Author Archives: Ann Klinck

Can Gatorade actually help you when you’re sick?

Ever since I was little I feel like my doctors have always told me to drink fluids. Like I was magically going to get better by chugging quart after quart of Gatorade. But why Gatorade? Does it really help you in your time of need or do moms just tell you that so you’ll think you’re getting better? Is Gatorade leading the nation in the most drawn on placebo effect? Let’s take a closer look.

Gatorade contains electrolytes which ordinary water does not. So while water replenishes your fluid loss, Gatorade can replenish fluids along with electrolytes. Lacking electrolytes can make a person feel even worse additionally to the sickness symptoms. For sicknesses that involve diarrhea or vomiting, Gatorade is very good for you. “The digestive fluids of your stomach and intestines contain high concentrations of electrolytes, specifically sodium, potassium and chloride.” Therefore, when a person throws up or excretes more than usual, they are losing a the digestive fluid and thus necessary nutrients. A study was done in 2006 by Dr. Satish Rao that showed people with a stomach virus “preferred the taste of Gatorade to an electrolyte beverage or an oral re-hydration solution.” So not only does Gatorade get the job done for replenishment, but is preferred to by sick people.

Gatorade is additionally helpful if you have a fever. “When you have a fever, you lose an extra 100 to 150mL of body water daily for every degree your temperature is above normal.” At any point however, you are not eating and drinking normally because of the illness, Gatorade is a good item to start putting into your sick diet. It goes down easily and helps revitalize you.

While of course Gatorade cannot replace modern medicine, it can help. Additionally, the 2006 study was not completely universal being that different people enjoy different tastes so Gatorade may make people more nauseous. It is also difficult to study whether Gatorade helps sick people because it is unethical to make people sick to simply watch their reactions to Gatorade. However, observational studies could be performed on people that are already ill if they are given Gatorade. What would be interesting to see as well is if ingesting Gatorade early on in a cold will help prevent anything.

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Losing part of the family

While obviously no one likes to think about it, pets get older. It can be so hard for a family to have to imagine their lives without a pet in it that they have had for a long time. Many animal lovers wish their pets could live as long as the owners just to avoid the sadness of losing them. But, there hits a point that it is no longer healthy to keep the animal alive. The pet is sick or old and it becomes inhumane to force the pet to continue on. I have a very old dog that I have had since I was three years old and I don’t want to see him pass away ever. He’s so old now though I constantly wonder if he’s even happy living due to his weakened body. With such worries come the concerns of how to handle the rest of the pet’s life. Often a talk the vet has to have with owners is regarding euthanasia. I personally wonder what is in this shot that allows the pet to pass away peacefully. Let’s find out.

Euthanasia is basically a sedative overdose. This provides that the pet will drift painlessly into sleep and simply “stay asleep.” Most of these drugs are intravenous injections and are done as a two part series. The first is usually to put the pet to so sleep and the second is to kill the pet. There are several different options for euthanasia. To understand the best option for the animal is to understand each drug individually.

Telazol is the first sedative available. Telazol has tiletamine and zolazepam in it. The combination of the two drugs allows for a very effective anesthetic. No pain is felt during this option.

Ketamine is another option and “has some pain-relieving effects, which makes this combination preferable to some veterinarians for routine use during medical procedures.” Both ketamine and telazol work very well however, ketamine is sometimes used as “club drug” and is thus not kept in many vets’ offices.

Propofol is commonly used in vets’ offices for anesthesia. However, propofol is very expensive. What veterinarians will commonly do with this drug is keep what is left in the “one-use-only vials” to combine and use it as the first injection for the two injection series for euthanasia. Being as the pet is being put down anyway, spreading infection is not a concern, and saving the remainder from these vials is permitted.

Medetomidine is a very good pain reliever for animals but can be expensive for larger dogs.

Acepromazine “is a tranquilizer commonly used in vet practice to chill out aggressive dogs through IM injection.” Acepromazine is popular because it is cheap and not commonly abused.

A drug commonly used in the first injection for a two part series is Xylazine. Xylazine is a tranquilizer for horses but is very inexpensive to use to euthanize small dogs.

As for the second shot used in the two part series, the most commonly used is Barbiturates. This basically sends the animal into cardiac arrest very quickly. Being as the animal is heavily sedated first, the pet will feel no pain. However, there is always potential for the sedation methods to be less effective than expected and for the pet to twitch or appear to be in pain before dying. The two part injection method has become popular for the reason that the animal will feel no pain and will appear to feel no pain, thus making the loss easier for the owner.

What mostly needs to be kept in mind when deciding whether to euthanize an animal or not is what is best for the animal. Having an honest discussion with a vet is one of the best choices to make. All of the above drugs have been tested thoroughly and provided the safest results. It is never safe to give an animal the cardiac arrest causing drug without atheistic first. It is unfortunate to lose a pet, but it is even more unfortunate to be uneducated about the matter and allow the animal to suffer.

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Why so sleepy?

