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Health

Trying to guess which twin smokes is the perfect way to help you quit

Nobody would call smoking “glamorous” after seeing these comparisons.

Image via Wolters Kluwer Health.

Which twin smoked?

It's not revolutionary news that smoking wreaks havoc on your body in different ways. More often than not, however, the focus of anti-smoking campaigns is on your internal health, citing emphysema, heart disease, and lung cancer, to name just a few consequences.

While the superficial effects may not be as lethal, appealing to people's sense of vanity can have a powerful effect as this clever gallery below shows. Twins, only one of whom smokes, sit side by side, showing the profound damage smoking can cause to your face, hair, and teeth.

The twins' circumstances vary in each set of pictures, but the differences and effects are undeniable. In some instances, one of the twins never smoked. In others, the "smoking" twin had smoked for at least five years longer than the other "non-smoking" twin.

Though they're not common knowledge, the effects of smoking on your appearance are predictable and consistent. You can identify a smoker with ease if you know what you're looking for. Harmful smoke, dehydration, and even the heat from a burning cigarette can damage your complexion, hair, and eyes. The photos below helpfully point out the symptoms and effects on the smoking twin.


The photos here were taken from those of 79 pairs of identical twins at the Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio. Though they weren't taken with this use in mind, that allows them to serve as an even more powerful testament to the effects as perceived by casual observers.

1. The eyes are a strong "tell" if someone's a smoker or not. In this photo, the smoker is the man on the right. He has smaller, more sunken eyes and carries more wrinkles throughout his face than his twin on the left. You'll also notice his hairline has receded further than his brother's. That's a little-known though hardly surprising effect of smoking habitually.

health, danger of smoking, studies on smoking, mental health

Can you tell the smoker?

Image via Wolters Kluwer Health.

2. Here, the difference is profound. Though they're the same age, they look almost like they represent different generations. The smoking twin on the right has done so for 16 years, and it's manifested in a number of ways. Most noticeable is the pervasive discoloration of her skin compared to her twin on the left. Less noticeable, but still apparent, is the damage done to her lips, eyes, and even her hair. It's difficult to believe they're even related, let alone twins.

aging, health benefits, clean living, cancer

Did I get this one wrong?

Image via Wolters Kluwer Health.

3. This comparison is less glaring but still apparent. The twin on the left is the smoker. You can see many more pronounced wrinkles on her forehead, under her eyes, and around her nose. There are also pronounced bags under her eyes.

skin aging, medicine, medical insurance, damaged hair

Some differences are more subtle than others.

Image via Wolters Kluwer Health.

4. In this comparison, the smoking twin only smokes about two cigarettes per day, so the difference will be less profound. The twin on the right is the smoker. The differences are on the subtle side, mostly the more damaged hair and the squintier eyes.

twins, research, studies

Smoking can cause a receding hair line.

Image via Wolters Kluwer Health.


5. Based on what you've read in the earlier side by side pics, you might be able to ID the right twin as the smoker due to the discolored and receding hair as well as the aged skin.

wrinkles, aging, smoking

Smoking appears to cause more gray.

Image via Wolters Kluwer Health.

6. These two twins are both elderly, so the differences are slightly less pronounced. Though the left twin has more graying hair, it's the right twin that's the smoker. She's got a droopier face, especially on the outside of the eyes. The wrinkles are also more pronounced in the brow and upper lip.

wrinkles, skin, health

The hallmarks of smoking apparent on the skin.

Image via Wolters Kluwer Health.

7. Though the two sisters here are also older, it's easier to distinguish the smoker. The left sister bears the hallmarks all over her skin. Her cheek, outer eye, and neck all look weathered from her habit. Not only is she more wrinkled, but the skin has begun to discolor from the fair tone her sister has.

discoloration of skin, dermatology, identifying factors

Wrinkles around the lips distinguish the smoker.

Image via Wolters Kluwer Health.

8. Here it's pretty difficult to tell. The woman on the left is the smoker. She sports slightly discolored lips that are upon inspection, more wrinkled than her sister's. Since the lips are the most proximate to the smoke, they are a pretty telling feature when it comes to identifying smokers.

The pics above show a lot of singular traits that can call out a smoker, but it can be a lot more simple than that. Speaking to the NY Daily News, dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi from George Washington Medical Center dispenses with the jargon, stating, "Smoking makes you look old. That's all there is to it."


This article originally appeared on 11.01.16

Elya/Wikimedia Commons

Should you hang the toilet paper roll over or under?



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Humans have debated things large and small over the millennia, from the democracy to breastfeeding in public to how often people ought to wash their sheets.

But perhaps the most silly-yet-surprisingly-heated household debate is the one in which we argue over which way to hang the toilet paper roll.

The "over or under" question has plagued marriages and casual acquaintances alike for over 100 years, with both sides convinced they have the soundest reasoning for putting their toilet paper loose end out or loose end under. Some people feel so strongly about right vs. wrong TP hanging that they will even flip the roll over when they go to the bathroom in the homes of strangers.

