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Men, Those 'Natural Enhancers' Aren’t Doing You Any Favors

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You’ve seen them by the cash register at the gas station: “male enhancers” with alarmingly virile-sounding names. “Who buys that stuff?” you might say, chuckling nervously. Or you might say, “Does that stuff really work?” or “Isn’t that stuff dangerous?”

Prepare to have all those burning questions answered: a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine set out to learn how many men use nonprescription supplements to boost their, uh, personal abilities. The researchers also wanted to learn what’s in those pills, if the pills actually work, and if they’re safe to take. 

So who buys that stuff? A lot of people. Sexual health issues like erectile dysfunction are extremely common; the urologists who conducted the study estimate that between 40 and 70 percent of men will experience sexual dysfunction at some point in their lives. There are drugs for some conditions, but drugs are expensive and can involve terribly uncomfortable conversations with the doctor. “Natural” remedies, on the other hand, are available—without discussion—at any convenience store, or online from any spammer.

Over-the-counter penis pills are classified as dietary supplements, which means there’s no regulation and no monitoring of their ingredients, efficacy, or safety. 

What’s in them? Some of these “natural” supplements may contain herbs like ginseng, ginkgo biloba, or Epimedium grandiflorum, commonly known as "horny goat weed." Others are made with amino acids or hormones. Some are mineral-based. And some are laced with illegal drugs. 

To clarify: the researchers found that some products marketed as “natural” actually contained traces of phosphodiesterase-5-inhibitors (PDE5Is), a class of ED drugs that includes Viagra. Viagra is perfectly legal if you have a prescription, but mixing it into something else and selling it over the counter is illegal in the U.S. It’s also unsafe, senior author Ryan Terlecki said in a press release. A prescription is a doctor’s assurance that the drug should be OK for you to take. Without it, you run the risk of dangerous medication interactions and unintended consequences to your health. 

Do the pills even work? Some might. Others are useless. But the researchers concluded that none of the pills packaged as “enhancers” have been clinically tested. There’s no evidence that they’ll do you any good, and some of the ingredients could actually cause you harm. One thing's for sure: They're not worth the money. "Patients are paying more than $5 per day to take products with no proven effectiveness," Terlecki said.  

Gentlemen, spare yourselves the heartache. If you’re unsatisfied with your sex life, talk to your doctor. Trust us: They’ve heard everything.

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Sorry, Kids: Soda is Now Banned From Children's Menus in Baltimore
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The war on sugary drinks continues. Following several cities that have passed laws allowing them to collect substantial sales tax on sodas and other sweetened beverages, Baltimore is taking things a step further. A new ordinance that went into effect Wednesday will prohibit restaurants from offering soda on their kids’ menus.

Leana Wen, the city’s health commissioner, told the Associated Press that the ordinance was enacted to “help families make the healthy choice the easy choice.” Instead of soda, eateries will be expected to offer milk, water, and 100 percent fruit juices.

If you’re wondering what will stop children from sipping soda ordered by an adult escort, the answer is—nothing. Business owners will not be expected to swat Pepsi out of a child’s hand. The effort is intended to get both parents and children thinking about healthier alternatives to sodas, which children consume with regularity. A 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that 30 percent of kids aged 2 to 19 consumed two or more servings a day, which can contribute to type 2 diabetes, obesity, cavities, and other adverse effects.

Businesses in violation of this kid-targeted soda prohibition will be fined $100. Baltimore joins seven cities in California and Lafayette, Colorado, which have similar laws on the books.

[h/t The Baltimore Sun]

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7 Reasons Why You Should Let Your Kid Get Bored This Summer
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No matter how excited kids are for summer break, after a few weeks without school, they can start to feel a little bored. But as a parent, you shouldn't drive yourself crazy scheduling playdates, lessons, and other organized activities for your restless progeny. Instead, turn off the iPad, put down the camp brochure, and let them sit around the house moaning “I'm bored”—it can be good for them.

1. BOREDOM PROMOTES CREATIVITY ...

Research suggests the experience of boredom can lead to greater creativity because it allows minds to wander. In one 2014 study, researchers asked a group of participants to undertake boring activities like copying down telephone numbers from a directory. Then, they were tested for creativity—they had to come up with as many uses for a pair of foam cups as they could think of. The participants who had endured the boring tasks ended up thinking up more uses for the cups than those who hadn't. Boredom, the researchers wrote, "can sometimes be a force for good."

This isn't an entirely new idea. Another study conducted in Canada in the 1980s provides further evidence that boredom isn't always a bad thing: It found that kids who lived in towns with no televisions scored higher on imagination-related tests than kids who had TVs. Imagine what disconnecting from all of the screens available now could do for a kid's creativity.

2. ... AND MAKES THEM MORE INDEPENDENT.

Boredom can force kids to generate their own ideas about what they'd like to do—and what's feasible—then direct their own activities independently. "If parents spend all their time filling up their child's spare time, then the child's never going to learn to do this for themselves," Lyn Fry, a child psychologist, told Quartz in 2016. "Being bored is a way to make children self-reliant."

3. BOREDOM FOSTERS PROBLEM SOLVING.

In The Boredom Solution: Understanding and Dealing with Boredom, teacher and author Linda Deal advises that it's important to let kids learn to deal with their boredom themselves because it helps them learn to make decisions about how to use their free time. They need to learn to "see the problem of boredom as one within their control," she writes, which can help them come up with constructive ways to solve it rather than simply getting hopeless or angry about it, as kids sometimes do in situations they don't have control over. Kids learn that boredom isn't an insurmountable obstacle.

4. IT MOTIVATES THEM TO SEEK NEW EXPERIENCES.

In a 2012 study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, researchers sought to define what, exactly, boredom is. "At the heart of it is our desire to engage with the world or some other mental activity, and that takes attention," co-author Mark Fenske, an associate professor at the University of Guelph, explained at the time. "When we cannot do this—that seems to be what leads to frustration and the aversive state we call 'boredom.'" When kids (and adults) are bored, especially with activities that were once engaging, they're motivated to try new things.

5. BOREDOM CAN HELP THEM MAKE FRIENDS ...

According to a pair of psychologists from Texas A&M University, boredom might have a social role. They argue that it "expresses to others that a person is seeking change and stimulation, potentially prompting others to respond by assisting in this pursuit." Being bored can push kids to go out and be more social, and have fun through activities. When there's not much to do, hanging out with the new kid down the block (or even your little brother) suddenly seems a lot more appealing.

6. ... AND FIGURE OUT THEIR INTERESTS.

Both at school and at home, kids are often required to participate in a range of activities. Having the time and space to do nothing can help kids figure out what they actually like to do. "Children need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quiet enough that they can hear themselves," psychologist Vanessa Lapointe writes at the Huffington Post. This downtime allows kids to direct their own activities without adult input. Pressed to come up with their own entertainment, they might discover a love of writing plays, baking cookies, biking, crafting, or perfecting their jump shot.

7. IT CAN HELP THEM FIND MEANING IN THEIR LIVES.

According to one 2011 study, boredom forced people to reflect on meaning in their lives, prompting them to seek out meaningful activities like donating blood. While the study only examined adults, who may be more inclined to search for purpose, boredom can nonetheless push kids to undertake activities they might otherwise find unappealing—whether that means helping out with the dishes or agreeing to go volunteer for the day—or could even inspire them to make the world a better place.

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