Are Bacteria Living In Your Brain Effecting Your Health?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard all about the bacteria living in our guts.”Gut health” is all the rage, and proponents say the little critters living in your belly can affect everything from immunity to mood. But did you know that those same bacteria can live in your head?

A group of Candian researchers recently found the same microbes in cadavers’ brains–and the discovery is rocking the scientific community.

The Gut-brain Axis

In recent years, the gut microbiome has been a hot topic in both scientific communities and popular media alike. But what is this trendy issue all about?

A microbiome is a group of microorganisms in a particular environment–in this case, your digestive tract. They’re known to have an effect on various biological processes such as digestion, protection against pathogens, metabolism . . . and the central nervous system. A rather new discovery, this “gut-brain axis” is a communication system between the GI tract and the brain, allowing gut bacteria to produce things like hormones and neurotransmitters.

And that’s where scientists thought it ended–until recently when a group of researchers found the same bacteria living inside the brains of the deceased. The surprising discovery, just presented at the scientific meeting Neuroscience 2018, happened completely by accident. Researchers were looking for differences in the brains of people with and without schizophrenia, when they kept happening upon the same rod-shaped objects again and again.

Scientists were initially uninterested in the foreign objects but eventually discovered that they were bacteria. Upon further investigation, it turned out that most of the microbes were from groups of bacteria that are typically found in the human gut, known as Firmicutes, Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes, according to Science Magazine.

A Penetrable Fortress?

Until recently, the brain was thought to be a sort of fortress, separated from the body by a virtually impenetrable barrier of specialized cells. The blood-brain barrier was initially discovered in the 1800s when researchers first noted that dyes injected into the bodies of animals tended not to show up in their brains. Likewise, dyes injected into their brains tended not to appear in the body.

 

So evolved the concept that a highly selective border existed, allowing only nutrients and certain key molecules to pass through into the brain while keeping most other elements out.

If bacteria were found in or around the brain, it was thought to be a sign of disease. “The brain has always been thought of as a sterile site. To find [bacteria] there doing no harm sort of breaks a lot of the dogma” on this, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, who was not involved in the study.

More Evidence Needed

For now, the results should be taken with a grain of salt. Because the tissues used in the study were harvested from cadavers, more work is needed to rule out the possibility that the brain samples were somehow contaminated after death–peer-reviewed data will conclusively determine if there is, in fact, a brain microbiome.

So far, though, researchers there is no implication that the bacteria cause disease, or that they provide any sort of benefit (like “good bacteria” do in the gut). However, if the bacteria do help to maintain brain health in some way, disturbing them (for example, through antibiotics) could have adverse effects on the body. (In the gut microbiome, disruptions to “good” bacteria are thought to cause a range of issues from weight gain to allergies.)

MORE: When it comes to microorganisms living in the brain, these bacteria at least seem to do no harm. These parasites, on the other hand, will eat your brain alive if they get the chance… and they’re found on a shockingly common food.

Can Weather Actually Cause Achy Joints?

If a storm is coming, can you feel it in your bones? It’s common for people to blame an increase in joint pain on changes in the weather, but it turns out there’s likely no validity to the claims. New research shows that the weather plays no part in symptoms associated with either osteoarthritis or back pain–no matter how rainy, humid, or cold it is outside.

Psychosomatic Pain?

Your grandmother may have sworn that her knee flared up every time it was about to rain, but the idea that weather can cause bone pain goes back much further than that. Professor Chris Maher, of The George Institute for Global Health, said: “The belief that pain and inclement weather are linked dates back to Roman times. But our research suggests this belief may be based on the fact that people recall events that confirm their pre-existing views.”

Older theories hold that patients experience an increase in pain when the barometric pressure drops. The idea is that when pressure is lower, tissues can expand and press against joints–the same reason some people experience swelling while on an airplane. And indeed, surveys have repeatedly shown that patients report feeling increased pain when the temperatures drop and humidity rises.

