Author Archives: Lucas Hansen

Effects of Stress on Health

Many of us have found ourselves staying up late at night, studying, doing homework and other tasks to keep up our grades. All this creates a lot of stress for students of all ages. Personally I have found my self stressing over school work ever since middle school. Even worrying about getting accepted into this school, along with completing the application was a stressful process. With constant days of getting limited amounts of rest, due to working on homework it could have a negative impact on health. Personally, stress due to school work has caused restlessness, decreased mood and anxiety. There are two types of stress, chronic and acute. Chronic stress occurs over longer periods of time (weeks, months) and causes longer periods of unhealthy habits respectively. A second type of stress is called acute stress, which is a physical shock, like rapid heart beating after a dramatic event and causes less physical harm to the body.

Stress causes:

  • Depression
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Cardio Vascular Problems

So does stress have a true impact on health? Researchers would say so. In an article published by the American Psychological Association, they compiled a list of negative impacts stress has been found to have on health. By looking at the biological methods behind proposed health effects on stress helps determine the real causes of stress. For example, prolonged stress causes increased heart rate and constant release of hormones, causing a fight or flight response. With this occurring, it will result in hypertension, or high blood pressure and could cause heart problems in the future. Living a stressful life, often causes people to make unhealthy decisions. Stress can cause people to partake in higher consumption of alcohol, tobacco use, unhealthy foods and many more. many smokers say they need to go have a smoke to take the edge off while in a stressful situation. This can lead to a higher amount of cigarettes smoked and is a terrible alternative while in a stressful situation. According to the same source about forty percent choose to manage stress by eating unhealthy foods, about twenty percent resort to tobacco products, and the other forty percent reported higher consumption of alcohol. There are much healthier ways to manage stress. Some people say watching TV, surfing the internet, listening to music, reading and exercising are the best ways they manage a stressful situation without damaging their health.

sia-physical-symptoms-of-stress-for-adults-with-poor-healthLooking at this from a scientific perspective, to determine wether the hypothesis is true that stress is to blame for poor health, we need to consider other possible causations. What if people that have poor health are more likely to become stressed, this would cause a potential flaw in the results (reverse causation). Overall, people put in stressful situations should look for some type of treatment since there will be no good outcome.




Lack of sleep is bad

Sleeping is an important process that many of us, college students forget about. Personally I don’t go to sleep until around 3 am each day because I have a lot of homework constantly. I have found myself sleeping in class, on the bus and even sometimes behind the wheel. Not sleeping can be seen to be a good thing at times, but it can also be dangerous and unhealthy. unknown-1

Sleep is an important process that allows the body to recover, regenerate, and develop. It is a key component to staying healthy. According to the sleep foundation, young adults from 18 to 25 (college age) need about 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Sleep is more complicated than we think, and each time we get a normal night sleep, we pass through five stages. In stage one, it is where we drift in and out of sleep and can be woken easily. In stage two and three, the eyes stop moving and the body begins to slow down. Stage fourunknown is where the brain begins to have very slow activity and the person is difficult to wake up. Finally stage five is where the brain reaches REM, this is where people begin to have dreams and are the most difficult to wake up. After learning the process of sleep, it is important to know why it is crucial to living a healthy life.

Not only can restlessness be unhealthy, it can be dangerous as well. Sleep deprivation can cause serious errors, especially while driving or operating machinery. For example, the Exxon Valdez oils spill was caused because someone fell asleep behind the wheel of a boat and cause an environmental catastrophe.  sleep-at-the-wheel

Long periods of sleep loss can cause

  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes

According to research, nine out of ten people with a sleeping disorder also suffer from another health condition. It’s simple, if you can’t sleep, your body can’t repair itself. Once people begin to lose sleep constantly it is obvious in their appearance, because they have bags under their eyes, and they appear emotionless. In a longitudinal study done by the division of public health, they took a stratified random sample of 4,997 adults aged 65 and older as their sample. After compiling the results, they found a positive correlation between depression and the three main types of sleep disorders and accepted the alternative hypothesis that lack of sleep does cause depression. With this being said, there is no argument weather improper sleep will be detrimental to health and proper sleeping habits need to be put into place, even if it requires medication.

Are Stimulants Worth It?

Spending long hours, late nights, and all-nighters makes it difficult to concentrate without using certain stimulants to keep wired. Every time I do homework, I go to “Good to Go,” a convenient store and grab a large coffee and a five-hour energy drink to help me focus on my school work. Some of my friends who have ADHD, an attention deficit disorder are prescribed Adderall, a prescription stimulant drug that helps them focus to get their school work done and pay attention in class. Although most people aren’t prescribed these stimulant drugs they often tend to abuse them, because they claim it helps them concentrate on school work for longer amounts of time. There are many types of stimulants, including, caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines and methamphetamines (caffeine, amphetamines and nicotine used most to study). Energy drinks, coffee and other drinks that “wake you up” contain caffeine. Caffeine is legal, so it is most unknown-2commonly used by students and other individuals. Adderall and other similar drugs, are prescribed, so it is limited to use of only a certain number of individuals, even though some people purchase them illegally. Another overlooked drug that people use to study for concentration is nicotine. Generally, people resort to a quick smoke break or chewing tobacco to give them a “buzz,” which helps them stay awake. Using these stimulants may help improve concentrating on a task, but do the positive effects of being “wired” outweigh the negative health effects?