During this past week off, I can assume a lot of us participated in the annual Thanksgiving stuff your face fest. While of course it is great to see family and friends during the celebration, a lot of time is focused on the meal. However, it seems that as soon as the meal is done, people tend to feel a sudden grogginess. They feel a need to nap off their meal. So why are we so tired after eating our turkey dinner? Is it something in the turkey or is that just an old wives’ tale?

Many people accredit holiday drowsiness to the L-tryptophan that is in the turkey. “L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid” and amino acids “are the building blocks of proteins.” Tryptophan cannot be produced by the body so we get it from our food. Turkey is not the only food product with tryptophan though. Tryptophan is also in “poultry, meat, cheese, yogurt, fish and eggs.” Tryptophan is used to make a B vitamin, and B vitamins aid in the making of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that affects your mood. Being as tryptophan helps the body produce serotonin, it is assumed that the more turkey consumed, the more tryptophan in the body, and thus the more serotonin made. Serotonin additionally helps create melatonin, which is a chemical in the brain that affects the sleep cycle. So can mass amounts of tryptophan really be the mechanism in turkey leading to sleep?

Turkey actually “contains no more of the amino acid tryptophan than other kinds of poultry. In fact, turkey has slightly less tryptophan than chicken.” So we should be just as sleepy when we eat a chicken breast as after Thanksgiving dinner, if the tryptophan consumption theory were true. Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, stated that “it’s a myth that eating foods high in tryptophan boosts brain levels of tryptophan and therefore brain levels of serotonin.” Serotonin boosts actually come from small carbohydrate snacks. So the exhaustion from eating our turkey dinner may be from digestion and not what is in the food itself.

Overall, being tired after Thanksgiving dinner is less connected to the turkey being consumed and more so the quantity of food. The more food we eat, the harder the digestive system has to work, and that takes a lot of energy from the body.

What would be interesting to see is a trial where there are two groups eating different meals before going to bed. One group would be given a light carbohydrate snack and the other a heavy meal. Both would fall asleep for different reasons, the carbohydrate snack because it affects serotonin and the heavy meal because of the digestion. To see which group slept more soundly would be interesting. It would also be thought-provoking to see if the meals affected the subjects’ dreams differently, or if they dreamed at all. The experiment would technically be experimental since the food would be given to different groups, but observations would need to occur to draw conclusions over what food will make you rest the most easily. All in all, just food for thought!

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Does tequila make people crazy?

Many people associate Penn State with parties. Being as we’re a very large public school, it’s almost natural for parties to follow with a large student body. Many rumors go around that different types of alcohol can get you different types of drunk. For instance, many girls claim that tequila makes them fiery and ready to fight. But can there really be different types of drunk between tequila and vodka? Let’s find out!

First off, as can be seen by the diagrammed drinks below, there is a “standard drink.” A standard drink contains 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of “pure” alcohol. If each beverage contains 0.6 ounces of alcohol, then a shot of vodka and a beer have the same amount of alcohol in them. The difference in them is the rapidity of consumption. Beers are typically drank more slowly than a shot, and thus shots can get people drunker more quickly. So that is one possible explanation. If you are consuming the alcohol more quickly, there can be different effects on your body. If it’s not the rapidity of consumption however, then what else could it be?






Some believe that the “chaser” that is combined with the drink can affect the consumer in different ways. “If you’re combing gin with tonic, or vodka with something super-caffeinated like Red Bull, who’s to say the drunk you’re experiencing is due to the alcohol, and not because of what you’re drinking with it?” If a person always combines a certain alcohol with a certain chaser, they could associate the effects of the chaser to the alcohol itself. Caffeine especially has different effects on a person based on their body, so combining Red Bull with alcohol can be very dangerous cause you to think that a certain beverage causes you to act crazy, when really it’s just the caffeine you combined with it.

Another topic that must be taken into consideration is congeners. “Congeners are byproducts of the fermentation and distillation process, and include chemicals like acetone, acetaldehyde, and esters – not to mention forms of alcohol other than ethanol.” So, different drinks are distilled differently to produce different flavors. The byproduct of the ingredients in the drinks may affect a person differently.

Finally, the consumer himself may have a difference on how they feel drunk. If a person believes that tequila is going to make them go crazy, then they’re going to act crazy. If a person believes that whiskey makes them sad, they will act sad. A person can also somewhat psychologically control how drunk they feel. If a person believes they will not get drunk off what they are drinking, they will act less drunk and vice versa. So it could also be up to psychology.

What needs to be done to really conclude if tequila really makes people crazy is observational testing. There would have to be a placebo group thinking that they’re being given tequila, to see if it really is just psychological. However, ethics have to be taken into consideration as well. Is it really safe to give people mass amounts of alcohol? Probably not. There would also have to be a lot of close medical watching to make sure that no one is being physically harmed from the tests. All in all, it may be difficult to test the effect of different alcoholic beverages. Just try to drink responsibly I suppose :).

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Frostbitten Penguins?

