NewsWrap: Friendship improves health, mobile phones harmful, Barbie goes mindful

Valentine’s Day is no longer just for romantic partners, but all for whom you hold affection. Today has been dubbed Palentine’s, Galentine’s and Malentine’s to celebrate friends. (Even more names have been assigned by the cheeky London Underground crew at @AllOnTheBoard!) And friendship deserves to be celebrated because the latest research shows that it promotes health and wellbeing.

“Friendship literally improves your body’s cardiovascular functioning, how your immune system works, how you sleep,” science journalist and “Friendship” author Lydia Denworth, told the Wall Street Journal. Biologists define friendship as a positive, reciprocal, cooperative, long-lasting experience that makes you feel good.

Denworth points to two studies:

  • A study by Harvard focused on men across their lives from age 20 to 80, revealed “the single best predictor of your health and happiness at 80 was not your wealth or your professional success. It was your relationships at 50.” As Denworth says, “Friendship is about setting up your life so you have people you can rely on when you need them.”
  • “Scientists looked at all these people in a social network, showed them the same sets of videos and looked at how their brains responded to these videos. They could predict just by looking at the brain processing who was friends with whom,” Denworth says of another study. “Having a shared world-view turns out to be important.”

Perhaps the most important part of any close relationship is listening. That’s the word from Kate Murphy, who authored, “You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why It Matters.”

“The closer we feel toward someone, the less likely we are to listen carefully to them. It’s called the closeness-communication bias and, over time, it can strain, and even end, relationships,” she wrote this week in The New York Times. She references a 2010 study on communication with friends versus strangers showing, “Closeness can lead people to overestimate how well they communicate.”

After all, we have two ears and one mouth. Taking it further, silence is golden – even when shared between friends, as Paul C. Pritchard writes on Uplift.

Getting the facts on coronavirus as it — and misinformation – spreads
CNN reports today nearly 65,000 cases worldwide of Covid-19, the epidemic that some experts claim could be a pandemic with major impact to the world’s population. Whether the Chinese authorities have been transparent about reporting figures of infection and deaths is questioned, among other aspects. Journalists rely on information provided by officials and also FactCheck.org, which is a non-profit, non-partisan consumer advocacy centre devoted to debunking false stories. That includes purported cures for coronavirus, like consuming industrial bleach. Another claimed cure, covered by Newsweek, is a $125 Silver Solution.

Another science-based debunking organisation, American Council on Science and Health has reported an existing natural cure to prevent the spread of infectious diseases like Covid-19: Ultraviolet light.

And the technology already exists, Alex Berezow, Ph.D. writes in his article for the ACSH website. “Boeing has designed a self-cleaning bathroom that does precisely that in between uses. The airplane manufacturer claims that the UV lamps kill 99.99% of microbes within three seconds. Some hospitals fire up robots to bathe patient rooms with UV light in the hope of reducing deadly healthcare-associated infections,” Berezow says. “What airlines should do is install UV lamps and blast them for a few minutes while nobody is on board between flights.”

Step away from that mobile phone
Two significant – yet under-the-radar – health warnings against mobile phone use:
Public Health England warns to leave the phone away from you when not using it. (And this isn’t even 5G.) The authority writes, “Uncertainties in the science suggest some additional level of precaution is warranted, particularly for sources such as mobile phones where simple measures can be taken to reduce exposure.”
-An Italian court upholds that mobile phone use causes cancerous growths in the brain.

Appetite for natural pain relief and allergies anticipated to grow
The movement away from pharmaceuticals and increasing environmental threats, such as pollution, are accelerating the mainstreaming of complementary, alternative, and natural treatments.

Pop culture obsesses over mind-body-spirit themes

  • Super Bowl enchantress Demi Lovato waxes spiritual on her latest tat. Nearly 2.7 million Instagrammers liked the photo.
  • The swag bag for Oscar nominees was full of gifts for seeking higher consciousness. Forbes reported that the gift package – delivered in suitcases to actors such as Brad Pitt – included a lapis lazuli necklace (made by a company who donates profits to military widows), a 24-karat gold Royal Chakra Bath Bomb (made of organic hyaluronic acid, purple Brazilian clay, and vegan coconut milk), an herbal remedy foot spray, the Muse headband, and CBD drink syrup, among more lavish give-aways that are valued at $225,000. Recipients are required to pay income tax for the monetary value of all accepted and redeemed gifts, meaning the IRS (U.S. tax department) is one of the big winners at Oscar time, as well.
  • Barbie raises her vibe: Mattel’s latest collection to “introduce girls to the benefits of self-care through play” and teach “daily routines that promote emotional well-being…because Barbie knows to be one’s best is to give yourself the best care,” according to a press release quoted in this story by GreenQueen’s Sally Ho. She recommends we “work on improving our physical and mental wellbeing by focusing on a return to the basics like improving our breath, and ditch the excessive consumption that needn’t come with it.” But Headspace doesn’t seem to mind, as they partnered with Mattel for the Breathe With Me Barbie, which includes five meditations. See the full Barbie Wellness Collection here.