Author Archives: Melissa Lee

Predicting the weather based on joint pain?

I have heard many anecdotes where people experience pain due to certain weather patterns like rain. People even report that they can even tell when a storm is coming. My grandma always tells me that she can feel it in her bones. This relationship dates all the way back to the Roman age.I question if there is actually any science behind this relationship or if it is all just anecdotes that people tell.

Image taken from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/home/ovc-20197388

Image taken from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rheumatoid-arthritis/home/ovc-20197388

Many of the studies done look at the effect that weather changes have on rheumatic patients. These people have a disease called rheumatoid arthrisits. Rheumatoid Arthritis affects more than 2 million people around the world. The disease consist of the body’s immune system attacking its own tissues and affects areas like the joints. This causes an immense amount of pain and causes swelling to occur. The swelling and pain usually spreads to smaller joints like fingers and toes. As the disease gets worse it spreads to the knees and ankles. Being a female of older age increases the risk of of rheumatoid arthritis. I found two different studies done testing this hypothesis.

Hypothesis being tested: Does changes in weather cause joint pain?

Alternative Hypothesis: Changes in weather does cause joint pain

Null Hypothesis: Changes in weather does not cause joint pain

Based on the two studies that i looked at the weather changes that might have an effect on patients consist of changes in barometric pressure, humidity, and temperature.

In the first study done by Daniela Guedj and Abraham Weinberger they studied 62 rheumatic patients. These patients completed questionaries for four weeks straight.  They found that there was a positive relationship between barometric pressure and pain. That means that if barometric pressure goes up so does the pain. They also found that women were more sensitive to the changes than men. Overall this study is a relatively small study that was not done experimentally. This study used a descriptive research method of surveying. There can not be a definitive casual relationship present and the relationship can be due to outside third variables. It is hard to truly test this hypothesis objectively because many of the results depend on the reports of the patients.

Image taken from https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjm1pvQys7QAhWFwiYKHYyPAPQQjRwIBw&url=https%3A%2F%2Fghr.nlm.nih.gov%2Fcondition%2Frheumatoid-arthritis&bvm=bv.139782543,d.amc&psig=AFQjCNHi4HGuDlT9pAlB7wxWxxmDKktb8w&ust=1480433707632173

Image taken from https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/rheumatoid-arthritis

In another study with 134 patients they were also given a questionnaire. This questionnaire was also completed for 31 consecutive days. This study considered temperature, humidity and barometric pressure.  But this study found that an increase in pressure decreased joint pain. So although there was a relationship found between the two variables. These two variables have an inverse relationship. This contradicts with the previous study. This study was also larger than the other study so there may be more truth to this study but nothing can be said with 100% truth.

I am still unsure about the conclusion given the data. There are many contradicting results based off other studies. Both studies sought out to reevaluate the relationship. But the results found were also contradictory. There is very little information published on this subject. In conclusion I feel like larger studies that are done experimentally can really determine if there is a direct casual relationship between the two variables. In both studies they do review results found from other studies. This can be considered peer review and that is important to improve the research found in this area.

 

Are selfies and likes effecting our mental health?

This generation of teenagers has been over taken by the social media world. A majority of this generation probably has an Instagram, twitter, snapchat or some form of social media. One of the first things I do in the morning is check my Instagram. I can spend countless hours scrolling through all the pictures. When scrolling, you can see a lot of pictures like selfies. There is a sense of accomplishment when receiving a new high of likes on an Instagram picture. Many people try to make their social media look perfect because it is an overall display of someone’s life. All these forms of social media are very hard to ignore because so many people are used to checking these sites constantly.

selfies

Image taken from http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-02-25/health/chi-head-lice-selfies-20140225_1_said-shirley-gordon-head-lice-delousing-salon

Penn State graduate students in mass communications preformed an observational study on this topic. They wanted to see how posting selfies can impact someone psychologically like effecting self esteem. Ruoxu Wan and Fan Yang used an online survey to receive their data. The results of this study showed that when people continued to view their selfies or pictures of other people their self esteem was lowered. When people continue to view their pictures and are not getting the feedback they wanted it could negatively effect them. The act of comparing yourself to someone else can cause people to feel disheartened. It might seem like their life is not as great compared to other people. But on the contrary people who desire to be popular and receive positive feedback like getting a lot of likes, can see a improvement in their self esteem.  This observational study only shows a correlational relationship between the two variables. There are many third variables that can contribute to someone’s self esteem.

In addition, Cornell researchers conducted two studies to further gather information on this topic. In the first study they surveyed 250 people who used Facebook and asked them on average how many likes they get on their pictures. In the other study they asked 100 Cornell students to post selfies to a fake website.The people who reported a high amount of likes had a higher a self esteem. But this study found that only people with less purpose felt this change in self esteem. People who believe that they have many other reasons to live did not experience a change in self esteem. This was one of the first studies that took into account purpose levels. A replication of this study could strengthen the results but an overall correlation is present.

In another study University of Michigan researchers found a correlation between social media and narcism. In this study the participants had to take different surveys and answer questions. A majority of the participants in these study were females. This could skew the results and the results may only be representative of females and not males. To improve this study in the future the sample group could randomly select participants so that they are representative of the population. The results showed that people used social media to boost their ego and to make themselves look better. The study was not able to determine if reverse causation is present but it can not be completely ruled out.

Overuse of social media has been correlated with a lower self esteem and an increase in narcism. In all of these studies a casual relationship has not been discovered yet. With society becoming more and more consumed with social media this is likely to be a problem that continues to progress.

Why eating chocolate is good for you

When I was growing up my elementary school teachers always told me to eat a piece of chocolate before a standardized exam. I never understood why but it always gave me a good excuse to eat a piece of chocolate early in the morning. Ten years later I am really intrigued by  how eating chocolate can improve your brain’s ability to process things. Chocolate to me was always a nice little treat to snack on.

Chocolate contains natural chemicals called Flavonoids. These chemicals provide many health benefits. Chocolate contains flavanols and flavonols. Flavanols are beneficial in lowering blood pressure and keeping blood vessels healthy. These chemicals also contain anti-axtiodants that help remove damaging agents from the body. Dark Chocolate is known to have a higher percentage of flavonoids compared to light chocolates.

cocoa

Image taken from http://cocoaflavanol.org

In addition studies have shown that eating chocolate can improve cognitive functions like memory.  It is relatively normal for someones memory to deteriorate as they get older. This should not be mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease.  For many adults recalling facts can become difficult while recognition seems to be easier. Recall consist of remembering a fact and mentally having to retrieve the information from your memory. Recognition involves comparing things and associating information in your memory.  Recognition does not involve as much effort. A study done by Columbia University Medical Students has shown that dietary changes can improve memory that declines as a person ages. Before this study there had only seen to be a correlational relationship between eating chocolate and improved cognitive functions. In this study Dr. Scott A. Small wanted to test whether or not cocoa flavanols could help the part of the brain that deals with memory. Dr. Small used a drink that contained cocoa flavanols to test his hypothesis. The sample group of 37 volunteers in the same age range were randomly allocated into the control and experimental group. A randomized control experiment helps to eliminate confounding variables. The control group received a drink with a low concentration of cocoa flavanols while the experimental group received a drink with high concentrations. Different images were taken of the participant’s brains before and after the study. Memory test were also given before and after to allow for comparison. The results showed that the participants that received the highly concentrated drink preformed much better and the brain images showed the dentate gyrus improving with functioning. The dentate gyrus is the area of the brain affected by normal age related memory decline. The study was done on a small scale but there is compelling evidence that shows the casual relationship between consumption of cocoa flavanols and improvement in memory.

coco-sc-200

Image taken from http://newsroom.cumc.columbia.edu/blog/2014/10/26/flavanols-memory-decline/. Normal age related memory decline and Alzheimer’s disease affects different parts of the brain.

Chocolate consumption has also been linked to providing benefits to the heart. Multiple studies have been conducted looking deeper into this linkage. Scientists from the University of Cambridge sought out to analyze the results of the multiple studies done. From all of the studies they analyzed five of the studies showed a positive correlation between chocolate consumption and heart health. With high chocolate consumption many things like stroke were reduced. These experiments can sometimes be difficult to conduct because with the consumption of chocolate there are many other things to take account of. There are high calorie and sugar levels with eating chocolate. Eating high amounts of chocolate is never too safe. More studies in this realm could be conducted with caution to see if there is indeed a casual relationship between the two.

Chocolate consumption has been linked to both improved memory and heart health. But these studies do not promote the overconsumption of chocolate which can result in negative effects in different areas. A piece of chocolate a day might be the perfect amount to stimulate your brain and to keep your heart healthy.

 

 

Waist Trainers a terrible trend

Waist trainers are used to reduce the circumference of someone’s waist through the use of a steel boned corset. Waist trainers have become insanely popular in the past year. Many celebrities endorse and promote the use of waist trainers. You can often see celebrities like the Kardashians raving about them. Whenever a Kardashian seems to promote something it catches like wildfire.

waist-trainers-2

( image from www.angelcurves.com)

Many women want to instantly have a slimmer figure, striving for that hourglass look. Many people think that by wearing them it will reduce fat cells. Dr. Andrew Miller, a plastic surgeon of Associates of plastic surgery flat out disagreed with this statement. I find myself asking the question why would any logical thinking person use these things? These things seem so dangerous to your health. With the use of waist trainers all your organs are crammed together and space in your abdomen is reduced. That sounds pretty scary to me. Many women wear waist trainers for ten hours a day. The damage done by waist trainers are often permanent. Waist trainers also make it hard for you to breathe and can induce acid reflux. The Usatoday points that many people pass out because they can not get enough air when wearing them. The picture below shows the before and after of using a waist trainer. It clearly shows how the ribs at the bottom are more narrow and compresses all the organs in that area.

waist-trainers

(image from www.qatarday.com)

A study was attempted where participants tried wearing a waist trainer for 12 to 16 hours a day for a month. Many people dropped out of this study because they found the trainers to be too uncomfortable. A women reported the feeling of wanting to throw up after eating food while wearing the waist trainer.

Dr. Oz also looked in on this trend and took MRIs of a women who has used waist trainers. He first took an MRI where the women was not wearing a waist trainer. Everything seemed perfectly normal. Then a MRI was taken where the women was wearing a corset. The MRI shows that the waist had shrunk about 2 inches. Organs like the kidney and gallbladder were squeezed upwards and the rib cage was being pushed up against the liver. The outcomes of using a waist trainer are not worth it. Many people think that it will help you lose weight but there is no proven evidence. There are many other ways to become slimmer without distorting your whole body figure. Waist Trainers are not healthy especially wearing them for long periods of time.

Does Kinesiology Tape actually work?

Throughout high school I was a track distance runner that ran up to forty miles a week. This could be extremely taxing on someone’s body. I constantly got injured throughout my years of running. I often got the same injury of feeling pain in my knees. I eventually visited a doctor and he told me I had something called it band syndrome. It band syndrome is when the tissue that surrounds your knee becomes inflamed and starts rubbing against the bone.

I was extremely disappointed that my season had to end but off to physical therapy I went. In physically therapy I did many different exercises. After every session my physically therapist would put this tape on my knee. She was using kinesiology tape. She said the purpose of the tape was to produce circulation in my leg and reduce the inflammation. I wondered to myself how could a piece of tape do all of that? It seemed like some kind of psychological process where if i thought the tape was helping it would stop the pain. I personally did not feel like it helped that much and the tape would constantly fall off. kt-tape                                                      ( image from allindiaroundup.com)

While watching the Olympics this summer I also saw that many of the athletes were wearing this brightly colored tape in many different arrangements on their body. If world class athletes were using this, it would seem as if there would be some truth behind the working of KT tape. In an interesting experiment it shows that the positive effects might be due to a placebo effect. The experiment was performed with thirty people. The experiment consisted of people having the real kinesiology tape or KT tape, a fake tape or no tape at all. The participants were blindfolded and were told to preform different exercises. All the participants performed the same and proved that KT tape does not help in performance. The benefits that many people think they are attaining may be due to placebo effect. The Global Rating of Change Scale shows that there is a low to moderate correlation between the taped used and performance level.

KT tape might just be a hyped up thing that has a psychological effect. Philip Newton, a physiotherapist states that the bright colors of the tape might induce athletes to wear it. Bandage before used to be a dull color that can be seen as a sign of weakness. Many athletes would want to hide this. But now athletes wear the tape as a badge of honor and wear it with confidence. Tim Locke points out in an article that putting on the tape might be a part of an athlete’s ritual before a big game. It almost becomes a part of their uniform to put on the tape. There is really no scientific evidence behind the working of the tape and therefore might all be psychological. Experts also have a tough time wrapping their head around the idea of a piece of tape being able to reap so many benefits.

kt-tape-2

( image from www.fiterature.com)

Should you wear high heels?

I’m sure every girl has experienced the excruciating pain that comes from wearing heels. Most of us have a love hate relationship with them. I often can’t wait to put on those new heels that I just bought. But by the end of the night my feet are in pain. Can high heels actually be dangerous to your health?

heels-2

(image from well.blogs.nytimes.com)

Wearing high heels can actually damage your bones.  My grandma has two bunions on her feet and the doctor told her that it might be due to wearing high heels. When she showed me the bunions I was appalled but the sight of the huge bumps on the sides of her feet. A bunion occurs when your big toe is pushed up against the surrounding toe causing the joint of your big toe to stick out. My grandma constantly wore high heels when she worked during her adulthood. She especially loved wearing those really pointy high heels that just look extremely painful for all your toes to be crammed into that tight space. This doesn’t go to say that wearing high heels will cause bunions to develop. But there does seem like there is a correlation between wearing high heels and bunions developing.

In addition, wearing high heels can also affect your posture. Girls usually have to find their balance when wearing high heels which causes them to push their chest forward. This causes the whole spine to come out of alignment. There is an excess of pressure put on your knees and the balls of your feet.

In a study done by an Australian scientist  he chose an experimental group that wore high heels for at least 40 hours a week for many years of their lives. This could be considered a longitudinal study. The control group consisted of women who rarely or never wore high heels. The scientist kept the age of the women around the same range and chose middle aged women into their 20’s or 30’s. He discovered that women in the two groups walked very differently. Women who wore heels took short quick strides that really took a tole on your leg muscles. He discovered that people who wore heels strained their calves and can increase strain injuries in the future.

Although there are many dangers to wearing heels, every girl comes to a point where they must wear them. Doctors of osteopathic medicine point out that there are stretches you can do to prevent these problems. Also wearing heels for a short period of time and shorter height won’t do as much damage.

heels                                                             (Image from debt.org)

You like Math but hate Science?

Hey everyone! My name is Melissa Lee and I am a freshman studying in the Smeal College of Business. I am from Marlboro New Jersey. I live 30 minutes from the jersey shore and about one hour from New York City. I definitely get the best of both worlds living so close to two of my favorite places. Through all my years of school my favorite subject has always been math and I always struggled with science. I really like this person’s viewpoint on why she enjoys math. l I always get asked why I love math but hate science. Math and Science usually go hand in hand in and people usually like both. Although math was sometimes challenging I always loved the excitement of finally getting the right answer after a page full of work. Every single science teacher I had throughout high school was terrible to say the least. The material just never seemed to catch my attention or maybe it was the teachers. I could never be a science major because high school made me hate science. I would want my major to be focused more on math. I took this class because my advisor pointed it out. I needed to take a science general education class.  Once she pointed it out it definitely caught my eye as an interesting class. I did not want to take any classes like biology or chemistry. This class stood out because there is no course like this in high school. The topics in this this class seem really intriguing. I am excited for all the things that will be explored in this course. There are so many questions in science that have not been answered yet. I often struggle with classes that involve critical thinking but I think this class will be a good challenge.

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