Author Archives: Matthew Jacobs-Womer

Get to work

With now under 16 hours to fulfill the blog period requirements, procrastination could not be a more relevant subject. I have never been one to hold off work to the last minute, but the past few weeks I have noticed myself getting closer and closer to the deadline when turning assignments in (and even over in one case). While this may be due to my currently over-packed schedule, it still makes me wonder why we procrastinate?

Image result for person stressed out

via Mother Jones

Oregon State University outlines the six major reasons why people choose to procrastinate.

  1. Lack of Skill- When an individual has trouble completing a task, they might put it off till later and do something that is easier for them. Finding a section of Math difficult? Put it off until after you do the Econ that you easily. Putting it off briefly because you do not understand is not the issue. The issue is when you choose not to find a way to learn the material and continually put it off until you have reached the deadline.
  2. Lack of interest- There are always going to be courses and subjects that you never can get into. It’s completely understandable, everyone is not interested in everything. But that is not an excuse to put off doing required work.
  3. Lack of motivation- Something I have every morning when I try to get out of bed. We all most likely have something else we would rather be doing. The key is just realizing you need to do it and get it over with, once you gather the motivation to start working it becomes much easier to do the assignment.
  4. Fear of Failure- The belief that you may fail is very influential. If you believe you are not capable of doing something, then why would you even try to  do it? You are going to fail either way in the end. That is why believing you will fail can do to you and when you choose to procrastinate because you believe you will fail, it gives you less time to complete the assignment and becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
  5. Fear of Success- The opposite of believing you will fail. This is an interesting concept that has to do with an individuals not trying to succeed because they do not want to be expected to do good in the future. I can’t think of any time this has ever come into play with school work but it definitely has happened at work.  Working a job you don’t even really care about as a teenager and you are asked to do a crappy task. Even though you may be rewarded for doing good, you never want to do it again so you half-ass it and take the short term consequences with the hope that you will never be asked to do it again.
  6. Opposition to Authority- The belief that you are the only one that can make you do something- an awful outlook to have on life. There can be many reasons why one would just blatantly choose to procrastinate or not to tasks at all. Maybe they are too ‘cool’ to do their assignments- they won’t still be laughing in 20 years about how they did not turn in a single assignment the entire semester. Maybe your parents forced you into going to college when you would have much rather drove a garbage truck- you respond by purposefully slacking off in school because you have no real interest in being there (goes along with lack of interest and motivation).

Most of these seem to have an easy fix, just a change in mindset. But sometimes you may not even feel like you are procrastinating. You don’t put something off on purpose but you happened to fill your schedule with so much busy work that you did not have time to complete it. So is there something deeper that causes procrastination? A reason behind why we ‘willingly’ procrastinate when we know the consequences?

The following paragraph should not make you believe it is okay to procrastinate.

The answer is yes! Procrastination is a result of our primal instincts. According to this article  by Amy Spencer, the human brain is built to procrastinate– thanks to the limbic system. The limbic system is in the ‘older’ part of the brain that is responsible for natural instincts and primordial responses. This part of the brain causes instantaneous reactions that we do not even have to think about. The brain is in a constant state of regulation and is always trying to avoid negative feelings and emotions. When we are tasked with something that seems stressful or challenging, our limbic system instantly kicks in and comes up with ways for us to avoid the task and the negative emotions that could possible come along with it. (Spencer)

Besides having a negative impact on success, does procrastination have more unseen negative consequences? Fuschia Sirois and Jennifer Voth, psychological scientists at Bishop’s University, conducted a study to find if procrastination is linked to health issues and stress. She created a group that reported they had either cardiovascular disease or hypertension and another group that was healthy to use as a control. The participants were surveyed to analyze things like procrastination, health issues, and life style choices. The test group showed much higher levels of procrastination, showing a correlation between health issues and procrastination. In the published study, Siros and Voth conclude that procrastination leads to poor health issues. However, after reading this article about the study, it is clear they failed to find a casual link between procrastination and poor health, in reality they only found a correlation. While it is still possible that procrastination leads to bad health, it was proven with this study.

