Author Archives: Sarah Sokoloski

What’s Cardio’s Effect On the Body?

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Many people believe that in order to lose weight they must do cardio, although this is true, cardio has many other positive impacts. These impacts may be short term but are also long term and effect the whole body, from the respiratory system to the brain. There are many apparent benefits to cardio but there are also some effects that are not seen to the human eye.

Short Term Effects

The most obvious short term effect of cardio is an increase in heart rate and sweating. Heart rate increases during cardio and increases blood flow to the surface of the skin and redirects blood to the skeletal muscles. Another short term effect of cardio is that it allows the lymphatic system to detoxify. In an article I found, it states that the lymph, which is a clear fluid that flows throughout your body, essentially collect “debris” from the body. This debris is fat, bacteria, or other material that are unwanted in the body. During cardio, the body moves around and allows for blood and lymph to circulate. In doing so, the lymph nodes and liver can cleanse the body faster. In an article I read, it states that during and after exercise, endorphins are released from the body. Endorphins are the “feel good” neurotransmitter and naturally decrease feelings of pain. Although short term effects are still beneficial, the long term effects or cardio and aerobic exercise are more significant.

Long Term Effects

One of the long term effects is that cardio can improve heart health. There was a study preformed by Duke University, that tested the effect of exercise on cardiovascular health as well as behavioral effects in older men and women. The study used 101 participants (50 men, 51 women), they were all tested for various cardiovascular related confounding factors. Each participant underwent numerous physical and psychological tests prior to engaging in the study. The results of the four month study were significant, both men and women that performed 60 minutes of aerobic exercise 3 times a week had an increase in aerobic capacity. The results of this element of the study reject the null hypothesis and show success in aerobic activity which can be seen in the overall lowered resting heart rate. As a whole, the participants that engaged in 60 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week experienced an improvement in their aerobic capacity, increase in metabolic rate, lowered cholesterol, and an increase in anaerobic threshold. Anaerobic threshold means the rate that lactic acid accumulates in the bloodstream. A final note as stated in the study is, “these results represent changes in physical and psychological functioning after only four months of treatment. It is possible that a longer exercise program may be needed for significant psychological changes to occur.”

Another long term effect is the effect that cardio has on psychological aspects of an individual. Exercise and cardio has been thought to improve depression and anxiety and is shown in a the previous study, the study had results that showed a significant decrease in depressive symptoms, whereas the control group did not. In the same study, it showed that anxiety levels also were decreased. Another study, conducted by Jane Rimer, Kerry Dwan, Debbie A Lawlor, Carolyn A Greig, Marion McMurdo, Wendy Morley, Gillian E Mead and they analyzed the effects of exercise on depression. The study did a randomized control experiment compared exercise to standard treatment, no treatment or placebo treatment. The results of the study were that exercise was found to improve symptoms of depression in participants in comparison to no treatment or the control. Although this evidence was from a single study, there are more studies that can comply with the correlation between lowered depressive symptoms and exercise.

Both studies that were performed tried to eliminate any options of confounding variables and also use sample sizes that could provide significant results, although


Final Thoughts

All evidence shows that only good things come from doing healthy amounts of cardio. These good things are, enhanced mood, improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, overall physical improvement, stress relief, amongst various other things.

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What Do Prescription “Smart Drugs” Do?

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As a college student, I commonly hear people say how they need to take an adderall to help them write an essay. So many people take these prescription drugs without prescription and are unaware of the effect on their body, especially if they are not using it for the directed use. According to a study prepared by Prepared by the Center on Young Adult Health and Development, 31% of college aged students have used “smart drugs” anytime they were at college. The date provided does not state how many college students are involved in the study but it isn’t to say that a lot of college students use these test/performance enhancing drugs. Considering the percentage is fairly high, I am curious if people actually know what these drugs do, so that being said, what do “smart drugs” do?

These prescription smart drugs have various types, such as Adderall, Vyvanse, Concerta, and Ritalin. The most common I personally hear about is Adderall, so for the remainder of this post I will refer to all prescription smart drugs as Adderall.

