Daily Archives: October 10, 2016

No More Five-Second Rule?

The five-second rule has become quite popular as well as an accepted norm in our daily lives. But is it actually true? Do bacteria really take blog-1more than five seconds to be transferred onto our dropped food? Surprisingly, there have been quite a few studies on this phenomena, and they have all mostly come to the conclusion that the five-second rule is not applicable in every scenario.

There is no debate on the fact that the longer the food is left on the ground, the more bacteria is transferred onto it. However, research shows that the rate at which bacteria is transferred is not uniform. The texture of both the foods and the surface that it has fallen on has an important role in determining the amount of bacteria that is being transferred.

A recent study conducted in 2016 itself took samples of different types of foods and surfaces and measured the amount of bacteria transferred over different time intervals. The study was conducted at Rutgers University and involved a data set of 2,560 measurements showing that the study’s conclusion can be trustworthy assuming that the experiment was carried out fairly. Unlike other studies, there were several X-Variables in the experiment. The researchers were manipulating the surface by interchanging between stainless steel, ceramic tile, wood and carpet, the food by interchanging between watermelon, bread, bread and butter, and gummy candy and the time by interchanging contact time from less than a second, five seconds, 30 seconds and 300 seconds. The bacteria used in the experiment were ones that occurred naturally in the human digestive system. The mixture of the variety of the types of surface, food and contact time lead to 128 possibilities. Each one was carried out 20 times. To minimize the effect of third confounding variables, the surfaces were allowed to dry completely before coming in contact with the food. All in all, the well-controlled environment and frequency of the number of times the experiment was conducted show that the researchers conducted a fair study.

The head researcher, Donald Schaffner explained the results of the study and identified a possible mechanism. He concluded that the food was contaminated at different rates and that all the causative variables along with factors like moisture were the reasons behind it. For example, the study showed that wetter foods experienced more contamination in comparison to dryer foods. The study also showed that the foods began being contaminated as soon as the food got in contact with the surface.

In conclusion, while the five-second rule may seem plausible in showing that the longer the food stays in contact with the surface the more contaminated it gets, it tends to ignore the fact that contamination starts as soon as contact is made. So the next time you hear the five-second rule being used make sure to look at the texture of the food and the surface it touches. You may just be satisfying your hunger with bacteria rather than food.

Bibliography:

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Rutgers University. “Researchers debunk ‘five-second rule’: Eating food off the floor isn’t safe: Sometimes bacteria transfer in less than a second.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 September 2016.

Aston University. “Dropped your toast? Five-second food rule exists, new research suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 2014.

Do Jails do their Job of Rehabilitation?

Prisons became into effect right after the American Revolution and has been a pivotal part of America’s society to this day.  One of the main purposes behind prison besides a form of punishment is to give rehabilitation to those who have broken the law so that once they are let back into society, they can abide by the rules and live as an every day American. Recently, America’s incarceration system has received a lot of flak for their extremely high recidivism rate (rearrest of criminals). This makes me wonder, is America really doing its best to rehabilitate inmates?

An article on recidivism from the National Institute of Justice released data showing 68% of prisoners released within three years will return to jail. In five years that number jumps to around 75%. On top of that, the 50% of prisoners that were rearrested, are then arrested again after their first year out.  This is a lot of inmates going in and out of jail which defeats the purpose of incarceration if the jails cannot properly rehabilitate their inmates.

Many prisons have begun to bring in psychiatrist to help deal with the mental aspect of things and create classroom settings to teach prisoners to read, write and further educate themselves. One prison has provided inmates with the chance of getting an education in business. These prisoners then take MBA-level courses such as learning how to write business plans as well as give business pitches. This program goes by the name of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) and has already been extremely successful. They have over 1,000 graduates, and almost all of the inmates find a job within 90 days of being released from prison. On top of that, their recidivism rate is less than 7%.

Enriching programs like PEP is what America’s incarceration system needs. Instead of allowing criminals to sit in jail, we should focus more on their rehabilitation than anything and give prisoners a way to make a beneficial impact in the community legally. Unfortunately a majority of prisons have not incorporated programs such as PEP and recidivism is still a problem that plagues our incarceration system to this day. Response To Intervention (RTI) has paired up with Penn State University’s Justice Center for Research and have been conducting a study on the recidivism problem. The study involves 700 individuals who have had a criminal history. The study will involve conducting interviews that will take place about 20-25 years from the participant first arrested. The goal of this study is to examine the main effects behind recidivism in the community and help lead to the decrease of the recidivism rate. As of now, our incarceration system has shown a lack of effort in regards to rehabilitating their inmates.

Links:

Rehabilitative Effects of Imprisonment

http://www.nij.gov/topics/corrections/recidivism/pages/welcome.aspx

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/11/prison-entrepreneurship-program_n_6654998.html

http://www.nij.gov/topics/corrections/recidivism/pages/welcome.aspx

 

 

 

The Science Behind Motivation

THE SCIENCE BEHIND MOTIVATION

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It’s getting to that time in the school year when the novelty of new classes and new friends is wearing off. We’re all feeling lethargic and low on energy as we’re studying for midterms and writing more papers. We don’t feel motivated anymore—or maybe we never did to begin with. Nevertheless, I think we can all agree that if we were more motivated about school it would be a lot easier to get our work done sooner and more efficiently. So why can’t we? What is the science behind motivation that is holding us back from doing our best?

This came as a surprise to me, but what motivates us is the chemical dopamine.  In 2012, a study was published by two psychology professors at the University of Connecticut that explained their findings on the function of dopamine. According to their findings, dopamine should no longer be considered as a “reward” chemical because dopamine is a much more diverse chemical found at the root of motivation.

According to a study from researchers at a university in Spain, dopamine is a neurotransmitter that, at its core, motivates us to act. It is the most basic chemical that is released to tell us how to react to a situation, either positively or negatively.

Another study published by Michael Treadway and David Zald of Vanderbilt University in 2012 also proved that dopamine is connected with motivation, and went even deeper in their study. Using a PET scan, they scanned the brains of highly motivational people and less motivational people. They found that dopamine was found in the striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex of the brain in the people who were highly motivational and in the anterior insula in the people who were less motivational. This study is significant in the science behind motivation because, as Treadway said, “this study provides new information about how dopamine determines individual differences in the behavior of human reward-seekers.”

So what does all of this mean? It means that scientists have found the mechanism behind motivation: dopamine; and have rejected the null hypotheses that dopamine is only associated with pleasure.

According to this article, lack of motivation, or procrastination, can be attributed to an emotional coping mechanism. When we procrastinate we put ourselves at the present time ahead of ourselves in the future. Most of the time we use avoidance to cope with our emotions, which can quickly turn into procrastination. This can also be attributed to a lack of regulation skills.

So what can we do to be more motivated? According to neurologist Dr. Willis, the best thing to do is rewire our brains and set tangible goals. These goals can be unrelated to school work, such as goals related to physical activity or learning a new hobby. The more we meet these other goals, the more our brains will train to meet every goal we set, including those related to schoolwork.

