sighting that the parents between the ages of 17-25 were less happy than their counterparts. But they also found that parents found their lives more rewarding, so it shows that there are obvious positives and negatives when it comes to having a child.

baby-mom-grandma

There are also many reasons why the two studies could have found differing results. One is reverse causation, which in this scenario, would be that the child bearing is caused by a persons happiness. This would be plausible becasue you have someone who is happy where their life is and the might decide it is a good time to have a child. There’s also the possibility that there is a third confounding variable that could be playing a role in the relationship between childbearing and happiness. The third variable could be anything from places surveyed to the social-economic well being and other things.

Sources

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11205-011-9866-x

Do Children Bring Happiness—or Misery?

http://www.communitybiblestudy.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/baby-mom-grandma.jpg

http://boca4kids.com/10-reasons-to-read-to-your-child/

Does The Amount Of Sleep You Get Affect Your GPA?

“Im going to stay up all night to study” is a common phrase you hear college students say before a big exam. Ideally, studying more seems like it would boost your grade. However is this really beneficial? I have really wondered how our brains function when our bodies are running on no sleep. Can we still think and act clearly and make proper decisions? Or does being tired impair our judgment and test taking ability? I know that for me, I struggle answering questions and holding a conversation when I am tired.

At one survey study done on high school students, it was reported that about 2/3 of them do not get a sufficient amount of sleep. The National Sleep foundation claims that 8 hours of nightly sleep is considered moderately sufficient. (Curcio)

tired-student-at-booksIt is hard to find hard evidence in experiments correlating amount of sleep and grades. Certain experiments call for many flaws, such as self-reports lacking verification, different grade biases and scales, and general intelligence/IQ. Multiple variables would need to be factored for in order to gain more accurate results.

In observational study conducted on 148 college students all enrolled in the same phycology class, with the causal variable being sleep duration, and the result variable being GPA, it was hypothesized that longer amounts of sleep will result in higher grades. 7-8 hours was considered average, and 9 or more was long. Third variables included age and gender, and the study concluded that these did not have a correlation to GPA. It did show though that the average of the long-sleepers GPA was a 3.4, the short sleepers was a 2.74, and the average, 3.01. (Kelly) This evidence supports the original hypothesis that more sleep does have a positive relationship with grades.

poor-report-card-because-of-poor-sleepA self-reporting survey done by Wolfson and Carskadon measured 3000 high school students’ grades and sleeping trends. It concluded that the students with the higher GPAs tended to have better sleeping patterns, and getting a larger amount of rest than those with lower GPAs. The evidence from a study like this would be more strongly supported if meta-analyses were done confirming the same results. However, there have been many other studies that have conclusions on the contrary. In another survey testing relationship between grades and sleep times, 1200 students from 6th-12th grade were asked to self report GPAs and their sleeping tendencies. Researches found no strong correlation that lack of sleep would decrease GPA. (Curcio)

Overall, it is up to each individual how much sleep they chose to get. Other things could prevent one from sleeping as desired, such as breathing problems, or insomnia, so some people may not even be at fault for lacking sufficient sleep. Neurologists and scientists would hands down advise at least 8 hours of sleep in order for our brains to function to their full potential, however each person is very different when it comes to sleep, and how they preform academically. Other factors need to be considered before concluding that more sleep and higher grades are directly correlated.

Sources:http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1087079205001231

http://a1.phobos.apple.com/us/r30/CobaltPublic/v4/4a/b9/97/4ab997e8-12b0-22d0-1120-e54ea79c3d0e/215-492990707443492796-The_Relationship_Between_Sleep_Lenght_and_Grade_Point_Average.pdf

Pictures:

http://earlyvoting.net/page/2/

http://7bigspoons.com/neurotechnology-tip/academic-results-sleep-sliding/

 

Energy Drinks: Do They Live Up to the Hype?