Even though the study failed to find that procrastination leads to poor health, it still showed a correlation. How hard is it to not procrastinate? Even if it won’t lead to poor health, it still is a bad practice. Putting more time into an assignment gives you more time to perfect it and earn a better grade or whatever the prize for doing good is. While in many cases it is just a fact of being busy, you should still try to avoid procrastination for your own benefit.

Here is an article giving tips to stop procrastinating in case you are having trouble.

Sources:

http://success.oregonstate.edu/six-reasons-people-procrastinate

Brain freeze: The science of procrastination and our ‘smart’ brains

http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/life-strategies/time-management/how-to-stop-procrastinating

http://www2.ubishops.ca/phwb/research/p-and-h/Personality_Health_&_Safety_Behaviours_Report.pdf

Better Get to Work: Procrastination May Harm Heart Health

 

Government Subsidized Obesity

America has a growing problem, or problems, but let’s focus on how big we are. Not in land or power, but in the physical size of our people. America is by far the fattest country. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only 31% of Americans are at a healthy weight. Out of the rest of America: 33% are considered to be overweight, 36% are considered obese, and 6% are considered extremely obese. A ridiculous 75% of America is not considered to be at their ideal healthy weight. Now of course there are flaws with the system for measuring obesity levels and it is not a 100% accurate measure, but even if it was 10% off (which is extremely unlikely), 65% of people are still not at a healthy weight.

image via Data360.org

What is it that makes America so much heavier than other nations? Is it our lifestyle, our diets, how much we exercise? While these things very likely all play a role in the obesity problem, I believe there is something else at the root of the problem. The government chooses to subsidize unhealthy food options, making unhealthy foods much cheaper. Since they are cheaper people are more inclined to buy them.

Image result for choose myplateThe agriculture products the government recommends we eat and the ones they subsidize are very different. The picture to the right shows that the government recommends having a diet of mostly vegetables and grains, but that is not the way they disperse their subsidies. According to this article, between 1995 and 2005, over 73% of agricultural subsidies went to meat and dairy, 13% went towards grains, and less than one half of a percent went towards fruits and vegetables (Rampell).  This just shows how little subsidies are being put towards healthy foods that we should be eating more of- making them more expensive. The subsidies are different, but does the evidence actually back that they are more expensive?

A study was done at the University of Washington to compare the prices of nutrient dense foods (healthy foods) to unhealthy food options. To compare the two, they looked at a range of 370 food items and averaged the cost 1,000 calories. The researches found that unhealthy food options cost an average of $1.76/1000 calories while healthy food options cost an average of $18.16/1000 calories. That is an incredible difference and it is understandable why many people choose to purchase more unhealthy food options. Healthy food options are not only higher priced, but they also are much more susceptible to inflation rates. The graph below shows how the prices of certain types of foods were affected over time. It is easy to see that healthy food options increased in price much more drastically than unhealthy ones. Unhealthy food options even went down in price at one point while the price of healthy foods rose drastically.

So far the following points have been concluded: America is very obese, the government unproportionally subsidizes unhealthy food options, and unhealthy food is much cheaper than healthy food. From what I currently know, the evidence backs the theory that unhealthy food is cheap because the government mostly subsidizes products used in unhealthy foods. But does this mean that America is obese because of the products the government subsidizes?

There are many reasons for obesity, subsidies are not the only cause, but I do believe they are a major influence. It does not seem to have been yet proven by a scientist that there is a casual link between obesity rates and government subsidies, but based on the research I have conducted, there does seem to be a strong correlation and a mechanism to explain this correlation. The mechanism is that people are more inclined to try and get the best value for their money, and since calories are much cheaper per dollar for unhealthy foods it is likely they will purchase mostly unhealthier foods. With a correlation and mechanism, I believe that the governments choice to disproportionately subsidize products that are used for unhealthy foods over subsidizing healthy food options is a major cause of the obesity problem in America.

After completing this blog, I came across this article. Basically the government did a huge study and came to the conclusion that healthy food options are not actually more expensive than junk foods. It is a counterargument to the points I made but I still find my conclusion to be a valid explanation.

