From a surprising erectile dysfunction cure to the rise of STDs, here are some of the strangest headlines from the past month.
Alcohol consumption is linked to some 2.8 million deaths each year, according to researchers who concluded that there is no safe level of alcohol use. Alcohol is associated with nearly one in 10 deaths in people ages 15 to 49 worldwide, making it the leading risk factor for people in that age range, according to an analysis of earlier studies, published in the Lancet medical journal in August. "The conclusions of the study are clear and unambiguous: Alcohol is a colossal global health issue," said Robyn Burton of King's College London, an author of the study. "The solutions are straightforward: Increasing taxation creates income for hard-pressed health ministries, and reducing the exposure of children to alcohol marketing has no downsides." In April, another large analysis of earlier studies, also published in the Lancet, found some reduction in heart attacks among drinkers but concluded that alcohol use increased the risk of premature death from several other ailments. The main causes of alcohol-related deaths in the 15-to-49 age group were tuberculosis, car crashes, and suicide, the study found. For those over 50, the leading alcohol-related cause of death was cancer. The authors took data from nearly 700 previous studies to estimate the prevalence of alcohol in different countries, finding that the biggest drinkers were in European countries. The average Romanian man drank the equivalent of 8.2 bottles of beer a day in 2016, the most in the world.
In August, right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones's Infowars newsfeed was barred from the largest social media platforms—YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter—for violating the platforms' standards and practices policies. At the time, Jones received a notable spike in publicity and causing him to claim victory on his live internet feed after being outcast from social media. "The more I'm persecuted, the stronger I get," Mr. Jones said on his live internet broadcast three days later. "It backfired." Yet a review of traffic on Infowars several weeks after the bans shows that the tech companies drastically reduced Mr. Jones's reach by half by cutting off his primary distribution channels: YouTube and Facebook. That Facebook and Google, which owns YouTube, muffled one of the internet's loudest voices so quickly illustrates the tremendous influence a few companies have over public discourse and the spread of information. Infowars, however, is a tricky issue for Republicans—many dislike the idea of tech companies censoring political speech, but Jones spreads lies and conspiracy theories like butter on toast. (A Texas judge recently denied his motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit by parents of children killed six years ago in the Sandy Hook school shooting, which Jones has labeled a hoax.)
Source: New York Times
New cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis spiked nearly 10 percent in 2017, continuing a four-year trend of rising sexually transmitted diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 2.29 million new cases of these three common yet treatable sexually transmitted diseases were diagnosed in 2017. The number of new STD cases continued a "steep, sustained increase" since 2013, the CDC reported. The rise in cases is at record levels, but the federal budget has not increased STD program funding since 2013, leaving health departments scrambling to address the problem with fewer resources. "There is a shocking increase in STDs in America," said David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors. "We think there is a direct correlation between the increase in the number of STDs" and the lack of federal funding increases. Experts said many factors have led to the increase in STDs, including a lack of awareness about the seriousness of infection and changing sexual behavior. Medical technology such as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, a daily medication used to reduce the risk of HIV transmission, have prompted some to no longer use condoms. "You don't need a medical degree to prevent an STD," said Michael Fraser, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. "You need to talk to people about using condoms."
Source: USA Today
How many lies can one president tell? This summer, the Washington Post set to find out. Over 601 days since becoming president, Trump has told 5,001 lies. (Undoubtedly, he has told more since September 12, when these numbers were calculated.) Nearly one third of Trump's misleading claims—1,458—relate to economic issues, trade deals, or jobs. For instance: almost 40 times, Trump has claimed the economy today is the "greatest" in US history, a statement not backed up by data. Immigration is the top source of Trump's misleading claims. Forty-three times just in the past six months, for instance, the president has falsely claimed his long-promised border wall with Mexico is being built, even though Congress has denied funding for it. The president has made 445 statements about the Russia probe, using hyperbolic claims of "worse than Watergate," "McCarthyism" and, of course, "witch hunt." He often asserts the Democrats colluded with the Russians, even though the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign were victims of Russian activities, as emails were hacked and then released via WikiLeaks. All told, more than 200 times the president has made claims suggesting the Russia probe is made up, a hoax, or a fraud. The mounting evidence against the unindicted-co-conspirator-in-chief is likely to prove him wrong.
Source: Washington Post
Scientists from the University of Athens studied 660 men who followed a Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruit and vegetables, legumes, fish, nuts, and olive oil. It found that only 20 percent of the men, who were 67 years old on average, reported erectile dysfunction. In comparison, estimates show that 52 percent of men between 40 and 70 years old suffer from erectile dysfunction. The study recommends eating nine tablespoons of olive oil, 13 servings of vegetables, six pieces of fruit, three servings of fish, and two portions of beans a week to decrease risk. However, study authors believe olive oil is especially beneficial because it keeps blood vessels healthy. This is important because the penis relies on a steady supply of blood to maintain erections. Dr. Miguel Pineda, Director of Male Sexual Dysfunction and Urologic Prosthetics at Staten Island University Hospital, says that dousing your food in olive oil isn't a magic bullet, "It is important to realize that there is no quick-fix to prevent or cure erectile dysfunction," Pineda says. "My concern is that people will see a headline about olive oil preventing erectile dysfunction, and they will continue with their usual unhealthy diet and lack of exercise and simply consume spoonfuls of olive oil." Adapting healthier habits overall, like exercising and following the Mediterranean diet, could help with impotence.
Sources: Newsweek, Men's Health
A survey conducted by the real estate firm Douglas Elliman found that about 20 percent of all retail space in Manhattan is currently vacant, compared with roughly seven percent in 2016. "When you walk the streets, you see vacancies on every block in all five boroughs, rich or poor areas—even on Madison Avenue, where you used to have to fight to get space," said Faith Hope Consolo, head of retail leasing for Douglas Elliman Real Estate. Particularly hard hit are gentrifying areas in Brooklyn and many of Manhattan's top retail strips in some of the world's priciest shopping districts, from Broadway in SoHo to Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side. Soaring rents and competition from online shopping have forced out many beloved mom-and-pop shops. Then there is the blight that shuttered stores bring, including vagrants, graffiti, and trash. Some tenants blame storefront warehousing by landlords waiting for development deals or zoning changes, or simply holding out for higher rents. Sound familiar, Hudson Valley?
Source: New York Times