Go fetch! (…me a Date)

Want her number? You should read this story-It’s got legs.

Dog-go fetch

Picture copyrighted to Redheadedninja “Used with permission”

Ladies and gentleman, make no mistake about it. You’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places. You should have been looking in all the dog places, instead. At least, that’s according to Deborah Wood, author of The dog lover’s guide to dating: Using cold noses to find warm hearts. Wood claims that dogs are the ideal date bait. And, according to science, she might be right.

Animal attraction

Anthropologist Peter Gray and his research team from the University of Nevada gave the matter some thought. The team looked at the role pets play in the dating arena. They set out to ask questions such as do pets increase your sex appeal? and are some pets better at scoring a date than others?’

The researchers noticed that females put more time into direct care-taking while males put more energy into their reproductive success. Therefore, the researchers hypothesized that single women will place more value on how a potential mate treats a pet while men will be more likely to employ their pet as a “social tool” to attract a potential mate.

Given that dogs require more care than a cat, they also hypothesized that owning a dog would trump owning a cat in the dating arena. A dog being a better indicator of a person’s ‘warm and fuzzy’ caregiving capabilities.

The study

Gray and his colleagues collaborated with PetSmart – a pet supplies company – to recruit 1,210 single pet owners via the online dating site, Match.com.

Online subjects were given a 21-question survey on how pets factored into people’s dating lives. It included questions such as ‘What is the hottest pet a guy could own? And, ‘If your date’s pet could fit into her handbag, is that a turn-on, a turn-off, or neither?’

The results: <drumroll>

1. Can’t buy me love. That’s right. Ditch the expensive pet shop. Instead, get a rescue pet. Not only is it way cooler and more ethical to adopt a dog but here’s a hint: It also brings your SexyBack. Yeah.

Survey says: 59% of the singles said pet adoption makes you more attractive.

2. Barking up the wrong tree. Whatever you do, don’t tell a gorgeous girl in the room that you hate cats. Chances are she has three of them.

Survey says: 66% of men and women would not date you if you don’t like pets.

3. Head of the pack. There is nothing more appealing to a gal then when you act all lovey-dovey with your pet, right in front of her. It shows you do have a soft and nurturing side. And gals, if you really love cats and you want to hug every cat, and you’re sorry, but all you can think about is cats, well, it might just be a problem.


Survey says: 70% of singles would judge their date based on the way they acted towards a pet. Sorry, E-harmony cat lady

4. This dog can hunt. Guys, you got this one.

Survey says: 22% of men and 4% of women admitted to using their dog as a date bait. Meet your new best wingman.


5. There’s no dog in this fight. If you’re a ‘cat person’, be prepared to stick with your own kind.

Survey says: ‘Cat people’ are more open to relationships with ‘dog people’ than ‘dog people’ are to ‘cat people.’ If you wanna hold her hand? Looks like you both need to be cat people. Or you both need to be dog people…or

6. Pet purse peeve. Pooch-in-a-designer-bag? Looks like she’s an uptown girl, living in an uptown world.

Survey says: If a women’s pet can fit in her handbag, she’s just turned off 28% of the men.

And last but not least, here’s the clincher…

7. She’s only got puppy eyes for you. If you want to be sexy, get a dog.

Survey says: 72% of women say a dog is the “hottest pet a guy could own.”

Well, the cat’s outta the bag on this one. It looks like owning a dog truly is the ultimate date bait. And adoption is the trifecta – not only is it smokin’ hot, it saves lives, and may even just win you a date.

For more information on how you can adopt your next pet, visit your local pet adoption agency or visit http://www.adoptapet.com/dog-adoption

Sly looking dog

Sleep as a competitive edge


The majority of us need around 7-9 hours of restorative sleep with a smaller percent of us needing less to feel fully rested. That’s the foregone conclusion of the overwhelming research on sleep.

But here’s how I frame it.  We often don’t get enough zzz’s to function  anywhere close to the top of our game.  And that doesn’t matter, because what do we tell ourselves?  That to be competitive, to be more successful, all we need to do is sleep one hour less to gain one more hour of productivity in the day.

But whose the beneficiary?  Only a very small fraction of the population can get away with less sleep, and the stars probably don’t line up that your one of them.

Sleep deprivation.  A performance killer

If you want advice on sleep? Look to what the sleep experts have to say. And better yet? Someone who knows a thing or two about a competition. Harvard sleep expert and professional sports team go-to-advisor on sleep, Dr. Charles Czeisler, weighs in, “Like a drunk, a person who is sleep deprived has no idea how functionally sleep-deprived, he or she truly is,” he was quoted as saying. “Most of us have forgotten what it feels like to be awake.”

You probably heard this before. If you are burning the candle at both ends, eventually you won’t stay on top of your game.  According to Czeisler, if you average just 4 hours a night, day after day, your memory, cognition, problem-solving and performance speed will be just as cognitively impaired as someone who has stayed up 24 hours straight.

