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4 Things young adults should be concerned about, but aren’t

There is no excuse for ignorance and while everyone can believe that something will ‘never happen to them’, it’s not always the case. Cancer happens. Heart disease happens. And not just to old people. It’s so important to be informed and if you are a young adult reading this right now, then you need to go and pick up a pamphlet or four. Learn what the risks are in your life and you can be far more vigilant against them.

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We live in a time of high consumption. We want more of everything now: more time, more social life, more travel, more technology. Whatever young adults today want, they want more of it. The problem is that the current generation believe that they are invincible. Nothing can hurt them despite the incorrect perception that they are a low-risk population.

This feeling of blanket invincibility means that young people are no longer worrying about the big things in life, while they should. The notion that an entire generation believe that they are untouchable by health issues is alarming, especially as the world we live in today is still as dangerous for our health than it ever has been before.

Young adults face many risks in the world when it comes to their health and paying attention to the risks is seen as uncool and for ‘grown ups’. The lack of insight about the world and what can affect them is a concern in a world bursting with a constant flow of information. So, what risks do young adults face today that they are turning a blind eye to?

Chronic Disease

The tragedies that happen in life, such as heart disease, depression and types of cancer that require appointments with Dr. Daniel Allison, are not considered a concern by many young adults. The reason for this is that the 18 – 25 age range believe that most of those issues are for ‘older’ adults and middle age. The thing that most just don’t understand is that those three medical concerns are in the top five causes of death in young adults. Cancer is a scary concept, but bone and soft tissue cancers are much more common in young adults and it’s important to stay vigilant about lifestyle to avoid developing these. Many diseases that either begin or advance in those early adult years are often not picked up on until at a later stage. Heart disease and stroke are far better addressed in youth, because lifestyle changes can be made early to avoid them.

Accidents

Live fast, die young, right? No – absolutely not. Young adults believing that they are invincible will be in for a short, sharp shock when they discover that, actually, driving fast and disregarding road rules is tantamount to idiocy. The 18 – 25 age group are the group that spend more time involved in car accidents and hospitalization because of it than any other age group. It’s this culture of invincibility that makes them believe that weaving through cars and speeding is a good idea – it’s not.

Of course, not every young adult thinks this way, but almost all young adults have a very blasé view of seatbelts and road safety. Watching the road is important as is staying safe: it could make the difference to whether or not you live or die on the next road trip.

Intentional Injury

Gangs aren’t uncommon across the countries and for the most part, gang members fit into the young adult bracket. Firearms, knife attacks and general infighting and abuse are prevalent among this age group, and intentional injury is high. The 18-25 bracket also have a far higher risk of suicide and psychological distress. The bridge from teenager years to adulthood can be a difficult one to balance for most, and the onset of suicidal thoughts can be a result of this stress. They are also at a bigger risk of firearm injury than teenagers and older adults.

Young adults also show a large disregard for sexual health, putting themselves at risk for STDs and unwanted pregnancies. This is largely due to a lack of education both at school and at home. Understanding the risks of not using contraception just doesn’t enter their minds at a time of hormones and thinking less with their brains.

Drugs & Alcohol

Making the decision to excessively drink or to experiment with recreational drugs are immature and the opposite of sensible. The thing is, when you’re young and in high school and then college, you can be easily swayed by peer pressure to experience those things. Young adults fit into the category of ignorance when it comes to the risk of drink and drugs, especially as both of these things are seen as a rite of passage during the college years.

There is a lot of information out there on why they should just say no, but not enough people actually do it. Taking drugs in some forms isn’t just illegal and it doesn’t just affect the taker. Having a low perception of risk means that adults 21-25 are most likely to get arrested for a DUI and be in an accident related to drink driving or driving under the influence. The taker isn’t just the only person at risk; the death rate for those hit by drunk drivers is far too high to be any kind of okay!