As it turns out, it’s likely all in your head. Study authors suggest that the problem is simply that people pay more attention to their pain on rainy days because they’re already in a depressed mood.

What Does Research Show?

A 2014 study from the George Institue for Global Health and a 2017 study in BMJ both determined that there is absolutely no link between body aches and weather.

In the first, researchers surveyed nearly 1,000 people dealing with lower back pain and 350 diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis and reports of pain were compared to corresponding weather logs provided by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Data was gathered from the date of onset, as well as the week and month prior.

In the second, scientists looked at the medical records of 11,673,392 Medicare outpatient visits. Matching the dates of the visits to local weather reports, they found that only 2,095,761 of them occurred on rainy days.

Much to the chagrin of old wives everywhere, neither study showed a relationship between patients’ physical pain and weather conditions. In the case of the former, outrage over the findings was so great that researchers ran a second study, replicating the results, just to be safe.

Proper Pain Management Is Key

The researchers’ findings don’t mean that you can’t actually feel pain on a rainy day, of course. They just mean that the weather itself isn’t causing your pain. Scientists suggest that instead of focusing on what’s going on outside, patients should work on identifying other triggers, as well as better ways to prevent and manage their pain.

When it comes to joint discomfort, the best thing anyone can do (regardless of weather) is to stay active. Activities such as warm water therapy, stretching, yoga, and walking may help. In addition, joint pain sufferers should talk to their doctors to see if an anti-inflammatory drug might provide relief.

Are Those With Obesity At Risk For Depression? New Study Says “Yes”.

Although obesity and depression often come hand in hand, exactly how they’re linked has been difficult to determine. A recent study from the University of South Australia and the University of Exeter in the UK sheds new light on the matter, showing that obesity can cause depression even in the absence of other contributing factors.

The Relationship Between Obesity And Depression

Researchers have long been aware of the relationship between depression and obesity–but does one necessarily cause the other? It’s sort of a chicken-or-the-egg situation.

Dr. Jess Tyrrell, lead author of the study, said, “Obesity and depression are both global health problems that have a major impact on lives and are costly to health services. We’ve long known there’s a link between the two, yet it’s unclear whether obesity causes depression or vice versa, and also whether it’s being overweight in itself or the associated health problems that can cause depression.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 43% of adults with depression are obese. And they say that those who have been diagnosed with depression are more likely to be obese than those who haven’t. Likewise, children who are depressed are more likely to be overweight.

Still, observational studies have not been able to determine whether obesity causes depression, or depression causes obesity, as there are many competing factors to consider.

For example, people with depression often experience weight gain due to the medications that are used to treat them. In addition, the condition is often associated with overeating and a more sedentary lifestyle, both of which can lead to being overweight.

Is There A Genetic Link?

To better understand the relationship between the two, researchers in the aforementioned study used genetic and medical data from 48,000 people with depression and compared it with over 290,000 controls. Using the available information, they looked at 73 genetic variants linked to high BMI and other related conditions. For these genetic traits, depression risk increased and could be explained by biological mechanisms.

In their analysis, they accounted for a range of factors that could influence the outcome, including socioeconomic position, alcohol consumption, smoking, and physical activity.

The result? They were able to separate the psychological aspects of obesity from the physiological ones.

Professor Elina Hyponnen, who co-led the study, stated, “We separated the psychological component of obesity from the impact of obesity-related health problems using genes associated with higher body mass index (BMI), but with lower risk of diseases like diabetes.”

“These genes were just as strongly associated with depression as those genes associated with higher BMI and diabetes. This suggests that being overweight causes depression both with and without related health issues–particularly in women”

While the work is groundbreaking, further investigation is still needed. Researchers noted that the data was only pulled from people born between 1938 and 1971, so it’s unclear whether the same results would be achieved with a younger generation. In addition, many of the cases of depression were “self-reported”.

Self Care

Depression and obesity are both conditions that require long-term care and attention. However, due to the fact that depression can lead to further overeating and weight gain, some experts say that you should deal with your mental health first.

