Quickies: Abstinence Doesn’t Work, Biggest Loser Weight Study, and Turning Off Period Pain

  • U.S. Spent $1.4 Billion To Stop HIV By Promoting Abstinence. Did It Work? – “Many health officials consider PEPFAR a succes. It is credited with giving lifesaving HIV drugs to more than 5 million people and preventing nearly 1 million babies from getting HIV from their mothers. But a study, published Monday in Health Affairs, finds the abstinence programs have been a failure.” Shocking.
  • Elizabeth Smart Says Pro-Abstinence Sex Ed Harms Victims of Rape – ” ‘I remember in school one time, I had a teacher who was talking about abstinence,’ Smart told the panel. ‘And she said, “Imagine you’re a stick of gum. When you engage in sex, that’s like getting chewed. And if you do that lots of times, you’re going to become an old piece of gum, and who is going to want you after that?” Well, that’s terrible. No one should ever say that. But for me, I thought, “I’m that chewed-up piece of gum.” Nobody re-chews a piece of gum. You throw it away. And that’s how easy it is to feel you no longer have worth. Your life no longer has value.’ “
  • There are Almost No Black People Brewing Craft Beer. Here’s Why. – “When the craft beer revolution arrived in the ’80s, it disrupted the market but still largely stayed true to the pattern of white men brewing beer. Pioneers like Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada, Jim Koch of Sam Adams, and Fritz Maytag of Anchor Brewing were all white, and all shared a love for flavorful brews. They also had something else in common: the big luxury of being able to take a big risk. Grossman got a loan from his family, Koch had an MBA and a lucrative job at the Boston Consulting Group, Maytag was… well, a Maytag, part of one of 20th-century America’s most powerful industrial families.”
  • I Do Not Need To Be Surprised By Bigotry To Be Outraged By It – “To the apathetics who go into rhetorically shallow, verbally deep detail about why I shouldn’t be surprised at the thing they super-wish we’d all stop talking about because they find it so bothersome, I have this to say: Give it the fuck up.”
  • A new Biggest Loser study shows why it’s so hard to lose weight and keep it off – “Though all the contestants lost dozens of pounds through diet and exercise at the end of the show, by the six-year mark, their waistlines largely rebounded. Some 13 of the 14 contestants studied put a significant amount of weight back on, and four contestants are even heavier today compared to before they went on the show. But the most remarkable finding was that the participants’ metabolisms had vastly slowed down through the study period. The researchers think this at least partly explains why they had such a tough time keeping their weight off.”
  • Anthropologists say no to sexual harassment – “The field has been convulsed by several cases, including that of paleoanthropologist Brian Richmond of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, who allegedly sexually assaulted a research assistant who worked for him and harassed trainees at a field school (Science, 12 February, p. 652). Richmond is working offsite while the museum investigates his actions. His case came to light not long after an influential survey called the SAFE study revealed that sexual harassment is common during fieldwork (Science, 19 April 2013, p. 265). The study made it clear that trainees urgently need protection, especially in the field, where people live and work in close quarters. It is time to abandon the old adage that ‘what happens in the field stays in the field,’ said biological anthropologist Michelle Bezanson of Santa Clara University in California.”
  • This new device claims to be the “off switch for menstrual pain.” And it might actually work. – “And while he claims that Livia is more effective at treating period pain than the cheaper, already available TENS units (he said ‘its frequency and wave shape are unique and optimized especially for relieving menstrual pain’), without publicly available studies comparing the two, all we have to go on is his word. (The Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists wouldn’t comment on Livia because no studies on it have been published.) For now, Gunter pointed out, the TENS units that are already available can help women — and raising awareness about that might be Livia’s biggest benefit.”


Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. Re the Biggest Loser study.
    The negative tone of that is all wrong. The data show that most people were still better off than when they started even after 6 years.

    That message should give hope, not despair, despite the ridiculous over the top reality TV approach to diet and exercise.

  2. Mary,

    Anyone at this point who still thinks that Abstinence only educate works, is like an ostrich with its head in the sand.

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