Daily Archives: October 9, 2016

Does Sleep Affect Weight Gain?

Upon entering college, it’s been hard for me to get my usual 8 hours of sleep. Between studying, sorority meetings, and going out with friends I find that many times sleep falls at the bottom of my priority list. Because of my new habit of staying up late, I find that I tend to eat more since I’m awake for more hours of the day. This hunger then leads me to making some popcorn, eating some ice-cream, or even going as far as ordering Gumby’s famous pokey sticks with my roommate late at night. I’ve started to consider the idea that lack of sleep really does affect your weight gain because of it’s impact on our hunger and decided to look into it further.

Image result for sleep deprivation memes

Image found here.

It is commonly said that a lack of sleep causes weight gain; but why? I found out that insufficient sleep affects our hunger and 2 hormones in our bodies called, ghrelin and leptin that affect our “fullness” sensation. The first hormone, ghrelin is responsible for releasing signals in our brains that says “it’s time to eat”. Insufficient sleep causes the body to produce more ghrelin. The second hormone, leptin is responsible for telling your brain when to stop eating. When you are sleep deprived the body produces less of this hormone and thus, you tend to eat more. Another hormone that is impacted from little sleep is the stress hormone, cortisol. The levels of this hormone spike which tells your body to conserve energy since you are awake for a longer amount of time. This then leads to your body holding on to more fat, causing weight gain (Web MD).

There have been many studies performed that help prove this hypothesis. One was conducted by the Nurses’ Health Study where researchers followed 60,000 women for 16 years recording different aspects of their lifestyles such as weight, sleep habits, and diet. It is important to know that at the beginning of the study, all women involved were healthy with no weight issues. At the end of the study, 16 years later, it was found that women who slept under 5 hours per night had a 15 percent higher risk of becoming obese in contrast with those who slept more than 7 hours per night. Results also showed that women who had insufficient sleep were at a 30 percent higher risk of gaining 30 pounds over the course of the study than those who slept 7 or more hours (Harvard School of Public Health).

Image result for lack of sleep memes

Image found here.

After many tests and studies, scientists and researchers conclude to reject the null hypothesis that lack of sleep has no negative effects on our health and/ or weight gain. There are several potential mechanisms behind this, one being that insufficient sleep directly causes over eating/ weight gain through the over/ under production of certain hormones in our bodies that control our hunger. Another regarding a third z variable that because people are awake for longer periods of time during the day, they eat more, which then causes weight gain. Another potential possibility could be that perhaps short sleepers are too tired to exercise or perform any physical activity and thus, end up sitting around or laying down more frequently causing weight gain. Further possibilities such as reverse causation, meaning that weight gain/ obesity causes a lack of sleep, are unlikely as I have not found any research that could provide possible causes for that. As always, chance is a possibility and it could be a coincidence that people who get a short amount of sleep tend to gain more weight than those who get 7+ hours.

After researching this topic I decided I should start prioritizing my sleep more if I want to avoid the “freshmen 15”. While I have yet to show any significant weight gain since my late night habits, it is reasonable to conclude that getting insufficient sleep long term can have some negative side effects such as weight gain. Although chance is still a possibility in terms of weight gain, it is still a good idea to get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. With that being said, sweet dreams!

Do mosquitoes prefer to take a specific type of blood?


I think you may hear of that someone says “people who are blood group A are mosquitoes’ magnets”, or someone mention that O type of blood always attract mosquitoes. Many of my friends have complained that their own blood types are mosquitoes’ favorite, but they have different types of blood,including A, B, O and AB (covering all types of blood). Certainly, some people are badly bitten by the mosquitoes especially in the summer. Is it because there is a specific type of blood attracting mosquitoes mostly?


In order to find the correlation or relationship between mosquitoes and blood types, some scientists did the experiment which had been published in “Nature “in 1972. The experimenters chose pairs of subjects who contrasted in ABO blood group statues to see whether physiological factors could affect the selection of human hosts for feeding by mosquito.%e5%b1%8f%e5%b9%95%e5%bf%ab%e7%85%a7-2016-10-09-21-28-59 To be specific, 102 subjects put their arms into a box which contained 20 female mosquitoes during the ten minutes’ testing time. Analysis of the blood group data reveals that the mosquitoes preferentially selected hosts of blood group O. However, the basis of this result is not obvious, although they took more than 100 times experiments (repeated experiments). Additionally, this experiment was done in the seventies of last century, the period that people had still explored mosquitoes. So this conclusion is not very convincing.


Before I try to explain the reason that mosquito like some certain types of blood, I’d like to find out that what in our body attract mosquitoes, like the heat we release, chemical components of our sweat, or something else.


Actually among these factors, CO2 (carbon dioxide) is the main clue for mosquito to find you. The airflow of CO2 can largely help mosquito to find direction and lock target. In field experiment, mosquito trap containing CO2 can trap more than 8 to 45 times of numbers of mosquitoes than mosquito trap without containing CO2. Although different types of mosquitoes may have a little difference, they usually depend on CO2 to find targets. Cooperating with 1-octen-3-ol and lactic acid (a component of human sweat), mosquitoes are easier to find targets. DEET, (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) the world’s most widely used topical_5920080 insect repellent, with broad effectiveness against most insects, strongly inhibits the co-receptor of mosquitoes so that DEET can work well.


So a man dripping with sweat are mosquitoes favorite because their sweat and CO2 releasing by gasping for breath have fatal attraction for mosquitoes. Also, people with faster metabolism rate easily attract mosquitoes.


