Everyone gets anxious. Even Britney Spears, who probably has 10 assistants at her beck and call. Stress and anxiety have reached epidemic proportions all over the world. In the U.S., about 18 percent of adults suffer from medically diagnosed anxiety. Imagine how many others suffer in silence? Studies show about 44 percent percent of us suffer from one form of stress or another.
If newspaper headlines are anything to go by, the disadvantages of using the internet are endless: hacking scandals, security risks from online transactions or uncovering paedophile rings seem to be an everyday occurrence. These aspects of being online can certainly be stressful, but does using the web also have direct health risks? Continue Reading…
Continued from Part 1
Unlike many films depicting mental illness, the theme of stigma is not central to Silver Linings Playbook. In fact, the audience is even encouraged to feel positively towards some symptoms of mental illness – overly tidy habits and being the life of the party, for example. When the film shows Pat jogging with a black trash sack over his clothes to make him sweat, the audience is meant to laugh; these eccentricities are treated with affection and humor.
The Oscar-nominated film Silver Linings Playbook has offered a new perspective on bipolar disorder through the unique medium of cinema, but, has this film really taught us anything new about how we view mental health issues?
Silver Linings Playbook has garnered much critical acclaim thanks to its take on mental health issues, in particular for its depiction of the lead character’s struggle with bipolar disorder. Played by Bradley Cooper, Pat is a former schoolteacher who was committed to a psychiatric institution for eight months following his vicious attack on the man he caught naked in the shower with his wife.
I forget the number of times my parents tried to get me to the doctor only for them to be met with flat refusal. “I’m fine!” might be a common exclamation from anyone who feels like visiting the GP amounts to admitting defeat, but try and imagine falling ill only a couple of hundred years ago. Sick citizens must have had a whole array of tricks to get out of seeing their local physician, especially when these three treatments were potential panaceas.
As a child, you’re pretty carefree about the things you and you’re also pretty feckless as to the effects of pretty much everything. But part of growing up is finding out how much all the fun things you used to do are going to come back and bite you. Hard.
I still remember the day my mom caught me eating wall candy, only to tan my hide as she educated me about the dangers of lead based paint. Who’d a thunk that those tasty flakes of paint on the wall could retard the mental development of… Ooh look, something shiny.
So in the spirit of celebrating our youthful indiscretions and the unforeseen consequences, we’re going to be covering 6 medical findings you wouldn’t have thought true, and even if you did have an inkling, you wouldn’t want to believe it.
1. Frequent sex and masturbation increases your chance of prostate cancer.
What man doesn’t like sex? Even puritans will admit they enjoy it as a guilty pleasure. Which is why a recent study by a group of UK researchers published in BJU (British Journal of Urology) International, caught me by surprise like a cold draught up a kilt. The study took an in depth look at 431 men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer and 409 control subjects and their findings show that men who are extremely sexually active in their 20’s and 30s are more likely to develop prostate cancer. The study also makes it clear that it’s generally more of a problem for people
engaging in frequent self-loving rather than sexual intercourse with another person.
Hormones play a large role in prostate cancer, with therapy being one treatment used to reduce hormones that seem to stimulate cancer cells. In the words of one illustrious author of the study “A man’s sex drive is also regulated by his hormone levels, so this study examined the theory that having a high sex drive affects the risk of prostate cancer.” Ouch. Not all is lost though, as small levels of sexual activity for men in their 50’s afford them a measure of protection against the disease. Still though, if you’re in the 20-30 age range and don’t have a girlfriend, it may be worth it to put yourself down and go find one. She may give you ulcers, but she could reduce the chance of cancer.
2. The long term repercussions of concussions.
Firstly, try saying that five times really fast. Secondly, don’t get a concussion. Researchers from the Montreal University in balmy Canada carried out a large array of tests on 40 former athletes now aged 50-60, 19 of whom had sustained at least one concussion in their youth. The tests included short term memory tests, following simple verbal and written commands, and motor control. Their findings were that people who suffered one or two concussions
earlier in life performed poorer in the tests than the other test subjects. Overall, they had a more difficult time with the memory tests, slightly delayed reactions to unexpected events and took a little bit longer than their counterparts to complete the motor control tests.
