Author Archives: Dominik Wlodarczyk

Multivitamins, May They Be Doing More Harm Than Good?

         One-a- Day, Vitafusion, Centrum, and First Response: There are endless brands and versions of vitamin supplements on the market claiming to lend numerous health benefits to its consumers. Companies even target little kids with alluring and colorful packaging, making multivitamins one of the most diverse and inclusive products in the pharmaceutical department. I’ll admit that as a child, I can recall begging my parents for the Flintstone or Princess themed multivitamins. The fun shapes and array of fruity flavors made the supplement more like candy than a health enhancer. With that being said, there has been several studies conducted that examine whether or not there are tangible  benefits to consuming a daily multivitamin. It is reported that nearly half of American adults regularly take vitamin supplements, with little scientific proof regarding if they are doing any good for our bodies. To my surprise, studies have actually uncovered  adverse effects that can potentially be damaging to one’s health.

         First I sought out to examine the more optimistic side of the argument and I researched the benefits of consuming a daily multivitamin. To my surprise, there were virtually no scientific studies on the internet that found clear benefits that outweighed the harmful side effects. So, instead of aimlessly attempting to uncover a positive study on the vitamins, I decided to explore the “One A Day” for women product website. The website proudly lists the benefits to the multivitamin pill, which supposedly include:

  1. Calcium and Vitamin D for bone health
  2. B-vitamins that convert food to fuel for physical energy
  3. Vitamins A, C, and E to boost the immune system and promote healthy skin

         Although these all appear to be beneficial to one’s health, I noticed that there is not any scientific evidence or credible sources backing up these claims. Therefore, the benefits seem a tad questionable, since they are not backed by reliable sources.

         Researching studies that examined the negative side effects to consuming a daily multivitamin was much easier of a task. First off,  I would like to discuss the societal  need for vitamins in the first place. Vitamins are necessary for the body to properly function.  If your conscious in eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you are probably already getting your daily dosage of vitamins. However, what most Americans do not realize is that if you are consuming a healthy and balanced diet, along with taking a daily vitamin, you are probably exceeding vitamin levels much higher than the FDA recommendation, which could be potentially dangerous to one’s health.

         I stumbled upon a study performed by Medical researchers at the University of New England, where two meta-analysis of studies collected data on the effects of multivitamins in 400,000 patients. It was found that the individuals who consumed the daily supplement had an increased  mortality rate. Similarly, another study  was released to CBS news, in which two trials of 350,000 volunteers were conducted, examining the vitamin supplements role in preventing chronic diseases. The outcome was not surprising, there was no link detected between vitamin supplements and a reduction in illnesses such as heart disease.

        Overall, I think that it is clear that taking a multivitamin supplement is completely unnecessary for one’s health, as no clear benefits have been discovered. For those of who are already in a good state of health, the negative effects of multivitamins blatantly outweigh the benefits. The only logical  reasoning to using multivitamins is if one already has a vitamin deficiency from a poor diet or lingering medical condition.

Smoking vs. Vaping

The practice of tobacco smoking use has been around as early as 5000-3000 BCE. Native Americans and other ancient cultures harvested the plant and then smoked it for medicinal and ceremonial purposes. Yet as discussed in class, it was not until the late 1950’s that humans began to realize it’s harmful and dangerous side effects. On the other hand, vaping is a relatively new idea (with the first electronic cigarette being developed in 2003) that has been argued by some to be a safer alternative to smoking. While others debate the new substitute to be just as bad, if not worse, than traditional smoking. So, who is right?

When smoking the heat from the fire causes the tobacco to go from it’s solid state to vapor. In cigarette’s this releases nicotine which gets absorbed into your bloodstream through the lungs and in result causes constricted blood vessels, increased heart rate, feelings of alertness, and the release of dopamine in your brain. However, since nicotine is a stimulate, once it is no

longer available you “crash” and begin to crave more, which in the long run could cause addiction. Being addicted to anything isn’t good, especially something so harmful like tobacco. From the extensive research that has been done on tobacco use, it is common knowledge that smoking not only causes addiction, but can create cancer causing effects, development of tar in your lungs, blackening of your teeth, and destruction of taste buds. This certainly magnifies the cons of cigarette smoking. According to the American Lung Association smoking kills approximately 443,000 Americans each year. To a reasonable person the side-efffetcs of smoking should appear not only very dangerous, but also extremely harmful.