Insurance for young people who believe that nothing will happen to them is low, and it’s something that should be brought up very regularly with the current generation. Ignorance is not okay, and choosing to turn a blind eye to bad behavior that could affect other people is also not okay. Young adults who believe that they are invincible will need a reality check. We may live in a world that is fighting for change: with LGBTQ+ rights now fought for daily and the fight for acceptance no matter what gender you are on the rise, the world should be concentrating on making sure that our young adults are informed, educated and understanding.

There is no excuse for ignorance and while everyone can believe that something will ‘never happen to them’, it’s not always the case. Cancer happens. Heart disease happens. And not just to old people. It’s so important to be informed and if you are a young adult reading this right now, then you need to go and pick up a pamphlet or four. Learn what the risks are in your life and you can be far more vigilant against them.

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Health & Wellness

Female to male trans adolescents report highest rate of attempted suicide at 50.8%

A study found that almost 14% of adolescents reported a previous suicide attempt, with disparities by gender identity in suicide attempts. Female to male adolescents reported the highest rate of attempted suicide (50.8%), followed by adolescents who identified as not exclusively male or female (41.8%).

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 Nearly 14% of adolescents reported a previous suicide attempt, with female to male adolescents reporting the highest rate of attempted suicide at 50.8%.

This is according to “Transgender Adolescent Suicide Behavior“, a study done by Russell B. Toomey, Amy K. Syvertsen and Maura Shramko, and released in Pediatrics. The study eyed to examine prevalence rates of suicide behavior across six gender identity groups: female; male; transgender, male to female; transgender, female to male; transgender, not exclusively male or female; and questioning. A secondary objective was to examine variability in the associations between key sociodemographic characteristics and suicide behavior across gender identity groups.

Data from the “Profiles of Student Life: Attitudes and Behaviors” survey (N = 120 617 adolescents; ages 11–19 years) were used to achieve the study objectives. Data were collected over a 36-month period: June 2012 to May 2015. A dichotomized self-reported lifetime suicide attempts (never versus ever) measure was used. Prevalence statistics were compared across gender identity groups, as were the associations between sociodemographic characteristics (i.e. age, parents’ highest level of education, urbanicity, sexual orientation, and race and/or ethnicity) and suicide behavior.

The study found that almost 14% of adolescents reported a previous suicide attempt, with disparities by gender identity in suicide attempts. Female to male adolescents reported the highest rate of attempted suicide (50.8%), followed by adolescents who identified as not exclusively male or female (41.8%), male to female adolescents (29.9%), questioning adolescents (27.9%), female adolescents (17.6%), and male adolescents (9.8%).

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Identifying as non-heterosexual exacerbated the risk for all adolescents except for those who did not exclusively identify as male or female (i.e. non-binary). For transgender adolescents, no other sociodemographic characteristic was associated with suicide attempts.

According to the researchers, “Suicide prevention efforts can be enhanced by attending to variability within transgender populations, particularly the heightened risk for female to male and non-binary transgender adolescents.”

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Health & Wellness

Trans-inclusive policies on college campuses improve the well-being of trans students

New report provides recommendations to institutions of higher education regarding the creation of trans-inclusive communities.

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report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds that transgender-inclusive policies and support systems on college campuses provide transgender students a greater sense of belonging and more positive perceptions of the campus environment.

The report reviews previous research on the experiences of transgender students and presents new findings from interviews, surveys and focus groups conducted with transgender students.

“The majority of transgender students arrive at college having endured harassment and bullying in secondary school, which research shows have a negative impact on their academic performance and mental health. This cycle may be compounded by further adverse treatment and institutional invisibility at college,” said author Abbie E. Goldberg, former visiting scholar at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. “However, through relatively small changes, faculty and administrators can make a world of difference in the lives of transgender young adults.”

The current research focused on the institutional structures and interpersonal interactions at colleges and universities that either enforce biases or serve as sources of support for transgender students. The report concludes with ten recommendations to institutions of higher education on how to create more transgender-inclusive campus communities.

