Category: In the News

Health Benefits of Going Green

House plants have always been a staple of many people interior and exterior design. Our fascination and attraction to greenery is long-ingrained in human history. However, new research is show that there may be serious health benefits to being exposed to greenery. A UCLA study has shown that increasing “greenness” in urban settings can improve mental health.

In addition to this, there are a number of other studies which suggest positive relationships between greenness and a number of disease outcomes, such as obesity, preterm birth outcomes, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. These studies provide interesting and exciting glances into an emerging field, which highlights the importance of greenness and preserving natural landscapes. These things can improve public health, and likewise benefit our natural environment.,_Air.4.aspx





A Need to Address Student Stress

For both collegiate and graduate students, stress is a commonplace experience. Research findings are showing that students are experiencing anxiety at troubling and increasing rates. Nearly one in five American college students is burned with an anxiety disorder. Stress – specifically financial stress – is expected to be one of the factors underwriting this epidemic.

Although stress is traditionally defined as “how the brain and body respond to any demand”, particularly those which are negative – such as traumatic events, major life changes, etc. However, with stress can come a range of unexpected physical side effects. This includes but is not limited to: headaches, low energy, aches and pains and insomnia. Over time, when someone endures prolonged stress, it can lead to more serious consequences, such as anxiety and mental health deficits.

Experiencing some stress is a normal and necessary part of everyone’s lives. However, as mentioned above, excess stress can yield serious adverse health consequences. It’s important to keep one’s stress in balance, and has provided a short list of ways to help reduce stress:

  • Talk about your stress to a friend, or family member
  • Listen to music
  • Eat nutritious food
  • Exercise
  • Be mindful
  • Get better sleep




Lack of Diversity in Fashion: impacts on mental health

Today, when one looks through the catalogues and social media accounts of many well-known fashion brands, homogeneity can be expected. When focusing specifically on women’s fashion, there is a major issue of lack of representation in diversity of models. This applies to many fronts: lack of diversity in race, body size, body type, etc. Trans-women and women who don’t conform to gender “norms” are often excluded, and brands rarely depict models with visible health conditions and/or disabilities.

This lack of representation can have seriously negative impacts on the mental health of many people of different ages. Most often, models are skinny, tall, and white. When these are the only women being depicted in the media as desirable – it can weigh heavily on the shoulders of those who do not and cannot conform to these standards.

The good news: the tides seem to be changing. Certain brands have begun to combat these patterns in fashion branding. This is not in an attempt to tear current models down, but rather to lift women of all shapes, sizes, colors and statuses up. Aerie – a women’s clothing and lingerie brand – has taken on the frontline in this battle. In 2014, Aerie launched “AerieReal”, an admirable campaign to promote the beauty of all types of women in an untouched beauty campaign. Brands like Aerie serve as a beacon here and sets a positive example of how to better promote the physical and mental health of their customers.



Allergies on the Rise Alongside Global Temperatures

It is becoming well-known that the impacts of climate change will extend far beyond environmental damages. Climate change is anticipated to affect many different aspects of human health. Infectious disease, temperature related illness and injury, and food safety are just a few areas which may be prone to yield serious consequences for human health. Within this, we are already seeing the impacts of climate change on health now.

Allergy season is upon us and is also vulnerable to on-going changes in our climate. It is understood that climate change is and will continue to affect air quality in a number of ways. These damages include increases in levels of regional ozone, particulate matter, and even allergen production. Rates of allergies have been on the rise – and while there are many theories as to why this may be, these rates have increased alongside rising temperatures. Increasing levels of CO2 and rising temperatures have been shown to amplify the allergenic effects of pollen and mold spores. Much of this is due to warmer temperatures, as it allows trees to be able to pollinate earlier in the season and for longer periods of time.

These events highlight the importance of supporting policy which acknowledges and addresses global warming as a threat. Climate change is not just an environmental issue – it is an issue of human health and quality of life. As we continue to see environmental changes and damages from climate change, we can expect to see continued impacts on human health.






Philadelphia attempting to open supervised injection facility amid legal challenges

Safehouse, a non-profit group in Philadelphia is attempting to open a supervised injection facility for people with opioid addiction to use these drugs in a safer manner.  Their plan is to allow people to use opioids in the presence of trained healthcare providers who can recognize and treat opioid overdoses before they become deadly.  The group also believes that this will allow them to build trust with the people who use their facility, which will allow them to better connect those with drug addiction to other treatments and start them on the path to recovery.