Now what about vaping? Electronic cigarette’s transport a nicotine-containg aerosol (vapor) by heating a solution containing nicotine, glycerol, and sometimes flavoring agents. Theoretically this results in the same effects as smoking, without the process of inhaling the dangerous smoke entering your lungs. The amount of nicotine in the solution (e-liquid) can be regulated and may range from 0-30µg of nicotine per puff. This way users can chose not only the flavors and brands of their product, but also the strength. A study conducted by the Society for Research of Nicotine and Tobacco on popular e-cig brands determined that the level of nicotine spawned from 15-20 puffs varied from 0.5µg to 15.4µg. They concluded that the amount inhaled from 15 puffs is much lower compared to one puff from smoking a traditional cigarette. This could leadus to believe that e-cigarette’s are in fact a safer alternative and could help wean users off a smoking habit. On the contrary, the contents of the e-liquid found in this alternative can widely vary from company to company and are sometimes mislabeled. In addition e-liquids contain a base that helps contain moisture without causing sogginess. This base is found in cosmetics and theatrical smoke, that have been known to cause eye irritation and respiratory infections. Scientists are yet to determine prolonged effects of exposure to this base and therefore the FDA has been able to easily approve these products. To me it seems logical that smoking something that’s used in theatrical smoke may not be so good for you. Another argument against vaporizers is that the wide variety of flavors can cause the product to become more appealing to younger people. With delicious names such as Blueberry Cheesecake or Sweet Tangy Melon, I can see how the product could easily attract a younger crowd.

So which option is safer? By examining all the evidence it is hard to say. Since smoking has been around for so long, all the information we have is from prolonged studies and can be much more heavily relied on. With vaping being relatively new we simply don’t have access to longitudinal studies and therefore cannot draw a clear conclusion on what is worse. The gray area in e-cigarette’s and similar products is way too foggy to say that vaporizers are a better option, and if anything could support the fact that they’re are just as bad or even worse than traditional smoking.  But for the sake your own health, maybe you should put both products aside and wait for scientists to determine the true dangers of vaping.



Personality Differences Between Dog and Cat People

         Cats or Dogs? I am sure we’ve all been asked the age old question one too many times. The cliche question is commonly posed in icebreaker activities, sparking an interesting discussion into the reasoning behind people’s preferences. Interestingly enough, the question seems to result in a one sided answer, with most people preferring one over the other.  The Humane Society of the US reports that 65% of American households own a cat or dog. With that being said, it’s no surprise that many Americans today either distinguish themselves as a “cat” or “dog” person. The label may be derived from childhood experiences, current or past pet ownership, or simply a self proclaimed title constructed by the media or a friends experience with these pets. According to a poll conducted by the associated press, 74% of participants claimed to favor dogs more, while only 41% felt passionately about cats. Notably, there have been multiple scientific studies examining the differences in personality and physical appearances between cat and dog lovers.

         In a web based study  published by Sam Gosling, a psychologist at the University of Texas, 4,565 participants were initially asked if they identify themselves as a cat or dog person, neither, or both. They were then asked to complete a 44 question assessment that sought to examine the “Big Five” personality dimensions that psychologists use to study human personalities. These broad personality domains include extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, and openness to experience.

It was found that on average, dog lovers were 15% more extroverted and 13% more agreeable. These statistics coincide with the fact that dogs are naturally more sociable and “people person” oriented than cats are. Additionally, those who favor dogs tested 11% more conscientious (being able to display self discipline and aim for personal achievement) than cat lovers. This can probably be accredited to the fact that dogs are more easily taught commands and tasks than cats are.

