Cannabidiol and its health benefits

Kaila Acheson – Anchor Contributor

Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, is becoming an increasingly popular substance due to the medical purposes it serves. The effects of CBD can range anywhere from alleviating everyday anxieties to being a potential combatant of cancer.

CBD oil is an extract from the cannabis plant, but unlike the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most prevalent chemical in cannabis that is produced when smoking marijuana, it does not get you psychologically high. CBD has been shown to have the same medicinal properties as marijuana, but since this substance does not get you high, it is legal in all 50 states.

Photo courtesy of National Geographic

There are no laws stating that CBD cannot be used by the general population due to it being fairly new to the market.

According to HealthLine.com, the health benefits of cannabidiol vary but include: relieving chronic pain, reducing anxiety and depression, diminishing acne and preventing seizures. CBD interacts with your reward centered neurotransmitters as well as more complex areas of your brain to reduce anxiety in most users.

Along with this myriad of health benefits, studies also show that CBD  oil has anti-tumor effects and could also be beneficial to heart health.

CBD oil can be taken in the forms of oils, pills, edibles, drinks and vape juices.

It can be found in local smoke shops and some online retailers. Although it is becoming increasingly prevalent, cannabidiol is not as well known, as the golden oil is often stigmatized by its cousin, THC.

As a result, it is either associated with the substance or left unknown by many. Organizations such as Project CBD have a mission to educate nationally about the medical uses of cannabidiol due to the great success that has been seen with it thus far in the medical field.

Clusterfackt

Mike Dwyer – Anchor Staff

Nowadays, facts come at you fast. News cycles and timelines are on overdrive. Fake news is common place. Clusterfackt is an ongoing series that asks readers to question everything. Think of it as an exercise in critical thinking. Each week readers will be given a giant clusterfackt of scientific findings meant to replicate the dizzying news loops that dominate our lives. However, there’s a catch. One statement within the clusterfackt is entirely false. Identify the falsehood and win a prize by emailing editorinchief@anchorweb.org and don’t repeat anything you read here without doing your research!

In last week’s issue we got a bit meta-factual by taking a look at the science behind fake news and conspiracism. In observance of the 2018 midterm elections Clusterfackt is going to take a break from its usual fast paced fackt-ery  and dig a little deeper into the psycho-social implications of falsehood.

Perhaps we can inoculate ourselves before we enter the voting booths next Tuesday. Perhaps readers will recognize that I have already lied- the election is this Tuesday- and will wonder if that’s this week’s falsehood. But is it a falsehood if the falsifier admits to its fabrication? One might similarly ask: does tagging news stories as “fake” reduce the effect they have on public opinion? Do unfounded facts gain a footing through authentic belief or is it just entertainment?  

Bad information plays an important role in public discourse and the ubiquity of magical thinking cuts across all demographic lines. The twisting of truth is by no means a modern phenomenon. However, the rate at which falsehood is disseminated nowadays creates a conundrum for critical thought and fact checking. When false information or half-truths are repeated online, in social media or in cable television, it has an effect on the public’s perception of reality, producing sound bites that are as comical as they are Orwellian.

Take for instance the double-think employed by Rudy Guliani when he said “the truth isn’t the truth” on Meet the Press last August. The Host Chuck Todd doubled over in amusement at what he had just heard. But does Todd deserve to be so incredulous? Is Chuck Todd immune to fake news?

Last week, as authorities were still searching for the pipe bombing suspect, Todd himself engaged in delusion, saying he “feared that this could be some Russian operation” designed to divide the public. Guest panelist John Podhoretz, when given a chance to correct Todd was instead amicably complicit, saying “it is a very strange moment and we have no idea where it comes from.”  

Podhoretz’s agreement sounds eerily similar to the deflections made by certain Republican senators when asked to refute false news claims. One of the primary features of fake news and conspiracy claims is their non-falsifiability. In a recent TEDtalk, Quassim Cassam, a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick in England said that the consequence of this “implanting of doubts” in the minds of others results in a “loss of confidence” and ultimately a “loss of knowledge.”

Last March, a paper published in the journal Science sought to shed some light on the nature of falsehood through psychological methodology. The study’s 16 co-authors defined fake news as “fabricated information that mimics news media content in form but not in organizational process or intent” and went on to analyze the individual, institutional and societal factors which contribute to this problem.

