Pretty In Plastic

Americans are obsessed with attaining the perfect body. But gone are the days of wishing- now, the perfect breasts are just a slice away, old age can be prevented through Botox, and a face like Jennifer Aniston’s can be yours for only a few thousand dollars. [nose]
Nancy, the department nurse manager for the MSU Department of Surgery, who asked that her last name be left out of the article, said the basic reason people come in to receive surgery is because they want to improve their looks. While she said most of the patients are in mid-life, she sees a lot of college students come in for one reason or another. “They are either looking to increase their breast size because they feel that they are too small, or they want to reduce it because they feel that they are too big,” she said. “We sometimes get students that want a tummy tuck or they want a scar repaired on their face.”
Fourteen percent of people who got a cosmetic procedure done were between 19 and 34.
Despina Nevells, a communications junior, had a rhinoplasty (nose job) procedure done when she was 19 years old and said the experience turned out positively. “When I got into high school I started noticing that in pictures all I could see was my nose, I thought it was huge,” Nevells said.” I discussed having my nose done with my parents but as a high-school freshman my mom thought I was too young, so she told me that if I still had a problem with it when I graduated I could get it fixed.” Nevells recalls how all her friends had told her that getting a nose job was not necessary for her, but after the surgery, everyone seemed pleased with the outcome.
[four]In 2004, there were about 8 million plastic surgeries or procedures performed on women alone. Women make up 87 percent of all cosmetic plastic surgeries, with liposuction ranking as the number one procedure. Other popular procedures include breast augmentation, eyelid surgery, nose reshaping and face lifts. This, however, doesn’t include the approximately 2.5 million women who received Botox injections, a 284 percent increase in use between 2000 and 2004.
However, women are not the only ones going under the knife anymore. Men made up 13 percent of the people who received some type of plastic surgery, about 1.1 million in all. The number-one surgery for men was nose reshaping, but hair implants, eyelid surgery, liposuction and male breast reduction were some other surgeries that topped the list. Nearly 350,000 men received Botox injections.
Beyond Botox, which is called a minimally-invasive cosmetic procedure, plastic surgery comes in two forms: cosmetic or reconstructive. Cosmetic surgery is used to reshape normal structures of the body, often to help the patient with self-esteem and change her physical appearance. Cosmetic surgeries are not normally covered by medical insurance.
Reconstructive surgery is done on parts of the body that have been altered because of an accident or a health problem. Reconstructive surgery improves functions of the body to create or restore a natural appearance. It is normally covered by insurance because it is done most often for health reasons.
Nancy explained that not all surgeons do whatever a person comes in and asks for. “We do not get people that come in with pictures of famous people,” she said. “Plastic surgery is more to help people and if it is medically necessary. Whether or not someone received surgery depends on if the surgeon is comfortable with doing the procedure and if the patient really needs it. We have turned people away because they did not need anything done. I think any good surgeon would.”
Karen, a consultant for East Lansing plastic surgeon Dr. Rick Smith, who also asked that her last name be left out of the article, explained how her office prepares its patients and educates them on everything that is a happening. “We really want to make sure our patients are well-prepared and understand everything that is going on,” she said. “They go through three consultations before they have the surgery and get plenty of reading material. Patients are still nervous because it is a surgery, but they are ready. If the doctor believes it will not turn out, he will tell them ahead of time.”
Nevells said her experience was similar. “I had a great doctor who kept me fully informed and comfortable at all times,” Nevells said. “I had a lot of pre-surgery consultations, and we were all well aware of what I wanted done and what he planned on doing.”
[two2]For Nevells, and most people undergoing any type of surgery, there is a sense of fear involved. “Of course I was scared, anytime you go under the knife there is always that chance something could go wrong, but they gave me something to relax me and then I don’t remeber anything until I woke up in the recovery room,” Nevells said. “It didn’t really hurt, just really uncomfortable, I couldn’t breath out of my nose for a really long time, and for a week I had a giant face cast, but there was really no intense pain.”
