Disclaimer: The information, articles, and tips portrayed on this blog, while based on research, do not constitute medical advice. The opinions expressed are meant to educate and inform, but not to dictate lifestyle choices or personal beliefs. These articles are meant to provoke thought on issues surrounding college health and to inform the Hopkins community of healthy information and resources.


In the News: Ladies (in) First

Old School, Animal House, Road Trip, Beer Fest, The Hangover: All these movies portray men to be the leading culprits when it comes to binge drinking. However, new data from the Partnership for a Drug Free America suggests that it may be the ladies that are leading the 12-pack.

Based on an analysis of results from a survey on teen attitudes and behaviors, the number of middle- and high-school aged girls who report drinking has increased by 11% in the past year while the number of males has remained fairly steady. An additional study through Monitoring the Future found that while the number of males that report being drunk within a 30-day period has decreased by 25%, the number of females has only decreased by 1% since the first 1998 study. It appears that a reason for this behavior may be that females are more likely to use alcohol and drugs as an escape from stress and emotions. With growing pressures and easier access to alcohol, females may feel more at ease reaching for a bottle to deal with their feelings. To read more, click here.

If you choose to drink, remember that alcohol is not meant to be used as an escape or a crutch. In fact, it can do more harm to your body than usual when under emotional or physical stress. There are plenty of other ways to relieve stress without abusing alcohol!


SEE for Yourself on Monday... a day late!

SEE Tip: Invest in your future health. Don’t forget the tomatoes! Tomatoes are rich in multiple vitamins, but they are most recognized for having lycopene, an antioxidant. Lycopene is one of the most potent antioxidants and is difficult to get in the diet, but it has been shown to reduce the risk for cancer and cardiovascular disease. For more information, click here!

Quit Tip from HKB: Quitting smoking is rarely fun. In fact, many find it to be a very stressful and unpleasant experience. To ease the pain, set up a reward system for yourself. After a successful week or month of being smoke-free treat yourself to something. Purchase a new DVD, see a movie with friends, or go out to a celebratory ice cream cone. Each time your reach a new milestone, make yourself feel special by doing something that you enjoy. With all the money you will save from not purchasing cigarettes, you can afford to splurge on yourself a little!

Minimize Monday: Freshwater supplies are in danger so we need to be more conscientious about our water usage; however, summer time, means garden time and watering your outdoor plants. Fortunately, watering plants in the morning prevents water loss to evaporation which saves on water use. Plant experts agree you can save more water, and keep your plants healthier by giving them a substantial drink from a drip or soak system (vs. a wasteful sprinkler) a few times a week (vs. every day). Do your part to save water, and make a habit of watering plants in the early hours and consider investing in a drip irrigation system. Click here for more information.


Weekend Sip Tip

Alcohol has gained a reputation as quite the aphrodisiac. Liquid courage paired with 'beer goggles' can potentially lead to sexual encounters; but in the words of William Shakespeare, "It provokes the desire but it takes away the performance". While your mind may be looking for some sexual healing, an intoxicated body is not in its peak performance shape. Fellas, too much alcohol can lead to erectile dysfunction or early loss of erection. So not only could you have difficulty getting an erection, you may also lose it faster. This is a big enough problem as is, but it's even worse if you choose to engage with a lady that has also been drinking. You see ladies, when you are intoxicated, your orgasmic latency increases meaning that it takes you longer than usual to reach the big O. Not to worry though. These side effects generally do not occur until a blood alcohol concentration above 0.07. If you choose to drink, staying in the blue zone allows for just enough liquid courage to try out those cheesy pick-up lines while still being able to perform later in the night. So if you choose to drink and engage in sex, be sure to use protection and don't forget to Stop@Buzzed!


Tip of the Week: Break-out Busters

Heat, humidity, sunscreen, and sweat can be treacherous when it comes to clear skin. Whether dry skin, oily skin, combination skin, or acne-prone, you may find that you experience an influx in face or body acne during the summer months.

