Author Archives: lem5522

Tanning Troubles

Growing up I can remember all my girlfriends preparing months in advance for two of the most important days of the year to every high school girl… the Homecoming and Prom school dance. As the months approached everyone had to plan the perfect dress, shoes, hair and makeup. One of the most important elements of the perfect prom look was bronzed glowing skin to compliment that beautiful silk dress. Everyone was obsessed. Young girls between the ages of 15 to 18 were buying monthly indoor tanning packages and tanning two or three times a week. I was part of that population for about two years until I stopped and all of my friends still spend their hours baking under the rays. Indoor Tanning is one of the most concerning problems in the United States and there is much controversy whether it causes cancer or not.

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Indoor tanning and UV radiation has widely been knows as one of the leading causes of melanoma for young women and was even written about in a an editorial from the British Journal of Dermatology stating that a 25% rise in cases of melanoma was due to indoor tanning equipment. With tanning salons across the country in more locations than McDonald’s or Starbucks, there is an increased risk for more than just melanoma but also other types of skin cancer. The International Agency for Research of Cancer found a positive association, as Dr. Andrews spoke about in class, between melanoma and tanning beds. Biologically speaking, the UV rays that penetrate into the skin, traveling to the epidermis, altering your DNA is where things get a little messed up (Friedman). The only way to avoid these, in some cases, deadly alterations is to avoid UV rays all together and when outside in the sun protecting yourself with sunscreen.

These are an extremely small portion of all the findings supporting this accusation. But what if there is more probable cause such as your skin type, or the amount of time you are in a tanning bed, or the age you enter a tanning bed for the first time? These are all things to consider when thinking about using one of these UV machines. The younger you are the more sensitive your skin is, and the more it is exposed to UV rays the the more damage will occur. The natural sun contains some UV rays but tanning equipment is anything but natural rays, sometimes containing 10 to 15 times more UV light than the sun (Friedman). Ultraviolet Rays also does not contain any of the natural vitamins we take in from the sun.

Another element of this journal article that is controversial is that some association has been proven between tanning beds and psychological and behavioral issues. This may have scientific evidence that there is some probable cause. Realistically thinking about this assumption, it is hard to believe it is true. Just think how many girls do you know that walk out of a tanning bed feeling depressed or have anxiety from being exposed to light that is noticeable to others? Not enough to make it a real concern. Also being exposed to the UV light, I have not personally experienced these effects and can not relate or understand how they are even possible.

In conclusion, tanning beds are dangerous and absolutely not necessary and cancer is a leading side effect from the UV lights transmitted into your skin cells. There is a law for a reason and many scientific findings to prove that tanning and UV lights does contribute to the increased risk of Melanoma and other types of skin cancer. However, there is still room for more research on a correlation between psychological and behavioral level.

Friedman, B., English, J., & Ferris, L. (2015). Indoor tanning, skin cancer and the young female patient: A review of the literature. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 28(4), 275-283. doi:10.1016/j.jpag.2014.07.015




Fireball Fans, Watch Out!

One of the most popular whisky brands out there is a popular choice for many college students and people in general when choosing their drink for a night out. With the fall coming and the apple and pumpkin flavors being released once again there will be plenty of cinnamon-goers mixing this flavorful whisky. The cinnamon is what makes this liquor so tasty, even my mom uses it to make her favorite foolproof fall cocktail with hard apple cider and she can’t get enough of it! However, a lot of people do not realize that tasty cinnamon flavor we all love is just a mask for what is really harmful to your body. For all you fireball lovers, you might want to watch out. As I read an article from the Huffington Post I found that the United States is still selling Fireball when Europe has taken it off the shelves. Why would one country decide to take a product off the shelves and not another if it wasn’t harmful in any kind of way?


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I asked my mom whether it is still hard to find fireball on the shelves here in Pennsylvania and you can pretty much get it anywhere. I do not know about other states, but if it is that easy in PA, then it must not be much more difficult in other parts of the US. The reason they have decided to take this product off the shelves in Europe is because of the excessive amount of an ingredient called Propylene glycol ( As learned from my high school chemistry teacher, Dr. David Lineman, this is a colorless and odorless liquid that is somewhat sweet. (Hence the sugary sweet taste in Fireball).

Now I am sure you are wondering what exactly can this ingredient do to possibly harm me? First, I am going to ask if you have ever tried this delicious liquor before, and experienced any changes during or even the next day after consumption? Has your vision ever been a bit blurry the next day or have your eyes been irritated or itchy? These are only a few side effects my mother has experienced from enjoying a cocktail at the bar containing only small amounts of this powerful liquor.

If you have experienced this, you might want to remember how that feels and realize its probably not normal. If more people were aware of this ingredient used in Fireball, there would be much more worry than there currently is. Now I am not saying this product is so dangerous it could kill you but its the same concept as smoking, why would anyone want to do it if they know in the long run there is an ingredient that could harm you. Smoking is not going to effect you right there and then, and neither will fireball, but hat about in 10, 15, or 20, years?

According to your generic Google definition, Propylene glycol is a liquid alcohol used as a solvent in antifreeze, plastics, and perfume ( Antifreeze is an ingredient used in your gasoline tank to keep your fuel from freezing in the winter. Plastics are not edible. Perfume is used to make you smell pretty.  Do any of these products seem right to consume? Would you drink your gasoline or perfume?