Effect On the Body and Brain 


What Adderall Actually Does

Adderall is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, and it directly affects the central nervous system. Because it works with the central nervous system, it enhances the effects of dopamine and serotonin. In doing so, Adderall fills the brain with these chemicals and takes them out of their storage. The release of dopamine into the brain, means that the chemical stops replenishing itself and Adderall stops the reuptake, causing Adderall users to feel the need to take more. According to this article, Adderall mimics the actions of norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine, and these chemicals are consistently being released.  Adderall also speeds up the cardiovascular system and increases heart rate as well as blood pressure. There are various other side effects to Adderall, such as decreased appetite, dry mouth, loss of interest in sex, digestive issues, irritability, and many other possible complications. These side effects are those that occur when Adderall is prescribed and with the assumption that whomever is taking the pill isn’t actually prescribed, these side effects can be worse.

Adderall and Creativity 

In an article published in Psychopharmacology, it states that the use of Adderall can decrease creativity when used in people that don’t need it for ADD/ADHD. In the same article, a study was published that included 16 healthy adults, both male and female(4 men, 12 women). The study had the goal of seeing the effects of Adderall on creativity. There was a lot of things under the exclusion criteria to rule out possible confounding variables, such as caffeine use, drug and nicotine use, and various health problems. The study was a blind placebo trial and half of the participants received a placebo while the other half received 10 mg of Adderall. Each participant was then instructed to do various tasks that measure creativity, these tasks were “the Alternative Uses Task, the Remote Association Task, Group Embedded Figures Task, and the drawing task from the Abbreviated Torrance Test for Adults.” The Remote Association Task is when participants are given three words and asked to present one word back that relates to all three words. The Alternative Uses Task is when participants are given the name of an object and are instructed to give as many uses for the object as possible. The Abbreviated Torrence Test for Adults is when participants must use incomplete figures to make a whole picture. Lastly, the Group Embedded Figures Task is when participants have to regroup parts of a geometric to find a figure amongst the shapes.

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Although there is no certain way to test creativity, the tasks and methods used to test participant creativity involved both divergent and convergent thinking. That being said, they are a reasonable test in the case of Adderall due to the fact that these tasks involve some form of creativity as well as critical thinking.

The results of the task were that Adderall affected preformance on the Embedded Figures Task, but it enhanced creativity and allowed for participants to distance themselves from the overall shape. The other three tasks performance was similar between the placebo and the Adderall. These results that prove the null could mean that either there is truly no correlation between Adderall and creativity, or the methods used to measure creativity weren’t sufficient. Also, the number of participants was too low to truly make a general assumption on a population.


 

The Future Of Smart Drugs

In an article I found, it discussed that there is a new narcolepsy drug that may be the worlds first “safe drug.” It is called Modafinil, and was FDA approved in 1998 for narcolepsy only, but has become known as a nootropic since then. Nootropics are a fancier way of saying “smart drug.” When Modafinil is taken for non-prescription purposes, it “can improve decision- making, problem-solving and possibly even make people think more creatively.” The impact and direct effect of Modafinil on the brain is complex and not yet fully understood but it is thought to not be addictive as of right now. In a New York Time’s article, it states that “Unlike Ritalin or Adderall, modafinil isn’t an amphetamine and doesn’t flood the body with dopamine in the same way.” That being said, it is seemingly safer then Adderall, due to the fact that it is not an amphetamine. I think science will continue to progress and create smart drugs that are safe to take, whether that is for long periods of time or for single use.

 

How Clean Is Your Toothbrush?

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Everyone brushes their teeth, at least I’d hope that everyone does, and anticipates that their toothbrush is clean considering it does the cleaning. It’s very common place to pick up a toothbrush from off the sink counter and begin to brush your teeth, without thinking there are possibilities of  that cleaning your teeth is not all that is happening. I have an electric toothbrush that sits on my desk in my dorm room, and I’m curious as to how clean my toothbrush actually is. According to an article from Men’s Health, “A new toothbrush can become contaminated after 30 seconds of use by bacteria, viruses, and fungi in the mouth or external environment.” So how clean is your toothbrush?

The fecal matter debate 

I have heard before that there is a possibility that toothbrushes, when stored in the bathroom uncovered can contain fecal bacteria. In a study performed by researchers at Quinnipiac University, they tested the toothbrushes of participants that use communal bathrooms, with approximately 9.4 users per bathroom. The study collected toothbrushes from individuals and regardless of how they stored their toothbrushes, 60% of the toothbrushes were contaminated with fecal coliforms. A flaw in this study is the fact that the number of toothbrushes tested(survey size) is unclear. Another thing is the fact that it is not stated whether or not the toothbrushes are kept in the bathroom or just brought in when participants are brushing their teeth. There is no possibility of confounding factors in the study, because what is being measured is hard to manipulate.