 

Sources:

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/09/why-a-big-mac-costs-less-than-a-salad/?_r=0

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/Pages/overweight-obesity-statistics.aspx

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/12/05/a-high-price-for-healthy-food/

http://www.washington.edu/news/2010/08/02/retail-prices-of-healthy-foods-rising-uw-study/

http://depts.washington.edu/uwcphn/work/fdenv/foodcost.shtml

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-05-17/healthy-food-cost-USDA/55018070/1

 

Placebos are more powerful than we thought

The placebo has always been a vital part to experiments- making patients believe they are receiving a treatment but in reality they are really not having any medication. This creates a control group which allows experimenters to compare with the experiment group. This all works behind the idea that the placebo does not affect the subject. However, placebos are very powerful and the ‘placebo effect’ is a real thing. The placebo effect is when your body thinks you are taking the real the drug or treatment and reacts almost as if you had the real drug or treatment. Placebos are so powerful that people have even become addicted to them (Keogh 2011). This video  goes much deeper into the effects of placebos and I would suggest watching it.

Image result for placebo effect

image via viralthread.com

The ‘placebo effect’ lives on the fact that subjects believe they are actually receiving the real treatment. So what happens if you tell them that they are taking a pill full of sugar? You think that nothing would happen, but could the placebo be powerful enough to do the opposite? The study titled Open-label placebo treatment in chronic low back pain: a randomized controlled trial showed that placebos can even cause a change when the subject knows it is a placebo. The published abstract can be found here. The Science Explorer, thankfully, published an understandable non-scientist version. 97 individuals who all suffer from lower back pain were taken and entered into this 3 week study. The individuals were allowed to continue taking their pain medication, but they could not change their medication (or dosage) or make any lifestyle changes. Thus, the placebo group should have had no change in their level of pain. Before the experiment began, every individual involved had the placebo effect explained to them so they knew how it worked. The subjects knowing how the placebo effect worked should have helped to avoid the placebo effect happening even when patients knew they had a placebo. From this point, the 97 individuals were randomized into  treatment-as-usual (TAU) and open-label placebo (OLP). The subjects in the OLP group were given a bottle of pills labeled “placebo pills” and instructed to take two pills twice everyday. On the pill bottle it was explicitly clear that there were no active ingredients and the pills only contained microcrystalline cellulose.

3-weeks later, the experimenters had very interesting data. Subjects in the OLP group showed a 30% decrease in both usual and maximum pain. In the TAU group there was only a 9% decrease in usual pain and a 16% decrease in maximum pain.

What could have possible made a group taking a fake pill, that they knew was fake, have significant differences in pain levels. Ted Kaptchuk, one of the primary researches in the experiment, believes that participants were so involved in a treatment process, even though they knew nothing was being done, that they were able to show improvements. He believes that the process of going through treatment, even when none is being done, is influential enough to make the brain think that something is better. While it will never be possible to use a placebo to cure cancer or actually fix a problem, it does have the ability to make patients feel better- and that is a huge positive.

The data shows that the subjects taking the placebo had improvements and the researchers believe they have a mechanism to explain why this happens, so should people take placebos? I believe it really depends on the situation, and there is a situation that this could be extremely beneficial. For instance if a patient has an allergy to a medication (one that is not necessary for their survival but helps improve their symptoms) they could take the placebo and by the findings of this study, feel better. Of course more research needs to be done for a better conclusion to this subject, but there is really no negatives to putting it into practice. There is nothing lost, besides time and minimal money compared to other treatment methods, from implementing a placebo treatment. More research should be done, but in the meantime, it can be assumed that people will show improvements in certain areas if they go through a open-label placebo treatment.

