This lunchtime news-chum post might also have been titled “It Takes a Village”, for it looks at the effects of choices you make on the larger community:
- The (Non-)Shot Heard Round The World. Jenny McCarthy, along with other folks, have been making the news for eschewing the use of vaccines because of a misguided belief that they create autism or other such problems. The problem with this belief, of course, is that it is wrong, and is hurting society as a whole. Don’t believe me? David Bell pointed me to this article from the New Republic on how the Anti-Vac movement has resulted in more and more adults getting Whooping Cough. If you’re more visual, then look at this LA Times article, that illustrates the toll of non-vac in a single graphic. As that article notes: “The lesson of all this is that vaccination is not an individual choice to be made by a parent for his or her own offspring. It’s a public health issue, because the diseases contracted by unvaccinated children are a threat to the community. That’s what public health is all about, and an overly tolerant approach to non-medical exemptions — and publicity given to anti-vaccination charlatans like Wakefield and McCarthy by heedless promoters like, sadly, Katie Couric, affect us all.”
- It’s Too Darn Hot. Vaccines aren’t the only health treatment that can affect a community. How about that aspirin or ibuprofen you take? It turns out that taking a fever-reducing medicine during the flu actually prolongs the flu, and helps you spread the disease. Basically, lowering your body temperature may make the virus replicate faster and increase the risk that you transmit it to others. A new study claims that there are at least 700 extra influenza deaths in the United States every year because people suppress their fever. As a result, if you have the flu and you’re taking medication “it may actually be more important that you stay at home because you could be a greater risk to others”. In other words: When you’re sick, stay home!
- How We Look. Another example of herd mentality is body image and fashion trends. There are many that argue that society has an unhealthy obsession with body image due to the fashion industry’s emphasis on presenting unrealistic bodies to us. There have been a few retailers that have attempted to buck that trend, such as Dove and their “Real Beauty” campaign. The latest one in the news is American Eagle Outfitters, which has stopped retouching the models in their ads. That’s fine by me — I much prefer looking at real people of all shapes and sizes, with imperfections and flaws. My belief is that there is only one thing needed to make a person beautiful: a smile. A related item also makes me smile: evidently the new hair trend is to not only embrace your grey hair, but to recolor your hair to grey. Evidently grey is the hardest color to achieve. As I just turned 54, I’m starting to deal with grey hair — but so far it is mostly in my beard, and not on the other hair on my head.