The main concern in the study is not only the fact that there may be fecal coliforms on your toothbrush, but the very fact that there’s an 80% chance the fecal matter is from someone else. That being said, there are different viruses, and bacteria that are present that are different then the ones from an individuals own flora. Which may pose an issue in gut health. There is also the concern that the storage of a toothbrush can also impact how bacteria grows. If a cover is used on a toothbrush it can facilitate bacteria growth because the bristles will remain wet and allow for bacteria to thrive.

In another study I found, it included sufficient description of the method used. The study tested 150 toothbrushes of healthy individuals and looked for the various bacteria and flora that was on the toothbrushes. The study was performed in India at the microbiology department of Pravara Institute of Medical Sciences. The toothbrushes that were collected were selected at random from males and females of all ages. There was also a screening that occurred prior to the study to test for the presence of any oral and systemic diseases, this was done to try and eliminate any confounding factors. The study concluded that toothbrushes may in fact have bacteria on them as soon as they come out of the box, but also they have the ability to be infected by numerous microorganisms such as those listed below. Toothbrush: A Favorable Media for Bacterial Growth

Toothbrush: A Favorable Media for Bacterial Growth

Toothbrush: A Favorable Media for Bacterial Growth

The results of the study were, “fifty-four samples showed facultative anaerobes growth, i.e. Streptococcus mutans, Alpha-hemolytic streptococci, coagulase negativeStaphylococci (CONS) and diphtheroids. Sixty-six samples showed polymicrobial etiology and 30 showed purely anaerobic bacteria, i.e.Bacteroides, Lactobacilli.” This can be concluded that out of 150 toothbrush samples there were many different types of bacteria found. It is hard to make more conclusions because there may be other factors that differ such as type of water used, and how long the toothbrush has been used for. Also, it is hard to know which toothbrush had what and if any of the bacteria is overlapping, and if more than 1 bacteria is present on the toothbrush.

So how clean is your toothbrush?

Not clean at all, fecal matter may be present amongst various bacteria. Not necessarily something you want to hear considering your toothbrush is quire obviously placed into your mouth.

What’s the Deal With the Perpetual Penn State Plague?

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For the past month or so every classroom I have been in has had a consistent orchestra of coughing and sniffling. It seems as though everyone has come across the infamous Penn State plague already. I have been sick since the end of August and am beginning to wonder why I have not gotten better (even with antibiotics). There is only so much Emergen-c, DayQuil, and cough drops someone can take. So my question is why am I, and everyone else that has fallen victim to the Penn State plague, not getting better?

One of the things I considered when thinking about why I am not getting better is the fact that my sleep cycle is not only terribly off, but I am not getting my recommended amount of sleep every night. In an article I found on Discover, it goes to say that the connection between sleep and getting sick is based on correlation and not causation. Which in the writer, Carl Engelking’s words, states is “the ultimate aim of scientific inquiry.” There was actually a study performed by Aric Prather who is a sleep researcher of The University of California San Francisco. In the study Prather aimed to see whether sleep predicted an individual having a bad cold. The study consisted of 164 men and women who were all healthy. For 7 consecutive days, they had to write in a sleep diary but also were connected to a wrist actigraphy, which is used to record movements to estimate sleep patterns. After the 7 days the participants were given nasal drops that contained rhinovirus. The participants were watched for 5 days to see if a cold developed. The conclusion of the study was stated in the study abstract, “Shorter sleep duration, measured behaviorally using actigraphy prior to viral exposure, was associated with increased susceptibility to the common cold.”  That being said, an individuals body is at an increased risk of illness when sleep is being compromised. The study explicitly stated that possible confounding variables were obtained in the sleep journals and evaluated, as well as season, BMI, antibody levels and psychological variables. That being said, confounding variables did not impact the study. The study that was performed was an experimental study and was appropriate to answer the question. Although the participant size was rather small, it is difficult to do an experimental study such as this with a large number of people.