Take, for instance, the performance of Major League Baseball players on less than ideal sleep. According to a 1995 study, as reported in the Atlantic, if the visiting team is flown in on a red-eye, the home team scores more than 1.2 points. Back-to-backs have seen nose-dives in the performance of the NBA and other Major League teams.

More Zzzz’s? Who can benefit?

But it doesn’t take being a Major League player whose performance could benefit from more sleep.  People who are chronically sleep deprived, from working long hours- including those who need to make a decision, process a new memory, or use critical thinking skills- could benefit. Especially, since research has shown that consolidation of memories specifically occurs during sleep.

The upshot

If today you are sleep deprived and tomorrow you need to be on “top of your game,” what’s the takeaway? Sleep expert Czeisler’s advice to the Major League players can explain:

On the eve of game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, Czeisler got an emergency call from the team physician of the Boston Bruins. Their game against the Vancouver Canucks was scheduled for 5 pm the next day with a team practice scheduled at 10:30 am. “Cancel the practice,” Czeisler advised. “The guys need to take a nap to perform at their best.”

Czeisler calculated that a 10.30 nap in the morning would equal a 1:30 nap in the afternoon in Boston. He also knew that memory, skill and performance speed would be affected if the team could not recoup the lost sleep. He went on to unexpectedly advise that the team then sleep at least 9 hours the very next night after the game. Czeizler stated: “It’s the sleep after the lesson, game or event that is most important.” He went on, “Interestingly, if you don’t sleep the night after training, then if you sleep the next night and the next, you never learn.”

The night of the Stanley Cup? The Bruins ended a 39 year Stanley Cup drought with their 4:3 win. Was it a striking turnaround, or simply good sleep?

A year in review: Top ten blog posts from 2015


2015 has been an exciting year for HealthScopeNews.com. We officially launched the first blog post on February 3, 2015, to discuss how media multi-tasking might be killing your gray matter. We then debated your favorite health topics, such as, why you shouldn’t feel bad about drinking one of life’s guilty pleasures-your beloved coffee, to what exactly was the World Health Organization talking about when it linked processed meat with cancer?!?

The goal thus far? Is to empower you with the knowledge to help you understand better your day to day health.

Be sure to check out all of them and share with us your favorite in the comments on our blog or by tweeting @drcjaffe

Click on the links to take a quick look at your favorite top 10 posts:

Is the era of coffee as a guilty pleasure over?

Drinking that warm cup of coffee to get a jump on your day may not be all that bad for you-in fact, it may actually be the drink to impact your overall health. Turns out one of life’s guilty pleasures may not be so guilty after all.


E-books or real books? You decide

Reading e-books instead of “real books”? Maybe your reading more but your re-telling-less. Learn what studies have to say about the shortcomings of the digitized word. You may begin to feel different about that meaty, thick, you can firmly grasp in your hands and very dusty book on your shelf.


Measles: Outbreak reignites the Vaccine-Autism Debate.

The Disneyland measles outbreak prompted a frenzy of public and media attention to the hyperbole of the vaccine-autism debate. Find out how the scientific community weighed in on the matter.

Study: Media multitaskers could be diminishing their brain’s gray matter

If you are among the majority that simultaneously multi-task with a lap-top, mobile phone or another media device, you may want to read what it’s doing to your brain.

Does Acetaminophen use in pregnancy lower testosterone in the male fetus?

Planning a pregnancy? This post takes a deep dive look at one of the most commonly prescribed drugs during pregnancy Acetaminophen, and how it could affect your male baby.

Womb transplants give hope to women born without a uterus

Women who are born without wombs or have lost their wombs to cancer are hailing this new procedure.


Does your eye color indicate your risk of disease?

An increasing amount of research has linked the color of your eyes to some health concerns and alcoholism is the latest reveal.


What can you do to change the bystander effect?  

The 1964 historic bystander event, the Kitty Genovese slaying, sparked a furor and transformative effect on the nation. Still echoing through the decades: When the number of bystanders increases in an emergency, the less likely they are to come to your aid.

Tick-Tock: The fertility war on women over 35

Top fertility experts staunchly at odds with delaying parenthood- warning of the fertility risks and reliability of IVF in older women.

Does the WHO’s latest cancer warning have any meat on its bones?

Processed meat, like bacon, causes cancer?!? I would not think that this dog could hunt based on the fact that “bacon goes with everything.”

This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. More posts on this topic can be found at http://nursecode.com. If you are interested in participating find out more details and sign up.

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Preparing for the holidays? Give your health a headstart

holiday turkey

So you’ve been busy preparing for the holidays – buying food, arranging travel, and making plans with family and friends. But is your body prepared? Here’s a seven-day countdown, seven point action plan to help you make plans with your body.