Related to that, Pychyl said that the most important thing to do is set little goals, as in breaking our work into several parts, so we don’t feel overwhelmed with one big assignment.

Related to that, Thomas W. Malone and Mark R. Lepper have discovered that creating incentives for yourself actually backfires. As hard is this may seem to comprehend, according to the two psychologists, doing the tasks is a reward in itself and the only reward we should need. That seems pretty tough to wrap our minds around, because it is going against our basic human nature. But this also ties in with how dopamine is the mechanism behind motivation. Because it is considered a “reward” chemical, us just being motivated to do something should be enough incentive for us to do it. So the next time you’re writing a paper or studying for a test, remember that your brain has the capabilities to reward itself without an outside incentive.

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Cheating Lessons

Dan Ariely published a book about cheating called The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How we Lie to Everyone- Especially Ourselves. The book describes multiple experiments about cheating and also Ariely’s own experiments where he created scenarios that would prompt people to cheat. Ariely came to the conclusion that “under the right conditions, most people are willing to cheat a little bit”. One would expect all people to be innocent, but under certain situations people may behave out of the ordinary. Those people are concerned more about the end results over the method used to attain that result, even if it means cheating. In some situations it would feel as though the ends justify the means, however cheating is never justifiable.

There are many factors that affect the desire to cheat in a school environment.  These factors include Sex, Age, School, type of course (online or lecture), size of course (classroom or auditorium), etc. However, pinpointing the specific environment that encourages more people to cheat and assigning more proctors to watch students like a hawk during an exam is not the solution. Instead, one should adjust the environment so that people are less tempted to cheat. There are many factors that affect the desire to cheat. This includes: the course itself, the course requirements, the nature of the course, the professor, etc. With the right mix of these factors one could potentially create an environment where students are less willing to cheat on a test than compared to another environment where students are willing to cheat despite the presence of proctors.

A trio of researchers in Britain conducted an experiment called “Princess Alice.” In this experiment, a handful of kids age 5-9 are told to throw a ball at a target while using their non-dominant hand and also have their backs facing the target. Because of how impossible this task is, many kids resorted to cheating in order to get the prize for landing the ball on the target, a small toy. The children are put into 4 categories: those who had adult supervision, those who believed in/unsure Princess Alice’s existence, those who didn’t believe in Princess Alice’s existence, and those who did not have supervision at all. Princess Alice sort of symbolizes the children’s guilty conscience; the idea of a being that is watching their every move made the children unwilling to cheat. What was interesting about the Princess Alice experiment is that the group of children who believed in her existence performed almost the same as the children who were in the presence of an adult. If we could somehow use the Princess Alice concept and apply it to college classrooms, we may be able to reduce cheating. On the other hand this experiment only had 11 subjects which make the results not so reliable.

George M Diekhoff and a group of researchers conducted a survey regarding cheating behaviors in higher education. About 700 students from United States and Japanese Universities were surveyed. The purpose of this survey was to find out which types of students are more likely to cheat. The study shows that 55% of Japanese students admitted to cheating, more than twice the amount of American students. Japanese students are more willing to cheat because more is on the line for them. This is because Japanese students’ grades heavily rely on the final exam with their final grade extremely dependent on the performance of one exam. On the other hand, American students’ grades are based on many things such as multiple exams throughout the year, quizzes, and homework. Thus, Japanese students are more compelled to cheat than compared to American students.

“High-stakes” tests induce people to cheat. Courses with only two or three test grades that affect your final grade would pressurize an average student to cheat. These high-stakes tests will induce your desire to cheat by so much that even the punishment for getting caught cheating wouldn’t faze you. A good example of this is the Chinese civil-service exams. If you do well on the CCS exams, you will be guaranteed a good job position in the Chinese government. If you fail however, you will be a dishonor to your family and not get a good job (unless you decide to devote another 3 years to studying). The punishment for cheating in the CCS exam was extremely severe and goes up to the death penalty. Even the death penalty did not faze the CCS test takers because of how “high-stake” the test was.

Does this mean we shouldn’t have any high-stake tests in our education system? No, high-stake tests are essential, but the correct solution for this is to have many lower stake tests/quizzes to better prepare the students so they will do well on the high-stake tests without being tempted to cheat. Reducing cheating and increasing learning go hand in hand.

75% of students surveyed admitted to cheating at least once in college. This 75% has been constant since 1963. In recent years, in a survey with 150,000 students across different institutions the amount admitted to cheating was between 60-70%. You may think that the cheating rate has lowered, however the method of survey (online vs paper for the 1963 survey) could affect the results. On the bright side, there is no concrete evidence that the rate of cheating has increased either. The fact that this number, 75%, has remained constant for the past 50 years indicate to us that we haven’t been doing enough regarding this matter.

Students are less tempted to cheat when a course offers multiple low-stake tests compared to just two or three high-stake tests. Not only does multiple low-stake tests reduce cheating, it also increases learning. In an experiment conducted by Henry L. Roediger III and Jeffrey D. Karpicke, the participants had to study 40 English-Swahili word pairs and was tested on their memory. One group was given all 40 words at once and was tested after every study session. Another group was also given 40 words and was tested after every study session but they removed every correct pair they got correct after each test. Both groups performed the same on the four post study session tests and also the final exam. The conclusion from this experiment is: it isn’t about the amount of information given, it is about the frequency of testing. However it isn’t just simply frequent testing either, it is about the memory and retrieval of information. There are many ways to practice retrieving information. For example, “minute paper” is where you take out a piece of paper in the last 5 minutes of class and write concepts you learned in class that day.  We cannot fully prevent cheating in the school environment, however, schools can definitely change the nature of the courses and course requirements so that students are not pressured or tempted to cheat.

Creatine Craze

Recently, I have taken the initiative to start routinely going to the gym, with the hopes that I can finally add some muscle to my pudgy frame. Though I hope to progressively accumulate muscle mass, I do not know the most efficient way. I was always told to consume protein after a workout (involving lifting weights), as it would apparently help build muscle, assuming that I had taken the liberty to work/stretch them out beforehand. But what is all this craze on creatine!? How come I see these behemoth shaped humans at the gym with these colorful juices that are apparently pre-workout/creatine? I always wondered why everyone at the gym, especially the huge dudes with a ton of muscle drank the supplement, but I never knew why.

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What is creatine? And what does creatine supposedly do?

Creatine (or regularly sold Creatine monohydrate) is a supplement that promotes muscle growth and reduces fatigue when exercising. This leads to both an increase in muscle mass and overall power when weightlifting, as well as an increase in performance of an exercise. Creatine is actually already naturally found within our own bodies, as a molecule that releases forms of energy (ATP) to our cells when needed during times of strenuous workouts.

But does taking creatine actually work?

In order to draw a conclusion, we must first ask some preliminary questions. First, does creatine intake directly correlate to larger muscle mass, or reversely, does larger muscle mass correlate to in-taking more creatine? Additionally, does a confounding variable (Z) affect them both?