Although sunscreen is important to your skin health, it also has the ability to clog pores with oil and bacteria that lead to pimples. If you are prone to acne, look for sunscreens that say they are oil-free or non-comedogenic. The same goes for makeup. Mixed with oil and sweat, your foundation may the zit causing culprit. Instead, try tinted moisturizer or powder, or you can just go fresh-faced!

As acne appears, you may be tempted to slather your skin in creams and medicine, but that may actually do more harm that good. Many of these products contain salicylic or glycolic acid that dry out the skin. When your skin is dry, it actually produces
more pore-clogging oil. When you wash, follow up with an oil-free moisturizer. While it may seem counter-productive, moisturizer prevents dryness and keeps your oil production in check. Additionally, acne medications often warn to avoid sun exposure as they can make your skin more sensitive to the sun so check your products before use. Be sure to wash your face and shower regularly to avoid sweat and dirt build-ups and to keep your skin fresh and clear!

In the News: Heavy Dangers of Thinspiration

With swirling images of tiny models, ripped actors, and an endless advertising onslaught of diets and exercises, it's easy to have insecurities about our bodies. While nobody and no body is perfect, the magic of Photoshop and Hollywood has led many to believe otherwise. When dieting, exercise, or weight loss measures are taken to extremes, eating disorders can present. While most realize the life-threatening severity of these disorders, there are some that actually support them. A recent study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reviewed the availability and content of pro-eating disorder websites.

The study analyzed 180 active pro-ana (anorexia) and pro-mia (bulemia) websites and discovered disturbing findings. The sites not only offered tips for restriction, exercise, hiding behaviors from family, and other suggestions; they also included tools such as BMI and calorie calculators and 'thinspirational' photos of models and actresses to encourage weight loss. Less than 40% included any type of information on recovery support. Researcher and lead author Dina L.G. Borzekowski, EdD explained, “To better understand how media messages can potentially harm, first we must be aware of what messages are out there". View the press release here.

If you or a friend may be experiencing body image or eating disorder issues, help is out there. Both the Student Health and Wellness Center and the Counseling Center can offer support and services to help with your well-being and recovery, as well as other resources available nationwide. While the occasional insecurities are natural, be sure to appreciate the body you have. No one else has it and can use it as well as you!


FYI: Summer SHWC Hours

For those of you staying near campus this summer, it may help to know that the Student Health and Wellness Center remains open. If you have any health care needs, the summer hours are as follows:

Monday & Friday: 8:30am - 4:45pm (closed 12-1)
Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday: 1:00pm - 4:45pm

There will be no Saturday hours held during the summer.

For questions, or to schedule an appointment call 410-516-8270.
In case of a medical emergency, please dial 911 or JHU Security at 410-516-7777.

CareNet, the nurse triage service, can help you with medical advice when the SHWC is closed. If you are eligible for services at the SH&WC, you can contact CareNet at 1-866-523-4725. You will need your Hopkins ID # for the CareNet staff to verify your student status to assist you.

SEE for Yourself on Monday!

SEE Tip: Have trouble sleeping? Don’t lie in bed for hours tossing and turning. Get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy. Insomnia has a lot to do with our surroundings. If you are frequently having a difficult time falling asleep in bed but can easily fall asleep in front of the television, your mind may be associating the wrong environment with sleep, causing you to have trouble sleeping in bed. For more information, click here.

Quit Tip from HKB: While quitting smoking has many positive health effects on your own mind and body, remember that it also benefits the environment around you! Secondhand smoke has been shown to be a known hazard to the health and even mental well-being of those exposed. It may help to know that your cessation efforts are benefiting your friends, your family, and non-smokers around you. While you help improve your own health, you're also saving the health of others!

Minimize Monday: One easy way to save natural resources is to enroll in online bill paying options with your bank, credit card companies, cable and utility providers. By cancelling the mail delivery of paper bills you will save trees, and reduce CO2 emissions from mail delivery vehicles. It sounds like a small change, but over time this will make a big impact on your environmental footprint. For more information on canceling paper bills, click here.

