Alcohol Most Dangerous Drug to Society, Researchers Say
That bottle of wine or six-pack of beer sitting in your fridge? It could be more dangerous than heroin, crack cocaine, and ecstasy. That's the outlandish-sounding claim of a new study published today in Lancet that ranks the 20 most harmful drugs. But it's actually not as crazy as it sounds since alcohol is by far the most popular drug, and the researchers factored in the total harms these drugs caused to both individuals and society as a whole. The study authors weighed the physical, psychological, and social problems wreaked by each drug, including how addictive it is, how it harms the body, and what kind of socio-economic costs it creates, like use of social services and prison. Heroin, crack cocaine, and crystal meth, respectively, were ranked deadliest to individuals, while alcohol, heroin, and crack cocaine were deemed most harmful to society. Overall, alcohol was the most harmful drug, with a score of 72 on a 100-point scale. Following were heroin (55 points) and crack cocaine (54) in second and third places. On the lower end of the spectrum, marijuana earned 20 points. Surprisingly, ecstasy received a score of 9, indicating that it's only one-eighth as harmful as alcohol—at least to society as a whole. No one would say it's safer to pop an ecstasy pill than down a beer. "Alcohol is the most harmful drug because it's so widely used," study coauthor David Nutt told BBC News. "There are hundreds of thousands of people who crave alcohol every day, and those people will go to extraordinary lengths to get it."
Are You Diabetic? 6 Tips That Will Help Keep You Out of the Hospital
Diabetes-related complications are among the most common reasons for hospitalization, according to a recent study in the Journal of Women's Health. Researchers found that in 2006, for example, diabetics hospitalized because of congestive heart failure accounted for more than 1 in every 16 discharges; diabetics with pneumonia made up another 1 in 26. Moreover, the overall rate of hospital admissions for diabetics is rising—up more than 65 percent between 1993 and 2006. And it will climb even faster if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recent estimate that as many as 1 in 3 Americans, up from 1 in 10 now, will have type 1 or type 2 diabetes by 2050 holds up. For those who already have the disease, though, there is hope, writes U.S. News's Kurtis Hiatt. Some of these tips may help keep you healthy—and out of the hospital:
Do a daily foot check. "Keeping good watch over your feet is an important aspect of good diabetes care," says Joyce Lee, a coauthor of the Women's Health study and assistant professor in the department of pediatrics and communicable diseases at the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers. A high blood glucose level can cause nerve damage in the feet, and you might not feel a cut, scrape, or blister that could be the start of a deep skin infection. Data from the study indicates that young men are especially prone to such ulcerations. Applying lotion regularly and drinking lots of water can keep skin on the feet—and the rest of the body—from becoming dry and cracked, advises the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. [Read more: Are You Diabetic? 6 Tips That Will Help Keep You Out of the Hospital.]
Why Taylor Swift Is Right to Write Songs About Ex-Boyfriends
Country music star Taylor Swift sure knows what she's doing by writing about her ex-boyfriends in her Speak Now album released last week. Yes, the album is projected to hit the biggest one-week sales of any release this year, heading for the million mark. But U.S. News's Deborah Kotz is talking about Swift's keen ability to tap into her brain's emotional reservoir, to take all that heartache and create, well, really good music.
Criticized by some for taking inspiration from guys that put her through the wringer—yes, you, Taylor Lautner and you, John Mayer—the 20-year-old Swift told David Letterman on his CBS Late Show Tuesday, "This is the third album that I've been doing this, so they had fair warning at this point." She wrote the songs, she said, "when I'm feeling what it is I'm discussing in the song. It's all kind of done when it's happening."
Turns out, doing something creative when you're going through an emotional crisis is one of the best things you can do to cope, says Harvard psychologist Shelly Carson, author of Your Creative Brain, which hits bookstores this month. "It's a stress reducer because it uses parts of the brain that are incompatible with anxiety and fear," she explains. Stirring activity in those "creative" brain regions actually overrides activity in those regions that move you to tears or ice cream binges. What's more, the act of doing something novel activates the brain's reward centers, releasing a cascade of "I-feel-wonderful" chemicals that can lift you out of the doldrums. That may be what fuels us to dive into creative projects when we're grief-stricken. Nancy Brinker invented pink ribbon activism after her sister, Susan G. Komen, died from breast cancer. The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan dreamed up the Taj Mahal to memorialize his third wife. [Read more: Why Taylor Swift Is Right to Write Songs About Ex-Boyfriends.]
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