Space Coast Daily Healthcare Headlines: How Well Does Your Smartphone Know You?

By  //  August 13, 2015

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Topics Include:  Dangers of Edible Pot; Smartphone Use and Depression; Sleep Critical For Teen Health — and More

Southern Style Diet Least Healthy

According to a study out of the University of Alabama Birmingham and recently published in the cardiovascular journal Circulation, eating foods typical to the Southern region, such as fried chicken, fried okra, sweet tea, buttered biscuits, and lots of gravy, showed a 56 percent increase in cardiovascular disease, compared with those who rarely ate such foods.

southern foodNo one would expect that a diet rich in saturated fats, carbohydrates, and salt would prove to be healthy, but the Southern-style diet seemed more deleterious in terms of heart health than even other eating patterns widely considered to be unhealthy, including a diet largely comprised of ‘convenience’ foods such as pizza and Mexican and Chinese take-out and a “sweets”-based diet characterized by regular consumption of high-sugar breakfast foods, candy, and desserts. (James McIntosh, Medical News Today, 8/11; Salynn Boyles, MedPage Today, 8/10)

The Dangers Of Edible Pot

An accidental death linked to a marijuana-laced cookie has some people wondering whether weed is more potent when it’s eaten instead of smoked.

Recreational marijuana is now permitted for persons aged 21 years or older under state law in four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington) and the District of Columbia.

Marijuana-BrownieIn Colorado,where an estimated 45 percent of marijuana sales come from munchable pot, a young man ate a marijuana-laced cookie and then jumped to his death off a fourth-floor balcony last year, prompting a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) investigation into the dangers of edible pot, which resulted in recommendations for much stricter regulation on packaging, and labeling, and limitations on the amount of THC allowable in an edible marijuana product.

This student’s death suggests the possibility that ingesting marijuana may provide a more intense experience than smoking it, and the CDC report highlights the need to be aware that “consuming a large dose of THC can result in a higher THC concentration, greater intoxication, and an increased risk for adverse psychological effects.” (Laine Bergeson,, 7/28)

Why Is Effectively Using Sunscreen So Complicated?

According to a poll by the United Kingdom’s Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), most people still don’t understand sunscreens or how to use them properly.

The confusion seemed to center around not understanding what the rating on their sun protection stood for, and not being aware that the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) rating only protected them from some of the sun’s harmful rays.

kid-sunscreenThe RPS concludes that people now have largely got the message that they must protect their skin from the sun using sunscreen, along with other precautions such as covering up and keeping out of the sun during the hottest part of the day.

However, the missing element that must be provided for effective protection from the sun’s rays is one uniform rating on the product label for all sun protection products, so pharmacists can provide easy to understand advice on the effectiveness of products and how they should be used. (Victoria Ward, The Telegraph, 6/26)

How Well Does Your Smartphone Know You?

According to new research from the Behavioral Intervention Technologies at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, IL and published in The Journal of Medical Research, smart phones can now be utilized to detect if you are suffering from depression.

Researchers used an app to gather data from study participants’ smartphones. They were able to track Global Positioning System (GPS) locations and phone usage data over 2 weeks, and correlated this data with the subjects’ test results to determine a relationship between phone usage, geographical location and depression. 

depression and smartphonesStudy findings revealed that those showing signs of depression tended to use their phone three times more compared to non-depressed participants, and that spending most of your time at home – or in fewer locations – as well as having a less regular day-to-day schedule were also factors.

The study authors say that with one in ten Americans showing signs of depression (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the significance of their findings is that a person’s depressive symptoms and the severity of those symptoms can be detected and monitored without asking them questions or other active intervention. (Ariana Eunjung Cha, Washington Post, 7/16)

Too Little Sleep Leads To Serious Health Consequences For Teens

In a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report, the agency warns that early start times at America’s middle and high schools contribute to poor health and weakened academic performance.

Despite last year’s American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendation that middle and high schools start at 8:30 a.m. or later to help adolescents receive the recommended 8.5 hours to 9.5 hours of sleep per night, five out of every six middle schools and high schools nationwide start classes earlier than 8:30 a.m.

asleep in classPrevious studies have found that adolescents who do not receive a sufficient amount of sleep are more likely to be depressed, overweight, engage in drug use, smoking and other unhealthy behaviors, and perform poorly in school.

In its report, the CDC called the lack of sufficient sleep among U.S. teenagers a “substantial public health concern,” and said schools need to take steps to make sure classes do not start too early.

However, “late school start time does not preclude the need for other interventions that have the potential to improve the sleep of adolescents,” such as a regular bedtime and rise time, including on weekends; a “media curfew” to control and limit technology use (e.g., computers, video gaming, or mobile phones) at night; and setting a good parental example, (from which parents might benefit themselves) since adolescent sleep habits tend to reflect their parents’ sleep habits. (Emma Brown, Washington Post, 8/6)