Now let’s go back to the experiment I mention above. The leader of the experiment in 1972 is Corinne Shear Wood, a pioneering medical anthropologist. She did other experiments to improve the existed experiment and eliminate confounding variables, just like the experiment we saw in the SC200 class which repeating and modifying to get real conclusion. In the experiment, she segmented the landing and blood meal of mosquitoes; on close examination, she also chose the test sample with different skin pigmentation, age, sex, skin temperature, degrees of subcutaneous fat and relative nutritional status. But none of these factors could be demonstrated to be acting as host determinants. In “New Evidence for a Late Introduction of Malaria into the New World”, she points out that the result of investigation suggest that a factor which has definite attraction or repulsion value to the mosquito is related, to statistically significant degree, to the subject’s ABO blood-group status. In conclusion, it reveals that the hosts with blood-group O are often chosen by mosquito. And blood-group O has more dominant attraction than blood group A and B.


After 20 years, in 2004 Japanese scientist Yoshikazu Shirai had started to study this question again. He did three different studies that are landing preference among ABO blood groups, among secretors or nonsecretors, and among ABH antigens. He got the result that despite differences in the methods used in these studies, the landing preferences are the same; that is, O > B > AB > A. It seems that we have already gotten correct answer. But, actually, not. His experiment has different result with Wood’s. In his result, although O has much attraction than A, O doesn’t have more obvious attraction than B and AB. In addition, according to his report, Shirai said “ even the landing tests on ABH antigens do not provide an explanation for the landing preference among ABO blood groups, and there may be other unknown influences underlying the differences of ABO landing preference. In fact, ABH antigens are thought to exist on human skin in low concentrations, and we suppose that mosquitoes cannot perceive them.”


In a short, he thought that his report could not prove that blood group affect mosquito feeding habits because of the lack of clear preference among human blood groups exhibited in his study.


To sum up, currently our studies about blood groups and mosquito feeding habits are superficial. It is probably because we don’t have large sample size, or we cannot control many confounding variables. So now we don’t have exactly causal relation between blood group and mosquito feeding habits.









Does Deodorant Cause Cancer?

Now a days we all know someone who has gone through and survived or lost their battle with cancer. Cancer is caused by an out of control cell growth, but unfortunately that is not the only thing that will cause cancer. Some other things that cause cancer are smoking, infections, and even lack of exercise. However, now there is concern that some deodorants cause breast cancer. The reason why is because the certain substances can be absorbed into the skin or through nicks in your skin from shaving. In fact most antiperspirants are linked to breast cancer because deodorant is applied there frequently. Surprisingly scientists have not found concrete evidence that deodorants cause cancer.


Some scientists believe that from the aluminum based compounds in deodorants that are left on the skin cause hormonal effects. Estrogen can promote the growth of cancer cells, which is why if an accelerated rate of estrogen develops, then you are more likely to get breast cancer. Another thing that researchers have focused on are parabens. According to the article parabens are found in deodorants and antiperspirants that act like estrogen in the body’s cells. Even though these things are found in food, the FDA has said that deodorants do not contain parabens as well. However, the author of the study of the parabens did not study healthy breast tissue or breast tissue that has cancer.



There are many other factors that contribute to the cause of cancer. Smoking, gene mutations, family histories, and sunburns can cause cancer as well. Something like family history, which could act like a third variable, could also play a factor in getting breast cancer besides deodorants. Age also is a big factor because it takes years for cancer to develop. Gene mutation can be something you are born with or something that you get later in life from what you are exposed to. There are cells in genes that recognize when a mistake had been made so they can repair that mistake. Nevertheless, a mistake can be missed that causes cancer. This means that it does not have to be deodorant that causes cancer, it can be due to many other factors.


According to the American Cancer Society, there is no connection between breast cancer and deodorants. When it comes to applying deodorant after shaving, the only thing that might happen is infection, but more likely irritation. When it comes to the parabens, the American Cancer Society says that deodorants and antiperspirants do not contain them and if they did, paraben would be clearly stated on the label. But this does not mean that cancer is not still a threat to society. Having awareness towards this issue is the best defense we have against cancer. Knowing the signs and symptoms are the best way to know so you can catch it early. Keeping that in mind, hopefully after reading this blog post, you do not have to worry about your deodorant giving you cancer.


Cancer picture found here.

Types of Cancer and Ribbons picture found here.

Pink Ribbon found here.


Growing up I was always told to “eat my fruits and vegetables”, I never thought anything of it and just did as I was told. As I got older and began to care about my health and eating correctly I wondered if there were any negative aspects of eating too much fruit or vegetables. They are definitely not bad for you, but could a larger serving end up being worst than unhealthy foods?

After researching this topic online I found a few different responses and how it affects the bodies health. One research study found in this article  says that fruit does have lots of sugar but it is not bad sugars. It will not necessarily make you gain weight and it is very good in multiple ways for the body. The nutrition in fruit can be beneficial to blood pressure, insulin, and lipid levels. Besides the higher sugar levels, fruit has many anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Here is a website I found that contains all the fruits, which are most beneficial, what vitamins we can get out of them, and how is the best way to eat them to get the most nutrition out of it.  Eating dry fruit daily is good for the body to get the vitamins it needs, it contains iron, calcium, zinc, selenium, and manganese. Combining dry fruits with regular fruit is also another way to get vitamins and absorb the iron inside the stomach.

Vegetables are by far one of the best foods for a persons health. They are extremely low in calories, but packed with vitamins. Along with fruits, vegetables also have many antioxidants, which are immunity building chemical compounds that fight off stress and diseases. They provide fibers that open up passages in the body helping it avoid problems with clogging such as blood clots. There isn’t really such thing as too many vegetables a day because there are so many nutritional gains from eating them.