Perhaps the most painful part of the surgery is the receiving the bill. Plastic surgery in any form doesn’t come cheap. Nancy said prices vary from procedure to procedure and it also depends on the person’s history. “If it is a procedure that can be done in the office, it is cheaper. Hospitals tend to be more expensive.”
“Our prices range anywhere from $3,500 to $11,000,” Karen said. “It depends on what is being done. Our most expensive procedure is a body lift. Liposuction can also be very expensive.”
But high prices aren’t keeping people away as much they have in the past. “It is not only people with money that are getting this work done,” Bokram said. “People that don’t necessarily have the money are wasting the money they have on this stuff. It is getting out of control.”
With so many makeover shows on television, such as “Extreme Makeover,” “The Swan” and MTV’s all-too popular “I Want A Famous Face,” it’s no surprise many people will turn to surgery to enhance their bodies.[mirror]
Ronda Bokram, nutritionist and adviser for Respecting and Understanding Body Image (RUBI) on campus, said: “These plastic surgery shows are glamorizing it even though it is a really serious thing. Television in general is making how someone looks most important, and people are falling into these false standards by giving them a false sense of self-esteem.”
Marshall Eisen, the executive producer of MTV’s “I Want A Famous Face,” disagrees. He feels the show is not sending the wrong messages, at least not to young people.
”We do not cater to teenagers,” Eisen said. “Everyone on our show is over 18 and most of the people are in their 20s. We choose our participants from surgeons and letters we receive. Our participants also have already planned to have surgery and have begun the process.”
He said the idea for the show came from two plastic surgery shows they did on their “True Life” series. “On [‘True Life’] we saw that people come with famous people’s pictures of how they wanted to look so we came up with [‘I Want A Famous Face’].”
Eisen feels the show actually makes people think twice about having surgery. “We are just a fly on the wall showing our viewers what really happens when going through plastic surgery,” he said. “It is more of a documentation of their experiences, the good and the bad. As part of the show we have another feature profile that shows that things really can go bad with plastic surgery. We show that it should not be taken lightly.”
Computer science freshman Cynthia Forrest watches plastic surgery shows, but not because she likes them. “I watch them because I believe the outcomes are hilarious,” Forrest said. “These people spend thousands to look uglier than they looked before. God made you the way He made you – embrace it, don’t hate it.”
However, Mary Varano, advertising junior, enjoys a good surgery show. “A little gore is fun! I just really like to see people happy at the end,” she said. “The people must be really insecure to do that for TV.”
Carla Thompson, interdisciplinary studies in social science, human resources and society junior, doesn’t watch plastic surgery television shows. “I don’t find them interesting and I believe it is a way for people to wallow in shallowness.”
Although plastic surgery is growing in popularity, there are some students that say they would not go through with it.
“I believe you should be happy with who you are,” Thompson said. “Besides, if you meet someone who likes your new look, if you have children, you are going to pass those traits along, so you waste your time and money. I would never get work done because there is someone for everyone. Someone will love you for who you are. If someone loves you due to superficial changes, then they don’t love you!”
Forrest agrees. “I don’t think that I am the finest thing walking, but I sure don’t need surgery done,” she said. “I believe that everyone should stay the way that they are – be happy with yourself. Somebody out there loves you and loves the way you look.”
However, many feel it is up to the individual.
Okechukwu Okoro, mechanical engineering senior, said, “I would not get any work done because I am too scared that something will go wrong, but if a girl wants a boob job, go for it!”
If you are considering plastic surgery make sure you know what you are getting yourself into, and consider why you want something done. “I believe plastic surgery is a waste of time and money,” Thompson said. “People who go through with it or even consider it should be psychologically evaluated.”
As with anything, educate yourself on the subject, and think about whether it’s something you really want to pursue and something you can afford in the long-run. And face it, you might want to look like Jennifer Aniston now, but down the road, and $15,000 later, you may just realize Brad Pitt would love you better as yourself.