Weekend Sip Tip

An ice cold beverage can be the perfect thing to refresh you during a hot summer day. While water, juice, and other non-alcohol beverages work to replenish and rehydrate, an alcoholic beverage won't have quite the same effect. Alcohol affects your body's ability to regulate temperature and also acts as a diuretic (increases the rate of urination, thus increasing dehydration). This combination can make for a dangerous situation if you choose to sip in the sun. The sun and heat can already deplete your body, so failure to replace lost fluids properly could lead to negative consequences like overheating or heat stroke. If you choose to drink in the heat, alternate one or two non-alcoholic beverages for every alcoholic beverage you drink. Remember, just because it's cold or frozen does not mean it will keep you hydrated and healthy. Keep it cool and Stop@Buzzed!


Tip of the Week: Think Positive

Ever feel like you're in a rut? Bored with your life? Unhappy with your looks? Or just feeling bummed out? Maybe to change your mood, you should change your thought process! Positive thinking (or positive psychology) has been shown to actually improve your health and well-being. Benefits include a longer life-span, decreased stress, lower rates of depression, and an overall healthier lifestyle. While it's not known why this correlation exists, it certainly appears that being optimistic has a positive effect on your health.

If you want to brighten your outlook, try positive affirmations. Take a look in the mirror and rattle off everything you like about yourself and what you think you do well. Even if you are self-conscious about certain features, try to view them from a different perspective. If you need some happy thoughts, take a washable marker and write yourself a happy message on the mirror at night and wake up to a nice greeting. It may seem silly, but boosting your confidence can lead to boosting your mood and boosting your health!


In the News: The "Morning-After" May Get Extended - UPDATED

A new brand of emergency contraception from France, called 'ella', has been shown to be effective up to five days after unprotected sex. Currently, the Plan B pill and its generic forms are found to be most effective when taken within 72 hours. This new pill could allow an additional two days to protect against unwanted pregnancy. Although already approved for use in Europe, the FDA is still reviewing this one-dose pill for use in America.*

There has been much debate over the use of emergency contraception (EC) as many question its similarities to the abortion pill, RU-486. Ella, as with other EC pills, works by preventing the ovulation of a woman's egg. The hormones found in these pills are the same hormones found in regular birth control pills, but in higher concentrations. This surge in hormones works to prevent the ovaries from releasing eggs, thicken the cervical mucus, and thin the uterine lining. It is important to note that with any emergency contraception, if the woman is already pregnant (meaning a fertilized egg is implanted into the uterus), these pills will not terminate the pregnancy. They simply create potential barriers against fertilization and implantation. As with all birth control, emergency contraception is not 100% effective. If used within 72 hours, Plan B is 89% effective against pregnancy. If you choose to be sexually active, be proactive in your protection.

For a more in-depth look at how emergency contraception works, visit Planned Parenthood or click here.

*UPDATE: The FDA Advisory Committee for Reproductive Health Drugs voted unanimously to recommend the drug, putting it one step closer toward full FDA approval and on the shelves! For more information, click here.


SEE for Yourself on Monday!

SEE Tip: Stand up! Try talking on the phone or doing a half hour of reading standing up instead of sitting. Researchers at University of Missouri studied the effects of sitting in office chairs, using computers, reading, talking on the phone and watching TV. They found evidence that sitting had negative effects on fat and cholesterol metabolism. To learn more, click here.

Quit Tip from HKB: Do you use Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, or other social media sites? In addition to using them to keep in touch, use them keep on track with your efforts to quit! The numbers of smokers seeking online assistance has grown recently thanks to Web 2.0 technology. A recent report explains that more and more smokers are finding support, resources, and encouragement utilizing the internet and SmartPhone applications. If you want to be smoke-free, try getting high-tech!

