Posts filed under ‘Health and Beauty’

Redheads Require More Anesthesia

By Kaye Nemec

It seems ridiculous to say out loud, but the fact of the matter is that studies have proven that redheads actually require more anesthesia than blondes, brunettes etc. In 2004 a study was published in Anesthesiology that found that up to 20% more anesthetic was needed to achieve the same result in redheads that had been achieved in the blondes and brunettes taking part in the study.

So how does this make any sense? Without getting all scientific (those details can be found here) the bottom line is that redheads have specific mutations on the MCR1 gene that not only increase expression of red pigment but may also be involved with the function of the central nervous system.

This study opened the door for scientists to learn more and more about anesthesia and how it affects different patients. Do you know people who swear Tylenol or Ibuprofen doesn’t do anything for them? How about people who swear they have to take more than the recommended dosage in order for the medicine to take effect? Perhaps there is some truth to their claims after all. This study is a breakthrough in what could be a detailed explanation of how different people are affected by different medications.

Broken Secrets – Facebook | Twitter | Email | Kindle

Sources: OR.orgMedscape, Discovery Health

Photo: Johnnyalive

May 20, 2011 at 2:00 am 48 comments

Babies Don’t Find Yawning Contagious

By Kaye Nemec

You’ll probably find yourself yawning throughout this post. For adults, talking about yawning, reading about yawning and watching someone yawn is oftentimes contagious. In fact, at least 50% of adults will automatically yawn if they see another person yawning.

But this contagious behavior does not develop in children until around the age of five. Before age five babies will yawn as a sign of tiredness, but usually only a couple of times per day. On average, adults yawn seven times per day.

In the study performed by the University of Stirling, mothers reported that their babies did not respond to their yawns by yawning. Toddlers who watched a video of people yawning also did not respond by yawning.

Once children reach twelve years old they have usually transitioned into the contagious yawn stage and have a tendency to yawn contagiously as frequently as an adult.

Broken Secrets

Subscribe on: Facebook | Twitter | Email | Kindle

Sources: CBC, Newser.com

Photo: DanielJames

May 13, 2011 at 2:00 am 6 comments

Solubilized Ibuprofen Fastest Non-Prescription Painkiller

By Chad Upton | Editor

If you get a lot of headaches, you might be dehydrated and need to drink more water. If you’ve tried that and you’re otherwise healthy, then you probably want the fastest over-the-counter drug you can buy.

Typical painkillers come in a number of formats:

  • Liquids
  • Liquid Gels
  • Chewable Tablets
  • Capsules/Caplets
  • Hard Tablets

This list is in order of the quickest for your stomach to break down. Generally, the harder it is for your stomach to breakdown the pill, the longer it will take to mitigate your pain. While the format does impact the speed of absorption, the drug itself does too.

In one scientific study, researchers found that solubilized ibuprofen (active ingredient in Advil Liqui-gels) was faster at curing headaches than acetaminophen (Tylenol). The median time for solubilized ibuprofen was 39 minutes while acetaminophen had a 53 minute median time.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you should take Advil over Tylenol. If you’re not sure which you should take, start by looking at this comparison of common over-the-counter painkillers and talking to your doctor.

Generic brand solubilized ibuprofen is available at many pharmacies too.

Broken Secrets

Subscribe on: Facebook | Twitter | Email | Kindle

Sources: PubMed.gov, Wikipedia (Tylenol, Paracetamol, Advil)

May 11, 2011 at 2:00 am 4 comments

Food Chains to Display Calories on Menu by 2014

By Chad Upton | Editor

Last year, President Obama introduced the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is part of the health care reform of 2010.

Although we hear a lot about the controversial parts of this reform, there are variety of lesser known, albeit interesting, changes that will be phased in through 2018.

Some restaurants have already complied with one new regulation that requires them to show caloric values next to items on their menu. I noticed that Panera is already on board and my wife reminded me that Olive Garden has done the same. This is a bold move and it confirms that anything Alfredo is both the best and worst thing that Olive Garden serves.

There are some other interesting changes too; here’s an abbreviated timeline:

2012

  • Employers will have to disclose the value of the benefits they provide to their employees.
  • Tighter restrictions on corporate payments to individuals and other corporations, designed to prevent tax evasion and raise an estimated $17 billion over 10 years.

2013

  • Individual salaries over $200,000 and families with income over $250,000 will see a tax increase of 0.5%.

2014

  • Insurers can’t discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions.
  • Insurers can’t set annual spending caps.
  • Chain restaurants and vendors with 20 or more locations are required to show calorie count on menus and displays (additional nutritional info must also be available upon request).
  • Expand eligibility for Medicaid.
  • Changes to tax-free contribution limit on flex spending accounts.
  • Require that everyone has health insurance.
  • Penalize companies with more 50 full time employees if they do not provide insurance to those employees.