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A Morning-After Solution

Suppose a condom broke after you and your significant other just had sex. Would you stop to think of the consequences that could follow? For many female college students who have faced this problem, they turn to medical assistance the morning after to ensure a pregnancy will not result.
Many people have different views on abortion and birth control. But to be clear, the “morning after pill” is not an abortion pill but a form of emergency contraception. However, there is another pill that actually terminates a woman’s pregnancy and is known as RU-486 and Mifeprex. It was approved by the FDA in 2000 and is used to terminate pregnancies less than 49 days along. The medicine, Mifepristone, blocks the hormone progesterone, which prepares the lining of the uterus for a fertilized egg and helps maintain pregnancy.
[pill] A community specialist from Planned Parenthood in East Lansing, who has requested her name be omitted, explained how the pill is not an abortion. “People who think that it is an abortion have the wrong information,” she said. “The pills can do three things: they can prevent the ovary from realizing an egg, thicken cervical mucus or change the lining of the uterus so that a fertilized egg may not attach and develop into a pregnancy.”
A woman who is having a medical abortion goes into the doctor’s office or clinic and reads information about the drug. If she decides to go through with it, she gets a physical exam and signs a patient agreement form. She then takes three Mifeprex pills in front of the doctor and two days later goes back to check and see if she is still pregnant. If she is still pregnant she then takes two Misoprostol pills.
Two weeks after she takes the first three pills, she has another appointment. At this follow-up visit she is checked again to make sure the pregnancy has ended. If it has not she can choose not to end the pregnancy. If she then chooses to keep the baby, there may be birth defects. If she still chooses to end the pregnancy, then she will have to have a surgical procedure.
Mifeprex, like surgical abortions, has side effects that include bleeding and cramping and are expected because they are a sign the medicine is working. Bleeding or spotting is also common. It may be like a normal heavy period or worse and can last anywhere from nine to 16 days. Bleeding can also last up to 30 days. Other common symptoms of treatment include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, back pain and tiredness.
Janelle, who asked her last name be omitted, of Womancare Clinic in Southfield, said abortion pills are completely safe. “You can take it up to six weeks of pregnancy and it just causes you have to a miscarriage.”
She explained other side effects of the pill include cramping, passing of the tissue and bleeding like a heavy period. “We just encourage our patients to do what they feel comfortable doing,” she said. “We do not make recommendations to them, we just offer support.”
Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) are a way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or when other methods fail. They are available by prescription at Planned Parenthood, your doctor’s office and other women’s health centers and clinics.
There are two different kinds of ECPs; combined hormone pills and progestin-only pills. Combined hormone ECPs are taken in two doses, 12 hours apart from each other. Progestin-only ECPs are taken in two doses, 12 hours apart from each other, or both pills at one time.
The pills work better the sooner they are taken but can reduce the chances of pregnancy if taken within 120 hours. They can prevent pregnancy anywhere from 75-89 percent of the time if they are taken within 72 hours. However, unlike RU-486, if you are already pregnant, the pills will not work.
ECPs are just stronger doses of birth control pills; in fact, any of the first 21 pills in a birth control pack can be used as an emergency contraceptive. These pills may also cause nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, irregular bleeding, headache or dizziness but symptoms last only about a day and not everyone experiences symptoms. Other side effects include the pills affecting your period. It could be earlier, later, heavier, lighter or it might just stay the same.
The community specialist also explained how girls should not be afraid to talk to someone if they need help or advice. “I would advise all girls to talk to their doctor or come to Planned Parenthood,” she said. “It is especially important if she thinks she needs a morning after pill because the first time you get one you have to see a doctor or specialist.”
Although females have to see a licesened professional before receiving a morning after pill, the FDA did not approve the drug for over-the-counter use and said it would reconsider with more data provided.
Takarra Alvarado, a predental sophomore, feels making the pills available over the counter is a good thing. “The more it is obtainable for young women, the more it will reduce the number of unexpected pregnancies and abortions.” Other factors include how having to go to see a professional before receiving the pill may prevent a girl from getting the pills in a shorter amount of time, and the longer she has to wait, the less effective the pill becomes.
Everyone is not as eager about such pills being made available over the counter. Andre Vaughn, a premedical junior, thinks the consideration for over-the-counter pills should be given more thought. “They better not just throw it out there because there is a lot to consider,” Vaughn said.
There are many concerns about putting this pill on the market. The FDA is concerned teenagers would abuse the pills and use them incorrectly. “If they approve the pill and put it over the counter, I think there should be an age restriction placed on it,” Vaughn said. “You should have to be at least 18 to buy one on your own.”
There have also been studies done on college campuses and they show a decline in pregnancies and abortions on campuses where the morning after pills are more readily available.
Alvarado feels it is a woman’s right to be able to prevent herself from getting pregnant. “The morning after pill is just like taking a birth control pill,” she said. “Although I would not advise someone not to practice safe sex just because they can get the morning after pill, I would advise someone to take it if I believed it would prevent her from having an unwanted pregnancy if an accident occurs, like a condom broke.”

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Get Empowered, Get Tested, Get Responsible

