Thursday, February 25, 2010

Take Care from Crime on Campus

An article published in the Boston Globe today terrified, saddened, and enraged me.

It is no secret that there is violence of many types that takes place on college campuses, and our campus has unfortunately seen its fair share of crime. In an effort not to sound too preach-y, I am less interested in the actions and punishments taken by the University officials than the dangers this can provide for the UMass Amherst community.

While I don't think that this will support the idea that students can get away with physical assault, it should send a message of awareness to students everywhere. We should all pay careful attention to our physical closeness with others, which can be aggravated when alcohol is introduced. Taking care of our bodies is something that can happen now, when we are young and in college, and can have a great impact on the rest of our lives.

However, this is not to say that this can keep unfortunate incidents from happening. In the case of sexual or other physical assault, or fear of assault, there are many authorities available to speak to. The UMass Police Department has created many outlets for students to utilize in case of emergency or the threat of emergency, as well as many means of help for emergencies on campus. This includes the Everywoman's Center, in addition to the UMPD.

The only thing worse than being the victim of a sexual assault or other crime is being too fearful to ask for help.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Doctor deficiency?

According to a recent America OnLine article, it was revealed that American doctors are beginning to work fewer hours per week, while also taking a salary cut.

This idea interests me for a number of reasons. During a public health class I took last semester, Introduction to the United States Health Care Service, I learned that there is a surplus of students interested in becoming specialists in the field of medicine, as opposed to those who want to become general physicians. Becoming a specialist means attending medical school for a longer period of time and dealing with patients who all have similar ailments. For example, a dermatologist is a doctor who looks only at patients with skin problems or diseases. With the responsibility, specialists also are rewarded with much higher salaries, and are held in high demand.

However, this is triggering a shortage in the amount of medical school students who show an interest in becoming a general physician. General doctors are implemented to act as gatekeepers for the rest of the medical field; patients make an appointment with their primary care physician, and then go on to see a specialist if need. While one would think that this would cause an increase in the hours of work for general doctors, it seems that Americans are instead relying more on the diagnoses of specialists.

Winter Retail Holds Steady despite Lack of Snow

Click here to learn how the UMass Running Club handles the Winter

On a sunny, clear President’s Day, not a flake of snow is visible outside of Competitive Edge Ski and Bike, yet store employee Sean Kennedy doesn’t seem concerned.

“We always have a steady flow of customers. Even if it snows about an inch around here, people start coming in, it gets them thinking about skiing,” Kennedy said.

While the lack of snow has affected the store’s business the most at the beginning of the ski season, Kennedy said that the overall affect of the relatively snow-less winter has been minimal. The biggest impact of the weather has been on his own skiing schedule, “I go on about 100 runs a year; I definitely haven’t gone out as much as usual, the beginning of the season was slow,” he said.

Sean’s father, Gary Kennedy, co-owner of Competitive Edge, said that, while the lack of snow has had a negative impact on cross-country ski sales, he credits modern snow-making at ski resorts with keeping the demand for skis and snowboards steady, even when actual snowfall is low.

Clothing sales are also a major component of Competitive Edge’s business, and the cold temperatures have kept customers coming through their doors.

“While no snow hurts our business, the cold is the next best thing,” he said.

However, having snow on the ground does have its benefits. Kennedy believes that Massachusetts residents are less likely to think of going skiing if the winter is not a snowy one, as opposed to Connecticut and New York skiers, who are forced to travel to resorts for snowy winters.

“If you don’t see snow in your yard, you don’t believe that there is snow in the next yard unless a friend tells you,” Kennedy said.

Doug Haddad, a senior at the University of Massachusetts who skis every weekend at either Mount Snow, Okimo or Stratton ski resorts, agreed that cold temperatures are often a better indicator than snow that skiing conditions are good.

“This year has actually been pretty good. The temperature around the mountains has been cold,” he said. “I’d rather have natural snow because man-made snow is icier, but as long as I can be on the mountain I’m ok.”

Travel to ski resorts has also helped Kennedy’s business. As domestic flights have gotten cheaper, Kennedy said more skiers in this area are making a few trips per year to the Midwest to ski. Haddad said he flies out to Colorado, Montana or Utah two or three times a year to go helicopter skiing, an extreme version of alpine skiing where skiers are dropped off by a helicopter on uncharted mountain trials.

“I’d rather just have straight up snow, it’s like a shot in the arm, you can’t get better advertising,” Kennedy said.

