Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wanna Sweat Less, You Disgusting Sack of Shit?

I stopped armpit sweat overnight with one neat trick: I switched from antiperspirant to deodorant. Backwards, I know. Read on...

About 8 months ago, I developed a rash in my armpits. It turned out to be a nasty-ass case of ringworm. It's all gone now, thanks to a fuck ton of cream and maybe tea tree oil soap. Before I knew what it was, I decided to try an experiment. I'd heard bad things about antiperspirant use and, while I'm not normally one to just try something that some uneducated yahoo suggests on the Internet, I decided to give it a shot - maybe antiperspirant was somehow giving me a rash?

The serendipitous results were instant and dramatic. Within two days of switching to deodorant, I had virtually no sweat in my underarms, as evidenced by the lack of gross-ass wet spots on my undershirt. I thought maybe it was residual antiperspirant still hard at work, but after several days and showers, still no sweat. 

Some background: I've been using antiperspirant my entire teen/adult life, with varying levels of success. I've always sweated somewhat while wearing it, but chalked it up to "it works ok I guess but holy shit imagine how much I'd be sweating if I didn't use antiperspirant". In fact it's always baffled me that people would use deodorant when antiperspirant is right there next to it on the shelf. Why would you use an inferior product? That's like ordering a cheeseburger, hold the cheese.

Several years ago, the sweating got worse, to the point where I had to start wearing undershirts to absorb the sweat so that it didn't show.  So I was at a point where my outer shirts were no longer drenched, but my inner shirts looked like hell even after I washed them because oh hey neat side effect of antiperspirant: it turns out that it ruins your shirts. From the yellow armpit stains to the actual glitter that you can see in strong light, it's aluminum-based compounds in your antiperspirant that are to blame. Click here to read more.

This whole thing is counter-intuitive.  Antiperspirant is supposed to stop you from sweating, with chemicals and medicine and shit, whereas deodorants are just there to make you smell nice, right?  I was surprised to learn that deodorants, besides the fragrance aspect, actually have antimicrobial compounds that kill the bacteria that makes your armpits smell in the first place. Oh did I mention that it's not the sweat that stinks, it's the bacteria? The bacteria thrive in a moist environment, so the strategies are to either a) reduce the moisture (antiperspirant) or b) reduce the bacteria in the first place (deodorant).

I'm confused because I'm now performing scenario b) above, and yet experiencing scenario a) for a final result of c) not sweating and also smelling nice. How is this happening? No fucking clue. Maybe it's some sort of sweat feedback loop, where my body overcompensates for the blocked sweating by somehow being able to sweat more? I don't know. It's bizarre but hey it works and I'm not the only one. 

There are other examples of people having the same experience as me, but there are also people who swear by antiperspirant over deodorant.  So you'll have to figure out your special recipe. But if you, like me 8 months ago, seem to sweat buckets despite daily antiperspirant use... this might be right for you. Do some reading, don't just listen to me. If you come across this in your internet research... don't believe the hype about aluminum compounds in antiperspirant causing breast cancer and Alzheimer's, those claims have been thoroughly disproven

Oh and here's fun: enjoy listening to bodybuilders talk about sweaty armpits. Those guys sound about as educated as you'd expect, brah

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Problem With Non-Scientific Reporting of Scientific Research

A lot of you may have seen a news story going around saying "Oh hey it turns out that being out in the cold CAN make you catch cold, your Mom was right all along"

This is a great example of non-scientific reporting/skewing of scientific facts because hey neat headline.

Background: I do infectious disease research with the Canadian government and while I have NO background in rhinovirus infections, I'm able to at least look at the original work and understand the findings a bit better than the average bear.

I just read the original research paper, here are some things to consider:

-The virus in question is well known to grow better at regular nose temperature (33°C) as opposed to internal body temperature (37°C). This is a long established fact and is not news

-The reason cold viruses infect the nose and only rarely the lungs is specifically due to this temperature difference. HOWEVER, the nose is 33°C when you're sitting around hanging out in the office, outside on a normal day, etc. That's the regular temperature of a wet surface that has air constantly blowing over it. So regardless of what time of year it is, your nose will likely be around 33°C. It may be somewhat colder if you spend a prolonged period of time outside, but this paper does not address what happens when a virus is exposed to temperatures colder than 33°C.

-The study was not trying to answer the question "Does cold weather make the common cold more contagious or severe", they were trying to answer the question "What is the cause of improved viral replication at 33°C, which is the normal temperature of the inside of a nose" - the answer was that it's a reduced immune response on the part of the host that contributes to enhanced viral replication. This isn't really newsworthy either. A lot of your body's functions will be impaired at 33°C, including the immune system. This is already well-known anyway, but this paper elucidated the precise mechanism by which the impairment happens. Interesting to scientists but boring to the general public.

-The study was done in mouse trachea cells in a petri dish using a specially mutated virus that's been enhanced to grow better in mouse cells. It took 5-7 hours to see a difference in viral titers between the two temperatures tested. These conditions aren't even close to what happens when humans catch a cold. This is fine, most animal infection models don't match human conditions.

Please don't read this as "I guess it's true after all, you DO catch a cold because of cold weather". Whether or not THAT is true, it's not even CLOSE to what this research paper is stating.

For shits and giggles, here's a link to the research paper (pdf download). Enjoy

Jezebel Dot Com Finally Pisses Me Off Enough To Write About It

Jezebel can be a very frustrating website to read. I browse it daily because for the most part they have decent articles that aren't just duplicates of whatever their mother site Gawker posts. However there are also quite a few overly sensitive posts (usually feminist-bent but not always) that make me facepalm in frustration. But whatever, that's the nature of the blog and I know what I'm getting into.

Today I realized how hypocritical (or at the least, grossly inconsistent in their editorial tone) they are. This article (click through to read) is basically them drooling all over a pretty murderer who killed his own father. It's not the first time they've done this sort of thing but it is the first time they got all giddy about a cold blooded murderer.

Thomas Gilbert Jr., a 30-year-old man who allegedly killed his father over a cut in his allowance, is this year's sexy criminal to beat. Murderous and frugal? Be still my heart. (Very likely to happen because this guy is a murderer, after all.)

Now to be clear, I am NOT offended by this. As you can imagine, NOTHING is off limits for me. However I'm downright fuckin' pissed at Jezebel for being such a loud voice when the victim of domestic violence is female and giving absolutely no shits that the victim is male.

I commented the following on the article page itself. No clue if they'll publish it. They've been known not to approve my comments in the past. I don't think they like being told to calm down.

My mother was brutally murdered by my older brother. I walked in and found him standing over her body, just staring. The knife was on the floor next to his feet. I called the police and he went away with them calmly. That was 12 years ago. My mother didn't deserve to die. She wasn't perfect. She drank. She yelled. But she did the best she could and she loved us.
At night, I close my eyes and see him standing over her, and I lie there for hours not being able to push the thoughts away. Sleep barely comes.
When I see you having fun at the expense of a murder victim like this, it makes my skin crawl, and it makes me want to curl up in a ball and hide forever. This is not a topic to make fun of.
Ok I made that up, but only to drive home a point:
If some other website wrote the exact same article, word for word except that the crime in question was sexual assault or domestic violence with a female victim and a beautiful male perpetrator, you guys would have been all the fuck over it, yelling and screaming as loud as the medium of Internet will allow (and maybe rightfully so), but somehow murder between father and son is OK to be all "tee hee look at the pretty killer boy"?

Imagine the headline: "Gorgeous Rapist Makes Me Rethink My Definition of the Word No"
You'd lose your shit.
Be consistent, is my point.