Today Americans love to get their caffeine in as much as possible, and a relatively new concept that is especially popular with students is the energy drink. We’ve all at least seen them around, with their flashy labels and commercials that preach adrenaline. But with the high levels of sugar and other pronounceable ingredients, I started to think about how effective these drinks actually are. So I decided to do some research to see if energy drinks are worth the buy.

The alternative hypothesis here is that energy drinks do cause your body to provide you with a boost of energy, but while also not causing you to “crash” later on and become much more fatigued than you were previously. On the other hand the null hypothesis is that energy drinks have little effect on your energy level.

One study I found was done by the University of Massachusetts Lowell back in 2012, focusing mainly on a company known round the world, Red Bull. The researches organized it as an experimental study, with three groups: one that drinks Red Bull, one that drinks Starbucks, and a control group that drinks nothing. For my post i will only be focusing on the Red Bull and control groups, although the coffee group also has interesting results, but they are irrelevant to our hypotheses here. Every ten minutes for an hour the participants would have thscreen-shot-2016-12-01-at-2-42-34-pmeir heart rate, reaction time, and saturated oxygen levels measured. All three of these things are a good way to measure energy levels and focus.

Here you can see the results, and the first thing I noticed was the time span, I found it a little surprising that none of the effects of the drinks lasted very long. With the heart rate the Red Bull group rose steadily until peaking at 50 minutes and then dropping sharply to slightly below their staring rate. The control group however, continued to rise throughout the entire hour.

The reaction time test yielded some interesting results, with the Red Bull group immediately descending in their response time and not starting to delay their response until about 40 minutes in. The control group started by slowing their times, but then improved greatly by the end of the hour (keep in mind the dependent variable is response time, so the lower the time the better). I do wish that this study had a longer time period, so that we could see when the reaction times return to around their initial time.

The saturated oxygen tests are all over the place, and it seems that the Red Bull did not have a defined effect on the participants compared to the control group. Overall the results showed more promise for energy drinks than I initially thought, and I do not have enough data to reject my null hypothesis so I will accept the null and say that energy drinks are in fact effective. Although, the study also shows that the control group that did not drink anything still did very similar to the Red Bull drink, so I would definitely not drink energy drinks all day everyday, or even somewhat regularly, as they are high in calories and sugars. But if you need a quick boost in your day it would help you out briefly.

Bye Bye Taste Buds

Food is one of the greatest pleasures in my life, so naturally I discuss it often. Recently I got into a discussion about how people’s food of choice can change over the years. This conversation led me to think of my older brother, who has been a picky eater all of his life. Lately, he has been very slightly opening up his horizons and starting to eat a couple things that would almost make him throw up in the past. The reverse is also present in my older sister. Foods that use to be her favorite during early childhood now put a look of disgust on her face. All of this changing going on makes me want to know if taste buds change over time.

taste-buds

(Picture)

On the surface, taste seems like a basic concept, but it is a little more complex than meets the eye. According to the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, our sense of taste is combined with what we smell.This is why sometimes being sick suppresses our sense of taste. The whole tasting process starts with sensory cells, of which there are many on each taste bud. Sensory cells have proteins on the end of them that connect to the chemicals in what goes into our taste buds. Then, cranial nerves take what was received to the brain stem where they go on to merge with our sense of smell to give us the delightful experience of taste. These tastes are classified into five possible categories; sweet, savory, salty, bitter, and sour. Also, we taste with multiple areas in and around our mouth, not just the tongue. The basic understanding of taste is important so I can build from here.

Even I do not eat all of the same foods as I did in the past. Amanda Greene cites Dr, Bartoshuck as explaining how long taste buds last. He says they only live for 10-14 days. This means not only do not just change as I had hypothesized, but they actually die and are replaced with entirely new ones. Ediblefeast.com lists a variety of reasons our taste changes over the years. First of all, kids have a stronger sense of smell to go along with their taste as a natural instinct. Our childhood taste is to avoid possibly harmful foods, and get a lot of nutrients. When we age, our taste buds do not reproduce as much and our sense of smell is not as good. Also, overtime we can train ourselves to like or dislike certain foods. Taste is definitely not set in stone.