Signs you may be depressed and need to speak to a professional include:

  • Lack of energy and loss of interest in past activities
  • Reluctance to socialize
  • Becoming sad, lonely, angry, or withdrawn
  • Reluctance to go to work or carry out other obligations
  • Obsession with food and frequent snacking
  • Sleeping too much or too little

Remember: it’s important to be open and honest with your doctor about how you’re feeling and what you’re doing, regardless of whether or not you’re sticking to your care plan. It’s the only way they can monitor your condition and help you continue to improve your health.

Gene Manipulation Will Change The Human Race Forever

We all have genes that determine everything from eye color to height, but some of us are born with genetic mutations that lead to ‘superhuman’ abilities.

For years now, scientists have been discussing the possibility of genetically engineering human embryos to artificially create those same results–and soon, we’ll likely have the power to control our own evolution. From choosing sex or hair color, to engineering a child that is immune to disease, it’s all on the table.

But is that necessarily good? Here’s the lowdown on genetic engineering–and why some people think it might be the worst thing to ever happen to mankind.

What Is Genetic Mutation?

According to the National Institutes of Health, “a genetic mutation is a permanent alteration in the DNA sequence that makes up a gene, such that the sequence differs from what is found in most people. Mutations range in size; they can affect anywhere from a single DNA building block (base pair) to a large segment of a chromosome that includes multiple genes.”

Gene mutations can be classified in two ways:

  • Hereditary mutations are inherited from a parent and are present throughout a person’s life.
  • Acquired mutations occur at some point during a person’s life and are present only in certain cells. These mutations cannot be passed on to the next generation.

Scientists have estimated that every time a human genome replicates itself, there are up to 10 new mutations (that’s trillions of mutations in each person, every single day). Most of them are insignificant, but every now and then, they result in a superhuman ability.

Creating The Ultimate Human

DNA is often referred to as “the building blocks of life”. It contains the biological instructions that make each species unique, and it’s passed from adult organisms to their offspring during reproduction.

Gene editing is the process by which genetic material can be added, removed, or altered anywhere within the chain.

For decades now, scientists have been using gene manipulation to try to grow human organs or as a way to harvest stem cells. And some, quite controversially, have tried to take it even further. In 2007, for example, South Korean researchers altered a cat’s DNA so it would glow in the dark. More recently, scientists have been using a technique referred to as CRISPR to edit genomes of viable human embryos.

Even more troublesome, perhaps, are biohackers–a sort of DIYer biologist. It usually takes place in small (non-university) labs, and all kinds of people get together to practice biology with the aim of enhancing natural human abilities.

What does that mean for the future of the human race? Well, in addition to eliminating many common illnesses and diseases, gene manipulation has the potential to create ‘superhumans’ with strengths such as unbreakable bones or perfect memory.

Implications

Gene manipulation isn’t a new thing, but it’s picking up steam in recent years. Soon, scientists will be able to change every cell in the human body–eliminating defective genes, changing existing ones, or even adding new.

There are many objections to the process. One common complaint is that enhancing humans in this way will cause the loss of genetic diversity. Another is that side effects are unknown, and gene manipulation could result in something as serious as cancer or a massive immune response.

Perhaps most frightening is the prospect of governments using mutations to create super soldiers. These individuals would have no need to sleep, be immune to pain, and have unending strength and stamina. And they could just as easily turn against society as fight for it.

What ways can you see gene manipulation going wrong in the future? Do you think it’s a good technology or something to be avoided?

Notorious Mobster Turned FBI Informant Whitey Bulger Beaten to Death in Prison

James “Whitey” Bulger Jr., 89, the infamous mob boss of Boston, was beaten to death on October 29 at a West Virginia federal prison. Bulger, serving two life sentences, was transferred to the prison, where was murdered within 12 hours of his arrival. Law enforcement says his murderer is 51-year-old mafia hitman Fotios “Freddy” Geas. Geas is serving a life sentence.