A similar facility in Vancouver, Canada has shown reduced overdoses, more connections to recovery options, decreases infectious disease transmission, reduced public disorder.  Additionally, there were no increases in crime or promotion of drug injections around the Vancouver facility.   An unsanctioned site in the United States has also reduced public disposal of used needles and prevented opioid overdose deaths.

Even though sites like this may have helped people in the past, the Philadelphia group is facing legal challenges that may prevent them from opening.  Currently, the Trump administration is suing Safehouse citing that it is illegal to own property where drugs are used.  The non-profit group is counter-suing citing religious freedom, stating Judeo-Christian beliefs of preserving life.

The toll of college athletics

With the recent NCAA basketball tournament and Auburn gymnast Samantha Cerio breaking both legs during competition, college sports are trending on the internet right now.  As we watch video of amazing basketball plays and a twenty-two year old’s career ending injury, it makes us wonder, “Just how much do college athletes put their bodies through for their sports?”


According to the CDC, among twenty-five college sports, there are an average of 1,053,370 injuries each year, and roughly 21% require recovery lasting longer than 1 week.  Typically, injuries incurred during competition are worse than those acquired during practice. Athletes put their bodies through this potential lifelong harm, and they are not allowed compensation above tuition, room and board, and cost of living stipends.


When looking at the lifelong costs of participating in college athletics, those who faced injury often face limited physical activity later in life.  Additionally, former athletes often report worse quality of life as they age when compared to the general public, and in some ways retirement from the sport has been compared with experiencing a death.  As athletes face retirement from the sport, they often feel unprepared to make the transition and struggle with maintaining a self-identity after sports.


Currently college sports is a multi-billion dollar per year industry, and we fans are a big part of this.  Sports help us unite friends, families, and communities as we root for our favorite teams.  Watching these athletes brings us joy and occasional heartache.  Some of us think of them as an extension of our own families.  However, if we care ABOUT them this much, why aren’t we doing more to care FOR them- in the forms of compensation or at least helping them transition into the ranks of us normal people when the sport is over?

“Goop” Brand and Fake Health Products

Valued at $250 million dollars in 2018, the “Goop” brand has taken commercial health and beauty market by storm. While many of this company’s products are harmless – such as lotions and accessories – there are a number of products which have generated a lot of negative feedback. In 2018, Goop was charged for false claims regarding two of their products. At this time, the brand was selling “vaginal eggs” (made of rose quartz).  Supposedly, following vaginal insertion, these eggs could help balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles, and increase bladder control. None of these claims are backed by research, and even came under direct criticism from a renowned gynecologist and other medical professionals. Similarly, another one of their products – an essential oil – was criticized for false claims of preventing depression.

Despite this, Goop brand has continued to grow, gaining more revenue and customers. Although this brand has gained an exceptional amount of media attention, it only represents one of many brands falsifying health-related products. Companies like Goop often claim they provide “alternative treatments” to mainstream or pharmaceutical agents. But in reality, many of these fake products can be completely useless or even harmful. Many of these products are expensive, and wrongfully solicit money for worthless/harmful products. Additionally, products or methods which make claims to prevent serious diseases – such as depression or cancer – are providing false hope and might delay needed medical treatments. With internet culture in full-swing, it’s important to research the legitimacy of any alternative health products/claims, and to trust expert advice when necessary.




To Vaccine or Not to Vaccine – A Legal Question


Between January and March of 2019, there were multiple measles outbreaks. As of March 22nd, seventy-two individuals were diagnosed with measles. Outbreaks like this one have shown that pockets of low vaccination rate can results in outbreaks that threaten life, limb, and pocketbook. However, it is unclear what the government can do to prevent them. In Kentucky, a teenager is suing to be allowed to attend school despite not having the chickenpox vaccine—and a current chicken-pox outbreak in the area. In New York, Rockland County declared a state of emergency, banning unvaccinated youth from public places. This leads us to ask the question:

What does the Supreme Court have to say about vaccine requirements?

The United States government has a well-established duty to prevent disease outbreaks. In Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905), the Supreme Court ruled that states are constitutionally justified in requiring their citizens to be vaccinated against contagious diseases unless medically contraindicated. Specifically, the majority opinion determined that 1) states have a duty to protect the health of their constituents, 2) states and municipalities are justified in requiring individuals to get vaccinated to fulfill this duty, and 3) individual beliefs or opinions are not sufficient reason to disobey these requirements.

“We are not prepared to hold that a minority, residing or remaining in any city or town where smallpox is prevalent, and enjoying the general protection afforded by an organized local government, may thus defy the will of its constituted authorities, acting in good faith for all, under the legislative sanction of the state. If such be the privilege of a minority, then a like privilege would belong to each individual of the community, and the spectacle would be presented of the welfare and safety of an entire population being subordinated to the notions of a single individual who chooses to remain a part of that population.” — Majority opinion by Justice Harlan.

