Studies show that a large proportion of college students are at least occasionally “drunkorexic,” avoiding food when they know they’ll be drinking later in order to get a better buzz or to keep from gaining weight. Experts discuss dangers of drunkorexia and methods colleges are using to limit the damage.
Big Data and Healthcare
Big data is changing the world, but it’s been slow in coming to healthcare. An expert in healthcare IT explains how that’s changing and what it could mean to treatment.
It’s a fact that college students drink, and often in large quantities. Students are also quite familiar with the phenomenon of the ‘Freshman 15,’ the inevitable weight gain that comes along with the frequent consumption of alcohol. Studies show that some students avoid food altogether when they plan to drink later on. Their motives are two-fold; to manage weight gain associated with a large number of calories consumed in a night of drinking and to achieve a greater buzz from drinking on an empty stomach.
Dr. Dipali Rinker, a research assistant professor at the University of Houston, explains drunkorexia, a colloquial term describing diet-related behaviors associated with alcohol use. More often than you’d think, students make the risky decision to eliminate food calories and replace them alcohol calories. The degree of drunkorexia varies. One student might simply eat less or skip one meal, while another may avoid food for an entire day, but both do so because they plan to go out and drink later on.
The dangers of drunkorexia are far-reaching. Dr. Petros Levounis, Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, says the frequent practice can lead to vitamin and essential amino acid deficiencies, resulting in malnutrition. He also adds that students can be tricked into thinking there’s not much difference between alcohol and food calories, but this is not true. Students engaging in this behavior put their bodies at risk and can develop significant health problems over time. In fact, the consistent practice will likely result in the very weight gain that caused the behavior in the first place, concludes Dr. Levounis.
In addition, Joy Stephenson-Laws, founder of the non-profit Proactive Health Labs, explains it’s easy to get too drunk when drinking on an empty stomach. The high-risk behavior of drunkorexia often goes hand-in-hand with other high-risk behavior, such as blacking out and skipping class. One college, the University of Texas-Austin, has taken a more active approach. William Mupo, Health Promotion Coordinator, says Texas-Austin promotes the fun aspects of drinking in moderation, rather than simply condemning all drinking. The school also informs students they should eat healthy fats and proteins during a night of drinking, which helps maintain a lower blood alcohol level. Most importantly, they debunk the myth that all students drink to excess, which studies have shown is greatly exaggerated.
Dr. Dipali Rinker, Research Assistant Professor, University of Houston
Joy Stephenson-Laws, founder Proactive Health Labs
Dr. Petros Levounis, Professor and Chairman., Psychiatry, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School
William Mupo, Health Promotion Coordinator, University of Texas-Austin
Big data is changing almost every aspect of modern-day life. Healthcare is one of the most recent adopters of big data collection. Paddy Padmanabhan, a healthcare IT expert and CEO of Damo Consulting, says over the past ten years health records have been moved to digital files, but most of the time the advantages of doing so are not fully utilized. Most of the time, health providers do not share information with each other, so when you go to a new provider they have to start from scratch.
Padmanabhan, also the author of The Big Unlock: Harnessing Data and Growing Digital Health Businesses in a Value Based Healthcare Era, advocates for evidence-based healthcare, which entails providers are accountable for providing data which illustrates they are delivering acceptable care at an acceptable price. Consumers have more financial responsibility than ever for their healthcare cost. Previously, when insurers would pay providers directly and in far higher percentages, patients had almost no idea of the actual cost associated with their treatment. Providers had incentive to charge whatever they could get away with. Today, patients have more choices and providers are forced to offer more transparency. Big data is the next logical step if the goal is to improve accountability.
Eventually, so much healthcare data will be available that artificial intelligence will be needed to assist in diagnosis and recommend possible treatment options. There is such a vast range of potential applications for the data. For example, sequencing you genome can provide far more information that your medical history alone. There are, however, downsides to the collection of this data. There is potential for the data to fall into the wrong hands, primarily the possession of insurance companies who could use the data to predict complications extremely accurately. Eventually, insurers could refuse to cover certain individuals because they could predict the high cost of their treatment, so steps must be taken to protect valuable healthcare data.
Paddy Padmanabhan, CEO, Damo Consulting and author, The Big Unlock: Harnessing Data and Growing Digital Health Businesses in a Value Based Healthcare Era
The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first at home test for the BRCA 1 and 2 genes that cause breast cancer but regulators warn that the test does not reveal a woman’s full risk. The saliva test from 23andMe tests for only three of the more than one thousand variants of the breast cancer genes affecting only one tenth of one percent of most populations. However those mutations account for more than ninety percent of genetic breast cancer in women with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry so for them the test may be a better idea.
