Author Archives: Alexandra Maniglia

Getting Fit or Getting Sick?


People very often have a natural inclination to jump to conclusions before obtaining facts. When it comes to diseases, like Ebola, people always seem to think that the end of the world is inevitable. On my part, after a few weeks of ignorance, then a few days of paranoia, which eventually led to me sitting down and getting some facts, I realized that the chances of getting Ebola in central Pennsylvania are currently very low.

One thing, however, about the disease really did start to trouble me. As a freshman, I’ve been trying to make a habit of going to the gym frequently throughout the week. I was in my paranoid state of thinking when it came to Ebola when I heard that the disease could be transferred through sweat. Of course I started thinking “I can never go to the gym again! Sweat is gross, people are gross, why am I bothering!?” So needless to say, after our discussion of Ebola today in class, I started to really think about this. I know that plenty of diseases can be caught while at the gym; many of which are spread due to lack of cleanliness and contact with sweat of another individual who is infected. An article in the New York Times explains that “MRSA, athlete’s foot, jock itch, boils, impetigo, herpes simplex, and ringworm” are all transmittable at the gym (Brody). In that case, could Ebola possibly be spread in gyms just like those other diseases?

According to an article from the UC Academic Health Center, Brian Adams, a dermatologist, said that “without diligent cleaning, gyms can become breeding grounds for bacteria, viruses and fungi that are harmful to human health,” (Harper). One of the biggest factors that cause the spread of these diseases is, not sweat, but the bacteria found in sweat itself (“Practice Proper Sweatiquette”). When it comes to Ebola in the gym, it is not impossible but highly unlikely. The most likely scenario in which Ebola would be transmitted in the gym would be through that of sweat. Even in that case, an individual has to come in direct contact with the sweat (“Frequently Asked Questions…”). This probably would only happen if a person were to run directly into a person with Ebola, who is literally dripping in his or her own sweat, or to touch a machine after they sweat a rather large amount on, but did not clean.

So needless to say, I was worried for no real reason. Chances are, you most likely will not get Ebola after a day at the gym. If you are worried about catching a disease at the gym, I do have some tips for you on how to lessen your chances. Men’s Health says that it’s best to, “bring several towels” one being for your sweat, and one for the wiping of machines and touching other areas that might have some kind of bacteria on it (that way you don’t contaminate your own bacteria with that of the unknown people of the gym), use Clorox wipes to clean off machines before using them, and to make sure to “clean up after yourself” (“Practice Proper Sweatiquette”). So there is no real need for you to fret, at this point in time, about catching Ebola through going to the gym. If you’re one of the lucky few with the motivation to actually go to said gym, you have all my respect, and by all means, keep going! Nothing is stopping you now!






Brody, Jane E. “Be Sure Exercise Is All You Get at the Gym.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 02 Aug. 2010. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.

“Frequently Asked Questions on Ebola Virus Disease.” – WHO. WHO – Regional Office for Africa, n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2014.

Harper, Amanda. “UC HealthNews : Findings: Exercise Caution: Harmful Germs May Lurk on Gym Equipment.” UC HealthNews : Findings: Exercise Caution: Harmful Germs May Lurk on Gym Equipment. UC Academic Health Center, Aug. 2008. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.

“Practice Proper Sweatiquette.” : Sweat Smarts :, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.



We Thought We Were Safe After Washing Our Hands, but…

As most of us near the midway point of our first year in a dorm, we quickly realize that despite trying your hardest to avoid germs, they’re everywhere. I know in the case of my floor, there are people I always see leaving the bathroom…without washing their hands. Needless to say, this lack of hygiene strikes fear into my very soul.

In the case of the dorms, due to Penn State now being a school that is “going green,” I no longer have access to paper towels that I would usually use to open the door after washing my hands. I am by no means a Germaphobe, but the idea of the germs I end up encountering right after washing my hands is a little daunting. My alternative to the lack of paper towels, has evolved into the use of my shirt sleeve as my hand’s germ shield when opening the door. So, after looking at one of the pop quiz articles we read entitled, “Do Paper Towels Thwart More Germs Than Air Dryers,” I began to question just how clean using my shirt sleeves are in comparison to the use of my hands when opening the door.