2017

  • States can apply to waive certain sections of the law if they mandate coverage that is as comprehensive and affordable.

2018

  • Existing health insurance plans must cover approved preventive care without co-payment.
  • Individuals who spend more than $10,200 ($27,500 for families) annually on health insurance will see an additional tax on those “Cadillac” plans.

This list was by no means comprehensive, although I did try to include the most notable changes. The details of these changes have been abbreviated and you should see the sources for additional reading on the provisions that may affect you.

Broken Secrets

Get secret updates: FacebookTwitterEmailKindle

Image: kobo4lila (cc)

Sources: The Bill Itself (PDF), Wikipedia (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), Library of Congress

April 4, 2011 at 2:00 am 5 comments

Sunscreen and Sunblock are Not the Same Thing

By Chad Upton | Editor

Sunscreen, sunblock, suncream, sun lotion or whatever you want to call it, is much more complicated than most people realize.

The basic idea is well known: a number known as the “SPF” (sun protection factor) is used to describe its effectiveness at blocking sunlight.

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun can burn your skin with too much exposure. Understanding UV rays and SPF ratings is important if you want to prevent sunburns, long term skin damage and skin cancer.

There is a common misconception that SPF values refer to the extended amount of time they allow you to spend in the sun. For example, one myth suggests that an SPF 30 rated lotion would allow someone to stay in the sun 30 times longer without burning, compared to when they were not wearing sunscreen.

Time would be a nice and easy way to calculate it, and it’s fairly close, but the SPF cannot accurately relate to the time of sun exposure because there are a couple factors that affect how long it takes to get a sunburn, whether you’re wearing sunscreen or not.

  1. Time of Day
  2. Skin Type

Time of Day

Due to the angle of the sunlight in the morning and late afternoon, our atmosphere filters out more radiation at those times. You will burn more slowly at these times than during midday.

Skin Type

The Fitzpatrick scale divides skin types into six levels of sensitivity to sunlight. Type 1 is characterized by very fair white skin with freckles — it cannot tan, only burns. Type 6 is very dark brown or black skin that does not darken in sunlight. The in-between types demonstrate varying degrees of natural darkness and increased darkening when exposed to sunlight.

SPF and UVA/UVB

The SPF number reflects the relative amount of protection the product provides against UVB exposure.

An SPF 15 product would allow 15 times more exposure to UVB rays than when not wearing it. As mentioned above, this is not a measurement of time since there are other factors that can change the protection level and therefore the time. In addition to time of day and skin type, activities such as swimming can also reduce protection since they can reduce the amount of sunscreen on the skin.

Also, sunscreen and sunblock are not the same thing, although they are often used interchangeably. Sunblock is opaque and usually contains zinc oxide. It doesn’t normally need to be reapplied throughout the day. Sunscreen is usually transparent and needs to reapplied every two hours since the active ingredients break down over time while being exposed to sunlight. This obviously has a huge affect on how much protection time the product adds since it dramatically loses effectiveness after a couple hours.

Another problem with SPF numbers is that they don’t account for UVA rays in most countries. While UVB rays cause visible changes to your skin (tan/burn), UVA rays cause damage that may be invisible initially. Since UVA damages DNA, it increases the risk of malignant melanomas, a potentially life threatening issue. Some countries require a minimum level of UVA protection in sunscreen and more countries should adopt this regulation since the effects of UVA are not well known.

In fact, most countries lack thoughtful regulations on sun protection in general, so be weary of sunscreens that claim to offer broad spectrum protection. Unless the product contains zinc oxide, avobenzone or ecamsule, it doesn’t likely provide good UVA protection.

In addition, there is also infra red rays, which some sunblocks also reduce.

Have fun in the sun.

Broken Secrets

Subscribe: FacebookTwitterEmailKindle

Sources: Wikipedia (spf, skin color, NSFW – sun tanning, von Luschan scale)

Photo: Rishi Bandopadhay (cc)

March 23, 2011 at 2:00 am 4 comments

How to Cure Hiccups

By Kyle Kurpinski

A hiccup, or “synchronous diaphragmatic flutter,” is a rapid involuntary contraction of the diaphragm, which results in a large volume of air rushing abruptly into the lungs. This is typically accompanied by a “hic” sound as the airflow forces the vocal chords to suddenly close. The physiology of a hiccup is much like that of a knee jerk reflex (when a doctor taps your knee with that little hammer), but the hiccup reaction occurs within a few cranial nerves that extend between the neck/head and the chest. A bout of hiccups can be brought on by a number of different stimuli including prolonged laughing, eating too rapidly, various nervous system disorders, and even chemotherapy. But far more important than how or why we get the hiccups is how we can get rid of them.