Bulger has been serving his sentencing since 2011 after a 16-year chase. The FBI started an official investigation into the murder, and several inmates were placed into solitary confinement for their roles in the homicide. Bulger’s eyes were beaten out of his face with a padlock. First responders say he was unrecognizable.

Fotios Freddy Geas

Bulger, indicted for 19 murders, was the crime boss of the notorious Winter Hill Gang in Boston. He committed such wicked acts that he became a pop culture icon; represented in movies such as “Black Mass” (Johnny Depp) and “The Departed” (Jack Nicholson). For those who know Bulger (or have seen the films), they are well aware that Bulger became an FBI informant (a “rat” in the mob world).

041616- Winter Hill Organization circa 1975 (MSP/DEA chart)

Bulger has been a renegade for the FBI who snitched on his rivals while committing at least 11 murders in the process. Prison officials informed the media that prisoners pushed Bulger, who is in a wheelchair, into a corner where cameras could not capture the attack. It was there Geas, and his accomplices beat Bulger with a padlock, or in prison terms a “lock-in-a-sock.” Despite their best efforts, two inmates were captured on camera during the attack.

For 12 years Bulger was number 2 on FBI’s most wanted list, only trailing Osama Bin Laden.

Whitey earned his ranks through deception and instilling fear in others. Bulger eliminated competition by using his informant status as a weapon.

Johnny Depp portrays Bulger in Black Mass (2015)

James Bulger was a narco and a murderer; ironically most of the homicides he committed were because he found out the victims were snitches. In 1974, Bulger shot rival gang member, Paul McGonagle, in the back seat of a car. Whitey whacked Edward Connors in 1975 because he feared Connors was a rat. Nightclub owner, Richard Castucci, met his demise because Bulger figured Castucci was an informant.

Whitey was notorious for ending people’s lives off of speculation alone. In 1981, Bulger put a bullet in between Roger Wheeler’s eyes because he suspected him of skimming money from their business. In 1982 Brian Halloran wrote his own death wish when he testified against Whitey for the Wheeler murder. Later that year Bulger took out Halloran’s neighbor, John Callahan. Callahan was shot in the back of his head. In 1984, John McIntyre was shot in the head because Bulger thought he was speaking with authorities.

Weapons confiscated from Bulger’s home

Whitey didn’t just murder to tie up loose ends; he also used greed as a motive. Bulger chained Arthur Barrett to a chair and grilled him about his hidden cash. Whitey killed Barrett once he revealed where he kept his stash. This is only to list a few.
Sending Bulger to Hazelton penitentiary was a death sentence. “It was like something out of a movie,” an unnamed guard said. Hazleton has the stigma of being the most violent prison in the country. There was a murder just a few weeks prior at the prison. Many speculate whether or not this was a contributing factor in determining to move Bulger there.

Hazelton Penitentiary aka “Misery Mountain” is a high-security prison in WV.

Whether you agree with the transfer or even care, families of Whitey’s victims rejoice. “There’s one less scumbag on the earth,” said Patricia Donahue, whose husband, Michael, was fatally shot in 1982 as he gave a ride home to Bulger’s intended target.

Family members of Bulger’s victims

“I can only hope it was slow and painful,” said Timothy Connors, whose father was slain by Whitey. “I’m obviously glad it wasn’t from natural causes.” Mary Callahan said with a slight laugh “This is a Halloween present, it’s a treat.” Mary’s husband John was murdered by Whitey. Other victim’s family members plan to deposit money into Geas’ canteen.

Read here about the 10 Most Disturbing Serial Killers of All Time

Suicide Twice as Common as Homicide

Contrary to popular belief, suicide occurs twice as much as homicide in the United States. Firearms are often the cause.

Are news reports, film industry and television responsible?

Researchers believe media outlets might play a major role in our nation’s perceptions of these harsh realities. A study shows that there is a significant chasm between beliefs and reality to these statistics, and it may lead to further danger.

The University of Washington conducted research along with the aid of Northeastern University and Harvard University. The research dives into society’s perceptions of firearm violence and the leading cause of death in America. The study was published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study is seeking to solicit national public conversations about firearm storage and ownership.