Minimize Monday: With barbeque and picnic season in full swing, everyone is stocking up on disposable plastic plates, cups and cutlery. Easy summer living leads people to choose the convenience of disposables; however, when you choose disposable you choose to fill landfills. This summer, make a small change. Commit to making your lifestyle free of disposable plastic dishware and preserve the future of beautiful summers. For more information on cutting back on disposable dishware and other disposable products, click here.


Weekend Sip Tip

Most people know the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit to be able to drive when of legal drinking age (0.08). But that number seems a bit arbitrary unless you know when your blood actually reaches that concentration. It's easy to say, "I feel fine to drive," but remember that one of the first brain functions that alcohol affects is your judgment. In fact, your judgment is impaired at a BAC of around 0.05 to 0.06, when you are still under the legal limit. Just one more drink and your blood alcohol concentration may be well above 0.08, but you may still think that driving is a good idea. If you choose to drink, CHEW has developed cards to act as a tool to help you estimate your BAC when drinking. Remember, this is just an estimation and not fact. Many other factors can contribute to your overall BAC like whether or not you've eaten, body fat composition, body enzymes, illness or stress, and many other factors. Always err on the side of caution and never drink and drive. Find a sober driver (not most sober driver) if you know you will be out and drinking. Click on the BAC charts below (blue for males, red for females) to stay in the blue zone and Stop@Buzzed!

Upcoming Event, Hon!

Still in Bawlmer, hon? Need something to do? Check out Honfest 2010!

If you're looking for an unforgettable summer adventure, add this to your list of things to do. Believe us, it's like nothing you've ever seen before! HonFest is a local tradition. What is Honfest? According to their website, "The Bawlmer term of endearment, Hon, short for Honey, embodies the warmth and affection bestowed upon our neighbors and visitors alike by historic working-women of Baltimore. HonFest is an annual celebration in honor of these women". There's food, contests, and a ton of fun. Want a sneak preview? Just click here!

Check out Honfest 2010!
36th St. in the Hampden neighborhood
Saturday, June 12: 11am - 9pm
Sunday, June 13: 12pm - 6pm

See ya there, Hon!


In the News: America's Fittest Cities

No matter from where you hail, have you ever wondered about the health of your hometown? Well, the American College of Sports Medicine may have the answers. The ACSM has released their 2010 American Fitness Index report, ranking 50 communities on over 30 different health factors to determine the fittest (and least fit) cities in America. Factors included both personal health indicators and community/environmental indicators. After some calculations, each community was given an overall fit score and ranked accordingly.

This year's top 5 fittest cities in America are:
1. Washington, DC
2. Boston, MA
3. Minneapolis, MN
4. Seattle, WA
5. Portland, OR

Hopkins' own Baltimore, MD was just above the median and ranked 20th. The least fit cities in America were:
46. Louisville, KY
47. Detroit, MI
48. Memphis, TN
49. Birmingham, AL
50. Oklahoma City, OK

The complete study and fit list is available in the full report (linked above), or for a snapshot, you can click here. Where does your community rank?


Tip of the Week: Safer Summer Lovin'

Summer romances are not only reserved for cheesy movies and pop songs. The sun, the fun, and the scantily clad people that come with them can make for a perfect setting for a summer fling. Whether hooking up with someone new or finally getting some together time with your long-distance flame, the weather may not be the only thing that's heating up. If you choose to engage in any sexual activity this summer, be sure to practice safer sex!

Remember, you don't have to be having intercourse to put yourself at risk of STIs. Foreplay and oral sex also carry their own share of risks. Not all STIs require fluid exchange (crabs, scabies, herpes), and not all STIs have visible symptoms (HPV, chlamydia, gonorrhea). There are many ways to be sexual without putting yourself in danger of pregnancy or infection. Use dental dams or condoms during oral sex, explore different sex toys, or try sensual massage. If you engage in vaginal or anal sex, use a condom and ensure you use it properly. Ladies, be sure to keep up with your birth control if prescribed. While summer schedules may vary, it's important to continue to take your birth control pills at the same time everyday to ensure effectiveness. If sexually active and not on birth control, summer break is a great opportunity to talk to your doctor about the best form for you. In case of any accidents or errors in use, check with your pharmacy about emergency contraception. For more tips on safer sex, click here.