Now that it is mid-November and already VERY cold, I’m wishing I went to school in Florida. I’m further more thinking about the poor little critters that have to stay outside year round. I just don’t understand how penguins can walk on the ice, bare little feet, and be fine! Let’s take a look at how these little guys survive.

To begin, penguins actually have a lot of waterproof feathers that keep their bodies really warm. “Emperor penguins…have one of the highest feather densities of all birds, with about 100 feathers per square inch.” Penguins also have blubber that keeps their bodies warm. However, neither their beaks nor their feet have any type of outward covering to keep them warm! So how can these little guys keep from getting hypothermia when they have to walk on ice all the time or swim in frigid water?

Penguins actually keep so warm with all of their feathers and blubber that its good heat can escape from the beak and the feet. “By having areas that heat can readily escape from, penguins are able to regulate temperature, keeping them from overheating at times.” Without bare feet, the penguins moreover would not be able to grip the ice.

Penguins additionally “have arteries in their legs that are able to adjust blood flow to the feet based on the temperature.” The arteries can tell when the surrounding temperature by how cold the penguins feet are. So the arteries will keep blood flow away from feet so that less blood is going into the feet and being chilled by the air. The arteries also can tell if the penguin is too hot and will allow more blood to flow down to the feet in order for the penguin to cool down. Penguins actually can become drowsy if their body “expends too much energy in heating their feet.” The Penguins feet do not need to be kept at much above freezing; if the feet are any warmer than that it is draining for the penguin.

Penguins also at times will simply sit on their tails to give their feet a moment to warm up. What makes me curious is which the penguins rely on more; the tail sitting or arteries in their legs. Penguins are typically studied through observation, thus to observe the frequency of how often penguins need to sit on their tails would be interesting. The arteries in their legs are also quite vital. If a penguin does not have these arteries could they survive in the arctic? It would be interesting for scientists to look into the effects of malfunctioning arteries in penguin legs. If a penguin dies young could poor arteries in the legs be the mechanism that caused the young death? Penguins are fascinating little birdies, and I loved to know more about them. They are also super cute, as seen below.


Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots! And Hypothermia?

Over this past Halloween weekend, it was very cold in State College. However, this did not cause the ladies to cover up much skin. It can be assumed, that before heading out to participate in different festivities, some of the ladies and gentlemen had alcoholic beverages before in hopes of keeping the cold away. But did this actually work? Will alcohol really help people stay warm? The old tradition of the St. Bernard dogs carrying brandy on their collars to people stuck in the mountains may not have been the best idea. Let’s take a closer look.

A study was done by the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine on the true effects of alcohol on the human body in the cold. The study showed that alcohol significantly reduced the body’s ability to shiver. The alcohol makes people feel warmer and thus lessens the body’s instinct to shiver. What was interesting was that the study did not reveal the exact mechanism in the alcohol that causes the body to be unable to shiver. The exact explanation from the researchers’ paper is: “Many agents are known either to exacerbate or modulate alcohol’s effects on thermoregulation, although the mechanism(s) for these effects are not clear.” Thermoregulation is the ability a body has to regulate temperature within, even though the external contents are not conducive to the necessary core temperature. What’s vital to understand however, is why does alcohol cause the core temperature to drop so drastically?

Alcohol is referred to as a “vasodilator” which means it widens the blood vessels. In cold weather, blood usually rushes away from the skin to the organs in order to maintain a safe core temperature. So while we may feel cold, our core temperature is being sustained. When alcohol is consumed, this process is reversed. Blood rushes to the skin and thus causes the organs to receive less attention, which is much more dangerous than feeling chilly. The surface of the skin thus feels very warm, and the person will think they are warm because their skin is warm. The warm skin also causes a person to sweat, further cooling the core temperature. As mentioned earlier regarding the study, when a person consumes alcohol they are less likely to shiver, which allows the body to naturally warm up. Since the person physically feels warmer, they do not shiver. So what’s the take away?

More studies need to be done to pinpoint the exact mechanism in alcohol that causes a person to feel warmer. If we can understand the mechanism that is leading to the warmer skin, maybe it can be lessened, without lessening the quality of the alcohol so that people are more aware of their actual body temperature. Unlike how the bacteria in beer was found to be the mechanism causing stomach cancer, the exact link for alcohol causing warmth is still lacking. Further analysis of the content of alcohol must be done in order to insure people’s safety. The number one concern when drinking is safety. While the exact mechanism is not yet known, the misconception cannot continue that alcohol keeps you warm in frigid weather. It may make the consumer FEEL more comfortable but it will not make them anymore immune to the cold weather. Overall, if drinking in the cold, do so responsibly and bundle up!


The Sticky Truth

The day I got my braces removed in seventh grade was the day it all began. I was given a goody bag of chewy foods. I had chewed gum before, but now that it wasn’t getting stuck in wires, my love for gum began. I can’t play sports without gum and I especially can’t concentrate in class. I’ve been told I chew like a cow but that hasn’t stopped my love for gum. Being as I go through over a pack a week, I figured it would be good to understand how the gum is affecting my teeth.