 

Sources

http://thescienceexplorer.com/brain-and-body/knowingly-taking-placebo-pills-reduces-pain-study-finds

http://journals.lww.com/pain/Abstract/publishahead/Open_label_placebo_treatment_in_chronic_low_back.99404.aspx

 

Intermittent Fasting

Image result for intermittent fasting

image via vitals.lifehacker.com

Skip meals. Normally that is not something someone who is trying to gain muscle mass would do, but according to intermittent fasting it will help you build muscle while burning fat without adding in extra cardio workouts. Rather than being a diet plan, intermittent fasting is cycle of eating. During certain parts of the day you eat, and others you fast. The fasting period goes for 16 hours; most people fast from the time they go to bed until 16 hours later as it is the most convenient time to do so. During the sectioned time that you eat, there is really no rule on what you should eat. Obviously you should stay within reason and eat healthy but it is the period when you consume all your calories for the day. Meaning that lots of food is consumed during this time period. (Gunnars, Kris)

According to Kris Gunnars, your bodies hormones go through changes when you intermittent fast. One of the biggest changes with chemicals within the body is the level of human growth hormone (HGH). The more HGH that you have in your body, the easier it is to gain muscle and shed fat- people take HGH to unnaturally boost muscle growth. Another major hormonal change occurs with insulin levels. Insulin levels are shown to decline due to intermittent fasting but insulin sensitivity is increased. This is helpful because lower levels of insulin make it easier for the body to access stored fat and use it- decreasing levels of fat in the body.

Many people believe this is an effective way to build muscle and cut fat, but is it actually proven to work?

Intermittent fasting is a relatively new practice and there is not an abundance of studies that have been performed on it. Some studies were done on athletes who follow Ramadan– a month when Muslims do not eat or drink from when the sun rises to when it sets (Gani, Aisha 2015). However, these studies were just observational and did not lead to much of a conclusion. Finally, an actual study was conducted on intermittent fasting and published on August 22, 2016. The published study named, “Time-restricted feeding in young men performing resistance training: A randomized control trial”, can be found here.

I was able to find a more descriptive outline of the study here. The study being a randomized control trial, meant that the men being studied were split into two groups; a normal diet group and intermittent fasting group. Subjects were tracked over a period of 8 weeks during which they had their caloric intake monitored and alternated upper and lower body workouts 3 times per week. The normal diet group ate whatever they wanted every single day while the fasting group only ate during a 4-hour period on their off days but was allowed to eat normally on the workout days. At the conclusion of the study, body weight, fat mass, lean body mass, bench press for 1 rep, and hip sled for 1 rep were all measured and compared to the individual’s initial measurements. This was the data published.

Intermittent Fasting Normal Diet
Body Weight -5.5% to +2.6% -1.4% to +2.1%
Fat Mass -22.1% to +4.5% -13.5% to +12.6%
Lean Body Mass -4.0% to +4.6% -2.5% to +3.9%
Bench Press- 1 rep +4.4% to +22.7% +4.7% to +12.2%
Hip Sled- 1 rep +13.7% to +48.1% +13.6% to +31.5%

Instead of having an overall average or every value, these are the minimum and maximums of the value set. Without seeing all the data, it is hard to tell if any of these numbers are outliers that could skew the data in the next chart. I thought it was very hard to compare these data sets of ranges so I created a chart with the median values from the data sets above. I used median values because it only gave the maximum and minimum (because there are only two numbers it is the same as their average).

Intermittent Fasting Median Normal Diet Median
Body Weight -1.45% +0.35%
Fat Mass -8.80% -0.45%
Lean Body Mass +0.30% +0.70%
Bench Press- 1 rep +13.55% +8.45%
Hip Sled- 1 rep +30.9% +22.5%

 

While this chart may not be the most accurate representation of the data from the study, it does give a fairly decent look at the differences between the intermittent fasting group and the normal diet group. When it came to fat mass, the intermittent fasting group lost a significant percentage more than the normal diet group. When it came to the workouts, the intermittent fasting group increased their maxes by a decent amount more than the normal diet group. Mechanisms for why these things occur were stated earlier in the article: intermittent fasting raises the bodies HGH levels and lowers insulin levels while also making the insulin more sensitive. This study seems to provide evidence that intermittent fasting is effective, but was the study itself accurate?