“This research indicates that in the scope of violent death, the majority of U.S. adults don’t know how people are dying,” said Erin Morgan, lead author and doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology at the UW School of Public Health. “Knowing that the presence of a firearm increases the risk for suicide, and that firearm suicide is substantially more common than firearm homicide, may lead people to think twice about whether or not firearm ownership and their storage practices are really the safest options for them and their household.”

Public perception often doesn’t line up with reality

Investigators used data from the 2015 National Firearms Survey to evaluate national public perceptions. The National Firearms Survey is web-based; surveying close to 4,000 adults in 2015. In the said survey, US Citizens were requested to arrange (in order of most common) the relative causes of casualties in their state throughout the previous year. The information collected was compared to each state’s actual death count. The outcome of the data showed that suicide was much more common than homicide in all 50 states. However, the majority of those surveyed ranked murder over suicide.

“The relative frequencies that respondents reported didn’t match up with the state’s data when we compared them to vital statistics,” Morgan said. “The inconsistency between the true causes and what the public perceives to be frequent causes of death indicates a gap in knowledge and a place where additional education can be helpful.” Analysts say education about the real risks is vital. People who believe homicide is the biggest risk of death might buy a firearm to protect themselves. With a lack of knowledge of the extreme danger of suicide, people may not store firearms correctly.

Morgan and her colleagues believe it is imperative that the education of gun risks, extends to entertainment industries and media outlets. “By having mass media and other communication mechanisms enable further discussions of suicide, we, as a society, can have a more informed conversation about suicide prevention,” Morgan said.

Researchers are now more inclined to learn more about how Americans form their perceptions of gun violence. This is the first step to changing those ideas. “We know that this is a mixture of mass and individual communication, but what really leads people to draw the conclusions that they do?” Morgan said. “If people think that the rate of homicide is really high because that’s what is shown on the news and on fictional TV shows, then these are opportunities to start to portray a more realistic picture of what’s happening.”

Read about how mass shooting conspiracies; and how they are not going away.

Robotic Sperm Could Carry Life Saving Drugs

UK scientists are currently developing new technology that they hope can revolutionize the way we deliver medicine. Inspired by sperm, researchers have been working on designing tiny robotic drones to enter the body and carry medication to a specific location.

The sperm design includes a magnetic head accompanied with an elastic tail that is guided by electromagnetic currents that will be controlled externally by scientists. In a paper published last month, Feodor Ogrin, the lead researcher said that “the speed of the swimmer can be controlled by manipulating the strength and frequency of the external magnetic field.” Thus, the elastic tails would function as the robot’s flagellum and with scientists controlling their path, would be able to enter points of the body to deliver medicine.

Ogrin, describing the ultimate goal of the project stated, “the swimmers could one day be used to direct drugs to the right area of the body by swimming through blood vessels.” While other scientists have already attempted to create similar technology, Ogrin believes that his team has produced the most viable model to date. The robots’ tails are made from 3D-printed molds, and the team believes they’ve created the perfect head to tail ratio to begin going forward.

Size Matters

Thus far the models produced a range in size from 0.15in to 0.04 in and 0.05in. Currently, researchers acknowledge that the most straightforward model to control is the 0.15in. That model, however, will not be small enough for some more advanced procedures. The researchers note that while that model will have no trouble navigating through one’s aorta, to comfortably travel through any capillaries, which are 3,000 times smaller than an aorta, much further research and development will be required.

Previous Research

As noted, this is not the first attempt to hone in on this technology and produce microscopic robots for medicine delivery. In 2017, VICE reported on similar robots that were in testing to delivery treatments for cervical cancer. In that experiment, researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research, “transformed bovine sperm into tiny torpedos and set them loose on a tumor-like mass in a petri dish.” During one of the experiments, once the robot-sperm that was carrying the treatment medicine collided with the tumor, 87% of the cancer cells were destroyed.

While far from being finalized, this is a huge step forward in what could end up dramatically changing how medicine gets delivered.