Contrary to popular belief, it's not merely an inconsequential preference. There is actually a "correct" way to hang toilet paper, according to health experts as well as the man who invented the toilet paper roll in the first place.


First, let's be clear about what we're even talking about here with a visual. In the image below, left is "over" and right is "under."

toilet paper hung over and under

Toilet paper hung "over" (left) and "under" (right)

Elya/Wikimedia Commons

So which one is the right way? According to health experts, "over" is the way to go.

"One key to maintaining a hygienic washroom is minimising contact between people and surfaces," Dr. Christian Moro, associate professor of health sciences and medicine at Bond University on Australia's Gold Coast, told Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "Depending on the type of roll holder, [hanging the toilet paper "over"] often lowers the chance that a user will touch the wall behind when fishing for paper, leaving germs behind on that surface which can be spread to the next user."

Picture it: Grabbing the end of the toilet paper when it's hung "over" means you only touch the part of the toilet paper you're going to use. When it's "under," you sometimes have to fish for it or scrape your fingers on the wall in order to grab the loose end. In addition to whatever might be on people's hands already, think about all the people who wipe twice, potentially transferring fresh fecal matter or other bacteria to the wall on the second pass, which then get picked up by other people who inadvertently touch that wall when trying to grab their TP.

Theoretically, we all should have become better hand washers during the pandemic, scrubbing with soap for the full 20 seconds it takes to remove bacteria. But I wouldn't be willing to bet on it.

And touching any surface in a bathroom is pretty nasty, according to a study from the University of Colorado. As Inc. reported: "Using a high-tech genetic sequencing tool, researchers identified 19 groups of bacteria on the doors, floors, faucet handles, soap dispensers, and toilets of 12 public restrooms in Colorado — six men’s restrooms and six women’s restrooms. Many of the bacteria strains identified could be transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces."

Bacteria means things like e.coli, which is a common source of food poisoning and one of the most common bacteria found on bathroom surfaces in the study. If you've ever had a bout of food poisoning, I'm sure you'll agree that a toilet paper roll hanging preference isn't worth risking it.

But sanitary health concerns aren't the only argument for the "over" camp. After all, the original patent for the toilet paper roll, issued in 1891, clearly shows the TP in the "over" position. Thank you for the clarity right from the get go, Mr. Wheeler.

toilet paper patent image

The toilet paper roll was patented by Seth Wheeler in 1891.

Public Domain

Now, before the "under" folks come running with their pitchforks, there are some understandable exceptions to the "over" rule. Namely: cats and kids.

If you have a furry friend or a tiny toddler who likes to unroll the toilet paper roll, "over" makes it super fun for them, while "under" stops them in their tracks. For many people, cats and kids are the primary motivator of their TP hanging habits.

That doesn't change the fact that "over" is actually the "correct" way to hang toilet paper according to health science and the inventor's intention, of course, but "under" is certainly preferable to having a pile of TP on the floor.

Now go forth, do that with information as you will, and try to make peace with your over vs. under rivals.


This article originally appeared on 3.13.24

Education

The very real story of how one woman prevented a national tragedy by doing her job

Frances Oldham Kelsey believed thorough research saves lives. She was so right.

Image by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey and President John F. Kennedy.

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Seventh Generation


Dr. Frances Oldham Kelsey had only been with the Food and Drug Administration for about a month when she was tasked with reviewing a drug named thalidomide for distribution in America.

Marketed as a sedative for pregnant women, thalidomide was already available in Canada, Germany, and several African countries.


It could have been a very simple approval. But for Kelsey, something didn't sit right. There were no tests showing thalidomide was safe for human use, particularly during pregnancy.

thalidomide, wonder drug, public health

Kelsey in her office at the FDA in 1960.

Image by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

When Chemie Grünenthal released thalidomide in West Germany years earlier, they called it a "wonder drug" for pregnant women. They promised it would treat anxiety, insomnia, tension, and morning sickness and help pregnant women sleep.

What they didn't advertise were its side effects.

Because it crosses the placental barrier between fetus and mother, thalidomide causes devastating — often fatal — physical defects. During the five years it was on the market, an estimated 10,000 babies globally were born with thalidomide-caused defects. Only about 60% lived past their first birthday.

In 1961, the health effects of thalidomide weren't well-known. Only a few studies in the U.K. and Germany were starting to connect the dots between babies born with physical defects and the medication their mothers had taken while pregnant.

At the outset, that wasn't what concerned Kelsey. She'd looked at the testimonials in the submission and found them "too glowing for the support in the way of clinical back up." She pressed the American manufacturer, Cincinnati's William S. Merrell Company, to share research on how their drug affected human patients. They refused. Instead, they complained to her superiors for holding up the approval. Still, she refused to back down.

drugs, medication, medicine

A sample pack of thalidomide.