HIV and AIDS were once considered a gay, white male’s diseases, but times have changed.
Although blacks only make up about 12 percent of the United State’s population, they make up more than half of those newly infected with HIV.
To promote awareness of this epidemic that affects one in every 600 African Americans, the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness and Information Day is celebrated on Feb. 7. On campus, the Black Student Alliance held an informational meeting and offered free testing.
Korey Scott, social relations junior and director of academic retention for the Black Student Alliance, encouraged his group to be part of this important event. “The Black Student Alliance’s purpose here at MSU has always been to promote unity and awareness within the black community to strengthen and uplift it,” Scott said. “We felt it essential to our cause to participate in the national mobilization effort to raise awareness and fight the disease.”
[rib] Awareness is only the beginning of the fight; education is the key to prevention. The only way to lower the number of blacks that get the disease is to go out and educate those who are not aware of what is going on and teach them how to protect themselves.
The first step is to absolve common myths and misconceptions.
For one, some people believe that just white people or just black people get AIDS, but really, AIDS does not discriminate against race. People of all ethnic backgrounds are infected all over the world.
Some people also believe that only gay men can get AIDS, but that is not true either. It is estimated that 58 percent of new infections are from heterosexual contact or intravenous drug use. Additionally, 64 percent of those infected are women, and of these women, over three-quarters have acquired the disease through unprotected sex with men; it is very rare for a woman to infect another woman.
Kaye McDuffie, a prevention specialist for the Lansing Area AIDS Network (LAAN) suggested ways students can help stop the spread of the disease through education. “For one they can make themselves more aware and pass it on to their peers,” McDuffie said. “Young people do not get involved because they do not know.”
She also explained that there are many organizations that are looking for young adults to volunteer. “Young people need to become educated and learn how to reduce your chances of becoming infected,” McDuffie said. “They can also become familiar with agencies in their area and become volunteers.”
McDuffie also stressed that education should start at a young age. Children should learn how to protect themselves so by the time they become sexually active, they will know how to be safe.
“If young adults become volunteers and work with young kids they can increase the comport level of these children where they will want to talk about it, but in order to do that we must increase our comfort levels to where we can have these conversations,” McDuffie said.
Because of this discomfort in having these conversations, society makes it hard for people with HIV and AIDS to get support. McDuffie said that people who are infected often do not seek help. “People who do not get the proper support sometimes feel like they do not deserve to live and that they are worthless but this is not true.” It is estimated that 225,000 people who do know they are infected are not being treated.
There are not a lot of programs available to help and support the black youth, black women, and blacks in general because not enough of them are making their selves available to help. “Until there are enough of them volunteering and putting themselves out there decisions will not get made based on their needs,” McDuffie said.
More education should lead to more people getting tested, which is another vital element in containing the disease. “We feel that one of the first steps needed to combat the disease and its devastating effects on our communities is to alert and urge people to get tested,” Scott said. “The testing day we set up will definitely help students realize that this is an issue many other students who participated are taking seriously and encourage them to further spread knowledge of HIV.”
It is important for everyone of any race to be tested, no matter how many sexual partners you have had. All it takes is one to infect you. The earlier HIV is detected, the more likely it can be kept under control without medication, and the less likely it will spread to others. Keep in mind, it is a felony to have unprotected sex with someone and not tell them that you are infected.
However, if you are tested and you find out that you have HIV or AIDS, while devastating, it is not the end of the world. It was reported that at the end of 2003, there was an estimated 406,000 people living with AIDS in the United States. There are medications to help lessen the effects of the disease, but they are expensive and have side effects of their own.
McDuffie said there are many things people can do to slow HIV down. “People can eat better, stop drug use, stop drinking and stop smoking,” she said. “In fact, nicotine helps speed up HIV faster than doing drugs. People can also reduce stress and avoid getting sick.”
But, although there is help, there is no cure.
Of course prevention is the best way to avoid all-together the harmful effects of the disease. And prevention means protection. You can never be positive that the man or woman you’re sleeping with isn’t infected, even if they look safe. For example, there are some black men who have unprotected sex with other men and then have unprotected sex with their wives, girlfriends or other women. They are called “brothers on the down low” or “homothugs.” This activity is just one of the reasons that HIV/AIDS is being spread so rapidly throughout the black community, making it extremely important to get tested, know your partner’s history and to use protection.
Sophomore Carrice Taylor attended the Black Student Alliance’s event and said it was very informative. “It gave me new perspectives of the black community,” Taylor said. “If there were ways for me to help, I would.”
There are ways to help. In addition to educating peers and children, McDuffie said students can do little things on campus and donate what they get or make to organizations like LAAN. For example, students can do food drives and donate non-perishable food to the drives. She also said they need toiletries that are not covered by food stamps like toilet tissue, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, etc. Clothes are also needed. Sororities and fraternities can also get together and hold events and donate the money to different organizations. There are also different events that are held during the year to help raise money like a bike ride where people participate and get people to sponsor them by giving them donations. There is also a walk held in September where students can also find out if there is a local family that has a family member that has HIV or AIDS and offer support to them.
There are no excuses on why not to protect yourself and others from HIV and AIDS. The diseases do not pick and choose who they want to infect; everyone is fair game whether you are black, white, hispanic, asian, any other nationality, homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, male or female. As of December 2000, 774,467 AIDS cases had been reported in the United States and of those people, 640,000 were men, 134,441 were women and 8,908 were under the age of 12. It is estimated that between 850,000 and 950,000 people are HIV-positive in the United States alone. It is also estimated that of those people, between 180,000 and 280,000 do not know that they are infected.
You have the choice. Choose to take a test, choose not to share needles and choose to use protection.
If you have more questions about HIV/AIDS you can contact the Lansing Area AIDS Network at (517)394-3719. They do free AIDS testing at different sites in the East Lansing/Lansing Area. They also offer prevention services, counseling, training and family counseling. If you are not from the Lansing area you can go online to the Centers for Disease Control Web site at www.cdc.gov to find information and get the numbers to call and ask for more information.