Diet always matters. But during the holidays, our unquestioned commitment to gorge ourselves on foods we’ve waited all year to eat, beckons us to forego a healthy diet once at the table. Turkey drenched in gravy, walnut sausage stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes, pumpkin and apple pie. Appetizers galore, and of course, those holiday drinks and cocktails.

It’s the traditional apocalyptic-style food free-for-all that comes with each meal or party feast that can finish you off, both in terms of your diet and energy levels. But neither do you need to deny yourself of traditions to keep yourself healthy during the holiday. Instead, the key is to plan ahead!

So a week prior to, and then throughout the holiday, remember these seven pointers for a healthy holiday:


Be sure to drink at least 1.5-2 liters of water daily. Drinking water is super important to flush your body of toxins and rehydrate both your body and skin. Get a jump on your 2-liter requirement by drinking a large glass of water when you first wake up in the morning. And then be sure to drink and keep drinking more water throughout the day.

Eat fish, fish, and more fish.

Eating fish for at least one meal a day for seven consecutive days will get you red carpet-ready before any big event, including the holidays. The omega three essential fatty acids found in fish will not only give your skin a beautiful glow, but the anti-inflammatory properties can help you feel your absolute best.

Get rid of the bad stuff.

Cut right back on bread, pasta, rice, foods made with refined flour, and high sugar content foods. You will be grateful you saved those calories when it comes time for your holiday meal.

Cut back on alcohol.

If you must partake in evening cocktail hour, limit yourself to one glass of wine or one measure of clear spirits. Your body will always thank you for it the next day.

Keep moving.

Although the holidays are a very busy time, don’t let your exercise fall by the wayside. Instead, hit it hard the week before the holiday. Wake up 30 minutes earlier to get your workout in. And don’t stop! Stick to the same schedule every day.

Grab extra ZZZs.

Be sure to bank up some extra sleep the week before the holiday. You will need it in reserve to get you through the holidays, as the hustle and bustle will likely disrupt your biological sleep clock. Staying up late, drinking more alcohol, and those heavy-hitting carbohydrates can all interfere with your rest.

Smile often

We all know the holidays can be stressful. Being thrown together into a house full of people who haven’t spent so much time together for a while isn’t easy for anyone. When gifts don’t arrive on time or your least favorite relative annoys you, be mindful and try and find the humor in the situation.

The effects of smiling and laughter not only will help you to de-stress, but it’s contagious in the best way. It shows that you are truly thankful, and enjoy celebrating life with your family and friends.

So keep in mind these seven pointers, and you and your body will be just fine.

Oh, and one more thing. Remember to pick up the turkey.

That’s all folks, and I wish you a very happy, healthy holidays!


Does the WHO’s latest cancer warning have any meat on its bones?

Beef post

If you are a meat-eater, you have probably heard the latest ‘beef’ with beef. According to the World Health Association (WHO), there is convincing evidence that eating processed meat, and potentially red meats, is associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Embroiled in controversy, the recent WHO report – developed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and published in The Lancet – generated much noise and confusion in the media. At the heart of the issue remains a question that the report leaves unanswered – just how bad for our health is red meat and processed meats?

How did the WHO come up with the report?

To produce the WHO report, 22 international scientific experts from 10 countries gathered at the IARC headquarters in Lyons, France. Their job was to analyze and weigh up the evidence on how likely it is that meat can cause cancer.

The group reviewed 800 epidemiologic studies and classified them by strength of evidence into carcinogenic classification groups. The classification didn’t take into account the level of risk that each study found, nor various other differences between the methods or outcomes of individual studies.

In other words, the categories do not tell us exactly how much meat you need to eat, or anything about the other variables that could play into your overall lifetime risk of developing cancer. The classification was found on the strength of evidence, not the degree of risk.

How was the meat – and the evidence – classified?

According to the IARC press release, the experts classified the ‘carcinogenicity’* of processed and red meat in the following groups, according to the strength of the evidence they analyzed:

Processed meat – meat that has been preserved by curing, smoking, or adding salt and preservatives to extend the shelf life and give the meat a distinctive taste. Bacon, canned meats, hot dogs, sausages, beef jerky and luncheon deli meats such as ham or turkey are processed meats.

The IARC report classified this as Group 1: ‘carcinogenic to humans’, meaning “based on sufficient evidence in humans that consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer.”

Red meat – refers to all types of mammalian muscle meat, such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, and goat.

The IARC report classified this as Group 2A: ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’, meaning “based on limited evidence that the consumption of red meat causes cancer and strong mechanistic evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect.”

What does carcinogenic mean?

*A carcinogen is a substance that can lead to cancer. The report suggests that some types of meat contain these types of molecules and therefore put us at an increased risk of developing cancer.

So, what is my risk of cancer if I eat red or processed meat?

According to the report, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that some types of meat can lead to cancer; mostly colorectal, but pancreatic and prostate cancers were also associated.