While many corporate sport stores have a set date when the stop selling winter gear, Kennedy said the store owners base their decision on when to stop selling skis on the weather. Kennedy said a major component of Competitive Edge Ski and Bike is following storms on Doppler radar to see when the next big snow storm is likely to hit.

“We’re not only skiers, we’re weathermen,” he said.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Aspirin Claims

Every so often, studies surface that suggest health connections to everyday items, such as red wine and heart disease. I know full well that these claims must be backed up by significant research before they are made public, but I sometimes find it almost amusing that health care professionals are able to find connections between the strangest products and health affects.

Within the last few days, doctors and scientists have released statements regarding aspirin and its connection with breast cancer fatalities. In an article published in the Boston Globe, doctors and specialists reveal that women diagnosed with breast cancer who already take aspirin on a regular basis may be less likely to relapse, as well as a decrease in the likelihood of cancer-related death.

While these claims may seem to be based on many 'maybes' this information can be crucial to those with breast cancer. To some, it may seem silly to suggest such measures in order to protect oneself from fatal cancer. However, for those who have fallen victim to breast cancer, or know someone who has, there is no remedy too unusual to try. While it is strange to think that such simple measures could take a serious toll on someone's life, it is also reassuring to know that researchers will take any means necessary to help those who fall ill to such unfortunate diseases.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Top five FAQs about H1N1

Who is most susceptible to getting swine flu?
Children under 18 have been hit by this strain of the swine flu the hardest of any age range, according to the Centers for Disease Control. This CNN article estimates that over 800 children have perished in connection with the H1N1 virus.

When should I get a swine flu vaccination?
H1N1 vaccinations have been made available throughout the country, and should be administered as soon as possible. Vaccinations were originally slated to be safe until June 2011, but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that the immunizations should be given by February 15.

Where is swine flu most prevalent?
The World Health Organization believes that the most recent pandemic of swine flu was brought out of Mexico. However, like many other strains of influenza, the swine flu can spread quickly.

How contagious is this strain of the influenza?
While the past then months have brought a panic over falling ill to the H1N1 strain of the flu, USA Today believes that this epidemic is no more dangerous than many other spreadable ailments. The news site is also covering the various ways in which Americans have been poking fun at the strain's nickname, stirring wonder about how seriously Americans are taking this pandemic.

How can I protect myself from getting H1N1?
Aside from getting a vaccination, there are many simple things that can be done to prevent the spread of swine flu. Keeping your hands clean and wearing a face mask are two methods suggested by Medical News Today, an online archive of medical news and reports. It is also helpful to get plenty of sleep, maintain good eating and drinking habits, and live in a clean environment.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Spruce up your spring cleaning...

Although it's a little early for spring cleaning, I found this Seventh Generation blog post via twitter and wanted to share it in my own blog.

Not only does Seventh Generation provide natural and safe cleaning supplies and other home goods, but they also have handy techniques about combining health and cleaning - very feng shui if you ask me.

Personally, I always listen to music while I clean, mostly to drown out the noise of the vaccuum, but it also puts me in a much better mood so that dusting my bedroom and cleaning out the toilet seem more like a game than a bothersome Saturday afternoon activity.

Check out more Seventh Generation information and updates at their website,, and look for an article about their products in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian later this month! - Healthy People

I chose this blog because I have an interest in health and nutrition, and while these topics may not be considered breaking news, they certainly hold importance for the general population. Additionally, I have always been a fan of the Boston Globe website, and have relied on it as a news source for years.

These blog posts seem very informative, and seem to speak about issues that are relevant and timely, similar to what would be published in a printed publication. However, the author is able to interact with her audience, and answer questions about what she writes about, such as in Zumba Helps Fight Childhood Obesity. Since she has a strong background in fitness training and development, she is definitely knowledgeable on the topic, although this could cause her to become biased towards a certain fitness or health program.

Something I especially took notice of was the fact that she does her own investigative reporting. In one instance, Are Microwave Oven Safe? she mentions an article that she has recently read claiming that microwaves are hazardous, and then continues on to find information released by the FDA to oppose this claim. As a reader, I appreciate the fact that she didn’t take this news at face value, and instead completed some more thorough reporting. Additionally, she gives the readers all of the links so that they can read more if they chose, thus allowing them to make their own informed decision, rather than forcing her opinion through her words.

Overall, I felt that this blog was done very professionally, as a way of informing readers through honest and straight-forward research and clear writing, while also managing to place a fun and upbeat spin on exercise, health and personal fitness.