Daily Archives: November 28, 2016

Is Coffee An Addiction?

Many people often rely on the consumption of coffee in order to get them throughout the day. By drinking coffee, people believe it helps them to have a boost of energy. As a college student, I often see many people holding coffee cups around campus, Keurig machines in countless dorms, and people that wait in a Starbucks line for nearly twenty minutes before they can even tell the barista their order. Then I got to thinking, why do so many people rely on coffee? Maybe it’s a stress reliever and can actually be beneficial. My null hypothesis would be that coffee is an addiction whereas my alternate hypothesis would be that coffee is not an addiction.  My next underlying question is, if people always drink coffee then can it become an addiction?

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What are the ingredients of coffee?

According to Patrick Di Justo, coffee contains ten different ingredients: caffeine, water, 2-Ethylphenol, quinic acid, 3.5 dicaffeoylquinic acid, dimethyl disulfide, acetylmethylcarbinol, putrescine, trigonelline, and niacin. Out of all of these ingredients, it’s the chemical of caffeine that has the strongest effect on individuals. Di Justo states that caffeine stimulates our bodies by blocking neuro-receptors. When neuro-receptors are blocked for the sleep chemical adenosine, it results in people waking up. This is one of the main reasons as to why people choose to drink coffee; coffee helps to wake people up. However, according to a statistic Joseph Stromberg of the Smithsonian provided from the Federal Drug Administration, more than eighty percent of American adults consume caffeine on a regular basis. In addition, Stromberg states that daily consumption of caffeine can alter an individual’s brain chemical composition. As a result, headaches, fatigue, and nausea are symptoms that can ensue if one attempts to quit caffeine. These results are a good way to measure whether or not something may be addicting; if someone has withdrawals then there is a good chance that is has become an addiction. Although all coffee contains caffeine, some coffee brands have higher doses of caffeine than others. For example, a Starbucks cup of coffee has more than double the amount of caffeine that a McDonald’s cup of coffee will have. This reflects on the concern that people have in regards to coffee consumption. With each larger dose of caffeine, the more addicting coffee can potentially become.

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This image demonstrates different types of coffee from different brands and how much caffeine is in each brand.

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Experiment & Analysis

A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University was done on the effects of coffee consumption. Afterwards, the study provided evidence that displayed a cup of coffee a day can lead to a caffeine addiction. This was a meta-analysis study because researchers analyzed a total of 57 experimental studies and nine surveys. The results demonstrated that people who did not have their normal caffeine dosage for the day experienced withdrawal symptoms of caffeine. All of these studies supported the null hypothesis. The symptoms people experienced ranged from fatigue to nausea and muscle pain. In order to combat these symptoms, researchers from this study recommended that people drink less coffee or opt to drink decaf coffee as an alternative.

Since the study design employed using a meta-analysis method, it was very effective. This is because in a meta-analysis study combines a wide range of information from many different research studies. That way, the results that were found did not come from just one source, but from many other sources that all confirmed identical findings. On most of the pop quizzes Andrew has presented to us in class, the concept of reverse causation often comes up. He explains reverse causation as when Y is affecting the X variable. Reverse causality does not apply in this study because you cannot get addicted to something you have never tried before so Y should not affect X. In this case based off of the consumption of coffee, those who did not have caffeine experiences withdrawals or those that experienced withdrawals felt the constant need for caffeine.

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This image demonstrates how much coffee people consume globally.

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Take Home Message:

I am an advocate for coffee and caffeine consumption. Personally, coffee has been able to get me through very long days and has helped me to have an extra boost of energy when I need it the most. However, I strongly believe that when people drink coffee they should consume a healthy and normal amount instead of consuming it multiple times a day. In my opinion, a healthy and normal amount of coffee would be a cup a day or two max if you needed an extra boost of energy later in the day. Anything more than that would be too much. I also think that if someone were to drink a small cup a day you could still get addicted. It’s like how all of the little things add up to become a really big issue. Being addicted to coffee isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just isn’t a healthy lifestyle to live. If I were to take this a step further, I would conduct a questionnaire for people of all ages with in-depth questions to find out more information about their personal habits and ties to caffeine.

Can you actually “break your eardrums” from too much noise?

I’m sure almost everyone has a parent who has warned them to turn down loud music or else they’d go deaf. While these warnings may sound exaggerated, there is some truth to them. As a matter of fact, overexposure to loud noise, from any number of different sources, does in fact put you at risk of both temporary and permanent hearing loss.

Being exposed to loud noises for a period of time results in just temporary loss of hearing. This sort of hearing loss usually recovers by the end of the day with rest. The function the ear performs protects the inner ear hair cells by stiffening of the eardrum, which reflects some of the sound off of it. However, evolution is still in action, and the fact that longer durations of loud noises from day to day in workplaces are more abundant than ever, especially in jobs requiring construction or factory work. Because we’ve only been exposed to this for the last thousand years or so, we’ve yet to fully adapt to such consistent damage, and as such, the two muscles in your middle-ear that cause your ear drum to stiffen fatigue after extended periods of time, allowing sound to sometimes cause permanent damage when exposed frequently.

Many people experience what is called tinnitus, which is a term for what is sometimes referred to as a “ringing” in your ears, or a feeling of “fullness”. However, tinnitus is actually considered a symptom, rather than a condition. It’s related to general loss of hearing, and appears when you experience ear injuries or hearing loss related to age.

All in all, our ears are delicate, and very much still developing, and it’s better to play it safe.

If you want to experiment with the effects of your every day life on your hearing, a common test is to wear a single earplug in one ear, and not in the other. Proceed to go about your day normally. At the end of it, remove the ear plug, and you should notice the difference in hearing between your ears. You’d be surprised to know how much they’re affected, even if it’s only temporary!

Sources:
Research:
http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/rock-music.html
http://www.earplan.com/blog/bid/200016/How-do-loud-sounds-damage-my-hearing
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tinnitus/home/ovc-20180349
Images:
http://www.ithacaaudio.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Loud-Speakers-Person.jpg https://s-media-cache-
http://ak0.pinimg.com/736x/3c/aa/49/3caa49d83e8955011b5b3550ae2fa727.jpg

Is Stem Cell Research Ethical?

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-10-45-29-pmWhile trying to fundraise and spread the word for the local MS Walk, my friend ran into some issues when attempting to make a speech at our school about it. Because I attended a Catholic school, they had issues concerning talking about stem cell research since it involves killing embryos in order to find cures for vicious and fatal diseases. This got me thinking of the ethics behind this. Is stem cell research ethical?

 

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I was biased when this conflict arose because I had grown up watching my friend’s mom go through MS and for her to not be able to fundraise publicly at our school tore her apart. This begs another question: Is it ethical to kill a life to save another?

 

What is stem cell research?