Let’s look at some experimental evidence. Just from taking a quick poll from ten of my close friends and people I associate with, nine out of ten people use one or more stimulant that I mentioned above to help concentrate on school work. According to an observational study done by the University of Maryland, they found that 61.8% of college students use prescription stimulants are for  for non-medical reasons. This can be dangerous. If a doctor didimages not clinically prescribe someone to the medication, they are putting their health at potential risk. Clearly this shows that the majority of students use them for school related reasons, because they think it “helps” them focus on school work. However, increased focus obtained by these drugs does not actually enhance intelligence in any way, it may only help the duration of focus on a task. For example, if a student wanted to study late through the night, stimulants will help him or her stay awake and alert, but it is unhealthy for the body to be forced to stay awake in times of rest.

Null: There is no relationship between stimulants and long term negative health.

Alternative hypothesis: There is a relationship between stimulants and negative health in the long run.

Positive Effects:

  • Alertness
  • unknownFocus

Short Term Negative Effects:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Increased heart rate

Long-Term Negative Effects

  • Blood vellel damage
  • Liver damage
  • Weight loss
  • depression

After looking at the negative and positive affects, it is clear that if someone wants to use stimulants to study over a long period of time they will have to sacrifice their health in the long run.

Though stimulants are proven to increase alertness, they seem to be mind over matter because many people can still concentrate well without them. It is best to avoid stimulants in the first place, since once one starts using them, they tend to get overused and a dependence is formed. All these drugs do is stimulate the central nervous system, which gives the feeling of alertness and opposes sleep. Using any type of drug to enhance the mind in a non-natural way will have a negative impact on health in the long run. Thus, we would have to reject the null hypothesis and  accept the alternative that there is a relationship between negative health and the constant use of stimulants over a long period of time.



Each day we go to get food from a restaurant or the dining commons and don’t give it a second thought about getting a soda fountain drink like a mountain dew or a sprite. What most people don’t think about is the amounts of sugar included in each drink and the potential harm they can do to someone’s body. I aim to investigate the real negative causes and associations with sugary drinks in this post.images-1

  First off, a good thing to know is the acceptable amounts of sugar able to be consumed healthily. Since sugar is NOT a main food group, nutritionists have made an exception for it and the American Heart Association has declared that about 25-38 grams of sugar is acceptable to consume per day, or about one 12-ounce soda. However, fountain drinks are generally much larger than a can and can be refilled more than one time in a sitting. Thus can cause an accidental consumption of way more sugar than intended.

High consumption of sugar can cause:

  • Tooth decay
  • Liver disese
  • Obesity
  • Organ failure

Many countries blame obesity on the high consumption of sugar in each individual’s diet andunknown-6 there is compelling evidence proving this true. Since soda is put to blame for most of the high amount of sugar consumed, a study has been done by an epidemics data analysis team. All the data was compiled with the rates of obesity in each country and the amount of soft drinks consumed. After drawing a best fitted line graph though the data points, a positive correlation is shown between the two variables, so it could be concluded that there is a relationship between soft drink consumption and obesity. With this being said, why haven’t more government regulations or taxes been set to limit the amount of soft drinks when it is known that they are causing negative health effects on society? Why cant people make the right decisions for themselves.overweight

Null Hypothesis: There is no relationship between health and the amount of sugar consumed.

Alternative Hypothesis: There is a relationship between being health and consumption of sugar.

In a study posted Julie Corliss, from Harvard, concluded that over a fifteen-year study, people that consumed a quarter of their daily calories as sugar were put at double the risk over the long run for heart disease. Although the evidence is compelling, there could be some potential confounding variables involved with this study. Some of these confounding variables could include age of the individual, how healthy the person is and whether or not the person lived a sedentary lifestyle or not.

Overall, most people can come to the general consensus that it is best to shun sugar as much as possible. Just simple tasks, like getting in the habit of checking nutrition facts, using common sense, and substituting sugary sweets with foods like fruit can help. Although it may seem obvious that sugar is detrimental to living a healthy life style, many people forget to take notice about how much sugar they are really consuming each day. Bringing awareness to this situation is key to having healthy generations in the future.


Eyes get sun burnt

During the summer, the sun is blazing, people are spending time at the beach, outdoors and getting tan. But one important thing people don’t think about when they put on sunscreen is to wear glasses as well to protect them from the suns UVA and UVB radiation. Yes, your eyes can get sunburnt. Even on cloudy days, the reflection of light and UVA radiation is still powerful enough to cause sun damaged eyes. Failure to wear sunglasses or allow sun damage to the eyes can cause cataracts and possibly blindness in the long run.unknown-3


  • Itchy
  • Irritated
  • Red
  • Dry
  • Gritty

A recent study done by the vision councils website, only thirty one percent of people are aware that their eyes can get sunburnt. In just fifteen minutes of of raw eye exposure, damage could occur. This is remarkable and there is only one way to prevent this and that is by wearing sun glasses.