The researchers concluded that if you eat 50 grams (less than 2 ounces, or, less than two slices of bacon) of processed meat a day, your chances of developing colorectal cancer are increased by 18%, relative to the group who is not eating 50g a day. However, this is a relative risk; not an absolute risk. There is a big difference.

Absolute and relative risk

According to Cancer Research UK, relative risk tells you how much more, or less, likely the disease is in one group compared to another. For example, if you say “One drink a day increases breast cancer by 5%.” This tells you that 5% is the relative risk of developing cancer in the group who is drinking one drink a day.

But crucially, the statement does not tell us anything about the overall likelihood of the disease happening to you at all. This is what’s known as the absolute risk – your risk of developing the disease over a time period, often your lifetime.

According to the American Cancer Society, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is 1 out of 20 or 5%.

If we take the 18% risk found by eating processed meat daily, by the 5% lifetime risk , our risk for colorectal cancer over our lifetime is now increased by 1% giving us a 6% lifetime or absolute risk.

Although the researchers determined that eating red meat was ‘probably carcinogenic’, the risk from eating 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of red meat was found to increase the risk of colorectal cancer about the same.

What the WHO report brings to light, is that we need to understand what the risks actually mean and what risks we are comfortable living with.

So, should we stop eating meat?

From a nutritionist point of view, I don’t think so. If we look at all the facts, cutting meat from our diets could mean we are missing out on their documented health benefits. Red meat strikes an impressive nutritional chord. As a source of protein, your body uses red meat to build and repair bones and muscle. It contains many important vitamins and minerals, including heme iron (more bioavailable than plant-based non-heme iron), creatinine, zinc, phosphorous, vitamin D, and the B-vitamins – niacin, thiamine, riboflavin and vitamin B12.

Red meat is also one of the best food sources of lipoic acid, a powerful antioxidant. Cutting it out could even put you at risk of other health conditions, such as vitamin B12 deficiency or iron deficiency anemia.

How much meat is safe to eat?

When asked by NPR, Dariush Mozaffairan, Dean of the School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, Massachusetts, stated that, “there’s not enough evidence to give meat eaters a specific amount that is OK to consume.” Instead he recommended “no more than one to two servings per month of processed meats, and no more than one to two servings per week of unprocessed meat.

Rather than cutting out red meat, the evidence points towards cutting back our consumption of red meat and re-thinking our love-affair with processed meats. I know, you’re thinking, “But… bacon is great with everything!” But the evidence suggests that we do need to reshuffle the cards, and cut back on our carnivorous ways. Our health will thank us for it in the long term.








Womb transplants give hope to women born without a uterus

Womb transplant babies

Hopeful mothers who are born without wombs or have lost their wombs due to cancer or disease are hailing a new procedure

Women who are diagnosed with a uterus that is congenitally absent and those who have undergone a hysterectomy are considered to be “unconditionally infertile”-or described as having a form of infertility known as AUFI (absolute uterine factor infertility).

The only two options these women have to parent a baby are surrogacy or adoption. Now, though, women are able to choose a remarkable third option: the transplantation of the womb of another female to become fertile again.

The world’s first womb-transplant baby

The world’s first womb-transplant baby, Vincent, was born in October last year to a 36 year old Swedish woman who discovered at age 15 she was born without a womb; a condition known as Rokitansky syndrome. A 61 year old close family friend, who had already gone through menopause, donated her womb to the 36 year old.

According to the medical journal, The Lancet, the 36 year old recipient underwent in-vitro fertilization one year after her uterine transplant. She became pregnant after her first single embryo transfer. After developing pre-eclampsia during her pregnancy, the 36 year old recipient delivered a premature but healthy baby boy, named Vincent, by caesarian section.

The uterine transplant procedure performed by Dr. Mats Brannstrom, a Swedish physician and professor from the University of Gotenborg, has been compared in stature and significance to the world’s first heart transplant.

The successful procedure gave Dr. Brannstrom hope to go one step further by using the wombs of dead donors, as reported by the Daily Mail. Dr. Brannstrom plans on stripping the wombs of their cells and then regenerating them by coating them with live stem cells from the recipient’s body.

Using stem cells from the mother, an exact match, would be a significant step. It would reduce or eliminate the need for long-term immune-suppressing drugs, currently needed to prevent rejection of the live donor’s womb.

As reported by James Gallagher with BBC News, the birth was a joyous moment for Dr. Brannstrom:

“That was a fantastic happiness for me and the whole team, but it was an unreal sensation also because we really could not believe we had reached this moment.”

“Our success is based on more than 10 years of intensive animal research and surgical training by our team and opens up the possibility of treating many young females worldwide that suffer from uterine infertility.”

Researchers have made great leaps into the science of regenerative medicine with many different types of organs. According to Smithsonian, it won’t be long before full organ transplants, such as livers, lungs and hearts, will be grown in a laboratory, made to order.

Mother-daughter womb swap

One month later, two more women delivered healthy babies from the transplanted wombs of their mothers, donated to allow their daughters to become fertile. The impact of a mother-daughter womb transplant is significant.