I was astonished to discover just how many hiccup “cures” there are on the web. WikiHow has a particularly awesome article listing nearly 80 different methods for curing hiccups. My immediate reaction to this was, shouldn’t ONE be enough? Unfortunately, hiccups are not well understood and many of these home remedies may work for some people but not for others, so an extensive list of alternatives is not entirely unreasonable. What really astounded me, though, was the sheer variety of proposed treatments. Here’s a small sampling:

  • Drink a glass of water while upside down.
  • Cough or scream when you feel the next hiccup approaching. Repeat 3-4 times.
  • Suck on a lemon wedge topped with 4-5 drops of aromatic bitters.
  • Lean your head back and place a penny on your forehead. The hiccups will be gone after 1-3 more times.
  • Drink a half teaspoon of pickle juice every 7-10 seconds until the hiccups stop.
  • Alternate a spoonful of sugar with a sip of water until the hiccups are gone.

As a whole, these remedies have no unifying theme, and I while I haven’t personally tested all of them, I have to wonder if a placebo effect (or just a coincidental cessation) might have been the genesis of more than a few. I am also bothered by the use of the phrase “until the hiccups stop” in many of the treatments on the web. There are reported cases of hiccups (albeit rare ones) that lasted years. How much pickle juice might I expect to ingest before the costs begin to outweigh the potential benefits?

In my personal experience, the “cures” I tried never worked for me (including upside-down drinking and being startled by a friend), and I always resorted to the more apathetic method: waiting it out. That is, until recently. Several months ago, my girlfriend had a bout of hiccups and she decided to experiment with various improvised remedies. Most of her trials had no effect, but she eventually discovered a simple breathing pattern that eliminated her hiccups completely. Her method follows:

1) Take a deep breath through your nose. Fill your lungs as much as you can.
2) Hold the breath for 10 seconds.
3) Breathe out completely.
4) Repeat steps 1-3 once more.

The entire process takes less than 30 seconds, but I have used it at least five separate times now with amazing success (only one initial failure that was cured on a second attempt). While I can’t promise that it will work for everyone, it has worked for the few people I’ve shared it with so far, and it’s strikingly similar to some of the other “breathing methods” listed on the wikiHow site. In fact, a closer look at that article reveals something interesting: there are more than 10 methods devoted predominantly to breathing. Wikipedia provides some reasoning: a few researchers have theorized that hiccups may be an evolutionary remnant of amphibian breathing that is similar to gulping. More importantly, amphibian gulping is inhibited by high levels of CO2, and so are hiccups. When you consciously adjust your breathing using one of these remedies, not only are you taking more active control of your diaphragm, but you are also manipulating gas exchange in your lungs and blood. More simply, holding your breath is an easy way to increase physiological CO2.

There are also more than 15 methods listed on the wikiHow article that include some form of drinking. While these are far less likely to dramatically impact blood chemistry, they will alter your current breathing pattern, which may in turn help disrupt the involuntary reflex of your diaphragm during hiccuping. I can’t say for sure that the “pickle juice method” is complete nonsense, but I wonder if it might work just as well using plain water.

It’s hard to say exactly which methods will work for any one person, but at least a few of these cures appear to have some scientific rationale while many others seem rather arbitrary. Bottom line: next time you have the hiccups, I recommend trying any of the breathing or drinking methods before resorting to balancing a penny on your head. Good luck!

Broken Secrets

Get updates from: FacebookTwitterEmailKindle

Source: Wikipedia, wikiHow

Image: Cayusa (cc)

March 16, 2011 at 2:00 am 24 comments

Blue Eyes Are Not Actually Blue

By Chad Upton | Editor

The most common eye color is brown and the least common is green. Eye color is determined by a number of genes, the actual number of which is unknown. Using six known genes, scientists can predict eye color from brown to blue with 90% accuracy.

The darkness of brown eyes is determined by the amount of melanin (pigment) in them. Blue eyes have little or no melanin, making them translucent; they only appear blue because of an optical illusion known as the Tyndall effect.

The color we perceive something to be is usually due to their pigment, but somethings appear colored for other reasons. Structural colors are one classification of colors that occur not because of their pigment but because of the way light interacts with the matter.

Without getting too technical, different colors of light have different wavelengths. When those waves pass through matter, they can be filtered or scattered in different ways. The Tyndall effect occurs when a light scattering particulate is suspended in a light transmitting medium and the size of the individual particulate is slightly below or near that of the visible spectrum of light.

Some things that appear to be colored due to optical effects are: blue jay and peacock feathers, mother of pearl, butterfly wings, beetle shells, bubbles, oil slicks and one we see every day: the sky.

