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A Whole Lot of Women Are Grooming Their Pubic Hair, Study Finds

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Pubic hair is the one type of personal grooming that remains essentially private. What you do or do not do with your hair down there is your own business. But, sometimes, researchers have to ask awkward questions in the name of science. To better understand the changing pubic hygiene habits of American women, a group of OBGYNs and urologists asked more than 3300 U.S. women between 18 and 65 about how they groomed. The results, published in JAMA Dermatology and spotted by LiveScience, give us a broad look at how women view their pubes.

Here's what they found: Almost 84 percent of women said they had done some kind of landscaping on their bush all their lives, and more than 62 percent of respondents reported removing all of their pubes at least once. 

They also discovered that only 16 percent said they had never groomed down there, a major reversal from trends in 1968, when 40 percent of women didn't groom at all and only 10 percent reported removing all their hair. Almost 93 percent of women in the study who groomed their pubic hair in some way said they did it themselves, rather than going to a salon. (For context, the modern “Brazilian wax” wasn’t invented until 1987—more than a decade before Sex and the City made it a hot topic.)

White women were the most likely to trim. And in general, grooming was more associated with younger, more educated, and wealthier groups. Neither sexual orientation nor how frequently the participants had sex was related to grooming habits. While most women (56 percent) said that sex was their motivation for trimming, shaving, or waxing (and 21 percent said it was because their partner preferred it), a surprising number were concerned about their doctor: 40 percent said they groomed before health care visits. And a full 59 percent groomed for what they said were hygienic reasons, which rather suggests that women think their pubes are gross—even though hair removal irritates the skin and actually makes it a better habitat for some gross bacteria

"There's nothing cleaner about" groomed pubic hair, study lead author Tami Rowen told LiveScience.

While no one should be told that what they do with their hair down there is somehow wrong or gross, it’s also good to get a fuller picture of what the average bush looks like, lest people think that being smooth as a Photoshopped baby’s bottom is the default.

Pubic hair is rarely seen in the public realm. Consider that the director of Fifty Shades of Grey felt it notable to mention in pre-release interviews that the movie would show the main character’s pubes. “She actually has a bush, which is fantastic!" director Sam Taylor-Johnson told the Huffington Post. This lack of hair visibility can give people the impression that everyone is waxing it all off. There are almost never hairs peeking out of swimsuit models’ bikinis, and when an Australian magazine posted an image of swimsuit models with a little extra hair on Instagram in 2015, the app censored the account.

Having no pubes isn’t cleaner than having a healthy tangle of hair down there, and grooming, like most of life, is not without its dangers. One study estimated that between 2002 and 2010, more than 11,700 people went to the ER with pubic grooming injuries, mostly related to shaving, with incidents increasing rapidly over the course of that decade. On the other hand, pubic lice are much rarer now that people go a little barer. Still, it’s important to know that no matter what you do with your pubes, you’re probably not the only one.

[h/t LiveScience]

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Why You Should Think Twice About Drinking From Ceramics You Made by Hand
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Ceramic ware is much safer than it used to be (Fiesta ware hasn’t coated its plates in uranium since 1973), but according to NPR, not all new ceramics are free of dangerous chemicals. If you own a mug, bowl, plate, or other ceramic kitchen item that was glazed before entering the kiln, it may contain trace amounts of harmful lead.

Earthenware is often coated with a shiny, ceramic glaze. If the clay used to sculpt the vessel is nontoxic, that doesn’t necessarily mean the glaze is. Historically, the chemical has been used in glazes to give pottery a glossy finish and brighten colors like orange, yellow, and red.

Sometimes the amount of lead in a product is minuscule, but even trace amounts can contaminate whatever you're eating or drinking. Over time, exposure to lead in small doses can lead to heightened blood pressure, lowered kidney function, and reproductive issues. Lead can cause even more serious problems in kids, including slowed physical and mental development.

As the dangers of even small amounts of lead have become more widely known, the ceramics industry has gradually eliminated the additive from its products. Most of the big-name commercial ceramic brands, like Crock-Pot and Fiesta ware, have cut it out all together. But there are still some manufacturers, especially abroad, that still use it. Luckily, the FDA keeps a list of the ceramic ware it tests that has been shown to contain lead.

Beyond that list, there’s another group of products consumers should be wary of: kiln-baked dishware that you either bought from an independent artist or made yourself. The ceramic mug you crafted at your local pottery studio isn’t subject to FDA regulations, and therefore it may be better suited to looking pretty on your shelf than to holding beverages. This is especially true when consuming something acidic, like coffee, which can cause any lead hiding in the glaze to leach out.

If you’re not ready to retire your hand-crafted ceramic plates, the FDA offers one possible solution: Purchase a home lead testing kit and analyze the items yourself. If the tests come back negative, your homemade dishware can keep its spot on your dinner table.

[h/t NPR]

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Marathon Running Won't Undo Poor Lifestyle Choices, Study Suggests
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Even marathon participants can't outrun an unhealthy lifestyle, according to a new study highlighted by The New York Times.

For years, expert opinion has been mixed on whether long-distance running helps or hurts hearts. In the 1970s, research suggested that marathon running and a heart-healthy diet would completely prevent atherosclerosis (a buildup of harmful plaque in the arteries). But since high-profile runners have died of heart attacks, scientists in the 1980s began to worry that running might actually harm the vital organ. Compounding this fear in recent years were studies suggesting that male endurance athletes exhibited more signs of heart scarring or plaques than their less-active counterparts.

Experts don't have a verdict quite yet, but researchers from the University of Minnesota and Stanford and their colleagues have some good news—running doesn't seem to harm athletes' hearts, but it's also not a panacea for heart disease. They figured this out by asking 50 longtime marathon runners, all male, with an average age of 59, to fill out questionnaires about their training, health history, and habits, and then examining them for signs of atherosclerosis.

Only 16 of the runners ended up having no plaque in their arteries, and the rest exhibited slight, moderate, or worrisome amounts. The men who had unhealthy hearts also had a history of smoking and high cholesterol. A grueling training regime seemed to have no effect on these levels.

Bottom line? Marathon running won't hurt your heart, but it's not a magic bullet for poor lifestyle choices.

[h/t The New York Times]

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