SEE for Yourself on Monday!

SEE Tip: Eat like they do in the Mediterranean – incorporate veggies, fruits, beans, and nuts, and make them taste even better using olive oil. The NIH-AARP study recently reported a 20% reduced risk of mortality among men and women whose diet was consistent with a Mediterranean-diet pattern. Mitrou PN, Kipnis V, Thiébaut AC, Reedy J, Subar AF, Wirfält E, Flood A, Mouw T, Hollenbeck AR, Leitzmann MF, Schatzkin A. Mediterranean dietary pattern and prediction of all-cause mortality in a US population: results from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Arch Intern Med. 2007 Dec 10;167(22):2461-8.

Quit Tip from HKB: There are plenty of excuses for why not to quit tobacco. Instead, focus on reasons why you should quit! The long-term effects of smoking cessation are fairly obvious, but did you know there are positive effects on your body in even one day? Within just 20 minutes of quitting, your blood pressure, pulse rate, and body temperature of your extremities returns to normal. In 8 hours, your carbon monoxide and oxygen levels return to normal. And already within 24 hours, your risk of heart attack decreases. Click here to learn even more about cessation health benefits over time!

Minimize Monday: Minimize your energy bill and your carbon footprint by bucking the cooling myth. Keeping your thermostat at the same temperature all day and night is NOT more efficient. It actually takes less energy to cool a warm house for part of the day than to maintain a constant temperature throughout the day and night. For maximum efficiency, install a programmable thermostat. In the summer, set the thermostat to 72 degrees while you are home and 78 degrees while you are at work. For every degree you raise your thermostat setting above 72 degrees F, you'll save 5-7% on your cooling costs.


Weekend Sip Tip

It may seem odd that the word "buzzed" is associated with a depressant like alcohol. In small amounts (BAC of .02 to .08), alcohol can produce a euphoric, relaxed sensation. After that point is when the depressant effects can start to roll in. To counter this, many people mix alcohol with an actual buzz: caffeine. Combining alcohol and caffeine can have negative consequences on the body and your decisions. In fact, a study found that students who combined alcohol and energy drinks were more likely to be hurt or injured, require medical attention, ride with an intoxicated driver, take advantage of others, or be taken advantage of themselves. The dangers have become so prevalent that the FDA has even begun investigations on caffeinated alcoholic beverages. If you choose to drink, avoid adding caffeine to the equation. It can hide the effects of alcohol, making you feel less intoxicated than you truly are. Remember, even though you may not feel drunk, your BAC can still reach dangerous levels. Instead, focus on keeping a safe buzz with responsible consumption of alcohol. Keep it to one uncaffeinated drink an hour and Stop@Buzzed!

Tip of the Week: Just Keep Swimming

With summer comes a whole lot of heat and humidity. A great way to keep cool while you exercise is to take it to the pool. Swimming is a total body work out that adds muscle strength while also testing your lung capacity and endurance. If running in the 90-degree weather is of no interest to you, swimming gives you many of the same benefits with lower impact on your joints, plus exercise in a much cooler temperature.

Since not everyone is a born Michael Phelps, start slow and work with strokes and activities that are right for you. As you get stronger, you can try out new stroke techniques and work different muscles at different paces. If you tire of laps, take a water aerobics class, or grab some friends for a few games of water volleyball, basketball, or even Marco Polo. No pool of your own? Many pools, hotels, or gyms offer daily or summer specials at a fraction of the cost. Check into your local YMCA or gym for a student summer package, or see if a nearby pool or hotel offers cheap day passes. Taking to the pool is a great summer exercise alternative. So dive in and get active- just don't forget your sunscreen!