The right of the state to require vaccinations was upheld in Zucht v. King (1922), when a young woman in San Antonio was excluded from attending both public and private schools because she refused to be vaccinated. Since then, states have required vaccinations with varying degrees of strictness.

What do you think?

Should states be able to fine or otherwise enforce vaccination requirements? Should people be able to refuse vaccinations for moral or religious reasons? What do you think the future holds for vaccine laws?

More Resources

  1. Mariner WK, Annas GJ, Glantz LH. Jacobson v Massachusetts: It’s Not Your Great-Great-Grandfather’s Public Health Law. American Journal of Public Health. 2005;95(4):581-590. doi:10.2105/ajph.2004.055160.
  2. Measles Outbreak 2019. Washington State Department of Health. Accessed March 1, 2019.
  3. Associated Press. Cost of Washington’s measles outbreak tops $1M. KGW8. Published February 23, 2019. Accessed March 1, 2019.
  4. HENNING JACOBSON, v. COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS. (United States Supreme Court 1905). Accessed March 1, 2019.
  5. The Supreme Court On Vaccination Laws. American Journal of Public Health. 1923;13(2):120-121. doi:10.2105/ajph.13.2.120.
  6. States with Religious and Philosophical Exemptions from School Immunization Requirements. Published January 30, 2019. Accessed March 1, 2019.

The bond market, public health, and the future

Some may view public health and the bond market as opposites, but they are surprisingly intertwined.  This week the yield curve inverted, meaning that yields from long-term bonds dropped lower than those from short-term bonds.  Historically, this inversion signals a likely recession in the next 1-2 years.  While this news may lead to thoughts of recession preparation tactics such as getting a side job or diversifying investments, it may not necessarily trigger public health concerns.

However, this is a time to build our public health programs.  Higher unemployment numbers often accompany recessions.  These higher unemployment numbers are associated with individuals choosing fast food and junk food over fruits and vegetables.  Additionally, without jobs (and their associated health insurance), people seek medical and dental care less often.  Job loss, including recession related loss, is associated with increased housing and food insecurity– both of which are associated with poor health outcomes.  Suicide rates also increase during recessions.  Therefore, it may be time to start investing in programs for mental health, nutrition, and housing stability.  Surprisingly, during recessions all-cause mortality typically decreases. Some predict that this is due to fewer accidents, including on the job and commuter traffic accidents.

Though people face negative health effects associated with economic hardship during recessions, some evidence suggests they try to mitigate these issues through increased exercise and appropriate sleep habits.  Public health practitioners should find this news encouraging as unemployed people may have time to adopt and normalize healthy behaviors into their lifestyles (action or maintenance stage of the transtheoretical model for the theory fans out there).  However, the focus shouldn’t end there.  Though there is a dearth of literature outlining the impact of job re-entry on the healthy behaviors adopted during unemployment, it is plausible to believe that if available time led to healthier behaviors, then additional time devoted to a job may impede continued behavior practice.   As we want people to return to work, public health practitioners may focus on interventions that include implementation intentions, specifically “if-then” statements championed by P.M. Gollwitzer.  For instance, If I get a full-time job, then I’ll exercise after work.  These statements have been shown to help people overcome changes that would otherwise be barriers to maintaining health lifestyles.

Media Misconceptions: Why Juicing is NOT a Healthy Trend

Misleading health trends are nothing new in the age of social media. Every week there seems to be a new diet to “cleanse” or lose weight. Amongst these things, “juice cleanses” are a trend which have been popularized multiple times. There is a common misconception that drinking only fruit juice is as good for you as eating whole fruits. Drinking fruit and vegetable juice can provide some health benefits in moderation. However, a recent Harvard study shows that juicing may cause more harm than good. Consuming whole fruits does bestow a number of health benefits and can actually reduce risk for type 2 diabetes. In comparison, drinking juice alone does not provide the same benefits and can actually increase risk for type 2 diabetes.

Much of this has to with nutrient loss in the juicing process. When fruits and vegetables are juiced down, the final product contains concentrated amounts of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. However, important nutritious components – such as fiber and antioxidants – are left behind. This is problematic because it omits some of the key elements which make fruits and veggies so healthy. In addition to this, juice is very concentrated, and so there are relatively higher levels of sugar when drinking juice than when eating whole fruits. It is important to take everything in moderation, and to not jump on trends before understanding the issue.