Health Buzz: Facebook Could Trigger Asthma Attacks

Radiation experts concerned with TSA airport security scanners; 3 ways to reduce holiday travel stress.


Facebook Stress May Have Triggered Man's Asthma Attack

One day, Facebook sends you friend requests—and the next, it propels you into an asthma attack. It could happen, says a team of Italian physicians, describing an 18-year-old man whose asthma attacks were apparently triggered by logging onto the social networking site and viewing his ex-girlfriend's profile. Details of the case are in a commentary published today in the journal Lancet. The man's ex-girlfriend removed him from her list of Facebook friends, so he created a new account with a false identity to regain access to her profile. He then discovered that she had befriended many new young men and suffered shortness of breath every time he saw her picture; typically, he kept his asthma in check with medication. Following a doctor's advice, the man checked his peak expiratory flow—a measure of how well a person can exhale—before and after visiting Facebook, and found that his lung function fell after logging onto the site. His doctors eliminated other possible physical and environmental triggers. "The patient resigned not to login to Facebook any longer and the asthma attacks stopped," the physicians wrote. "This case indicates that Facebook, and social networks in general, could be a new source of psychological stress."

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  • Radiation Experts Concerned With TSA Airport Security Scanners

    Holiday travel may prove to be a bigger headache than usual this year with opposition mounting to new airport security screening measures. Some folks are outraged by the choices they're now faced with at a growing number of airports: submit to a full-body imaging scan that reveals what's underneath their clothes and delivers a dose of radiation, or submit to a thorough pat down that now includes breasts, tush, and genitals. In cell phone recordings going viral, John Tyner, a 31-year-old California man, refused both options last weekend telling a Transportation Security Administration agent, "If you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested." He was thrown out of San Diego's airport and missed a pheasant-hunting trip with his dad.

    As with all things controversial—especially those the government has a hand in—fact and fiction often become so intertwined that it's tough to tell one from the other. In trying to determine just how badly those nude scans would infringe on her privacy, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz discovered a claim made by Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan that his scans were printed out at London's Heathrow airport by security officers for him to autograph. Turns out the airport has no way to save or print the scans, so odds are this never happened, according to airport officials. The TSA says scanners at U.S. airports don't have those capabilities either, so you needn't worry that your scan will wind up on Facebook. You can also rest assured that the security officer present as you stand in the scanner fully clothed isn't sneaking a peek at what you look like naked. "The officer who views the image is remotely located in a secure resolution room and never sees the passenger," reads the Transportation Security Administration's website. [Read more: Radiation Experts Concerned With TSA Airport Security Scanners.]

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    • Holiday Travel: 3 Ways to Reduce Stress

      As stressful as it is to travel over the holidays, this year may prove even tougher given new airport security screening measures that involve whole-body imaging and whole-body pat downs (including genitals). "When traveling, you always face uncertainty; the question is, are you willing to have this uncertainty in order to see your loved ones or take a vacation?" says Jonathan Bricker, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington, who also conducts research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. There's no way to completely avoid feeling stressed when you're stuck in a mile-long airport security line or in holiday traffic, U.S. News reports. But you can better manage the frustration by following Bricker's three recommendations.