How Air Pollution Affects the Olympics

By Caleb Burch

The upcoming Olympics in London this Friday have brought millions of tourists into the city.  This type of attraction greatly boosts the bustling city’s economy; however, it also boosts the city’s pollution.  According to an article written by Detroit Free Press “An influx of 550,000 tourists per day are expected during the two-plus weeks of the Olympics.”  This insane influx of tourists has turned the Olympic City into the Gridlock City.  Air pollution is actually so bad in London right now that scientists have created an app compatible with both iPhones and Androids that allows people to monitor the smog in their area.  According to an article posted about this issue on CNN Health, “The amount of nitrogen dioxide in London is comparable to the level of nitrogen dioxide in Beijing before Beijing banned half of the cars in preparation for the Games, and London has done little to control traffic.”  If London does not get a grasp on this, many people are worried that the pollution may affect the athlete’s performance.  Another quote from CNN Health suggests, “Demanding workouts in the polluted air could spell trouble particularly for those athletes that already have conditions such as asthma or exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB), a narrowing of the airways that makes it hard to move air out of the lungs.”  That may sound like a problem that would not affect too many of these world-class athletes but actually, according to AAAAI (American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology), it’s estimated that out of the 4,100 athletes competing, 1 in 6 of them suffers from this condition.  What do you think; does this qualify as an unfair disadvantage to the athletes affected?

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Growing movement towards cash only medical providers

Consumers fed up with expensive procedures, financial confusion, and a subpar doctor-patient relationship now have a second option. Certain medical providers are instituting cash-only payment options. Paying all cash for medical care has a variety of benefits. For example, when a patient opts to utilize a cash only medical option, they essentially do away with the middleman (insurance companies). This in turn eliminates third-party billing and waiting for reimbursement and allows the patient to budget and save accordingly. The time is long gone that the uninsured pay the lowest rates for treatment. “In the 1950s, the uninsured and poor were charged the lowest prices for medical service. Today they pay the highest prices, often two to three times more than what a person with health insurance would pay for hospital care,” says Gerald F. Anderson, a professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Cash-only, also known as direct-pay, medical practices cater to the uninsured with high-deductible health plans that kick in for major expenditures. Ted Epperly, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, estimates that there are now 500 to 1,000 family medicine practices across the country operating on a cash-only model. This makes it easier to offer flat rates, rather than negotiate with insurance companies to the last dollar. Pricing for direct pay networks sometimes vary by time spent with the patient. Time is paid for based on the length of the visit, from 5 minutes to 60. This allows time for thorough evaluation and breeds a sense of camaraderie between patient and doctor, something that is becoming more and more rare in patient care. The simple and transparent pricing system also allows for complete trust as the patient knows exactly what they are paying for and for how much. The convenience of such a system cannot be overstated as well. Doctors involved in the direct-pay model tend to be more available to their patients via e-mail and phone than regular doctors. Some even make house calls. The direct pay option is one that should be considered by un or underinsured patients unsatisfied with the way things are currently being done in terms of patient care. It provides convenience, affordability, proper doctor-patient relationship, and financial clarity.

Cancer: How Celebrities Deal with It!

By Winni Jeong

Around a month ago, Sheryl Crow assured her fans on her Facebook page stating “please don’t worry about my ‘brain tumor.’ It’s a non-cancerous growthI’m OK.” At her recent concert, she had told her audience about having a benign brain tumor called meningioma. This benign type of tumor has strongly been associated with breast cancer among women. Likewise, in 2006, Crow had also faced breast cancer, which was discovered after her routine mammogram. As such, Crow have done many activities to increase breast cancer awareness to stress the importance of regular breast cancer screenings.

Though Sheryl Crow went public on her brain tumor, she was reluctant to share her breast cancer experience in the media at first.  If such a devastating experience hit us, wouldn’t we also not want so much public attention and rather focus on recovering? Nevertheless, some actual stood the scrutiny as they allowed the public to follow and cheer their daily battles; others revealed their conditions only once they were on the course to recovery. Either ways, they were great methods to inspire others and to increase awareness about cancer. Likewise, nowadays, we can say that Crow has certainly done her share in increasing breast cancer awareness and stressing the importance of regular breast cancer screenings. After all, she has even donated proceeds from her singles to various breast cancer charities.

Overall, me being a women and breast cancer being the most common cancer in women, I find it crucial to know how these female celebrities had dealt with their cancer battles. What’s more, I was very much surprised that those celebrities were in their 30s and 40s. As research shows, age is an important risk to this type of disease. As such, experts recommend that more frequent regular mammogram screenings be taken the older you get.

