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The california aggie

Science &Technology

wednesday, March 7, 2012 3


With so much stress and flow can also be dizzyso little gravity, how did her ing. When a person closes their eyes, they are still health fare? able to tell how their head “I don’t have anything is oriented in space. This from the spaceflight that is because fluid flow in the I wasn’t able to recover Amy inner ear sends signals to from,” Dyson said. Stewart the brain on which way is Wait, what? How about up (think of how when you bone loss or muscle atrophy? Of the spaceflights that tip a glass of water, the water moves relative to have happened, bone and the glass). When you’re in muscle loss is one of the space, the fluid in the inmost common side effects. ner ear doesn’t flow and so “That was the one very surprising thing, I didn’t ex- it’s difficult to tell which way is up or down. To a perience any bone loss,” certain extent, it doesn’t Dyson said. “I didn’t even really matter which way is t’s easy to take for grant- have to supplement that down; one of the pictures with any medication or ed how well our bodDyson showed at her lecies work, at least most of anything like that.” ture was of half of the asthe time. Bones stay strong Dyson was lucky. When tronauts on the “floor” of people are in space, the and rigid for support, food body experiences a number the ISS and the other half flows through the digeson the “ceiling.” tive tract, and we constant- of extreme changes. Like I mentioned above, bone Becoming uncertain of ly breathe in and out withand muscle density loss how you’re oriented, howout conscious thought. ever, can present serious Obviously, any one of these is one side effect of being in space. Even when you problems when you need things and more can go to know where you are; for wrong if you’re unlucky, but spend most of your time instance, on for the most part, the body sitting at a space walk. stays together in an impres- a desk in class, your When a person closes their eyes, NASA tries to sive balance. bones and Of course, humans they are still able to tell how solve this by muscles training asevolved these traits over their head is oriented in space tronauts in still need hundreds of thousands of the Neutral years of life on Earth. What to be able to support Buoyancy happens when we’re miles the weight of your body Lab (basically a huge inaway from Earth itself, eiagainst gravity so that you door swimming pool with ther in orbit around the can sit or stand up straight. an ISS model on the botplanet or traveling elseWithout gravity to give retom), where astronauts put where? sistance, bones and muson their full suits and prac It’s hard to guess and cles may atrophy. Use it or tice how to maneuver while even harder to study. After lose it. floating. all, there aren’t any mi One side effect that This isn’t a perfect modcrogravity places on Earth el, since any dropped tools Dyson did experience, as that we can put people to or equipment will simply study them. All we have are seen in pictures and vidsink to the bottom ratheos of her stay on the ISS, the past and current aser than float away, but the is fullness of the face. This tronauts, both on shortpool combined with virtual is because of the redistriterm shuttle missions and bution of fluids around the reality helps prepare astrolong-term stays on the nauts for the other worldInternational Space Station body. Right now, you are full of ly experience of walking in (ISS). water. However, you proba- space. Tracy Caldwell Dyson, bly don’t feel it most of the How to prepare for the a NASA astronaut and UC time since you’ve become other problems of living in Davis alumna, has experiused to it over your entire space, such as anemia, low enced both. Dyson spent plasma levels and mental 12 days on a shuttle to trav- life. Gravity tends to pull that water down toward health of the astronauts? It’s el to and work on adding the lower body; when grav- hard to say without more instruments to the ISS in ity isn’t in the picture, the people to test. 2007. On April 2, 2010, she The only way to know for launched from Kazakhstan fluid redistributes so that it is about equally spread sure is for manned spaceto the ISS and lived on through the body. This flight to continue, slowly board for 176 days. In that causes fullness in the face but surely, into the future. time, she also performed of astronauts as fluid mithree space walks to comgrates toward the head. plete a crucial emergency AMY STEWART can be reached at science@ The different fluid repair.

Health in space!


