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Lip Balm Addiction: Are You in Recovery?

I've never been a lip balm user. This is because I tend to avoid things that my friends find addictive -- and I've had friends who have been, dare I say, addicted to lip balm since elementary school. After a few hours without it, they're clearly jonesing, twitching, and needing a fix. I won't name any brands here -- they seem to be pretty much the same, as far as I (a non-user) can tell. To me, lip balm just feels weird -- but apparently this weirdness turns into a necessary feeling after regular use.

Apparently other people have noticed this addictive* quality too -- there's a Lip Balm Anonymous website dedicated to documenting what might cause the pseudo-addiction of lip balms. Check out their Is Balm Addictive? page for some well-cited discussion of what addiction is, and whether it might apply to lip balms.

I also came across a well-written blog post about quitting lip balms as well as moisturizing lotions, entitled An Addiction. Here's a snippet:

The chapstick story starts a long while ago. Ever since middle school or so I can remember using chapstick every day. I would always carry a tube around with me and frequently reapplied it. This continued on through high school and college until the point where forgetting my chapstick was a horrible occasion. If I realized I wouldn't have chapstick for more than an hour or two I would have to borrow or buy a new one. (Thankfully I was usually with Joey who was a user too).

Finally, while working at Google, I was fed up. I decided that it was time to get rid of my addiction and of course starting searching the internet for advice. I ran into a bunch of articles about whether or not lip balm is actually addictive (it definitely is) but finally made it to one that described the process of withdrawal... Without that article I am sure I would have given up because it was hard. Because chapstick prevents your lips from exfoliating properly when you stop using it you have a lot of dead skin to get rid of. This results in a really gross set of lips for a while that are constantly shedding. Thankfully, vaseline was there to help. Vaseline is sorta like a midway drug. It is worse than not using anything, but a lot better than chapstick. Vaseline was able to slow down the exfoliation to the point where I didn't feel disgusted about going to work, and after a couple of months I was able to stop using it too and I am now lip product free.

I'm not sure that lip balms prevent exfoliation (see the links above at Lip Balm Anonymous for more discussion of this) but they certainly seem to have effects that make your lips feel super-weird when you stop using them. It seems that avoiding this feeling is more what drives users not to quit; though there's also the element of something tingly (mint, etc.) in some brands that gives a pleasant effect when it's applied. All I know is I don't want to get hooked on this stuff.

* = Lip Balm Anonymous has a very nice disclaimer at the bottom of their pages, saying: "While our pain and addiction do not obviously compare to the horrors our brothers and sisters suffering from alcohol or narcotics addiction are feeling, Lip Balm Anonymous supports those members of other 12-step programs and no harm or slight is intended by this page." I thoroughly agree.

Are You in Recovery?

Are you a lip balm user, or a recovering user? Share your story in the comments. I'm genuinely curious how widespread this possible balm addiction thing is.

(Photo by Westside Shooter, used under Creative Commons license.)

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Medicine
New Cancer-Fighting Nanobots Can Track Down Tumors and Cut Off Their Blood Supply
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Scientists have developed a new way to cut off the blood flow to cancerous tumors, causing them to eventually shrivel up and die. As Business Insider reports, the new treatment uses a design inspired by origami to infiltrate crucial blood vessels while leaving the rest of the body unharmed.

A team of molecular chemists from Arizona State University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences describe their method in the journal Nature Biotechnology. First, they constructed robots that are 1000 times smaller than a human hair from strands of DNA. These tiny devices contain enzymes called thrombin that encourage blood clotting, and they're rolled up tightly enough to keep the substance contained.

Next, researchers injected the robots into the bloodstreams of mice and small pigs sick with different types of cancer. The DNA sought the tumor in the body while leaving healthy cells alone. The robot knew when it reached the tumor and responded by unfurling and releasing the thrombin into the blood vessel that fed it. A clot started to form, eventually blocking off the tumor's blood supply and causing the cancerous tissues to die.

The treatment has been tested on dozen of animals with breast, lung, skin, and ovarian cancers. In mice, the average life expectancy doubled, and in three of the skin cancer cases tumors regressed completely.

Researchers are optimistic about the therapy's effectiveness on cancers throughout the body. There's not much variation between the blood vessels that supply tumors, whether they're in an ovary in or a prostate. So if triggering a blood clot causes one type of tumor to waste away, the same method holds promise for other cancers.

But before the scientists think too far ahead, they'll need to test the treatments on human patients. Nanobots have been an appealing cancer-fighting option to researchers for years. If effective, the machines can target cancer at the microscopic level without causing harm to healthy cells. But if something goes wrong, the bots could end up attacking the wrong tissue and leave the patient worse off. Study co-author Hao Yan believes this latest method may be the one that gets it right. He said in a statement, "I think we are much closer to real, practical medical applications of the technology."

[h/t Business Insider]

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Medicine
New Peanut Allergy Patch Could Be Coming to Pharmacies This Year
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About 6 million people in the U.S. and Europe have severe peanut allergies, including more than 2 million children. Now, French biotechnology company DBV Technologies SA has secured an FDA review for its peanut allergy patch, Bloomberg reports.

If approved, the company aims to start selling the Viaskin patch to children afflicted with peanut allergies in the second half of 2018. The FDA's decision comes in spite of the patch's disappointing study results last year, which found the product to be less effective than DBV hoped (though it did receive high marks for safety). The FDA has also granted Viaskin breakthrough-therapy and fast-track designations, which means a faster review process.

DBV's potentially life-saving product is a small disc that is placed on the arm or between the shoulder blades. It works like a vaccine, exposing the wearer's immune system to micro-doses of peanut protein to increase tolerance. It's intended to reduce the chances of having a severe allergic reaction to accidental exposure.

The patch might have competition: Aimmune Therapeutics Inc., which specializes in food allergy treatments, and the drug company Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. are working together to develop a cure for peanut allergies.

[h/t Bloomberg]

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