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Children and the Issue of Death

Dealing with the loss of a parent or a loved one is hard for everyone, especially children. For some children it is even worse because they do not understand what has happened or what it means. When they are confused it may affect them as they grow older.
Gwen Kapcia is the program director for the After Care program at Gorsline-Runciman Funeral Home. She says parents, older family members and friends should address all of a child’s issues and questions when a loved one dies.
[junk] According to kidshealth.org, the best way to help a child deal with death is to explain the concept ahead of time. Most people bring up the issue of death to a child when someone has just died, which is not always the best time, especially if the adult is experiencing grief as well.
Parents try to protect their children from as much as possible, but hiding certain things from them does more harm than good. According to kidshealth.org, “If children are given the message that dying is OK to talk about, they will feel free to ask questions and will cope better when confronted with the death of a loved one.”
Kapcia says making children forget how they really feel will be detrimental in the long run, even if a smile is the immediate result. “Adults are always replacing pain for reward. When something goes wrong in a child’s life adults try and make it up to them by buying them something new or giving them junk foods,” Kapcia said. “We need to let the children have these painful moments so they will learn how to deal with these types of situations.”
Parents should also tell their children the truth. Most kids get to a point in their lives where they become very inquisitive, so when they ask questions, it is important for adults to be honest, even if they don’t know all the answers.
Death is something parents should be straightforward about. Kidshealth.org says parents should avoid saying that the loved one “went away” or “went to sleep” because it will confuse the child more. Instead, simply say the person has died. Kapcia agrees with this idea as well.
Kapcia says, because children have such basic thought patterns, they process information differently from adults. Their grieving does not make them stop missing the person that passed away—when they want to continue with their day, she believes their thinking does not allow them to focus on the same things.
“From my perspective, I realize that children do not get a chance to grieve. They do not get a chance to express their feelings either. When these things do not happen they are hurt in the long run,” Kapcia said. “Adults do not have to understand what they feel, they just need to understand that they are having these feelings and adults need to make it acceptable that they are having those feelings.”
The Web site also suggests being spiritual gives the child answers they may be looking for. “Religion teaches about the meaning of life and death, provides explanations and offers comfort. If you are not religious, you can still teach your children there is a higher meaning of life. We can carry on the good works of a loved one who died. We can dedicate some good works of our own to their memory. Parents can teach children that there is a reason for everything, even death. Seeing themselves as a small but important part of a larger mosaic can help children remain hopeful.”
It is also good to help children remember the deceased loved one. Kidshealth.org suggests making a scrapbook and having the child look through it periodically. They also suggest keeping their memory alive and doing things they once enjoyed.
The last thing parents want is for their children to be affected by a loved one’s death when they become adults themselves. If their feelings are not addressed at a young age they could develop problems committing, may become anti-social or try to seek affection from inappropriate sources.
When children do not get their questions answered they believe that the person’s death was somehow their fault.
“Because parents did not explain to the child that it was not their fault they begin to think that they are the blame,” Kapcia said. “Therefore they make up their own reasoning and it is 100 times worse than the truth.” She also explained how such a child will develop a caretaker mentality in regard to the family as a result.
MSU sophomore Shashana Woods lost her brother when she was 8. She is still affected by his death, even though it happened almost 12 years ago.
“I kind of feel like I have been cheated. When my brother died my sisters were older than me and he was able to see them grow up. I am now in college and when I graduated from high school he could not be there with me,” Woods said. “I had to go to prom and homecoming without him being there. When I had my first boyfriend and other problems he could not be there for me like he did with them and it really, really hurts.”
Woods also has to live with the memory of the day it happened and how bad she felt. “I remember it like it was yesterday. It was one of the most traumatic times in my life,” Woods said. “I remember not being able to eat or sleep. I can also remember how I could not stop crying.”
Woods also feels that she had no support when he died. She said that when she was young, no one thought she would understand what had happened. “I’ll make sure that I never do things like that to my kids because kids do understand,” Woods said. “They understand a lot more than adults think they do.”
To help her get through the pain of losing her brother, Woods began writing poems and letters. Because she had no one to talk to, she would sit alone and cry. Even now, she says she does not think she will ever get over what happened, because she still has dreams of what life would have been like if her brother had lived.
The entire Woods family has been affected by the loss. “Everything in my family went downhill. He was the man in all of your lives because he was the oldest and the only man,” Woods said. “Our family is falling apart because of that. If he was here things would be in order. He was the rock of our family, he held us up and now that he is gone we are still continuing to fall apart.”
Woods says she can handle the situation now because of her faith and friends. “I pray and talk to close friends, but usually I just cry to myself and pray,” Woods said. No one really understands where I stand on the whole situation.”
Family and friends should always try to stick together, especially in times of need and tragedy. And the grieving process should be open to children, not hidden from them or ignored. Adults may sometimes get caught up in their own emotions and make the child what Kapcia refers to as the “forgotten griever.”
“Grief is not an illness,” Kapcia said. “With proper support, anyone can sing the same song with the same harmony before and after a tragic event.”