One of the studies co-authors, Steven Sloman, a professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences at Brown University told National Public Radio that the problem is threefold, “First, because of technology, anyone in the world can be a source of news…Second, we are inundated by information. We just don’t have time to separate the facts from the falsities…Third, the huge variety of news media in our culture means that people have the freedom to tune into news sources that tell them what they want to hear, and we all like to hear news consistent with our beliefs.”

Sloman pointed to another research paper by Gordon Pennycook and David Rand that explores this cognitive bias. Pennycook and Rand started by asking “Do we use our reasoning abilities to convince ourselves that statements that align with our ideology are true, or does reasoning allow us to effectively differentiate fake from real regardless of political ideology?” Pennycook and Rand were able to demonstrate that an ability to think analytically as measured by the Cognitive Reflection Test could predict the susceptibility of subjects to fake news. The CRT is designed to measure a person’s ability to overcome “gut” reactions and come to the correct answer.

The original test consisted of just three questions:

  1. A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
  2. If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?
  3. In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?

Tune in next week for the answers to the CRT. In the meantime, think critically and analytically and make sure to go out and vote next Tuesday.

Mike Dwyer is a 2013 graduate of CCRI’s school of nursing and has since worked as a registered nurse in and around his hometown of Newport, Rhode Island. Writing has been a life-long passion (Re: obsession) and in 2016 Mike enrolled at RIC to pursue a BA in English literature. He is a senior planning to graduate next Spring, after which he will stay local, stay weird, and pursue a graduate degree.

Nico-Teen and the power of The Juul

Samantha Scetta – Editor-in-Chief

Graphic by Wiley Sadowski

Everyone knows cigarettes are no good, right?

Cigarettes have been classified as a group one carcinogen, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), as there is convincing evidence of cancer causing agents in cigarettes. Just a few known carcinogens contained in cigarettes are acetaldehyde, vinyl chloride and formaldehyde.

These chemical compounds are absent from the slew of new age smoking devices such as electronic cigarettes and electronic vaporizers. From a marketing perspective, it’s understandable why these products have been so popular with such a young audience– vaporizers are not directly linked to cancer.

Nicotine is one of the chemicals both tobacco and electronic smoking devices have in common, and just might be the reason that so many young people are partaking in the habit of socially smoking once again… Minus the formaldehyde and vinyl chloride, of course.

The notorious chemical commonly known as nicotine is found in the device labeled as a “Juul” which can be easily overlooked as being a flashdrive and is certainly spotted at bus stops and in the hallways of many high schools nationwide.

According to the Juul’s website, the pod inserted into the Juul contains approximately 200 puffs, which is equivalent to a pack of cigarettes. Assuming someone is going through a pod per week, they would be smoking approximately 5 packs of cigarettes a month.

“Juling in the Boys’ Room”

Juul is still relatively new for substantial research to be done on its harmful effects, however there is plenty of available research demonstrating scientific proof that nicotine is harmful to an adolescent’s neurological development.

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is located at at the front of the frontal lobe and is an area of the brain that deals with executive functions such as planning and decision making, as well as other complex behavior such as impulse control and organizing attention. Most neurologists have determined that he PFC is not completely developed until the age of 25.

The chemical nicotine reaches  receptor molecules on the outside of cells in the brain, specifically those in the prefrontal cortex. Nicotine causes these cells to then release certain chemicals, such as dopamine, to travel along a gap (synapse) between the nerve cells in the brain. When they reach the nerve cell they were traveling to, the dopamine releases the message to the nerve cells which gives nicotine users a temporary high.                             

With prolonged nicotine use the cells will change, and users end up craving nicotine because the brain is unable to produce their own “feel good” chemicals without a stimulant, which explains anxiety in people who are facing nicotine cravings. It is thought that young people are more susceptible to addiction to nicotine because they adopt the ideology that they will have the physical ability to quit nicotine anytime they want, whereas adults don’t underestimate the addictiveness of the drug.                                                                                                                                         

Although there is not as much research on the subject of nicotine on teenage brains as is probably necessary for our society, enough evidence exists to determine that teenagers who are addicted to devices such as Juuls will need the same interventions as those that are addicted to cigarettes if they decide to stop partaking in the habit.