The proper term, human embryonic stem cell (HESC) research is a breakthrough for modern medicine. It gives people with awful diseases hope for the future. HESCs are so wanted because they’re known for their ability to change into all different types of cells in the body. The goal for HESC research is to find out how the cells change and how we can turn the stem cells into certain types of cells that can cure and treat these life-threatening diseases and illnesses.screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-10-49-32-pm

 

What diseases can HESC cure / treat?

Like all medical procedures this does have some potential harmful effects, but it’s nothing compared to the outcome of being treated and cured…

SOME of the diseases HESC can help include:

  • screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-10-46-00-pmDiabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Arthritis
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Heart failure
  • Spinal cord lesions

 

 

Ethical Issues

The reason HESC causes so much uproar is because in order to advance medicine, we must destroy innocent embryonic lives. These cells are made through in vitro and on the fifth day of development, they consist of 200-250 cells on the outer layer (trophoblast).screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-10-45-41-pm The inner part of the cell, the blastocyst, contains 30-34 cells. In order to collect the stem cells, the removal of the trophoblast is key. When this is done, it kills the embryo, thus creating this ethical issue.

Good news!

Recently, scientists have discovered adult human skin cells to mimic properties of the HESC which excludes the need for the stem cells. However, the current unanimity is to go ahead with the HSEC research because of the promise it holds.

Ethical or not so much?

I think the consensus honestly depends on your belief system of when a baby is alive. Is it at conception? Is it at the first breath? Once this is figured out I think people will come to a conclusion on ethics. However, as for science, this is breakthrough medicine and we cannot just brush it under the rug.

Don’t use birth order as an excuse, you’d be wrong!

I was born the second son and older brother to my sisters, fraternal twins, who are two years younger than I, in a family of four children. Sometimes I wonder if my life would have been different as the oldest, the youngest or even as an only child, which, on occasion, I would have preferred. The latter would have been my preference during this recent school break at home as I just needed to sleep, have some quiet time and get school work done. It is hard to meet any of those needs with my family of 6 people. There is always someone in the bathroom when you want to use it, someone playing the television or talking too loudly, specifically when I am on the verge of thinking of a great blog idea!

My parents have referred to me as the middle child, even though there are four of us, because my younger sisters are twins. In terms of birth order, I am in the middle so I can understand the categorization. I came across the chart below and started thinking about my personality and that of my siblings. While each of us resemble the descriptions for our birth order, any one of us can check off certain characteristics in the other categories as well.  That led me to my hypothesis; Birth order doesn’t drive personality traits since we are all individuals with different likes, needs and desires.

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Picture source: http://healthyfoodquotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/How-Your-Birth-Order-Shapes-Your-Personality.jpg

A study, published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, or PNAS, used a compilation of data for approximately 20,000 subjects representing people from Germany (10,457), America (5,240), and Great Britain (4,489). Given the size of the sample, the results were considered statistically significant. The analysis assessed the subjects in the same families and between different families. It evaluated the subjects with specific assessment for what are considered the big five personality traits:

  • Openness – being imaginative and willing to try new experiences
  • Conscientiousness – being reliable, organized, methodical and a planner.
  • Extraversion – being energetic, talkative, assertive.
  • Agreeableness – being friendly, kind, sympathetic and compassionate.
  • Neuroticism – emotionally unstable, moody, tense, worrier.

Confounding variables considered in this study included; family size (family size of more than 4 siblings were excluded), age disparity of siblings, socioeconomic status and genetic susceptibility.

This study was conducted to determine if birth order defines the direction a person takes in life. It described and refuted the early studies that originated the birth order theory. Francis Galton conducted a narrow study of first-borns in 1874, concluding parental favoritism drove intellectual superiority.  Alfred Adler defined the birth order theory in the early 1900s, suggesting that personality is influenced by such order. Finally, the Family Niche Theory, produced by Frank Sulloway, in 1996, was reviewed but dismissed because of the limited sampling of only one sibling per family and a subject self-rating model of themselves and their own siblings.

The research conducted for the study was independent, robust and thorough. It reflected consistent, proven results of broad analyses and data. It claims to have achieved a power of 95%, which translates to a mere 5% potential impact on our lives, driven by birth order. I believe that this topic fits the framework of correlation does not imply causation topic that Andrew shared in class.

Conclusion

This credible and statistically significant study determined that, intellect aside, there is no lasting effect on the big five personality traits, because of birth order. I must admit that the data presented was a bit intimidating to dissect, but after reading through it a couple of times, I think it makes logical sense. In my research, I came across this personality test. It is free and claims to be reliable. It might be an interesting test to do with family members over the winter break!

Sources:

Study: Examining the effects of birth order on personality: http://www.pnas.org/content/112/46/14224.full

The Big Five Factors:

http://www.livescience.com/41313-personality-traits.html

Personality test:

www.123test.com/personality-test/

How effective is animal-assisted therapy?

I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling down, I like to cuddle up with my dog to make me feel better. Dogs and cats are commonly known for making people of any ages happy. They love you no matter the circumstance and are always by your side. There is a sense of comfort to petting and holding a dog or cat.  Oxytocin levels in the body actually rise when you pet a dog or cat! Many people in hospitals involved in painful chemotherapy are given time with the animals to relieve the stress and anxiety from the pain. The animal-assisted therapy is not just for physical pain,it is also used for emotional pain such as depression. This can be seen as some sort of medicine to these people with physical and mental pain. I would like to know, how effective is animal-assisted therapy?

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In this case, if we were to conduct an experiment:

H0  : The animal-assisted therapy does nothing

HA: The animal-assisted therapy improves health

The first study I researched shocked me. It was a study on how animal-assisted therapy affected the outcome of the death of the patient. 96 patients that were discharged of the critical unit of the hospital were followed after a year with a pet. 11 of the 39 recently discharged patients -or 28%- that did not have pets died. Only 3 out of 53 patients with pets -6%- died. This shocking results may have evidence towards the relaxation and comfort brought on by the pets, however, like Andrew commonly says, it may be due to chance and is a substantially small study. Also, this focused more on pets at home, rather than in the hospital which can be drastically different in my opinion. It is very interesting though how extreme the results came out with the death rate. A completely different study ( a one year controlled trial) focused on how animal-assisted therapy affected elderly patients with schizophrenia. In this one year blind controlled trial, 10 schizophrenic patients and 10 matched patients in a closed psychogeriatric ward (around the age of 80) were involved in the animal-assisted trial. Their results were measured by the Scale for Social Adaptive Functioning Evaluation, or SAFE. The therapy was then conducted in 4 hour sessions to get results. At the end of the trial the results showed that there was a substantial improvement in the wellbeing of the schizophrenic patients. This was due to the fact that the results after the baseline were drastically on the positive spectrum.