As stated earlier, creatine is already found within our bodies, so why do people take additional creatine supplements? Well, according to a study done by Physiol Genomics, creatine was tested to see its effects on mass and power output within the human subjects. This was an experimental study, performed with randomized double-blind placebo trials. 12 men were observed when given a control placebo and creatine supplement. They were given the placebo for 10 days, and muscular changes were observed through biopsies for a 28 day period. The subjects were then given creatine monohydrate for 10 days to later investigate its effect on the muscle. The study found that when given the creatine monohydrate, subjects saw an increase in the fat-free mass, (muscle mass and water retention) as muscle fiber diameter and over all weight increased up to 9%. In addition, it was shown to upregulate other cellular components, with their results believed to be possibly supporting muscle growth indirectly. The results were significant, as the p-value was less than 5% (p<0.05), meaning these results were very likely not due to chance alone. We can also rule out reverse causation, as increase in muscle does not necessarily mean increase in creatine. Though this study shows the results of taking creatine supplements alone, we must next ask how the results change when performing an exercise.

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Because creatine is used as a performance-enhancer when exercising, many athletes take this supplement. In another study done by J Medical Association Thailand, creatine was given to long-distance swimmers to test its effect on endurance. The experiment, once again performed as a randomized double-blind placebo, consisted of 38 swimmers split into a control and test group. Half (19) were given a solution of creatine monohydrate within an orange solution twice a day, for a week, while the other half was given that same quantity of just the orange solution. Results fit the common belief that creatine is a performance-enhancing supplement. Swimmers that had taken the supplemented solution decreased their time. The results were determined have a significant difference between the control group timings and creatine-supplemented group timings, as the p-value was less than 5%.

Given the studies, creatine intake has shown evidence of having an effect on both muscle increase and growth, and positive performance. However, these are only two studies, and there can be many confound variables when testing just one substance on subjects, because the effects of other supplements such as protein, could have affected the studies. Though the p-values were less than 5%, the trial sizes in the studies were not large, so I would further the investigation and experiment process for a more thorough understanding of creatine’s benefits.

However, given the evidence and the large personnel (population wise and physical size wise) that takes creatine supplements in the gym, it may seem rational to begin taking creatine supplements if I want to fully pursue my initiative of accumulating muscle mass.

 

Sources:

https://examine.com/supplements/creatine/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16083193

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17957000

 

Can Exercise Help Fight Breast Cancer?

This blog post was inspired by my aunt who was recently diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. Ever since her diagnosis, she has completely changed her lifestyle; she’s eating everything raw and organically grown and exercising daily. Immediately after this change in lifestyle, her tumor markers had declined. In the past couple of months she had stopped exercising daily because it was hard to keep up with and when going into the doctors to get her tumor markers checked, she found them to have increased. Being frightened by this, she noticed the only thing she had changed was the exercise, so, she began to exercise daily once again. On her most recent visit to get the tumor markers checked, she realized they had gone down. My aunt was very happy and immediately made a correlation between her tumor markers and exercise. Now, I understand that this is anecdotal evidence, but this story sparked my curiosity and begged the question: Can exercise help fight breast cancer?

In this study it was concluded (and as you can see in the graph) that by exercising it improves the growth of tumor markers.

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In another study that involves mice injected with breast cancer and aerobic exercise, it is found that this exercise can actually slow the growth of tumors. Tumors are usually in areas that are oxygen deficient however, chemotherapy works better when there is oxygen. With exercise, it increases the amount of oxygen-rich blood that goes through the body. As the article goes on, it gives the details of the experiment and meta-analyses and concludes that the mice that had the chemotherapy and exercised had the slowest tumor growth by far in comparison to inactive mice, solely active mice, and mice who received chemotherapy but were inactive. However, it was also evident in the blood markers that the exercise killed the tumors without the help of the chemotherapy. I understand that this study involves mice and not people but I don’t think exercise can hurt a person fighting breast cancer.

Not only is exercise shown to be effective in decreasing the tumor markers, but also in the prevention of  breast cancer in general. In this article, it talks about how active women have been known to have a lesser probability of getting breast cancer.
I think all of these studies show significant evidence that exercising can aid in stopping cancer. I also think that there is a world of more knowledge to obtain on the topic, but I don’t think exercising can hurt you either way.

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Your FitBit won’t make you healthy

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Take a trip down to your closest park on a Saturday morning and it is likely you will find many little kids running around attempting to play soccer. The fans get rowdy and if you take a closer look, you will see many, many ‘soccer’ moms. The parking lots are filled with mini vans and the side lines host many mothers seeking to watch their child score the next goal. Take a closer look at these moms, not too close, look towards their wrist. It is likely that you may see many of them wearing fitness trackers. They may have their own personal reasons for using them, but it is likely they noticed they no longer fit into their clothes from five years and thought that buying a fitness tracker would be the first major step in getting back into shape. However, they may have been very wrong, even counterproductive to their effort to lose weight.

Fitness technology has come a very long way recently. These bands now can constantly track heart rate, steps, flights climbed, calories burned, and the quality of sleep; they can even give you your estimated weight if you input what you have eaten. The trackers are extremely modern and their technology only keeps increasing.

Researches became interested if these trackers actually help individuals who use them. Consequently, they decided to perform an experiment with 800 people ages 21-65. Their goal was to find if the use of fitness trackers actually improves the user’s health. This study was done shortly after another study was done and concluded that the fitness trackers are less effective than self-monitoring your own weight.

First Study

The first study was done on a group of 470 people who were either considered to be overweight or obese. Everyone in the group was put onto a controlled low-calorie diet and an exercise plan. This randomized control experiment went on for 2 years and 6 months in, after everyone in the study had time to adjust to new diet and exercise plans, half of the individuals were given a Fit Core Armband- the other half simply just tracked things on their own. After 2 years, the researchers found that those who used the armband only lost an average of 7.7 pounds while those who were self-tracking lost an average of 13 pounds. From this data, the researches came to the conclusion that weight-loss trackers do not aid in weight-loss, rather it is more effective to simply self-track and follow a good diet and excise plan.

Second Study

The second study was conducted on 800 participants from Singapore. The participants were split up into 4 groups: control group, fitbit group, and the final two groups were given a fitbit and either a donation to charity or cash reward for the initial 6 months of the trial. The study found that the highest increase in activity came from those with a cash incentive, and the least from the only fitbit group (not including the control group). The study came to conclude that the device did not improve the user’s health.

Analysis

Both of these studies came to very serious conclusions- they both are showing that fitness trackers are not effective. Two studies are not enough to find a valid conclusion when there are many other variables that need to be analyzed. Individual motivation (confounding variable) is a huge deal when looking at weight loss. Due to randomization it should turn out that the groups in the study have an equally average motivation but wearing the bands or incentives may play into that. I believe the first study was much better done than the second. While individuals may have had more motivation to prove that they could lose weight without the fitness tracker, it was a very small difference in the difference between those wearing and those not wearing the tracker. While this experiment controlled the fitness tracker as the only manipulated variable, the second study decided to implement a cash incentive. I believe this part of the study was completely unnecessary because it is obvious if you provide people with an incentive they are going to do more of that activity (simple economics), and is not really in relation to the question if “just fitbits” increase a person’s health.

