Laugh your way to health

When we laugh we feel better – but why?  The research into laughter is just beginning, but what has been discovered thus far should send you in search of some belly chuckling videos.

  • A study at the University Maryland compared the effects on blood vessels of individuals watching a comedy versus those watching a drama. They found that the blood vessels of the comedy group behaved normally, expanding and contracting easily. The blood vessels of the drama group, however, tended to tense, restricting blood flow.
  • Studies have shown that humor can raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies and boost the levels of immune cells.
  • A study of diabetes had a group eat a meal and then attend a tedious lecture. The next day the group ate the same meal followed by a comedy. After the comedy the group had lower blood sugar than they did after the lecture.
  • A study at Vanderbilt University estimated that 10-15 minutes of laughter can burn up to 40 calories.
  • Loma Linda University found that participants who watched funny videos had a 43% improvement in recall abilities versus a 20% improvement in those asked to sit silently.
  • The Mayo Clinic reports the short term benefits of laughter as: enhancing the intake of oxygen-rich air which in turn stimulates your organs; activates your stress response; and soothes tension. The long-term benefits include: improving your immune system; relieving pain; increasing personal satisfaction; and improving your mood.

So take a few minutes for your health today and laugh.  And, in case you’re searching for something to give you a good chuckle – here’s a classic:

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.


Got anything to help me stay awake to study?

As a college instructor, I am always somewhat amused by the panic that finals week seems to cause.  Seriously, it’s not like finals week is a surprise.  And it’s not like the content of a final is unknown – it could be anything that was covered in class.  And yet, students panic when it comes to finals week and look for ways to stay alert as they study late into the night trying to finish papers and prepare for exams.  For some this involves huge quantities of caffeine.  For others – study drugs.

This isn’t something new.  In the 70’s Ohio State students asked Dr. Spencer Turner, Director of Student Health Services, if he could recommend anything to stay awake while preparing for finals.  The study drugs back then were known as bennies or speed.  Today they are prescription stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin, for both the common component is amphetamine.  Used without a prescription, these drugs can be dangerous – not to mention illegal.

Dr. Turner stated that “the use of an amphetamine without proper medical supervision is unwise for several reasons:

  1. Pre-existing medical condition(s)
  2. Risk of adverse reaction(s) to even a single dose, especially when already fatigued
  3. Masking physical fatigue when this is the body’s signal for needed rest
  4. Likelihood of crashing at an inopportune time such as in the middle of a final or while driving
  5. Temptation to continue the drug’s use

These reasons continue to be valid today.  When prescribed, proper dosage has been determined by a physician based upon the medical condition of the patient.  The physician then monitors the patient regularly to ensure there are no adverse effects.  These are two key components – proper dosage and monitoring.  A pill obtained without a prescription, such as from a roommate or friend has neither of these. 

Study drugs can improve focus and motivation to study, but the short-term benefits of these substances do not come without their fair share of risks.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Adderall can cause hallucinations, impulsive behavior, paranoia, and irritability. These are among a long list of dangerous side effects that probably won’t help with that final!

You can read Dr. Turner’s article Sleep, finals week, ‘Bennies’ and you in the Lantern Online Archive, March 12, 1971

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Reviewed by Mary Lynn Kiacz, M.D.

Mumps, Mumps, and More Mumps!

Sick with mumps?  Sick of hearing about mumps?   Sick of school but still have to finish? (sorry, can’t help you there) Unfortunately, mumps is still with us.  As of April 15, 2014, the number of cases of mumps in central Ohio has topped 200.  If you want detailed information about the illness, here it is.  

Submitted by JoHanna D’Epiro, P.A.

And if you feel like reading, here is list of references used to develop the presentation:

  1. Rubin, S., Link, M. Sauder, C.,  Zhang, C. Ngo, L. Rima, B. Duprex, W. 2012. Recent Mumps Outbreaks in Vaccinated Populations: No Evidence of Immune Escape. Journal of Virology 86:615-620.
  2. Public Health England. The Green Book, Immunisation Against Infectious Disease. Mumps (2013) 
  3. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Mumps Epidemic — Iowa, 2006.  MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2006;55(13);366-368.  
  4. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) BAM! Body and Mind. 2010. Immune Platoon Disease Database (Mumps) 
  5. Dayan, G., Quinlisk, M. ,Parker, A.,et al. Recent Resurgence of Mumps in the United States. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2008; 358:1580-1589.
  6. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Measles, Mumps and Rubella – Vaccine Use and Strategies for Elimination of Measles, Rubella, and Congenital Rubella Syndrome and Control of Mumps:  Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR Recommendations and Reports. 1998; 47.  
  7. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The Pink Book: Course Textbook. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. Slide Set Mumps. 2012. 
  8. US Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy people 2010: understanding and improving health. Washington, DC: Department of Health and Human Services; 2000.  
  9. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Mumps Epidemic — United Kingdom, 2004-2005. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2006;55(07); 173-175
  10. WBNS Ten TV, Columbus Ohio. 
  11. Center for Disease Control (CDC) The Pink Book: Course Textbook. Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: Chapter 14 Mumps. May 2012  
  12. Conniff, R.  A Forgotten Pioneer of Vaccines. The New York Times May 2013. Retrieved from:
  13. Merrsch, J. Mumps 2012 Medicinenet.  Retrieved from:
  14. College of Physicians of Philadelphia: The History of Vaccines.  Mumps. Retrieved from:
  15. Anis, E., Grotto, I, Moerman, L., Warshavsy, B., Slater, E. Lev. B. Mumps outbreak in Israel’s highly vaccinated society: are two doses enough? Epidemiology Infectious. 2012;140:439-446.
  16. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Research: Epidemic of Mumps among Vaccinated Persons, the Netherlands. 2009-2012. 2014; 20(4)
  17. Albrecht, M. Mumps. In: UpToDate, Rose, BD (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA 2014.
  18. Defendi, G. Mumps. Medscape  Author: Germaine L Defendi, MD, MS, FAAP; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  
  19. Gupta, R., Best, J.,  McMahon, E.  Mumps and the UK epidemic 2005. British Medical Journal. 2005;330:1132
  20. Roush, S. (Editor) Center for Disease Control (CDC). Manual for the Surveillance of Vaccine Preventable Disease. Mumps, Chap. 9. August 2012 Mumps Chap. 9.
  21. Ogbuanu, I., Kutty, P., Hudson, J. et al. Impact of a Third Dose of Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccine on a Mumps Outbreak. Pediatrics. 2012; 130: pp. e1567 -e1574.  
  22. Stokes, J..U.S. Army Medical Department Office of Medical History. Chapter 6 – Mumps.

Go ahead – Eat the Ears, Dark Chocolate is Good for You

Bunny Ears

I have always been a fan of chocolate. Ok, so maybe an obsessed fan.  With Easter approaching, and of course, chocolate bunnies, chocolate eggs, and well just CHOCOLATE in general, I thought – hey how about a blog on the benefits of chocolate.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that dark chocolate – my favorite, by the way – is included in the Healing Foods Pyramid.  This particular pyramid focuses on foods that have healing properties and essential nutrients.

Dark chocolate has been shown to:

  • Decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Reduce risk of blood clots
  • Increase blood flow in arteries and the heart
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve mood and pleasure
  • Protect your skin
  • Decrease inflammation
  • And, believe it or not, those who eat a little bit every day have lower BMIs (body mass index) than those who don’t.

Of course, you do have to consider the chocolate that you are eating in order to realize the health benefits.  Turn over that chocolate bar and check out the ingredients.  Make sure the first item listed is cocoa and that it contains at least 60%. Try to avoid anything that contains the words hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated.

And don’t forget, chocolate does contain a lot of calories.  Try to limit it to no more than 1 ounce a day, which should be about one ear of that chocolate bunny.  Enjoy!

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Do you belong to Generation Rx?

Are you concerned about the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs?  Are you trying to educate those around you to its dangers?  Are you concerned about the “other freshman 15”?  Then you may be part of Generation Rx.

Generation Rx began at The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy in 2007 in response to the rapid increase in accidental drug overdose deaths in Ohio.  Its purpose is to combat the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs through educational prevention.  One such component – the “other freshman 15”.  Fifteen facts about prescription drug abuse:

  1. Prescription medications are among the most abused substances in the US.
  2. The average age when prescription drug abuse starts is 21.
  3. Non-medical use of prescription drugs by college students has doubled since 1990.
  4. About half of all college students will have the opportunity to abuse a prescription drug by their sophomore year.
  5. A growing campus culture of self-diagnosis and self-prescribing has the potential to cause negative health effects and lead to the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
  6. Abusing prescription medications is not a safe alternative to using illicit “street” drugs.
  7. Using medications like Vicodin, Adderall, or Xanax that aren’t prescribed for you is against federal and state laws.
  8. Emergency department visits relating to prescription drug abuse now exceed those relating to illicit “street” drugs.
  9. Some prescription medications can be addicting.
  10. Unintentional drug overdose is leading the cause of accidental death in the US.
  11. Most people who abuse prescription medications get them from family members or friends.
  12. It is critical that we store prescription medications securely and properly dispose of them when they are no longer needed to prevent misuse or abuse by others.
  13. It is important to only use prescription medications as prescribed by a healthcare professional.
  14. When you share your prescription medications with others, you could be liable if that person is harmed.
  15. Prescription drugs can help us live longer and healthier lives – but only if they are used properly and under medical supervision.

Take some time and view the Interact play on prescription drug abuse.

If you have prescription medications that you no longer need or that have expired, bring them to the Wilce Student Health Center Pharmacy on April 17, 2014 8am – 2pm for safe disposal.  No cost, no questions.

Learn more about Generation Rx at

Submitted by Candace Haugtvedt, R.Ph., Ph.D.

Reviewed by Tina Comston, M.Ed.