It is important to eat fruits and vegetables everyday for the nutritional value of course, but without them it can lead to deficiencies in our bodies, diseases, digestive issues, cardiovascular problems, and weight issues. Avoiding fruits and vegetables can cause us to lack energy, struggle with skin health, and blood clotting problems because the vitamins provided assist with all of this. They are filling foods that are better than anything else to eat and are perfect for a weight loss diet. Eating fruits and vegetables are crucial for the bodies digestive system as they have fiber in them, which is a carbohydrate speeding up the waste in your intestinal system as it passes through your body. Without fiber in our daily diet it can cause blockages inside our bodies slowing down the digestive system after we eat. If you struggle with heart problems it could be due to overeating certain ingredients and under eating important health ingredients. By indulging in fruits and vegetables, it can balance out what you are missing and what you need in your daily diet.

Overall, eating fruits and vegetables as we have all been told to do so since we were little is extremely important for so many health reasons and to keep our bodies on track.






Does Getting a Tattoo Make You More Angry?

Though I do not agree with it, tattoos always seem to get the short end of the stick along with the people who have them. Parents never want their children to get tattoos because they are often scared it will change them, by making them more rebellious. Employers are scared to hire people with tattoos because for some unknown reason they might not be as trustworthy as the other applicant that does not have tattoos. Is there any truth to this at all though? Are people with tattoos really more rebellious or untrustworthy? Or do they just have a bad stereotype and it is all in our minds?


Viren Swami, a professor of psychology at University of Westminster, conducted an experiment in which he sought to find truth, if there was any, in whether people with tattoos are more aggressive than people without tattoos. He surveyed a group of 378 adults from London to get information about their aggression levels and rebellious nature. Out of 378 people, 25.7% of them had a tattoo, so only about a quarter which seems like kind of small sample size. The null hypothesis would be that tattoos do not have any correlation with aggression or rebelliousness, nothing is going on. The alternative hypothesis would be that tattoos do have a part in peoples aggression and rebellion. The results of Swami’s experiment were interesting. Adults with tattoos showed higher levels of reactive aggression and rebellion than those with no tattoos. However, when it came to proactive anger and rebellion, there did not seem to be a huge difference between the groups. So according to this study, those with tattoos may be quicker to react more aggressively in certain situations but not be proactive with their aggression.

So if people with tattoos are more likely to have higher aggression levels, is it the tattoos that are causing that? Or, are people who are more naturally aggressive and rebellious more likely to get tattoos? A third variable might also be responsible such as past life events. Finally, it might just be due to chance. However, I don’t believe that this study had a big enough sample size to conclude any solid information. I’m not sure surveying people always brings out the most honest answers too, but there might not have been a better way to gather the information. This study also didn’t take into account the reasoning behind why people got the tattoos. That could also affect the outcome. I wonder if the size or shape of the tattoo might affect this study. The bigger the tattoo, the more aggressive?

Another similar study was done at the University of Cincinnati by Keith King. King was studying if college students with tattoos were more likely to be involved with risky behaviors, such as drugs, than students without tattoos. Almost 30% of the 988 students that were surveyed had a tattoo. He found that those with tattoos were more likely to be linked with risky behavior. Again, it is possible the risky behavior was causing the tattoos, this study couldn’t say for sure.

Despite all of this information that I just talked about, I don’t think it’s okay to judge anybody on whether they have tattoos or not. People that don’t have tattoos get angry and do drugs too, it’s not a one and done deal. I think tattoos can be very beautiful and usually have incredible stories attached to them. I would need to see several other studies saying the same thing to believe this. I don’t think these studies should discourage employers from giving jobs to people with tattoos. Everyone is different and it’s important that we get to know one another on the inside, not just the outside.


Study #1: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S174014451500100X 

Study #2: www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0362331913001353 

Picture: www.tattoo.com/photo

Can Wearing a Bra Cause Breast Cancer?


from here

from here

Like most of you ladies, I wear a bra every day, for every occasion. T-shirt bra, sports bra, trainer bra- we’ve worn them all! As a woman, breast health is extremely important, and nearly all of us have been affected by breast cancer in some way. In my situation, my grandmother has had breast cancer twice, and my Aunts have had breast tumors removed.

I wrote my last blog about how our deodorant could possibly be causing breast cancer, and while that could potentially be a real threat to our breasts, I am confident that we can rest assured knowing that if anything, we are safe from our bras.

Although nearly every American women wears a bra and is fine, there are always rumors of a correlation between breast cancer and wearing a bra. Even though this rumor is ever popular on the internet, exemplified by All Women’s Health, there is absolutely no proof that there is a correlation between wearing a bra and breast cancer. When it comes to breast cancer and our bras,  according to  Breast Cancer.org  it is theorized that bras with underwire (the average bra) blocks the drainage of lymph fluids from the breasts, trapping the fluids in the breast. Theoretically, this blockage leads to the development of breast cancer.


from here

Bra Wearing Not Associated with Breast Cancer Risk: A Population-Based Case–Control Stud is the only study conducted on this topic because of the conclusiveness of the study. According to the study, there is barely any credible scientific studies besides this one. The goal of the study was to analyze the relationship between cancer risk and wearing a bra. The null hypothesis was that wearing a bra does not cause breast cancer, and the alternative hypothesis is that wearing a bra does cause cancer.

The participants of the study were questioned on nearly every aspects of their bra-wearing habits, including size, brand, frequency of use, material, how many hours a day the bra was worn, if the bra had underwire, etc. With an impressively large p-value, the scientists failed to reject the null hypothesis. Thankfully for us, this experiment concluded that it was extremely unlikely that wearing a bra was linked to breast cancer. It was realized that there was only a minuscule difference between the breast health of women that wore bras, and women that did not wear bras.