Cell Phone Radiation Linked to Adverse Health Effects

Parent’s worrying about their kids’ non-stop cell phone usage is nothing new, but now there may be more cause for concern. Beyond simply fearing that people aren’t spending enough time outdoors or getting as much face-to-face interaction anymore, a recent study shows potentially harmful side effects of cell phone radiation on memory.

Epidemiologist Milena Foerster surveyed 700 Swiss teenagers on both figural and verbal memory. Figural memory is what enables us to retain and recall abstract symbols, shapes, and patterns. What Foerster and her colleagues conducting the study were testing to see was how cell phone radiation affects memory, if at all.

Cell phone and cell towers give off what is called radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, or RF-EMF. That radiation energy can then subsequently travel into people’s bodies and be absorbed by their body. As such, researchers have speculated to what extent that energy absorption might do to people.

To test for this variable, the researchers gathered participant phone records from their phone companies to see how long they were on the phone. The memory tests were administered twice, separated from each other by a year. The results were, for the most part, unchanged from one year to the next. However, the study did find that teenagers who placed their phone by their right ear scored worse on the figural memory test the second time around. There was no statistically significant change in the verbal scores. Foerster believes this may be due to the location of the memory center in question. Memory for shapes is housed in the right side of the brain, coincidentally, right by the ear. That may suggest that RF-EMF can negatively impact one’s health.

Cell Phone Links to Cancer

This is not the first time that cell phones have been associated with poor health side-effects. In 2016, a study on rats found links between exposure to cell phone radiation and cancer. According to the study, “in very large doses this radiation will heat the body and cause tissue damage.” In the study, scientists exposed rats to cell phone radiation levels proportional to what humans are typically exposed to, in order to observe their reaction. The findings showed that the kinds of cancer that emerged within the rats were similar to those observed in humans as a result of radiation exposure. For example, a brain tumor that appeared in some of the rats is quite uncommon for rats. However, that type has turned up in humans in studies on cell phone users.

Risks During Pregnancies

Previous generations did not have to worry about radiation absorption from cell phones during pregnancies. Now, as nearly everyone carries their cell phone on their person throughout the day, it’s more of a concern. Another study from 2012 found that pregnant mice who were exposed to an active cell phone for the entirety of their pregnancy demonstrated “long-lasting behavioral and brain abnormalities.” The study highlighted the risks during pregnancies associated with fetuses being exposed to active phones giving off radiation. The reaction from the mice experiment should give one pause.

While neither of these studies are definitive and though all the research teams concede there is much more research to be done before any definitive conclusions can be drawn, the findings are important to note. These are just three studies which report back that there are adverse effects associated with cell phone radiation including; memory deterioration, cancer, and problems during pregnancies. While it’s important to understand the risks observed are low, these are also not the only studies, and numerous other studies have turned up similar results.

MORE: How Cell Phones are Literally Killing Our Eyes

Researchers Discover New Way to Prolong Lifespan

A natural by-product found in fruits may hold the key to prolonging one’s lifespan according to new research. Everyone dies soon or later, but thanks to a new study published this month, there may be a natural way to extend one’s life on the horizon.

Studying mice, researchers from the University of Minnesota have come up with a new way to decrease the strain caused by damaged cells. “Damaged cells,” or as they are more scientifically known senescence cells, are cells which go through a process “in which they cease dividing” and begin experience “distinctive phenotypic alteration.”

Studies have found that cells which contain senescence properties in affected tissue areas of patients with “age-related diseases.” Younger people are less at risk of harm caused by these cells because their immune systems are stronger and work better at fighting off such cells. The older people get, their immune system weakens, resulting in the accumulation of damaged cells. As that accumulation continues, the cells can cause inflammation and “release enzymes that can degrade tissue” and in turn lead to natural age-related deteriorations such as osteoarthritis and frailty. Over the years, many have observed the correlation between senescent cells and aging.