After a bit of research, the biggest types of bacteria found on doors are “staph, E. coli, Enterococcus and sometimes Salmonella” (“Silver Coating Kills Bacteria…). According to Forbes, the Restroom door sis the 6th most germ infected location, which leaves a high probability that these rather disgusting types of bacteria might just be on the ones in your dorm.

Many know all too well that the common cold and variations of it seem to run around campus looking for their next victims every second. According to the National Health Services in the United Kingdom, (Cold viruses) “can survive on countertops for up to six hours, on cloth and paper for 30-45 minutes and on skin for up to 20 minutes” (“How Long Do Bacteria and Viruses Live outside the Body?”).

If this information is true, it would mean that the best option is to, to my dismay, use your hands to open the bathroom door, due to the fact that the bacteria will live for a shorter time period on your hands than on your clothing. The main problem with assuming this, however, is that different bacteria can live on clothing and other surfaces for a longer period of time than others. These different forms of bacteria prove to be third variables that could definitely impact that conclusion, and make it so that the use of a sleeve or other part of your clothing to open the door is the best option.

There is truthfully not enough information that supports this claim to prove that the use of your clothing or hands is the better (and cleanlier) option, and to say that simply opening the door with your hands is the cleanest option, could be considered a false positive in the eyes of science. Yet, according to this study, the use of your hands might be the safest bet, but to me the lack of information leaves this conclusion to still be up in the air.




(Here are some ways that people go about “avoiding germs” in bathrooms.)



Cohen, Jennifer. “10 Worst Germ Hot Spots.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 12 June 2012. Web. 12 Oct. 2014.

“How Long Do Bacteria and Viruses Live outside the Body?” How Long Do Bacteria and Viruses Live outside the Body? Gov.UK, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.

“Silver Coating Kills Bacteria on Campus Door Handles.” Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. Pennsylvania State University, n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.



Wait…Movie Theater Food Preventing Cancer?

During today’s class, which covered whether or not sugary drinks cause people to gain weight, we came to the conclusion that at least for the Amsterdam study, sugary drinks did cause some adolescents to gain weight. This made me think, if these sugary drinks cause weight gain, can other sweet products have any positive effect on people?

After a bit of googling, I found that a key ingredient in licorice, the beloved candy that you often find yourself spending way too much on at the movies, could help prevent cancer.

A recent study performed by Vanderbilt University Medical Center, “showed that inhibiting an enzyme called 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 (11βHSD2) by treatment with a natural compound found in licorice prevents colorectal cancer progression in mice”( Antiangiogenic Substances…). So to put it in simpler terms, the enzyme that was treated with an ingredient found in licorice was able to prevent a cancer that harms cells in your colon, when tested on mice.

Vanderbilt even went so far as to test polyps to see if the glycyrrhizic acid, found in licorice, would do the same when tested on human colon polyps. Their results stated that the use of the glycyrrhizic acid blocked the enzyme that ends up creating the cancerous polyps found in the colon and kidneys.

So what does this really mean? Will eating Licorice actually prevent the possibility of colon cancer, and should you really worry about preventing it? Due to the fact that this was experimental instead of observational, the researchers tested the acid on the enzyme that causes the cancer, but that also leaves room for third variables to come into play and test its accuracy. I was able to find a few credible sources from this research, and the others seemed to base their information off of those studies, meaning that in those studies, the licorice did seem to prevent the cancer, making it a false positive to leave for the chance of error. Yet, due to the fact there are only two really credible sources from what I have seen (there very well could be more), there is still a very high chance that this outcome could be due to chance, meaning that there is a high possibility that these worked but just due to the circumstances listed in those studies. The American Cancer Society listed that there is a chance that Licorice could be preventative, but that there needs to be more research done in order to determine whether or not the ingredients in the candy will be beneficial at all in prevention.

