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Category Archives: Mental Health
When it comes to early mortality, preventable risk factors such as obesity and smoking are widely discussed. For example, one study from 2012 claims that otherwise healthy, non-smoking adults could be hastening mortality by 9.44 years if they’re obese. Information on smoking may be even more prevalent. According to the CDC, smokers have a life expectancy that’s a full 10 years shorter than nonsmokers. Also, quitting smoking before turning 40 can lower a person’s risk of death due to a smoking-related disease by an astonishing 90 percent. But while these risk factors are fairly well understood, there may still be many under-recognized causes of early mortality. Case in point, a new study from Brigham Young University claims that loneliness could actually shorten a person’s life. It’s a big problem, and it could be getting much worse in the near future.
It’s not uncommon for any generation to think that younger people are more selfish or entitled. Nearly 40 years ago, respected author Tom Wolfe famously declared the 1970s to be the “Me” Decade. But it seems as if there’s an especially high amount of concern about narcissistic children and young adults now. In 2013, Time Magazine declared millennials to be the Me Me Me Generation, calling them lazy, entitled, selfish, shallow and narcissistic (to be fair, it also said millennials will “save us all”). Articles such as these point to studies like this one from 2008, which claimed narcissism in college students has skyrocketed since the 1970s. This study, also from 2008, says that 9.4 percent of people aged 20 to 29 are extreme narcissists, while only 3.2 percent of people older than 65 exhibit narcissism. The continued prominence of social media doesn’t help either. Selfies and Facebook only seem to fuel the fire for a narcissistic generation.
Americans watch a lot of television. According to TV measurement firm Nielsen, the average American watches five hours of TV every day, and we end up watching more and more TV as we get older. While it’s possible to watch a lot of TV and still be generally healthy, too much television has been linked with higher risks of cancer and early mortality. This is likely due to the physical inactivity associated with TV watching. A relatively new concept, binge-watching, presents additional challenges. Streaming television services such as Netflix and Hulu allow users to spend hours watching episode after episode of shows like Orange Is The New Black or House Of Cards. Often, these services have an autoplay feature that loads the next episode immediately after finishing the last one. According to a new report, this type of TV watching is related to depression.
Between all the dieting and exercise, people who are trying to get healthy may be overlooking one crucial lifestyle element: sleep. Most people know that sleep is essential for concentration, memory, productivity and overall brain function. However, some might not know that insufficient sleep can raise the risk of serious conditions such as diabetes, obesity, depression, hypertension and even cancer. And it’s not just health-conscious people who should be concerned. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a full 30 percent of civilian employed adults in the U.S. get less than six hours of sleep each night. This means that almost one-third of Americans are getting less than the recommended amount of sleep. Typical sleep recommendations state that eight hours a night is best, but new research from the National Sleep Foundation has changed the guidelines a bit.
Social media allows people to express their thoughts and feelings on a massive scale. Information can now be shared with huge audiences at unprecedented speeds. Like it or not, however, just about anything you share on social media contributes to a huge database of information that can be analyzed by researchers and marketers. The idea is known as “big data,” and it’s allowing research to be performed using new, unique methods on a scale that’s larger than just about any data set used in the past. One of the most noble uses of big data might be to better understand risk factors for major health problems. For example, anything that researchers can do to shed some light on the causes of heart disease could be worthwhile. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death for both women and men in America. As it turns out, data provided by Twitter is a great heart disease predictor.
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