There were, thankfully, no signs of more serious problems such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Disease, and the former athletes are all leading active, healthy lifestyles. However, it remains to be seen whether the slight effects noted in the study would begin to worsen as the subjects get older. One Andrew Scheuber, from the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, pointed out the glaringly obvious when he said “Sportsmen and women should take extra care to avoid head trauma.” Oh really?
3. Video games are no end of terrible for you.
I’m sure this may come as no surprise to some of you, but a recent study from Brigham Young University, the Mormon university in Utah, shows a negative relationship between people’s video game and internet habits, and their relationship quality, perception of themselves, and risky behaviors like drug usage and sex. You know, fun.
The findings indicate that the more you play video games the more your relationship quality deteriorates, and apparently girls with high internet and video game use have lower self esteem. Also noted were the fact that people who play video games daily smoke twice as much marijuana as other players, and three times as much as people who don’t play games.
As tempting a target as it may be for some, the results should not be over generalized. The study contained 813 undergraduate students from BYU, 500 females and 313 males, 73% were European Americans, and most subjects came from a middle class family. Add onto that, the fact that University admittedly is 98.6% Mormon, and you hardly have a balanced cross section of American gamer society and even less representative of gamers internationally. Either way, many nerds will now suffer an unending string of “I told you so” from their girlfriend… If they have one.
4. Alcohol and Tobacco more dangerous than Mary-Jane and LSD?
Britain’s drug regulations are supposed to be based on how much harm it does or risk is poses, but seems to lack clarity as to how they are assed. Enter the University of Bristol. A study they published in the Lancet aimed to asses the of harm and risks of regulated drug on a clearer scale, measuring three things: the physical harm done to the user
by taking the drug; how addictive the drug is, or how likely it will be to induce dependency; and the effect that drug use has on families, communities and society at large. The findings were pretty interesting.
They assessed 20 drugs, 5 of which were legal but in danger of abuse, Heroin topped the charts followed by cocaine and barbiturates. That is to be expected, but this is where it gets a bit strange. The experts rated Alcohol 5th and Tobacco 9th, while cannabis came in at 11th, LSD 14th and Ecstasy coming in close to the bottom at 15th. It’s always fun to see experts call government classifications arbitrary and unspecific, but it may not be advisable to bump into a politician and tell him the experts decided the ecstasy you’re rolling on is less harmful than the glass of scotch and cigar in their hands.
5. Daily smokers have higher risk of Major depression and suicidal thoughts.
The Henry Ford Health System did a study of 1,000 people aged 21-30 over a 5 year period. Their findings were
notable both for what is showed was linked, and what was not. The study found that not only were smokers at risk of major depression, but depression may increase the amount of smoking in people who already smoke. Smokers with a history of major depression were found to be three times as likely to become daily smokers. Despite this finding, there was no conclusive data that depression makes you more likely to start smoking, or that depression makes it harder to quit.
The study’s authors say that it’s possible that depressed smokers are self medicating their moods with the effects of nicotine, but that more studies may be needed. I think I’ll go have a cigarette and a nice long cry now.
6. Diabetes before you hit the age of 60 could increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
A Swedish study published in the journal Diabetes showed that people who contract diabetes before the age of 65 have a 125% increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The risk is especially significant for middle age people who develop diabetes, with the risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias substantially higher than people who develop diabetes after the 65 age mark.
If you were waiting for an upshot, prepare to be disappointed because the study’s authors say that the risk of diabetics developing dementia may be greater than the numbers in the study. The fact that diabetes has an earlier onset than dementia and an increased mortality rate means that the size of the sample available for the study could have been reduced. On top of that, about 30% of older adults with diabetes haven’t been diagnosed yet and would not have been available to the study. So stay healthy, because it would be a horrible set of circumstances where you’re constantly forgetting to check you insulin.
So there you have it, six medical findings that most of us probably wish weren’t the case. Having written this, it makes me wonder what little daily habits I have that will eventually conspire in my downfall. So, whether you’re the pot smoking gamer with poor relationship skills, or the depressed nicotine addict, it may be time to reassess your life and try to be healthier, or you could just go smoke another one.