5 Random Things You Had No Clue Could Save Your Life
We all know the essentials of living a long, healthy life: Eat plenty of vegetables, exercise on a regular basis, and ensure that you get enough sleep. We also all completely ignore those essentials, because exercise is hard, double salted chocolate-coated pork rinds are delicious, and Star Wars isn't going to watch itself for the 40th time. Luckily, the Universe is trying to make up for our shortcomings with some very stupid boons to our health. For example ...
Breast Implants Offer Some Protection From Bullets
Cracked's medical team generally advises against getting shot, but if you absolutely have to, try to make sure that you're sporting breast implants before you start your slow-mo dive in front of your favorite celebrity. There is anecdotal evidence of breast implants protecting women from knife and gun wounds, but a presumably very bored team of scientists at the University of Utah decided to run tests and spawn a thousand "More like bulletproof chest!" headlines.
To accomplish this crucial contribution to science, they shot handguns at blocks of ballistics gel (basically fake human flesh), some of which were guarded by saline breast implants. The implants flattened and slowed the bullets, reducing the distance they, uh, penetrated the gel by about 20 percent. That's only eight centimeters, but that can make a big difference when we're talking about hot chunks of metal ripping into your body.
Bullet velocity and angle, along with the size of the implants (the test used the equivalent of a D cup), would all be factors in slowing or redirecting bullets. It's more of a curiosity than a policy recommendation. No one is suggesting that we start replacing bulletproof vests with giant boob implants, even though that would vastly improve the public image of SWAT teams. And it's presumably only a matter of time until the NRA starts arguing that the best way to stop school shootings would be to give all students breast implants to go with their bulletproof backpacks for full body coverage.
Doctors Who Listen To Star Wars Music Perform Better Colonoscopies
Music has long been used to reduce the stress and anxiety of patients, because if you're going to get rolled into the operating theater for open-heart surgery, it might as well be to the Terminator theme. There's also data suggesting that music helps doctors relax and focus during tricky procedures, and to explore that phenomenon in more detail, a study looked at how five endoscopists performed 103 colonoscopies while listening to two different types of music. One was '80s pop music (the study was conducted in Australia, which is only now getting ABBA and Michael Jackson), and the other was Star Wars soundtracks. Why Star Wars? Because the researchers could sense hundreds of lazy journalists crying out for easy, attention-grabbing headlines.
Enjoy imagining the opening crawl as slowly moving through a colon from now on. You're welcome.
Anyway, the study found that both types of music gave the endoscopists a slight skill boost, in turn providing a minor bump in the detection rate of polyps and tumors. While the results prompted countless hacky jokes about how the Force must have been with the doctors, the real takeaway is that music helps reduce stress. That may sound obvious. After all, if we forced you to perform some tedious data entry, you'd rather do it while rocking out than sitting in cold silence. But it is helpful to know that the same rule applies to far more complicated tasks.
Reddit Can Help Your Mental Health
Yes, Reddit -- the community full of so much hate and anger that a post about cute kittens could reach the front page and half the comments would be calling for a new Holocaust. The key is that Reddit is full of thousands of subreddits, and some can be quite supportive right up until they get targeted by white nationalists.
Subreddits designed for mental health were the focus of a study which found that users became better at communicating over time. When people first started posting on r/depression, r/bipolar, and r/schizophrenia, their posts were less readable and featured weaker vocabularies than a typical post from a control subreddit. But over time, they became more coherent and positive as they started offering help and thanks to others instead of wallowing in their own grammatically weak misery.
People suffering from mental illness can have trouble communicating their problems, and often lack a safe, accessible community to even make the attempt. Reddit offers both. Remember that for all the crap social media and sites like Reddit get, having a place where everyone shares your interests can be invaluable if that interest is "Let's work toward improving our mental health in a supportive, non-judgmental manner" and not "Let's call all feminists ugly whores."
The study also offered suggestions for the future, including improved autocorrect technology to make rambling posts easier to understand, and tools to help moderators look for signs of worsening communication, because if someone suddenly can't even be bothered to use commas, they might be having a rough time. Another good idea would be to ensure that users avoid, like, 95 percent of the rest of Reddit.
Watching Nature Shows Can Improve Your Body Image
As much as we may enjoy ordering an extra large pizza, hiding under a blanket, and binging three seasons of Bones, getting out into nature has a positive impact on our physical and mental health, at least once our devolving bodies readjust to the environment and we stop hissing at the big burning orb. More recent studies have found that these positive vibes extend to our body image, because when you're basking in sunlight away from all the beautiful people on TV, you're less likely to worry about that weird mole on your neck or the eight pounds you gained when you decided to have ice cream for dinner all week. Natural activities, like hiking, can also remind you that your body is perfectly functional regardless of how uneven your eyebrows are.
But getting into nature for the sake of one's health is obvious advice that our cardiologist keeps sternly reminding us of. What's less intuitive is that simply watching a nature program seems to offer the same body positivity benefits, either because a nature video can remind us that we're all one with the Universe or because even the tubbiest among us look pretty damn svelte and active when compared to some lazy sack of shit hippopotamus.
Another proposed explanation is that nature induces a laidback cognitive state wherein you're kinder to yourself and less concerned with material desires and problems, although this doesn't work if you're checking your Twitter feed every 30 seconds during the butterfly documentary. This could be especially helpful to people who don't have easy access to nature because they live in a city center, are disabled, or are just super, super lazy. There's still a lot of research to be done on the subject, but if you're feeling blah and merely want to zone out in front of the TV, it wouldn't hurt to try Planet Earth instead of whatever murdery documentary Netflix has cooked up for us next.
An Economic Recession Can Kill Unhealthy Habits
Good news for all of you currently working two jobs so you can scrape together enough money for both rent and instant ramen: Your inability to live better is going to allow you to suffer through many more healthy years!
It sounds counterintuitive, but if the vast majority of your income is tied up in taking care of basic necessities, then you can't afford to treat yourself to a sugary Starbucks drink every morning, beer every night, snacks during the day, and a steak and potatoes dinner from your local greasy spoon. Most people with a discretionary income don't spend that money on kale and a gym membership; they spend it on unhealthy crap that makes them happy. Of course, being too poor won't help either, because eating gently used McDonald's after the power's been shut off is soul-crushing. You need to find a sweet spot where you can afford all your bills and buy enough food to prepare simple meals, but be unable to enjoy little else beyond a library card and the odd movie. It's the "living, but not really alive" window.
Losing your job can also improve your health, as people who suddenly have time on their hands will get more sleep and no longer need three cans of Pepsi mixed with two cans of Mountain Dew to make it through the afternoon budget meeting. It's easier to stop bad habits when you literally can't afford them. The only problem is that you can't stay unemployed forever, and once your income improves, your unhealthy habits have a tendency of creeping right back in.
However, there is some evidence to suggest that on a societal level, a recession can create long-term change. Researchers studying the 2008 recession in Iceland found that even after the good times returned and vices like fast food consumption went back to their old levels, national alcohol consumption continued to decline. This is believed to have been caused by a mix of both economic changes, like adjustments in pricing and currency value, and subtle changes in cultural values. Recessions are like a Hallmark movie, in that they teach us to enjoy and appreciate non-alcohol-related activities.
Of course, an economic recession can also cause incredible amounts of stress, especially if you can no longer afford, say, lifesaving medication. But at least you won't be smoking and drinking that stress away!
Mark is on Twitter and has a book.
And if you're still stressed out and anxious all the time, maybe try a couple of stress balls.
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For more, check out 5 Shocking Unexpected Cures For Common Health Problems and 22 Ridiculous Health Myths You Probably Believe.
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