I have no choice to 100% agree with the conclusion of this study despite how ridiculous it is. It is obvious that a fitbit is not going to increase one’s health. However, that is not the purpose of a fitbit, the purpose is for an individual to be able to easily track their fitness and log their progress. In the first study, the fitbit group did lose weight and in the second study they were also shown having an adequate number of daily steps. Now there may be some correlation between wearing a fitbit and having less motivation, but more research would need to be done to conclude that. It is interesting that the groups wearing fitbits did not lose more weight than those who were not, but until a mechanism can be found to why this it the data does not mean much besides a correlation.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/21/fitness-trackers-may-not-aid-weight-loss-study-finds

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/04/fitness-trackers-do-not-increase-activity-enough-to-noticeably-improve-health

Should You Vaccinate?

We’ve all heard the debate on the internet and the news in the past few months, should you or should you not vaccinate? As you know, vaccination is giving yourself (or your child) a shot that gives them a killed/not harmful virus in order to stimulate your body’s immune system, making antibodies and thus lessening the chance of getting that disease. However, in recent years parents across the country have gone against vaccinating their kids, stating that vaccination harms you far more than any benefits it may give. You may have your own opinion on this topic, but let’s look at this scientifically.

First, we’re going to be looking at what the null and alternate hypotheses are. The null suggests that the vaccination does nothing, making them useless. More interestingly, there are two alternate hypotheses in this case. Either the vaccination makes you better, or it makes you worse. Regardless, it does affect you in some way, making both an alternate hypothesis. There’s also chance to look out for, perhaps in the form of you getting better/not getting the illness but not due to the vaccination or getting the illness even though you took the vaccination. Reverse causation would mean that getting better or worse makes the vaccination, making it not possible in this case. So, we have three options: The null hypothesis, alternative hypothesis 1 (vaccinations make you less susceptible to illness and disease), and alternate hypothesis 2 (vaccinations make you more susceptible to illness and disease, or make you worse off in some fashion).


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Is vaccinating a good thing for you? Source

Background: Obviously, there are multiple ways to look at this question. We can look at how it affects children, how it affects a specific disease, etc. After looking through Google Scholar for some time, I finally found a study I thought would be relevant to us early adulthood students, especially the women of our class. We’re (hopefully) a bit of a way off from having kids of our own and likewise are well past a majority of our vaccinations. However, HPV is something that can significantly affect women at our age, so I believe that should be the focus of this blog. Obviously, the Human Papimillovirus (HPV) is extremely prevalent in young adult women, causing things like an increase in the risk of cancer, especially cervical cancer. This can make young women barren for life, according to this CDC article.


The Procedure: Now, onwards to the study, which happened in Queensland, Australia between 2007-2011. In this study, the researchers vaccinated the women, aged between 12-27 and having their first cervical pap smear, and observed their risk of cervical cancer over the next four years. Obviously, as we discussed in class, this is an observational study. The independent variable is the vaccination given, while the dependent variable is their health in the next four years. It should be mentioned that there wasn’t an ethics problem here, because instead of not giving HPV vaccines to women (which is very unethical and could cause them to get cervical cancer), they limited their participants to those getting a free, first time cervical pap smear, making sure there was no ethical bias. The participants were split into 4 groups based off of age: 11-14, 15-18, 19-22, and 23-27 years. This was used to determine the effectiveness of the vaccinations the older the woman gets. They then judged the data based on of their age, socioeconomic status, and remoteness to take those possible other causes off of the table.


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Vaccine has made many diseases decrease between 75-100%! Source

The Results: Comparing the vaccination results to a controlled group of women’s cervical cancer rates. According to the study, there was a 46% reduced rate in high-grade cervical abnormalities amongst women who got vaccinated over those who didn’t, and a 34% reduced rate over any other kind of cervical abnormalities over the control. Needless to say, that is a big difference between the vaccinated and the non-vaccinated. Another major point was that there was a benefit, albeit not a big one, to getting double vaccinated, bumping that rate even higher. The results also showed that the older you got, the less the vaccine helped prevent HPV. That’s quite an interesting finding that the study did not set out to find, but is definitely important in understanding when is the prime time to vaccinate women for HPV to get the best chance of cervical cancer prevention.


So, the data definitely supports the first alternate hypothesis we presented at the beginning of the blog. Indeed, the data clearly shows that the women who took the vaccination were almost half as likely not to get cervical cancer in the next four years. That’s a pretty good increase. In class, we often talk about if this data is guaranteed, or the hypothesis is ruled correct. Well, obviously there are hundreds of studies on the effects of vaccinations, but for this blog we’re only relying on this one source to verify that vaccinations have HPV. However, like Andrew said, the data shown tells you that it would be in your best interest to follow through and vaccinate yourself, especially at the young ages the women in our class.

Grow Tall, not Wide

Farming is something so banal in our modern, highly urbanised world, it’s easy to forget it even exists if you don’t come into contact with it often enough. But it has been a major factor in human civilisation since the beginning of what can even be called “civilisation”: with agriculture, humans were able to settle to tend to their crops instead of hunting for food, and soon enough, the farmers found themselves with a lot of free time between planting, taking care of, and harvesting crops. This free time coming from a settled existence birthed the earliest forms of art, crafts and perhaps even religion. Settlements grew to become cities, which traded and communicated with each other, causing either alliances or war if they were too close together; soon, campaigns were fought against other cities, kingdoms and empires, and the ancient world was born. Literature, philosophy, science, engineering, everything we associate with the civilised world was only possible because our ancestors decided it was better to plant wheat and wait around for a while than to go hunting for some juicy gazelle meat right now.

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So, what is the next step? We conquered almost all land on the planet, but our population is still growing. Is there going to be a point where humanity grows to such high numbers that Earth simply won’t have enough farming space to provide us with food? The solution to this problem is vertical farming, the next step in food production technology. The process used in Belgian startup Urban Crops, for example, is but an application of what we know about growing crops to an enclosed, compact environment: an automated system is set up so that the crops are planted in a substrate that imitates soil (to eliminate the issue of diseases and whatnot), rotated through one of dozens of shelves in a room blasted with LED lights and fed with a hydroponic system providing the plants with mineral rich water. When ready, the plants are rotated out and ready to be consumed, similarly to a factory production line and independent of season or climate conditions.

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This system is tremendously efficient when compared with traditional farming, as it requires a smaller area, has higher yields and consumes only a small fraction of the water currently used in fields. While Europeans are still sceptic about the prospect, since their populations are small and their fields are close to their cities, this system could be revolutionary in densely populated and highly urbanised areas such as NYC, Beijing and Delhi. This means that transport rates will go down as cities’ demands can be fulfilled by themselves, fresh produce will be available to people even in the middle of Manhattan, and most important of all, traditional farms will gradually disappear as we have no need for them anymore. And with the advent of lab-grown meat, we can do away with outdoors food production altogether, leaving nature to reclaim the land we no longer have any use for.

This will change the dynamic of human existence forever. We will finally become a truly urban civilisation, harvesting what we need from our own technology instead of nature. While a world of cities dotted around immaculate natural landscapes is hard to imagine, it is possibly where we are headed to with this technology. As indoors farming becomes more widespread, it will be massively more successful than old farms due to its low costs and high yields, eventually causing traditional farmers to either abandon their farms and come to the cities or migrate to vertical farming as well. This may be the next – and last – agricultural exodus, making humankind, at long last, be the city-dwelling species it has always longed to be.

Gluten Frenzy

I love pasta. I crave it. No matter what, I don’t think I’ll ever part with it. Yet, carbs have always been at the center of controversial health ideas. With the recent insurgence of gluten free dieting/ways of life, etc., I’m hesitant to jump on the bandwagon. My mother’s side of the family actually has the family history for extreme gluten sensitivity. Almost all of my cousins and all four of my aunts can not consume any gluten for medical reasoning. When diagnosed by a qualified doctor, I fully understand going gluten free. The question I want to explore is if eating gluten causes health consequences. The null hypothesis being that gluten free has no effect. The alternative hypothesis is that gluten free indeed does have an effect that is beneficial.

According to a Huffington Post article by JJ Virgin, who is a health expertise and New York Times best selling author, gluten is the devil’s spawn. In the beginning of her article, she explains how going gluten free can help one lose fat or at least the feeling that comes along with it. Shesymptoms-1 explains that feelings of bloating, inflammation, digestive issues, and constant tiredness stem from a leaking gut. Zonulin, the protein found in gluten enters the gut, causes difficulties. By creating holes, other things slip through the body which then causes the immune system to react. This reaction is what causes those ‘feeling fat’ responses. Another point I found fascinating from her article was that what we are most intolerant to is actually what your body craves and thinks you need. They are titled opioid endorphins and provide pleasure when you eat and crave them, causing foods that could be bad for you to be highly addictive.

A highly controlled study was performed by Peter Gibson at the Monash University in Australia. As the head of The Department of Gastroenterology, he suggests that gluten causes no gastrointestinal distress. Before I explain his experiment, I want to add that this study was noticeably tested on only 37 people who are self subscribed as gluten sensitive.

Sources Citing the Real Clear Science’s Newton Blog , the experiment was a randomized (in the sense the participants were unaware what food diet they were on) controlled experiment. Providing all meals, the study also controlled for other triggers in the body by not having the participants consumer lactose, specific preservatives, etc. Lactose may have caused side affects that would compromise results. They also tested the removal of FODMAPS which is the term used for poor absorbed carbohydrates that are short chained. At the end of the study, the researchers had a collect of all urine and faecal matter produced. Test 1 was high gluten, test 2 low gluten, and test three was the placebo, being no gluten. During the trials, they were unaware what test they were on in order to dismantle bias. Each trial ran for a total of three days.

Results: In each trial, reports of pain surfaced in each environment. No matter what they were given, the subjects describe irritated stomachs and feelings of being sick. How could a range of painful results come about when a placebo was present? Gibson appoints this manly to the psychological. I also think that it could have been the alternating diet that caused distress. A colleague of him, Jessica Biesiekierski, who works at the Translational Research Center for Gastrointestinal Disorders suggest that reducing FODMAPs actually improved all evaluated reports. In the study, they specifically removed FODMAPs in bread products, causing a slight difference in the way people felt. In conclusion, they claim there is no sound evidence to the benefits of gluten. Although they admit a problem may exist, the scientific method and reputable testing must be completed on a larger and more diverse scale. This is similar to what Andrew brought up in class with scurvy. People at the time new the remedy for it, but it took many years to understand its actual cause. It is possible that gluten free dieting is beneficial  and correlated to health, but we may not know why just yet.

Overall, I do not believe that there is enough evidscreen-shot-2012-07-24-at-12-53-36-amence for me to give up gluten for good. As more research arises, I will reconfigure my diet and may go with the alternative hypothesis. But for now, the null hypothesis remains…

Sources

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Journal of the Academy of Nutrition-Primary source

Gluten free life 

Huffington Post article

New York Times

Gluten Free-PRN

Experiment

Science Alert

Monash University

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Television often offers us a window into worlds and professions we do not ordinarily interact with. Shows featuring doctors, lawyers, scientists, and officers of the law have proven to be incredibly popular time and time again. One such show is, Bones, a dramedy

An imagining of what a family compromised of  H. Sapiens and Neanderthals  may have looked like.

An imagining of what a family compromised of H. Sapiens and Neanderthals may have looked like.

combining crime solving, forensic science, and anthropology. The accuracy of the science featured on Bones, and in other shows in the genre, is often questioned. In 2013 Fox aired an episode titled, The Archaeologist in the Cocoon. The episode culminated in the discovery of a half Homo neanderthalensis, half Homo sapiens family.

 

The idea for the episode was likely sparked by a 2010 discovery by the Neanderthal Genome Project. 

This is an interpretation of what a Neanderthals may have looked like.

This is an interpretation of what a Neanderthals may have looked like.

According to a study they conducted, the modern, non-African human shares as much as 2.5% of it’s DNA with the Neanderthals of the past. Evidence suggests that the interbreeding between Neanderthals and our Homo Sapiens ancestors occurred in Eurasia. It has been hypothesized that the Y chromosome of the Neanderthal was incompatible with that of the Homo Sapiens females, often resulting in miscarriages. This could explain why we do not currently carry more of the Neanderthal DNA in our own genes.

In 2012, Dr. Rachel Wood, found compelling evidence that Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens inhabited the Earth 8,000 years apart, making interbreeding impossible. Wood suggested we fail to reject the null hypothesis, that interbreeding between Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens produced offspring. However, recent findings documented in Science News, support not only the idea of relations between Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens but also of relations between Homo Sapiens and Denisovans. Denisovans are hominids that walked the Earth at the same time as the Neanderthals. According to research done by a joint effort between Harvard Medical School and UCLA, those of South Asian descent are likely to share Denisovans genetics. The genes we have maintained from our Denisovans and Neanderthal predecessors may help us to fight off certain infections and illnesses. 

Denisovans male.

Denisovans male.

These recent findings have fascinating implications for the scientific world and our understanding of human evolution. Homo Sapiens, Denisovans, and Neanderthals were not originally thought to have existed at the same time. The evidence of DNA from Denisovans and Neanderthals in modern human beings, like you and I, make this incredibly unlikely.

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As an English major, I obviously enjoy reading and writing. Ever since I was little I always gravitated towards the language arts classes. Contrarily, my friends are more science and math oriented. It’s not uncommon for them to ask me if I could read over their essays and other writing assignments because they think I’m “good with words.” My friends are undoubtedly intelligent and literate, but it seems that they feel slightly deficient when matters of literature are involved. I’m constantly reading (both for my classes and for personal enjoyment) and have noticed that through the years, deciphering words and picking up on contextual clues seems to grow easier. However, if someone presented me with a math problem (with a complexity transcending beyond that of simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and/or division) I would be at a loss of how to complete it. My inability or struggle to find a solution to the math problem may possibly have nothing to do with my intelligence, but rather, it could be that I don’t exercise my mind regularly enough with that type of material. It got me thinking, could differences in reading, vocabulary, and critical thinking be a result of a person’s innate level of intelligence, or could the constant practice of reading increase those cognitive abilities? I hypothesize that habitual reading will improve cognitive reading skills.

If I were to conduct a study to test my hypothesis, I would observe a younger group of children, most likely at the elementary stage of schooling. I assert that reading habits are formed at a young age, (as most behaviors are). I would conduct a longitudinal study and follow the children over a number of years, recording the progression of their cognitive skills (reading, word recognition, spelling, and critical thinking). Of course I’d have to account for possible confounding variables such as learning disabilities, parents’ background, and social economic status. This would not be an experimental study, because requiring one group of children to read habitually, or read more advanced works and telling the other to not read at all or read less complex novels would be unethical and could inhibit academic growth. Instead, this would

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be observational because I would analyze what types of novels the children each read (and decipher their difficulty/complexity) as well as how often the children read each day. At the end of the study, I can see if there is a relationship between the time spent on reading and the level of cognitive skills for each child. Although correlation does not equal causation, if the relationship is strong enough, it can be concluded that the result isn’t a fluke or due completely to chance. Also, reverse causation could be ruled out as a possible explanation because one’s ability to read and comprehend as a young adult does not have an effect on behaviors during childhood.

There was a study conducted by Anne Cunningham and Keith Stanovich in 2001 that was designed to test whether or not reading novels does have an impact on the advancement of a person’s vocabulary over time as well as the type of medium in which children are exposed to the most words. The study was observational and followed first grade students’ reading habits, making them write how often they read every day in a journal. The scientists then followed up with the same group of students when they reached eleventh grade (only have of the original students were available ten years later) and had them complete tasks involving reading comprehension and vocabulary. Taking the scores from those tasks, the scientists then compared them to each students’ journal from first grade. They did this to find a correlation between the number of hours each child documented from first grade and the score of the tasks in eleventh grade. The scientists found first grade measures of reading does not uniquely cause a higher level of comprehension or vocabulary later on in life. The results did show, however, that being exposed to reading at an early age does predict that those children will be likely to read more over the years. Because of the longer experience with reading, these children did show an increased vocabulary and cognitive reading skills. The scientists also proved that reading novels exposes children to more words than any other source (television, magazines, conversations, etc). This study proves my hypothesis to be correct; consistent reading does improve vocabulary, regardless of innate intelligence.

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This study didn’t mention the difficulty of the novels that lead to an increased vocabulary, which is something I think is worth knowing. It would’ve also been interesting to know how the students learned the new words. And by this I mean did they use a dictionary for the definition, did they ask someone what the word meant, or did they use contextual evidence to make an inference? Does a formal or informal definition help a child commit a word to memory, and why is it so? These are questions that would have been something worth including in the study as well. All in all, I think that the study was conducted well and the results, though not directly causal, have a strong enough correlation that would make any logical parent or administrator push their children to read from an earlier age.

 

Works Cited

 Cuningham, E. Anne and E. Keith Stanovich. “What Does for The Mind.” American Educator 22.1-2 (2001): 8-15.

Beauty and the Beast photo credit https://diydilettante.wordpress.com/tag/beauty-and-the-beast/

Ryan Gosling photo credit https://memegenerator.net/instance/46436792

Dr. Suess photo credit http://quotesvil.com/cgi-sys/suspendedpage.cgi

Do you feel grumpy when you wake up?

Anger is one of the basic emotional reaction. When I wake up in the morning especially when I have to take class in the 8 a.m., I feel a little bit grumpy, angry. At that time, I alway107413223-580s tell my roommate “don’t talk to me.” It is kind of uncomfortable. But It seems that the only reason is that I didn’t have enough time to sleep. In order to let me feel better in the morning, I do some researches about this
question.

According to the article of Daily Mail, on average, people have black moods at least two mornings a week. It is easily understandable that if people have a bad attitude about the day, they may have black moods.  Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., executive director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health, argues that people just feel grumpy in few days of a week because they are not looking forward to working. In other words, if there are not enough things which can bring joy and happiness to people, they will feel bad. So having a happy life could help improve the happiness of your morning Also, these black moods could be associated with not getting enough rest and being tired, bad night’s sleep.

However, Allison G. Harvey, Ph.D, professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and director of the Golden Bear Sleep and Mood Research Clinic, indicates that “The process of waking up is slow — not like a light switch, much slower,” and “These feelings are not pleasant, but do not necessarily indicate having had a poor night of sleep.” The reason is connected to sleep inertia. This term given in 1976 means that a transitional period of grogginess between waking and being full awake. Transition between sleep mode and awake mode actually lasts a long time. Because when we wake up, our brain-stem arousal systems are instantly activated. But our cortical regions, especially the part of the brain involved in decision-making and self-control, need to take longer to work. According to a neuroscientist and chronobiology expert, Kenneth Wright,“ Cognition is best several hours prior to habitual sleep time, and worst near habitual wake time.” What he said can explain why in the early morning, our memory, reaction time and ability to deal with problems suffer.

Also, morning depression is also associated with the setting of our internal alarm clock—our circadian rhythm. If there are difference between our actually required wake-up time and our natural wake-up time depended on our circadian rhythm, we would feel uncomfcircadian-rythmsortable. The circadian rhythm is affected by some specific hormones, such as cortisol and melatonin. To be specific, cortisol can make people energetic and active in the daytime and melatonin can makes people tired and sleepy at night. Thus, if our circadian rhythm is disrupted, our body physically starts to produce hormones at the wrong time. So this will affect negatively not only on our health but also on our emotion.

Luckily, the effects of sleep inertia and circadian rhythm can be changed according to Kenneth P. Wright Jr.’s experiment. So people, in order to avoid black moods in the morning, can make a certain lifestyle to regulate and stabilize circadian rhythm. For example, going to bed and get up at certain times, doing exercise frequently, and eating regularly are helpful. So the sleep-wake cycle can synchronize with the body clock.

Reference:

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Me being the silly person that laughs at everything, I often wondering if there were actually benefits of laughter that are good for our health because after all, everyone always feels better after a good laugh.

Laughing is by far the most contagious thing over any sickness. If you hear people laughing you usually will begin to laugh with them, or at least find out why they are laughing causing you to soon laugh as well. When people laugh with one another it brings them together and uplifts any mood. It is common sense that if you are feeling down and someone makes you laugh you will most definitely be happier, but what are the deeper gains from this amusement?

Not many people realize the powerful effect laughing has on each individual. It strengthens our immune system, lessens high stress levels (which could be causing our immune system to weaken in the first place) , energizes us when we may be tired,  and distracts us and lessens our pain. After a good laugh it is proven that it can keep your body relaxed for up to about forty five minutes. As laughter works on lowering stress levels, it increases our immune cells and protects our bodies from disease and illness. Our bodies contain endorphins, which are the chemicals that promote wellness and it is extremely crucial that they are released. Laughter releases these endorphins allowing us to feel good and diminish some pain. It can also be beneficial in the cardiovascular region of the body as it assists with blood flow and overall movement around the heart, preventing heart attacks and any other major or minor cardiovascular issues. Another thing laughter aids with is lowering a persons blood pressure.  Whether you are at a high or average blood pressure level, using laughter as your medicine will drastically lower your risk of a stroke. In this article, it describes how laughter is beneficial socially, mentally, and physically, it also goes into depth on all of the health boosts i just wrote about.

This website provides information on the T-cells in our body that help fight off sickness. By laughing on a daily basis you are activating these T-cells allowing them to do their ill prevention job.

Everyday life can become super stressful and almost unmanageable. It’s amazing that something as little as a laugh can be a cure – all without any prescribed medicine. By smiling, you are promoting laughter and relieving stress already. Less muscles are used to smile rather than to frown so it is an easy therapeutic task. If you are ever feeling overwhelmed, studies show that laughing with others works better than laughing alone, so put your self in a situation with a group of people to feel less of a burden. In the article I previously cited, it gives a list of ways to be surrounded by laughter to feel better if you’re feeling down physically or mentally. Some easy ones are being around friends, family, or pets, watching tv, reading books, and making time for activities you enjoy or find humorous.

Laugh and Gene

oeie1sd0rlrxHearing the same joke, some people laugh until they cry, but some people do not have any reaction. Watching a tearjerker, some people cry throughout, but some people can still laugh. What cause these difference? It is easy for us to combine these reactions with cultural factors, personal experience and personality. Actually, they are not all the answers for this question.

Recently, a paper published in “Emotion” shows that genes may affect emotional expression. The present research examined the effect of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene on objectively coded positive emotional expressions. By the way, Researchers commonly report it with two variations in
humans: the short allele (“s”) and the long allele (“l”). Three studies with independent samples of participants were conducted. To be specific, study 1 examined young adults watching still cartoons; study 2 examined young, middle-aged, and older adults watching a thematically ambiguous yet subtly amusing film clip; and study 3 examined middle-aged and older spouses discussing an area of marital conflict (that typically produces both positive and negative emotion).

I want to introduce theimage006 way researchers code participants’ emotional expressions. It is named Facial Action Coding System (FACS). FACS is a research tool useful for measuring any facial expression a human being can make. It is an anatomically based system for comprehensively describing all observable facial movement. So it helps researchers to test and analyze objectively without experimenter effect.

After analysis of three studies, results showed that the short allele of 5-HTTLPR predicted heightened positive emotional expressions. To sum up, people with “s” allele (genotype is ss or sl) are more sensitive and more easily to affect by environment, experience and stimulus. In order words, the more “s” alleles people have, the more times they laugh.

If you think this research is not very convincing, I find another paper published in 2012 having the similar conclusion. The researchers identified 77 pertinent effect sizes on 9361 subjects from 30 reports, providing data for two meta analyses on the moderating role of 5HTTLPR when it comes to the impact of the environment on development. According to this research, “we found 41 effect sizes (N = 5863) for the association between negative environments and developmental outcomes with or without significant moderation by 5HTTLPR genotype and 36 effect sizes (N = 3498) for the potentially 5HTTLPR-moderated association between positive environments and developmental outcomes”. Then they got a result that pedialoguesclinneurosci-11-363-g003ople with “s” allele, called them ss/sl carriers were significantly more vulnerable to negative environments than ll carriers, which support the diathesis-stress model. These children are easy to have emotional disorder in adolescence if they would face unfortunate experience. Controversially, they also benefit more if they could grow up in healthy and warm environment. So this result just fits in the previous experiment’s conclusion.

Although we get the conclusion, we still have a lot of space to explore in the neurobiological mechanism to find the specific results. But at least now we know that laugh or not can be caused by our genes, which I never imagine before. So next time when you see someone appears distant to you, it may not mean that he or she doesn’t like you, but means that he or she doesn’t have many “s” alleles. 😁

Source1 Source2 Source3

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Does more dating lead to a happier marriage?

What is the correlation between the length of time spent together in courtship and the resulting marriage?

Flirting couple in the park texting on smartphones

 

According to popular online dating site eharmony, on average couples decide to wait 2.8 years to marry after having showed romantic interest. But today’s question deals with a common dilemma that most of us will have to face at one point of our lives. What is the optimal length of time to date; or a matter of fact IS there such a thing and when does too much dating become detrimental for a marriage. In addition, there are an abundance of third variables and factors that can attribute to a successful marriage such as the timing of the relationship, parental support, and money variables. However, I believe the success of a long term marriage lies within the courtship period between the two mates.

For our purposes, let’s consider the courtship period to be considered the time when you first establish a dating relationship, the period of engagement, and to the eve of your wedding night. My hypothesis is that a longer courtship will ultimately lead to a lasting marriage not ending in divorce.

An article from the New Republic analysis the a study of 952 people in California that have been married for at least three years and found a positive correlation between the length of courtship and reported marital satisfaction. According to the study done by psychologist Scott Randall Hansen, the divorce rates were highest among couples that had spent less than six months dating. These high divorce rates are likely due to impulsiveness or impatience within the relationship that ultimately resulted in an unhappy marriage.

If there is a positive correlation between not dating enough leading to a higher divorce rate, can waiting too long have some adverse effects for a couple’s future?

While most relationships that last up to 3 years usually lead to lasting marriages, relationships that hit 5 or 10 years could potentially not lead to marriage at all. To analyze the reverse causation, data proving that relationships that last let’s say over 5 years would have to result in a higher rate of break up and divorce. To my dismay, I failed to find concrete evidence to support the reverse causality as most of the research happened to be anecdotal relationships posted on online forums.

While we may conjecture to find an optimal amount of time dating before marriage, I believe relationships with people go further beyond statistical measurements and often times are very situational.

Thank you for the read!

