Being a teenaged smoker increases your chances of an early death from heart disease years later—even if you quit before you're middle-aged, shows a new study. It analyzed data from 28,000 men who went to Harvard between 1916 and 1950, then took follow-up surveys in later decades. Those who reported early smoking were twice as likely to die prematurely as those who never smoked. But those who smoked young, then quit remained at 29% higher risk than those who never started. Still, quitting is worthwhile. "The risks are cumulative," says David Batty, who worked on the study at University College London. "If you smoke across a life course, you're at much higher risk than if you just smoked around the college years. The positive message is, it's never too late to stop.” Dr. Michael Siegel, a tobacco control researcher, agrees: "For people who did quit smoking during the follow-up period, their risk of death dropped greatly. It doesn't quite go back to [non-smokers' risk], but it is significantly less." He says that only around 3% of smokers quit every year.
Too tired to walk down the block to the nearest bar after your workout? You may no longer have to make the trek, thanks to several New York gyms now offering clientele the option of topping off their workout with something higher proof than the traditional sports drink. Thirsty gym rats can now join in a low-calorie vodka tasting at David Barton Gyms, or sip wine at the women-centric Uplift Studio in the Flatiron District; yoga buffs who also like to party can win a drink ticket to the Stonewall Bar after a session at Yoga for the Average Joe. And more gyms are hopping on the boozy band wagon. Green Fitness Studio in Bushwick, which has hosted raging parties on their rooftop patio, applied for a liquor license last month. Alcohol isn't generally recommended as part of an athlete's post-workout diet; booze can stunt hydration, damage muscle growth by inhibiting the release of human growth hormone (HGH), prolong feelings of soreness, and supply the body empty calories to offset potential fat-burning. However, experts are divided on the subject: CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, say that moderate drinking can boost heart health (and liver health, too) while others have claimed that any physical health benefits are outweighed by the risks.
But owners of these gyms say they aren't offering up beer, wine and liquor because of health benefits—but rather to boost morale and (literally) keep the spirits high. Leanne Shear, one owner of the female-centric Uplift gym, tells The Fix that her program is based off of studies that showed that "being physically active and socially engaged" made for "strong, healthy and happy women." She advocates consuming in moderation, and says in addition to alcohol, her gyms offer "tons of water, healthy snacks, and non-alcoholic beverage options."
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Former pastor Dr. T. C. Ryan's struggle with pornography began as a young teen, when he discovered his mother’s lingerie magazines, and continued for over 40 years. He's now authored a candid memoir, Ashamed No More. “I stumbled unknowingly into compulsive sexual behavior in my adolescence," he tells The Fix. "Sexual interest and exploration are part of normal human development, but for me the stimulation of arousal and gratification became my essential method of coping with my life.” As a married man, and a pastor for 20 years in Kansas City, he lived a double life, consumed with guilt which in turn fed his compulsive cycle. Technology escalated his behavior. “When I stumbled into Internet pornography, I hated myself,” he says. “I promised God that I would never do this again, and I meant it. I honestly thought, 'That’s it, I’m done. I’ve turned the corner.' So the next time, the shame was even greater." Ryan says that sexual addictions—particularly to online porn—are very common among pastors because of the nature of ministry. Hearing people's darkest secrets all day long is emotionally draining, he explains. So many pastors get burned out and seek escape and relief. Internet pornography is always accessible, and—unlike addictions to drugs, alcohol, or food—there are no externally visible consequences of using, so it’s easy to hide.
“Sexual issues are only symptoms of deeper issues,” says Ryan. “Sexual brokenness is an indicator that there is some disconnect in the way I see myself and the way I interact with others. At the heart of it, sexually compulsive behavior indicates an attachment disorder; we have fundamental core beliefs that are flawed and need to be identified and reworked and thinking patterns that need to be redeveloped.” Ryan stepped down as a senior pastor to focus on his recovery, although he still preaches about his experiences: "My experience of freedom from the compulsive behaviors came after a confluence of several factors, including a particular therapy, the death of my mother and me leaving ministry.” He and his wife hope that telling his story will encourage others to get help. “I hope that from my journey people might learn that we are all sexual beings, and that is good; that in our society we use sexuality to market and to entertain, but for a lot of us we don’t learn how to use our sexuality in healthy, self-integrated ways,” he says. “No matter how we might get confused or messed up about sex, there is help, there is a way forward to healthy sexual living. We need the truth, we need each other, and occasionally we need professional help.” He adds, “Don’t be afraid of the journey to recovery. Don’t hold back. It will take everything out of you—which it must if it’s going to work—and will give back to you a different and a better life.”
Sir Richard Branson is the latest celebrity to blast US drug policy, calling the war on drugs a "war on black people." The billionaire Virgin Group founder and member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy (a body of leading figures and politicians campaigning for more effective drugs laws) has called US drug policy racist, as evidenced by the high percentage of African Americans in prisons. "The fundamental difference in America, is that it is a war against black people in America," says Branson. "85% of people who go to prison for drug use in America are black people. They don't take more drugs, but it's a racist law against black people in America." The British business magnate cites Portugal, which decriminalized drug use but still prosecutes traffickers and dealers, as a superior model of effective and fair drug policy. He also urges the US government to treat addiction as an illness, emphasizing treatment and education over criminalizing addicts and drug users. "You’ve got something like 1.5 million people in American jails languishing for taking drugs and that is wrong," he says. "Those people would be much better being out in society, being helped if they have drug problem, getting off the problem."
- LA Marijuana Ban Retreat Shows Clout of Pot Activists [Los Angeles Times]
- Black Mamba Venom is "Better Painkiller" Than Morphine [BBC News]
- Should States Let Families Force Adults into Rehab? [Time]
- Student Denies Alcohol Enema Story, Says He'll Sue [OregonLive]
- Digital Bottle Cap Sparks Fun Times When It is Popped [Fast Company]
- Breaking Bad, Now in Awesome Action Figure Form [Kotaku]