What drug should your teenager use?

Okay, none of them.  But if my kids were going to abuse either alcohol or marijuana, I’d definitely go with marijuana.  Vox on the latest study:

Teen marijuana users report fewer drug-induced problems than teen alcohol users, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

New York University researchers looked at high-school student surveys and found that alcohol, compared to marijuana, reportedly led to more unsafe driving, brought greater harm on relationships with friends and significant others, and caused more regrettable behavior. Marijuana, on the other hand, more often led to problems with authority figures, such as teachers, supervisors, and police; less energy; and less interest in other activities.

And a handy chart:

alcohol and marijuana effects teen users

Study author Joseph Palamar said the findings, which only speak to the two drugs’ reported psychosocial effects, show alcohol poses more serious risks to teens just based on its physical and behavioral effects, while the biggest problem with marijuana seems to be the social and legal stigmas attached to it.

“When we think of alcohol intoxication, we think of people engaging in problematic behavior. Your inhibitions are decreased, and you’re more likely to make bad decisions, get into a fight, maybe cheat on your boyfriend or girlfriend,” Palamar said. “With marijuana, most of the adverse effects that we found were related to authority figures.”

I don’t want my kids using marijuana– heavy use could dock IQ points later in life– and I certainly don’t want them getting in trouble with the law.  But it is simply becoming increasing difficult to make a reasonable argument that alcohol should be legal and marijuana should not.

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Photo of the day

From the Telegraph’s animal photos of the week:

elephant calf tried to attack an old buffalo bull ñ and was taught a lesson it will never forget. The calf was with its herd at a watering hold Addo Elephant National park, South Africa, when the buffalo ventured towards the water. The elephant ran towards the buffalo but the larger animal picked up the young calf and tossed it four metres in the air. Luckily, the elephant was not hurt ñ but its pride was seriously injured

An elephant calf tried to approach an old buffalo bull and was taught a lesson it will never forget. The calf was with its herd at a watering hold Addo Elephant National park, South Africa, when the buffalo ventured towards the water. The elephant ran towards the buffalo but the larger animal picked up the young calf and tossed it four metres in the air. Luckily, the elephant was not hurt.Picture: Conrad Cramer / Barcroft Media

Carbs are my cigarettes

Okay– I give up.  I’ve been holding onto the idea that (like global warming 🙂 ) the science just isn’t settled on low carb vs. low fat.  Alright, I give in, it’s pretty close to settled.  The latest (via NYT):

People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study shows…

The new study was financed by the National Institutes of Health and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It included a racially diverse group of 150 men and women — a rarity in clinical nutrition studies — who were assigned to follow diets for one year that limited either the amount of carbs or fat that they could eat, but not overall calories…

By the end of the yearlong trial, people in the low-carbohydrate group had lost about eight pounds more on average than those in the low-fat group. They had significantly greater reductions in body fat than the low-fat group, and improvements in lean muscle mass — even though neither group changed their levels of physical activity.

While the low-fat group did lose weight, they appeared to lose more muscle than fat.

“They actually lost lean muscle mass, which is a bad thing,” Dr. Mozaffarian said. “Your balance of lean mass versus fat mass is much more important than weight. And that’s a very important finding that shows why the low-carb, high-fat group did so metabolically well.”

The high-fat group followed something of a modified Atkins diet. They were told to eat mostly protein and fat, and to choose foods with primarily unsaturated fats, like fish, olive oil and nuts. But they were allowed to eat foods higher in saturated fat as well, including cheese and red meat.

I actually cut down on my carbs a lot when I started Weight Watchers a few years ago, but nothing ever approaching this kind of diet.  I still love my cereal for breakfast and I’m surely never giving up pizza.  Of course, not all carbs are equal and I definitely try and stick with whole grains and fruits and vegetables for my carbs.

 That said, I’ve got to admit that a low carb diet is just healthier.  But, I do feel like I am pretty healthy overall.  The way I feel and the yearly tests would generally support that.  Yet, I wonder if, to some degree, carbs are just my low tar cigarettes.  I realize they are not particularly healthy for me, but I’m not going to give them up.  If at some point in the future I have serious health problems, I would consider it, but for now, I’m about to have a bowl of cereal (though, whole grain and high in protein) and yes, pizza for lunch today.

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