In all honesty, however, The American Cancer Society says you really don’t have to fret. So many times we hear, “eat this and you’ll prevent your chances of cancer,” but in reality, the risk factors that you can control end up being “physical inactivity, obesity, smoking, and heavy alcohol use.” Yet so many of the real risk factors prove to be potential third variables that could interfere with the validity of this experiment. These third variables are hereditary and passed down from generation to generation. Based on the results of this study, I say, there’s nothing wrong with having a licorice every once in a while and doing as those on Parks and Recreation do, and…

treatyoself-4 to a little licorice! It could possibly save your life!



“Antiangiogenic Substances in Blackberries, Licorice May Aid Cancer Prevention.” The Angiogenesis Foundation. Health On The Net, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.

“Licorice.” Licorice. American Cancer Society, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.

How To Debunk Hair Growth Myths

Previously in a blog post, I wrote about Biotin Supplements and how they impacted hair growth. I, sadly, realized after the fact that I really put no scientific methods into coming up with any conclusion of how they hurt or help you. So today, the new yet similar topic is that of whether haircuts, biotin, or a good diet help to increase hair growth.


For years and years, the hairstyles that are popular fluctuate like a college student’s weight due to the freshman fifteen. Whether someone wanted hair like DJ Tanner, Jennifer Aniston, or even Kate Middleton <> on November 16, 2010 in London, England., hair and hair growth have played a huge part in society and how it views people. So as we continue to strive for hair that fits with the crowd, many sit around looking for ways to increase the health and length of their hair. Contrary to popular belief, people all over are wiping out the age old believe that a haircut every so often makes your hair grow. The point of these frequent haircuts are not so much to increase the length of your hair, but the strength and health of it when it does grow.

One major thing to remember when looking for treatments for hair is that, “rate of hair growth”, according to Elizabeth Cunnane Phillips, who happens to be a trichologist at a hair and scalp clinic in New York, “is predetermined genetically” (Kitchens). So if the rate of hair growth is simply out of our hands due to genetics, do Biotin, haircuts, and a healthy diet really impact hair growth at all?

After about an hour of research, I was unable to find any real experiments that worked to test these individual subjects. I, however, came up with a possible experiment that could work to figure out if these treatments actually work.

In order for us to conclude anything of this study, the test subjects would have to be broken up into three groups, and two groups within those groups. We would partake in random sampling to split people into these three groups, which include; a group of people taking biotin supplements, a group of people trimming their hair the recommended every 8-12 weeks, and people who will have to maintain a healthy diet for the course of the study. Within those groups, however, the individuals will be split into those with thick hair, and those with fine hair. These groups are a necessity due to the fact that different types of hair are able to grow at different rates.

This study will start off by measuring the length of each individual’s hair, and periodically checking the length to see the effects of the practice in which the groups are partaking over a six-month time period. This time period should allow for enough time to get a good idea as to what the impact of each practice has on the hair of the people who are partaking. During this time period, the individuals who are taking biotin will not be allowed to cut their hair, those eating a well balanced diet will not be able to use biotin, and so on. This practice also will be able to show which treatments work best on certain types of hair, but at the same time the results will not always be correct due to this looming “genetically determined” hair growth rate.

The results as a whole would end up varying extremely due to those factors that are seemingly out of our hands, but I believe that with research of this kind, we might be able to accurately determine whether or not these different actions impact hair growth. If I had to take a guess at which might work best to improve hair growth, I would have to say the healthier diet. Most things tend to improve with healthier diets, such as physical health, and mental awareness, but this is another thing that would be able to potentially be figured out as a part of partaking in studies similar to these.




Kitchens, Simone. “Hair Growth Tips: Do Regular Trims Really Make It Grow Faster?” The Huffington Post., 07 May 2012. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.



Hand Sanitizer or Soap?


As many a student across campus knows, illness and disease can spread like a wildfire. If you were to walk into any classroom larger than 100 people in size, chances are that you’ll hear a symphony of coughing and people hacking up lungs all around you. Now, what I’ve overheard many a person on campus call “Penn State Plague,” is sweeping the campus, there are two simple ways that it can be prevented. These happen to be, washing your hands and using hand sanitizer.

