Friday, July 27, 2012

Alcohol/Energy Drink Mixes with Casual, Risky Sex


A new study from the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) has found a link between the consumption of caffeinated energy drinks mixed with alcohol and casual -- often risky -- sex among college-age adults.

According to the study's findings, college students who consumed alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmEDs) were more likely to report having a casual partner and/or being intoxicated during their most recent sexual encounter.

The results seem to indicate that AmEDs may play a role in the "hook-up culture" that exists on many college campuses, says study author Kathleen E. Miller, senior research scientist at UB's RIA.

The problem is that casual or intoxicated sex can increase the risk of unwanted outcomes, like unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual assault and depression, says Miller. And previous research has linked energy drink consumption with other dangerous behaviors: drunken driving, binge drinking and fighting, for example.

"Mixing energy drinks with alcohol can lead to unintentional overdrinking, because the caffeine makes it harder to assess your own level of intoxication," says Miller.

"AmEDs have stronger priming effects than alcohol alone," she adds. "In other words, they increase the craving for another drink, so that you end up drinking more overall."

The good news: Miller's study found that consumption of AmEDs was not a significant predictor of unprotected sex. Drinkers were no less likely than nondrinkers to have used a condom during their most recent sexual encounter.

Regardless of their AmED use, participants in the study were more likely to use a condom during sex with a casual partner than during sex with a steady partner, consistent with previous research. A steady or committed partner is a less risky prospect than a casual partner whose sexual history is unknown, Miller notes, so using a condom may not feel as necessary.

To be published in the print edition of Journal of Caffeine Research and available online to subscribers of the journal, the study is part of a larger three-year research project by Miller, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The research included 648 participants (47.5 percent female) enrolled in introductory-level courses at a large public university. They ranged in age from 18 to 40 but mostly clustered at the lower end of the age spectrum. More than 60 percent were younger than 21.

According to the study's findings, nearly one in three sexually active students (29.3 percent) reported using AmEDs during the month prior to the survey.

At their most recent sexual encounter, 45.1 percent of the participants reported having a casual partner, 24.8 percent reported being intoxicated and 43.6 percent reported that they did not use a condom.

According to Miller, drinking Red Bull/vodkas or Jagerbombs doesn't necessarily lead people to get drunk and become intimate with strangers, but it does increase the odds of doing so. But she points out that these drinks are becoming increasingly popular with college-age adults and should be considered a possible risk factor for potentially health-compromising sexual behaviors.

The findings may provide a basis for educational campaigns or consumer safety legislation, such as warning labels that advise against mixing energy drinks with alcohol, Miller says.

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/jcr.2012.0015


Thursday, July 12, 2012

For Romantic Partners Left Out of a Meal, Lunch Is Not ‘Just Lunch’



If you’re meeting an ex lover, plan on coffee instead of lunch if you’d like to keep the peace at home.

When it comes to consuming calories with a person of the opposite sex, sharing meals sparks significantly more jealousy than meeting that same person for coffee.

“Our research suggests that sharing lunch involves more than the physical consumption of calories,” conclude co-authors Kevin M. Kniffin, a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics, and Brian Wansink, the director of Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab, in their new paper, “It’s Not Just Lunch: Extra-Pair Commensality Can Trigger Sexual Jealousy,” which appears in the peer-reviewed journal, PLoS ONE.

Research by Kniffin and Wansink measured the amount of jealousy reported by current romantic partners if one of them were contacted by an ex lover and subsequently engaged in several food- and drink-based activities.

“We consistently found that meals elicit more jealousy than face-to-face interactions that do not involve eating – such as having coffee,” Kniffin said. “These results are consistent for both men and women.”

For couples who are attuned to relationship risks, this study suggests that men and women who “do lunch” run the risk of a jealous spouse or partner at home.

“It’s key to remember that from your spouse’s perspective, it’s not ‘just lunch.’ While meals can strengthen social relationships, they can also destroy them,” Wansink said.

The full study can be viewed online at: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0040445

Monday, July 9, 2012

Handlebar level can affect sexual health of female cyclists


A new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine reveals that handlebar position is associated with changes in genital sensation in female cyclists.

Led by Marsha K. Guess, MD, MS, of Yale University School of Medicine, researchers evaluated bicycle set-up in terms of the relationship between the seat and the handlebars. 48 competitive women cyclists were studied.

Researchers measured saddle pressures and sensation in the genital region to see if placing handlebars in different positions affects pressure and sensation in the genital region. Results showed that placing the handlebar lower than the seat was associated with increased pressure on the genital region and decreased sensation (reduced ability to detect vibration).

"Modifying bicycle set-up may help prevent genital nerve damage in female cyclists," Guess notes. "Chronic insult to the genital nerves from increased saddle pressures could potentially result in sexual dysfunction."

"There are a myriad of factors affecting women's sexual function. If women can minimize pressure application to the genital tissues merely by repositioning their handlebars higher, to increase sitting upright, and thereby maximize pressure application to the woman's sit bones, then they are one step closer to maintaining their very important sexual health," explained Irwin Goldstein, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine.>