It also came to mind that germs are rather easily spread in college campuses. Obviously hygiene takes a large role in becoming sick, due to the fact that thousands of people touch the same surfaces every day. Many people touch the same bathroom sink handle, doors, elevator buttons, gym equipment and obviously many more surfaces. Also I have found that people always share food and drinks regardless of if someone is sick or not. These are all surefire ways to get sick, or continue to be sick for that matter. In a study performed by Reckitt Benckiser, the makers of Lysol and released by Simmons College Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community, it stated various alarming statistics regarding germs in college. One of the alarming is, that “Communal shower floors were the most contaminated surface in the dorm, harboring more than 40 times the number of bacteria found on the toilet seat. Forty three percent (43%) of shower floors were contaminated with bacteria that can indicate fecal contamination and twenty percent (20%) hid streptococci.” Another alarming statistic was that “dorm room refrigerator door handles harbored twice as many bacteria as shared dorm toilet handles. Thirty seven percent (37%) encountered bacteria that can indicate fecal contamination and thirteen percent (13%) encountered staph.” The study went on to examine participating college students cleaning habits. The students that were surveyed stated that “seventy three percent (73%) admitted they had never cleaned their dorm room door handle”, and “only sixty three percent (63%) of students polled had cleaned their dorm room in the past week.” As a college students these statistics don’t seem too ridiculous, especially the one regarding cleaning a room, considering it’s hard to find time to clean.

This study that is funded by Lysol, is similar to the one Andrew mentioned in the first few weeks of the semester, that was about hand dryers and paper towels. The study although seemingly promising isn’t necessarily trustworthy due to the fact that it doesn’t state how many college students were polled, and not only that but it is promoted by the makers of Lysol who may be shamelessly promoting their product.  By using these statistics it seems as though there is a vast need to clean and get rid of germs, although that isn’t false, Lysol may be using this study as a ploy to get people to buy their antibacterial products. Despite the possibility that Lysol may be attempting to influence purchases, it isn’t necessarily doing harm by encouraging people, specifically college students to clean their dorm rooms and sanitize things.

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I’m sure there are other reasons by the Penn State plague is perpetual other than germs and lack of sleep, but as of right now those two factors seem like the most common causes. It’s hard to pinpoint one single reason for being sick. Although it is hard to avoid being sick altogether due to the fast spread of germs and close quarters many people live in, there are some measures that can be taken.  In regards to the information I found out, sleep is very important not just for well-being but to reduce the propensity of getting sick, and hand hygiene is key.

What is Alcohol’s Effect On the Immature Brain?

Ever since I was in 8th grade I was always told in my health classes that drinking prior to the age of 21 isn’t just illegal, it is also detrimental to the brain and the body. This is one of those things that people commonly disregard for whatever reason. Naturally people are going to ignore this notion even if there is sufficient evidence that proves underage drinking has negative effects. The ignorance of it is extremely evident in college situations. I can assume that a lot of times, people are unaware of these effects.

One of the effects on the brain is the fact that drinking alcohol directly effects the brains ability to convert short term memories into long term ones. A randomized control  experiment was conducted that gave adolescent rodents (28 days old) interment levels of alcohol, levels that result in impairment not sedation. They were then not given alcohol and grew into adulthood. Prior to this experiment it was known that exposure to alcohol in adolescent animals, as stated by a Duke team in the experiment synopsis, resulted in adults “that are much less adept at memory tasks than normal animals.” But after the experiment, the affects at a cellular level were explored. The Duke University team concluded that alcohol affects the hippocampus, which is responsible for creating and storing memories, as well as learning.

It would be interesting to see what the long term effects on the hippocampus are. Researchers have only studied the current effects on mice but have not established how consuming alcohol during adolescence affects the mature adult brain. Although, SMary-Louise Risher, Ph.D., a post-doctoral researcher in the Duke Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, stated that “It’s quite possible that alcohol disrupts the maturation process, which can affect these cognitive function later on.” The experiment that was conducted may be different in humans due to the fact that the time frame is different from the time mice become adults and humans become adults. There is no option for confounding variables in the experiment because it was done in a lab. The experiment that was conducted was a false positive and rejected the null hypothesis, this is due to the fact that there was evidence the hippocampus was affected by the alcohol.

