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May 25, 2011

'Sexters' Child Risk Arrest, Problem Uncommon

Sexually explicit material isn't as widespread on kids' cell phones as some surveys have suggested, researchers have found.But 'sexting'—sending or receiving risqué photos or videos via cell phone—can still mean legal trouble for minors."Right now, in most areas, it's a criminal offense," said Kimberly J. Mitchell, a psychologist at the University of New Hampshire in Durham and a co-author on two new reports in the journal Pediatrics. "Child pornography is by definition a sexual picture of a minor."
In one study, Mitchell and her colleagues estimate that U.S. police handled nearly 3,500 cases of sexual images produced by adolescents from 2008 to 2009.Adults were on the receiving end just over a third of the time, while the rest involved only youths.Nearly four out of ten cases led to an arrest, including when the sexting had been "romantic" or "attention-seeking."Fueled by high-profile scandals, sexting has become a hot topic in the media. Earlier this year, Representative Anthony Weiner stepped down from Congress after admitting to sexting in which he sent lewd pictures of himself to young women. 

For minors, there is the added concern that sexually explicit photos or videos may be considered child pornography, even when sent from a girl to her boyfriend or vice versa.Mitchell said parents should make their teens aware of the legal risks and make sure they understand that anything they send could end up on the Internet."Once it's out there you probably won't be able to get it back," she told Reuters Health.And for receivers, Mitchell added, "we are recommending they should delete it and they certainly should not distribute it themselves." But she also cautioned that youth sexting isn't as common as earlier polls have suggested. 

A 2008 survey found one in five teens have sent or posted online nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a private organization based in Washington, D.C. Mitchell and her colleagues got much smaller numbers in a 2010 national survey, however.Based on phone interviews with more than 1,500 children ages 10 through 17, they found just 2.5 percent had appeared in or produced nude or nearly nude photos or videos. That number dropped to one percent if only sexually explicit material -- naked breasts, genitals or bottoms -- was included. Between six and seven percent of the adolescents said they'd received such images or videos. "Overall, our results are actually quite reassuring," said Mitchell.
"With any sort of new technology that kids become involved in there is a tendency to become easily alarmed," she added. "What we are instead seeing is that sexting may just make some forms of sexual behavior more visible to adults." Bill Albert, a spokesperson for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, welcomed the new findings. He said he wasn't surprised by the smaller numbers, given that Mitchell and colleagues surveyed younger kids and interviewed them over the phone while their parents were around. "I wonder if teens are being as truthful as they might be," Albert told Reuters Health, adding that past surveys have come up with a range of estimates. "It's nothing to panic about, but it's something to address," he said. "It's a good opportunity to sit down with your kid and talk about it."

Sexting, or texting sexually explicit material, by kids and teens isn't as widespread as believed, but it can lead to legal trouble


May 15, 2011

Positive psychology has limited health benefits

A psychology technique that encourages patients to think positively and gain confidence helped some with high blood pressure and heart disease stick to medication and exercise goals, according to new research.

But the strategy -- known as positive affect and self-affirmation, or just positive affirmation -- didn't always lead to obvious health benefits. And it's unclear whether any improvements in lifestyle would have continued after the extra encouragement stopped.

"In general, the idea is that as people feel positively about what they're doing, they're more likely to be energized and sustain that over time," said Dr. Geoffrey Williams from the University of Rochester, New York, who wrote a commentary published with three new studies on positive affirmation in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The studies addressed health goals in three groups of patients. In one, African-Americans with high blood pressure were encouraged to stick more closely to their medication plan. In the other two, people who had asthma or who'd recently had a stent inserted into blocked arteries agreed to exercise more.

All patients were given workbooks and made contracts with doctors about their goals.

Half of the participants in each study -- the positive-thinking groups -- also received small gifts in the mail, and were encouraged to incorporate things that made them happy into their everyday lives and to think about proud moments when they were having trouble sticking to their goals.

In the high blood pressure study, the extra encouragement led to limited success. Slightly more people in the positive-thinking group took their medications; in total, that group took 42 percent of its recommended doses, compared to 36 percent in the "control" group. But there was no difference in changes in blood pressure between the groups after a year.

The researchers calculated that 16 hypertensive patients would need to get the extra support, encouragement and gifts for one more to adhere to a medication plan.

The intervention had no clear effect on physical activity in asthma patients. Regardless of whether or not they were given the encouragement and told to think positively, the patients burned an extra 400 calories per week on average by the end of the year-long study.

There was some benefit in patients who received extra exercise encouragement after having a stent inserted. More than half of them surpassed the goal of burning an extra 336 calories per week after a year, compared to just over one-third of patients who were taught about exercise, but didn't get positive affirmation.

"Overall it's safe to say that self-affirmation... can help patients to engage in healthy lifestyle behaviors," said Dr. Gbenga Ogedegbe from the New York University School of Medicine, part of the NYU Langone Medical Center, and the lead researcher of the blood pressure study.

The theory of improving health and lifestyle through upbeat thinking is related to the "positive psychology" movement, which encourages the study of happiness, rather than focusing only on mental illness.

Ogedegbe said it's possible that combined with other behavioral strategies and improvements in care, positive thinking and affirmation can lead to actual reductions in blood pressure in some hypertensive patients, as well as other health benefits. But it's unclear from this study if that's the case.

One limit of all the new studies, according to Williams, is that they didn't track whether patients continued to take their medication and exercise after the extra encouragement and gifts stopped -- which would be important if the strategy was going to be useful in the real world.

"We need people to be able to carry this out themselves after we have (finished) working with them," Williams told Reuters Health.

May 3, 2011

Natural way to protect us from flu

The erratic weather conditions such as now, the influenza virus is easily spread. The smart way is keep your self because when influenza infected the daily productivity will disturbed. Follow these tips to keep the body healthy on flu season.

When you have got the flu, the drugs are prescribed only to suppress symptoms and to help temporarily. Therefore, it is better to try some natural ways to prevent themselves infected with the flu.

Here are some natural methods that are easy and can keep you from the flu :

1. Drink warm water
Soup and tea is the most preferred beverage during the winter. The heat from these drinks will be transferred from the esophagus to the respiratory tract. This loosens the mucus and allow you to easily remove phlegm. In addition, hot beverages will also boost the immune system so you do not susceptible to flu. In addition to tea, another example is the warm lemon and ginger water.

2. Drink mineral water much
Consume more fluids either from water or juice can help replace the lost of fluids due to fever and respiratory evaporation. This condition will help loosen the mucus that makes a person feel better.

Body well hydrated also keeps your body functioning properly so that drinking enough water can also alienate you from the risk of infection.

3. Gargling salt water
Bring a lot of salt water to help reduce the discomfort of sore throat. Salts can also pull out the excess water in the throat tissue, reduce inflammation, and clear mucus and relieve irritation in the throat. This method can also avoid you from the flu infection.

4. Stop smoking
Recent statistics show that heavy smokers were more likely to suffer from flu and severe respiratory distress, because smoking can dry the nasal cavity and affects the immune system.

5. Reduce alcohol consumption
Alcohol not only causes dehydration of the body but also makes you vulnerable to contracting the flu in other ways. The more heavily you drink, the more likely to get infected and suffer from complications.