I have a few problems with this study. One, I was unable to find how many people participated in this study, this data over a large group would mean much more than a small group. If it was a large group, then the medians would be fairly accurate and the data would show for this study that intermittent was effective. Since we do not know the size of the groups or the specific data, it is hard to conclude that. Another issue with this study is that they did not control the diets of participants. Allowing people to freely eat in a study when they are working out makes absolutely no sense. The types of food people eat while they are working out is a huge factor in how much muscle and fat they gain/lose. The study would be much more accurate if they controlled the diets of the individuals. Another thing is that this study should have went on for much longer than it actually did. Significant muscle growth and fat loss is not seen effectively over a period of 8 weeks; a longer study should have been done. I am making this study out to seem like it failed in every way possible, there could have been improvements from my point of view but it is likely the researches did what they did for a reason.

At the end of the study the researchers concluded that intermittent fasting allows for a decrease in energy intake with no effect on muscle growth. This is an accurate conclusion for this study. So should you intermittent fast? Much more research needs to be done until someone can say that intermittent fasting is PROVEN to effectively cut fat and cause no stunt on muscle growth. But at this point there is nothing saying you shouldn’t try it, if it fits your lifestyle and you notice improvements than it may be for you.

Sources:

https://authoritynutrition.com/intermittent-fasting-guide/

http://www.leangains.com/2016/09/intermittent-fasting-and-lifting_1.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27550719

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/17/ramadan-guide-to-islamic-holy-month-muslims-fast

 

 

Your FitBit won’t make you healthy

Image result for fitbit

image via google

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

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

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

First Study

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

Second Study

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

Analysis

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

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

Sources:

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

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

Freshman 15 Days of Sickness

Image result for sick person

image via http://associationsnow.com

Unfortunately, I have caught the sickness that has been floating around campus. At least half
my floor already has it and the constant coughing in classes assures me that many more people on campus are sick. Starting as just a sore throat, I have developed a very heavy cough that is hard to avoid. Dayquil is helpful and the best solution has been to constantly sip water. Sipping the water keeps my throat from getting dry, which seems to be what causes the coughing. Problem is, I can only drink so much water at a time and the coughing eventually ensues. But this makes me wonder… Is there a correlation when someone is sick between coughing and the throat being dry? and how does coughing effect, if it does at all, a sickness?

Why do we cough?

Image result for person coughing

image via kevinmd.com

Having to cough is probably one of the most annoying things there is, especially in class when you know your loud projections of infected air are distracting everyone in the room. Before this, I had no clue why we cough and usually tried to avoid doing it. This may not be the best thing to do because, according to WebMD, coughing happens to help the body get rid of foreign items such as dirt and mucus. This is among other things that can cause a person to continually cough. Even though coughing is generally intended to remove foreign things from the airways, it can also have negative consequences. A dry cough, among other types of coughing, irritates the lungs. When an individuals lungs become irritated, they cough even more. This creates a cycle where the coughing doesn’t stop and could get worse and worse as the lungs become more irritated. This “dry cough” might be an explanation to why the water helps to soothe the coughing.

Water..?

Image result for water

image via circuitworksla.com

If any of you have had this dry cough before, you may know that it can lead your throat to
become extremely sore. When you cough for other reasons, it is often because there is something in your throat such as foreign objects or mucus. But if there is nothing in your throat, the air is just pressing along the walls of your throat, irritating it even more. According to eMedicineHealth, as water goes down the throat, it breaks up the mucus that is sitting in the passageway. Since a cough is meant to remove things from the throat…. MUCUS… and the water breaks up that mucus. If the water breaks up that mucus, then you have to cough less. Therefore, water serves a similar purpose as coughing, or at least just assists the coughing. The water breaking up the mucus may help it to be removed from your throat when you cough, but, I often swallow after coughing and I feel like the mucus goes right back into my throat. So I believe the water serves the purpose of lubricating your throat so that the cough is not completely dry.

On a good note, I am starting to feel better- I started this blog 2 days ago. Using a mixture of fluids, sleep, cough drops, DayQuil, NightQuil, Ibuprofen, salt water, and nasal spray, the sickness seems to be almost over. While I do not know if this was the best combination of things, it did the job.

Feel free to comment how you have dealt with your sickness below.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/overview?page=2#1

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/relieving_a_cough-health/article_em.htm

NARCOS- No Spoilers

No details about the TV show will be revealed in this post.