The definition alone is proof that it is not safe to put Fireball into your body because of this specific ingredient. Yes, I will agree this is one of the best tasting flavors of whisky on the shelves, but this definition alone is enough for me to say no next time someone offers me fireball, you have to think about the long term effects.

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Hot Enough?

Flu season is creeping up on us college students and we are doing everything in our power to keep it away. Vitamin C, disinfectant, and Clorox wipes are our best friends right now, but we also must keep our hands clean to reduce spreading germs. Growing up I’m sure we all were told to wash our hands with “hot” or “warm” water to kill the germs with the heat, but how many of those germs can this water actually kill? As I searched for a topic for one of my blog posts I thought educating you, soon to be germy people, beforehand to prevent the spread of sickness that no one wants.

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A research assistant from the Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment in Tennessee, Amanda R. Carrico, has researched if warm or hot water really does aid in the killing of bacteria we carry on our skin. Personally, I have always known heat kills bacteria from when I got my ears pierced with a needle that had to be burned with a flame before use, or when I had a splinter in my foot as a child and my grandpa had to heat a safety pin to kill the germs before jabbing it into my heel. But what Carrico explains is the precise temperature and degree the flame or water must be to eliminate bacteria. She explains, and I quote, ” boiling water 215°F, is sometimes used to kill germs- for example to disinfect drinking water that might be contaminated with pathogens. But “hot” water for hand washing is generally within 104°F to 131°F. At the end of that range, heat could kill some pathogens but the sustained contact that would be required would scald the skin”  ( .

After analyzing the data it makes more sense, if you can barely feel the hot water on your skin or barely feel the cold water on your skin, it cant be doing much. Pain would have to be present for there to be a noticeable change, therefore Carrico’s findings would disprove this “wash your hands with warm water to kill germs” saying that the entire world has been following for years. She even found that using cold water and warm water is basically the same thing. After washing, scrubbing, and drying, there are about the same amount of germs killed with both processes which many of you may not have even realized (

Some people are even irritated by warm water  which could actually cause irritation to the skin which is the protective layer that prevents bacteria and germs from accumulating. This finding completely refutes again, the belief of washing your hands with hot water kills germs. I have also found that washing your hands with hot water effects more than just your own skin or the germs on your skin, it effects the environment we live in. Because of this false belief we have been following for years, Carrico and her team have found that people wash their hands with warm or hot water 64 percent of the time they wash their hands at all ( This statistic shows just how severe carbon emissions being released into the environment annually are, and the impact on the planet where we live, due to the hot water being used.

Therefore, this is me asking you to stop believing what your grandmother, mother, father, or sister has been telling you for all these years and wake up; hot water from the sink is not killing enough germs to keep the bacteria off. If we as a whole begin to wash our hands with cool water instead of hot, we can reduce the carbon emissions drastically and benefit our world as a whole.

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Athletes and Attractiveness

As a young college girl, both I and the women around me have feelings and emotions bouncing off the wall in all different directions. However, one thing I have noticed since I have gotten here to Penn State, is a large amount of women who find the football, basketball, and hockey team players more attractive than just your average Penn State male. I am not kidding, I have seen girls go to some pretty crazy extents to get the athletes here to notice them, or say hi to them, or even just look at them more frequently than usual. This not only occurs at the college level, but thinking back to even high school, everyone where I came from wanted to date the quarterback of the football team or the star soccer player, and when you did you were put on some kinds of a pedestal. Movies have even associated the main character as a football player or a good looking outfielder on the baseball team on purpose to catch the attention of the viewers because it is part of our culture. Also national level is even more severe where both young and older women obsess over the best athletes forming a serious crush on an unattainable man. It begins to become unrealistic but we still have those feelings and emotions that make us attracted to them. This is where I began to question myself. Why are athletes more attractive and is there something in our brains that have linked athletics ability to attractiveness?


As I researched I found a study from an evolutionary biologist, Dr. Eric Postma, at the University of Zurich who did a study of the 2012 Tour de France athletes ( For the survey he chose 80 photos of the cycling participants and cropped their faces, and if anyone recognized the athletes their answers were not used. This way they had no indication of how talented the athletes were, and all they were looking at was their face. The study proved clear results, the top 10% of cyclists in terms of their performance scored 25% more attractive than the bottom 10% (

However, there is also the question, does being a good athlete make you attractive or does being attractive make you a good athlete? As we learned in class about confounding third variables and correlations, there sometimes can be a reversed correlation or a third variable that sometimes does not affect the results directly. But Dr. Postma shares his thoughts about the biology aspect stating, and I quote, “Females often prefer to mate with high-quality males, and one aspect of quality is physical performance. Although a preference for physically fitter males is therefore predicted, the relationship between attractiveness and performance has rarely been quantified” (

Overall there are more biological factors as to why you thought that Eric Decker was looking extra sexy on game day so don’t think you are the only one. Women are attracted to strength and characteristics associated with high testosterone productions, such as a more masculine face ( As I said before, Postma’s study proves that scientists are now finding that women are attracted to endurance characteristics also. So let’s face it ladies, it is in our nature and biological makeup to be attracted to strong, attractive, athletic male athletes.

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