So good news- we can keep wearing our bras. And even better news- this study escaped the file drawer!

from here

from here

In class, Andrew has been bringing up what we call “the file drawer problem”. The file drawer problem is a type of publication bias, and has impacted the scientific community negatively. The file drawer problem is an issue in the sense that it embodies the concept of selective publication. Robert Rosenthal coined the term in 1979, and it is used to describe a situation where scientists will not publish their papers if they find negative, or “boring” results. Not every experiment will be able to reject the null hypothesis, but it is extremely important that experiments that don’t make waves still be published. For example, we now know that wearing our bras is fine, but, if this study had never been published, then this health rumor would still just be a rumor, and would not be able to be proven false with the hard evidence provided in this study. The file drawer problem is a real issue in the scientific community because it is ultimately just a loss of information that could be referenced to or used in in other various observations. Just because we get a result we don’t like doesn’t mean that that result isn’t important!

from here

from here


How Close are Dogs to Us?

Dogs are man’s best friend. There is no denying that because, whether you like dogs or not, our species have been working and living together for tens of thousands of years. Genome sequencing of modern dogs tells us they diverged from their cousins, the wolves, about 27000-40000 years ago, which means it’s possible humans were influencing lupine evolution even back then. From hunting accessories to pets to cuddle with, dog and man have been inseparable since we came together millennia ago. But they are not just in an occasional mutual relationship with us, as a recent study discovered, it might be in their genes to be close to us.


The research team, from Linköping University, in Sweden, conducted an experiment with beagles to find out how willing they would be to seek human assistance when presented with a challenge they could not solve. The researchers put the dogs in controlled environments with a human they had never seen before; they were then presented with three sliding doors with treats behind them, one of which was fixed and could not be moved by any means available to them. The most common reaction was for the dogs, after trying in vain to open the fixed door, to turn to the human for help. After the experiment, the dogs were scored based on their likeliness to seek human assistance and the few with the top and bottom scores had their genomes analysed. After compiling the results, the researchers came to the conclusion that five specific genes were likely linked to the observed behaviour – four of which are known to be associated with autism in humans. It is unclear if they can have the same effect on dogs as of yet.

While about 70% of the behaviour in dogs has to do with experience and psychology rather than genes, this may be the sign of a mutualistic relationship far deeper than previously known. A specialist in canine genetics from Cambridge University said that while this does shed some light on the depth of human-dog relationships, the experiment conducted investigated only a specific factor in how dogs perceive men, and that the full picture likely involves many more genes acting in their genomes to make them attracted to humans. This is only the tip of the iceberg on the subject, which may go deeper than expected. The Swedish researchers are now planning on doing similar tests on different breeds of dog to find if this is as widespread as assumed. It’s hard to say how far the rabbit hole will go, but one thing is for sure: our relationship with dogs is even more unique than it has ever known to be.

Studying in Groups vs Studying Alone. What Do You Prefer?

When it comes to studying for a major exam, I prefer to study by myself in fear that if I studied in a group setting I would become distracted and branch off into a conversation that would not be related too the material on the exam. While this is my preferred way of studying, many of my friends express the effectiveness of studying in a group setting and how it expands their understanding of the information because you can discuss the information with classmates.

Pro’s for Studying in Groups: A problem that many students face is procrastination. Living away from home and being in college, you have so much time on your hands and it is up to you on what you do with it. I know many students have procrastinated until the last minute before an exam and being in a study group just might be the answer to your solution. Studying in a group requires responsibility and you have to meet up at a specific time to study for a specific amount of hours.  Also, while working with other students and studying the same material gives you the opportunity to ask questions if you become confused on a certain segment of the textbook. You can also learn from others and pick up your peers study techniques that work for them.

Group Study

Pro’s for Studying Alone: A problem that many students face when it comes to study groups is distraction. Meeting up with your friends to study can quickly go from studying Economics and trying to understand the Law of  Demand, to a discussion about fantasy football rankings. Studying solo allows you to minimize distractions around you. You can focus on the information that you need more practice on, instead of reviewing material you might already know but have to clarify for a friend who doesn’t. Lastly, you can go at your own pace and take breaks when you desire.

Solo Study

Both study styles have advantageous and disadvantages and each individual student has their own way of studying that works to their advantage. If you study in a group it is important to find the right group members that can challenge you and further your knowledge of the material. If you are studying alone, staying on task and not procrastinating is the most important tip to keep in mind.

One way of determining which study style is most effective is running an observational study with a response variable.  How you could do this would be to take a group of students in the same class, with the same knowledge of the material and give them the same study guide and then split them up into two groups; students that study alone vs students that study in groups. Give each group the same amount of time to study for an exam and compare the average grade of the two groups after they take the exam.





Wrestling: Is There a Science to Cutting Weight?

Anyone who has any familiarity with wrestling knows two things. Wrestlers are hard workers and they’re known to cut weight. I wrestled at the weight class 126 for my first three years in high school and my senior year I wrestled at 132. My freshman year I never had to cut weight and my sophomore year it was about four to five pounds every week. This is very minimal. The big jump was my junior year, where I started out weighing about 150 and had to descend to 126. I knew nothing about cutting weight and I Yo-yo’d every week . “Yo-yoing” means making your weight and then you eat/drink so much your weight shoots up to it’s natural weight. I was miserable and didn’t know how to get the weight down in a healthy way so I could compete at my best.

