Livin' on the MDedge

The truth of alcohol consequences


Bad drinking consequence No. 87: Joining the LOTME team

Alcohol and college students go together like peanut butter and jelly. Or peanut butter and chocolate. Or peanut butter and toothpaste. Peanut butter goes with a lot of things.

Naturally, when you combine alcohol and college students, bad decisions are sure to follow. But have you ever wondered just how many bad decisions alcohol causes? A team of researchers from Penn State University, the undisputed champion of poor drinking decisions (trust us, we know), sure has. They’ve even conducted a 4-year study of 1,700 students as they carved a drunken swath through the many fine local drinking establishments, such as East Halls or that one frat house that hosts medieval battle–style ping pong tournaments.

Group of friends making a toast with beers elevate/PxHere

The students were surveyed twice a year throughout the study, and the researchers compiled a list of all the various consequences their subjects experienced. Ultimately, college students will experience an average of 102 consequences from drinking during their 4-year college careers, which is an impressive number. Try thinking up a hundred consequences for anything.

Some consequences are less common than others – we imagine “missing the Renaissance Faire because you felt drunker the morning after than while you were drinking” is pretty low on the list – but more than 96% of students reported that they’d experienced a hangover and that drinking had caused them to say or do embarrassing things. Also, more than 70% said they needed additional alcohol to feel any effect, a potential sign of alcohol use disorder.

Once they had their list, the researchers focused on 12 of the more common and severe consequences, such as blacking out, hangovers, and missing work/class, and asked the study participants how their parents would react to their drinking and those specific consequences. Students who believed their parents would disapprove of alcohol-related consequences actually experienced fewer consequences overall.

College students, it seems, really do care what their parents think, even if they don’t express it, the researchers said. That gives space for parents to offer advice about the consequences of hard drinking, making decisions while drunk, or bringing godawful Fireball whiskey to parties. Seriously, don’t do that. Stuff’s bad, and you should feel bad for bringing it. Your parents raised you better than that.

COVID ‘expert’ discusses data sharing

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you this special news event. Elon Musk, the world’s second-most annoying human, is holding a press conference to discuss, of all things, COVID-19.

Reporter: Hey, Mr. Musketeer, what qualifies you to talk about a global pandemic?

EM: As the official king of the Twitterverse, I’m pretty much an expert on any topic.

Reporter: Okay then, Mr. Muskmelon, what can you tell us about the new study in Agricultural Economics, which looked at consumers’ knowledge of local COVID infection rates and their willingness to eat at restaurants?

Inside a restaurant, looking down from above Dmitry Zvolskiy

EM: Well, I know that one of the investigators, Rigoberto Lopez, PhD, of the University of Connecticut, said “no news is bad news.” Restaurants located in cities where local regulations required COVID tracking recovered faster than those in areas that did not, according to data from 87 restaurants in 10 Chinese cities that were gathered between Dec. 1, 2019, and March 27, 2020. Having access to local infection rate data made customers more comfortable going out to eat, the investigators explained.

Second reporter: Interesting, Mr. Muskox, but how about this headline from CNN: “Workers flee China’s biggest iPhone factory over Covid outbreak”? Do you agree with analysts, who said that “the chaos at Zhengzhou could jeopardize Apple and Foxconn’s output in the coming weeks,” as CNN put it?

EM: I did see that a manager at Foxconn, which owns the factory and is known to its friends as Hon Hai Precision Industry, told a Chinese media outlet that “workers are panicking over the spread of the virus at the factory and lack of access to official information.” As we’ve already discussed, no news is bad news.

That’s all the time I have to chat with you today. I’m off to fire some more Twitter employees.

In case you hadn’t already guessed, Vlad Putin is officially more annoying than Elon Musk. We now return to this week’s typical LOTME shenanigans, already in progress.

The deadliest month

With climate change making the world hotter, leading to more heat stroke and organ failure, you would think the summer months would be the most deadly. In reality, though, it’s quite the opposite.

Calendar showing months Nothing Ahead

There are multiple factors that make January the most deadly month out of the year, as LiveScience discovered in a recent analysis.

Let’s go through them, shall we?

Respiratory viruses: Robert Glatter, MD, of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told LiveScence that winter is the time for illnesses like the flu, bacterial pneumonia, and RSV. Millions of people worldwide die from the flu, according to the CDC. And the World Health Organization reported lower respiratory infections as the fourth-leading cause of death worldwide before COVID came along.

Heart disease: Heart conditions are actually more fatal in the winter months, according to a study published in Circulation. The cold puts more stress on the heart to keep the body warm, which can be a challenge for people who already have preexisting heart conditions.

Space heaters: Dr. Glatter also told Live Science that the use of space heaters could be a factor in the cold winter months since they can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and even fires. Silent killers.

Holiday season: A time for joy and merriment, certainly, but Christmas et al. have their downsides. By January we’re coming off a 3-month food and alcohol binge, which leads to cardiac stress. There’s also the psychological stress that comes with the season. Sometimes the most wonderful time of the year just isn’t.

So even though summer is hot, fall has hurricanes, and spring tends to have the highest suicide rate, winter still ends up being the deadliest season.

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