List of Some of the Celebrity Breast Cancer Survivors:

-          Christina Applegate (36): actress; diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008

-          Cynthia Nixon (40): well known for her Sex and the City character; actress; routine mammogram revealed tumor; now acts as the Ambassador for Susan G. Komen for the Cure (New York-based cancer charity)

-          Lance Armstrong: athlete diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996; has founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation (network of support for cancer patients)

-          Kylie Minogue (36): Australian pop star; had a partial mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation

-          Scott Hamilton: figure skater; survived testicular cancer and has founded an organization called The Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative (promotes cancer awareness and raises funds for cancer research)

-          Suzanne Somers: actress and author underwent breast cancer; continues to promote cancer awareness and the importance of regular cancer screenings

Depth Perception

By Caleb Burch

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a two dimensional world?  I don’t think it’s a reality that very many of us would choose to have.  Believe it or not, this is a medical condition that actually affects 4% – 10% of the population.  According to a man named Bruce Bridgeman, a 67 year-old neuroscientist at UC Santa Cruz that was born with the condition, “When we’d go out and people would look up and start discussing some bird in the tree, I would still be looking for the bird when they were finished.”  According to an article posted on BBC.com about Bridgeman, in his case it was because “He was left with a condition called alternating exotropic strabismus, often called “lazy eye”, in which both eyes independently have a tendency to drift outward. He could aim each eye individually at a scene, and swap back and forth between them, but he could never get both eyes to fix on a single point, and he couldn’t look through both eyes at once.  So throughout his life he saw the world as a collection of flat panels.”  However, his whole view of the world was changed on February 16, when he went with his wife to see a 3D movie.  According to the article “Almost as soon as he began to watch the film, the characters leapt from the screen in a way he had never experienced. “It was just literally like a whole new dimension of sight. Exciting,” says Bridgeman.  What’s even more amazing than the fact that he was able to perceive depth for the first time, is that he has been able to do it ever since that day.  We hear people say all the time that a specific movie has changed their life, but in the case of Bruce Bridgeman, it actually did.

Anabolic Steroids

By Caleb Burch

The use of anabolic steroids has been very popular among avid gym goers since the early 1930’s. We’ve all see the effects of them on those huge, balloon men in the gym. Did you ever stop to ask yourself though: Why would somebody take steroids? What are the side effects of taking steroids? What are the long term effects on the body? Well you’re about to get all of your questions answered.

First question that generally comes to mind is: Why would somebody take steroids? According to the CDC, in 2001 5% of all high school students admitted to having tried steroids at least once. The most common reason for people to take steroids is to improve their athletic ability. Athletes are generally put under a lot of pressure to be the fastest and strongest that they can be. A lot of the time this can lead them to turning to steroids to improve their strength and speed. However, they don’t realize the psychological effects that they can have on them that will decrease their performance. Steroids are known to cause anxiousness, depression, paranoia, and severe mood swings. Another very common reason for people to take steroids is to improve their appearance. Muscles are in for both men and women. Everywhere you look you see ads filled with buff men and muscular women. These ads have a very strong influence over most people and make them feel as if they need to look that way. So again, they turn to steroids. What they don’t realize is the negative effects it can have on your appearance. Steroid use is known to cause acne, purple or red spots all over the body, swollen legs and feet, chronic bad breath, and oily hair. However, it’s up to each person to decide whether the cons out way the pros.

Before taking any type of performance enhancer or prescription drug, you should always know the side effects. Many of the side effects that come along with steroid use are potentially fatal. According to Medicenet.com, “Some of the effects are reversible and decrease when the drug abuse stops while others are permanent and irreversible.” The side effects for men include, but are not limited to decreased sperm count, shrunken testicles, premature balding and even Gynecomastia (breast development). Medinenet.com also informs us “Life-threatening side effects include heart attack and stroke, the risk of forming blood clots (deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolus), liver cancer, and liver failure. The health risk goes even further than that. Steroid users are often known to share needles, which can cause a person to pick up HIV or Hepatitis. If you ask me, a healthy diet of balanced carbs and proteins sounds much safer.

Last question: Which of the side effects mentioned above can be long term? Obviously if you were to come by one of the more life threatening side effects such as a stroke, this could cause permanent brain damage, a consequence that will be with you for the rest of your life. Liver cancer, blood clots, and heart attacks, are nothing to joke about either. Commonly the side effects that affect your physical appearance such as acne, Gynecomastia, or decreased sperm count, are easily reversible. Obviously if you happen to pick up HIV or Hepatitis from sharing needles, that is with you for the rest of your drastically shortened life.

Now you have the facts. You know why people might try steroids, the side effects of them, and which of those side effects is long term. Now that you have the knowledge, it is up to you to decide whether the pros outweigh the cons.