I am not surprised in this result because after a long time, these patients are less lonely, and stimulates mental activity. Animals are also non-judgemental beings in which people with disabilities and deformities have 100% love all the time whenever they’re with this animal. It is truly amazing how impactful animals are to humans. They have the power to motivate and change lives in people by enhancing their quality of life. Unfortunately as amazing as these results are that I mentioned above, most clinical trials done in this field are flawed and therefore can not be trusted. Most studies are too small -as I concluded in the first study- and may very well be due to chance. It is also difficult to measure “happiness” on a scale. As opposed to the first study, which compared deaths, the second study measured ‘well being’ which can be too general and quite difficult to accurately measure.

Most studies also have the file drawer problem, which we often talked about in class. Mostly positive results are only published because they obviously look good to the public eye because they are biased. For example, a psychologist wanted to see the effects that horseback riding 164600-169304had on 81 boys. These boys had certain emotional problems like depression, PTSD, and ADHD. No impact was found from the therapeutic horseback riding, and in fact some of the boys involved in the study actually had higher levels of anxiety and depression from leaving the animal. The study was never published, therefore creating the file drawer problem. So, animal-assisted therapy may or may not work; we will not know for now due to the difficulty of trials and the file drawer problem.

Works Cited

“Dogs and Cats Release ‘love Hormone’ around Each Other, Humans.” UPI. UPI.com, 28 Apr. 2014. Web. 28 Nov. 2016. <http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2014/04/28/Dogs-and-cats-release-love-hormone-around-each-other-humans/3691398680941/>.

@drweil. “Animal Assisted Therapy – Dr. Weil’s Wellness Therapies.” DrWeil.com. N.p., 25 July 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016. <http://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/balanced-living/wellness-therapies/animal-assisted-therapy/>.

“Get It!” Get It! N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://search.proquest.com/docview/228153683?pq-origsite=gscholar>.

@PsychToday. “Does Animal-Assisted Therapy Really Work?” Psychology Today. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2016. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animals-and-us/201411/does-animal-assisted-therapy-really-work>.

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Choosing the Best Word (Processor)

With the onslaught of last minute essays I’ve been writing, I’ve been doing a lot of procrastinating. During this procrastination I decided to consider whether or not my word processor, Microsoft Word, is the most efficient word processor I could be using. Should I use Google Docs, Pages, or some other word processor instead. Because, as it turns out, word processors are very different.

Anyone that has used Google Docs on a group project probably knows how difficult it can be to copy paste from Microsoft Word (because it is far easier to copy paste than settle for their lackluster interface.) As convenient and helpful as Google Docs, or indeed any online word processor, can be it is far easier to use Microsoft Word. To me it is comfortable and effective because I know all the short cuts and can easily navigate the interface. I can also do any formatting necessary for college essays and save anything directly on my computer. But, putting this comfort aside, I began to wonder if there was a more effective word processor out there. Is there an application that, once I fully understand the interface, will help me more easily construct an A+ essay.

The internet is host to a wide variety of word processors. In my search I found Jarte, Abiword, and of course Open Office. All of which seemed fine. Each of them has a simple interface not dissimilar from Word. The only one I have any real experience with is Open Office which ran fine when I had to use it to write an essay in High School, but none of them are likely to become my go to word processor because none of them have all the features of Word in a simple and non-buggy interface. My search seemed to yield no fruitful results. Then I found out about LaTeX a high powered word processor used largely by academics.

According to their official website, LaTeX is not a word processor. It instead insists you forgo such niceties and instead focus on writing- format be damned. After the document is written, the professionals behind LaTeX will then dress your document in a professional format and have you on your way. But, how could I compare this seemingly complicated software to Microsoft Word? Thankfully there was a helpful study conducted by academics to answer this very question.

Titled “An Efficiency Comparison of Document Preparation Systems Used in Academic Research and Development” the study compares Microsoft Word to LaTeX in the professional setting to determine which is the most efficient means of creating and formatting an acceptable document. The null hypothesis was that neither system would be more effective than the other. The alternative hypothesis was that one system would be better than the other. The null hypothesis was rejected when the study found that users of Microsoft Word performed far better, having fewer errors and completing their papers faster, than those who used LaTeX. This study was conducted with the help of volunteers.

These 40 volunteers were researchers from 6 different universities in Germany who were recruited from blogs and news groups and other sources to participate in the study. Each participant used their own computer and was informed of the purpose of the study. They were then divided into one of four groups, each with ten participants, that were based on their knowledge of the document preparation systems. The four groups were made up of novices in either Word or LaTeX and experts in either Word or LaTeX. These groups were then each asked to write three probe texts- these were essentially sample texts they had to write- focusing on text alone, text with tables, and lastly math text including equations. These texts were selected to best show what type of information the software usually presents. After these sample texts were composed by each group the performance of the individuals was measured.

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Table 1

To measure how well they composed these articles they counted, in three distinct categories, the number of errors which can be seen in Table 1. In Table 1 you can also see how many words were typed in thirty minutes using each program. Overall, when looking at this data the difference does not seem that great at first. The number of mistakes does not appear to be that much higher in LaTeX than in Word, but then I considered for a moment the number of mistakes I usually make with Microsoft Word. It’s not a lot. The software easily catches most typos and grammatical errors so the mistakes I make are few and in between. While it may stumble over some new words and some grammar, Word largely keeps me in line. Having never used LaTeX I can only assume that its largely hands off approach leads to the higher rate of errors. This approach must also contribute to the lower word count. Not only did LaTeX users write slower, they messed up more.

All of this in mind, the study feels accurate and fair. It had academics write academic articles using the various types of data often found in academic articles and fairly concluded that Word was better. In the end, what matters is the resulting document that the program helps you create and Word created the document with fewer errors at a faster rate.

The academics in the study were also taken from various universities and places, given the same task, and the study accounted for differences in experience with the program. Which lastly, is another important part to consider. When typing any essay using a word processor or similar program it is important not to waste too much time learning how to use the new program and, as the study concludes, it took longer to learn how to use LaTeX than learn how to use Microsoft Word. So overall, the assessment that Microsoft Word is better than LaTeX seems completely valid. I believe the study avoided confounding variables by taking experience into consideration, and fairly compared these programs.

My search overall for a better word processor than Microsoft Word has proven fruitless. Given its straightforward nature, large set of tools, and the fact that it is free for Penn State students I would recommend using Microsoft Word to every student at Penn State.

Links:

https://products.office.com/en-us/word

https://www.google.com/docs/about/

http://www.apple.com/pages/

http://www.jarte.com/

http://www.abisource.com/

http://www.openoffice.org/

http://www.latex-project.org/about/

Picture Links:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0115069.t002

 

Why is LSD illegal?

Okay yes, this is a strange topic. You would think the reasons are obvious, right? That’s what I thought but what I was unaware of is that LSD was used for medical purposes in the past. This sounded completely absurd to me so I was impelled to do more research. And here we are. Let me enlighten you.