Birth control pills


Hormonal birth control By HUDSON LOFCHIE Aggie Science Writer

Editor’s note: due to the potentially sensitive medical nature of interviews, names have been replaced with pseudonyms of the interviewees’ choosing Many women, and men for that matter, want to be able to have sex without all the unfortunate side affects, such as pregnancy, but while condoms remain very effective at preventing pregnancy, they do nothing to alleviate the often extreme discomfort of menstrual cycles. A National Institute of Health study showed that nearly 30 percent of sexually active women using birth control use a form of oral hormonal contraception (the pill). This is almost double the percentage of women insisting on male condoms during sex. Some women take the pill to prevent pregnancy, while many take the pill to reduce the discomfort of periods, prevent acne and reduce risk of medical conditions like anemia and polycystic ovary syndrome. Birth control pills contain hormones that act on the female endocrine system. Women take either a combination estrogen-progestin pill, or just a progestin pill. “The presence of the supplemental estrogen in the pill trick the body into thinking it is pregnant, and in response, the

How it works, what it does, and if it’s right for you

body stops the release of eggs from the ovaries,” according to a representative at Planned Parenthood in Sacramento, who did not wish to give their name. “Without any eggs, fertilization is impossible.” Progestin is a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone, which is a signalling hormone released by female eggs and is thought to act as a “homing” hormone for male sperm. “Progesterone also induces the production of a thick mucus layer in the uterus, and excess mucus buildup caused by supplemental progestin, makes the uterus impenetrable to sperm,” the Planned Parenthood representative said. Women use birth control pills for a variety of purposes other than pregnancy prevention. Increasing estrogen levels from birth control has shown to control acne outbreaks and reduce cramping. One interviewee, referred to as Jane for anonymity, has had nothing but positive experiences with her birth control. “With the pill, my acne cleared up, my cramps lessened and my period was shorter,” she said. “I even went up a cup size!” The pill has also been beneficial to another anonymous woman, Alexa. “I’ve been on it [the pill] for a while and have had hardly any problems,” Alexa said. “My periods are pretty easy, cramps

See PILL, page 4

Nutrition in college “Never underestimate the power of the food you’re eating.”

Healthy choices versus unhealthy choices

By ERIC C. LIPSKY Aggie Science Writer

Pizza, burgers, ramen, burritos and pretty much anything that can be made instantly are part of many college students’ diets. Although these choices might not have immediate health impacts for students beside weight gain, they can lead to a wide variety of problems later in life.

Depression in college students: knowledge is power

“Many students don’t prepare foods for themselves. They get things on what looks and smells good,” said Liz Applegate, director of sports nutrition at UC Davis. Applegate said that the reliance students have on eating heavily prepared foods is one of the biggest problems with their diets. She said that people can barely get by on

Synthetic chemicals in food and health

Recognizing the signs and seeking help By CLAIRE MALDARELLI Aggie Staff Writer

Among college students, depression is so common that it is often referred to as the “common cold of mental health concerns” by psychologists. A 2011 survey of UC Davis students, performed by the American College Health Association, showed that 20 percent of students acknowledged feeling so depressed in the last 12 months that it was difficult to function. Although most students tend to avoid confronting this issue, most psychologists and health providers alike agree that depression in college students is a topic that commands our attention. “Depression can be triggered by difficulties in life and there’s no shortage of opportunities for things to become difficult in college,” said Dorje Jennette, a psychologist at UC Davis’


See NUTRITION, page 4

California Certified Organic Farmers


Unproven claims made on both sides of debate By BRIAN RILEY Aggie Science Writer

Sign of depression

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). According to the National Institutes of Health, depression is a common but serious mental illness typically marked by sad or anxious feelings. Other symp-


toms of depression may vary, but commonly people feel empty, hopeless and guilty and often have a loss of appetite, lack of energy, problems concentrating

See DEPRESSION, page 4

The use of synthetic chemicals in the food and farming industries has been a growing concern since the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. The organic food movement began in the early and mid-20th century in reaction to the growth of industrialized farming that uses synthetic chemicals for fertilizing and pest control. The movement began to grow in intensity in the 1970s. “We were started by three pioneering organic farmers in 1976,”

said Randii MacNear, the Davis Farmers Market manager. Typically there are at least a half a dozen vendors at the Davis Farmers Market who are California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and are qualified to use both the CCOF and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program seals. The CCOF is a nonprofit, private certification organization that follows USDA organic standards. At least a third of the farm food vendors present on any given Wednesday evening or Saturday morning at

See FOOD, page 4

March 7, 2012