Fisetin is a natural by-product that can be found in a variety of fruits and is usually present as a coloring agent. Using the product on mice, researchers Paul Robbins and Laura Niedernhofer were able to observe a reduction in the number of damaged cells. Using mice near the end of their life cycle, the two observed improvements in both their overall health and their lifespan.

From their observations, the researchers from the U of M concluded, “These results suggest that we can extend the period of health, termed health span, even towards the end of life.” That last part is critical development as it suggests that if a proper dosage were to be created, people nearing their end of life could theoretically begin taking Fisetin as a means of extending their life, essentially cheating death.

This new study is consistent with findings from a paper in Antioxidants & Redox Signaling from 2013 which noted that Fisetin is demonstrated to have “neurotrophic, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and other health beneficial effects.” It also further backs up previous findings which found Fisetin to possess the ability to “reduce some aspects of aging.”

Regarding brain deficiencies that occur over time up to and including diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Fisetin has also been shown to “reduce the impact of age-related neurological diseases on brain function.”

Selfie Injuries are Skyrocketing

#FAIL

#DoItForTheGram

If you cliff jump but don’t share it with 30,000 followers, does anybody know that you actually did it?

Clout chasing has become a significant influence on social media users. We’ve seen the dangers of selfies. While capturing a selfie, to preserve a moment, you are risking the preservation of yourself. In 2015, selfie-related incidents were more responsible for deaths than shark attacks. Perhaps practicing mindfulness may be better for your health than the desire for internet gratification from strangers?

We all know that this internet behavior is foolish, now we have the receipts to support it. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue have reported that it’s missions have increased by 38 percent over the past five years; this is something they consider to be a direct correlation with social media sharing. The department reported 681 SAR missions in 2017, breaking the department’s record of 491 in 2013.

When you hear L.A. county, it’s natural to associate it with Hollywood and big-city living. However, L.A. County is home to many natural attractions. This beautiful area of land supplies us with beaches, 10,000-foot mountains, to waterfalls and slot canyons. The frightening part about social media sites, like Instagram and Youtube, is the enormous audience it has the potential to reach. Popular and extreme social media accounts provide revelations to some of nature’s best-kept secrets, to the masses. Authorities attribute the spike in its missions is directly related to social media.

“People will post videos of themselves jumping off of Hermit Falls or the Malibu rock pool, and they post it in the springtime when there’s a decent amount of water. But now, the water is a lot less, so what used to be a 10-foot pool is now a 5-foot pool,” Michael Leum, of the Sheriff’s Office, told the Los Angeles Times. “You won’t want to be a lawn dart going into that shallow pool.”

Robert Garcia, the fire chief for Angeles National Forest recalls to a time when Eaton Canyon and Monkey Canyon, were much more discrete and were only known to the locals. Today, online posts and videos on YouTube, highlight paths to these locations while showcasing how fun they can be. Garcia still believes people should enjoy the outdoors, but he does acknowledge less-experienced hikers could avoid risk if they stayed on the trail and obeyed officials warnings.

Do it for the Gram
Hitting all them angles

“The ten essentials” in the hiking community is a list of recommended items to always keep in your possession while on an excursion. The list includes things like maps, a compass, extra water, extra clothing, proper shoes, etc. Rescuers say that most of the people, they save, don’t carry a fraction of this list, making them susceptible to injury.
Instead, people go unprepared into an adventure in an attempt to recreate their favorite viral video. “They might Google map the hike, and not realize it’s a 3,000-foot elevation change as well as a three-mile hike,” said Quintin Humphrey, an engineer with the Los Angeles County Fire Department who routinely goes on rescue missions to Angeles National Forest. “I Think those are the things that never cross people’s minds, whereas 20 or 30 years ago people were maybe more prepared for I and had more of a camping mentality.”

Video stars aren’t just putting themselves in harm’s way when they go off the beaten path; they’re also causing soil erosion. Robert Garcia, the fire chief for Angeles National Forest explains: “Trails are designed with mitigation and resource protection in mind, so user-created trails don’t have that level of planning.”

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