Image by Stephen C. Dickson/Wikimedia Commons.

A sample pack of thalidomide sent to doctors in the U.K. While more than 10,000 babies worldwide were born with thalidomide-related birth defects, FDA historian John Swann credits Dr. Kelsey with limiting the number of American babies affected to just 17.

Over the next year, the manufacturer would resubmit its application to sell thalidomide six times. Each time, Kelsey asked for more research. Each time, they refused.

By 1961, thousands of mothers were giving birth to babies with shocking and heartbreaking birth defects. Taking thalidomide early in their pregnancy was the one thing connecting them. The drug was quickly pulled from shelves, vanishing mostly by 1962.

Through dogged persistence, Kelsey and her team had prevented a national tragedy.

government, FDA, bureaucracy, community

Kelsey joins President John F. Kennedy at the signing of a new bill expanding the authority of the FDA in 1962.

Image by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy honored Kelsey with the Federal Civilian Service Medal. He thanked her for her exceptional judgment and for preventing a major tragedy of birth deformities in the United States:

“I know that we are all most indebted to Dr. Kelsey. The relationship and the hopes that all of us have for our children, I think, indicate to Dr. Kelsey, I am sure, how important her work is and those who labor with her to protect our families. So, Doctor, I know you know how much the country appreciates what you have done."

But, she wasn't done yet. Later that year, the FDA approved new, tougher regulations for companies seeking drug approval, inspired in large part by Kelsey's work on thalidomide.

Reached via email, FDA historian John Swann said this about Kelsey's legacy: "[Her] actions also made abundantly clear to the nation the important public health role that drug regulation and FDA itself play in public health. The revelation of the global experience with that drug and America's close call indeed provided impetus to secure passage of a comprehensive drug regulation bill that had been more or less floundering during the time FDA was considering the application."

Kelsey continued to work for the FDA until 2005. She died in 2015, aged 101, just days after receiving the Order of Canada for her work on thalidomide.

Bureaucratic approval work is rarely thrilling and not often celebrated. That's a shame because it's so critical.

People like Kelsey, who place public health and safety above all else — including their career — deserve every ounce of our collective respect and admiration.


This story originally appeared on 05.20.16

Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas teaches you how to pee.

A pelvic floor doctor from Boston, Massachusetts, has caused a stir by explaining that something we all thought was good for our health can cause real problems. In a video that has more than 5.8 million views on TikTok, Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas says we shouldn’t go pee “just in case.”

How could this be? The moment we all learned to control our bladders we were also taught to pee before going on a car trip, sitting down to watch a movie or playing sports.

The doctor posted the video as a response to TikTok user Sidneyraz, who made a video urging people to go to the bathroom whenever they get the chance. Sidneyraz is known for posting videos about things he didn’t learn until his 30s. "If you think to yourself, 'I don't have to go,' go." SidneyRaz says in the video. It sounds like common sense but evidently, he was totally wrong, just like the rest of humanity.


“Pelvic floor physical therapist here, and I work with a lot of people with overactive bladders, stress incontinence, urge incontinence, the whole nine yards,” Dr. Jeffrey-Thomas began her clip. “And here's why you shouldn't go ‘just in case."'

In the video, Dr. Jeffrey-Thomas explains the three levels of feeling the need to pee.

“The first one is just an awareness level that tells you that there's some urine in the bladder,” she said. “The second one is the one that tells you to make a plan to use the toilet, and the third is kind of the panic button that says, ‘Get me there right now, I'm about to overflow.’”

@sidneyraz

on vacation and remembering #vacation #tips #bathroom #travel #tipsandtricks #todayilearned #todayyearsold #islandlife #traumabrain #roadtrip #inmy30s

Then she made her case by giving a visual explanation of how going when we don’t need to teaches our bodies to prematurely send signals that it’s time to pee. The simple explanation has a lot of people wondering if their pee sensor is still working correctly.

@thepelvicdancefloor

#stitch with @sidneyraz I know it sounds counterintuitive and goes against everything your momma taught you - just out here trying to save your bladder 🤍

In a rare display of humility on the internet, Sidneyraz saw the video and thanked the doctor for the correction. "Oh hey thanks for correcting me!" he wrote.

The video shocked a lot of people who feel like their entire lives have been based on a lie—at least when it comes to something most of us do six to eight times a day. “TikTok is basically just a bunch of videos telling me I'm doing life wrong,” joked one commenter. “Like Jesus, really? I'm peeing wrong?”

Yes, you are.


"Who else hears their mom in their head say 'go just in case' when you’re out and about and near a bathroom?" another commenter asked.

The good news is that if you’ve always been the type to go “just in case” and you constantly feel like you need to go pee, there is hope. With the help of a doctor, you can retrain your bladder so that you only feel the need to go when it’s time. Now, who’s going to be the first brave person who doesn’t go when they feel the need, just to see if their body’s pee sensor is off?


This article originally appeared on 05.12.22