Over the off season between my junior and senior year in high school I began experimenting  I had gained quite a bit of weight (155) and began to worry. I decided I was going to wrestle 132, so I was a little relieved I didn’t have more to cut than what I was doing previously. Throughout the summer I learned a lot about what foods to eat and not eat and broke it down to a science. Six small meals a day with 34 ounces of water daily. Here’s a sample day for meals. 1)  Low fat  oz Muscle Milk and half an apple 2) Cliff bar 3) half a ham sandwich on whole wheat bread, 7 almonds, 8 oz water 4) Low fat 8 oz Muscle Milk 5) Half an apple, 7 almonds, 8 oz water 6) Small salad, 6 oz chicken breast, 17 oz water. This doesn’t seem like much, but with discipline it makes a difference. I went from not eating two days before a meet to having a full meal the night before weigh ins. The following article is part of one of many websites that taught me how to cut weight healthily

I’ve looked for a study specific to this topic ,however I couldn’t find something close to it. I believe it could be easily conducted. It would be an experimental study, because you’re manipulating the independent variable, which would be the method of cutting weight.  The dependent variable would be performance on the mat. The data could be recorded simply win and loss or by how many points scored, pins, etc. The control group would be wrestling who do not have to cut weight. There would be two experimental groups. The first would be wrestlers who cut weight by yo-yoing and eating responsibly and the second would be wrestlers restricted to a diet of six small,healthy meals a day. I believe that the wrestlers put on a restricted diet would have the best results.

This topic may seem foreign to many people, however to wrestlers it’s very important. Cutting weight the wrong way may have impacts on other things on a day to day basis such as sleep, grades, and interaction with family and friends. I hope there are a few of you who can relate to this and those completely new I’d like to read feedback.



Picture Source-




Many people have been drinking diet sodas for a number of years now its nothing new. It is known to be much better for you in the weight loss aspect, but overall is it good for a person to drink?


Here you can see that it has zero grams of fat, zero carbs, and zero calories, so of course many people who enjoy drinking soda will go right for this because it has just about the same taste without the excessive amount of fat, carbs, and calories. It also says in all caps: “LOW SODIUM” which, is a great advertisement to get those who can’t have much sodium to drink this diet soda. Diet soda is often recommended to people with diseases such as diabetes, or weight problems because it will not negatively affect them with mass amounts of sugar. It also can be beneficial for our dental hygiene because large amounts of sugar can damage our teeth.

On the other side, diet soda can be horribly bad for you. The ingredients may not include real sugar, but there are artificial sweeteners that are much worst in the long run vs. real sugar. One of the main artificial sweeteners used is called Aspartame, which is commonly thought as the ingredient that “causes cancer”. As we learned in class about the topic of correlation vs. causation, this definitely is a topic people often wonder whether aspartame and cancer correlates or if it directly causes it. It has yet to be definitely proven that it causes cancer, but there are links that tie the two together. Here is an article I found that describes a little more about aspartame and some trials done with its influence of cancer.  Diet soda may help us consume less calories by drinking it rather than regular soda, but the sweetness can trigger our brain to crave more sugary foods, allowing us to eat excessive calories that we missed from the diet soda.

Many of the artificial sweeteners have been proven to be sweeter than actual sugar, creating the diet soda to taste the same. The most common ones are: aspartame, acesulfame-K, saccharine, sucralose, neotame, and advantame. In this article, It lists these exact artificial sweeteners and how much sweeter they are compared to sugar itself. It discusses studies shown using these sweeteners and their effect on the brain. Specifically, one study done in California, research was done on drinking water with sugar vs. sucralose. The results show that sugar activated areas of the brain that sucralose did not. Based off this study it shows that artificial sweetener may taste extremely similar, but it does not give off the full effect of regular sugar and doesn’t energize the brain as much as sugar. It doesn’t trigger dopamine to be released like eating sugary foods does. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and when it is released it affects our behavior, movement, attention, and overall energy levels. It is important that dopamine is released each day and by eating certain foods that can happen, but diet soda does not do the trick because the sugars are not real or natural in any way.


The Power of Hand-Washing

I’m not writing this blog post to call anyone out, but rather to bring awareness to a topic that I believe a great deal of people undermine.  Since I’ve been here at Penn State and since I’ve been living in close living quarters, I’ve noticed that while people aren’t necessarily unhygienic, they fail to make the simple move to wash their hands in the restroom.  I have seen far too many individuals walk out of the restroom on my floor without even glancing at the sinks.  I remember always being told to wash my hands thoroughly and frequently as a kid, especially in the fall and winter when bacteria seems to be floating around everywhere.  And I don’t think I was the only one that was told this.  As the initial ‘plague’ has just passed through campus, I have found myself being very curious to know what degree hand-washing actually plays in the overall health and wellness of our campus.  Image result for photo of handwashing tumblr

Photo 1 Link

A study was conducted during a fall semester at the University of Colorado at Boulder campus to discover if hand-washing did play an active role in the health of college students.  430 students recruited from four separate residence halls were split into a control group and a product group.  To test their hypothesis, researchers placed hand-sanitizing stations throughout every room, restroom, and dining hall for the product group.  Researchers measured the difference in reported symptoms of the product group, along with illness rates, and days absent from class.

What the researchers wanted to find was that those who didn’t increase their hand-washing habits decreased their likelihood of developing upper respiratory illness and increased their overall wellness and class attendance.  The researchers did, in fact, find that this hypothesis held true but they didn’t realize how significant of a difference there would be between the product groups and control groups.  In the end, the researchers discovered that reductions in upper respiratory illness reduced anywhere from roughly 14% to 40%.  They also found a 20% increase in overall wellness.  Finally, their study discovered that the product group missed classes 43% less of the time.  These statistics aren’t to be ignored; they bring concrete proof that hand hygiene is mandatory in the context of college if a healthy environment is to be maintained.