-Sammy Lee

The Truth about Addiction, are we treating it wrongly

Having Lived in Pennsylvania for a little over two years, it can be seen by many, not just myself that the level of drug addiction has skyrocketed in the state let alone the country. According the the Pennsylvania Coroners Association, there were approximately 1946 drug related deaths in 2010, where as in 2014, 2489 people had drug related deaths  (Malawskey,Mapping Pennsylvania’s Worsening Heroin Crisis) . As it can be possibly foreseen, the number of drug users to to increase. With the increase of drug addicts, we see a change in in our neighborhoods , where flourishing towns become havens of drug activity, and taking with it the innocent lives that ae affected. It can be fairly said that we are taught that people become addicted to drugs because of their chemical nature and properties, but should we treat addiction the same way.

what-is-addiction

During the, 20th century, experiments on drug addiction were tested via the use of lab rats in a closed environment. A rat would be placed in a cage and was given two drinking apparatuses to choose from, one containing normal water, the other containing water laced with drugs such as cocaine or heroin. In these experiments, it was generally seen that the rat  would choose the laced water , and would continue to consume the laced water until it would die. However, in 1981, the results of a study made by a psychologist named Bruce. K Alexander saw that there was a possibility of a compounding variable. Like humans, rats are also social animals that can be affected by social displacement. Alexander then created a new setting in which to test his hypothesis. Instead of placing the rats in a metal cage, he created what is now known as Rat park, a haven for rats that allowed the rats to play, mate, and interact with other rats. With the change in environment, placed two bottles in Rat park, one that was laced with a drug and one that had normal water in it. With the change of environment, Alexander also placed eight male and eight male and eight females in single cages, while placing 8 male and 8 female rats into Rat park, to create a fair sized social group for the rats as well as having a group that could be compared.   While he did observe that the rats would sometimes use the laced water, the rats in Rat park would rather prefer the consumption of the non-drug laced water. ( BRUCE K. ALEXANDER, BARRY L. BEYERSTEIN, PATRICIA F. HADAWAY AND ROBERT B. COAMBS, Effect of Early and Later Colony Housing on Oral Ingestion of Morphine in Rats).

With this experiment in mind, how can we apply it to drug treatment for addiction today. One of the many methods used for drug rehabilitation is rapid detoxification, which uses drug to sedate a person while they go through withdrawal symptoms . While it be seen as a quick fix comapred to in-patient therapy, which can last from 6 to 12 months, however, with the rapid detox, there are issues of relapse. My high school drug education teacher told us that her family had to enter her sister in a inpatient treatment program because of ow many times her sister had relapsed. Our teacher had explained that since her sister’s body did not go through the pain caused by withdrawal,  her sister would constantly relapse. With inpatient treatment, people will stay at a secluded location that offers a addict that chance to become sober while having a socially positive enviroment.  In-patient treatment can be seen as more successful in a few cases because it offers a change of environment for those that are , similar to to how Bruce Alexander created a change in the environments for the rats.

While, the subject of of what addiction truly is may be interpreted in many ways,  I hope that this blog opens the thought on how drug addiction rehabilitation treatment can be changed as well as change the views as to what addiction can be viewed as.

 

References;

“Choosing Inpatient Rehab vs. Outpatient Rehabilitation.” Choosing Inpatient Rehab vs. Outpatient Rehabilitation. N.p., n.d. http://www.rehabs.com/about/inpatient-vs-outpatient-rehabs/

“Effect of Early and Later Colony Housing on Oral Ingestion of Morphine in Rats”, BRUCE K. ALEXANDER, BARRY L. BEYERSTEIN, PATRICIA F. HADAWAY AND ROBERT B. COAMBS , http://www.brucekalexander.com/pdf/Rat%20Park%201981%20PB&B.pdf  December 5, 1980

Malawskey, Nick. “Mapping Pennsylvania’s Worsening Heroin Crisis.” PennLive.com. N.p., 2016. http://www.pennlive.com/news/2016/03/pennsylvanias_heroin_crisis_is.html .

“Opiate Detox and Detoxification.” Opiate Detox and Detoxification. N.p., n.d. http://luxury.rehabs.com/opiate-detox/ .

“Rat Park.” Addiction: The View from (2010). N.p., n.d. http://www.brucekalexander.com/articles-speeches/rat-park/148-addiction-the-view-from-rat-park .

“Report on Overdose Death Statistics 2014”, Pennsylvania State Coroners Association, http://www.pacoroners.org/Uploads/Pennsylvania_State_Coroners_Association_Drug_Report_2014.pdf

 

 

Is Diet Soda Detrimental To Your Health?

Millions of Americans are facing health problems all over the country. The foods and drinks they are imbibing are impacting their overall well being immensely. One example of this is the consumption of diet soda. Most people are oblivious to what they are putting into their body while consuming this type of soft drink.

The ingredients found in diet soda are different from the ingredients found in regular soda. The ingredients found in regular Coke are composed of natural non synthesized sugars. For example, aspartame, Splenda, saccharin, and Nutrasweet are artificial sweeteners found in diet soft drinks. Consumers may think that artificial sweeteners are better for the body rather than pure sugar, but that’s not true. Here is a list of ingredients in a Diet Coke, which are similar to ingredients in all other diet sodas. Caramel color in diet soda is very harmful to the body. This color is obtained by melting corn with cane sugar. In this caramel coloring, there is 4-methylimidazol. Exposure to this toxin causes serious heath problems. An experimental study was performed by The National Toxicology Program, showing male and female mice that were exposed to 4-Methylimidazol for long durations of time were more likely to develop cancer of the lungs. Caramel color is the one similar ingredient that is found in both diet and regular Coke.

In another study conducted by Dr. Elinav of Weizmann Institute of Science’s Department  of Immunology, found that artificial sweeteners were the catalyst to glucose intolerance and metabolic disease. This was an experimental study performed on mice. One group of mice were given water with artificial sweeteners in it, and the other group of mice were given straight water. He was very thorough with the experiment, as he performed it a number of times with different sets of mice and different dosages of artificial sweeteners. The scientist looked deeper into the issue and found evidence that the problems could be cultivating in the gut microbiota (the place where our bacteria is stored in the digestive track). As the artificial sweeteners travel through the body’s system, they encounter many bacteria. Elinav took the microbiota from the mice who drank the artificially sweetened water, and put it in the mice who drank the clean water. These newly “infected” mice soon developed glucose intolerance as well. This proved that changes to the gut microbiota were responsible for metabolism alterations and an intolerance to glucose. Dr. Elinav then performed an experiment with artificial sweeteners on humans and found similar conclusions about the human microbiota. In conclusion to this study, he found that the majority of volunteers developed glucose intolerance.

A similar, but observational study, was performed, only now measuring diet soda and its correlation to metabolic syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes. Long story short, the correlation between consumption of diet soda and these two diseases were not in fact, due to causality. That did not mean that metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes were completely out of the picture when it came to consumption of diet soda. It all came down to the frequency in which a person drinks it. If diet soda is consumed everyday, then those people are more likely to develop metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

no-diet-soda image source

To make another point, if you ever see the word aspartame in the ingredients list, DON’T BUY THE PRODUCT. Aspartame is a synthetic sugar replacement. Metabolic acidosis is something that occurs when aspartame converts into formaldehyde, which is a preservative that dead bodies are retained in. Formaldehyde then turns into formic acid, a poison released by fire ants when they sting. All of these reactions take place once aspartame surmounts 86 degrees fahrenheit. So, if aspartame is an ingredient in diet soda, do you really want these chemical reactions happening inside your body?

Based on the conclusions of these studies, we can confirm that diet soda is deleterious to one’s health. The diet soft drink is a red flag indicating many health problems down the road for loyal consumers. There are proven studies that link certain health problems to consistent diet soda ingestion. People who enjoy diet soda should consider an alternative such as water, ice tea, or even regular soda. Diet soda is detrimental to your health, and consumption must be limited.