Posted On: July 19, 2008

Bullies and Bullied Both At Risk of Suicide

Tara Parker-Pope discusses a new Yale School of Medicine review of research on bullying from 13 different countries, published in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health.

The review came up with a new finding: there is a link between being a bully and being suicidal. It was previously known that the victims of bullies had a higher risk of suicide than others, but now it seems that the tormentors are also at risk.

From the article:

Compared to other kids, a child who bullies may be at two to nine times higher risk for suicide, according to the study. Girl bullies appear to be at highest risk. Some researchers have also found a “dose-response” relationship, showing that those who bully more frequently are at highest risk for suicide.

While the studies showed an association with bullying and suicide, it wasn’t clear whether the behavior actually increases risk for suicide or whether kids already at risk for suicide are more likely to become bullies or their victims. The researchers noted that most of the studies failed to take into account the influence of factors like gender, psychiatric problems and a history of suicide attempts.

Please read the full article and the comments section, which is full of people who have been bullied discussing how they were brushed off by parents and teachers and other authority figures as over-sensitive or cowardly. Many of the comments are interesting and insightful in their analysis of what bullying does to children's mental health.

Bookmark and Share

Posted On: July 16, 2008

Menthol: A Hook for Young Smokers

New research from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that tobacco companies have been deliberately varying levels of menthol in their cigarettes, marketing cigarettes with lower levels of menthol to younger smokers and then increasing the level of menthol with the age of the target demographic. From the article:

One document from R.J. Reynolds noted that all three major menthol brands "built their franchise with YAS (younger adult smokers) ... using a low-menthol product strategy. However, as smokers acclimate to menthol, their demand for menthol increases over time."

In 1987, R.J. Reynolds marketed low-level menthol varieties to persuade consumers to switch from regular brands and to recruit new, young smokers, noting: "First-time smoker reaction is generally negative. ... Initial negatives can be alleviated with a low level of menthol."

This new research serves as a reminder that, despite famous regulations about where and how Joe Camel can be displayed, tobacco companies continue to market deadly products to very young people.

Bookmark and Share

Posted On: July 15, 2008

Cholesterol Pills for Kids?

Recently, there was an outcry about new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics that suggest giving kids as young as 8 years old cholesterol-reducing statin drugs.

Tara Parker-Pope discusses the controversy in a recent column. Those who object to the new recommendations worry about the drugs' long-term consequences, the AAP's financial relationships with drug companies and the possibility that the new guidelines will lead to overuse of the drugs. The defenders argue that the guidelines specify that only a very small group of children--those with strong genetic and lifestyle risk factors--would even be considered for statin therapy. Parker-Pope's whole article is worth reading, as it discusses both the financial and the medical aspects to this debate.

One problem here is widespread throughout medicine: what some have called "indication sprawl." Once a drug or treatment is recommended for one narrow category of patients, it tends to get indicated for more and more categories with less and less testing and justification for the new categories. But more profit for the drug makers.

Bookmark and Share