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Marijuana Use Among College Students Rising Fast

FRIDAY, Sept. 6, 2019 — Marijuana use by U.S. college students in 2018 was the highest in 35 years, researchers report.

Their survey of about 1,400 respondents, ages 19 to 22, found that about 43% of full-time college students said they used some form of marijuana at least once in the past year, up from 38% in 2017, and previous month use rose to 25% from 21%, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

The 2018 rates are the highest found in the annual University of Michigan survey since 1983.

About 6% of college students said they used marijuana 20 or more times in the past month, compared with 11% of respondents the same age who weren’t in college, the AP reported.

“It’s the frequent use we’re most worried about” because it’s associated with poor school performance and can harm mental health, researcher John Schulenberg said.

In the United States, marijuana use is greater among college-age adults than any other age group, the AP reported.

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Trans Students More at Risk of Mental Health Ills

By Robert Preidt        
       HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 16, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Transgender college students are two to four times more likely than their classmates to have mental health problems, researchers say.

       

They analyzed data from more than 1,200 gender-minority students on 71 U.S. campuses who took part in an annual nationwide survey. Gender-minority means their gender identity differs from the sex assigned to them at birth.

       

About 78% of the students met criteria for one or more mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-injury and suicide risk, the survey found.

       

Besides transgender individuals, gender minorities include people who are gender nonconforming, genderqueer and nonbinary.

       

Nearly 60% of them screened positive for clinically significant depression, compared to 28% of students whose sex assigned at birth aligns with their current gender identity (cisgender).

       

“There has never been a more important time for colleges and universities to take action to protect and support trans, genderqueer and nonbinary students on campus,” said lead author Sarah Ketchen Lipson, an assistant professor of health law, policy and management at Boston University.

       

Researchers also found that transgender men and genderqueer students (those who identify with neither, both or a combination of male and female genders) are particularly vulnerable. That requires further study, Lipson said in a university news release.

       

Previous research has shown that transgender college students experience near-constant discrimination and harassment and have higher dropout rates. Campus bathrooms and housing are among the most stressful issues for transgender students, who have a sharply higher suicide risk when they lack access to gender-appropriate facilities.

       

“Reports that more than 40% of transgender people have attempted suicide in their lifetimes suggested, to me, that there is a large and disproportionate burden of disease among [people in the gender minority] that public health research can contribute to addressing,” study co-author Julia Raifman said in the news release. Raifman is also an assistant professor of health law, policy and management at BU.

       

“Mental health outcomes, as well as negative educational outcomes like dropping out, are preventable,” Lipson said. “The most effective way to prevent them would be, from my perspective, through policy changes. Inclusive policies are necessary to advance equity. And that’s what I really want these data to speak to.”

       

The study was published Aug. 16 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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Sources

SOURCE: Boston University, news release, Aug. 16, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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But most teens have never sent or received a sex text, the new study found. It focused on about 5,600 students in American middle and high schools, ages 12 to 17.

By Kayla McKiski
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, July 26, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Parents of budding teens can breathe a little easier: A new study says adolescent “sexting” is not an epidemic.

On the other hand, it’s not disappearing, either, despite campaigns to curb it.

“Sexting is perceived as an epidemic because the news highlights extreme cases that involve tragic outcomes, and because it goes against standards of morality and decency that are historically entrenched,” said study author Sameer Hinduja, a professor of criminology at Florida Atlantic University.

But most teens have never sent or received a sex text, the new study found. It focused on about 5,600 students in American middle and high schools, ages 12 to 17.

Of those, about 14% had ever sent a sexually or explicit image or had received one.

For this study, researchers defined sexting as the exchange of nude or semi-nude photos or videos via text or private messaging on social media.

Other researchers have included sexually suggestive or explicit texts. Hinduja said his team didn’t include those, because they can’t lead to sextortion, child pornography charges or related fallout.

About 11% of the students said they had sent a sext to a boyfriend or girlfriend — and about 64% did so when asked to, the study found. But only 43% complied with a request from someone who was not a current romantic partner.

Boys were much more likely to have sent and received a sext from a current partner, but boys and girls were equally likely to receive them from others.

About 4% said they had shared an explicit image sent to them with someone else, without permission — and about as many suspected this had happened to them.

Hinduja said though dishonest responses were removed from the findings, “it is possible that the frequency of sexting among middle schoolers and high schoolers across the United States may be underrepresented in our research.”

While teen sexting is not rampant, the numbers have remained steady over the years, prompting many to question the effectiveness of campaigns to prevent it.

Continued

“Teens sext for a variety of reasons — the most popular are sexual exploration, fun, flirtation and to communicate sexual intent,” said Michelle Drouin, a psychology professor at Purdue University-Fort Wayne in Indianapolis. “In some ways it is part of sexual exploration in a digital age. Many teens do it — it’s not a ‘bad kid’ issue.”

Nonetheless, sexting has been linked to psychological trauma among adolescents.

“The young adults I survey sometimes feel distress about the nude or nearly nude photos they have sent,” said Drouin, who wasn’t involved with the study. “I think the only way to curb teen sexting is through targeted education. Sexting should definitely be a standard component of sex education.”

Hinduja said efforts to discourage sexting should not aim to stifle sexual development. Instead, they should focus on the seriousness of potential consequences — legal, financial, reputational, social or otherwise, he said.

For future research, his team is interested in exploring the best ways to deter teens from sexting.

“Are there any messages that resonate more powerfully so that they second-guess taking and sending a nude?” Hinduja said. “Do the consequences they hear about concern them at all? Do they have an invincibility complex about these sorts of things?”

In the meantime, letting teens know that a relatively small proportion of their peers engage in sexting may be a deterrent, he said.

“It underscores that it is not as normal, commonplace, or widespread as they might believe,” Hinduja said in a Florida Atlantic University news release.

The study was published recently in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. It was co-authored by Justin Patchin, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Patchin and Hinduja are co-directors of the Cyberbullying Research Center.

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Sources

SOURCES: Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., professor of criminology and criminal justice and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, Florida Atlantic University, Jupiter; Michelle Drouin, Ph.D., professor, psychology, Purdue University-Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, and senior research scientist, Parkview Research Center, Fort Wayne;Archives of Sexual Behavior, July 15, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Denver University Students Learn How to Pitch Marijuana Businesses

Cannabis continues to gain influence, not only in new business ventures, but in college education, too. Just take a peak inside professor Paul Seaborn’s Business of Marijuana course, where students at the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver took part in a potrepreneur pitch competition June 4.

Five teams of undergraduate and graduate DU students proposed new business ideas to a panel of cannabis industry judges including Julie Berliner, founder and CEO of edible company Sweet Grass Kitchen; Mark Grindeland, CEO and co-founder of Coda Signature edibles; and Carter Davidson, an executive at Vangst recruiting and staffing.

“From the time I joined DU in 2011, I just saw more and more interesting things taking place that were of interest to students. I had more and more students asking me, because of my business-government background, about the [cannabis] industry and wanting to do more projects on it and bringing in guest speakers,” Seaborn remembers. “To me, it seemed like an obvious thing that I was going to do, and I had to be quick before someone else beat me to it.”

But Seaborn is leaving DU at the end to the school year to take a position at the University of Virginia this summer, making the latest pitch contest his last — but it was hardly his most boring, with students presenting businesses based around pot business consulting, social consumption, recycled soil and cannabis spa treatments and nutrition.

“If you think you have a solution, go out and see if your idea is actually solving a problem,” Davidson told students. “A lot of businesses start by looking at a personal problem and realizing a lot of people have the same issue.”

Marijuana Deals Near You

For the first team, Weed-Cycle, that problem was sustainability, envisioning a company that would take used soil from cannabis grows and remove dead organic matter by burning it in dirt-sterilization ovens. The soil would then be treated for repurchase and delivered to grow facilities in the Denver area. However, a successful business requires more than a cool idea, with Grindeland and Berliner asking questions about profit margins and transportation.

“Is it better to deliver the message softly, or is it better to hear direct feedback?” Grindeland asked students. “Be prepared to hear a lot of ‘No’ when starting a business.”

Other pitch groups wanted to jump on social pot use, which could become a viable industry after Governor Jared Polis signed a law that will regulate such businesses by 2020. The proposed Cannabis Collective was inspired by the popular food hall concept, allowing cannabis consumption in a cafeteria-like setting with multiple restaurants and games, similar to establishments like the Source and Avanti in Denver.

Professor Paul Seaborn talks to his Business of Marijuana students during his final year at DU.

Professor Paul Seaborn talks to his Business of Marijuana students during his final year at DU.

Nina Petrovic

Another group interested in social use wanted to focus on wellness, creating Cannablissful Spa, where customers could use CBD and THC products while enjoying regular spa treatments like massages and pedicures. Unlike the first two teams, Cannablissful Spa opted to locate the company in Boulder, a community known for wealthy tourists and healthy living. Their goal was to create a space where customers, especially those new to consuming cannabis, can feel comfortable and safe while consuming. Revenue would be generated through massage services, membership fees and limited retail pot sales.

Elevated Nutrition, the proposed cannabis nutrition company, opted to be located in Aspen, where it would produce CBD-infused food and tinctures aimed at athletes along with exercise plans and diet guides. However, the panel of judges noted to be wary about making health claims with CBD, which currently sits on shaky ground with the Food and Drug Administration.

Although not as sexy as the first four pitch groups, the proposed Pioneer Consulting Group wanted to cash in on the lack of education surrounding the cannabis industry — a common and successful idea in a trade marred by different regulations from state to state. The firm would provide business analyses and recommendations to investors and businesses in cannabis, providing market, competitive, internal and legal analysis as well as giving recommendations to cannabis companies on whom to partner with.

After all five presentations were completed, the panel decided that Cannablissful Spa was the only business with potential value for funding, believing the social consumption, tourism and wellness sectors was a good mix for potential profits.

Although this is likely to be the final offering of the Business of Marijuana class at DU (the class isn’t scheduled for the 2019 fall semester as of now), Seaborn hopes that courses on cannabis will continue to be taught in colleges in Denver and elsewhere.

“This industry is unique in so many ways, from state regulations to the way it’s taxed. And we know so little about how it’s going to look that it’s not something you can just integrate with other courses,” he says. “I would think there is opportunity to expand into some broader programs, whether it’s a certificate or a major or a degree program.”


Toke of the Town

UCLA, Cal State Students Under Measles Quarantine

April 26, 2019 — Quarantine orders have been issued to more than 200 students and employees at the University of California, Los Angeles, and California State-Los Angeles because they may have been exposed to measles.

This comes just days after a measles outbreak was declared in Los Angeles County, The New York Times reported.

At California State-Los Angeles, county officials issued quarantine orders to people who may have been exposed to a contagious person who visited a university library on April 11.

“At this point, 127 staff employees and 71 student employees have been sent home under quarantine orders,” the university said Thursday night, The Times reported.

At UCLA, a student with measles went to classes in two buildings on April 2, 4 and 9 while contagious, according to Chancellor Gene Block.

“Upon learning of this incident, UCLA immediately identified and notified more than 500 students, faculty and staff with whom the student may have come into contact or who may have otherwise been exposed,” Block said in a statement, The Times reported.

Initially, 119 students and eight faculty members were issued quarantine orders. By late Thursday, the number of students and staff under quarantine was 82.

“We expect the trend to continue as more people provide proof of immunization or are shown by tests to have immunity to measles,” according to the university, The Times reported.

The quarantine period ends on April 30 for UCLA and on May 2 for California State-Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said.

It also said that other measles exposures may have occurred this month at Los Angeles International Airport and at several restaurants near Glendale, The Times reported.

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USC Students Blaze a Trail with Ollie

The short film Trailblazer may appear at first glance to be animation created by a soon-to-graduate student from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. While the 3 ½-minute Trailblazer does reflect the skills of USC senior Sagar Ramesh, it’s also the product of a new animation tool developed by students themselves.

Trailblazer is an animated visual music piece that follows a ball of light as it travels through space and time,” explains Ramesh, who wrote, animated and directed it. “From wood fire to LEDs, Trailblazer is a fast-paced exploration into light’s many forms, set to original music and animated in Ollie.”

Although Trailblazer screens in 2D form at USC’s Norris Cinema Theater — with a surround sound score by USC’s Thornton School of Music graduate David Deedwania – its animation also represents an ambitious 3D agenda. The “Ollie” to which Ramesh refers is a homegrown tool that can be used ultimately to create imagery for augmented and virtual reality.

“It’s designed for beginners in 3D animation,” says Ramesh, who served as lead product designer on a team that included product designer Annie Oh, technical artist Carson Hall and software engineers Drew Okenfuss and Zachary Flores. Except for Hall — a friend of Okenfuss who studied graphic design at the Savannah College of Art and Design — the students behind Ollie are from USC. Ramesh asserts that this is the first time a group of students from the USC School of Cinematic Arts have made a film with a tool they invented themselves.

“All of us have some AR or VR experience,” notes Ramesh, who interned at Oculus during his college years. But he stresses that Ollie was designed for artists who haven’t surmounted the learning curve required to master 3D animation tools like Maya. “We’re into making technology more accessible,” he says. Ramesh compares the approach behind Ollie to the way that iMovie can be a stepping stone to advanced video editing programs like Premiere. “We’re building a series of features into Ollie that introduce key concepts like squash and stretch to new animators, in a highly visual way.”

Early feedback has reinforced the positive expectations of Ollie’s collegiate development team. “We’ve been testing it every single week,” explains Ramesh. “We’re targeting a demographic of 13- to 18-year olds.” These high school-level testers have taken readily to using the models contained within Ollie, and making animated vignettes that they can take videos of in VR. “One of them used our models of boats and created a regatta for himself.”

Being able to pick up a virtual object and manipulate it certainly makes the prospect of VR creation more approachable. Ollie is engineered to polish the rough animation produced by fledgling animators, but Ramesh stresses that Ollie’s ultimate goal is to empower storytellers. “It’s not just a gimmick,” he says.

Hence the creation of the demonstration film Trailblazer, on which Ramesh collaborated with the Ollie development team. The project benefited from the filmmaking input of veteran USC faculty members Candace Reckinger, Mike Patterson and Sheila Sofian, and Ramesh personally cites the influence of Mark Bolas, Associate Professor at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts’ Interactive Media Division. As a freshman, Ramesh had worked on the graphic elements for the “Sandbox VR” project created in Bolas’ MXR studio at USC.

While Ramesh may have come of age during the emergence of VR and AR technology, he knows full well that turning Ollie into a tool for interactive storytelling will be challenging. After all, his internship at Oculus happened the same year that Facebook closed the Oculus Story Studio — led by veterans of Pixar — that had been envisioned as a supplier of creative VR content for the Oculus Rift platform.

“We know that the hardware cost is still prohibitive for many users,” Ramesh acknowledges. But he thinks that the enthusiastic responses to VR exhibitions at venues like San Francisco’s Exploratorium indicate that VR’s future is viable. “We’re planning on launching Ollie in the Oculus Store and Steam in the coming months,” he says. They also hope to demonstrate Ollie at SIGGRAPH this summer. With any luck at all, Trailblazer will be an aptly named intro to Ollie, and the students who made it.

Trailblazer storyboards

Trailblazer storyboards

Trailblazer / Ollie

Trailblazer / Ollie

Animation Magazine

Deadly Meningitis B Targets College Students

By Alan Mozes

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 2, 2019 (HealthDay News) — College students face a much higher risk for the deadly bacterial infection meningitis B, a new analysis shows.

Investigators from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that students who were aged 18 to 24 were 3.5 times more likely to contract meningitis B than their peers who were not in school.

The research team, led by Dr. Sarah Mbaeyi from the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said the finding highlights the urgent need to ensure that all students get vaccinated against the disease before they head off to a university.

“Meningitis B is an uncommon but potentially deadly bacterial infection that leads to inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord,” explained Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

A meningitis B infection may “also may lead to meningococcal sepsis, or bacteria invading the bloodstream,” added Glatter, who was not part of the study. “The combination of these factors can make it lethal in less than 24 hours.”

The latest findings essentially confirm long-standing fears about college-related vulnerabilities, given that “the bacteria that leads to meningitis B lives in the nose and throat and can be spread by close contact from coughing, sneezing or kissing,” Glatter noted.

“The truth is that health care professionals have always been concerned about the heightened risk of meningitis among college students living in close quarters together and sharing drinks and utensils,” he explained.

That thought was seconded by Dr. Lucila Marquez, an assistant professor of pediatrics in the section of pediatric infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, in Houston. She said that “college freshmen living in residence halls were previously known to have an increased risk for other forms of meningococcal disease.”

When the meningitis B vaccine first became available in 2015, college students were not recognized as a high-risk group and not recommended for routine vaccination.

But “it’s important for college attendees to be vaccinated, because vaccination is the only reliable means of preventing devastating meningococcal disease,” said Marquez, who co-authored an editorial that accompanied the study.

Continued

Vaccination could help protect both the 10 percent to 15 percent of meningitis B patients who ultimately die from their infection, and those who survive the disease only to endure serious long-term health consequences.

Given that over one-third of meningitis infections occur among young Americans aged 16 to 23, Marquez stressed that parents “should feel confident that MenB vaccines are safe.”

During their investigation, Mbaeyi and her team identified 166 cases of some form of meningococcal disease (including B, C and Y infections) between 2014 and 2016 among Americans aged 18 to 24. Of those, 83 were college students.

Among the student group, more than three-quarters of the infections were meningitis B, the investigators found. This compared with less than 40 percent of the meningitis cases cited among non-college patients.

The findings were published in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Still, Glatter observed that the overall risk for contracting meningitis B remains “low,” even among college students. The CDC concurs, noting that in 2016 there was a total of about 370 cases of all forms of meningococcal disease across all age groups in the United States.

However, “the reality is that we need to better inform parents and health care providers about the importance of vaccinating college students against this potentially deadly illness,” said Glatter. “It’s simply not worth taking the risk, even in light of the low prevalence of this disease.”

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Sources

SOURCES: Lucila Marquez, M.D., MPH, assistant professor, pediatrics, section of pediatric infectious diseases, Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston, and associate medical director, infection control and prevention, Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston; Robert Glatter, M.D., emergency physician, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; January 2019,Pediatrics

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

‘); } else { // If we match both our test Topic Ids and Buisness Ref we want to place the ad in the middle of page 1 if($ .inArray(window.s_topic, moveAdTopicIds) > -1 && $ .inArray(window.s_business_reference, moveAdBuisRef) > -1){ // The logic below reads count all nodes in page 1. Exclude the footer,ol,ul and table elements. Use the varible // moveAdAfter to know which node to place the Ad container after. window.placeAd = function(pn) { var nodeTags = [‘p’, ‘h3′,’aside’, ‘ul’], nodes, target; nodes = $ (‘.article-page:nth-child(‘ + pn + ‘)’).find(nodeTags.join()).not(‘p:empty’).not(‘footer *’).not(‘ol *, ul *, table *’); //target = nodes.eq(Math.floor(nodes.length / 2)); target = nodes.eq(moveAdAfter); $ (”).insertAfter(target); } // Currently passing in 1 to move the Ad in to page 1 window.placeAd(1); } else { // This is the default location on the bottom of page 1 $ (‘.article-page:nth-child(1)’).append(”); } } })(); $ (function(){ // Create a new conatiner where we will make our lazy load Ad call if the reach the footer section of the article $ (‘.main-container-3’).prepend(”); });

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CDC: 1 in 5 U.S. High School Students Now Vapes

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Nov. 15, 2018 (HealthDay News) — More than 20 percent of high school students use electronic cigarettes, risking nicotine addiction, lung damage and the temptation to try traditional smokes, U.S. health officials reported Thursday.

Between 2011 and 2018, the number of high school teens who started vaping, as e-cigarette use is called, increased from 220,000 (1.5 percent) to just over 3 million (20.8 percent), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“These new data show that America faces an epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, which threatens to engulf a new generation in nicotine addiction,” Alex Azar, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), said in a news release.

Those startling statistics have prompted federal health officials to take action.

On Thursday, U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb announced that his agency was seeking to stop the sale of flavored e-cigarettes other than mint and menthol flavors to minors.

His proposals include having stores that sell vaping products make them available only in age-restricted areas. In addition, Gottlieb called for stricter age verification for e-cigarettes sold online.

“By one measure, the rate of youth e-cigarette use almost doubled in the last year, which confirms the need for FDA’s ongoing policy proposals and enforcement actions. HHS’s work will continue to balance the need to prevent youth use of e-cigarettes with ensuring they are available as an off-ramp for adults who are trying to quit combustible [tobacco] cigarettes,” Azar said.

The findings were reported in the Nov. 16 issue of the CDC publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

“The youth use of e-cigarettes is at an epidemic level. It’s truly troubling,” said Erika Sward, assistant vice president for national advocacy at the American Lung Association.

E-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking regular cigarettes, she said. Moreover, chemicals in them can cause lung damage and result in addiction to nicotine.

According to the new report, e-cigarette use among high school students increased 78 percent from 2017 to 2018.

Continued

During the same year, the use of flavored e-cigarettes among high school students already using e-cigarettes increased from 61 percent to 68 percent.

In addition, the use of menthol or mint-flavored e-cigarettes rose from 42 percent of all e-cigarette users to 51 percent.

E-cigarette use also increased among middle school students, from less than 1 percent in 2011 to nearly 5 percent in 2018, researchers found.

“FDA has to act, but we also need state and local government to act as well,” Sward said. “This is too big for everybody not to have a role in reducing the use of e-cigarettes.”

Sward said the lung association is upset that the FDA stopped short of banning mint and menthol e-cigarettes. “FDA’s plan is not going to go far enough,” she noted.

Many teens use mint and menthol e-cigarettes, which Sward believes are specifically marketed to attract minors.

“The tobacco industry knows that mint and menthol help the poison go down,” she said. “And they have been using menthol cigarettes to addict millions of people for decades, and that trend has tragically continued with e-cigarettes.”

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Sources

SOURCES: Erika Sward, assistant vice president, national advocacy, American Lung Association; Nov. 16, 2018,Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report; Nov. 15, 2018, press releases, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


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Colleges Strain to Keep Up With Students’ Mental Health Concerns