        Cat people tested much differently on the personality scale, they were found to be 12% more neurotic, meaning they are emotionally unstable. On the other hand, cat people were 11% more open than dog people, meaning they hold a greater appreciation for worldly concepts such as art and emotion, and possess a stronger sense of imagination than their counterpart. These people were likely to hold unconventional and unusual beliefs, straying from traditional, cliche interests.

        Overall, dog owners were found to be more social and accepting than cat owners, who tend to be introverted and keep to themselves. Interestingly enough, Sam Gosling, a psychologist at the University of Texas in Austin and  head researcher in this study, has come to illustrate the major differences in cat and dog owners in a single comparison. Gosling asked pet owners, “If you had adequate living space and there were no objections from other people in your life, and someone gave you a puppy as a gift, would you keep it?” The responses of cat and dog people were analyzed, and it was found that two thirds of exclusive cat owners said they would not accept the gift, while 70% of dog owners said they would welcome a cat into their household.

         Personally, I am not surprised by these statistics. It’s understandable that dog owners, who were in general found to be more agreeable and easy going, would accept a cat into their household. On the other hand, cat owners would be hesitant to welcome a rowdy dog into their house due to their more introverted and sedated personality traits.

         Multiple studies have been conducted that attempt to uncover the personality differences between cat and dog owners, and findings have been similar across the board. Another article I stumbled upon talked about a study conducted of 600 college aged students.  Similar to the  initial study I analyzed, dog owners were found to be more lively, seek companionship, possess a more dominant personality, and distinguish themselves as “people persons.” On the contrary, cat owners were found to be smart, open minded, seek affection, and prefer solitude.

         Who would have thought that one’s choice in household pet could say so much about their personality? Overall, it can be agreed upon that personality traits can be partially determined through an individual’s affinity to either a cat or dog.



Is There A Thing Such As “Too Much Running”?

         In the exercise crazed culture we live in today, it would  be completely understandable to assume that the more miles jogged a week or hours spent at the gym correlates to one’s physical and mental wellbeing. The media constantly aims to convince us that absurd amounts of exercise will result in model-type bodies displayed on TV and in magazines. Take Kate Gosselin for example, who reported to Us Weekly she feels best when she runs 10 miles every other day.  I personally feel better about myself when I squeeze a daily run into my hectic schedule.


         However, multiple studies have been conducted examining the adverse effects that distance running has on the body. Unfortunately, our society is brainwashed by the media and doesn’t understand that when it comes to vigorous exercise, more isn’t always better.  According to an editorial recently published in the British Journal Heart, people who work out too hard for too long may be less healthy than sedentary people and are more likely to die than moderate exercisers. The authors additionally examined decades worth of research regarding the effects of endurance athletics. Overall, the findings concluded that moderate exercise was good, but excessive exercising is damaging.  For example, in one particular German study, researchers compared the hearts of 108 chronic marathon runners and sedentary people. Shockingly, the runners had noticeably more plaque buildup, putting them at risk for heart disease. The following picture compares a normal, sedentary runner’s artery to a chronic runner’s artery. Plaque buildup in the arteries causes a decrease in blood circulation, and can eventually lead to several severe health problems.

         In another observational study, performed by scientists at Birmingham University, researchers tracked  52,000 people  (a combination of runners and non-runners) for 30 years. Runners reported a 19 percent lower death risk than those who did not exercise. However, the findings showed that too much endurance running has an adverse affect on one’s physical well being. The researchers concluded that running an average of 10-15 miles per week spread across three to four days results in the greatest health benefits. For example, those who followed the recommended guidelines risk of death dropped by 25 percent. There are endless negative side affects that excess running has on the body. During a strenuous workout, the  body works overtime to burn sugar and fat for fuel, creating a smoke substance in the body.  The “smoke” that travels through one’s  system binds with cholesterol to create plaque buildup in the arteries, and damages your cells through a process referred to as oxidative stress. James O’Keefe, Director of Preventative Cardiology at the Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute of Kansas City claims, “Your body is designed to deal with oxidative stress that comes from exercise for the first hour, but prolonged intense exercise causes excessive oxidative stress, which basically burns through the antioxidants in your system and predisposes you to problems.”  However, researchers across the board agreed that these findings are not a reason to give up running forever. As O’Keefe additionally claimed, “Exercise is the most important component to a healthy lifestyle, but like any powerful drug you’ve got to get the dose right.” Exercise in moderation reduces  the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 1 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and premature aging.


