Tag Archives: health risks

Daylight Saving Time-related health risks

“Daylight Saving Time is the practice of setting the clocks forward one hour from standard time during the summer months, and back again in the fall, in order to make better use of natural daylight.”

The concept of Daylight Saving Time originated in 1784 from Benjamin Franklin, and it was first used in 1908 in Thunder Bay, Canada. Although the time change isn’t very popular, with online petitions trying to end it, it hasn’t gained any influence with politicians. It has been extended, repealed and reinstated over the years, but has been used essentially since 1908 in Canada.

A recent study discovered that the risk for stroke was at an 8 percent increase in the two days following Daylight Saving Time. Individuals older than 65 were 20 percent more likely to have a stroke during this time, while one in four individuals inflicted with cancer were more likely to have a stroke.

What are the affects of daylight savings? Graphic from Cattaraugas County
What are the effects of daylight savings? Graphic from Cattaraugas County

The team of researchers measured the risk of stroke in over 3,000 individuals hospitalized the week after Daylight Saving Time against the risk of stroke in over 11,000 individuals hospitalized two weeks before or after Daylight Saving Time.

According to Dr. Jori Ruuskanen, study author from the University of Turku, Daylight Saving Time may be a small adjustment, but it impacts entire countries twice every year.

Ruuskanen and his team will present their discoveries in April during the yearly gathering of the American Academy of Neurology in Vancouver, British Columbia.

These discoveries made by Ruuskanen and his fellow researchers aren’t the first that have warned of the possible dangerous results of Daylight Saving Time.

According to a study from 2012 at the University of Alabama Birmingham, the two days directly after Daylight Savings Time have additionally been correlated with a 10 percent increase in the rate of heart attacks.

Christopher Barnes, an associate professor of management at the University of Washington, studies the effect of lack of sleep, primarily in the workplace. Barnes is the author of a paper on public health policy recommendations, in which cited studies illustrate how Daylight Saving Time has been linked to multiple studies, which show its dangerous impacts on cognitive ability, health, and the workplace.

The paper co-written by Barnes and Christopher Drake, from the Sleep Disorders and Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital. The paper was published in the Perspective on Psychological Science.

The co-authors propose the elimination of Daylight Saving Time, arguing that based on how Daylight Saving Time has been connected to more auto accidents, workplace injuries, and can even inhibit moral decision making, removing it from our calendar would place an emphasis sleep health.

The reality of pedicures

Pedicures– most of us have had at least one in our life. For me, my first real pedicure was over the summer. It was one of the most relaxing experiences I’ve ever had. Before that time, I had always just removed polish that had been there for months, then painted on a fresh new coat of color. I never treated it as anything calming or soothing, I simply did it to improve the appearance of my feet; only after I took a shower to wash all the excess polish I had applied on the rest of my toes.

Pedicures aren’t just for cosmetic beauty. Pedicures can detect problems early. Your manicurist has seen a decent amount of feet and toes and will know when something isn’t right. Regular pedicures can help recognize early signs of corns, bunions and fungal infections, which are easier to treat when they are identified in their early stages.

toes

These relaxing treatments increase the overall health of your nails and feet. Buffing your nails increases blood flow to the region, which supplies nutrients that would otherwise be inaccessible. Exfoliation sloughs off dead skin cells, encourages new cell growth, and prevents the cells from amassing and creating bunions or corns. Moisturized feet are less likely to get blisters, cracks or other foot complications. It is also vital to keep your cuticles moisturized to keep nails from developing ridges or split ends.

Pedicures have proven to be very therapeutic. Stress can worsen and accelerates the symptoms of certain diseases, such as cancer, heart problems and hypertension. Massaging helps promote circulation and aids in relieving tension in the calves and feet. Stimulated blood flow aids tired feet while promoting health. Massage therapy diminishes pain and decreases the chances of developing varicose veins.

The proper way to cut your toenails is to have them cut straight across with square edges. Cutting into the corners will make the nail to grow into the skin and cause ingrown toenails. If left unchecked they can become so bad that you will need minor surgery to remove the nail. Cutting and cleaning your toe nails prevents them from growing inward and causing infection. The elimination of dirt and bacteria from your feet will also help prevent nail diseases and foot odors.

Despite of the health benefits, salons are not impeccably sterile environments, and can be detrimental to your health as well. Know the ways to protect yourself before making your way to the nail salon.

Don’t shave or wax before a pedicure. Removing hair in any way creates very small cuts on your skin that germs and microbes can enter, causing serious infections, like cellulitis. To be safe, wait at least two days after shaving before going in for a pedicure.

If you are healthy and complication free, getting a pedicure doesn’t pose a serious threat. But if you have an infection, ulcer, or a cut, don’t make an appointment

Have your cuticles pushed back instead of clipped off. Cuticles shield your nail bed from bacteria and are crucial for your nail health.

Never let your manicurist turn on the bubbles while you soak your feet. The jets in the whirlpool bath can have bacteria and fungus buildup, which can make you can develop warts and athlete’s foot.

Make sure the metal tools are sterilized after every customer. The tools should never be used for more than one client. To be safe, you can bring your own tools and sterilize them at home.

Most importantly, make sure you know salons are clean and have been accredited by the health department.

Pedicures are good to get at least once a month to guarantee your feet stay in good condition. Just be careful and wary of where you go and how clean the salon is you’re going to.