Image result for narcos

Image via Esquire

Released last Friday on Netflix, the second season of Narcos may have been on of the most discussed topics over the weekend. Sitting on the bus, two guys were talking about it and not 10 minutes later did we have the entire back of the bus talking about it. Narcos is definitely up there on my top favorite TV shows, besides having to read half of the script.

Laying in bed watching an episode, I had the idea for this blog post. What do I really know about cocaine? Nothing. So here is a little more you can know about cocaine.

What is Cocaine?

Image result for cocaine

Image via drugdetails.com

Cocaine, either in powder or crystal form, comes from the coca leaves. This is a plant grown in South America where the tropical conditions are perfect for growing the plant. A combination of perfect altitude and humidity are needed to effectively grown coca plants; the Andes mountains and the Amazon together create an ideal growing environment. Coca plants can be grown in other places (not very easily), but is most effectively done in South America. The leaves are processed through various steps until it finally becomes Cocaine Hydro-chloride. As it gets passed from dealer to dealer, it is often cut with other products to increase profits. This means that the dealer may throw any cheaper substance (flour, baking powder, other drugs) into the cocaine. Obviously, it becomes very dangerous as multiple unknown substances are mixed into it. (Narconon)

Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia are the leading producing nations of cocaine, almost having no
competition (Narconon). The majority of the production is sent to America to satisfy our massive coke loving population. According to Mike Nudelman, Cocaine is a very popular drug on Wall street, being used since the 1970’s. The remainder of cocaine distribution goes to mainly European countries and Australia. It then gets purchased by every type of person from the poor to rich business executives, and eventually used.

Cost of Cocaine

Each one of these packages is one kilogram of cocaine- image via Vice

According to Scott Stewart, When a kilogram of cocaine leaves Colombia, it is worth approximately $2,200.  By the time it reaches The Mexico-US border, it is worth $16,000. In just 2,000 miles, the price increases by 700%- no longer surprised why these drug lords take the risks they do. Reaching Dallas, it hits a price of $24,000 per kilo and than $27,000 per kilo when it reaches New York City. (Stewart) An overall increase by over 1200%. Now this profit is split among many dealers and transporters, but still gives a huge profit to the cartel- which is why they are able to hold so much power in their respective areas. Money is not the only cost of cocaine, many lives are also lost in the process. According to Jason Breslow, over 164,000 people were murdered in Mexico between 2007 and 2014.  It is estimated that at least 55% of these deaths were directly at the hands of the cartel. (Breslow) The costs quickly add up to millions of dollars and thousands of lives being spent on cocaine each year.

Cocaines effect on the body
Cocaine can be taken in multiple ways. Many people choose to snort it but it can also be ingested through smoking, injection, or absorbtion though the gums. Effects occur almost immediately after the drug enters the body,
changing chemicals in the brain to deliver a high to the user. This high is created through the drug blocking neurotransmitters in the brain. The results heavily stimulate the user. The stimulation comes in the form of making the user very energetic and alert. The energetic effect transfers into curving the users ability and or wish to sleep, which may be why so many people are using it on Wall street- the can work all day and party all night, supplementing their lack of sleep with cocaine. (National Institute on Drug Abuse)

Cocaine is used and love by many: some use it recreationally and others to stay awake through the day. In either situation, there is someone, most likely thousands of miles away, profiting very heavily from those addicted to, or just using, cocaine. Not only is there a massive trail of money, but also bodies of anyone who interferes with the business of the cartels.

Sources

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/cocaine/what-are-some-ways-cocaine-changes-brain

The Staggering Death Toll of Mexico’s Drug War

http://www.businessinsider.com/from-colombia-to-new-york-city-the-economics-of-cocaine-2015-7

http://www.businessinsider.com/drug-use-on-wall-street–the-history-2014-1

http://www.vice.com/read/why-doesnt-anyone-produce-cocaine-in-australia

http://www.narconon.org/drug-information/what-is-cocaine.html

 

 

Study Buddy

Image result for adderall

image via livescience.com

It’s the week of you’re biggest final exam, and if you do not get an A, you will end up failing the course. All week you sit and stare at your notes, feeling like you are accomplishing something but really nothing is happening. Then you remember the dude down the hall has adderall and sells it for just a few bucks a pill. You go and buy some and after taking the pill you become much more focused on studying. Then you begin buying regularly from the dude down the hall until you need to take it every day. When you don’t take it, you feel tired and unfocused. This is the process of your brain developing a dependency on the drug. Up front, I would like to say that this post is neither condoning or promoting the use of non-prescribed adderall.