Colicky babies are defined by crying more than three hours a day at least three days a week. It is a mystery why it occurs and the condition eventually goes away on its own. But frazzled parents looking for relief will be glad to hear there may finally be a treatment: a probiotic called lactobacillus reuteri. The study in the journal Pediatrics shows that the probiotic is twice as likely as a placebo to reduce crying in breast fed babies by fifty percent after three weeks. Researchers haven’t studied the remedy yet on colicky babies who are formula fed.
And finally, about a third of kids under twelve have been allowed by their parents to occasionally taste a sip of alcohol. But a study in the journal Addictive Behaviors finds that those kids are more likely to drink frequently in later adolescence and drink more when they do.
Due to the spike in school shootings over the last few years, people are becoming more concerned with the safety of students, teachers, and other individual’s on school campuses. Many schools have started taking cautionary measures by preparing students and teachers with the knowledge on how to remain safe in these incidents. In fact, more than 70% of schools conduct active shooter drills. However, there has not been a consensus on how to most effectively perform these drills, and some schools may be taking them a little too far.
In some cases, schools announce the drills, but sometimes they do not. Dr. David Schonfeld, Director of National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at University of Southern California, explains that even if the drill is announced it can still be a stressful experience for students or teachers with traumatic past experiences. And, in realistic drills in which students and teachers are not aware, Dr. Schonfeld states that it can cause post-traumatic reaction, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Active shooter education and drills are important for students and teachers to experience, but they must be taught at a speed that the students can handle and in a supportive environment.
How can schools be more effective in their execution of lockdown drills? Dr. Schonfeld discourages schools from using deception in their drills. He suggests that the most beneficial way to inform students and teachers is to begin with education courses on what to do in the event of a lockdown. Then, he believes that it is helpful to conduct a tabletop activity in which an adult talks about how they would deal with the situation, and help the students to make a plan, before eventually acting out the plan. Through these activities, students are able to acquire the knowledge they need to remain safe in these situations without having to endure a potentially traumatic experience.
Dr. David Schonfeld, Director of National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at University of Southern California
Anesthesia is one of the most commonly used medical practices. It is used on patients who are undergoing surgery in order to make them unconscious for the duration of the procedure. Despite being a well used practice, doctors admit that they do not know how anesthesia actually works–only how to control it.
Since anesthesia is an important aspect of surgeries because it ensures that the patient has no recollection of the pain, anesthesiologists must be well trained. Dr. Henry Jay Przybylo, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at Northwestern University School of Medicine and author of Counting Backwards: A Doctor’s Notes on Anesthesiology,explains that anesthesiologists must first finish medical school, and then they receive additional training. While administering anesthesia is a simple task on most patients, he explains that some patients can react differently and the anesthesiologist must be able to adjust to it.
In the 1990s, technological advancements not only made the medical practice easier, but they also made it safer. Dr. Przybylo explains that it became easier to measure the gases that were being inhaled and exhaled by the patient because they now had monitors and screens to better track these measures. Despite improved technologies that make anesthesia more simple, some patients are still more afraid of losing consciousness than they are of the actual procedure. But, Dr. Przybylo states that the pain and trauma experienced during the procedure is probably much better off forgotten by the patient. Listen to Dr. Przybylo talk about the history of anesthesia, and how doctors have learned to use it over time despite having little understanding of how it really works.
Dr. Henry Jay Przybylo, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology at Northwestern University School of Medicine and author of Counting Backwards: A Doctor’s Notes on Anesthesiology
Antibiotic resistance has left some serious infections with only one defense and the development of new antibiotics has slowed to a crawl, but a study in the journal Nature Microbiology reveals that scientists have found an entire new family of antibiotics in soil. Researchers say the new antibiotics kill a variety of bacteria, including MRSA, that are mostly resistant to current antibiotics. However its likely to take years before the find can be turned into an effective treatment.
We’ve reported on sibling abuse in the past and now a study in the journal Psychological Medicine shows that it can lead to mental illness later. Researchers say people who were bullied by a brother or sister are up to three times more likely than other children to develop schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or other psychotic disorders by age 18. Kids who are also bullied at school are four times more likely to develop mental illness.
And finally, babies crawling on the floor, especially on carpeting, kick up a lot of bacteria, dirt, pollen, and other biological bits and they breath a lot of that in. In fact, a new study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology shows that crawling babies inhale four times what an adult would when they walk across the same floor. But scientists say its not necessarily a bad thing, exposure to allergens and microbes in infancy helps babies develop immunity and may reduce the chances they develop asthma and allergies later on.