        In a  similar article with the catchy title,  “ Fast running is as deadly as sitting on the couch” scientists ran an experiment with similar findings. The study documented the exercise  habits of 1,098 runners. The findings showed that those who ran at speeds over 7 mph were nine times more likely to die prematurely within a twelve year span compared to those who ran around 5 mph ( a fast jog)  a few times a week. Statistics showed that vigorous runners were just  as likely to die as “couch potatoes” who never partake in physical activity. Peter Schnohr, a researcher from the Copenhagen City Heart Study quotes, “ There may be an upper limit for exercise dosing that is optimal for health benefits, and it is important to emphasize that the pace of jogging corresponds to very vigorous exercise”. Overall, the findings from the above studies are unmistakingly correlative: Running too fast/ too frequently causes alarming health problems, while running at moderate speeds and frequencies allows for optimum benefits widely associated with exercising.

         Overall, when it comes to your running routine, finding a happy medium is key. You should probably think twice about becoming a crazed marathon runner, as it leads to brutal side effects that are detrimental to one’s health. If you happen to love running like myself, just remember that everything’s better in moderation.

Is Holiday Weight Gain Just a Myth?

Festive cookies, cakes, and candies become all too accessible throughout the holiday season. These calorie packed treats might as well be at a snap of a finger, as they are provided in bulk at practically every holiday party and get together, club meeting, and welcoming home. You can not venture out to the local grocery/ convenience store without passing a glistening array of tempting holiday treats, and let’s not forget all the cute “Do It Yourself” holiday recipes that plague the internet and TV. With that being said, tacking on a few “holiday pounds” by the time New Years rolls around seems 100% justifiable.


        It’s commonly assumed that the average American gains an average of five pounds or more between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, yet there’s little data out there to fully support this belief. On December 25th, 1995, the Cable News network reported that “The average american will gain 7 to 10 pounds before the New Year,” and a report from the Texas Medical Association claimed that “ Most studies show the average American gains 8 pounds throughout the holiday season.” However, these past claims are not backed up by credible sources, and therefore may simply be assumptions made by the media. Interestingly enough,  a scientific study was recently published  by the New England Journal of Medicine that measured the weight gain of 200 volunteers. The subjects were randomly chosen to ensure the participation of both sexes. Participants were chosen from several racial and ethnic groups and were from a variety of age groups (all above 18 years).   Notably, the subjects were all healthy, with no serious medical conditions reported.


        The study called for the participants to be examined on four separate occasions at intervals of six to eight weeks. At each visit, weight was measured to the nearest 0.01 kg on an electronic scale, wearing hospital gowns and no shoes. All participants were weighed at the same time of the day as their initial visit (taking into account meal times). Participants were also asked to complete a questionnaire at each screening addressing concerns such as stress, physical activity patterns, and forms of depression (for example, winter seasonal affective disorder). Subjects were then asked to describe habit changes that occurred in between each clinical visit. Doctors than inquired about how much the participants believed they gained during the winter holiday period, and their responses were recorded.

        The findings were less severe than prior beliefs. Complete data was available for 195 of the original 200 participants. The average weight gain during the holiday period was 0.82-3.35 pounds. This is only a slight increase when compared to the pre-holiday season, where the average weight gain was  0.4-3.28 pounds. Notably, throughout the post-holiday time frame participants lost one pound on average. In addition, it was found that most participants did not have reports of extreme weight fluctuation and in 50% of all measurements the weight differed from the previous measurement by no more than  2.2 pounds.