While washing your hands seems like a relatively simple task, not too many people seem to do it properly. Only 5% of people wash their hands correctly, leaving the majority of people washing their hands incorrectly (Jaslow).  People have been known to run their hands under water without soap, or completely avoid cleaning up after themselves at all. Yet one of the biggest problems is the fact that people are not washing their hands for a long enough time period. The recommended time is that of “20 seconds … singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice” (Jaslow).

We as a whole live in a society that is forever on the go, so what exactly do those who can’t spare the “20 seconds” to wash their hands, do? Well this, my friends, is where the handy Hand Sanitizer comes into play. Hand Sanitizer is basically an alcohol-based product that is supposed to kill bacteria on your hands (Jaslow). Most leading products state that they kill 99.9% of all bacteria. 99.9% seems like a great number…until you get more information on the product.

This 99.9% turns out to be more of a cover than the full truth. According to About Biology, these products are tested on “inanimate surfaces” instead of a hand itself. On these inanimate surfaces, they were able to kill 99.9% of bacteria, but without testing it on the human hand, there is no way to claim that these products will accurately kill germs on your own two hands (Bailey).

So what is your safest bet? Should you dance around in the communal bathrooms singing Happy Birthday to yourself two times, every time you need to wash your hands, or simply use hand sanitizer?  The Connecticut Department of Public Health states, “Washing your hands with soap and water is the best defense against germs.”

So ultimately, your best bet is to wash your hands and sing that song. Yet we all know that sometimes if you sneeze twelve times during a test, you can’t get up to wash your hands every single time. So to compensate, the second best thing is to use hand sanitizer. In order for the sanitizer to be effective, it would have to be made up of at least 60% alcohol, but it really won’t be beneficial to you if your hands have visible dirt on them (“Hand Sanitizers…”). So the choice is yours, but remember not to be fooled by labels that tell you they’ll kill pretty much all of the bacteria, because it might kill that bacteria but not so much on the areas you might think it will.





Bailey, Regina. “Do Hand Sanitizers Work Better Than Soap and Water?”About. About Group, n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.

“Hand Sanitizers: Advice for Using Gels, Foams and Wipes.” (n.d.): n. pag. Connecticut Department of Public Health, Sept. 2012. Web.

Harper, Elly Pretzel And Jane. Which Soap Is Best? – Minnesota Dept of Health (n.d.): n. pag. Minnesota Dept of Health. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.

Jaslow, Ryan. “95 Percent of People Wash Their Hands Improperly: Are You One of Them?” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 12 June 2013. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.


Can FlipFlops Really Help Prevent Athlete’s Foot in Communal Showers?

As a freshman, one of the first pieces of advice given to us by older students or older siblings, is to “make sure you wear flip-flops in the bathroom!” I am sure that by now the majority of us know the feeling of our lives flashing before our eyes if we found ourselves absentmindely slipping our feet out of our shoes whilst in the shower. Are we right to fear the unknown that lurks in the place we all know and probably don’t love that is the dorm communal showers?

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that usually begins between the toes.” I can’t really think of very many people who want an infection in between their toes.  The fungus in this infection, like many other funguses, tends to lurk in “warm and damp places” (Brichford). These conditions make communal showers in dorms, gyms, or pools the perfect places for this bacteria to inhabit.

We might think we’re being cautious by wearing flip-flops or sandals into the shower, but are they really as clean as we think? According to a study done by the University of Arizona, bacteria on shoes often lives longer on shoes than on other places (Leamy & Weber). Those germs will lurk on the bottom of your shoes and off of your feet for some time, but they still have the ability to make their way up to the top of the shoe where your foot lies.

So yes, the verdict itself is that wearing flip-flops, or some form of shower shoes will help to prevent you from getting any king of fungal infections such as Athlete’s Foot, but it is not foolproof. These kinds of ailments are not typically going to kill you, but to save yourself any amount of pain, definitely use flip-flops when in any form of communal shower. Remember to change your flip-flops or shower shoes every so often, and you should be on your way to preventing any damage to your precious feet!