I now have a better understanding of why food preference is not always the same. Fortunately for picky eaters such as my brother, if some people wait it out, or work to train themselves, more food options can become desirable. Taste is not only different from person to person but from time to time within each person.  The next time I try a new food, I will keep my sense of smell and taste buds in mind.

Coco-NUTS for coconut oil!

 

The latest health fad that is trending is coconut oil! It appears to be a go to answer to many

Coconut with jasmine

health and beauty related questions. To examine the legitimacy of all those claims is far too massive of a task to try and undertake in one blog post. In this post, I will specifically be looking at whether consumption of coconut oil has antimicrobial benefits.

First, let’s define what an antimicrobial is. According to the Antimicrobial Resistance Learning Site, an antimicrobial is an agent in our bodies which works against microorganisms. Its purpose is similar to that of an antibiotic, the main difference being that an antibiotic is a microorganism developed to fight other microorganisms. An antimicrobial however, is a natural or synthetic material, or a combination of the two, which targets microorganisms, without harming the host too much. Also, with these two terms, we have a square and rectangle situation going on. By that I mean, like all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares; the same goes for antibiotics and antimicrobials. In this case, the antibiotic is the square, and the antimicrobial is the rectangle.

A study which was published in the Journal of Medical Foods found that the strongest antimicrobial effects against bacterial were a result of the presence of lauric acid in virgin coconutoilcoconut oil. What makes lauric acid such an effective antimicrobial is the fact that it is a fatty acid. Because of this, they are particularly good are disrupting lipid membranes of the intruding microorganisms. To check the validity of this, I looked for additional research on the topic. A paper in the Asian Journal of Pacific Science, as well as a paper presented at the AVOC Lauric Oils Symposium also saw these benefits.

So it has benefits, should it be taken when you feel a cold kicking in? There was not a lot of information on how to use this information. Perhaps there is a file drawer problem going on if the results are mundane. One book, did connect the beneficial antimicrobial properties to preventative health measure, but it was still vague.

To conclude, because of the lauric fatty acid component which is prominent in coconut oil, it has beneficial antimicrobial properties. What can an SC200 student take away from this? Coconut oil is a good substance to incorporate into one’s diet for general health purposes, and to ward off bacteria which could make you ill. However as far as using it in place of medicine, I would stick to the meds.

Pic Links:

http://blog.amaliebeauty.com/coconut-oil-for-eyelashes-will-it-help/

http://paleogrubs.com/coconut-oil-benefits

Does stress eating reduce stress?

As we get older, life comes with more responsibilities and stresses.

Stress is a physical tension in reaction to possible threats. Our bodies are systematically designed to go into “fight of flight” mode when presented with stressful situations, good or bad. Stress can be a good thing, in which it causes you to get things done before a deadline. Contrarily, stress can be a bad thing when prolonged or when the body is put under extreme amounts of stress in short periods of time. When our bodies enter “fight or flight” mode, hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine are released. According to Melissa McCreery, PhD., in an interview with CNN, we reach for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s when stressed due to the release of cortisol, which controls the body’s appetite.

Although cortisol is released during stressful times in all humans, some people lose their appetite when stressed, and others turn to substances other than food to cure the stress. Gender differences can create more stress eating in woman compared to men. Woman tend to eat when faced with stressful situations whereas men tend to drink to suppress the stress. But the question that is being asked is: does turning to food or another substance actually help to reduce the stress in our lives?

http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Stressed-is-Desserts-Spelled-Backwards-Funny-Poster-Posters_i8833426_.htm

http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Stressed-is-Desserts-Spelled-Backwards-Funny-Poster-Posters_i8833426_.htm

Eating certain types of foods increase our weight gain when stressed, and therefore could possibly increase the stress more. Other foods, such as leafy greens, have been said to decrease stress. Green leafy vegetables contain folate which was shown to lower depression in a study, that was published in the Journal of Affective Disroders. The study consisted of 4,500 people, which is a large enough study to rule out any results being determined by chance, studied the effects of eating greens that are high in folate on emotional symptoms.