Adderall’s intended use

image via forbes.com

image via forbes.com

Adderall is a drug that contains a mixture of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Dodson). It is used to treat ADHD. ADHD, Attention-Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, is pretty much what it’s name describes it as; affected individuals have trouble keeping their attention focused on one thing and may also be disruptive. It is found in mostly children, only about 5%, and this is when the first diagnosis usually occurs. An individual diagnosed with ADHD will most likely receive a prescription for adderall. At first, the individual may start out on a very small dose but may have to increase dose size if a tolerance builds up. Adderall is a very effective drug when used properly. It contains chemicals to stimulate the brain in a way that replaces the chemicals the brain fails to produce (the lack of these chemicals is what causes ADHD). Use of adderall causes the complications associated with ADHD to be dulled and for the effected individual to function at a normal cognitive level. For this purpose, adderall is a very helpful drug.

Non-Prescribed Uses

Because of adderall’s benefit to bettering focus, many people, who are not prescribed the drug, take it for personal use. Some do so for the high, but most are using adderall to better focus on school work. In fact, A study at the University of Kentucky found 30% of students reported using adderall as a way to study better. While it may be very helpful, it is very illegal for someone to take adderall that is not prescribed it and for someone who is prescribed to distribute it.

Complications with non-prescribed use

People are prescribed adderall because they lack certain chemicals in their brain. The drug is used, in these individuals, to bring the chemicals back to a normal level. An individual who is not diagnosed with ADHD normally has sufficient levels of these chemicals in the brain. When they take an adderall, or when someone prescribed takes more than recommended, the levels of these chemicals in the brain rises above normal. This induces a state of high attention and ability to focus on certain tasks, or just a kick ass high. There is a problem associated with this process. The human body works to regulate chemicals in the body, producing more of something you need and less of things you don’t. When an individual continually uses adderall to boost chemical levels in the brain, the brain will begin to produce less of those chemicals. This process of regulation in the body lowers the amount of chemicals produced because the adderall is acting as a supplement. Therefore, when the individual stops taking the adderall, they may lack the chemicals in the brain that the adderall was boosting, leading them to need more adderall.

Comment opinions/suggestions below.

Sources

https://www.drugs.com/health-guide/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd.html

Long-Term Effects of Heavy Adderall Use

http://www.additudemag.com/adhd-web/article/11070.html

 

 

Enjoyable… but not for life

What’s up everyone, my name is Matt Jacobs and I’m a freshman here at PSU majoring in finance. During high school I never had a problem taking sciences, was not a big fan of biology but chem and physics were pretty fun classes. Even though I thought they were fun, I really only took them because my HS required us to have 3 science credits to graduate. At NSO they told me I needed a science gen ed and that most business majors just took BiSci 003. Checked out this class and it seemed pretty shitty so threw that out of the option pile. About 30 minutes went by of reading the description for every single natural science course and I came along the word “non-scientists.” BAM, instantly added the course into my schedule. There were also some other key things about this course that appealed to me, I like the controversies aspect and applying science to real world events rather than just seeing, like Andrew said, what color would show when two chemicals were mixed together by following the directions.

There were many times I really enjoyed my science classes, especially when labs came around and most of the time was spent just talking rather than doing the lab (we actually did all the work with the lab, we were just given an obscene amount of time to do so). So I actually ended up really doing these labs whether it was dissecting an animal or  trying to make a water balloon swing through an area of nails without popping. But, science, to me, was kinda like wood shop; it was a fun class but it was not something I wanted to get paid to do for the rest of my life. I really always had a business interest and wished to pursue a business degree and career which is why I am choosing to not be a science major.

Here is a diagram that explains how Snapchat, currently worth $20 billion according to Forbes, makes their money.

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