Clusterfackt

Mike Dwyer – Anchor staff

Nowadays, facts come at you fast. News cycles and timelines are on overdrive. Fake news is common place. Clusterfackt is an ongoing series that asks readers to question everything. Think of it as an exercise in critical thinking. Each week readers will be given a giant clusterfackt of scientific findings meant to replicate the dizzying news loops that dominate our lives. However, there’s a catch. One statement within the clusterfackt is entirely false. Identify the falsehood and win a prize by emailing editorinchief@anchorweb.org and don’t repeat anything you read here without doing your research!

This week Clusterfackt is going to get meta-factual by taking a look at the misconceptions, magical thinking and conspiracism that pepper our public discourse. Unconditional belief in the unproven, or disproven, is not a uniquely American phenomenon but there is something particularly theatrical about the way we indulge in the fantastic. Let’s take a look at some of the facts regarding America’s love affair with the unreal. As always, one of the following statements is entirely made up- see if you can spot which one!

A recent poll reported that one third of younger millenials do not believe the earth is round. The headline circulated among a few major outlets and seemed to confirm suspicions of America’s scientific decline. When the data from the poll was reviewed by Scientific American it was found that most outlets misrepresented the responses of participants. Firm belief in a flat earth was less than two percent, however, uncertainty and ambivalence about the shape of the earth was found in approximately 15 percent of all age groups. Much of the initial reporting indulged in typical millennial bashing. Some suggested that younger respondents were simply being ironic and that flat earth theory was incongruous with the science of climate change, a topic that is popular with this age group. However, the Flat Earth Society has officially endorsed the science behind man-made climate change. The official Twitter account for the society put out a statement on climate change, saying “it would be nothing short of irresponsible to question something with so much overwhelming evidence behind it, and something that threatens us so directly as a species.”

A 2013 survey found that 51 percent of American voters do not believe the official account of JFK’s assassination, 21 percent believe aliens crashed at Roswell, seven percent believe the moon landing was a hoax, and 13 percent believe President Obama is the antichrist, including five percent of Democrats. Even more worrisome, the survey found that four percent believe earth’s societies are secretly run by shape-shifting reptilian overlords. The results of the poll were widely circulated with sensational headlines such as Atlantic magazines “12 million Americans believe lizard people run our country.” The study had a sample group of 1,247 voters meant to be reflective of the American population, whereas Atlantic magazine has a circulation of more than half a million. Recent studies suggest that exposure to conspiracy theories increases one’s likelihood of believing in conspiracies, as does a willingness to conspire. Belief in one conspiracy is often correlated with belief in others and some form of conspiratorial belief is found in nearly all demographics. Providing evidence to the contrary was found to only further cement belief in the conspiracy.

An Irish physicist and cancer researcher has created a mathematical model to predict the failure probability rate of conspiracies involving multiple actors based on examples of previously exposed scandals such as the NSA PRISM project, the Tuskegee Syphilis experiments and the FBI forensic scandal. His model predicts that conspiracies involving more than a thousand active secret-keeping participants quickly become untenable. Using the mathematical model to run simulations on the viability of some of the most popular conspiracies, results suggest that it would take 411,000 people for the moon landing hoax with a failure time of 3.68 years, climate change fraud would require 405,000 conspirators and would have a failure time of 3.70 years when accounting for all the scientific organizations taking part and 22,000 shadowy figures could hide the truth about vaccines from the public for 3.15 years- 34.78 years if only the CDC and WHO were in on it. The model failed when attempting to calculate the viability of lizard people because little is known about the secret-keeping abilities of reptilian life forms.

Goretober: does science justify your favorite horror scenes?

Lucille DiNaro – Business Manager

Final Destination 3 James Wong 2006

The death of Erin Ulmer in the Final Destination series was not unexpected, but the manner of her death certainly was. In this film, Erin accidentally stumbles against a nail gun that was carelessly left on a stack of boxes by her boyfriend Ian. Upon hitting the nailgun, it begins to rapidly discharge, puncturing Erin with several nails to both her head and her hand, making Erin the fifth survivor of the Devil’s Flight roller coaster to perish.

Erin most likely suffered from internal brain hemorrhaging and massive blood loss. Brain hemorrhaging is the result of an artery of the brain bursting, which causes intense swelling of the brain and localized bleeding in the surrounding tissues. Often, a brain hemorrhage is the result of a stroke, aneurysm, head trauma or tumor.