Unfortunately, the study only examined people between the aged of 45-74 years old.

According to a survey by the Higher Education Research Institute, college aged students’ emotional health rated extremely low, accompanied by extreme levels of stress. I feel that the age rage that was studied above, including people that are in retirement, does not give a good depiction of the American stress epidemic. When searching for studies that show how leafy greens affected the stress levels of college aged students, there were insignificant studies that only showed the relationship between stress and weight gain, and no studies that directly looked at the relationship between eating healthy foods or unhealthy foods and the level of stress afterwards.

Therefore, many more studies, including a meta-analysis, need to be conducted to show whether the idea of stress eating, such as reaching for the pint of Ben & Jerry’s after a break up, makes us feel any less stressed.

Citations:

http://www.pcrm.org/health/health-topics/how-to-eat-right-to-reduce-stress

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20909426,00.html

http://www.jad-journal.com/article/S0165-0327(12)00014-6/abstract

http://www.stress.org.uk/what-is-stress/

http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/09/health/avoid-stress-eating/

http://heri.ucla.edu/pr-display.php?prQry=55

http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1030&context=theses

Can you become addicted to sleep?

Sleep is a fundamental, biological need. Our bodies need sleep in order to function. As an avid napper/sleeper, I often question if one could become addicted to sleep? Using anecdotal evidence, or evidence derived from personal experiences added together to come to a conclusion, I often see that my friends and I feel more inclined to take a nap or sleep after we have slept for a long time. Did our bodies become addicted to the feeling of rest? Is this possible?

After doing some research on the idea of sleep addiction, I found no hard scientific evidence for this idea. Though, I did find many threads on different forums where people made arguments against the idea of sleep addiction. PhoenixEnder, a user through a science forum, argued that there is no such way that someone could become addicted to a physical need. He or she compared sleep addiction to the idea of being addicted to gambling. In the psychology DSM, there are clear criteria and symptoms for this disorder. When trying to create, match, or find criteria for a sleep addiction, none were found. Particularly, one of PhoenixEnder’s strong points of his/her argument was the criteria of addiction listed as number 2. It stated the idea that a person would need to sleep more each night in order to achieve the same bodily reaction or response, such as the need to gamble more and more to reach the “high” created from the activity.

Dr. Neil Kline, a little bit more of a reliable source, who is a member of the American Sleep Association, also argued against the idea of sleep addiction. Similar to PhoenixEnder’s idea of sleep being a physical, biological need, Dr. Kline agreed that one could not become addicted to a biological need. He compared being addicted to sleep as being addicted to air.

But, honestly, his comparison made me question his argument.

As Dr. Kline compared an addiction to sleep with being addicted to air, a biological need, I thought about being addicted to food. Food is a biological need, and can be highly addictive. A scientific review of Nobel et al at UCLA, a study that found that people who were binging on carbohydrate-rich foods had a similar brain chemical as people who were addicted to drugs. The study also discovered that people who had this change in their brain makeup had physical cravings for food when stimulated by pictures, or environmental factors.

Although there are studies that possibly prove food addiction could be a true disorder, there needs to be a lot more research on the idea of sleep addiction. Both food and sleep are biological needs, so I am not sure I agree quite yet with PhoenixEnder and Dr. Kline’s arguments, because there is extensive evidence showing that another biological need can be just as addictive.

http://www.memes.com/img/104271

http://www.memes.com/img/104271

In order to test whether sleep can be addictive, one could possibly test the same way scientists tested whether food was addictive. In class, we learned about different types of studies and ways that scientists could conduct the. I am no scientist, but I tried to think of a way that the possibility of sleep addiction could be studied. An experimental study could be conducted, where a randomized group of people are observed for how long they sleep and possible brain changes that comes with different hours they sleep. The study would remain experimental versus observational because scientists would change the amount of hours a person sleeps, being the x variable, and would test for possible changes in the brain, being the y variable. The control group of people would sleep the “normal” amount of hours per night, and scientists would compare the manipulated group to the base images of the control group brains to see whether any changes occurred.