A good place to begin is the American Dental Association’s website. They have an entire section about what gum to chew and the benefits of gum chewing. Gum is made up of a gum base (usually synthetic materials), artificial sweeteners, softeners (glycerin), and flavorings/coloring (ADA). Gum is very helpful if chewed for 20 minutes after meals. Gum aids the mouth in producing saliva which helps in cleansing the mouth. Saliva “can neutralize and wash away the acids that are produced when food is broken down by the bacteria in plaque on your teeth.” The ADA recommends chewing sugarless gum and what gums they approve can be found on their website or on the pack of gum itself. The ADA will allow certain gum companies to put their seal of approval on their packs of gum.  To get this seal of approval tests must be done that show the gum is helpful in at least one of these ways: “reducing plaque acids, promoting remineralization of tooth enamel, reducing cavities and/or reducing gingivitis.” Further tests are also done that show the gum is not harmful to the gum or teeth. Only sugarless gums have been given the ADA approval because not enough research has been done on the decaying effects of sugary gum.

So, sugarless gum is good for your mouth because it helps produce more saliva which cleans the mouth. Are there any other benefits to gum chewing? LiveScience summarized a study that reported gum chewing improves test scores. A study was done at St. Lawrence University with three different groups of people. One group chewed gum for 5 minutes before, another for the entire test, and the other group chewed nothing. The group that chewed gum for five minutes before showed better results for the first 20 minutes, then the effect wore off. The researchers believed that being as gum causes blood to move more quickly that blood was getting to the brain faster. However, the participants who chewed gum the entire time were not added. The scientists believe that the blood it took to chew the gum for an extended period of time actually took that extra blood needed to pump through the brain to help think. So overall, it is best to chew gum for 5 minutes, get a small boost at the beginning of the test, but spit the gum out before starting.

However, this test was done with a very small pool of 224 people. In addition, it may not have been taken into account that some people are purely smarter than others or have better test taking ability. This test was too small scale to definitively say that gum can really improve tests scores. Gum nevertheless does assist the production of saliva. Enough research has not been done on sugary gum to know the entire extent of the damage it can do on the mouth. So for now if we stick to the ADA approved brands then gum addiction may not be so bad.

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Periods & Pregnancy

If we’re being realistic, many college students are sexually active. In the name of safety, I am going to bust a safe sex myth. I have been asked many times by friends if you can get pregnant on your period. So let’s settle this once and for all.

First things first, we have to understand the menstrual cycle. A menstrual cycle lasts for 28 days. broke down the menstrual cycle into stages:

  • “Days 1 — 5: Menstruation commences as the lining of the uterus called the endometriumsheds and an unfertilized egg exits the uterus.
  • Days 6 — 10: Estrogen promotes the regrowth of endometrial cells in the uterus in preparation to receive an egg once again.
  • Days 11 — 18: Ovulation, the peak of female fertility, happens when a mature folliclereleases an egg into the fallopian tubes.
  • Days 19 — 28: Hormone secretions prompt the uterine lining to continue thickening to create a nurturing environment for embryo implantation should fertilization occur.”








Within the last days of the menstrual cycle, when a woman’s period is ending, her body is preparing for another egg to be released. So if the egg is not ready yet, then how can it be fertilized? If a woman has a shorter menstrual cycle that is 24 days instead of the usual 28 then a problem can arise. If a woman has a shorter period she will ovulate within three days of the last day of her period meaning, a woman could have sex on the last day of her period and become pregnant 3-5 days later. Sperm can survive in a woman’s body 3-5 days after ejaculation and if the woman has unprotected sex on the last day of her period and she has a shorter period, the chances for her to get pregnant are higher than most.

No type of research needs to be done on this type of biological matter, because it is already proven. I just personally wanted to provide this information to the young ladies of this fine university to assist them in making better decisions. Ladies, you can get pregnant while on your period. While it is very unlikely, unprotected sex is not recommended. Despite the fact that having unprotected sex on your period can lead to pregnancy, it can furthermore lead to contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Moral of this blog: Be safe and use condoms!

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Lunar Lunacy

Being a college freshman comes with a lot of firsts. It seems common among us to be taken back by some of the different activities that cause the upperclassmen to act rather strange. While I walk back to my dorm and look up to see a full moon and then look down to see a group of flailing men screaming and throwing stuff for no reason on a Tuesday night, one starts to wonder if the moon really causes people to act crazy. “Lunar Lunacy” as this blog is entitled, has been somewhat of a folk tale for years. Many hospital employees along with police officers who work long into the night will say that crazier stuff happens when there is a full moon. But how could this be true?

Aristotle theorized that since the moon pulls on the tide of the oceans, and that we are made up of 80% water, then the moon is somehow affecting the water in our central nervous system. But, the likelihood of the moon affecting the water in us is very slight. James Rotton, a psychologist from Florida International University along with Colorado State University astronomer Roger Culver and University of Saskatchewan psychologist Ivan W. Kelly have studied the effects of a full moon quite often. These men looked at many previous studies of the effects of a full moon and combined all of the statistics as if they were one large study. The researchers concluded that it was unnecessary to continue research on the topic of lunar lunacy.