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Up In Smoke

Whether it’s the occasional cigarette or hit off of a joint, many students are guilty of at least infrequent smoking. Most also know that its harmful, but do they know just how harmful that innocent little puff is?
Sharolyn Gonzalez, the outreach manager in the Cancer Center at Sparrow Hospital said the number of adults who smoke is decreasing, but the number of young adults and teens who choose to smoke is increasing. She also said she thinks the rise of teens and young adults smoking is because of advertisers aiming their ads towards them. But are young people really that influenced by Joe Camel? Give us some credit. Young people know that smoking is unhealthy, but many turn the blind eye and not because they are brainwashed by the media but because they do not feel any immediate danger.
[smoke]However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site, the adverse health effects from cigarette smoking account for 440,000 deaths, or nearly 1 in every 5 deaths, each year in the United States. The site also said that more deaths are caused each year by tobacco use by all adults than by other diseases, illegal drug use, alcohol use and suicides combined. Cigarette smoking has also been found to lead to many types of cancers, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory problems.
“There are over 4000 chemicals in cigarette smoke and they cause more than just lung cancer,” Gonzalez said. These include cancers of the lip, oral cavity, esophagus, pancreas, larynx (voice box), lungs, uterine cervix, urinary bladder, and kidneys. Smokers are also two to four times more likely to develop coronary heart disease, as well as reduced circulation by narrowing arteries. Despite all these apparent risks, many students keep lighting up.
In fact, smoking cigarettes has psychological effects, too. Gonzalez said that people become so dependant of cigarettes that certain things cause people to want a cigarette. She said that some people can do things like turn on the television and then want a cigarette. “People will find they have a cigarette in their hand and won’t even realize it.”
“People say that they feel they have lost their best friend,” Gonzalez said. “When people are trying to break the habit, some will need antidepressant pills or nicotine replacement therapy such as patches and gum. With these, people will not go through the physical withdrawals.” Gonzalez offers a class on how to quit smoking at Sparrow Hospital.
When it comes to smoking marijuana, many students do not think there are as many risks.
Short-term use of marijuana has effects on the brain such as problems with memory and learning, distorted perception, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, loss of coordination and increased heart rate. Long-term effects can include changes in nerve cell activity and increases in the activation of the stress response system.
Tianna Walker, a psychology sophomore, said that she knows smoking is stupid and wrong for a person to do. “I know marijuana makes you hallucinate, but I think smoking anything, in general, is dangerous and stupid,” Walker said. “Yet people keep doing the habit like it’s good for them.”
A study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse has indicated that a marijuana user’s risk of heart attack more than quadruples in the first hour after smoking marijuana. The researchers suggest that such an effect might occur from marijuana’s effects on blood pressure, heart rate and reduced oxygen-carrying capacity of blood.
Another misconception about our friend Mary Jane is that infrequent use is harmless. Burning and stinging of the mouth and throat can occur from infrequent use of marijuana, as well as heaving and coughing. Also, smoking marijuana increases the chances of developing cancer. Marijuana contains irritants and carcinogens that can increase the chances of developing lung cancer and other cancers of the respiratory tract.
Just like with cigarettes, smoking marijuana can cause psychological problems, which include depression, anxiety and personality disturbances. Marijuana has also been shown to have an effect on college student’s performance in school. In a study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, college students that used marijuana regularly had more impaired learning than those students who did not smoke. Marijuana can cause users to lose focus in class or while studying. However, it is unlikely that pot will be off the radar on college campuses anytime soon, and just like with cigarettes, young people continue smoking because they don’t see an immediacy to the risks.
Candice Pearson, a human biology sophomore said that most people she sees using marijuana usually smoke cigarettes or another form of tobacco as well. “Smoking has a lot of adverse health risks attached to it and the bottom line is that people should just not do it.”
However, both marijuana use and smoking cigarettes have serious side effects, and neither is a safer choice than the other. While it is hard to see now, cigarette and marijuana smoking can cause serious problems that can lead to death. We are young, but not invincible.