While some people are able to survive a brain hemorrhage, Erin has little to no real-world possibility of survival. The ability of a person to survive such a trauma is reliant on the size of the hemorrhage and the amount of swelling. In Erin’s case, the multiple wounds she sustains would require immediate attention if she were to have any chance at survival.

The Final Destination franchise certainly loves to toy with impalement, and Erin’s death is no exception.

Final Destination 5 Steven Quale 2011

Candice Hooper’s death in this film has been described as one of the most disturbing scenes of the Final Destination series. While practicing on the uneven bars, Candice’s vision is blurred after one of her fellow gymnasts accidentally blows chalk into the air. Rather than slowing down and dismounting the bar, Candice attempts to execute a tkachev and suffers a fatal fall, her spine snapped on impact.

People love watching the olympics because they illustrate the awesome power and ability of the human body. Through this scene, Quale reminds us that no matter how adept the athlete, death is not exclusive.

Samir Said, a French gymnast who competed in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, almost suffered a similar fate, when a faulty dismount resulted in his leg being broken and bent in the opposite direction. While these bone-jarring impacts are common for gymnasts, one would be wrong to assume that these injuries often result in death. Rather, they are quite the abnormality.

Candice likely suffered from a manubriosternal dislocation, an injury in which the body of the sternum is displaced, often the result of direct trauma. In 2007, only four years prior to the movie release, only 10 cases of manubriosternal dislocation have been described. As such, medical professionals have yet to establish a standardized operative procedure for the injury. However, both external rehabilitation and invasive surgical procedures have been utilized for treatment purposes.

While long term effects of manubriosternal dislocation include chronic pain, periarticular calcification and progressive deformity, the injury is certainly not fatal, and this should come to no surprise. Generally, harmful injuries do not result from high velocity, but from high acceleration. In this particular scene, Candice is accelerating at a relatively normal rate. It is very likely that she would sustain an injury given the circumstances of the scene, but much to the chagrin of Final Destination fans, it is probable that Candice would live to see another day.

Goretober: does science justify your favorite horror scenes?

Lucille DiNaro – Business Manager

As a continuation from our last issue, The Anchor’s second installment of this column will continue to search for the truth behind filmmakers most grotesque horror scenes. To what extent does the silver screen translate to our everyday lives?

“The Last House on the Left” Dennis Iliadis, 2009

This 2009 remake of Wes Craven’s film of the same name is the story of a family vacation gone terribly wrong. John Collingwood and his family are tormented by a teenage boy and his sadistic companions, Krug, Francis and Sadie. As the movie meets its climax, John paralyzes Krug from the neck down and places his head in a running microwave oven. Krug is barely able to realize what has happened before the electromagnetic waves cause his head to explode, resulting in his death.

In a microwave oven, an alternating current forces atoms reverse polarity at an extremely high rate, creating violent friction which causes the water in your food to vibrate and heat up. This process is what causes food to cook and produce steam. Iliadis cleverly uses this concept to help the viewer draw visual parallels between Krug’s head exploding to the more common pressurized-steam explosion of a microwaved potato.

Fortunately for Krug, this entire scenario can be debunked by the simple fact that most modern microwaves can not operate without a door. Even if they could, the skin effect––the tendency of a high-frequency alternating current to flow through only the outer layer of a conductor––would effectively protect Krug during the limited time he spends under the microwave.

Human skin can withstand microwave frequencies to some extent, but Krug’s skin would suffer severe burns. The blood vessels in his retinas would likely fry, rendering him blind and his ears would not be able to withstand the microwave’s electromagnetic pulse energy.

While a microwave may not seem like a particularly terrifying deathbringer in this scenario, that doesn’t mean we can eliminate microwaves as a weapon altogether. The United States Department of Defense has studied the lethality mechanisms of radio frequency and high power microwave technologies since the 1980’s. Interestingly enough, research has shown that the United States could be headed towards an entirely new class of directed energy weapon systems. Maybe directors can consider these if there ever is another remake.

“Hereditary” Ari Aster, 2018

One of the more shocking scenes to appear on screen this year was the death of Charlie. After months of movie promotion which framed Charlie as the centerpiece of the film, viewers were astonished when she was decapitated a mere 30 minutes into the movie. Suffering from anaphylaxis, Charlie stuck her head outside the car window in the hope of catching her breath. Her brother, already in a panic, swerves to avoid a deer, driving Charlie right into a telephone pole.