Image result for handwashing steps

Photo 2 Link

Looking at the visual above, it’s astonishing to think about the number of Americans who say they practice good hand hygiene yet who have also witnessed other individuals leaving restrooms without washing their hands.  To put it simply: who likes to get sick?  I’ve been on the verge of catching whatever has been making it’s way around campus, so washing my hands frequently has been a top priority to hopefully avoid sickness.  Consequently, I haven’t gotten sick yet.  Is this a legitimate correlation?  I believe it is.

So the next time you wash your hands, I dare you to sing “Happy Birthday” out loud.  Think through the way you were taught to wash your hands as a kid, and bring back the trend.  Make the other person in the restroom think to themselves that maybe washing their hands before leaving is a good idea.  It may seem petty or insignificant, but an action as simple as this could prevent the next plague from taking students out all over campus.  When you’re looking at it this way, you’re considering the health of not just yourself, but the health of everyone you come in contact with.

Think bigger, and wash those hands.


Mathur, P. (2011, November). Hand hygiene: Back to the basics of infection control. Indian Journal of Medical Research, 134(5), 611-620. Retrieved October 9, 2016, from US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.


White, C. (2003, October). The effect of hand hygiene on illness rate among students in
university residence halls. American Journal of Infection Control, 31(6), 364-370. Retrieved October
9, 2016.

Does the vegan diet promote more efficient weight loss than any other dietary plan?

Obesity has emerged into a popular problem within our nation which majority of adults and children take part in. To avoid this issue, many people may try to find different ways to stay healthy and/or lose weight such as exercise or a low-fat dietary plan. Interestingly, it seems as if more and more of our population today is switching over to the vegan diet and not necessarily because of their attitude toward animal consumption, but because of its promise of weight loss. But is this actually a more efficient way of weight loss when both vegetarian and low-fat diets are proficient for weight loss also? This topic sparked my interest so I decided to do some more research. Here is what I found:

In 2007, Gabrielle M. Turner-McGrievy, Neal D. Barnard, and Anthony R. Scialli participated in a two year randomized control trial where researchers conducted an experimental trial by finding 62 overweight postmenopausal woman for the study. The subjects were split into two groups, one following the low-fat vegan diet and the other following the low-fat diet structured by the NCEP (National Cholesterol Education Program). Some subjects in each group went to group support as others did not. Also, both diets were not restricted, the subjects were allowed to eat as they pleased. After 14 weeks into the study, the subjects were all encouraged to exercise, but were not forced. The diet was as follows:


In the end, the results showed that the vegan subjects lost more weight than the subjects following the NECP diet at both the one year and two year marking period, with p-values both < 0.05. The NCEP subjects lost a significant amount of weight in the first year, but not as much was weight was lost in the second year. The study also found that group support was correlated with continual weight loss. With this information, one could make the conclusion that a vegan diet is a more efficient way to lose weight compared to a NCEP diet. The mechanism behind these results is that vegan diets actually reduce dietary energy density because it is low in fat and high in fiber content. The vegan diet was therefore more low fat and higher in fiber intake than the NCEP diet. Meaning, these subjects could eat more food than the other group without taking in extra calories.

To make sure this one study wasn’t neither an anecdote nor an outlier or due to chance, I tried to search more studies. But I could not find another study alike this one with sufficient data so there is a possibility that this could be an anecdote.

However, I did find that Winston J Craig also confirms that Vegans tend to be skinner. He talks about health effects of a vegan diet including a contribution to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. He describes how their diet plan comprises of low fat and high fiber intake which would ultimately make their diet more efficient for weight loss compared to a regular low fat diet. But there was no data attached to these findings of his.

In another study where multiple weight loss diets were compared and scaled by numeral values set by the study, the chart of the study’s results show that the vegan diet did not score the highest, in fact, it had the second lowest total score of 32.


A vegan diet seemed like a productive and healthy way to lose weight in the first study but the second study shows otherwise. With this being said, I’m not sure if there are enough studies with a sufficient amount of data that would make me chose a vegan diet over a low fat diet. According to Authority Nutrition, there are concurring problems with vegan dietary studies.  Because I could not find many other vegan diet studies to compare with, I came to the conclusion that there is possibility that studies like these may suffer from the file drawer problem.

If you are someone looking to lose some weight on a diet plan, I wouldn’t let this one study sway you because, although one study supported the vegan diet, the other did not, making it hard to come to a real conclusion. It is important to realize that the vegan diet is not for everyone and that different diets work better for different people, it’s all about finding what works best for you.

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Is Veganism Actually Healthy?

Who knew that a diet could be so trendy? But the vegan lifestyle is taking over the younger, city populations by storm and is surging in popularity. Vegan restaurants and supermarkets are popping up all over United States cities like Los Angeles and New York; however, is this diet actually healthy? Essentially, vegans are vegetarians whom choose to not consume or use any animal products or byproducts. Completely cutting out these products on moral grounds may come at a severe health cost.

vegan_vs_meat_eaterVeganism follows a strict set of regulations in order to cut out any animal products entirely. Basically, that leaves plants and plants only. Our bodies require specific vitamins and minerals to function properly and those vitamins cannot be found in the ground. For example, the body needs the fat soluble vitamins of A and D. According to popular belief, carrots provide the body with ample amounts of Vitamin A. This is not the case. Carrots contain carotene, which is simply a precursor of Vitamin A- not the raw vitamin itself. In order to compensate for the real vitamin that can be found in abundance in meat and egg yolks, a person would have to eat a great deal of carrots. Vitamin D3 and K2 facilitate the absorption of calcium into the bones and are found solely in dairy and meat products.