Citations:

http://cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/547/can-sleep-become-addictive

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/can-you-be-addicted-to-sleep

http://foodaddictioninstitute.org/scientific-research/physical-craving-and-food-addiction-a-scientific-review/

 

Do carrots actually improve your eye sight?

Since we were children, our parents have told us that eating vegetables would make us as strong as our favorite superhero. Specifically, our parents would tell some of us that eating carrots would give us 20/20 vision. How true is this statement? After growing up eating plates full of carrots, I was still given a prescription for glasses a few years ago. I decided that this question needed some further research in order to determine if eating carrots caused an improvement in one’s eyesight.

Before I began searching the internet and critically thinking through all of the information I would find, I wanted to think about the null hypothesis and the alternative hypothesis.

The null hypothesis in this case would be there eating carrots do not improve eyesight. The alternative hypothesis would state that eating carrots does improve eyesight. When scientists conduct experiments and research, they use the null and alternative hypothesis to create a conclusion to their findings. As Andrew taught us in class, if scientists conclude that the null hypothesis is false (reject the null), meaning carrots do improve eyesight, but in reality carrots do not, then this is called a false positive. In science there is a 5% chance of this happening. On the other hand, if a scientist concludes that the null hypothesis is indeed true (accept the null), meaning carrots do not improve eyesight, and in reality they do improve eyesight, this is called a false negative.

After doing research, I found that carrots, and other organically-colored orange foods, are high in Vitamin A. It was said that Vitamin A plays a critical role in supporting strong eyes and those that have a Vitamin A deficiency could lead to a condition known as Keratomalacia. With this condition, one could experience incredibly dry eyes, night blindness, and other symptoms.

A randomized, control study in Nepal was conducted in 2005, and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, where pregnant woman were given different types of locally grown Vitamin A foods, such as carrots and goat liver, in addition to a Vitamin A supplement, and then tested for the affect on their night vision. The pregnant and blind woman were randomly assigned to many different combinations of foods and high/low dose vitamin A supplements. The control group in this study were non-blind woman. A control group of blind, pregnant woman was not used due to unethical practices; pregnant woman in Nepal are more susceptible to death when pregnant and night blind, therefore they must use non-blind woman in order to reduce risk. (Side note: this unethical control group practice reminded me of the class where Andrew talked about childhood cancers, and that it is unethical to place a child in a control group for a clinical cancer treatment.) The control group was not given any other Vitamin A foods or supplements that what they already regularly consumed.

The conclusion of the study found that there was no clear different between a Vitamin A supplement versus regular, Vitamin A rich foods on the affect of night blindness in pregnant woman. Although, the study did find that Vitamin A as a whole did improve eyesight in the woman being tested. The study above contains strong evidence, where about 100% of night blind woman reported improvement in their eyesight after consuming Vitamin A.

(Picture source: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/81/2/461/F4.large.jpg)

In conclusion, I think it is safe to say that Vitamin A can help improve eyesight when included in a normal diet.  Although this study was conducted in Nepal, where vitamin A rich foods may be more scarce than here in the United States, the study controlled for that variable. They brought food and supplements to the woman in different villages, allowing them access to this nutrition.

Next time you load up your plate at the dinner table, it may be wise to add a few more carrots to your plate!

Citations:

https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/eye-disorders/corneal-disorders/keratomalacia

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/81/2/461.full

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-carrots-improve-your-vision/

http://yoursightmatters.com/carrots-really-improve-eyesight/

Make Some Noise

Penn state football is a large part of this schools culture.  Many people choice this school not just because of the great education they will receive here

A sold-out and white-out Beaver Stadium crowd celebrated the Nittany Lions victory over Michigan on Oct. 12. Penn State tied the game with 00:27 remaining in the fourth quarter and then went on to defeat Michigan 43-40 in a four overtime classic.