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Another effect of alcohol on the immature brain is, that white matter in the brain is lost more quickly in teens that drink as opposed to those who don’t. White matter in the brain assists in the speed of nerve signals and connects to the brains gray matter. Not only is white matter effected but, Vivian Faden a scientist at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that, “alcohol also can hurt a portion of gray matter in a region known as the prefrontal cortex. This area is used for attention, concentration, self-control and making decisions.”

There is no published research that is being done that has the true longterm effects of alcohol’s long term effect on the human brain but there is a lot being done on how it currently effects the adolescent brain or animals brain. As I stated above regarding the hippocampus, it would be interesting to see a longterm study being done on how the human brain is impacted over time by drinking prior to the brains maturation.

Does a Positive Attitude Help Patients Recover From Cancer?

Within the past hour or so, I received a text message from my grandmother regarding the progress of my grandfather’s cancer. She shared the news that his cancer therapy worked and there was no evidence of malignancy on his cytology report. Obviously this is extremely great news and my whole family is thrilled, but something I recalled during the period of his diagnosis and treatment, was that both my grandfather and grandmother kept their spirits high and their attitudes positive. Not once did they feel bad for their current situation or even consider the possibility of the cancer progressing even further. This lead me to think about the idea that keeping a positive attitude could potentially help cancer patients, and increase the possibility of remission. So does a positive attitude help patients recover from cancer?

Survival from cancer is commonly thought to be influenced by a positive attitude as well as psychological coping skills and methods. Although there are a fair amount of individuals that debate the idea of positivity influencing cancer survival. There are numerous studies that are currently being done, as well as ones that have already been performed. In one study, 578 female early- stage breast cancer patients had their psychological response measured as well as their anxiety and depression levels. They were followed up with for 5 years following the initial study. After 5 years, there were women 395 that were without relapse, 133 that had passed and 50 that were undergoing a relapse. The study goes to say that, “there was a significantly increased risk of relapse or death at 5 years in women with high scores on the helplessness and hopelessness category of the MAC scale compared with those with a low score in this category.” The conclusion of this study is that had a high level of helplessness/hopelessness had a moderate effect while those with depression had a significantly reduced chance of survival.

The weaknesses of this study is that this is a fairly small number of patients to study, and does not account for the millions of people with breast cancer. Also the measurement of psychological response using the CEC (Courtauld Emotional Control)  and MAC (mental adjustment to cancer) scale may not be completely accurate measurements of mood. The MAC scale is a “brief 40-item questionnaire was developed to assess patients’ reactions to having cancer in five dimensions: fighting spirit, helplessness or hopelessness, anxious preoccupation, fatalism, and avoidance (the latter two being previously labelled as stoic acceptance and denial)”. The CEC scale, “assesses the extent to which patients suppress negative emotions; a focal variable of the suggested type C cancer-prone personality. The questionnaire assesses the tendency to respond to feelings of anxiety, sadness, and anger by suppressing or controlling reactions when these emotions are experienced.” These measurements could be very subjective and dependent on other situations. Also, there are various confounding variables that can possibly come into play with this study. All the patients have lives outside of the hospital and may be influenced by things such as spouses, children, work etc. The study that was done was an observational study that carried out for 5 years.

 

In conclusion, one of the answers to the question, which was found in another study is,  “although no studies have equated a positive attitude to a better prognosis, social support mechanisms seem to increase survival rates from cancer.” This essentially means that no study could 100% prove that a positive attitude correlates directly to a better prognosis, but it can aid in helping along side a positive support network. This was evident in the situation with my grandfather, his social support was outstanding and my grandmother stayed positive, alongside the rest of the family. Regardless of how many studies are analyzed, there is not a specific answer due to the fact that there are too many possible confounding variables as well as the fact that there isn’t a universal way to test a positive attitude.

The Science Behind Physical Attraction

As a student at a big school like Penn State, naturally your going to see a decent amount of students that your attracted too. This is not to say that I or hopefully no one else, specifically walks to class just to look for hunky dudes, but I can’t help but notice them. My question for this blog post came up while I was sitting at dinner with some of my friends and we were all noticing different guys we were attracted to, so what is the science behind physical attraction?