What is so unnerving about this scene in particular is how closely it mirrors real life. We each live so certain of what is next to come, ignoring the fact that chaos and tragedy are but one bad decision away. Charlie’s death in this movie is a finality both on and off screen. Decapitation and internal decapitation almost always amount to a loss of life.

Forensic pathologists approach decapitations differently if they occur post-mortem or antemortem. Postmortem decapitation is often the result of a hanging and rarely occurs in the modern day. Antemortem decapitation is often accidental, or the result of suicide or homicide.

An autopsy of a man whose death was quite similar to Charlie’s found that the larynx, pharynx and parts of the lungs and heart were removed with the head upon decapitation. As Charlie’s body came in contact with the indirect force of the telephone pole, we could expect a similar result. Maybe think twice before sticking your head out the car window, and always wear a seatbelt.

Sleep does matter

Samantha Malley – Art Director

Chances are, you’re a typical college student balancing numerous activities including (but not limited to) homework for all your classes, spending 20 plus hours a week at your job and possibly being involved in sports or clubs. Not to mention eating three times a day and maintaining a social life––you’re a busy person. Finding the time to get enough sleep is understandably difficult when juggling the everyday tasks of being a college student, however, it is crucial for your health.

The average college student needs seven to nine hours of sleep every night to wake up the next morning ready for their day. Only 11 percent of students across America say they get the right amount of sleep every night. This bad habit is called sleep deprivation, and it may be the reason you are not feeling yourself during the semester.

Sleep deprivation has both long and short term consequences. First of all, cognitive factors will be extremely altered. Your ability to focus, think and process information as well as recall old information will be damaged. You don’t want to lose your ability to recall information when you have an exam worth 30 percent of your grade coming up. Your immune system also eventually becomes dysfunctional. Just to mention a few things, your chance of becoming sick is much easier, and you also have an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer. Your mental health will begin to deteriorate because your circadian rhythm, or natural time clock, is all messed up when you don’t get a routine amount of sleep every night.

Your physical stress response increases as well as your anxiety and depression levels. With all that’s on your plate, you don’t want any more trouble or stressors such as gaining weight. Lack of sleep causes unhealthy cravings to fulfill your energy needs, leading to a poor diet and potential health problems as a result.

In order to avoid all these life inconveniences, here are some helpful tips to help you sleep: Stop using technology at least 30 minutes before you want to go to bed. The blue light from electronics blocks melatonin, a hormone that can help you fall asleep. Instead of scrolling on your phone or watching TV, try reading a book, listening to music or coloring.

Eating regularly and scheduled meals can help as well. If you have a day off, try meal prepping. Being physically active most days will benefit you immensely by reducing stress, which promotes healthier sleep, and tiring out your body.

Spending a good amount of time outside during the day will also trigger your body to correct sleep cycles. Try walking to class or eating lunch outside.

Lastly, practice your time management skills. Do not rely on the weekend to catch up on your homework. Stay on top of your assignments to reduce stress and mentally plan your days ahead, which will help keep up your grades.

These tasks may seem small but they are extremely helpful to your sleeping habits and essentially important to your health. This would be a good time to stop whatever you’re doing, clear your schedule, and catch up on that healthy sleep!

Clusterfackt

Mike Dwyer – Anchor Staff

The oldest organic color is a bright pink discovered in West Africa. Evidence in Jordan suggests   that bread came before agriculture while scientists in Britain claim to have proven that the chicken came before the egg.

The average height of an adult American male is 5-foot-10 while the average hand size of an adult American male, measured from the tip of the middle finger to the wrist, is roughly 7.44 inches.   

Standing at 6-foot-2 with a hand size of 7.25 inches, President Donald Trump’s hands are objectively, and scientifically, smaller than average. Partisans tend to believe that their preferred candidate is taller whereas vocal disorders make politicians more persuasive.

A non-profit organization called OpenBiome specializes in purchasing, processing and packaging poop into oral tablets which they ship all across the country, providing a life-changing treatment for people suffering from the effects of C. difficile.

The company will pay up to $13,000 a year for donations, many of which come from students at nearby Tufts University where the average in-state tuition is approximately $52,000 a year.