Usually, a vegan diet involves a high amount of soy consumption. Soy is the most versatile plant and can be used to substitute most dairy products.  Unfortunately, soy contains an extremely high amount of phytoestrogen, which is a chemical that mimics the effects of estrogen in the body.  Consistent high estrogen levels cause the hormonal pH of the body to become unbalanced, which can lead to health defects in the future.

Many studies have been conducted recently to observe the health benefits of veganism. According to Authority Nutrition, there are no studies that have given sufficient evidence that this diet is any more beneficial than other diet options. A randomized control trial was conducted and participants were assigned to follow either an Atkins diet, which consists of low carb and high fat products, or an Ornish diet, which is a type of veganism, over an allocated time period. The results showed that the Atkins dieters lost an average of 10.4 pounds while the Ornish dieters lost only 5.6. The Atkins group also saw sufficient decrease in blood pressure levels and triglycerides in the blood stream. The Ornish group showed little to no changes in these health departments and reported feeling sluggish and fatigued.

Conversely, there are observational studies that advocate for the optimal health decision of going vegan. The Seventh Day Adventists organization reported findings that vegans and vegetarians actually have a lower mortality rate than those who choose to consume animal products. Scientists like M. Thorogood prove this to only be correlational because a study done with over 10, 000 participants showed no difference in mortality of healthy vegetarians and non-vegetarians.

The health benefits associated with veganism may in fact be correlational instead of casual because those who embark on a vegan lifestyle tend to be younger and more health conscious than the average Joe. These third variables may skew the data and cause some of the benefits to be exaggerated. Moral grounds aside, there is no real reason to avoid natural animal products. Humans have been eating meat for hundreds of thousands of years. Our bodies have evolved using this form of nutrients. Veganism is very trendy and up and coming; however, the health benefits are definitely lacking.vegan

Picture Citations:

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Is Pre-Workout a Placebo?

I’m pretty sure everyone who has taken pre-workout asks themselves “Is this doing anything?”.  Pre-workout is a dietary supplement that claims to increase performance in the weight room. I’ve taken it for about two years now and I feel like it doesn’t do jack or shit other than make my body tingle and itch.I believe pre-workout is nothing but a placebo. I’ve asked various people, such as my room mates and team mates who take the supplement, if pre-workout does anything for them and there were many mixed feelings for the supplement. I have a few friends that swear by it and take it religiously and others say that it doesn’t do anything and is a waste of money.

Image result for pre workout

C4 is a very popular brand of pre-workout. Let’s break down its components. The blend contains the following: Vitamin C, Niacin, Folate, Vitamin B12, Beta Alanine, Creatine Nitrate, Arginine AKG, and an “explosive energy blend” of vitamin C, Caffeine, Vitamin B12, and Folate. ( iHerb.com Supplement Facts)  Vitamin C and Vitamin B12 are daily recommended vitamins. Creatine Nitrate is a component in Creatine, which helps muscles retain more water and recover faster. Argenine AKG is a component of amino acids, which helps proteins to build faster. Niacin is used to lower cholesterol. Beta Alanine is a supplement which increases acid in muscle groups, also it is the culprit of the itchy, tingly feeling one feels after taking the supplement. There is very minimal amount of these supplements aside from the large quantities of Beta Alanine and Caffeine in the blend. I feel like there’s so much caffeine in the supplement that the effects that an individual feels are that of a caffeine rush. Honestly I don’t feel it at all. Perhaps this is due to a confounding variable such as how many cups of coffee someone who takes pre- workout consumes in the morning.

An experiment can be constructed in order to see if pre workout is indeed a placebo. I believe a double blind placebo experiment would accurately prove my hypothesis, if conducted enough times.  The control group would take no supplement. The placebo group will be given a sugar drink mix, but would be told its pre workout. Finally the experimental group would take one dose of pre-workout before exercising.  The independent variable would be those who consume pre workout, and the dependent variable would be gym performance. This is just a short summary if the experiment would be conducted, The following scientific journal conducted an observational study of twenty four athletes who took a pre-workout supplement and exercised vigorously for three weeks. However these exercises were strictly running based. The results that performance and times did increase, but i’m still curious as to whether it benefits those who lift weights.

I am still biased to the idea that pre-workout is a placebo. Perhaps a repeated studies conducted on weightlifters would change my mind. The only thing I feel from taking this supplement is being itchy and tingly. I don’t feel any more motivation than that of my own. I’m sure this will raise some controversy and I’d love to hear other ideas about the supplement and my classmates experience with it.

Picture Source- http://www.iherb.com/cellucor-c4-extreme-pre-workout-w-no3-fruit-punch-177-g/41634





Five-second rule

Have you ever experienced that you pick up the food dropping 5-second-rule_0on the floor and keep eating it? Yes, I have. Because I think I pick up them immediately and it seems that food looks good. Also, I’ve heard of “three-second rule”, which also has other names like “five-second rule” or “ten- second rule” — food (or sometimes cutlery) dropped on the ground will not be significantly contaminated with bacteria if it is picked up within three (or five or ten) seconds of being dropped. In my memory, this rule comes from Japan. And before I searching the background of this rule, I believe this rule is real and scientific.