Obviously there are certain factors that go into whether or not you’re attracted to someone, such as physical appearance and personality traits but it goes a lot deeper than that. The first thing you notice about someone is their scent, as I found in an article, you can sense someone’s pheromones. A pheromone is a chemical that is secreted through sweat and other bodily fluids. In another article I found it stated that, “One’s nose can also help identify a genetically compatible mate.” Although there isn’t a specific pheromone that scientists have found that links pheromones to sexual attraction, but there is a high correlation between the scent found in sweat and attraction. An experiment that was performed was one where women were given a sweaty man’s t-shirt to sniff and then proceeded to describe the scent in regard to it’s sexiness, intensity and pleasantness. The experiment concluded that women enjoyed the scent of a man’s t-shirt who’s MHC genes were most different from their own. MHC genes control immunology and when a male and female produce an offspring the couple with most different MHC genes can have a child with a stronger immunity.

Similar to the female’s response in the t-shirt experiment, men can detect when women are fertile, thus making them more attractive. In an experiment conducted at the University of Texas Austin as described in this article, women were instructed to wear a t-shirt for an evening during their peak fertility point during their menstrual cycle, and then wear another t-shirt during their least infertile point. Men detected the “fertile” shirts as pleasing and sexy. The men most likely smelled pheromones thus being more attracted to the t-shirt smell.

Who knew natural musk had so much to do with attraction?

The color females wear can impact if a male is attracted to them more. In various experiments it was proven that red makes women more attractive and sexually desirable to men, although this does not impact women’s attractiveness to other women. On the latter, there is also evidence that women are more attracted to men in red. Red gives the appearance that a man is more powerful.

There is also the concept that during the most fertile point in a women’s menstrual cycle they’re more attracted to a masculine type of man. The idea behind this is that “men who are more masculine would have produced fitter offspring in the ancestral period when reproductive hormones first evolved.”

Who would’ve thought there was so much science behind physical and sexual attraction?

 

What Does Pre Workout Do to Your Body?

I consume pre workout before, well quite obviously, a workout. There are various ingredients in pre workout and differ by brand. The overall goal of pre workout is to enhance performance. I personally take C4 Ripped but am a little skeptical if pre workouts really do the trick. My pre workout that I use, as stated on the website is aimed for energy, weight loss and strength. Pre workout is notorious for the caffeine high and rush that is provided 20-30 minutes after taking it. Many people are unaware of what every ingredient in pre workout does. But the overall question here is how does it really work and what is it doing to your body?

One of the main ingredients in pre workout, and one that is consistent across the board amongst brands (unless otherwise stated) is caffeine. As said in this article, “caffeine has been shown to exert positive effects for both endurance and strength related activity”. Caffeine is a popular ingredient in all pre workouts for this very reason, that it helps endurance and has also  been said to also have weight loss properties. Caffeine, as most people know affects the central nervous system and increases alertness and focus. This is crucial when getting a good workout in and being able to focus on the task at hand (lifting) as opposed to other things.

There are some negativities to taking pre workout. One negativity is that users don’t realize how potent pre workout is and may use too much due to it being in a powdered form. In an article that discussed the FDAs concerns about pre workout,  it stated that the FDA said, “The difference between a safe amount and a toxic dose of caffeine in these pure powdered products is very small. Furthermore, safe quantities of these products can be nearly impossible to measure accurately with common kitchen measuring tools. Volume measures, such as teaspoons, are not precise enough to calculate how many milligrams of caffeine are in the serving size.” Regarding that, there may be a significant hard to the body if someone ingests too much pre workout. Below is a label found on the pre workout I use that I found. There are a lot of precautions and it directly states “do not use this product within 6 hours of ingesting any other source of caffeine or other stimulants.” My belief is that many people ignore that statement and will have coffee or caffeine in the morning along with this during a workout. There are a lot of precautions that should be taken but most likely aren’t being taken.  Caffeine is only one of the ingredients listed, one other main ingredient commonly found is creatine. I opt for a creatine-free pre workout but many people trying to gain mass use creatine. The goal of creatine is boasting muscle strength and power. Chad Kerksick stated in a Men’s Health article that, “because creatine is an “osmotically active substance,” it pulls water into your muscle cells, which increases protein synthesis”. So in essence creatine creates water build up and fills the muscles up with water, which can cause weight gain.

Another common ingredient is beta alanine, which is intended to delay fatigue of the muscles. Beta alanine from what I found here, in essence allows you to work harder and longer. In an article I found it stated when combined with creatine, “blood levels will be increased at a time when blood flow is increased and redistributed to active muscles, and thus should promote greater overall delivery of the substances to muscle.” So creatine and beta alanine when combined increases muscle strength and can keep you working harder and faster.