While there have been some studies that show there were more car accidents on evenings of a full moon, it was not taken into account that the full moons fell on weekends when more people were driving. Lunar lunacy is almost definitively psychological. “Psychologists Loren and Jean Chapman termed “illusory correlation”—the perception of an association that does not in fact exist.” Meaning, that if something strange happens during a full moon, people are likely to remember it rather than something strange happening on a regular day. If you remember specific events more vividly, your mind will accept these theories more willingly.

Tests have been done, as previously noted, but mostly in small numbers in 50 or less. To get a really good reading on lunar lunacy, a large scale project needs to be taken on. I feel like this would be easily done on college students being as they are in large quantity. Something to note about research such as this, is that results may suffer from the Texas sharp shooter problem. If a group of people are examined for one night during a full moon, they are bound to have things in common. While doing tests like this may be fun in theory, they are basically unnecessary being as it is all psychological.

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Personal Hygiene Part 2

Now that we have covered bad breath in part one of this blog series, we can now touch upon the much larger issue of body odor. Body odor is typically caused by sweating when the sweat reacts to different bacteria on the body. Usually, the armpits and the groin have different bacteria that cause sweat to smell. In this blog, I’ll cover a few simple topics that will hopefully expand our knowledge of our bodies and enlighten us to some preventative measures.

How it works:

The two different types of sweat glands in the human body are the eccrine and apocrine glands. The eccrine glands are throughout a person’s entire body and allow sweat to go directly to the surface of the skin. The apocrine glands however are abundantly found on parts of the body where there is a lot of hair. The apocrine glands allow sweat to “empty into the hair follicle just before it opens onto the skin surface. The eccrine glands are the sweat glands that produce sweat when we are hot; this sweat is mostly water and salt and “cools your body as it evaporates.” The apocrine glands however, “produce a milky fluid that most commonly is secreted when you’re under emotional stress.” The sweat from the apocrine glands, combines with bacteria to produce a stench.

When is it an issue? :

Sweat is helpful for your body. It aids you in cooling down naturally… so at what point does sweat become a problem? Your body can have too many sweat glands causing excessive sweat and thus body odor. Another issue is a person’s tendency to panic. If you are a worrier, or frightened easily, you tend to sweat more easily as well. Sweating is really only a problem when “it causes a problem in your daily routine.” An overactive thyroid or diabetes can also cause excessive sweating. If one notices they are sweating excessively, they should seek medical assistance to insure it is not one of these problems.

How to cope:

The obvious solution to body odor, is deodorant which can reduce the smell but not stop perspiration. A person can also try an “antiperspirant” which “temporarily blocks the sweat pore.” Many deodorants have a scent and are antiperspirants. Of course, if it is a larger medical problem then follow medication as prescribed. Bathing regularly on top of eliminating foods and beverages that are caffeinated or spicy can also assist in eliminating odor.

What to take away:

Body odor is a personal matter, and if you find that you are sweating excessively talk to a physician. They can recommend stronger antiperspirants or ones that are gentler to the skin. When choosing how to address this issue, you should take into account what will be best for your own body. Try different products and do a little experimenting on your own. Body odor is a serious matter and should be treated as such, so don’t ignore it! Smell something, say something.

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Personal Hygiene

This may become a two part blog, but for now we’ll focus on the matter at hand, or should I say at mouth. Whether it is morning, coffee, or smoker breath there always seems to be one person you encounter daily that has awful breath. Living in such close quarters with many new people, it can be difficult to deal with change, especially if that change involves adjusting to their natural smells. Luckily, my roommates are very cleanly but, we’ve all heard the horror stories of the less than hygienic roommate. So today, let’s tackle some common causes of bad breath, or medically referred to as halitosis. Halitosis can be broken down into three main areas which will be sorted out below.

You are what you eat:

An obvious cause of bad breath is what a person puts in his or her mouth. Different foods lodge in teeth easily, and as the particles remain, the bacteria grow and so does the scent. Another food issue is the more potent foods such as onions, garlic, vegetables, and spices. The Mayo Clinic website elaborates that “After you digest these foods, they enter your bloodstream, are carried to your lungs and affect your breath.” So even after brushing away the garlic in your mouth, the scent can remain, being as it goes through your lungs. Another breath issue is oral tobacco use. Smokers along with chewing tobacco users often have very bad breath because it can cause gum disease which leads to halitosis.


Dental hygiene is so vital in avoiding halitosis. If a person does not brush daily, then a “sticky film of bacteria (plaque) forms on your teeth and if not brushed away, plaque can irritate your gums (gingivitis and eventually form plaque-filled pockets between your teeth and gums (periodontitis). People also need to brush their tongues being as there are ridges on tongues that can hold very small food fragments.