One womb will link three generations together. To a woman who has lost her uterus due to cancer or disease – or if it is congenitally absent – her child can be born from a womb that has been handed down through a generation, a womb that has carried its very own mother.

Risks of uterine transplant

Uterine transplant is not without its risks and complications. One hurdle is determining who qualifies as a good candidate for the procedure. To be a good candidate for uterine transplantation, the woman should be of childbearing age, without a uterus and in good health. The patient must have a stable immune system, especially because she will be taking anti-rejection drugs once the transfer occurs and throughout the pregnancy.

Anti-rejection drugs are taken to avoid rejection of the uterus.  But according to Dr. Brannstrom, as reported by Popular Science, they are only meant to be temporary since the powerful drugs can suppress the immune system, making the recipient prone to illness and infections.

The 36 year old Swedish recipient took triple anti-rejection drugs throughout her pregnancy to prevent rejection. Although three episodes of mild rejection occurred, they were successfully reversed with corticosteroids.

The pregnancy of a uterine transplant recipient is treated as a high risk pregnancy with organ rejection a strong possibility. There are also surgical risks to the donor, who can be any age as long as she has a healthy uterus. And the surgery is complicated.

Dr. Antonio Gargiulo, a specialist in infertility and reproductive surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told the Boston Globe, “A live donor would have to undergo a radical hysterectomy, which would remove a larger portion of the tissues surrounding the uterus than in a typical hysterectomy, so that those tissues could be connected with tissues of the recipient.”

“Such a surgery could cause excessive bleeding or injury to the bowel or the ureters, and could lead to an infection that could develop into sepsis,” he said.

Costs involved

For women who long to “naturally” carry their own child, the cost of a uterine transplant is stunning. Dr. Gargiulo estimates the costs of a uterine transplant could be as high as $300,000 in the U.S. Surrogacy is a major cost factor, ranging from $10,000-30,000, not including physician fees and vitamins.

However, surrogacy costs are just one part of the entire procedure. Although, that may soon change. In the future physicians may be using “refurbished” wombs from cadavers, which may cut down on costs of the procedure.

The other options for a woman with AUFI are adoption or surrogacy. Adoption of a newborn from a non-profit agency can cost $10,000-$25,000. Using a private adoption through an attorney can range even higher, costing from $8,000-$40,000. Compare that to surrogacy which can range from $10,000-30,000.

Insurance coverage is highly unlikely given the voluntary nature and the risks and complexity of the procedure. Especially, when surrogacy is a much less costly and safer option, where it is legal, that is- such as in the U.S.

The solutions are complex

Not all medical specialists willingly perform uterine transplants. Dr. James Grifo of New York University Medical School, sympathizes with women who might want a uterine transplant, as reported by NPR – yet he has decided to follow other less risky priorities, he said in an interview.

“I don’t think it’s a simple discussion by any stretch,” Grifo told NPR. “You know, when you’re the patient, then you fully understand the issues. When you’re just theoretically discussing these things, unless it actually hits home, I think you don’t really fully understand it.”

Dr. Liza Johannesson, of Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, said: “It is also really exciting to have your mother as a donor. It is a very nice gift to give to your daughter.”

Ultimately, womb transplants are not without their controversies. The hearts of hopeful mothers will always ache to carry their own children – and those who have mothers willing to donate are the lucky ones.

What Can You Do to Change the Bystander Effect?

helping another

On July 4th, 2015 Kevin Joseph Sutherland, a former congressional intern, was killed aboard a Washington D.C. Metro train in a horrific crime after being repeatedly punched and stabbed in the chest, abdomen, arms, back, side and arms. He suffered 30-40 cuts and stab wounds, fatally piercing his heart and lungs.

Witnesses who were riding on the train sat frozen in horror, too terrified to step in and attempt to stop the assailant.

The Kitty Genovese Slaying

Afterward pundits reflected back on a similar iconic bystander event, 1964 Kitty Genovese slaying in New York and were once again confounded that the numerous bystanders reported having witnessed the Sutherland attack,  did nothing to intervene.

According to reflection from the original report of the Kitty Genovese slaying, several of the bystanders thought other witnesses would take the responsibility to call the police or had already done so and, therefore, reasoned they did not need to respond.  A newspaper report, later criticized for being imprecise, accused 38 law abiding citizens of doing nothing to help Kitty out- not one of them calling the police- and when asked why,  “I did not want to get involved,”stated one witness and another offered, “I was tired.”

The 1964 event, sparked a furor and transformative effect on the nation, spurring psychologists to study the phenomenon, dubbing it the “Genovese’s or “Bystanders effect.”

The Bystanders phenomenon was later studied and established as a concept by two social psychologists, Bibb Latane and John Darley in 1968.

The question the duo raised was, “Why do people who are so willing to help in a non-emergency situation don’t in emergency situations?”

Diffusion of responsibility

According to Psychology Today, “Latané and Darley attributed the bystander effect to the perceived diffusion of responsibility (onlookers are more likely to intervene if there are few or no other witnesses) and social influence (individuals in a group monitor the behavior of those around them to determine how to act).”

And what happens when there is a single witness? The experiments conducted by Latane and Darley showed that people are more likely to help out if they are alone (70%), far less if there is another witness (40%) and the least reactive or likely to offer assistance if another witness does not react or is “passive” during the event (7%).

“Safety in numbers” may not apply

The conclusion we can deduct from the bystander effect is to not have a false sense of security in a crowd.  Should you lay injured on the street your odds of survival and your chance of receiving help is greatly diminished, according to the social phenomenon, if you are surrounded by a crowd than when only one witness is standing next to you.

A society of detach-ees

Some believe that fundamentally society has lost its moral compass as part of a larger trend toward becoming detach-ees. More people are content living alone, or at best within a small social circle. Especially, in an era when many of us have traded digital relationships for face to face communications, considered head and shoulders above for development of social skills, empathy and pro-social behavior.

Overcoming the bystander effect

It is important to bear in mind that self-less concern for others does not always come naturally. The behavior of altruism, or the practice of self-less concern for the well-being of others, without the expectation of reciprocity or compensation for oneself, has confounded theologians.

How does it makes evolutionary sense?  Can we pass on our altruistic genes if we risk dying off such “evolutionary gems” in an effort to save another? Why are some of us are more altruistic than others? Can we be both an altruist and a Darwinist-survival of the fittest, within the same breath?

I would like to believe the powerful lure, that we all have the capability of altruism, that compassion can be cultivated and that by observing others lending a helping hand to someone who has fallen would have a demonstrative and powerful effect on others and with that the commensurate responsibility to be active bystanders.

Be an active bystander

How can you “step up” and help out? Unless your a police officer, you would not want to intervene if someone was being attacked or the environment was dangerous or risk becoming a victim yourself. Instead, call 911 and be observant of everything around you to give as much information as you can to the police.

If it is safe to do so remain with the victim until the police arrive. A victim of a crime is likely to be confused, afraid, dazed and unable to remember important details related to the crime. They also may be too confused to even know where they are.

If the victim is seriously injured, minutes matter in saving a life. The best way you can help, if you are not trained or comfortable in providing CPR, is to describe the type of injuries you see and your location to 911. The more information you provide, the faster and better-equipped emergency responders will be in assessing the level and resources needed to respond.

All it takes is one person to take control to overcome the bystander effect.

If you are in a crowd identify someone near you- point and say, “You in the white shirt, call 911 and you in the brown jacket, go get help.” Shout out, “Does anyone know CPR?”

In a perfect world, we would all be trained to respond to an emergency. Everyone would know CPR, and we all would have the perfect confidence, altruism, and the heroism to step in and save the day. But it doesn’t have to be a perfect world, it just has to be one person who will step forward and redefine the bystander effect. What would you do?

This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. More posts on this topic can be found at http://scrub-ed.com/. If you are interested in participating find out more details and sign up.

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Does your eye color indicate your risk of disease?


An increasing amount of research has linked the color of your eyes to your risk of a number of health concerns – and alcoholism is the latest reveal

When you look into someone’s eyes, what do you see? Their soul? What they’re thinking? Or maybe even something about their health?

A new study published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics parsed the question: Can eye color be a useful clinical indicator of alcoholism and possibly other psychiatric illnesses?

How is eye color linked to alcohol dependence?

The researchers, Arvis Sulovari and Dawei Li, Ph.D., studied people of European or African ancestry who had at least one mental health illness. Many individuals had multiple illnesses, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and addiction to either alcohol or drugs.

From that database, Sulovari and Li filtered out 1, 263 Europeans with alcohol dependence as their sample population and controlled for population stratification. Age, gender, and different ethnic or geographic backgrounds were compared.

The duo found that individuals with lighter eye colors – including green, grey or brown in the center – had a higher incidence of dependence on alcohol than those who had brown eyes.

After noting the eye-color connection with blue eyes as a risk factor compared to brown eyes, the researchers found a statistically significant interaction between eye color and alcohol-dependence associated genes. The genetic components of both eye color and alcohol dependence lined up along the same chromosome.

In a press release, Li said his work with Sulavari provided a strong stepping-stone – though he pointed out that more research is needed as “we still don’t know the reason” for these associations.

According to the University of Vermont, the study results suggested hope in finding not only the roots of alcoholism but also many other psychiatric illnesses.

A 2000 archival study published in the journal Personality and Individual differences suggested similar results, with the results indicating that lighter-eyed individuals were more likely to become dependent on alcohol than those with darker eyes. The authors concluded that darker-eyed individuals were more drug and alcohol sensitive and therefore needed less alcohol to feel effects that took longer in lighter-eyed individuals.

Where does eye color come from?

