Author Archives: Delaney Ann Flynn

Can you Outgrow an Allergy?

In the fall of 1997, my mother was shocked to discover her baby could not ingest formula without getting sick. Regardless of the brand or type, I still could not drink it. She was very concerned and confused and went to multiple doctors to discover the reason. After visiting several doctors, my mother concluded that I have a severe milk allergy. Throughout my entire life, I have had to avidly avoid dairy products such as ice cream, chocolate, yogurt, cheese, etc. Doctors repeatedly told me that, with age, I would outgrow my allergy. However, the exact opposite occurred. The severity of my reactions worsened to now being practically fatal.

Allergies are a result of an overactive immune system that recognizes a harmless substance as a threat to the body. The brain triggers the system to produce immunoglobulin antibodies as a defense. The dispersal of the antibodies causes the allergic reaction. Doctors do not know the mechanism or reason why some allergies disappear over the course of someone’s lifetime. A possible explanation for the disappearing allergies is that a person grows accustomed to the allergen. Regular exposure dulls the body’s reaction to eventual disappearance. Doctors can predict whether or not a child will outgrow an allergy through a blood test that measures the number of immunoglobulin antibodies in the blood stream when probed with the allergen. When a person suspects he has outgrown an allergy, the allergist can conduct a “food challenge” and give the patient a small amount of the allergen and carefully watch the person’s reaction. (Live Science) 

So why do some children outgrow their allergies while others like myself do not? Studies suggest that 60-80% of children will outgrow a dairy allergy by age 16, 20% of children will outgrow a peanut allergy, and 4-5% will outgrow a shell fish allergy. However, if a person contracts multiple allergies than his chances of outgrowing the sensitivity are slim. Unfortunately, it is very common for a child to be born with more than one allergy. Along with dairy, I was also allergic to eggs and soy but outgrew both. (Healthline) allergies

 Johns Hopkins Children’s Center conducted an experiment to discover how likely a person is to outgrow a dairy or egg allergy, two of the most difficult allergies to outgrow. The study followed 800 children with a milk allergy and 900 with an egg allergy for 13 years. The results showed that the allergies followed the children far into their teen and adult years; thus, the chances of outgrowing the allergen are extremely low. Robert Wood, M.D. of Hopkins Children states that over the course of 20 years more children are born with allergies than ever before and they are becoming harder and harder to outgrow. Also the sudden surge in allergies could be due to increased awareness. In previous decades, people were not as familiar with food allergies and some may have gone undiagnosed.

Unfortunately for me, I am still allergic to milk at age 19. I will most likely be allergic for my entire life. Certain allergens are easier to outgrow than others and some are actually permanent.


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(Flu) Shot in the Dark

Every year when winter rolls around, doctors avidly promote the necessity of a flu vaccine. Runny noses and colds are prescribed appointments to get an annual flu shot. Despite their widespread promotion amongst doctors, flu vaccines are not too popular in America. In 2015, vaccines were administered to only 47% of adults, and about 75% of children over ages of 2. Even during “Swine ‘09”, the swine flu epidemic only probed about 40% of the population to bother getting the vaccination. (National Vaccine Info Center) 


The type of flu virus included in the vaccinations vary year to year. Doctors attempt to predict the type of influenza that will be circulating the community every upcoming flu season and devise a vaccine to reduce the risk of infection. Standard vaccine protocol includes injecting a person with a dead or weak version of the disease so the body can manufacture antibodies to kill the active virus. Certain factors play into how well the body reacts to the injection such as the age and health of the patient and the compatibility of the flu type in the shot and the flu type actually circulating. Even if doctors’ predictions on which strain of influenza would hit a certain year were spot on, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies within the population.

The Center for Disease Control or CDC gives statistical evaluations of the vaccination every year after gauging the public’s response.  In 2013, 57,000 deaths were reported from “influenza or pneumonia related causes”. The organization also reports that at least 37,000 were hospitalized due to severe influenza cases. Up to date flu vaccinations will reduce the public’s susceptibility to infection by at least 60%. The CDC measures this effectiveness in a point estimate or confidence interval meaning if 100 trials were conducted, 60 would not be afflicted by the flu. This success rate has reduced children’s hospitalization visits by 74% and adult’s visits by 57%.

Flu vaccines appear to be the perfect solution, so why do people tend to shy away from getting them? Dr. Kelly Brogan of the International Medical Council on Vaccination argues the ineffectiveness of the shots and reckless government involvement in health. She claims that unbiased scientists and researchers have uncovered that the flu vaccine does little to nothing in ways of preventing the virus. She claims there is no possible medical intervention that is acceptable and works for everyone. Her argument that mass medication is faulty is backed by the varying CDC statistics. If administered correctly, the flu vaccine only reduces risk of infection by 50-60%. Brogan believes this to be too small a success rate to be prescribing to everyone with a runny nose and fever. Elderly people with a weaker immune systems have little to no response to the flu vaccine; thus, taking the vaccine may be unnecessary for that entire segment of the population.