Broken Secrets

Get updates from: FacebookTwitterEmailKindle

Photo: Jennifer Durfey (cc)

Sources: Wikipedia (Eye Color, Tyndall Effect, Color)

March 7, 2011 at 2:00 am 20 comments

Brain Freeze is Triggered in the Sinuses

By Chad Upton | Editor

When I was a kid, the local 7-11 had 20 Slurpee flavors. Every Saturday, my brother Brett and I would bike there with a palm full of allowance and return with a belly full of food coloring. We didn’t know how lucky we were — I’ve never seen another convenience store with that many flavors. But, there was one thing we did know: BRAIN FREEZE.

While it’s frequently called brain freeze or ice-cream headache, this mind numbing pain is known as sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia in the medical community. Don’t even try to sound-it-out, even the British Medical Journal calls it ice-cream headache.

It happens to some people more easily than others and although your childhood imagination may disagree, your brain is not actually being frozen. The pain stems from a defense mechanism that is employed all over your body.

When it’s cold outside, your arms and legs usually cool down faster than your core because they generally have less insulation (fat) than your core. Because blood flows into your extremities and then back to your heart, the blood coming back will cool down your core. Your body protects itself from rapid cooling by constricting the veins in your extremeties, which reduces flow and slows the return of colder blood into your core.

This is a temporary reaction. After some time, the blood-vessels will expand to allow greater flow so these parts get proper blood flow again. This affect can be quite noticeable in the right conditions. If you’re outside for a while, you may find that your fingers are cold at first, but feel warm later. This is part of the reason they warm up. Also, redness in your cheeks is caused when the blood-vessels expand like this.

As you consume extremely cold food and beverages, the capillaries in your sinuses can rapidly constrict when cooled and expand when warmed. Pain receptors react to this by sending signals to your brain via the trigeminal nerve, the same nerve responsible for sensations in the face. This is why it can feel like the pain is coming from your forehead.

To get rid of a slushie stinger, some doctors suggest holding your tongue on the roof of your mouth to warm it up. Another tip, which you probably learned at a young age, eat slowly!

There is also a belief that you can only get brain freeze in warm environments, but that’s not true.

Broken Secrets

Get updates from: FacebookTwitterEmailKindle

Photo: Tom Magliery (cc)

Sources: Wikipedia, British Medical Journal, io9, about.com

March 4, 2011 at 2:00 am 7 comments

Your Pupils Dilate When You Lie

By Chad Upton | Editor

This is one of the reasons some poker players wear sunglasses (they also do it so they can stare at their opponents without being noticed).

In fact, the neurotransmitters that mediate pupil dilation are closely associated with arousal in general.

This was proven in a recent study which found that pupil dilation is closely associated with memory and attention functions. In controlled tests, researchers were even able to predict the precise moment when subjects made decisions, based solely on a change in pupil size.

Knowing this, you may want to stick to online poker.

Broken Secrets

Get updates from: FacebookTwitterEmailKindle

Photo: David (cc)

Sources: ESPNScienceBlogs.com

January 31, 2011 at 2:00 am 5 comments

Potatoes: Green Means Stop

By Chad Upton | Editor

If you eat potatoes, in any form, you’ve probably come across a partially green one.

Most importantly, don’t eat the green part — it’s toxic enough that you may get very ill, and it can cause death in rare cases. Secondly, it’s very bitter, so you’re not going to enjoy it. French fries and potato chips are also affected, so avoid the green stuff there too.

The green coloration is chlorophyll. Like many other plants, chlorophyll is formed with enough exposure to certain types of light. Of course, many green leaves are part of a healthy diet, so it’s not the chlorophyll itself that is the problem.

Exposure to light can also cause another reaction that forms a substance called “solanine.” It is not related to chlorophyll, but is often formed at the same time. Solanine is toxic. 16 ounces of a fully green pototo could be enough to make a 100lb person sick.

The green chlorophyll is a good warning about the presence of solanine, but solanine can form when chlorophyll does not. So, even if the potato looks normal, the bitter taste will serve as a warning.

Cooking a green potato will not help, it’s still toxic. But, a cooked potato cannot turn green since the required enzyme mechanisms are destroyed in cooking.

Bottom line: if it’s green or bitter, skip it.

Broken Secrets

Get updates on: FacebookTwitterEmailKindle

Photo: Selva / Eden (cc)

Sources: Purdue, Elkhorn

January 14, 2011 at 2:00 am 8 comments

Older Posts Newer Posts


Follow Broken Secrets

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5,350 other followers

Big Awards


Best Personal Blog/Website (People's Voice)


W3 Award - Copy Writing

Categories

Featured by…

• Yahoo
• Business Insider
• NPR
• BBC
• Smithsonian Magazine
• USA Today
• AskMen (and many more...)

Contact Info


%d bloggers like this: