For Women in 30s and 40s, Quitting Smoking Can be Lifesaving
There's been little doubt that quitting smoking is a smart move for your health, but a new study suggests that women who break the habit before age 40 may avoid more than 90 percent of the added risk of early death caused by smoking. The study, published Saturday in The Lancet journal, also indicated that women who quit smoking before 30 avoid 97 percent of that increased risk. Smoking takes about 10 years off women's lives, the study shows, and among the United Kingdom women researched, two-thirds of all deaths in their 50s, 60s, and 70s were caused by smoking. "If women smoke like men, they die like men—but, whether they are men or women, smokers who stop before reaching middle age will gain about an extra 10 years of life," study co-author Richard Peto, a professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at the University of Oxford in England, said in a news release, reports HealthDay.
Psychoanalyzing 10 Popular Halloween Costumes
On any other day of the year, a French maid is just a French maid. Batman, just Batman. But on Halloween—she's sexually repressed and flaunting her inner vixen. He clings to fantasies about being an all-powerful superhero. Indeed, experts say our Halloween costumes often aren't random choices. They reveal hidden personality traits, reflecting our inner urges on the one day it's okay to abandon societal rules and regulations.
"It's an opportunity to express things we're normally not allowed to express," says G. Dennis Rains, a psychology professor at Kutztown University in Kutztown, Pa. "It's permission to let your underside or dark side come out. We can release what we normally keep under wraps." He points out that, despite its scary overtones, Halloween is a friendly holiday—when else do strangers invite us into their homes with such ease? It also brings a sense of anonymity that motivates us to show our wild, untamed side.
In a way, Halloween is a social lubricant that grants us the freedom and courage to "act out," says psychologist J. Buzz Von Ornsteiner, project director of the Mental Health Court Advocacy Program in Brooklyn, N.Y. "It allows us to experiment with fantasies and needs we normally keep oppressed," he adds. "We can finally unleash them—incognito. It makes us feel like we can do whatever we want, without any consequences or repercussions." (Cautionary note: Halloween isn't always repercussion-free. Photos of controversial costumes have made their way onto Facebook, costing the wearers their jobs.) [See more: Psychoanalyzing 10 Popular Halloween Costumes]
The Fat Talk Free Pledge
I remember 9th grade dance class like it was yesterday: I would take my awkward, leotard-clad body into class and try to avoid my image in the wall-to-wall mirrors for the entire hour. I also remember one particular girl from that class who spent the hour watching herself—dreamily—in those mirrors, writes U.S. News blogger Melinda Johnson. She loved her body. Her curvy, imperfect, slightly overweight body. While the rest of the class would bond over talk of fat thighs and diets, she would simply enjoy the movement of dance class and avoid the destructive conversations around her. To me, she was the epitome of comfortable in her own skin. Back then, I just assumed she was hard-wired that way—lucky girl! But I've since realized that she knew a secret most girls her age (not to mention, many grown women) hadn't figured out: She avoided fat talk.
We're reaching the end of Fat Talk Free® Week 2012, an annual campaign that urges women to ditch the destructive talk both in their minds and their conversations. The campaign developed out of a program at San Antonio's Trinity University and is promoted by the national Tri-Delta fraternity. Its brilliance is in its simplicity: If we want to change the way we feel about our bodies, we first have to change the conversation.
How extensive is the fat talk problem? In a Glamour magazine survey, 97 percent of participating women noted that they had hateful thoughts about their body on any given day. The problem is not unique to grown women, either. In a study out of Florida, about half of participating 3- to 6-year-old girls were worried about being fat. Worse, many of these children already wanted to change something about their body.
The good news is that the solution is accessible to everyone, and it's free—simply take the pledge to stop fat-talking. Take a day or two to notice how often you have thoughts about yourself that are cruel, such as berating yourself for eating French fries or telling yourself how fat you look. And pay attention to what you say about yourself and others in conversation. If it involves weight or looks, it's fat talk. Cutting down or eliminating these thoughts and words can make a huge difference in your life. Consider this sampling of ways that fat talk makes us miserable:
1. It keeps us from having fun: Women report missing out on enjoyable activities simply because they don't like the way they look. Parties, vacations at the beach, and going dancing with friends can lose their luster when a woman is allowing fat talk to dominate her thoughts. [Read more: The Fat Talk Free Pledge]