“I never thought that after getting my PhD I’d start mailing poop around,” said OpenBiome’s co-founder Mark Smith in an interview with The Washington Post.

Of the student donors, Smith thought it was “great to have a healthy contingent of regular gym goers” in such close proximity to his Medford, MA office that can meet his high fecal standards.  

Pornography has negative impacts on the sexual satisfaction of men, but less so when those men have a low opinion of the Bible.

The negative correlation between intelligence and religiosity is weaker in the Bible Belt. A study in New Zealand has shown that humans exhibit racism towards robots of color.

Engineers have created a robotic baby that kicks up particulate matter in carpets.

A researcher has proposed that Rene Descartes experienced Exploding Head Syndrome.

Forensic otologists have theorized that Sir Isaac Newton suffered an inner ear imbalance, a lifelong condition which led to his discovery and study of gravity in 1492.

Voting districts trend Republican when there are more pickup trucks than sedans.

At least one percent of voters swing right on rainy election days.

Gene therapy has stopped mutant female mice from mutilating the genitalia of their male counterparts.

When served food atop fake feces, Chimpanzees will hesitate before eating.

Checking the facts with Dwight Myers:

Unfortunately, once again no one was able to correctly identify the false facts from our previous issues. It’s time to reveal the falsehoods of the last fortnight. In our third issue of Clusterfackt the author claimed that a group of computer scientists in Singapore successfully downloaded the consciousness of a monkey to an artificial neural network but failed to communicate with the AI because the digitized primate would not cease screaming. This claim was simply the thought vomit of a complete nincompoop. In our last issue, the author of Clusterfackt tried to make the falsehood more apparent but it still failed elicit criticism. So to be clear- a ton of bowling balls will fall at the same velocity as a ton of feathers whether on earth or the surface of the moon because the reduction in gravity will affect both equally. Astrologers made no claim to the contrary because astrology has absolutely nothing to do with scientific inquiry or facts. Astrology is pure superstitious pseudoscience.

 

Goretober: does science justify your favorite horror scenes?

Lucille DiNaro – Business Manager

Moviegoers find solace in the fact that horror movies are exaggerated depictions of real life. Even the most gruesome, horrific scenes aren’t too scary because viewers know that it’s just Hollywood. In the pursuit of good, old-fashioned Halloween fun, I’d like to prove that the opposite is true. Filmmakers most grotesque horror scenes—your worst nightmares—are absolutely plausible. Under the right circumstances, of course.

“Oldboy” Chan-wook Park, 2003

This neo-noir action film is not shy when it comes to blood and gore, but the final few scenes elicited a visceral reaction many viewers were not ready for. As an act of both repentance and loyalty to his captor of fifteen years, protagonist Oh Dae-su maniacally cuts off his own tongue with nothing more than a pair of scissors and a purple handkerchief.

The ceremonial tongue cutting of Dae-su has deep seated roots in history. Elinguation, the cutting out of the tongue as punishment, was a common torture method carried out as early as 1700 CE, most often against individuals accused of slander.

The primary concern this scene poses on Dae-su’s life is the possible severance of the lingual artery, which originates from the external carotid artery, a major artery of the head and neck. Improper coagulation of blood in the case of a lingual artery hemorrhage can result in a fatal obstruction of the upper airway. Historically, elinguation overwhelmingly resulted in death.  

The observable evidence in the movie is hard to depict, and there is conflicting literature as to whether Oh Dae-su would make it out alive. While proper pressurization of the wound and a bit of luck would keep Dae-su alive, it is extremely improbable.

“Saw II” Darren Lynn Bousman, 2005

The infamous Jigsaw has presented moviegoers with over a decade of gore, but one trap in this particular film has stuck out as one of the more disturbing scenes in the franchise. Amanda Young, one of Jigsaw’s victims, is thrown into a pit of hundreds of used hypodermic syringes and is given two minutes to sift through the pile for a single key.

During this process, Amanda subjects herself to dozens of needlestick injuries, leaving her at risk for HIV, hepatitis C and severe infection. These bloodborne diseases are indeed deadly but pose no immediate threat in this scenario. Needlestick injuries are common in the medical field and are routinely treated without serious consequences. In the film, it is assumed that these needles contain trace amounts of heroin. However, mere punctures would not allow for the drug to significantly affect her.