Key recommendations include:

  • Colleges and universities should explicitly include gender identity and expression in their nondiscrimination policies.
  • College curricula should address gender identity and specifically transgender identities and experiences.
  • Students should be provided with education/training to enhance their understanding and acceptance of gender diversity.
  • Faculty/staff should be exposed to mandatory training on gender identity issues.
  • Students should be able to list their preferred name on campus records and alternatives to male/female should be provided.
  • All university literature and publications should use gender-inclusive language.
  • Gender-inclusive or single-stall restrooms should be readily available on campus.
  • Universities should provide trans-inclusive/trans-accommodating housing options.
  • Counseling and health services staff should receive training on trans-inclusive and trans-affirming practices and health insurance coverage should be inclusive of trans students.
  • Trans-specific spaces and/or groups should be created with sufficient resources to support programming and events.
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“A growing body of research indicates that gender, including gender identity, expression and gender norms, plays a key role in academic, health and economic outcomes,” said Kerith J. Conron, the Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute. “Colleges should engage students and faculty in conversations about gender and examine policies, including those related to information systems, through a comprehensive gender lens. This would have the potential to improve campus safety and promote academic success for all students.”

READ THE REPORT HERE.

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Health & Wellness

Report identifies unique challenges for LGBT community facing Alzheimer’s and other dementias

Despite recent advances in LGBT rights, LGBT older people are often marginalized and face discrimination. They are twice as likely to age without a spouse or partner, twice as likely to live alone and three to four times less likely to have children.

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LGBT and Dementia – a new issues brief developed by the Alzheimer’s Association and SAGE – outlines the unique issues that arise when Alzheimer’s disease, sexual orientation, and gender identification and expression intersect, allowing advocates and care providers to better meet the needs of LGBT elders and their caregivers facing dementia.

“Living with Alzheimer’s or another dementia is not easy for anyone,” said Sam Fazio, Ph.D., director of quality care and psychosocial research, Alzheimer’s Association. “But LGBT individuals can often face additional challenges that need to be considered and addressed to ensure this population gets respectful and competent care.”

It is estimated that there are 2.7 million LGBT people over age 50 living in the US alone, and that number is increasing rapidly as baby boomers age and more people self-identify as LGBT. New research presented at the 2018 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference found that about one in 13 lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) seniors in the US are living with dementia. Dementia rates for the LGB population are 7.4 percent, compared to about 10 percent for the general population.

“While the LGBT community faces similar health concerns as the general public, LGBT people who receive a dementia diagnosis and LGBT caregivers face uniquely challenging circumstances,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “This brief shines a light on these challenges, so we can begin taking steps to address them and improve the care and support LGBT people receive.”

Despite recent advances in LGBT rights, LGBT older people are often marginalized and face discrimination. They are twice as likely to age without a spouse or partner, twice as likely to live alone and three to four times less likely to have children – greatly limiting their opportunities for support. There’s also a lack of transparency as 40 percent of LGBT older people in their 60s and 70s say their healthcare providers don’t know their sexual orientation.

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The brief identifies seven areas which can create unique or additional challenges for LGBT individuals living with dementia and their caregivers. They include:

  • Stigma
  • Social isolation
  • Poverty
  • Health disparities
  • Sexuality and sexual expression
  • Barriers to utilizing existing services
  • Living with HIV/AIDS

According to the brief, LGBT individuals may not reach out for services and support because they fear poor treatment due to their LGBT identity, because they fear the stigma of being diagnosed with dementia, or both. Several studies document that LGBT elders access essential services, including visiting nurses, food stamps, senior centers, and meal plans, much less frequently than the general aging population.

The Institute of Medicine identified the following pressing health issues for LGBT people: lower rates of accessing care (up to 30 percent); increased rates of depression; higher rates of obesity in the lesbian population; higher rates of alcohol and tobacco use; higher risk factors of cardiovascular disease for lesbians; and higher incidents of HIV/AIDS for gay and bisexual men. Risk factors for heart disease — including diabetes, tobacco use, high blood pressure and high cholesterol — are also risk factors for Alzheimer’s and stroke-related dementia.

Among the recommendations for organizations and service providers, the Alzheimer’s Association and SAGE suggest:

  • Expand your definition of family.
  • Educate yourself and your staff on LGBT cultural competency.
  • Find or create support groups specifically for LGBT people.
  • Partner with local LGBT community groups and political organizations.
  • Help LGBT people and their families with legal and financial planning.
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Health & Wellness

6 Ways you’re wrecking your mental health

In recent years, the stigma surrounding mental health has started to lift, allowing us to finally have open conversations about our well-being. However mentally healthy you may be or think you are, it’s crucial that you do what you can to take care of yourself.

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Like physical health, we all have a state of mental health, with some people being deemed relatively healthy and others requiring professional help. In recent years, the stigma surrounding mental health has started to lift, allowing us to finally have open conversations about our well-being. However mentally healthy you may be or think you are, it’s crucial that you do what you can to take care of yourself.

Keeping that in mind, here are six mental health mistakes to avoid.

1. Lack Of Physical Activity

Everyone knows that exercise helps us to stay physically fit, but what many people don’t realize is that it can prevent stress and anxiety too. In fact, experts believe that a simple thirty-minute walk can have an effect, with more physical activities having a bigger and better outcome. Because of this, it’s vital that you make time to exercise for at least thirty minutes every single day.

2. Not Getting Enough Sleep

While it’s important to stay active, this doesn’t mean sacrificing sleep in the process. When you have a rough nights sleep, it can leave you feeling cranky, emotional, and stressed, and this will start to cause damage unless you get into a proper routine and stick to seven or eight hours a night. To help you ensure this, you should keep your room dark and cool, with no electronics.

While you should certainly distance yourself from people that make you feel bad, you shouldn’t isolate yourself from everyone you know.
PHOTO BY STOCKSNAP FROM PIXABAY.COM

3. Associating With Negative People

Regardless of the state of your mental health, associating with people that make you feel bad about yourself will always cause some damage. If the person making you feel this way is a family member or spouse, then you should consider family counseling and couples therapy retreats to deal with your issues. For those that aren’t family, you may want to distance yourself.

4. Isolating Yourself From Friends

While you should certainly distance yourself from people that make you feel bad, you shouldn’t isolate yourself from everyone you know. Even introverted people need social interaction now and then, or you’ll start to feel lonely, depressed, and may even develop social anxiety. If you start to spend lots of time alone, arrange to meet up with friends after work or give your mom a call.

5. Refusing To Get Help

No matter what people tell you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. In fact, that’s the very best thing you can do. With that in mind, it’s crucial that you speak to a doctor, counsellor, or therapist when you start to notice problems with your mental health. They’ll be able to offer advice on ways to boost your mental health, including possible treatment options.

6. Self-Medicating With Substances

Drinking, smoking, and taking drugs may offer a temporary release from your mental health issues, but they are far from a cure. In fact, all they’re ever going to do is make your problems worse, while adding an addiction to the mix. Instead of trying to handle things yourself, speak to a professional for support and advice on proper treatment methods.

Mental health is not something that should be taken lightly, so avoid making the mistakes listed above.

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Health & Wellness

LGBQ adolescents at substantially greater risk for substance use, according to study

Almost 72% of LGBQ teens had tried alcohol in their lifetimes, as had 63% of heterosexual youth. With cigarettes, 47% of LGBQ youth said they had smoked at least once, as did 31% of heterosexual teens.

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual or questioning teens are at least twice as likely than their heterosexual peers to use illegal drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, heroin and methamphetamines. This is according to a US study, “Substance Use Among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Questioning Adolescents in the United States, 2015” by Theodore L. Caputi, Laramie R. Smith, Steffanie A. Strathdee and John W. Ayers; and published in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) this August.

This ought not to come as a surprise, with earlier researches suggesting that various stressors related to being closeted or coming out, and being rejected by family or friends could contribute to an increased risk of substance use among sexual minority teens.

For this study, the researchers looked at data from 14,703 high school students who were surveyed about their lifetime and prior-month use of 15 different substances, including illegal drugs, as well as tobacco, alcohol and prescription drugs that weren’t given to them by a physician.

Sadly, LGBQ teens were 12% more likely than other teens to report any substance use in their lifetimes and 27% more likely to report substance use in the previous month.

Other findings included:

  • LGBQ youth were more than three times more likely to try heroin or methamphetamines at least once, and more than twice as likely to try ecstasy or cocaine.
  • The vast majority of teens didn’t use illegal drugs, regardless of sexual orientation.
    For example, “only” 6.6% of LBGQ teens had used heroin in their lifetimes, compared with 1.3% of heterosexual youth. Also, 8.6% of LGBQ adolescents had used methamphetamines compared with 2.1% of other teens.
  • Marijuana was more commonly used at some point by half of LGBQ youth and almost 38% of other teens.
  • Teen drinking and smoking were more common. Almost 72% of LGBQ teens had tried alcohol in their lifetimes, as had 63% of heterosexual youth. With cigarettes, 47% of LGBQ youth said they had smoked at least once, as did 31% of heterosexual teens.
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Interviewed by Reuters Health, one of the study’s authors, John Ayers, was quoted as saying that stressors faced by LGBQ teens, such as stigma and isolation, “may make drugs foolishly appear attractive as a coping mechanism.”

Ayers quipped that “even experimentation with these harder drugs can derail a teen’s future.”

It is worth noting that the study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or sexual orientation might directly influence substance use or impact how much teens smoked, drank or did drugs.

All the same, the researchers of this study stressed that “policymakers should invest in prevention and early intervention resources to address substance use risks among LGBQ adolescents.”

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Health & Wellness

Gender-affirming hormone therapy impacts results of lab tests for trans patients

The fact that many medical protocols do not account for sex/gender incongruence is a significant barrier for transgender individuals seeking healthcare.

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Gender-affirming hormone therapy markedly impacts the results of common laboratory tests for transgender patients. This is according to a study that underscores the need for transgender-specific reference intervals to ensure this underserved population receives accurate diagnoses and effective treatments.

The fact that many medical protocols do not account for sex/gender incongruence is a significant barrier for transgender individuals seeking healthcare. In particular, for the nearly 50% of transgender individuals on hormone therapy, the medical field has yet to define reference intervals, which are the ranges of test result values observed in a healthy population that are used to determine whether individual lab results are normal or concerning.

Without tailored reference intervals, test results for transgender patients on hormone therapy could indicate an underlying condition but go unrecognized if they are considered normal for cisgender individuals (those whose gender matches their assigned-at-birth sex). Conversely, if lab results for transgender patients fall outside of cisgender reference intervals, they could trigger unnecessary follow-up work even if the results are actually normal.

To help build the case for developing transgender reference intervals, a research team led by Jeff SoRelle, MD, of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, investigated whether transgender patients on hormone therapy exhibit altered results for laboratory tests ordered during yearly check-ups. The study authors recorded lab values for a complete blood count, comprehensive metabolic panel, and lipid tests in 264 healthy transgender patients undergoing hormone therapy in transgender clinics from 2007 to 2017. Of these patients, 133 were taking estradiol to transition from male to female, and 89 were taking testosterone to transition from female to male. The scientists also gathered lab results for 149 transgender patients not undergoing hormone therapy to serve as a point of comparison.

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From this, the researchers determined that both transgender women and men taking hormones displayed altered values for measures of red blood cell, kidney, and liver health. Transgender women taking hormones also had altered sodium, calcium, total protein, glucose, and platelet levels, while transgender men taking hormones displayed altered lipid values. Interpretation of these altered test results in the context of cisgender reference intervals could have serious consequences, from preventing diagnosis of anemia or kidney disease to affecting assessment of cardiovascular disease risk.

“Transgender patients will need their own reference ranges for several important parameters such as hemoglobin and creatinine,” said SoRelle. “It will also be important to determine whether proteins from cardiac muscle or the prostate, such as troponins or prostate specific antigen, are altered, too, which could affect diagnosis of heart attacks and prostate cancer.”

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