Different “stinkifying” diseases:

Dry mouth can cause stinky breath because “saliva helps cleanse your mouth.” Xerostomia is “a condition called dry mouth” which “can contribute to bad breath because production of saliva is decreased.”  Morning breath is caused by a lack of saliva since saliva production is slowed during sleep. If a person has oral surgery, sometimes their wounds can smell. Lastly, there is the possibility of “small stones that form in the tonsils and are covered with bacteria that produce odorous chemicals.” Postnasal drip can also cause halitosis.

Bad breath is not just a little yucky; it can also be medically induced. What people need to keep in mind while living in such close proximity with many strangers is to brush their teeth often, and to use gum and mouthwash. If you are having a problem with tooth decay or disease, it is important to talk to your dentist. Halitosis should not be ignored, because it can point to something larger. And remember to always be a pal; smell something, say something! Don’t just let your buddy walk around offending people’s nostrils.








Taking a Bite Out of Cannibalism

Cannibalism is a very strange concept. Why would people want to eat other people? Well for the people of New Guinea, it is a religious act. During funeral services the Fore people in New Guinea “prepared and consumed the tissues (including brain) of deceased family members.” Cannibalism is a disturbing act, but besides it being somewhat uncivilized, are there health risks to it?

According to the epidemic levels of Kuru in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the consumption of human muscle and brain can be very dangerous, especially if the deceased has Kuru. Kuru is described as “an extremely rare and fatal nervous system disease.” If the deceased has Kuru, and then a healthy person consumes their brain or comes in contact with a wound, they are likely to contract Kuru. Kuru causes “abnormal proteins” to be produced that are called prions. Prions cause tumor like masses to form on the brain. In addition to these deformed proteins being produced, Kuru can also cause healthy proteins to copy the shapes of the deformed proteins, causing the masses on the brain to increase, further harming the patient.

Kuru has many different symptoms to it. A person with Kuru would likely have difficulty walking, poor coordination, trouble swallowing, slurred speech, and any symptom that could be related to neurological damage. The problem with Kuru is that it is slow moving, making it very difficult to diagnose. Furthermore, to diagnose Kuru a series of neurological tests have to be done, and in underdeveloped areas this is difficult to do. Also, since the disease progresses slowly it is hard for patients to recognize the symptoms. Many cases of Kuru are not discovered until the person has died.

If by some miracle a patient is correctly diagnosed, there is still no treatment for the disease. The only type of recommendation a physician could make would be to stop participating in cannibalism. Most people who contract Kuru “die in a comatose state within six to twelve month after experiencing initial symptoms.” This does not mean that it is months after contraction a person will die. This means that after years of having the disease, and symptoms finally begin to show, the patient will most likely die in a matter of months. The disease does not cause a problem for many years but, once it does the body is ravished by it.

Overall, my take on cannibalism remains unchanged. Not only is it an inhumane practice, but it is also a deadly one. While some cultures embrace the ritual, it should be avoided due to possible disease contraction such as Kuru.

imaging of regular brain (on left) and Kuru infected brain (on right)









Not without my coffee

I’m never going to finish *sip* I got this! Caffeine is definitely an abused subsistence in early adulthood and adulthood. The trials of being a social person and dedicated college student, often lead to some late night studying that is accompanied by some hot coffee brewing. Most college students aren’t really so worried about the effects that several caffeinated drinks will have on their bodies, as much as their concerned about finishing their paper for that 8 a.m. class but maybe they should be.

Brown University discussed the implications of several caffeinated beverages and the effects on the mind and the body. Brown dictated that 90% of people in the world use caffeine in some way. Caffeine really only aids the consumer for about the first hour of consumption and then leaves the user in the same tired state as before. The Brown study stated that caffeine activates the brain by stimulating the “pituitary gland” which “perceives [the caffeine] as an emergency and therefore causes the adrenal glands to release adrenaline.” Caffeine works in a similar way heroine does; by distressing the dopamine levels in the brain. Caffeine is mostly noted for harming less of the physical aspect of life and more of the emotional state of a person.

Heavy caffeine users have reported signs of insomnia. If a lot of caffeine is used in a day then the person often feels as if they do not need sleep or simply cannot fall asleep. Lack of sleep causes moodiness as well. Caffeine can also cause severe migraines. Caffeine can furthermore dehydrate a person easily because it is a “diuretic” and causes the body to “lose water through urination.” Finally, caffeine can cause a person to feel anxious and actually make it more difficult to sit still and study. Most researchers recommend no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day or four cups of coffee for most healthy adults. However adolescents should have no more than 100 milligrams of caffeine. While this probably won’t deter anyone from abusing caffeine, at least we can all be aware of what is causing our bodies to act differently.



Understanding Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s is defined as a “neurodegenerative” brain disorder. Neurodegenerative means there is a continuous loss of structure or function of neurons (brain cells). Parkinson’s is a very debilitating disease being as it causes many involuntary movements. One of the most common symptoms is tremors that begin in the fingers and hands. A Parkinson’s patient’s hands usually shake when the hands are at rest. Another common symptom is “bradykinesia” which means slowness of movement. Parkinson’s can additionally cause stiffness and rigidity in the arms and legs. Another symptom is postural instability, which is unexplainable falling or instability. Parkinson’s can furthermore affect the ability of patients to control their facial expressions. The question that comes to mind with all of these symptoms is what is happening to the brain cells that makes them to deteriorate and causes a person to lose control of their body?