A sold-out and white-out Beaver Stadium crowd celebrated the Nittany Lions victory over Michigan on Oct. 12. Penn State tied the game with 00:27 remaining in the fourth quarter and then went on to defeat Michigan 43-40 in a four overtime classic.

but also because of the football games and what that means to this school.  James Franklin has said numerous times how the fans that attend the games at beaver stadium are a large part of the team’s success.  This blog post is not just about praising the great season the team is having; It’s about how much effect fans have on the outcome of a game.  Anyone at the Penn State Ohio State game this year would tell you that the crowd atmospheres played a large factor in the game.  Urban Meyers himself said that Penn State whiteout is a top five atmospheres in college football; he also said that he wishes Penn state would save it for other teams besides when they play Ohio State because it is so effective.

When considering crowd noise there are a two main categorizes to look at win percentage and penalties committed by the away team.  One team who has a known home field advantage is the Seattle Seahawks.  The stadium was once recorded at 137.6 decibels.  The pain threshold is at 130 decibels.  From 2002-2012 the Seahawks have been 59-29 at home compared to 33-55 when playing away .  At home over that ten year span they had a win percentage of .670, compared to their away win percentage of .375.  They won almost twice as many games as they did at home as they did away.  The average home win percentage is .572 since 1990 and the average away win percentage is .4278 since 1990.  The Seahawks have had a higher win

percentage at home than the average and a lower win percentage away which shows that the Seahawks just didn’t have great teams during that time but the crowd noise played a difference.  Also during this time there has been 143 false start penalties committed.  That’s roughly 1.625 false starts per game; the NFL average in 2013 for away teams was .48 .  This stat shows that away teams commit over 3 times more false starts at CenturyLink Field then the average away team does.  These stats are all from one team but shows how much effect one of the best crowds in the NFL has on an outcome of the game

I wanted to consider other sports other than the NFL so the next thing I looked at was fans effect on NBA free-throws.  ESPN sports science had a short episode on the effects fans have on free throw shooters.  In the video it says the most effective was to distract a free throw shooter with visual effects is with side to side motion not random.  Something that is more effective than visual effects is audio effects on free throw shooters.  According to ESPN sports science neither of these has a large impact on free throw shooter since the percentage missed between home and away games was less than a percent.  During the video it said that the Dallas Mavericks decrease the away teams free throw percentage by 8 percent over the course of three games by using coordinated visual distractions.  This data point is just an anecdote since it was only over three games.  To truly test this, it would need to be over at least a season long.  Comparing these two sports shows that crowd noise can have a largely bigger impact in football games.

Real Life Barbie?

Most young girls nowadays and since the 1960’s have been playing with Barbie Dolls. Dressing them up, doing their hair, and putting them in any and every possible scene that they could be in, practically making a life for the doll. I was even one of those girls who praised Barbie for being absolutely perfect. These days Barbie is portrayed by the media as the perfect girl with the perfect body and the ideal looks that make men attracted to them. Seeing how Barbie is portrayed as the perfect woman makes girls believe that they have to be like her and change themselves to become “the perfect woman”.

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Researchers and doctors have proven that a real life Barbie could never be realistic based on her physical proportions. If Barbie were a real woman, doctors predict that she would be forced to walk on all fours like an animal and would be incapable of living life normally, not to mention the health risks she would have. Based on her measurements and physical proportions, she would 6 feet tall and weigh 100 pounds. The picture below shows a comparison of the US average measurements of a woman to the measurements of a life size Barbie (Olson). In most of the body parts listed, there is a drastic difference between the measurements and you can see how unreal and unattainable it really is.