Eye color is controlled by as many as 15 genes associated with eye color inheritance, with one of the genes located on the X-chromosome, making it a partially sex-linked trait. The interactions and variations between several genes actually determine our eye color. Previously, it was thought that eye color came from one gene and that blue eyes were recessive to brown eyes, meaning if two parents had blue eyes they could not produce a brown eyed child.

Now we know that the color of the iris is determined by the amount and distribution of melanin or pigmentation in the layers of the iris. Light colored eyes have less melanin and will therefore appear blue, green or hazel due to the way the light is scattered in the collagen fibers of the iris.

What other conditions could the color of our eyes determine?

Research has linked eye color with various health concerns. According to Dr Jari Louhelainen, a senior lecturer in biomolecular sciences at Liverpool John Moores University, genes that determine our eye color do other things in the body. “’One of them, NCX-4, which is linked to darker eyes, controls many proteins, of which one has recently been linked to pain,” he explained in an article published in the Daily Mail.

Additionally, Inna Belford, MD., Ph.D., a professor of anesthesiology at Pittsburgh University, linked eye color to pain at the American Pain Society (APS) 33rd annual scientific meeting in Tampa, Florida

Dr. Belford studied the association of eye color and pain-related traits among 58 healthy women who were giving birth . Her study found that women with lighter-colored eyes – blue or green- experienced less pain during childbirth than women with brown or hazel eyes. The lighter-eyed women also experienced less anxiety, depression, and negative thoughts after delivering their babies than women with dark eyes.

Blue eyes and macular degeneration

Blue eyes may also increase your risk of blindness from macular degeneration, according to Scottish researchers. Lighter eyes, such as blue and green, contain less of a macular pigment believed to protect against macular degeneration, an incurable eye disease.

Also, an Australian study found that darker eyes had up to 2.5 times the risk for developing cataracts than those with lighter eyes. The theory offered is that dark eyes absorb sunlight, much like wearing dark clothing in the summer. Sunlight exposure is thought to increase the temperature of the lens and therefore the risk of cataracts. However, the authors acknowledged that dark eyes were associated with an increased risk of cataracts even when not in the sun.

Eye color may also indicate anxiety levels

Your eye color could also be an indicator of anxiety levels – and this could be explained by the developmental relationship between eye color and anxiety. “The melanocytes, the cells involved in pigmentation and the ganglion cells in the autonomic nervous system, which are involved in your experience of anxiety both originate in the neural crest,” report Bassett and Dabbs Jr.

The authors cited a Caucasian children’s study demonstrating that behaviorally-inhibited children who withdrew from the unfamiliar, including situations or people, more often had blue eye than brown.

Where to from here?

If you’re concerned about your eye color and an increased risk of a health concern, it’s important to bear in mind that many of these statistics warrant further research – that is, there is more to them than meets the eye.

More importantly, you should have yearly eye exams to rule out health conditions that may be easily determined by the arteries, veins, optic nerve and sclera of the eyes. Your optometrist can assess your eyes for these conditions – and you should also visit your doctor regularly who can determine whether you are at risk for conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, liver disorders, cardiovascular disease, or other eye diseases.

Tick-Tock: The fertility war on women over 35


Top fertility experts staunchly at odds with delaying parenthood-warning of the fertility risks and reliability of IVF in older women

Geeta Nargund, Britain’s top fertility specialist, is staunchly at odds with women over 30 delaying parenthood. Have children too late, and you could miss out completely is the message Professor Nargund recently conveyed.

Professor Nargund’s no-nonsense position that women should “start trying for a baby before 30 – or risk never having children” was conveyed in a frank letter addressed to education secretary Nicky Morgan. In the letter, which was published on Daily Mail, Professor Nargund demanded that teenagers be taught the “dangers of delaying parenthood because of the spiraling cost to the taxpayer of IVF for women in their late 30s and 40s.”

Professor Nargund is the Medical Director of CREATE Fertility. She is also a Senior Consultant Gynecologist and Lead Consultant for Reproductive Medicine services at St George’s Hospital, London.

Her letter cited the devastation and regret by women who realize they are too late to start a family. She also argued that many young people were poorly informed about the impact of age on fertility.

When is a woman’s “best” reproductive age?

According to a 2012 guide on age and fertility by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a women’s best reproductive years are in her 20’s. Fertility gradually declines in the 30’s, particularly until 35 – after which point it sharply declines.

“Each month that she tries, a healthy fertile 30 year old women has a 20% chance of getting pregnant per cycle, by age 40 a women’s chance is less than 5% per cycle,” the guide states.

These percentages are true if conception occurs by natural conception, fertility treatments or IVF. “Fertility does not last until menopause,” the guide makes clear. “The average age of menopause is 51 but most women become unable to have successful pregnancies sometime in their mid-40’s.”

How reliable is IVF in older women?

Dr. Marta Devasa, gynecologist at Dexeus Women’s Health, recently presented her research on IVF fertility rates in older women at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE).

