May 24, 2011 [Volume 5, Issue 10]
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In this issue of To Your Health:
The Dangers of Teen Texting, Social Networking
Support Yourself From the Ground Up
Cut Your Skin Cancer Risk

The Dangers of Teen Texting, Social Networking

A startling new study suggests a disturbing association between excessive social networking and texting by teenagers and participation in a wide range of poor health behaviors including cigarette, alcohol and drug use, increased sexual activity and violence. The study defined "hypernetworking" as spending three-plus hours per school day on social network sites such as Facebook, and "hypertexting" as sending in excess of 120 text messages per school day. Teens guilty of hypernetworking (11.5 percent of teens surveyed) were:

  • 79% more likely to have tried alcohol
  • 69% more likely to be binge drinkers
  • 62% more likely to have tried cigarettes
  • 84% more likely to have used illicit drugs
  • 94% more likely to have been involved in a physical fight
  • 69% more likely to have had sex
  • 60% more likely to report four or more sexual partners

An even larger percentage of teens (19.8 percent) were guilty of hypertexting and displayed similar patterns of poor health behaviors:

  • More than twice as likely to have tried alcohol
  • 43% more likely to be binge drinkers
  • 40% more likely to have tried cigarettes
  • 41% more likely to have used illicit drugs
  • 55% more likely to have been involved in a physical fight
  • Nearly 3.5 times more likely to have had sex
  • 90% more likely to report four or more sexual partners

The study by researchers at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine does not show cause and effect, which means it does not prove that excessive social networking and texting caused these unhealthy behaviors to manifest (or vice versa). That said, the study suggests enough of a potential connection to make parents think twice before allowing their teen unlimited text- messaging capabilities and unsupervised access to the Web.

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Support Yourself From the Ground Up

Anyone who has experienced foot problems understands all too well that it can affect the rest of the body. The feet are your foundation, much like the foundation of a house. If that foundation suffers, the entire structure suffers right along with it; in some cases, it can come crashing down. Fortunately, that same logic applies in reverse: optimizing foot performance and health is like strengthening your foundation; the result can be a stronger, more durable you from the ground up.

A recent research review provides an excellent illustration of this principle. It involves the example of patients suffering from arthritis and other rheumatic diseases, which can rack the entire body with pain, stiffness and movement limitations. According to the review, biomechanical evidence suggests that "foot orthotics and specialized footwear may change muscle activation and gait patterns to reduce joint loading. Emerging evidence suggests that orthotics, specific shoe types and footwear interventions may provide an effective nonsurgical intervention in rheumatic diseases."

The takeaway here seems clear: Support your feet and your feet will support you. An increasing body of research suggests foot orthotics can positively impact foot health (and thus whole-body health) in numerous ways. Talk to your doctor to learn more.

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Cut Your Skin Cancer Risk

Let's review what we know about skin cancer, skin protection and your health: If you stay out of the sun, tanning beds, etc., your chances of getting skin cancer are remarkably low (although not completely eliminated); if you get regular, moderate sun exposure, you'll ensure adequate vitamin D absorption (approximately 10 minutes a day will give you upwards of 10,000 IU; the RDA for vitamin D is 400 IU) and be less likely to develop skin cancer compared with people who experience painful sunburns – even if you spend more overall time in the sun than they do. And while debate runs thick about the effectiveness and safety of sunscreen, a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology emphasizes that if you apply a little lotion, your odds of suffering melanoma go way down.

While not the most common form of skin cancer, melanoma is the most dangerous form, causing approximately 75 percent of all skin cancer-related deaths. More than 160,000 new cases are diagnosed worldwide each year. Melanoma can appear on skin sites that do not receive sun exposure, so it's important to check your body regularly and report any skin irregularities to your doctor.

Sunscreen may help prevent melanoma, but it blocks vitamin D absorption, which means if you use it regularly, you need to ensure adequate vitamin D intake from food or supplements. And make sure you don't take it for granted; think moderation when it comes to the sun. You'll be happy you did. Your doctor can tell you more about skin health and how to enjoy the summer months while keeping your skin safe at the same time.

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The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of chiropractic, acupuncture, massage therapy, medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. MPA Media is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.

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