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Link: http://thefreethoughtproject.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/lsd-alcohol-anonymous.jpg

LSD is a pschaedelic drug that changes your mood and causes you to hallucinate. You hallucinate because LSD actually copies the functions of a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin controls your mood and maintains it. When someone takes LSD, it attacks a specific serotonin receptor called 5HT-2A. This causes your senses to basically freak out and make you see things that you normally wouldn’t see.  This does not sound like it would be the safest thing to ingest. The effects of it and overall risk overwhelmingly outweigh any positive functions the drug serves. When it comes to taking LSD, you’re basically taking a chance every time because you could have a great experience or not be able to recover from a bad trip and stay that way forever. According to this article I read, you don’t feel the effects until after 30-90 minutes after ingesting the drug. After doing so, your body temperature can either rise or drop and you can experience extreme mood changes. Often times users lose their appetite, become tired, and start to shake. There is an extreme disconnect from reality and that is a reason why users continue to use because they want to experience that feeling again. The risks of taking LSD can be subtle but most of the time they can be severe and long lasting. I don’t think it’s worth the risk because for someone that lacks self control, they may not be able to stop themselves from reusing. This can lead to even worse long lasting effects that commonly affect long term users.

According to the same article as before, long term users of LSD can experience flashbacks of a “trip” they experienced while being on the drug. This can reoccur constantly throughout their life. Also, users can become stuck in a long term psychosis and severe depression. When someone is on LSD, they can experience terrifying images and develop irrational fears of images that do not even exist. I feel the long term effects are what to worry about more because you may end up feeling really good in the moment, but you may not be able to get ride of the feeling if it is bad.

The history of LSD is interesting because many people felt it was a beneficial drug and were unaware of its dangers.LSD was first synthesized in 1938 by Dr. Albert Hoffman. He did not know of its capabilities until early 1940’s. The drug was actually used experimentally from the 40’s through the 60’s by doctors because it mimic’d similar functions as the brain. There weren’t any practical medical uses but it became poplar in the field of psychology. Psychologist were giving it to their clients as an escape and this spread rapidly.

Knowing everything that I know now about LSD, I can safely say I won’t being doing it any time soon. The risks are too high to outweigh the benefits I would get.

http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/lsd/a-short-history.html

http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/lsd/the-harmful-effects-of-lsd.html

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2006/feb/25/drugs.thisweekssciencequestions

 

 

‘Yo-Yo’ Dieting is a Major No No

During prom season in high school, my best friend and I during the week of prom would go on an insane diet. Of course, after prom we would resume our ‘healthy’ diet of two lava cakes weekly. This is a form of “yo-yo” dieting or losing weight and then almost immediately gaining it back. This form of dieting is extremely popular but is unsurprisingly considered to be an extremely unhealthy way of losing weight. But just how unhealthy is it really?

According to a study, the type of people who are most likely to engage in “yo-yo” dieting are older women. Therefore, Dr. Somwail Rasla, along other associates, decided to test just how bad this form of dieting is on the cardiac health of older women. To determine whether or not Dr. Rasla and his associates were accurate in hypothesizing that cardiac health is negatively impacted from this form of dieting, they decided to create a longitudinal, observational study. To collect the most accurate results, the study consisted of 158,000 postmenopausal women whom were placed into groups categorized as the following:  stable weight, steady weight gain, maintained weight loss, or “yo-yo dieting”. These women were studied for eleven years and at the conclusion of the study, 2,500 women of the women who participated in “yo-yo” dieting died due to a variety of failure in cardiac health. The results of this study are credible given the length and number of participants involved. Although, the researchers stated that while there is a strong association between ‘yo-yo’ dieting and cardiac death, there is not a causal relationship between the two. Furthermore, it is important to note that some of these women could have died due to cardiac failure because of genetics, this in turn acts as a confounding variable.

The information from this study is certainly informative, but what can you do to stop ‘yo-yo’ dieting now? According to Weight Watchers, to begin keep a log of your meals daily. In addition, consume meals that are more balanced in order to stay full longer therefore being more satisfied. An example of a typical balanced meal can be seen below. Moreover, the researchers of the study stated that to not fret when the scale has a weight that is not to your liking. Rather than crash dieting, it is important to eat balanced food and work out whenever possible. These simple steps can not only extend your life, but live a fuller one too.

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Boots and Bunions

It is that time of year again. . . winter. For many this is a dreadful time. Beach days at the Jersey Shore are replaced with bundling up in layers and staying in until forced to take dreadful steps outside. In preparation for those brutally cold walks (especially here in State College) it also means that you definitely switched over from open-toed flip-flops to close-toed snow boots. I know I did. For this reason, I found it especially concerning to see an article about bunions and snow boots. Not only am I being forced (by the weather) to wear these heavy boots, but they might also cause bunions too?

According to Robert Preidt, winter shoes have a causal relationship in causing bunions. For those unaware, a bunion is a bony bump that forms at the joint of the big toe. The only way to completely get rid of a bunion is through surgery, other than that there are only treatments. Bunions form from winter shoes because many winter shoes are narrow, therefore when the big toe rubs against the material of the shoe, inflammation occurs. To prevent this, it is important to purchase shoes that are considered wide for your foot. Moreover, one can purchase padding for shoes in order to decrease irritation.

Perhaps you do indeed get a bunion this winter, how can you determine the best remedy to treat your bunion? There are numerous treatments but I am only going to focus on two of the non-surgical treatments. The Cleveland Clinic advises that to remedy the pain of a bunion, a person purchase either a gel-filled pad or a shoe insert, but which one is best? To answer this question, one could perform an experimental study. A large group of participants with bunions could be randomly assigned. One half of the participants with a gel-filled pad and the other half the shoe inserts. Then the participants could live a week with these remedies and keep a log of how they feel at the end of each day in terms of pain from one to five (five being most painful). At the end of the trial the participants would then be questioned about whether or not they felt that they remedy they were assigned was effective or not and an average of the scores could be tallied. This in turn could help determine which is a better, non-surgical remedy. Of course, confounding variables in this particular study can be identified. For instance, if a person has a serious bunion that should actually be surgically removed, they might rate the remedy they were assigned poorly. The null hypothesis of this theoretical study is that there will be no difference in each of the two types of remedy. On the contrary, the alternative hypothesis is that there is a difference and one of the remedies is better than the other. Since there are many remedies to bunions, I suspect that if this study were to actually take place, there would not be a statistically significant result from this study and the null hypothesis would prove to be correct.

All in all, the true cure that would be most significant in relieving bunion pain is surgery. With this being said, it is important to make sure this upcoming winter you purchase the right shoe for your foot to ensure you never have to deal with the pain of developing a bunion. To do this, research winter boots before you purchase them.

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Does mental illness as a stigma lead to under-diagnoses and further health risks?

Here’s a disclaimer to start: I don’t have much personal experience with people with mental illnesses or disabilities, so this post will focus more on what I have heard second-hand from friends and family, from studies on the topic, and how mental illnesses are portrayed in the media. The reason I chose the topic of mental illnesses is actually because of how little I ever hear about them spoken aloud or discussed, even though around 44 million adults – nearly 14% of the U.S. population – experience a mental illness in a year. As many as half of that total can go undiagnosed or receive limited or improper treatment. Despite this, in my opinion, there is a severe lack of common knowledge of mental illnesses, and there remains several negative disordersstigmas that can lead people ignore their illness and potentially negatively impact their health.

A stigma is a belief that can be associated with a person or quality that carries a negative connotation. There are many stigmas surrounding mental illnesses, though the most common beliefs are that people with mental illnesses are violent, that being diagnosed makes a person appear weak or undesirable to significant others and employers, and that people with mental illnesses have childlike tendencies. But how can stigmas affect a person’s mental wellbeing? Well, based on an article in Schizophrenia Bulletin, while stigmas are beliefs that are developed by the public, who do not fully comprehend the object of the stigma’s interest, they are also affected by the reaction of the minority group the stigma is labeled toward. It tends to be that when those the stigma crudely represents hear of the misconceptions, they react in ways they normally would not. For example, if someone with a mental illness were to hear a stigma that someone with their disorder is violent and dangerous, a natural reaction would be for them to become angry at the person they hear it from. However, in most cases this reaction does nothing to stave off the stigma, but rather reinforces it, although unfairly. The most common emotion upon hearing a stigma surrounding something they suffer from is shame, as people tend to be embarrassed when they find out what others think of them but have no way or motivation to disprove them. Stigmas only further to separate the general public from the minority group, leading to a sense of alienation and loss of social status, thus leading to more stigmas, such as claiming that sillopeople with mental illnesses are socially inept or unable to function properly.

The impact these stigmas have on the public and on those with mental illnesses is immense; some of the public will refuse to help those with an illness, others avoid them entirely, and friends or family can push their loved one into an unwanted treatment that may lead to damaging the relationships between them. Not only is there a public stigma on mental illness, but because of the beliefs of people around them, sufferers of mental illnesses may begin to internalize their own self-stigma. They may start believing that they are less valued than a person without a mental illness, lowering their self-confidence and self-esteem. Depressive disorders especially heighten these feelings, as the person may already have seen themselves in a negative light to begin with.

While stigma is mostly conceptual rather than scientifically factual, making it a soft science rather than hard science, there are some areas of science that can be brought in for this argument. For example, a study in 1998 in the Journal of Affective Disorders researched whether or not bipolar disorder was under-diagnosed and anti-depressants were being over-utilized as a treatment method. Studying hospital records, the report found that most patients had not been correctly diagnosed – or diagnosed at all – in the past, and most were given anti-depressants as treatment, rather than mood-stabilizers. For patients who had been incorrectly diagnosed with antidisorders other than bipolar disorder, an average of 7.5 years passed until they were correctly diagnosed and treated. This study helps show that modern understandings of mental illnesses, even when an attempt is made at diagnosing and treating, is severely lacking. Although this study does not explicitly state that the health of people that were under-diagnosed became worse, it can be assumed that the misdiagnoses and wrong treatment method was not beneficial.

Some people might argue that it is the 21st century, and there is always room for improvement, which I readily agree with. While many representations of mental illnesses in media are unsavory or inaccurate, there have been some more recent positive portrayals that shine a light on what people with these disorders go through, and at the same time showing that they can live normal lives, just like everyone else, just with different hurdles to jump over. Internet and social media allows people to share their experiences, allowing for the first time for people to see the extent of mental illnesses and to have a community. However, improvement, especially in this area, is not always natural and need a catalyst or starting place, which in this case I believe is middle and high schools. Curriculum on disorders should be added to health classes, and people of all ages should be encouraged to integrate mental checkups in with annual physicals. It is my belief that stigma should be replaced with the truth, so that people can begin receiving treatment without feeling shameful or wanting to hide their illness, as that can only lead to further deterioration of their health.

Sources:

US Stats: http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers

World Stats: http://www.iccd.org/keyfacts.html#young

About Stigmas: http://www.waisman.wisc.edu/EVENTS/ethics/Corrigan_Stigma_WP_2002.pdf

Measuring Stigma: http://schizophreniabulletin.oxfordjournals.org/content/30/3/511.full.pdf+html

Bipolar Study: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032798000767

Negative TV: http://www.vulture.com/2016/09/what-tv-gets-wrong-about-mental-illness.html

Positive TV: http://www.much.com/5-tv-shows-that-got-mental-health-right/

Pictures:

Disorders: https://www.exposingtruth.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/mentalhealth.jpg

Silhouette: http://assets.rappler.com/612F469A6EA84F6BAE882D2B94A4B421/img/B4B996E452134695B7A2636932B88EDC/depressed-man-20130323-rappler_8fc9bc92b2a347b4a03c5234cda1f9fb.jpg

Antidepressants: http://www.newhealthadvisor.com/images/1HT18076/antidepressants.jpg

Jammin’ and Drivin’

Personally, I like driving. I particularly like driving alone. My reasons for this have to do in part with the fact that I love having that extended period of time where I have the chance to sit and listen to music and jam out in the car by myself. Music just makes me a lot more laid back and happy in general. However many people, such as my own father, believe that listening to music in the car leads to distracted driving. My dad likes to tell me not to listen to music in the car. Sorry dad, but I’m not about to sit in utter silence for long drives, even if I do think you might be right. It makes sense logically that music would be distracting while driving, or would at least affect our driving, however I wanted to find some actual research that back up this anecdotal claim.

I formed the null hypothesis that listening to music in the car does not affect our driving, and the alternative hypothesis that listening to music in the car does affect our driving in some way.

First I found this study, the purpose of which was to look at the braking response time in relation to music volume levels. The study was done with 16 men and 11 women, all licensed drivers, and all between the ages of 19 and 23 years old. They were tested with a driving apparatus in a laboratory that imitated movements involved in driving a car. They went through the test four times, once without music, two more times with music increasing in volume each time, and a forth time while holding a phone conversation with one of the researchers. I was highly disappointed to see that the results of this study showed that listening to music did not greatly affect response times. However, it would be logically to say that these results may be due to external variables. For example, the participants may have been so focused on doing well that they just tuned out the music. They knew they were being tested on driving accuracy so they focused more on the driving and not as much on the music than they normally would have. The music may have also had something to do with it. I know if I’m listening to a song playing that I don’t know, I’m less likely to pay much attention to it. Maybe if the participants were allowed to pick their favorite song to play, like they would do if they were actually driving in their own cars, it would’ve shown how distracted people normally get by music in their cars. I do think that if they used a larger sample size, the results may have been different.

Image result for music in car

Another study, done in the UK with around 1000 participants ranging through all ages, had similar results. The way they gather their information, however, was almost solely through anecdotes. The researchers had the participants answer questions on what music they were listening to, how loud it was, how it made them feel, and other such things. So basically a lot of the information was based on whether or not the person claimed that music made them feel for relaxed, focused, distracted, etc. They did look at driving records and accident reports for the participants. 23 percent of the drivers who had been involved in accidents reported that music had been playing at the time.  Considering this wasn’t the majority, it cannot be said that music had a clear direct causation with the accidents. The results were essentially non-conclusive. It could not be said whether or not music made drivers more distracted or not.

Altogether, I’m disappointed that all of the studies I was able to find did not give me conclusive results. It seems that either the wrong studies are being done, not enough studies have been done, or there aren’t enough people involved in the studies to really get good results. I can neither accept nor reject my null hypothesis, because in some cases, music seemed to affect driving while in others it did not. I do believe though, and I’m sure many people would agree with me, that music does affect driving even if there isn’t solid evidence to support this claim.

Sources:

Source 1

Source 2

Picture Source

Is music taste an indicator of personality?

Introduction

Pop, Hip-Hop, Classical, Rock, Alternative, Metal, Punk.  All genres of music, and everyones taste in them is different.  Some people might be drawn towards pop and rock while others stick only to metal.  But do these preferences reveal anything about our personality and the way that we behave in our everyday life?  This has been a question that is at the heart of many studies, and is something that to this day continues to not be totally understood.

Studies

The first study that looked into the link between music preference and personality came in 1953, when researcher Cattell and partner Anderson created the I.P.A.T. personality test ( Cattell)  Through this study they created 12 different personality traits that could be deciphered from peoples enjoyment in certain parts of music.  Further the idea that music causes personality, a 1999 study showed that people used music as a platform to communicate their social values.  (North) However, there are some confounding issues with these studies.  They found issues with self esteem playing a large role into how people perceive music relating to themselves.  They were also studying limited genres of music, specifically in the Cattell study they were only asking how people felt about certain parts of jazz and classical songs as opposed to whole genres.

Still, these studies point out that there is a potential underlying link between personality and music preference.  A comprehensive study conducted by Peter Rentfrow (Rentfrow) at the University of Texas studied undergraduate students and how their music preferences effect their lives.  The majority of students put music as the most important cultural impact on their life, something that has been proven to affect your personality.  They also said that for themselves and others, music is the most important thing that affects their personality, placed above any other form of media.

This study was conducted of many smaller studies that set apart individual genres of music, had participants tell how they felt about those genres, explain what parts of that music was appealing to them, and finally finding a link between them and personality.  Below is the final chart that showed the relation between personality and music types, as was presented in the study.

music-chart

Image from Rentfrow Study

Results

Ultimately, the study found that there is a link and that it is fairly direct.  Individuals who liked upbeat exciting music tended to be more rebellious and risky in their life compared to people who enjoy mellow music.  One example given in the article is that students who enjoyed upbeat music found themselves to be more attractive and have a higher self esteem, and were also politically more liberal compared to students with different musical preferences.  I would say that this wasn’t different to what I expected, generally people I know who like “faster” music are more into party scenes and as a result see themselves as more popular and likeable.

In conclusion, these studies show that there is a link between music preference and personality, and the link is fairly strong.  I think this is largely caused by the fact that music plays such a major role in our lives and anything you spend that much time on is bound to have an impact on you.  So think about what types of music you listen to and see if it correlates to what they found in the study, maybe it will tell you more about yourself then you thought possible.

 

 

Why So Many Allergies?

Everyone I talk to has some type of allergy.

“I can’t have dairy”

“Oh I’m allergic to soy”

“I am severely allergic to nuts”

Even out of my group of friends, 3 of them cannot have dairy, 2 cannot eat gluten, and 2 (including myself) are allergic to nuts. When I talk to my parents about this, they are appalled of how so many people have so many food allergies now. Back when they were kids, allergies were something 1 or 2 kids had, but now, the majority of kids have at least 1 allergy. This got me thinking… Why? It is something in our food? Chemicals? Lack of tolerance? So I decided to do some research starting with Milk…

Milk

I came across a TED talk that was given by a concerned mother and now knowledgable activist for chemically infused foods. She starts by talking about her childhood and how her diet wasn’t the most healthy. As she goes into it, she begins to speak of how in the mid 1900s, new food proteins were taking over the food scene with little knowledge about their makeup or potential harm. This is was done by the food companies so that they could be better off however, no human trials were conducted to test these products’ safety.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-1-32-44-pmMilk is the biggest victim of this and coincidentally the number one food allergen in America. Recombinant bovine growth hormone or, rBGH, was introduced to the dairy scene in 1994 in order to increase milk production of the cows. However, this chemical resulted in an increase of disease of the animals given this. To solve this problem, they treated the livestock with antibiotics, but this only snowballed into a bigger problem of the rise of antibiotic-resistant humans.

 

Because rBGH has not been proven safe, countries such as Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and other European countries have refused to use it. But, clearly America went by the logic that it hasn’t been proven dangerous, so let’s use it! That being said that this chemical has yet to be proven dangerous, there should still be much concern revolving this. It is like saying, let’s let the murder off because we haven’t found too much evidence concluding that he is guilty, only some.

A scientist at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, Samuel Epstein, MD, is an expert on cancer prevention. He is one of Congress’ “go-to guys” to consult on cancer prevention and is very well written. In his many books, he explains to readers that rBGH milk is very different from natural milk because it is contaminated with high levels of natural growth factor (IDF-1), which has been proven as a major cause of breast, colon, and prostate cancers. In the picture below, it also states the multitude of other chemicals in our milk.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-12-42-27-pm

 

A study highlighted in the article showed that the United States has the highest rate of cancer. In addition, 1 out of 8 American women have breast cancer and 1 out of 10 are due to genetics …. Leaving 9 due to environmental factors. So, not only are these chemicals harming us with allergies but increasing our risk of cancer.

Soy

Soy is one of the top eight food allergens and a common ingredient in most processed foods. Just as we saw with the milk, there is a “foreign” substance being added to our soy: weed killers. These pesticides are Bt toxin which can be harmful to the body.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-1-32-24-pmIn addition to the Bt toxin, GMO or, genetically modified organismsare taking center stage as the culprit for many new health issues. One of them being the staggering increase of food allergies.

 

 

Nuts

Nowadays, nut allergies are EVERYWHERE. Whether is peanuts, tree nuts, or both, a lot of people are victims. I wanted to find out why in the past couple of decades this allergy has been on the rise. When researchingI found something in this article that hints towards the absence of nuts at early ages can be a potential cause. In the 2000s, pregnant women were told to steer clear of nuts because they didn’t know yet if the baby could be allergic. However, now scientists and researchers are claiming to incorporate small doses of nuts into pregnant women’s and children’s diets in order to expose them to the substance and increase their tolerance.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-1-16-30-pmThis statement is also supported because of the new way to treat allergies: immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is when doctors are giving small doses of the allergen to the victims in order to increase tolerance and hopefully, cure their allergy.

 

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-1-16-51-pmClearly, this new treat is in early stages and SHOULD NOT be tried alone without doctors, but in my opinion, and many other professionals’, this could be the new way to treat and cure allergies.

Takeaway

According to all the research, my questions were all valid. It seems to be that all of the new and untested chemicals taking over our food is also taking over our health. Lack of tolerance is also an issue regarding allergies. My advice: have a wide variety of food to increase tolerance, know what you’re eating, and steer clear of chemically infused foods — not just for allergy sake, but for detrimental health effects as well.

Why do phone batteries die?

Mobile phones have advanced rapidly in the past ten years to a global force that is practically a requirement today. College students are always getting the newest iPhone around September but the trend is starting to slow. As our phones get sleeker and faster, battery technology seems to trail far behind the rest. Although each generation adds a few hundred milliamp hours or mAh, the battery life improvement is minimal and degrades over extended use. This blog will look at why phone batteries are limited currently and then the possible future of battery and charging technology.

The first phone batteries used were Nickel Cadmium (NiCD) batteries and Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries. NiCD batteries had problems with toxicity and overheating, and NiMH batteries replaced NiCD batteries in the later 1990’s as they did not suffer from these issues. However, Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries rose to prominence over NiMH batteries and are the phone batteries most commonly used today. Li-ion batteries also come in a Lithium-ion Polymer form, often shortened to LiPo. Li-ion or LiPo batteries do not suffer from any toxicity or heat problems like the previous generations of batteries did.

lg-li-ion-battery

LG Li-ion phone battery

However, like the batteries that came before it, Li-ion batteries slowly lose their capacity to recharge overtime. Inside every phone battery, there is a Lithium-Cobalt Oxide cathode and a Carbon (graphite) anode. The discharging process occurs when Lithium ions move from the anode to the cathode. And when the phone is charged, the ions move from cathode to anode. The process, known as “Cycling”, is not 100% efficient, meaning not every ion is transferred on each charge or discharge. The stubborn ions cause an inefficiency in the battery, reducing the overall amount of power the battery provides to the phone. This is an accepted process of Li-ion and LiPo batteries and our current battery technology does not know how to resolve it.

However, the solution may not be to resolve the problem with Li-ion or LiPo batteries, but a new technology entirely. The NanoScience Technology Center at the University of Central Florida is working on flexible supercapacitors that store more energy and do not degrade on recharge. A supercapacitor is very similar to a battery on steroids, meaning it has much more power than a traditional phone battery. The flexible descriptor just means that it is able to bend and flex without stressing the internal components or breaking. These supercapacitors can provide up to 30,000 charges and discharges without any significant degradation to the device. This is a large improvement over traditional Li-ion batteries, which start to fail after fewer than 1,500 cycles. And if all of these improvements were not enough, these phones could charge in seconds, and last for over a week without recharging. The lab working on the supercapacitors notes that there is still a lot of work to do before commercial phones would be using them, but it also sets an interesting precedent for electronic vehicles and wearable technology.

flexible-supercapacitor

Flexible supercapacitor illustration

Works Cited

Aleksander. “Cell Phone Battery History.” ChargeTech. CHARGETECH ENTERPRISES LLC., 26 May                      2014. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Hunt, James. “Why Do Smartphone Batteries Fail So Quickly?” Mental Floss. Felix Dennis, 22 Jan.                      2015. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

“NanoScience Technology Center.” NanoScience Technology Center at UCF. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov.                    2016.

“A Phone That Charges in Seconds?” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 Nov. 2016. Web. 28 Nov.                               2016.

Eat Your Carrots!

When I was a baby my mother always told me to make sure I finish all my carrots on my plate or else I would grow up having bad vision. Being the stubborn child I was, I never listened to my mother and refused to eat the carrots. As a child I never believed that eating any type of food could benefit your health, especially if it meant I’d have to eat vegetables. Currently, I have horrible vision and now question whether I should have listened to my mother as a child and eat the carrots. So, could carrots actually benefit your vision? In order to discover this question there are two possible hypothesis, the Null Hypothesis that nothing happens whether you eat carrots or not, or the Alternative Hypothesis that carrots do benefit your eye sight.

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imgresEvidence

According to Medical Daily, in World War 2 British Air Force pilots would eat carrots in order to recognize their enemy in the night time. Although the radars were the only true reason why the British Air Force pilots would find their enemies, it was discovered that there was a nutrient in the carrot that did indeed help one’s eyes. According to Scientific American, carrots contain beta-carotene, but what exactly is beta-carotene? According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, beta-carotene is a pigment found in plants and vegetables that often will give it the orange, red, or yellow look. When beta-carotene is consumed the pigment converts into Vitamin A, and which according to WebMD, Vitamin A helps increase vision. Even though beta-carotene helps increase your vision, it can help other health benefits too. According to WebMD, beta-carotene can help reduce asthma, cope with Alzheimers Disease, and even help with infertility. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant, which means that it protects your body. This would explain why beta-carotene benefits so many common health problems. So, carrots ultimately do help with just more than your eyes; however, are there any other ways to consume beta-carotene? According to Healthaliciousness website, beta-carotene can be found in other vegetables such as sweet potatoes, squash, and even cantaloupes. Even though beta-carotene is common in fruits and vegetables, another alternative for taking beta-carotene supplemental vitamins. So, if you do not enjoy eating your fruits and vegetables, a supplement is the perfect solution in order to make sure you get the correct amount of beta-carotene. All in all, the Alternative Hypothesis is correct, and carrots do benefit your eye sight. 

 

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Takeaway

To my surprise, carrots do help your vision, even if you have bad vision already, it can help improve your vision even to the slightest bit, so it is very important to eat them! However, this information helped me realize that there are so many other ways to help benefit your eyes. All in all, beta-carotene is a very important pigment that most certainly everyone should consume in order to help with not just ones eyes, but other major health effects. Since my eyes currently have horrible vision I intend to consume more food with beta-carotene in order to possible improve my vision to the slightest bit. So, I guess my mother was right – you definitely should eat your carrots.

Work Cited

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-carrots-improve-your-vision/

http://www.medicaldaily.com/pulse/eye-health-fact-or-fiction-does-vitamin-carrots-lead-2020-vision-314638

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-999-beta-carotene.aspx?activeingredientid=999&

http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/supplement-guide-vitamin-a#1

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/betacarotene

https://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/natural-food-sources-of-beta-carotene.php

Pictures

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-benefits-of-carrots.html

https://www.gianteagle.com/20525100207.aspx

 

 

 

Is Your Hair Coloring Safe?

Before beginning school at Penn State University, I had no intentions of ever dying my hair. The longer I was at school, the more I realized how light other girls hair were and that I was sick of always having the darkest hair out of all my friends. So, I did what any person who was sick of their hair color would do – dye it. Sure enough, Thanksgiving break rolled around, and I am now sitting here with blonder hair. Although I now have already dyed my hair, I wonder how safe is dying your hair?

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Julian Mackler/BFA.com/REX Shutterstock (4745440bd) Gigi Hadid Costume Institute Gala Benefit celebrating China: Through the Looking Glass, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, America - 04 May 2015

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Julian Mackler/BFA.com/REX Shutterstock (4745440bd)
Gigi Hadid
Costume Institute Gala Benefit celebrating China: Through the Looking Glass, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, America – 04 May 2015

Evidence

People have been dying their hair for hundreds of years; however, how safe can it really be? The Null Hypothesis would be nothing happens when you dye your hair, it is fine to do; while the Alternative Hypothesis would be something does happen when you dye your hair, and it could be harmful. This is something I definitely want to discover, because it could change my views on continuing to dye my hair in the future. In order to determine how safe hair dye is, it is important to know what is in it. According to How Stuff Works, hair dyes have two main ingredients – hydrogen peroxide and ammonia. According to Style Caster, the only possible effects these two ingredients could have on you is to cause you to have dermatitis, swelling, and itching. However, these symptoms are so rare that they’d probably only happen if you dye your hair multiple times in one day every time you dye your hair – which all in all, is a lot of dying that is unreasonable for almost everybody.  Although the ingredients seem to be safe for people to use, a number of people have grown great concern with the possible correlation with dying hair and cancer. Could dying your hair cause cancer? According to The American Cancer Foundation, there have been many studies in order to determine if there is any correlation between cancer and hair dye. One study, exposed animals to a substance to see if any health problems occurred.  While another study, explained that it looked at the rate of cancer in a group of people and to see who was exposed to hair dye and who wasn’t. Although these studies seem to be helpful, there is actually not enough evidence to determine if hair dye does indeed cause cancer, or in fact are harmful at all. So, the Null Hypothesis would stand; however, there are still studies going on to determine if hair dye is harmful.

How To Dye

Although it has been determined that hair dye is not harmful, are there ways that are better to dye your hair? The most common way one dyes their hair is using foil. Accordingthe-hair-color-that-lasts-6-months-1024x679 to Clairol Professional, a hair salon, foiling allows the chemicals in the dye to seep into the hair giving it the change in color. A newer, more natural looking hair dying process, is balayage. This process is by ‘painting’ the hair in order to give it a more natural look. Unlike the foil, the balayage dyes differently and allows some pieces of your hair to be darker or lighter than other part, rather than the whole piece being the same color. So what method of dying is better? According to Modern Salon, is easier on your hair since you are not foiling it up and suffocating it while it takes in the dye. The balayage is much lighter and more free than the foil. Just like Modern Salon, Vogue Australia, agrees to use balayage in the debate between balayage and foil. Even though these top two fashion sites agree with using balayage, there is no health effects on either of them, so ultimately it is up to the person who is getting their hair dyed.

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Takeaway

unknownAll in all, the evidence concludes that hair dying is safe and there has been no link to any health effects. The Null Hypothesis stood, but there are still studies going on the determine if hair dye could possibly cause any health effects. The two different ways to dye your hair can determine how it makes your hair look, but ultimately it won’t effect anything about you or your health. In conclusion, hair dying is definitely safe and is definitely something I would recommend doing if you are tired of your normal hair!

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Work Cited

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/intheworkplace/hair-dyes

http://www.vogue.com.au/beauty/hair+insider/what+is+the+balayage+effectr,13857

https://www.clairolpro.com/inside-clairol-pro/fundamentals-of-foil-highlighting

http://www.modernsalon.com/article/30318/the-great-debate-balayage-vs-foil

Is Hair Dye Harmful to Your Health?

http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/everyday-innovations/hair-coloring2.htm

Gigi Hadid

https://de.pinterest.com/explore/ash-blonde-balayage

http://cutediyprojects.com/beauty-style/top-30-balayage-hairstyles-to-give-you-a-completely-new-look/

Tobacco Flavors: Worse Than They Seem

When Andrew polled the class about whether or not the majority smoked cigarettes, the results did not surprise me. Most of the class had stated that they did not smoke. It seems like smoking cigarettes has become rather passé for the millennial generation. It has lost popularity since the results of many observational studies over decades denounce tobacco products and enforce, through sometimes graphic evidence, the devastating impact they have on the human body. With this being said, it shocked me when I read a headline that the popularity of tobacco was picking up again with the younger generation. Why was this so?

smoking

Tobacco flavors have an appeal to the younger generation. Young people see the flavors and immediately assume that this flavored tobacco is less harmful. Obviously, we know that this is an inaccurate assumption. With this being said, researchers at the University of North Carolina decided to see if these flavors actually had an appeal amongst the younger generation. The University reviewed forty past studies in the United States to see the opinions of people about non-menthol flavors. Li-Ling Huang, a study author, said that they were able to conclude that when young people were asked about tobacco flavors, the young people said that flavors have an appeal as they seem significantly less harmful than traditional tobacco. Being that these flavors are promoting the intake of tobacco, U.S. Food and Drug Administration decided to ban flavored tobacco cigarettes in 2009, although this did not include menthol-and-tobacco-flavored cigarettes. There still remains no ban on flavored cigarillos, cigars, hookahs or e-cigarettes in the United States.

One of the flavored tobacco products that has yet to be banned is the hookah. For those unaware, a hookah is a water pipe with a smoke chamber. Being that a hookah lacks a filter, it is significantly worse than smoking cigarettes. In fact, according to the Health and Prevention Services at George Washington University, one smoking session of hookah is equivalent to approximately 40 to 400 cigarettes. Since hookahs contain the same toxic chemicals that are in cigarettes, they cause the same health issues of cigarettes but at a greater magnitude. Some of which include: cardiovascular disease, cancers, and birth issues. Therefore, hookah has a causal relationship with these health issues.

I found it to be perplexing that people who choose to smoke hookah typically associate the hookah as being less dangerous than cigarettes. So why are hookahs more popular than cigarettes? To test this one could get a large group of millennials who already use tobacco products, all of which with similar health backgrounds. One group could be given flavored cigarettes, while the other group could use hookah. After each session the participants could be reviewed and questioned for one week to learn how they felt after each session and whether they were satisfied or not. At the conclusion of the study, all of the participants could then undergo a physical and be shown side-by-side analyses about the differences between the detrimental health effects of cigarettes and hookahs. The hypothesis of this study is that after reviewing just how bad a week’s worth of using these tobacco products, the participants will seek methods to quit. On the contrary the null hypothesis is that the participants will have no reaction to the negative health issues resulting from the study. Given that most human beings typically choose the options that will ultimately make them better off, it is likely that these participants will seek methods to quit this habits. Moreover, the hookah smokers will likely see just how bad the hookah actually is, especially in comparison to the already deadly cigarette.

While Andrew’s poll does indeed bring to light that many millennials are no longer smoking traditional cigarettes, flavored tobacco products are making a deadly comeback. While it is appealing to have something flavored either cherry or cotton candy, one should evaluate the health risks and avoid it, for not only themselves but also the people they surround themselves with.

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