        About 15% of the participants claimed that they attempted to lose weight during the holiday period, but their weight change was not significantly different from those who reported no such attempts. Additionally, no third variables of sex, race, or socioeconomic status were found to affect the data. Lastly, the amount of weight change throughout the holiday season had no great correlation with the original BMI of the participants.

        Overall, the study’s findings prove that the widely perceived notion that Americans tend to gain a significant amount of weight over the holidays wrong. For 

        On the bright side, dietary experts assert that there is a way around gaining even just a couple extra holiday pounds. In an article published by Susan G. Rabin titled “ 10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain,”  doctors claim that portion control is key. As I mentioned earlier, alluring sugary treats are constantly present during the holiday season. However, indulging in a piece of pie or a cookie here and there will not cause much harm. The article touched upon some additional helpful tips to combat the season. Experts suggest eating something light before arriving at a holiday function, pacing yourself, and keeping tabs on what you consume during a holiday party in order to avoid holiday weight gain.

Does Sex Affect Athletic Performance?

In 2012, organizers of the London Olympics reportedly gave out 150,000 condoms for the 10,080 olympic athletes at the games. With such a large number of free rubbers, we can safely assume that athletes had a little extra physical activity during the games.


Still, many athletes say they abstain from sex prior a big game or competition. Take Muhammed Ali, arguably the best boxer of all time,  for example. He claimed that he wouldn’t have sex for up to six weeks before a fight. The theory behind the idea that sex drains our energy and lowers our testosterone levels has been around even since ancient civilizations. The Greeks believed that semen was sacred and contained a man’s strength. Athletes nowadays may think that abstinence will promote higher testosterone levels and in effect increase their strength. While it is true that testosterone is responsible for aggression and sexual desire in both men and women, there is no physiological evidence stating that sex before competition is bad.

A study looking to determine the effects of two drugs (sildenafil and tadalafil) on erectile dysfunction found that although both drugs increased testosterone levels, lack of sexual activity was the greatest contributor to a
loss in testosterone levels. Therefore suggesting that testosterone levels increase after sex. Based on these findings, it can be argued that sex before competition can be helpful when it comes to more aggressive sports such as football or wrestling.

Another argument that recommends saying away from sex before a game, proclaims that sex tires the body out. This claim can be countered according to a study conducted by the New England Journey of Medicine, states that sex lasts on average 6 minutes and only burns around 21 calories. Now unless you’re having some crazy, all night sex, it is highly unlikely that it will cause your body to be tired out the next morning.

The one thing we don’t know about sex before competition is how it affects us mentally. Ian Shrier, a sports medicine professor at McGill University, says that sex can affect anxiety and alertness the following day. For example, staying up late and having prolonged sex may cause decrease alertness. On the other hand, sex can be a great stress reliever and in result may decrease the athletes anxiety. It should also be considered that sex affects everyone differently and results could vary.

With all this said, we can disprove the idea that sex before competition negatively affects our physical state; yet, need more studies on how it affects our psychological state of mind. I’m sure that there are many other factors besides sex that will affect your athletic performance, but maybe next time when your partner wants to get in on, focus more on them instead of the big game.

Welcome Blog Post

Hello everyone my name is Dom Wlodarczyk and I am a first year student at Penn State. I decided to take this class because I really enjoy to question people and examine what lies below the surface of everyday life. A friend of mine also recommend the class and told me that you get to chose the topics you blog about. I’m excited to take in the views and ideas professor Andrew has about a variety of bizarre and yet fascinating topics.

From a young age both my parents encouraged me to go into the medical field. Finishing school with a medical degree provides various future opportunities with such a demanding job market. Not to mention the pay is phenomenal. As a 18 year old it is quite difficult to decide what you wanna do for the rest of your life. My senior year in high school I decided to do a paid internship at a large business firm and for once I really liked my job. I helped out with paperwork, took calls and interacted with many different people everyday. I decided to pursue a career in business after my stay with the company. Oh and also space and cells are really confusing so I don’t want to be a scientist.

Checkout this song if you’re trine get freaky (on the dance floor) this weekend 😉