Several anecdotes travel around the medical community such as “the year I got my flu shot was the only year I ever got sick.” Meanwhile, doctor’s offices are plastered with posters and flyers boasting about the benefits of the vaccine. Despite the controversy, getting the flu shot yearly is statistically smarter in preventing illness. However, buy some tissues just in case because the chances of a person still getting the flu are pretty high.



Does Second Hand Smoke Kill?

secondhand-smoke-small  Does second hand smoke exposure really kill? Since 1999, the national government along with local governments have implemented many regulations on public areas restricting smoking. Researchers have linked second hand smoking to asthma, pulmonary defects, and even cardiovascular disease. The Americans for Nonsmoker’s Rights reported 53,800 deaths per year due to extreme exposure.

A cigarette contains up to 7,000 chemicals and 69 of those are carcinogenic. Second hand smoke includes the smoke emanating from the butt of the cigarette and the smoke exhaled by the smoker. Both types are just as detrimental to the respiratory system if inhaled.  According to the U.S. Surgeon General, living with a smoker increases a nonsmoker’s chance of lung cancer approximately 30%.

With all signs pointing to danger, the National Cancer Institute conducted a large prospective study of the correlation between lung cancer and smoking. The study tracked 76,000 women over multiple decades. At its culmination, 901 participants contracted cancer. Surprisingly, no statistically significant evidence linking passive smoking to cancer was found. Researchers do not deny the obvious relation; however, this large randomized population showed no significant signs of side effects of smoke exposure.  The conclusion of this particular study was that undeniably smoking causes lung cancer. The result regarding second hand smoke involvement may have been a false negative, since other similar studies have generated positive results.

Another study conducted over ten years by the International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC) uncovered more substantial results against second hand smoking. The researchers exposed the tobacco industry’s disproportionate funds invested in experiments designed to disprove the results. The tobacco industry was essentially attempting to undermine the IARC’s work in order to maintain its extremely profitable marsmokeket in European countries. So there arises the possibility of misconstrued results in previous studies that claimed to have no link between passive smoking and lung cancer.

Despite the restrictions set in place to curb second hand smoking effects, 1 in every 4 nonsmokers will be exposed. 2 of every 5 children will be exposed during the vital development years, which could lead to respiratory defects later in life. Cities and poorer neighborhoods show the greatest numbers affected. Smoking is just plain bad-whether you are the one doing it, or coughing in the cloud of someone else. (National Cancer Institute)



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Headphones Make you Deaf?

Our parents have been nagging us for years to “Take those headphones out! You’ll go deaf!” Who knew that, yet again, our parents would be right? Recently, researchers have uncovered the disastrous effects of earbuds on hearing in young adults. According to the American Osteopathic Association, 1 in every 5 teenagers will have some sort of hearing loss. That is a 30% increase in comparison to the hearing abilities of teenagers in the 1980s and 1990s. Researchers have found an almost direct link from young adult hearing loss to the advent of personal headphones.earbuds

So how does listening to music equate to eventually going deaf in later years? Mp3 players can reach decibels up to 120. This is equivalent to the noise levels at a rock concert. Teens are listening to this level of noise pollution an average of 3 hours every single day. The design of most modern earbuds allow them to sit just before the inner ear, which amplifies any sound at least 9 decibels higher than if the noise was coming from outside the ear. The high decibel causes the myelin sheaths coating the nerve endings to disintegrate. Without these coatings, the nerves cannot transport messages to the brain effectively. In turn, the brain cannot interpret the sounds into brain waves. (SOTT)

Headphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung defend the invention claiming it’s not the machines themselves; rather, the volume at which the user plays his music. The International Journal of Audiology conducted an experiment to chart the damaging effects of personal music players on the hearing tissue. It was discovered that pain in the ear begins at 125dB, which is equivalent to the noise of a hand drill. Death of hearing tissue begins at 180dB, which is equivalent to standing 100 feet away from a jet engine for an extended period of time. These levels can be reached by regular, loud headphone use.

Dr. David A. Schlessel of Stony Brook Medicine created a chart indicating the damage that can occur after using headphones depending on duration of exposure to noise pollution.

  • At 95 dB, damage will occur after four hours of exposure per day.
  • At 100 dB, damage will occur after two hours of exposure per day.
  • At 105 dB, damage will occur after one hour of exposure per day.
  • At 110 dB, damage will occur after 30 minutes of exposure per day.
  • At 115 dB, damage will occur after 15 minutes of exposure per day.
  • At 120-plus dB, damage occurs almost immediately.

So how do we prevent the younger generation from having worse hearing than our grandparents? Dr. Foy of the American Osteopathic Association prescribes using headphones at 60% full volume for a maximum of 60 minutes a day. If surrounding bystanders can hear the music from your headphones, it’s way too loud. Doctors also recommend people invest in larger, over the ear headphones to avoid the inner ear damage. In previous generations, the leading cause of hearing loss was excessive noise in the workplace. Times have changed and headphones have surged in worldwide popularity. Changing teen’s habits before drastic hearing damage will definitely be difficult. If we’re being honest, I typed this entire blog while listening to music with headphones on full blast. Oh


Other Sources:

Beltone Hearing Health

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Is Veganism Actually Healthy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Can We Actually Control Our Dreams?