Although there are negatives that can come from taking pre-workout, when used in increments (ex. 2 weeks on 1 week off), pre workout can be very beneficial, but if used inappropriately the body will either become adapt to the effects or have other negative effects.

 

Can Cracking Your Neck Be Detrimental?

I have been cracking my neck for years, numerous times a day. At some times while cracking my neck I feel relief while other times I feel pain. I also notice the need to crack my neck coincides with how I’m feeling and if I’m sick I feel the need to crack my neck more. Over the years I have seen horrified faces upon cracking my neck among the various worried comments. At one point during my freshman year of high school, my friends older sister, who is a massage therapist told me my spine will slowly misalign. As a stubborn 15 year old I didn’t buy it so here I am 4 years later still cracking my neck. My neck cracking has not only become a relief for me but also  a terrible habit. So I’m curious as to if cracking your neck is truly detrimental.

Along with my curiosity as to if neck cracking is bad I wonder about how neck cracking occurs. I know what happens in the knuckles but I am unsure of how it works with the neck. To get a better understand in regards to if neck cracking is bad or not I feel I should know how the cracking occurs. In a NY Times article that I found neck cracking is similar to the cracking of fingers. The article interviewed a director of sports medicine and he stated that the joints “boil when stretched”. This means that when someone bends or cracks their neck they stretch out the capsule that surrounds the joint and the pressure of the fluid in the joint decreases. If the fluid of a joint is decreased enough gas is released and voila there’s the sound of the neck cracking. The director of sports medicine also stated that usually the cracking of joints isn’t harmful but overtime irritation can occur within the cartilage and soft tissue.

One of the questions that also occurred to me is that there is that if cracking your neck is so bad, then why are there 18-38 million cervical spine manipulations performed yearly by chiropractors as stated in a research article. Although later in the research article, it discussed that manipulation of the spine can be related to possible worsening of the cervical spine and also possible herniated discs. Although similar to what we learned in class, there are possible third variables that could account for the negative impact on the neck.

Along with the direct physical complications that can occur with neck cracking such as tissue and cartilage irritation, there is an idea that neck cracking can raise the risk for a stroke. Although in a systematic review that assessed the risk of stroke and neck cracking, It concluded that there is a lack of conclusive evidence to prove that cracking your neck is directly correlated to the increase but the idea is not being eliminated.

Overall, I can conclude, with the help of the Huffington Post, that amateur neck cracking can pose problems, but if done by a professional the risk is very low. Although orthopedic surgeons would beg to differ. There is a lot of different opinions in regard to neck cracking. But the risk of getting a serious injury, a stroke, and nerve damage is extremely rare. But I am curious as to if research will progress in the future and conclude that longterm damage could occur.

Alcohol Can Disrupt a Good Nights Sleep

In my high school AP psychology class we discussed sleep and how alcohol affects REM sleep. Now that I’m in college, especially during syllabus week, I commonly hear people say how they feel like they didn’t get enough sleep, or good sleep, or more commonly, any sleep. Many people frequently feel groggy the next morning and all out of sorts. All these complaints I hear while in class led me to think back to my AP psych discussion on alcohol and sleep. The reasoning behind those complaints could be the affect of alcohol on the body and it’s disruption with sleep.

A lot of times many people don’t stop drinking until shortly before they anticipate going to sleep, or at least attempting to go to sleep. In doing so, many people have alcohol remain in their bloodstream for longer hours then those that they are awake. A lot of times people can’t calculate exactly how much they drank in regards to how long it will stay in their system. The amount of time it takes for alcohol to leave the bloodstream depends upon various factors stated by an article I read. The article said that the length of time alcohol stays in your system is dependent upon sex, weight, height, body type amongst other factors, such as alcohol tolerance. But the article made it a point to say that everyone’s body metabolizes alcohol at essentially the same rate of 1 oz. an hour.

Here’s a hypothetical situation, you’re at a typical Penn State frat party and it’s 12:30 am, you just finished a beer and plan to head home. Prior to that you drank 4 beers throughout the duration of the night. You get back and lay in bed by 1:10am. The issue here is that all this alcohol is remaining in your system regardless of it being a slightly early night.