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Even considering the unattainable body that Barbie portrays, women still have found the need to want to look just like her. Some women, such as Cindy Jackson, as explained in this article, have been so inspired by Barbie that they have undergone multiple plastic surgeries to achieve the Barbie look. I have seen some pictures of women that have had surgeries to obtain the Barbie body image and its surprising that they are living and breathing. Not all girls however go to the extreme of getting surgeries, but a large number however have been affected by wanted to obtain the look. Barbie dolls have been proven to teach children that they should be skinny and blond to be accepted in the world. There are even connections between Barbie’s body image and eating disorders found in women and young girls.

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The studies that have been done show that girls who have played with Barbie dolls when they are younger grow up and have eating disorders. It is however, fact that girls who have eating disorders might not exactly want to look like a Barbie doll, but do however want to have a better body image. It is reported by the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness that 70 million people worldwide suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia and about 90 percent of those are between the ages of 12 and 25 (Barbie and Body Image). Wanting to obtain the perfect body because they are surrounded by that with the portrayal of Barbie and the media today influence girls to want to become something they aren’t which makes them resort to unhealthy ways of obtaining that. Some research even compares the physical proportions of a real life Barbie doll to not only the average size of a woman in the US but also to the average size of girls who suffer from anorexia. It is honestly shocking to see that even those with anorexia have significantly more realistic bodies than Barbie does.

Social media and children’s toys greatly have an impact on the way people, especially young children view themselves. Just knowing that a toy can lead women and young girls to obtain eating disorders to want to become what they think they have to be is just so sad. However, I do believe that the company that created Barbie is starting to create, or have already started to make more realistic dolls so that the negative effects will no longer be prevalent. This article questions if this would actually work and actually mentions a couple studies that have not linked Barbie’s body image to the way young girls view themselves. To be honest, I think that have petite, tall, and curvy sized dolls to choose from is amazing and shows the world, and especially young girls, that they don’t have to be a Barbie Doll.

Works Cited

Olson, Samantha. “Why Are Barbie’s Body Measurements So Unrealistic? Little Girls Aren’t Buying It.” Medical Daily. N.p., 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.

“Barbie And Body Image.” Mirror-Mirror. Mirror Mirror, 2016. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.

Fresh vs. Frozen

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Everybody says that fresh fruit is best. Companies advertise about how fresh their products are and how many nutritional benefits you can receive from the freshest fruit. Then that got me to thinking about the fruit in the frozen section of a grocery store. Was there any difference to the fruit besides the fact that it was just frozen. Frozen fruits are usually cheaper than fresh, why? I did some research as to which was better for your health, fresh or frozen. Here’s what I found.

The overall consensus is that fresh is not better than frozen, and frozen is not better than fresh – it merely just depends on the fruit. When some fruits are frozen, they lose nutritional value and some gain nutritional value.

If i were to make a hypothesis for this study I would say my null hypothesis would be that there is no difference between fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables and my alternative hypothesis would be that there is a difference between fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables.

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Ali Bouzari, a culinary research and development company in Sonoma County, California, studied four vitamins in several fruits and vegetables and analyzed the differences between fresh and frozen produce. Bouzari used corn, carrots, broccoli, spinach, peas, green beans, strawberries and blueberries as his testing subjects and followed the potential differences between in absorbic acid, riboflavin, α-tocopherol, and β-carotene.

Bouzari concluded that there was no significant change between fresh and frozen fruits. In some of the subjects, ascorbic acid was seen to be higher in frozen fruits but not by much. The same goes for α-tocopherol. However, these changes were not a significant amount, and only proved to be true in some of the fruits in vegetables, not all of them. This makes me think that some of his results may be due to chance. In order to be more confident in this conclusion, more tests would have to be done.

Lastly, Mary Ann Lila, director of the Plants for Human Health Institute at North Carolina State University, peer reviewed this study and added the point that fresh fruit may lose nutritional value while sitting on the shelves at grocery stores, while frozen foods maintain the same nutritional value.

The overall takeaway from this is that is doesn’t really matter whether you eat fruit fresh or frozen. The changes in nutritional value does not change significantly enough to have any major effect on a person’s health. So just eat fruits and vegetables in the way that you prefer.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25526594