Although it may seem obvious that some eye conditions are caused by the sun, it is not alway easy to blame the cause on one single variable. There are many confounding variables involved with research on eye issues. Since many eye diseases can have multiple causing factors, like genetics, medications ect, there are many potential confounding variables. Many people swear to themselves that their eyes have never been sunburnt and they may be right. Since many people live in colder environments or days when it is cloudy out, it could be hard to convince them that they should still be wearing sun glasses because it could seem over pre-cautious and they may not look “cool.” According to the American Scientist Society, during cloudy  conditions, eighty percent of the radiation that causes harmful effects to our body still reach through to the surface. unknown-5

Null Hypothesis: sun can not cause damage to the eyes on cloudy days.

Alternative Hypothesis: Sun can cause damage to the eyes if its cloudy.

Using evidence and some common sense, it is definitely the best option to reject the null and accept the alternative hypothesis. With this being said, there could be a high probability that clouds don’t significantly lower any risk of eye damage. One prime example that shows weather does not have an effect on sun damage is mountain goers. For instance, in the dead winter months people go snow boarding and skiing in places like Colorado and Utah every year, the very last thing people think about as they ascend up a mountain is if they put on sunscreen or to protect their eyes fromunknown-4 dangerous sun rays. It might sound stupid to think about, but you still put yourself at risk of sun damage, especially at higher altitudes, regardless if its cold out.

Even though it may seem common sense like to conclude that sun exposure causes damage to the eyes, many people overlook this thought and don’t take precautions like wearing sunglasses  especially just because it is cold or cloudy out.


Fitness is a large part of my life. Since sophomore year i spent at least an hour a day working out. It is important for each and every person to spend at least some portion of time out of their day to maintain a high standard of health. Back home in Jupiter Florida, I worked out at Golds gym which had the same constant users and was rather small compared to the IM buildings gym along with the Rec Hall and White Building. There was not even close to as many people attending my gym as the gyms here. With that being said, the gyms here contain way more bacteria as well as people.

train-like-a-trainer-dumbbell-workoutHere at Penn State there are well over forty thousand students and thousands of these students choose to workout at the various gyms. With these thousands of people competing for weights at the gym to better themselves and become healthy, they are also taking other risks, such as getting sick. Machines are another story, they are constantly wiped down but no one takes the time to wipe down each and every little weight in the gym. Each day hundreds of people touch the same weight and continue to touch their face without thinking about the potential risks they are taking by doing so. Personally I know for a fact that nine times out of ten when I have gotten sick is most likely from the gym. Studies have found that the average weight in a gym could have up to 362 times the bacteria of a toilet seat. That is disgusting and it brings up the point that it is crucial to wash your hands immediately after finishing a workout and to avoid touching your face. Many people get grossed out when someone doesn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom but most people don’t even think twice about washing their hands after a gym session.

There are many ways sickness could be avoided in the gym while lifting weights. The most obvious would be to wash hands as much as possible and use hand sanitizers. Other less obvious methods would be to avoid touching your face (eyes, mouth and nose), wipe down machines before use and wear long sleeve shirts if possible. Eating the proper nutrients and getting proper sleep is important to avoiding sickness from the gym, since intense training (known as over training) does temporarily weaken the immune system. While training, the body releases cortisol and adrenaline, which can temporarily weaken the immune system during the time in which the body recovers. This brings up the point that many harmful bacteria found in the gym take advantage of weaknesses, so it is important to take certain precautions.

Whats up everyone?

My name is Lucas Hansen, I come from a small town located in Jupiter, Florida (I know ironic right, since were in a science class). Most of the activities in my town consist of out door activities, like going on the boat, beach, sports, ect. I played varsity Lacrosse for two years of High School and ran track my freshman year. During High School i enjoyed taking high level science classes, and actually did well in them, but it wasn’t where my heart truly was. At first when i applied to Penn State, I applied to the Eberly college of Science and intended on majoring in some field of science, to continue onto medical school. However, over the transition from the end of senior year of high school to summer I realized that I wanted to follow the path of my Dad and work on Wall Street. With this being said, I switched my major to the Division of Undergraduate Studies in hopes to be in the Smeal College of Business as soon as possible to pursue my dreams. After realizing that my major was no longer going to be science related, I made the bold move to switch out of evil Chemistry 110. After speaking with my advisor on the phone, she recommended a couple classes for me to take and SC200 was one of them. I chose this class as a substitute, not only because it satisfies a Gen-ed credit, but it offers a wide range in the aspect of science and I hope it will teach me new things related to science that I haven’t learned about before. Another reason why this class is perfect for me is because it doesn’t focus on one specific topic, and focuses on topics that many people think about daily.

DREDGINGIn my town ocean dredging is a process where boats come in with large pipes to deepen canals or enlarging beaches by removing sand from the bottom and moving it somewhere else more desireable and it is becoming a problem for local marine life. Not far from me in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale area the coastal area was dredged, causing many coral species in the area to die due to the falling of sediment on coral.