Now you’re probably asking how does this all tie into good sleep in regards to the REM cycle…

In a publication I read it stated that alcohol affects “sleep, daytime alertness, and certain physiological processes that occur during sleep.” All three of those effects are not conducive to being attentive at a Monday morning 8am lecture, or any day of the week for that matter.

A Time article I read discussed an experiment that showed slower sleep waves occurred in participants that drank prior to sleeping. Slower sleep waves are good for you as they allow the body to replenish the brain and make memories last. These slower sleep waves are good for the body, but the Time article also said that the participants had alpha wave patterns heightened. Heightened alpha wave patterns is something that doesn’t occur in normal sleep. I decided to explore more as to what alpha wave patterns are, and I found out that the alpha wave patterns occur in a wakeful state. A description on alpha waves said that these waves almost never occur when someone is in deep sleep or angry.

Basically what is occurring is that your mind is more active while you’re sleeping when alcohol is in your system, meaning no deep sleep. Thinking back to that hypothetical situation I proposed, you attempt to sleep and may fall asleep but the alcohol is not metabolized completely. Due to the alcohol in your system your alpha waves are heightened. Moral of the story is that if you go to sleep with alcohol in your system your sleep will be incomplete and disrupted.

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Is the Use of Marijuana Effective in Treating Crohn’s Disease?

At the age of 5, I recall my older brother, then 9, being in debilitating and crippling pain. My brother was unable to walk, eat, and essentially be a 9-year-old boy. He was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, although he is in remission now, Crohn’s is still part of his life. I recently came across an article that a friend of mine from Illinois shared on Facebook. The article discussed that Illinois was approving the use marijuana to relieve symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), amongst other things. Although Crohn’s and IBS are different, Crohn’s is a disease, whereas IBS is a syndrome, they both can wreak havoc on the digestive system. Because of the article my friend shared I was curious as to if the use of marijuana is effective in patients with Crohn’s disease, in my case I am more curious if it can help patients that are already in remission.

My brother currently takes three medications at three different times per day. I wondered if all of these could be eliminated if the use of marijuana could relieve and help Crohn’s symptoms. As any young adult in this technologically savvy world would do, I explored the Internet to find an answer to my questions. The first thing I came across was a clinical trial, although it explicitly targeted the use of marijuana in people with IBS, the trial occurred due to the fact that marijuana was more commonly used in patients with Crohn’s! The trial noted that 11 states (as of 2012) use marijuana to be used for Crohn’s disease.

My curiosity began to peak as I tried to consider what the use of marijuana would look like in patients with Crohn’s. Although not usually my go to source, CNN provided an article that deduced the use of marijuana specifically in people with Crohn’s disease, could assist with weight gain, ease pain and limit diarrhea.

The more articles I read the more I realized that the idea of using marijuana with Crohn’s disease is for patients that are not in remission. Marijuana could aid in the unpleasant symptoms that occur with the beginning stages of Crohn’s. Although, I found a clinical study that said the use of marijuana could lead to surgery in the future for patients with Crohn’s. But other studies have stated the use of marijuana could eliminate the need for surgery in the future. As of right now it appears that more research needs to be done to analyze the long-term effects of marijuana use in patients with Crohn’s.

To answer my question, for those that are in remission from Crohn’s it may not assist and I considered that it could even put regress those in remission.

Initial Blog Post

HI! My name is Sarah I’m from Flemington, New Jersey. Just to give a little fun fact about my town, recently there was a man that owned a deli and he created a lot of uproar for a “White History Month” sign and he ended up on verious news sources.

I am a first year student, but I’ve bled blue and white since birth. Both my parents are Penn State Alums and more recently, my brother graduated from PSU in May.

I am doing this course because I do not need to take any content rigourous intensive science courses such as chem but I enjoy to challenge myself, my mind, and my thoughts. I was innitially signed up for a different science course but then read up on it and realized it would not be a good fit for me. I then saw that SC200 was open and decided it would be a perfect option for me to take due to the critical thinking aspect of the course and the fact that the course strayed away from the typical courses.

I am not planning on being a science major due to the fact that I am not a science-y person. Not to say I am a bad science student but just regarding what I prefer, I would rather not do labs or calculate equations. My major is rehabillatation and human services and I intend to go into addictions and mental health, that being said-I am a very hands on and emotional oriented person.

I’m also a huge fan of puns and corny jokes so here’s something science related.