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Swatting the Bug

As it starts to get colder, students at MSU may want to stock up on more tissue. It could be a long winter.
Being as most students are under 65, older than 6 months and, on average, not pregnant, the chances of getting a flu shot in the midst of the national flu vaccine shortage are slim. Olin does have the vaccine available but said that only people in the priority groups as defined by the Centers of Disease Control, will be given a shot.
Kathi Braunlich, the communications and planning coordinator for Olin Health Center, said the nationwide shortage means there are more high-risk individuals than there are vaccines.
“If we have some of the vaccine leftover after vaccinating MSU’s high-risk individuals, it will be redistributed to areas that do not have the vaccine available to them,” said Braunlich. “However, if you fall into the high-risk category, you should contact Olin as soon as possible.”
If you notice that the sound of your professor’s voice is replaced with the sound of your fellow classmates blowing their nose and sneezing, take caution . MSU is trying to help battle the flu.
[flu] “Hand washing flyers have been posted throughout campus to help students understand that the best way to help prevent the spread of colds and flu is to wash your hands,” said Braunlich. “Washing your hands with soap and water is key to preventing sickness.”
Representatives from Olin Health Center will be going to dorms, as they do every year, to make students more aware of the flu season. “We will be distributing cold and flu packets to students, which include a wallet-size card of how to identify flu versus cold, Kleenex, cough drops, tea bags, antibacterial hand gel and chicken soup.” Olin Health Center, Healthy U and the RHA are all involved in this project to raise awareness and keep students healthy.
Symptoms of the flu bug include sudden headache, dry cough, chills, body aches and fever (from 101 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit). After the fever has passed, usually in 2 to 3 days, nasal congestion and sore throat may take its place. Usually the flu lasts about five days, but some symptoms, such as fatigue and cough, might stick with you for a couple weeks.
If you think you may have the cold or flu, prevent spreading the sickness by keeping away from others and resting as much as possible. “Drinking lots of fluids helps keep down the mucus build-up and an increase in humidity helps respiration,” Braunlich said. “Also, try taking medicine with ibuprofen for fever and body aches and decongestants help the stuffiness while hard candies help a sore throat.” Since antibiotics do not help a cold or flu, a trip to Olin or any health care facility for medicine will unfortunately not cure you, nor will it ease your pains.
Most of the time the flu and colds just run their course with or without medical care; however, if symptoms worsen, you should seek medical help. For example, when you have a fever higher than 101 degrees for more than 3 days, severe pains of the chest, heart, stomach, ears or neck glands, or have a shortness of breath, you should seek medical attention immediately.
And if you think the recommended pokes and prods you got before coming to MSU will help, they won’t. Shots for varicella, meningococcus, tetanus/diphtheria just protect you from those specific illnesses.
Freshman Pat Stone was lucky enough to get a flu shot before the shortage had its effect. He said that he does not think he will catch the flu this season. But, like many students, sophomore Lakesha Wilson was unaware of the vaccine shortage.
“I’m hoping for the best,” said Wilson.

For more information about the flu, visit Olin’s website at www.olin.msu.edu .