The data came from a Spanish clinic that treated 4,195 women and 5,841 cycles with IVF. The clinic calculated the cumulative live birth rate using one fresh and any subsequent frozen embryo transfers over 12 years.

The study showcased the difficulty of getting pregnant through In-Vitro-Fertilization (IVF) for women over 44 using their own ovules, with a treatment success rate for IVF cycles of only 1.3%.

The results demonstrated that fertility begins to significantly drop after 38. The rate of live births after IVF using their own ovules, is 23.6% for women between 38 and 39 years, 15.6% aged 40-41 and dropping as low as 6.6% in those between 42 and 43 years.

The conclusion drawn from the study was that by the age of 35, women should be urged to freeze their eggs and women over 44 should choose donated oocytes in order to increase their success rate as the “chances of success with their own ones are scarce.”

“And it is true”, Dr. Devasa argued, “Pregnancies in older women and celebrities don’t help us because many people don’t know that most of the time they have gone for egg donation.”

The dangers of “fertility security”

An increasing amount of young women may be being lulled into a false sense of “fertility security”. A study published in the journal Human Reproduction found entrenched fertility myths among University Israeli students.

According to the authors, these myths included in particular “the false belief in the possibility of late (beyond 35 years) and very late genetic motherhood. This can be explained by the technological ‘hype’ and favorable media coverage of very late pregnancies.”

Perhaps, the media’s infatuation with celebrity baby bumps may have become a “raison d’être” for delaying parenting. The media has” glamorized the “40 is the new 30” frenzy of celebrities with children, including Salma Hayak, age 41, Halle Barre, age 42, Kelley Preston with her third child at age 47, and Laura Linny welcoming her first child at age 49.

Other scholars such Elizabeth Gregory, author of “Ready, Why Women Are Embracing the Later Motherhood”, argue “the national media have tended to focus on the individual and on the negative, leaving us with a skewed sense of what’s going on or what’s at stake.”

In an opinion piece for The New York Times, Gregory, who is also director of women’s studies at the University of Houston and research fellow on the Council on Contemporary Families, pointed out that women are delaying conception globally.

“The ‘experts’ are just catching up to explain why. Women figured out early that delay provides a shadow benefits system in our family-unfriendly world: higher salaries, more flexibility and higher marriage rates, as well as more interest in staying home at night,” she wrote.

“Along with personal benefits, delay has been an engine of feminist social change because it allows women – who for millennia were kept busy, uneducated and out of decision-making circles by early and unending fertility – to begin to have a voice in policy. Change creates pushback, as today’s harsh fertility politics demonstrate,” Gregory added.

Her work has explored why so many women are making this choice and what the effects are for fertility, the individual women involved and on society at large.

Costly fertility treatments

And for women who intentionally delay pregnancies or marriage to pursue their education, careers or other personal goals, insuring their fertility can be cost prohibitive.

Egg donation costs around $10,000 per egg freezing cycle and $500 per year to maintain frozen eggs – such costs can be prohibitive, if not out of the question financially for some women or couples. Plus, there’s no guarantee that they will result in viable pregnancies.

Perhaps the best message is that women need to weigh up the benefits and risks of having children later in life themselves and be responsible for their choices. We can fight the fertility war without the media’s constant “tick tock” narrative.

Q: Cynthia, I seem to gain the most weight when I am stressed. I don’t think I am eating more than usual so why am I gaining weight?


A: I have heard this many times. When your life just can’t seem to get any crazier-you’ve just started a new job, your daughter quit her 4th year of college you’re still paying for, and your mother-in-law is moving in with you because she can’t afford her rent-suddenly you notice you’ve packed on the pounds.

YES, you really will eat differently when you are stressed. Unfortunately, stress can increase our appetite by activating a series of stress hormones that really can impact your weight.

When you are stressed your body reacts in a “flight or fight” mode by releasing cortisol from your adrenal glands. The cortisol in turn raises your blood sugar and stimulates insulin release to boost your energy when you are in ‘flight or fight’ to help you “run” from a stressor.

Unfortunately, the end result is an increased appetite, storage of more visceral or abdominal fat and a great deal of exhaustion when you “crash and burn” leaving you too fatigued to exercise, another reason you may gain weight.

Even though you have a pretty good understanding of what you should or should not eat, stress effects the way the brain makes smart decisions of what to eat for your next meal. Think about it, which would you choose if you are running late for the train, your behind on a work deadline and your daughter just told you she decided to become a skydiving instructor- a nice healthy ½ of a grapefruit or a chocolate donut with sprinkles?

Instead, learn to manage stress and work on choosing long-term gain over short-term reward. The key is prevention. Awareness and management of stress is a start. Get good sleep, eat healthy, exercise and practice “chilling” more than once in a while! Mindfulness training, meditation, yoga and even counseling can help.  Even better, pay your mother-in-law’s rent!