Monday, November 8, 2010

Germs hide even from doctors

According to researchers in the United Kingdom, doctors that wear wristwatches while seeing patients provide a hiding place for germs. The good news was that even doctors with wristwatches had clean hands.

The researches concluded, “Wearing a wristwatch results in an increase in bacterial contamination of the wrist but excess hand contamination does not occur unless the watch is manipulated.”

Other studies have found that neckties, rings, and stethoscopes help germs move around the hospital.

Quiz yourself

Your goal is to make a hospital or medical clinic as-safe-as-possible from bacterial cross contamination. What has research shown to be disinfected only 10% of the time by nurses and doctors?

Want a few hints?
This item is becoming common in elementary schools across the United States.
Michael Douglas has had one since the The Streets of San Francisco.
You probably have one.

Germs hide - Answer

Cell Phones.

According to the researchers, “Mobile phones have become veritable reservoirs of pathogens as they touch faces, ears, lips and hands of different users with different health conditions. This infection could be reduced through identification, and control of predisposing factors, education and microbial surveillance. Most people do not understand the inherent danger in sharing phones. Sharing phones undoubtedly means cross sharing. Effective means of disinfecting cell phone should be established to reduce its potential biological hazards.”

Want to read the whole journal article?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Psychologist “honored” on toilet paper

Every introduction to psychology text of the last 50 years explains the groundbreaking work of John Ridley Stroop who, for his doctoral dissertation in 1933, described the phenomena of cognitive interference. First published in 1935, Stoop showed that the human brain has a tendency to be “tricked” and that this tendency is measurable.

In Stroop’s experiment, subjects were shown words that were printed in color. When the ink color did not match the word, the subject tended to read the word incorrectly.

For example, if you are asked to name the ink color of the following words:
Your confusion when answering the question of color is noticeable while your brain sorts out the printed word “red” from the color “green.”

Cognitive tests based on Stroop’s work are still used today. The amount of time it takes to answer the question of ink color versus written printed word can be used as a measure of mental fitness. As our society ages, this non invasive mental evaluation is being used increasingly as part of mental status exams.

On the assumption that mental exercises can help stave off mental aliments, game manufacturers have incorporated Stroop’s research in to modern electronic games. Nintendo sells "Brain Age" with the slogan "Train your brain in minutes a day!" It features a version a Stroop test.

A novelty company in England has added the Stroop test to toilet paper called, Mind Trainer Toilet Paper. Their slogan is “Train your brain as you drain."

Friday, November 5, 2010

Quitting Smoking Tips from the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer these tips to stop smoking.

Are you one of many smokers who want to quit? Then try following this advice.

1. Don’t smoke any number or any kind of cigarette. Smoking even a few cigarettes a day can hurt your health. If you try to smoke fewer cigarettes, but do not stop completely, you’ll soon be smoking the same amount again.

Smoking "low-tar, low-nicotine" cigarettes usually does little good either. Because nicotine is so addictive, if you switch to lower-nicotine brands you'll likely just puff harder, longer, and more often on each cigarette. The only safe choice is to quit completely.

2. Write down why you want to quit. Do you want to— 

Feel in control of you life?

Have better health?

Set a good example for your children?

Protect your family from breathing other people’s smoke?

Really wanting to quit smoking is key to how much success you will have in quitting. Smokers who survive a heart attack are the most likely to quit for good—they're very motivated. Find a reason for quitting before you have no choice.

3. Know that it will take effort to quit smoking. Nicotine is habit forming. Half of the battle in quitting is knowing you need to quit. This knowledge will help you be more able to deal with the symptoms of withdrawal that can occur, such as bad moods and really wanting to smoke. There are many ways smokers quit, including using nicotine replacement products (gum and patches), but there is no easy way. Nearly all smokers have some feelings of nicotine withdrawal when they try to quit. Give yourself a month to get over these feelings. Take quitting one day at a time, even one minute at a time—whatever you need to succeed.

4. Half of all adult smokers have quit, so you can too. That’s the good news. There are millions of people alive today who have learned to face life without a cigarette. For staying healthy, quitting smoking is the best step you can take.

5. Get help if you need it. Many groups offer written materials, programs, and advice to help smokers quit for good. Your doctor or dentist is also a good source of help and support.

Lots more info at:

Tobacco Use in the United States
Current* Smokers
19.8% of U.S. adults (43.4 million people 18 years of age and older)1
20.0% of high school students2
36.4% of American Indian/Alaska Native adults1
21.4% of white adults1
19.8% of African American adults1
13.3% of Hispanic adults1
9.6%   of Asian American adults (excluding Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders)1
*Current smokers are defined as persons who reported smoking at least 100 cigarettes during their lifetime and who, at the time of interview, reported smoking every day or some days.

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cigarette Smoking Among Adults—United States, 2007. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report [serial online]. 2008;57(45):1221–1226 [accessed 2009 Mar 31].
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cigarette Use Among High School Students—United States, 1991–2007. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report [serial online]. 2008;57(25):689–691 [accessed 2009 Mar 31].