In the News: The Dirty Dozen

What was once the name of an old WWII film is now the name of the twelve most pesticide-ridden fruits and vegetables in your produce aisle. A new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWP) discusses research of over 100,000 USDA and FDA pesticide reports on produce. They looked into which fruits and vegetables had the highest and lowest concentrations of chemical residue. There were twelve fruits and vegetables marked as the "Dirty Dozen" that contain 47 to 67 pesticides with each serving. The EWP warns against the cosumption of these chemicals and suggests purchasing these particular foods organically to reduce pesticide exposure by up to 80 percent.

So who are the bad boys of the Dirty Dozen?
Celery; Peaches; Strawberries; Apples; Domestic Blueberries; Nectarines; Sweet Bell Peppers; Spinach, Kale and Collard Greens; Cherries; Potatoes; Imported Grapes, and Lettuce

On the positive side, there were fifteen fruits and vegetables dubbed the "Clean 15" that were found to have a tough exterior that defended against contamination from pesticide exposure. These foods contained little to no pesticide residue and are perfectly fine to skip on the organic option and save a little money. The Clean 15 are:
Onions; Avocados; Sweet Corn; Pineapples; Mango; Sweet Peas; Asparagus; Kiwi; Cabbage; Eggplant; Cantaloupe; Watermelon; Grapefruit; Sweet Potatoes; and Sweet Onions.

So the moral of story? Be careful what you eat. Fruits and vegetable are vital to a balanced diet, but be wary of added chemicals to your plate. When it comes to the Dirty Dozen, opt for organic and reduce your pesticide exposure.

Want to learn more? Watch "Toxic America," a special two-night investigative report with Sanjay Gupta, M.D., June 2 and 3 at 8 p.m. ET on CNN.

In the News: Good Oral, Good Heart?

Mind out of the gutter. This post on oral health is concerned only about your teeth and gums. A recent study by the British Medical Journal found that those with poor oral hygiene are more at risk to develop heart disease. Findings showed that those who brush twice a day had a 70% lower chance of heart disease compared to those who brush less, or not at all. Brushing, flossing, and mouthwash not only leave your teeth brighter and whiter, they also prevent tooth decay and remove bacteria that can lead to gum disease. Some research has linked these disease causing germs to narrowing of the arteries, a contributing factor in heart disease.

So how can you improve your oral health? Grab a toothbrush and get to scrubbing! The American Dental Association recommends brushing for 2 minutes, twice a day, with an ADA approved toothbrush and flouride toothpaste. Floss once a day and visit your dentist twice a year (every 6 months) for routine cleaning and screening. Also avoid acidic and sugary foods and beverages that can erode your enamel. Taking good care of your teeth not only results in fresh breath and a nice smile, but it also benefits your heart health. So twice a day, every day, brush 'em up!

SEE for Yourself on Monday... er, Tuesday!

SEE Tip: Sleep more, eat less? A study from the University of Chicago shows that sleep loss has an immediate effect on the body's levels of ghrelin and leptin, hormones that regulate appetite. A few nights of insomnia can trick your brain into thinking your body needs more food. During sleep-deprivation, study participants reported stronger cravings for sweet, fatty and salty foods. To learn more, click here.

Quit Tip from HKB: Maybe you aren't a cigarette smoker, or even a cigar, clove, or smokeless tobacco user, but have you ever tried hookah? Many believe that since hookah (or sisha) is cool, flavorful and 'water-filtered', that it isn't actually as harmful as other tobacco products. You may be surprised to learn that hookah use has been found to be even more harmful than cigarettes. While the smoke goes through the water portion of the pipe, that water does nothing to filter out the harmful chemicals. All the water does is cool the smoke, making it less irritating to your lungs. A hookah may feel better, but that cool smoke actually allows you to inhale more deeply, and for longer periods of time than a standard cigarette. It usually takes about 5-10 minutes to smoke one cigarette. A standard hookah session can last 30-45 minutes. In that time, you are actually inhaling 36 times more tar, 15 times more carbon monoxide and 70% more nicotine than a cigarette. That's almost like smoking an entire PACK of cigarettes! So while hookah bars may have a certain appeal, remember the facts. Avoid hookah use and protect your lungs and your health!