The Columbia researcher: a jaded, contrary private eye...

The Columbia researcher: a jaded, contrary private eye…

Tired of only hearing about arts and politics in campus news? Then welcome to BunsenBwog (occasionally Bunsen Bwog), our go-to conglomerate source for the scientific happenings of the world. Think of it like Bwoglines, but for science. In this edition, first-year Bwogger Nora McNamara-Bordewick takes you through Columbia’s health research in the news over the past week.

The stakes couldn’t be higher for the legalization of medical marijuana, with opponents of cannabis legislation getting smoked by budding evidence from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. All puns aside, a newly-published paper concludes that states with medical cannabis laws see fewer fatal car accidents caused by opioid use. When medical marijuana is legal, individuals with chronic pain substitute marijuana for opioids, which accounts for the decrease in automobile fatalities. Weed all like to see this happen.

The FDA has finally gotten around to addressing information that the folks up at the Medical campus knew back in ‘07. A paper published by researchers at Columbia University School of Nursing concluded that active chemicals in antibacterial soap are no more effective in stopping the spread of germs than good old-fashioned soap and water. In fact, the paper links the widespread use of antibacterial soaps to the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. Nine years later, the FDA is taking action on this evidence, placing a ban on certain chemicals in antibacterial soaps and washes. Fear not, avid users of the John Jay Purell dispenser: the FDA ban does not extend to hand sanitizers and wipes.

We have been told time and time again that getting too little sleep has adverse health effects— that our all-nighters in Butler could mean a greater risk of contracting a cold (and now we know antibacterial soap won’t help). But according to research done at the New York Obesity Research Center at Columbia, not only too little sleep, but also too much sleep, can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recently released a statement based on this research, urging people to aim to sleep between 7 and 9 hours a night. So next time you leave a big paper for the day before it’s due, or try to regain all those missed nights of sleep over winter break—hope that another researcher at Columbia will find a way to improve our time management skills.

If you can’t understand how researchers concluded that weed is beneficial to society, antibacterial soap does not stop bacteria, or too much sleep is a problem, and are now questioning Columbia’s entire scientific community, you are not alone. On Tuesday, the Indonesian government issued a statement insisting that research recently out of Columbia “makes no sense at all.” This not-that-absurd research claims that toxic smoke from slash-and-burn farming techniques in Indonesia caused over 100,000 premature deaths. We get why it has detractors.

Gotham Grim via Wikimedia Commons