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Get Credit for Your Sweat

Most classes rarely require more exercise than carrying a book. So how can you stay in shape while earning that 4.0? Check out the variety of kinesiology classes MSU has to offer, including basketball, tennis, bowling, general condition, swimming, aerobics, volleyball, ice skating, gymnastics and diving, to name a few.
If you think these are just blow off classes, think again. In order to pass, a student must attend 80% of the classes. Some students even major in kinesiology. Graduate student LaShonda King is working on her master’s degree in kinesiology because of her love for sports. On top of her studies, she also teaches basketball, bowling and general conditioning courses.
“Students take classes like basketball and general conditioning for the exercise, but classes like bowling, which do not require physical fitness are taken for the easy one credit,” King said. “I highly recommend that my students exercise every day or every other day of the week, since my class only meets twice a week.”
Sophomore Ashley McDaniel is currently taking Tae Kwon Do. “Even though I’m only taking it for the credit, I still enjoy the class and I like to teach myself by doing all the activities and circuits properly,” McDaniel said. Although she said she hates the required class uniforms, the class gives her a form of exercise that is unique and fun.
Students have a busy schedule but exercise can help relieve some of the stress of classes. McDaniel said she does not workout outside of class and did not workout before she began taking the class.
“Exercising gives me a sense of energy and also helps me clear my mind,” McDaniel said. “If I can workout and have that relax me of my stressful day, then I’ll keep doing it, and I’ll keep taking the KIN classes.”
Out of 50 students surveyed, over half had taken a KIN class. When asked why they took it, 13 said it was an easy credit, another 12 just wanted to have fun, and 13 others said they enrolled to get exercise.
There are other, cheaper, ways to get exercise than paying the university per credit, though. Akers, Brody, Case, Holden, Holmes, Hubbard, Mason, Snyder, McDonel, Shaw, Wilson and Wonders halls all have exercise facilities located in the building. Some of the surveyed students said that they have used them before and prefer to use them because of their convenient location. On the other hand, some students say the equipment is old and outdated. Many female students surveyed complained the facilities aren’t very appealing because many only have weights.
Three IM buildings located throughout campus offer workout facilities at a low price, and boast a wider variety of equipment than most dorms. IM West charges $3 a day or $60 a semester to use their facilities. IM East and IM Circle only cost $1 a day, because they each have a smaller variety of equipment. The semester pass for IM East and IM Circle are $23.
Taking a class requires students to stick to a schedule, leaving less room for excuses. But when you compare the prices for a one credit class to the cost of a semester pass, students enrolled in kinesiology courses are truly getting a run for their money.

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Papers to Pampers

Have you ever felt the pressure of exams, homework, reading assignments or work? If you haven’t, you are lucky. Imagine dealing with a child on top of all the other stresses of your everyday life. It is hard to imagine, but this is the way many student-parents live their lives.
Chris Robinson is a student at MSU and the father of seven-month-old Chris, Jr. On top of that, he is a devoted husband.
[baby]“My wife and I work out our schedules so we do not need a babysitter and I work extra so my wife does not have to work,” Robinson said. “My wife and son are the most important thing in my life next to God and they make me feel better than anything else in the world.”
Not all parents have the help of a spouse in raising their child. Freshman Anna Donaldson deals with the pressures of being a single mother and a student. She is balancing raising her two-year-old daughter, Iyanah, and her studies. During the day Iyanah goes to day care while Donaldson attends class. After class the two of them take care of their daily routine. While Donaldson attempts to do her homework, Iyanah sometimes will be content watching a movie, but most of the time she has to wait until Iyanah falls asleep (which is a task within itself).
“I feel blessed, but at the same time I wish I had waited because I often feel discouraged,” Donaldson said. “Still, there are so many times when her smile brightens my entire day, and I feel everything happens for a reason…that God blessed me with a child.”
Having a daughter, Donaldson said, has made her a stronger, smarter and more mature person.
“Without her I know I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Donaldson. “With all the stress and anxiety she brings me, she also brings me strength and happiness.”
Although some people may form unforgiving opinions about student-parents, both Donaldson and Robinson agree that they are doing fine on their own and people should keep their comments to themselves.
“I think it’s childish and ignorant to look down on anyone when you don’t know their situation,” Donaldson said. “Being a mother at any age is a difficult task and people bringing you down can make things more difficult.”
Donaldson stands strong against the negativity.
“I’m not personally bothered by people’s looks or comments because I know I am going to be a success. People telling me that I’m not just makes me want to prove them wrong even more.”
For a place where student-parents can go for support, the registered student organization, Student Parents On a Mission (SPOM) holds monthly meetings so student-parents can get a chance to network with each other and obtain help that may be useful to them. SPOM helps student-parents navigate the many resources that are available through MSU and the community.
MSU itself also offers service to make life easier on student-parents. There are special services available to help ease a lot of parenting stress. The Family Resource Center’s website has a list of different parenting classes that are available and a list of baby-sitters that have undergone criminal background checks. MSU also has two emergency day care centers that allow MSU students and faculty up to three free days per year.
Donaldson’s advice to other student parents is to stay strong and know tomorrow is a brighter day.
“You have not only yourself to worry about, but also the upbringing of your child. Take every move into deep consideration, but have fun because you are still young and have a full busy life ahead of you.”

For more information about SPOM visit www.msu.edu/user/studentp and for more information about The Family Resource Center visit www.frc.msu.edu .

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