There are neurons (brain cells) that produce a very important substance in the brain called dopamine. Dopamine aids in controlling different motor skills and emotions. Dopamine is created in the substantia nigra. Substantia nigra is a special area in the brain dedicated to creating and using dopamine to communicate with the muscles of the body. Dopamine allows a person’s movements to appear fluent and natural. Researchers have not yet discovered what causes the diteratoin of the dopamine cells or how it begins. But it is known that once a high enough percentage of the “dopamine-producing cells are damaged, and do not produce enough dopamine, the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease appear.” The most accepted theory of where Parkinson’s starts is the “Braak’s hypothesis.” The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research explains that in 2003 Heiko Braak M.D. “outlined a Parkinson’s staging system, which describes the regional distribution and progression of protein aggregates in the brain. The same year, Braak theorized that the biological process of Parkinson’s may begin in the periphery before migrating to the brain.”  The Braak’s hypothesis claims that Parkinson’s starts in the part of the nervous system that controls sense of smell. Braak believes that the disease spreads to the nigra and cortex over several years and does not start there.

More research is obviously necessary for such a serious disease as Parkinson’s. For right now, most patients are given coping techniques along with medications that help regulate symptoms instead of the actual disease itself. The disease however, is not what kills people, but the symptoms the disease causes such as being unable to control one’s body. Involuntary overuse of muscles causes the body to weaken and lowers life expectancy significantly.

Different areas in brain affected by Parkinson’s



How do these “genes” look?

Genetic testing has become much more prevalent. It seems like more people are developing cancer, but it is possible that the diagnostic process has simply improved, and doctors are now more equipped to diagnose. There are many different aspects when considering genetic testing; however there are a few main areas that I would like to focus on. Important topics to reflect on while debating genetic testing include the process of the testing, the types of tests available, the downfalls of the testing and the benefits of the testing.

First, let’s discuss what genetic testing entails. Genetic testing can be a little complicated. Luckily, The American Cancer Society does a great job of breaking it down. Each person has 23 pairs of DNA chromosomes. Gene mutations alter the gene to either over produce or under produce proteins that could lead to certain cells dividing and growing. If these cells grow too rapidly, then cancer develops in that person. Mutations can either be inherited or developed through different external behavior, such as tobacco use. The acquired mutations are a bit less harmful than the inherited mutations, because the acquired mutations only affect the cells that grow off of that cell. The inherited mutations can affect any growing and developing cells, even if they are not spawned from the mutated one. The most common form of genetic testing is the predicative gene test. The predicative gene test basically looks for any gene mutation that could put a patient’s health at risk in the future. There is also the carrier testing, which many potential parents undergo before deciding to have children to see if they will pass on defective genes to their offspring. The prenatal screening and newborn screening are both used on babies to insure their wellness before they arrive, and immediately after. Genetic testing can be done on blood, urine, cheek cells, and amniotic fluid. The scientists take the sample from the person and will look for the specific gene the mutation is known to affect. The results can take a few weeks.

The benefits of allowing genetic testing are immense, in the scientific world. Since people allowed researchers to analyze their genes, The Human Genome Project was completed in 2003. In The Human Genome Project, researchers mapped out an entire sequence of DNA. The next step is to figure out what every gene within a human genome does. There are approximately 25,000 genes per one human genome with a total of 3 billion human genomes in one person. If genetic testing continues, it will be much easier to trace every gene. Aside from The Human Genome Project, there is also The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). The American Cancer Society says that TCGA is “working to map the genes of cancer cells to try to learn how those genes are changed to produce the cancer.” In order for TCGA to continue their work they have to collect tissue samples from cancer ridden people to trace all of the different types of cancer.

Apart from the scientific discovery end of genetic testing, it can also benefit the patient. Knowing what gene mutation a patient is exposed to can aid in deciphering what type of treatment is needed. Doctors can then decipher how the genes will be altered, anticipate how it will affect the patient, and attempt to counteract the disease. Knowing the gene mutation can also aid in lowering the risk of developing the disease and allows for early detection. But, a lot of times knowing about a gene mutation can cause a person a lot of unnecessary stress. Even if someone does find out they have a mutation, sometimes there are no treatment options available until that person is actually sick. People then worry about becoming ill, when the mutation does not always lead to disease.

The patients’ distress leads me to the main question of genetic testing. Is ignorance bliss? While researchers need genetic testing to discover how diseases work, is it too emotionally straining on the patients? Or is it better to know your genetic makeup to avoid catastrophe in the future? Should those with cancer in their family’s medical history participate in testing to further researcher goals?


Where’d they all go?

Dinosaurs are pretty cool, right? I mean they’re huge and all different shapes, and do all different things! I have always hoped that dinosaurs were majestically large like whales. What has always been perplexing to me about dinosaurs though, is how they went extinct. There are many different theories regarding the extinction of dinosaurs however, a select few are definitely more prominently believed than others.

