How Texting and IMing Helps Introverted Teens

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August 31st, 2012

Digital communication may seem impersonal, but that distance may also provide some benefits, especially for troubled teens
By Maia Szalavitz

There is plenty of grumbling about how social media — texting in particular — may be harming children’s social and intellectual development. But a new study suggests that constant IM’ing and texting among teens may also provide benefits, particularly for those who are introverted.

Israeli researchers studied instant messages exchanged by 231 teens, aged 14 to 18. All of the participants were “regular” or “extensive” IM’ers. In the U.S., two thirds of teens use instant messaging services regularly, with a full third messaging at least once every day.

The researchers analyzed 150 conversations in the study, and reported the results in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. In 100 of these chats, the study participant began IM’ing while in a negative emotional state such as sadness, distress or anger. The rest were conversations begun when the participant was feeling good or neutral. After the chat, participants reported about a 20% reduction in their distress— not enough to completely eliminate it, but enough to leave them feeling better than they had before reaching out.

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Can Pro-Anorexia Websites Help Heal Some Eating Disorders?

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August 28th, 2012

They’re widely considered harmful and banned online, but “pro-ana” blogs may provide the kind of social support that some anorexics need to recover
By Maia Szalavitz

Websites and blogs that support anorexia — known as pro-ana sites — have been widely banned online by sites like Pinterest, Yahoo and Tumblr. For anyone who’s ever visited a pro-ana site, the reason is clear: the content exchanged in these online communities is often shocking. They use images of emaciated models and celebrities as “thinspiration” for vulnerable girls, and include frank discussions of the best methods for achieving extreme weight loss.

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Circumcision: Pediatricians Say Benefits Trump Risks

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August 28th, 2012

After years of remaining neutral, the American Academy of Pediatrics has revised its policy statement, saying that the risks of newborn circumcision are outweighed by the health benefits
By Bonnie Rochman

The newborn penis has been the subject of more than a little ink lately. San Francisco tried in vain to curtail circumcision. Germany recently ruled that the procedure constitutes “bodily harm.” “Intactivists” rail against circumcision even as most baby boys born in the U.S still get circumcised.

Until now, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has remained fairly neutral on the subject. But on Monday, the influential pediatricians’ group updated its policy statement from 1999, stating that the “preventive health benefits of elective circumcision of male newborns outweigh the risks of the procedure.” The organization stopped short of routinely recommending the procedure for all baby boys, noting that the decision of whether circumcision “is in the best interests of their male child” should be left up to individual families. But they added that those families that choose circumcision — and most U.S. families still do, although the practice has been on the decline — should be reimbursed by insurance.

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Heavy Women May Be More Likely to See Breast Cancer Recur

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August 28th, 2012

Overweight and obese women may have a tougher battle in store when it comes to breast cancer: a new study published in the journal Cancer finds that carrying extra pounds is linked with a higher risk of cancer recurrence and death.

Previous studies have linked obesity with breast cancer recurrence, but the new study is among the first to find the same trend even among women who are overweight but not obese. The researchers found that having higher body mass index increased women’s risk of breast cancer recurrence and death, even if they had state-of-the-art treatment like chemotherapy and hormonal therapy.

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Fighting loneliness and disease with meditation

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August 27th, 2012

Editor’s note: CNN contributor Amanda Enayati ponders the theme of seeking serenity: the quest for well-being and life balance in stressful times.

(CNN) — Anyone who sees meditation as a hippy-dippy endeavor has found his or her view increasingly challenged by science in recent years.

Meditation and other contemplative practices are continuing to claim their place at the table of mainstream medicine.

This is true for a slew of reasons: chief among them, the recognition that hordes of us are stressed out, that stress wreaks havoc upon our bodies and that the practice of meditation has significant and measurable stress-reduction properties.

In a recent study led by J. David Creswell, assistant professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, mindfulness-based meditation continues to reveal itself as a therapeutic powerhouse, with far-reaching influence on both psychological and physical health.

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