Much to the disdain of trypanophobes, Amanda successfully finds the key located deep within the needlestack and manages to survive through four more Saw films. Although this scene is visually damaging, it is highly unlikely that Amanda would suffer from anything more than psychological shock.

“Gerald’s Game” Mike Flanagan, 2017

This Netflix release left viewers reeling with disgust as Jessie Burlingame escaped a pair of handcuffs by degloving herself with nothing more than a shard of glass. Despite the gruesome nature of this scene, not only does science support Jessie’s escape, but also suggests that she could have a full recovery.

The injury Jessie inflicted upon herself is commonly seen in road traffic incidents, conveyor belt  and ring avulsion injuries. Oftentimes all vital structures in the hand–digital nerves, digital vessels, flexor tendons and lumbrical muscles–are unaffected. Viability of the hand after this injury depends primarily on the ability to preserve as much skin structure as possible and to provide an adequate skin cover.

Many people who experience this injury leave with the musculoskeletal unit of the hand completely intact, which is why Jessie was able to move her naked hand normally and escape captivity. Vascularization of the skin through arterial or venous anastomosis could allow Jessie to live as though the incident never even occurred. Unfortunately for viewers, this scene is as close to reality as it gets.

A disease of the mind

Samantha Scetta – Editor-in-Chief

The brain is perhaps one of the most intricate and mysterious of the bodily organs. We use it every millisecond of our lives– When we are sleeping, when we are zoning out and even when we are unconscious, the brain is still at work.

However, the almighty brain is still a mystery to even the sharpest and most intelligent neurologists that work in the field of brain science.

When something goes terribly wrong within our brains, the healing process does not have a definitive ending and beginning as it would with ailments like the stomach flu or a broken arm. Unfortunately, when it comes to a neurological disease like Alzheimer’s, there may not be a way to reverse the changes it makes to the brain at all.

Forgetfulness is a natural part of the aging process, and part of being a human in general. Tumors/blood clots in the brain, depression, lack of sleep, certain medications, head injuries and alcohol use can impact one’s memory, but are not related to Alzheimer’s Disease. Dementia is also not the same as Alzheimer’s– Dementia is an umbrella term for a severe decline in mental ability, Alzheimer’s is a specific disease of the brain.

There are notable differences between being forgetful and having Alzheimer’s– For example, if you misplace your keys occasionally you are most likely just being forgetful, but if you constantly forget where the supermarket is… that could be a sign of Alzheimer’s.

In the brain of an individual with Alzheimer’s, protein fragments (amyloid plaque) builds up in between the nerve cells of the brain, and forms insoluble plaques. The accumulation of beta amyloid is detrimental to the communication between cells in the brain and is considered a trademark of Alzheimer’s.  

As the disease progresses, the “gray matter” of the brain that covers the cerebrum withers up and shrinks more rapidly than what is considered normal. This damage wreaks havoc on the brain’s functions, and the affected individuals lose the ability to plan, learn new information, recall information and concentrate. Damage to the cerebrum can also affect physical movement which is why individuals in the later stage of Alzheimer’s will have difficulty sitting up or walking on their own.

The hippocampus, the area of the brain that deals with memory, also shrivels and shrinks which disables the brain’s ability to create new memories. This is why an individual with Alzheimer’s might not remember who his or her newborn grandchildren are.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s– there are only treatments to delay the progress of brain degradation.  

Whereas Alzheimer’s is thought to be mostly genetic and unavoidable; research has shown that there are a variety of lifestyle changes one can make to prevent their chances of being diagnosed:

    • Exercise- Regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent. Exercise is not just great for your physical health, it can help stimulate connections in your brain and increase oxygen that is sent to the brain.

 

  • Healthy, balanced diet- Sometimes referred to as “the diabetes of the mind”, there really is no surprise that cutting down on sugar, processed meats, cheese and white carbohydrates can decrease one’s chance of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Sugar causes a spike in insulin and can cause inflammation in the brain which can lead to Alzheimer’s or other memory loss disease over time.

 

  • Never stop learning- If you don’t use it, you lose it. This applies to muscles as well as the brain. You should constantly challenge your brain to strengthen memory and ability to focus, and perhaps this will improve brain function and slow down dementia.