However, in fact, this rule is just created by a girl of the Chicago High School for Agricultural, Jillian Clarke whoScientist Viewing Cell Culture with Inverted Microscope --- Image by © Andrew Brookes/Corbis was the winner of Public Health of the 2004 Ig Nobel Prize. A report of DailyMail pointed out that the researchers of Manchester Metropolitan University tested five food items, which were bread with jam, cooked pasta, ham, a plain biscuit and dried fruit, to see whether the three-second rule could be true. They dropped these food items on the floor and left them for 3, 5, and 10 seconds intervals to see whether the items will sustain bacterial growth in the interval. Both the ham, a salty product, and the sugary bread and jam fared well in the test. After the study, researchers found that the food with a high salt or sugar content were safer to eat after being retrieved, as is less chance of harmful bacteria surviving on such items. Thus, the report think that three-second rule fit the food containing the most sugar and salt.

160909112406_1_900x600Does it mean that three second rule real? From my perspective, No! I think although there is a research show the conclusion, it still has possibility that the study is false positive. Because the research was only done by once, which means there is no repeated experiment. Also, there is no other report or study supporting this conclusion. What’s more, even though the research shows that the condition of food with high salt and sugar doesn’t fit the environment for bacteria to reproduce
, dropped food would be sticked by the bacteria on the floor. So the existed bacteria also harm to human body. Hence, the the transfer of bacteria between floor and food is also very important.

Rutgers researchers also do the research in order to turn out bacteria may transfer to candy that has fallen on the floor no matter how fast you pick it up. “The researchers tested four surfaces — stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet — and four different foods (watermelon,
bread, bread and butter, and gummy candy). They also looked at four different contact times — less than one second, five, 30 and 300 seconds. They used two media — tryptic soy broth or9mamrnxditxhbawbyziybiqzvhtlmgh-bczljryh6m6aagaakaeaaepqpeptone buffer — to grow Enterobacter aerogenes, a nonpathogenic “cousin” of Salmonella naturally occurring in the human digestive system.” After replicating 128 scenarios 20 times each, which means they yielded 2560 measurements (enough repeated experiment!!!) They got the result that watermelon had been contaminated most heavily and gummy candy has been contaminated least heavily. This result demonstrates that moisture is the key factor of transfer of bacteria from surfaces to food appears. Donald Schaffner, professor and extension specialist in food science, said “Bacteria don’t have legs, they move with the moisture, and the wetter the food, the higher the risk of transfer. Also, longer food contact times usually result in the transfer of more bacteria from each surface to food.” In addition, they got an unexpected result that the topography of the surface and food also play an important role in bacterial transfer. The flatter floor makes more bacteria transfer successfully. So although longer contact time results in more bacterial transfer, it also shows other factors, like moisture, topography of the floor and food can affect the contamination of food.

So I think if you want to keep healthy, you’d better not believe three-second rule and five-second rule.








Turn it Down?

On Thursday during our SC-200 lecture, there was a mysterious pulsing noise. About 1/3 of the class could hear the sound, and unfortunately I was not among those students, so I have no idea what they were talking about. After turning the lights on and off and taking guesses about the projector and many other things, Andrew asked us if the sound was high pitched. Why should that matter? I thought. He then said something along the lines of the fact that with age comes the loss of the ability to hear sounds over a certain range of pitches. I decided that I definitely would like to find out more about this.

According to The Biology Stack Exchange, adults experience hearing loss when they begin to lose their hair cells (tiny sound receptors inside of their ears that deliver sounds to the brain). They apparently begin to lose the ability to hear high frequency sounds first before low frequency sounds.

This information intrigued me, and reminded me of how my mother is always nagging my brother to turn his music down. She is concerned about the long term effects his ridiculously-loud headphones are having on his hearing.

screen-shot-2016-10-09-at-12-34-20-pm Image Found Here!

I believe that the use of headphones (especially earbuds) at a volume over a particularly high decibel might have damaging, lasting effects on hearing. I do not believe that there are any confounding variables to blame for this, like genetics or quality of earphones. I think that if a someone regularly listens to dangerously loud music, their hearing will be damaged.

According to the American Osteopathic Association, 20% of teenagers have hearing loss! This number has escalated 30% since a few decades ago and really loud headphones are likely to blame.

Some information found by the MRC Institute of Hearing Research on the Guardian found that while there was not enough direct evidence based on a specific set of data from 2010 to indicate that there is a causal relationship between loud headphone music and hearing damage (loud music was not the only thing they could determine was to blame for hearing loss and there could  have been confounding variables), the Oregon Health and Science University (Info Here) suggests that listening to music at 105dB, a commonly found (and extremely loud!) volume for headphones, can lead to hearing loss in as little as fifteen minutes.

The Guardian refers to a study conducted in the 1960s where women were exposed to loud industrial sounds for much of their lives, and experienced significant damage to their hearing in about a decade. Based on this information, I think loud headphones might result in similar effects.

It was also suggested on The Guardian that people should invest in good quality headphones because cheaper ones might have a less safe way of conveying loud bass sounds to your ears. I did not initially think the quality of headphones should matter.

I’d imagine it is hard to determine the long-term effects of extremely loud headphones because we are really the first generation to use these very noisy little earbuds so regularly. This is similar to the way we learned in class that scientists could not see that cigarettes were causing lung cancer for such a long time. They had to wait decades before the effects would show and they could find correlations. Perhaps it will take a bit more time for scientists to be able to accurately measure and understand how bad loud earphones actually are for us.

In conclusion, I think people should be cautious when using headphones, just in case. Although there might not exactly be concrete evidence that shows the specific effects loud music has on people’s hearing, it is almost common sense that you probably shouldn’t blast your music at maximum volume for hours on end.