Many paleontologists hypothesize that a giant asteroid, that was approximately ten kilometers in diameter, struck the Earth and caused the dinosaur extinction. There is evidence off the Yucatan Peninsula of a crater from an asteroid 65 million years ago. Aside from the crater, there is iridium prominently in the same area. Being as iridium is a rare metal only found deep in the planet or in asteroids, this also leads to the conclusion of a giant asteroid striking the earth. There is also a substance called “impact ejecta” found near the asteroid sight. “Impact ejecta” is “evidence of an explosion hot enough to melt bedrock.”  Furthermore, there are fracture patterns in crystals near the asteroid site; which can only be caused by very large impact. It is thought that greenhouse gases came from the impact and caused the Earth’s climate to drastically change in different regions. The dinosaurs then could not adapt and died off. A large number of course would have died upon impact as well.

Another theory is referred to as “volcanism,” which basically hypothesizes that a lot of volcanoes erupted throughout the course of 500,000 years. In the Deccan region of India there are signs that more than 6,500 feet of land was covered by lava from volcanic eruptions. Scientists suspect that so much ash and debris from the volcanoes got into the air that the sun was covered and caused the climate to change.

A less likely possibility is that dinosaurs had difficulty competing for resources with mammals, which caused them to die off. The final theory is continental drift. The shifting of tectonic plates caused different land masses to collide and separate. Different regions then had different temperatures and some were then cut off from the sea. This is shown by fossils from sea creatures being far above sea level today. However, all these theories do not answer the question of how dinosaurs went extinct!

What most likely occurred was a combination of all these theories to some extent. A small amount of each theory happening over time would explain why the fossils that are found show a slow decrease in population. While we may never know how the dinosaurs went extinct, we can still bask in their magnitude.






Hilderbrand, Alan. “What Killed the Dinosaurs?” PBS. PBS, Web. 10 Sept. 2014.




Can Anxiety be Beneficial?

The motivation for this blog all started by worrying about how I was going to do all of these blogs by the end of the first blog session. Whilst sitting at my desk pondering and stressing out about trying to find a subject to discuss, I realized the perfect topic for overwhelmed freshmen was sitting in my clammy hands. How much anxiety is too much anxiety? Does panicking harm me, or could it be beneficial?

Luckily a recent study was done in 2013 at the State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center. Dr. Jeremy Coplan is a professor of Psychiatry at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, and is the doctor who completed the study that attempted to connect the evolutionary link between anxiety and intelligence. Dr. Coplan summarized his theory about the evolutionary link by stating “While excessive worry is generally seen as a negative trait and high intelligence as a positive one, worry may cause our species to avoid dangerous situations, regardless of how remote a possibility they may be, in essence, worry may make people take no chances, and such people may have higher survival rates. Thus, like intelligence, worry may confer a benefit upon the species.”

A total of forty-four patients were tested using an intelligence quotient (IQ) test, the Penn State Worry Questionnaire, and “a proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging to measure subcortical white matter metabolism of choline and related compounds.” Basically, the researchers were observing the subjects’ brains to further understand where intelligence and worry were affecting the brain, and whose brains reacted more quickly; the subjects that were more worrisome or less worrisome.  There were twenty-six patients with diagnosed general anxiety disorder (GAD) used in the testing to see how people who were anxious would react to the tests, and eighteen “healthy humans.” The results showed that in fact there is a direct correlation between intelligence and anxiety. In the “healthy humans” without GAD, the less worrisome they were, the higher their IQ tests were. However, in the subjects with GAD, the more worrisome they were, the higher their IQ tests

While more research is clearly necessary, these early findings have created a lot of discussion in the psychiatric field. And to my fellow worriers, I say press onward in hopes that Dr. Coplan’s initial research will lead to many discovers that show a little stress goes a long way.


SUNY Downstate Medical Center. “Excessive worrying may have co-evolved with intelligence.”      ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 April 2012.                                                              <>.

Coplan, Jeremy D., Sarah Hodulik, Sanjay J. Mathew, Xiangling Mao, Patrick R. Hof, Jack M.     Gorman, and Dikoma C. Shungu. “Abstract.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 01 Feb. 2012. Web. 07 Sept. 2014.

First Post- Ann :)

Hi everyone!

My name is Ann Klinck, and I am a freshman majoring in Communications, with the goal of becoming a Public Relations major. I am from northern New Jersey, and the ideal place for me to be is sunbathing on a beach. But when summer ends and school resumes I have always dreaded my science classes. I am taking this course because my adviser explained to me that this specific class is for students who want to be challenged by science, but will not fail from lack of ability in the subject. I definitely want to have a better understanding of how the world works around me, and this seems like a good class to start in. I am not planning to be a science major because I have never been good at math or science so, I would like to pursue a career I can succeed in. I can’t wait for this class to start moving forward, and I hope we study the extinction of dinosaurs!