Guiding our dreams may appear to be farfetched; however, the phenomenon of lucid dreaming provides evidence that, even in our sleep, we can control our brains. By definition, a lucid dream is an experience  where a person is asleep yet cognitively aware they are dreaming. The person can exert some sort of control or direction over the characters, setting, and events of their dream. Frederick van Eeden devised the term “lucid dreaming” to describe this spectacle in 1913, and conducted a variety of observations to study these dreams.

During a lucid dream, a person can become enveloped in a detailed fantasy world with total control over the actions of the characters and environments. It is associated with REM sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep and “false awakenings”. This type of awakening is usually when a person wakes up suddenly and his body flails around as if he were falling. According to Neuroscientist J. Allan Hobson, the brain recognizes its dreaming through the prefrontal cortex and once the dreamer understands he is dreaming, the brain has full control over what occurs. However, some argue that lucid dreaming is not a real occurrence but simply a brief fantasy in a sleepy state.

Historically, lucid dreaming was thought to be an intellectual gift from the gods that separated certain humans from the rest. Once studies continued with a broader population, however, results showed that just about anyone was capable of lucid dreaming. The experiments conducted have evolved only slightly since the early 1900s due to difficulty testing participants. The “results” recorded are strictly subjective recounts of those being tested.

So why do some people lucid dream more than others?

Lucid dreaming is far more common in children and young adults with active imaginations rather that older generations. An article in the Huffington Post states that lucid dreamers tend to be more insightful overall because they can recognize their brain’s actions even while asleep. The Post did a study following 68 young adults who claimed to be sufficient “lucid dreamers”. A lucid dreamer must have had multiple experiences in this state and provide vivid recounts for the researchers. Following the dreams, the participants were told solve various puzzles and analogies. Those who were consistent lucid dreamers solved 25 percent more puzzles than those who have never experienced a lucid dream.  Other studies have shown that lucid dreamers perform better on psychological tasks that require “outside of the box” thinking.

Lucid dreaming proves the vast capabilities of our brains and all it can accomplish even while we are sleeping!


Does Coffee Make you Short?

For decades, it seems as though it was “common knowledge” that coffee stunts your growth. A mother wouldn’t dream of giving her growing son a cup of coffee for fear that he wouldn’t make it past 5 foot. Despite this popular belief, studies have shown no evidence between the effects of regular caffeine intake and height.

The effects of coffee have been studied far more than any other food or beverage. Archaic experiments suggested the link of over consumption of caffeine to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is the crippling disease common in elderly people with deteriorating bone mass. Typically, the cause of osteoporosis stems from a long term lack of calcium and vitamin D in the body. According to Harvard Health Publications, caffeine stimulates the body to over produce calcium. The body cannot process the mineral at this speed, and the excess is expelled in the urinary system. Following the calcium overdrive and expulsion, the body is left with minimal to no calcium in the bloodstream. Hypothetically, a consistent calcium deficiency due to excessive caffeine intake could lead to this bone disease. However, trials conducted over a randomized population show little to no decrease in calcium levels of coffee drinkers.

The New York Times followed a longitudinal study that focused on adolescents’ caffeine habits and heights specifically. Of the 81 teens observed, many admitted to consuming the highest amounts of caffeine daily through various drinks such as coffee, soda, energy drinks. After six years of observations, none of the heavy coffee drinkers had a decrease in bone mass in comparison to occasional coffee drinkers.

The old wives’ tale that coffee stunts your growth may be false, but that doesn’t necessarily mean mothers should be shoving coffee down children’s throats. Caffeine accelerates children’s already quick heart rates and may cause insomnia or high blood pressure. Coffee is also highly addictive to children and young adults in comparison to older populations.

But at least it won’t make you short.


Hey guys I’m Delaney Flynn from Lafayette Hill, PA and I am majoring in business. I am really excited to take Science 200 because I really enjoyed the topics of our first few classes. I’ve always tolerated science, but once I took chemistry junior year-I absolutely hated it. I was constantly lost and struggling to follow the teacher’s lessons. I definitely wanted to avoid that type of class at all costs, so the description of Science 200 really interested me. I chose it during NSO on a wimb and was nicely surprised with the way the class was run. The flexibility and variety of topics we are studying will definitely keep my attention throughout the semester.I think the class’ lack of scientific background will provide interesting insights to the material.This class may help open my eyes to a new way of understanding science, and it will improve my critical thinking skills.

I don’t think I would survive as a science major because I’m also awful at math and am scared at the sight of blood or anything medical related. Science is a very wide spread major with many opportunities for the future; however, I think I am better suited for a business major.

One scientific field that I find very interesting is meteorology. I love tracking the daily  weather and learning how a storm is created over bodies of water then transformed over land. here is a link that describes the Thunderstorm Life Cycle from the developing to final stages and the damage capabilities of various levels of storms