Twitter could be lifesaving

We all have that one friend who overshares everything on social media. Every meal, every thought, every action is posted for the whole world to see. Does it get annoying? Yes. But a new study, soon to be published, may argue that this bad habit could actually be useful.

Yes, many of the tweets out there saying things like, “My leg hurts so bad, I think I’m going to die,” can be written off as melodramatic. Researchers at the University of Arizona, however, believe these seemingly whiny tweets shouldn’t be ignored. They decided to try to prove a direct connection between Twitter and trips to the emergency room. During their experiment, they chose to stick with a small population- asthmatics. The researchers searched for keywords on Twitter related to asthma, such as “inhaler.” After compiling a list of tweets, they compared the areas in which the keywords were trending with air quality reports from the Environmental Protection Agency and numbers gathered from the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, Texas.

One member of the study, Sudha Ram, said, “We noticed that people were tweeting about and talking a lot about their asthma symptoms. There were even parents tweeting about how they got calls from their child’s teacher saying their child was having breathing problems.”

Using this method, the research team concluded that they could predict emergency room visits with 70 percent accuracy. On this, Ram stated, “One of the challenges for this hospital and other hospitals is being able to predict how many people with various chronic conditions will show up on different days.” She explains that with their research, she and her team will be able to help those hospitals so that they will be better equipped to handle mass amounts of patients.

The University of Arizona’s researchers aren’t the only academics to be investigating the correlation between social media and predicting health concerns.

Back in January, a research team out of the University of Pennsylvania used Twitter to predict rates of heart disease. The team realized that negativity and stress can often be a huge factor in getting heart disease, while happiness can lower the risk. Like the University of Arizona, they relied on chronic over-sharers to conduct their research. Since so many people have become comfortable with sharing their innermost thoughts on Twitter, the researchers were able to find where the happiest, saddest, and angriest people resided. They used keywords such as “wonderful” and “friends” as well as “hate” and profanities to determine which areas seemed more at risk of heart disease. After collecting their data, the research team created a county-by-county, color-coded map of the United States. The greener the area, the less likely the population was to become afflicted with heart disease; the redder the area, the greater the chances. The map created by the researchers was compared to a map that was actually created to reflect deaths due to heart disease. The maps ended up looking almost identical, showing that researchers were on to something big- not only could dangerous diseases be predicted due to location, but also that a little positivity could save a life.

As social media becomes more and more influential in the lives of modern Americans, these studies show that it may become entirely possible to use the lifestyle of over-sharing to actually help people.

 

 

Bill Nye and GMOs

For many of us who grew up with Bill Nye the Science Guy as our mentor and guide through the scientific world, he remains an influential and nearly faultless voice of reason. Whether or not you agree with all his opinions, his more recent capacity in the public eye as an activist for climate change and evolution has had him in the spotlight once again.

In Nye’s Nov. 2014 book Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation,  he devoted a chapter to his opinions on GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and the relatively recent movement towards their domination of our foods. An outlier in the scientific community, he reiterated his skepticism towards GMOs during a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything):

Bill Nye as prophet. Graphic by Katie Gibson
Bill Nye as prophet. Graphic by Katie Gibson

“I stand by my assertions that although you can know what happens to any individual species that you modify, you cannot be certain what will happen to the ecosystem. Also, we have a strange situation where we have malnourished fat people. It’s not that we need more food. It’s that we need to manage our food system better. So when corporations seek government funding for genetic modification of food sources, I stroke my chin.”

Therefore, it has struck many by surprise that in February Nye stated in a video backstage on “Real Time with Bill Maher” that he is now “in love” with GMOs.

Some have expressed anger or have criticized Nye’s sudden change of heart, citing theories of bribes or threats. However, the great thing about science is that you are allowed — encouraged, really — to change or strengthen your opinion with every new piece of evidence you receive.

Nye declares that after visiting Monsanto (a corporation that has become all but synonymous with GMOs) and working closely with the scientists there to learn about the work being done with GMOs and food, he has found evidence for his about-face. Details of this are expected to be revealed further in his revised book (to be released next fall).

Now, although Nye says his opinion on GMOs has changed and indicates that they’re safe for human consumption, he still may be skeptical about the impact on ecosystems where GMOs have been introduced.

The argument for GMOs is that they allow more food, potentially better food, to be cultivated by farmers more easily. Scientists simply pick and choose the traits which food evolves with instead of waiting for natural selection to take its course — speeding the process up dramatically. And while this unnatural evolution makes many uncomfortable — including Nye until recently — there’s no current evidence that it’s any more dangerous than waiting a few hundred years for nature to take its course. Although it isn’t mandatory for GMOs to be tested for human health risks, all those currently on our shelves have volunteered to undergo review.

We may never see the day when we have a full understanding of the effects of GMOs, but at least we have the capacity, as an intelligent species, to seek out information and form our own opinions.

Caffeine and your body

Anyone who has tried to grab a soy caramel macchiato with extra whip between classes knows that Radford University students like their morning, afternoon and even nighttime cups of coffee. The line for Starbucks at 9:15 a.m. on a Tuesday morning can take upward of 15 minutes and involve a lot of grouching. Some find it easier to just stock up on Monster cans from the bookstore. However, these practices have serious health risks. Continue reading Caffeine and your body