And here we have some oh so fashionable Crocs that you can purchase for use in the shower if you would like..

Screen Shot 2014-09-14 at 10.31.43 AM


“Athlete’s Foot.” Causes. Mayo Clinic, n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2014.

Brichford, Connie. “Protect Your Foot Health at College.” Ed. Lindsey Marcellin. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2014.

Leamy, Elisabeth, and Vanessa Weber. “How Dirty Are Your Shoes?” ABC News. ABC News Network, 16 June 2008. Web. 13 Sept. 2014.



Biotin Supplements… Are They Really Worth It?

Long hair, clear skin, and strong nails are some things that people from all over strive to have. In todays day and age, a large number of models and celebrities that people in society consider to be the perfect examples of what a person should look like, have long and lustrous locks. Hair doesn’t grow on its own, and for some it doesn’t grow all too quickly. We live in a time where people want what they want, when they want it, and those people do not often want to wait to get what it is they want. So often, people find themselves wanting long hair, and wanting it now. In these cases, people, myself included, turn to the vitamin called Biotin, in hopes of speeding up the hair growth process.

According to WebMD, Biotin is “used orally for hair loss, brittle nails, skin rash in infants, diabetes and mild depression.” Biotin can be found in a pill or gummy form, and is often taken orally. After about a year of taking Biotin, I can tell you that my hair does seem to grow a bit faster than usual (because it usually takes forever), and my nails do feel stronger. Yet, taking this for so long has gotten me thinking, what exactly are the downsides to this kind of supplement?

After a bit of research, according to an article from the Huffington Post titled, “Why You Should Be Cautious Of Taking Biotin For Your Hair, Skin & Nails”, dermatologists are not completely sure of what benefits Biotin really has. According to Dr. Susan Stuart, a dermatologist,  “hair loss and brittle nails may have multiple causes and taking biotin supplements may actually halt this process and even help to reverse it” (Oliver).

The verdict on whether or not you should take Biotin is up to you, but with the information I saw, there is really no point in taking it unless you have a Biotin deficiency. Biotin itself can be found in “brewer’s yeast, nutritional yeast, liver, cauliflower, salmon, bananas, carrots, egg yolks, sardines, legumes, and mushrooms” (“Does Biotin Really Stimulate Hair Growth?”). That being said, each case is different, and Biotin may help you like it has helped me, or it may not. It is up to you to decide whether or not it is worth it.




“Does Biotin Really Stimulate Hair Growth?” About. About Group, n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2014

Oliver, Dana. “Why You Should Be Cautious Of Taking Biotin For Your Hair, Skin & Nails.” The Huffington Post., 30 Sept. 2013. Web. 10 Sept. 2014.


First Blog Post!

Hi, I’m Allie Maniglia and I’m currently a Communications major with hopes of eventually being a Public Relations major! I am obsessed with traveling. I really hope to eventually go to every state, and every continent. I’m from Altoona, Pennsylvania which is about 45 minutes away from campus. (There is a PSU branch campus in Altoona, but I wanted a bit of a change!)

I’m honestly doing this course because I hope to double major in English but the class I was using to work towards that was dropped due to lack of interest by students. My academic adviser highly recommended the course to help fulfill my science general education course. I found the description and the one that she gave it, to be very interesting… so here I am!

I used to love science, and really hoped to do something that would involve some form of scientific research. I unfortunately will not be majoring in science because of an Earth Science teacher I had in my high school who completely ruined the topic for me. He never taught, and when I would say that I hoped to end up doing some type of scientific career, he would say that “girls can’t work in that kind of field. Your grades are good, but you have no chance.” His negativity really turned me away from the subject and I really didn’t feel the need to try to learn anything science related because of that. Now, I am excited to see what this course does have to offer, and hopefully it will help to eliminate any of my previous distaste for the subject!


Lake Bled - Slovenia ( Just a place I really want to go)

Lake Bled – Slovenia ( One of the top places on my travel bucket list.)