The Social Animal: Caffeine Could Ward Off Skin Cancer

Tanning beds addictive like drugs, say scientists; just not nearly as fun, says everyone else

Finally, an explanation for John Boehner. Or for his orangeness, anyway. According to a new study forthcoming in the upcoming issue of Addiction Biology (a journal I can never seem to put down), “the use of tanning beds appear to cause biological reactions similar to those in people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, suggesting that indoor tanning is addictive.” The researchers studied seven subjects who visited indoor tanning salons an average of 27 times (yes, seriously) over a 90-day period and found that when they were exposed to the tanning beds’ UV radiation, “the ‘reward’ zone of the brain was activated, releasing chemicals known to make people want to repeat certain behaviors.” Apparently the Oompa-Loompas were more than just chocoholics.

What if you rub caffeine all over yourself beforehand?

You might be onto something, boldface subhead. Because according to another very recent and totally weird study about tanning, the “topical application of caffeine may help to further filter out the harmful UVB rays that are associated with skin cancer.” If you weren’t aware that caffeine was something that could be applied topically, join the club. When I first read the headline—“New study throws further light on caffeine as a sunscreen”—I immediately pictured a bunch of Floridians walking around pouring skim mocha lattes all over themselves. Then I laughed at them, because that is such a moronic thing to do.

Anyway, the article also taught me that the standard form of caffeine absorption—that would be coffee-drinking—has long been associated with lower non-melanoma skin cancer rates, and that “caffeine extract has already widely been used in a variety of skin care products, namely as an anti-aging agent,” and in hair care products to prevent hair loss. (Who would have thought you could learn so much from a website called To paraphrase one wise man’s words regarding a particular coffee concomitant: Caffeine—is there anything it can’t do?


Romance can prevent girls from becoming women scientists, according to women scientists

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a woman. And if you’re a woman, odds are you’re not employed in one of the so-called STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math). And if that’s the case, it’s probably because you’re too busy daydreaming about men. Wait, what? Come again? Alas, I’m afraid you read that correctly, you right-brained, boy-crazy softie. According to a series of studies led by Lora Park—a professor of psychology at the University of Buffalo and, probably not coincidentally, a STEMly lady herself—“women who were primed to think about romance were less likely to be interested in STEM or to choose it as a major—but were more interested in majoring in such ‘feminine’ subjects as English or foreign language—compared with women who were primed to think about intelligence or friendship.”

As’s “feminine” journalist Meredith Melnick explains, “Park and her colleagues primed college men and women to think about dating, either by making them look at romantic pictures of beach sunsets, candles and the like, or having them overhear a researcher’s staged conversation about a recent date. Then the students were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their interest in STEM and their preference for academic majors.” This made me wonder two things: 1) how traditional romantic scripts and gender norms might be contributing to such results; and 2) why none of my recent dates have felt even remotely “primed” for romance after I’ve taken them back to my place, lit candles, and showed them pictures of beach sunsets. Unfortunately, Park, et al. offer me nothing in the way of dating tips, but they have speculated on the former: “One reason why this might be is that pursuing intelligence goals in masculine fields, such as STEM, conflicts with pursuing romantic goals associated with traditional romantic scripts and gender norms.”

Want to earn more? Just say no!

OK, so let’s now assume you spent your college years obsessing about that cute guy in your sociology class, ending up with a degree in art history and a $35,000-a-year job writing copy for What to do then? Act like a dick! (Or whatever the female equivalent is. As a consummate gentleman, I have no idea what that might be.) As a new study has shown, less “agreeable” workers earn significantly more on average than the agreeable ones—about 18% (almost $10,000 a year) more for the troublesome men, and 5% (almost $2,000) more for the women. “Nice guys are getting the shaft,” said one of the study’s co-authors, Beth A. Livingston, of Cornell. (Dr. Livingston, I presume, became the first Ivy League professor to utter the phrase “getting the shaft” on record.) The study, titled “Do Nice Guys—and Gals—Really Finish Last?,” looked at data collected over nearly 20 years on roughly 10,000 workers from a wide range of professions, salaries, and ages.

So, why do nice guys finish $10,000 behind, if not last? For men, at least, being agreeable may not conform “to expectations of ‘masculine behavior,’” the researchers write. Also, people who are more agreeable may be less willing to assert themselves in salary negotiations, something this nice guy, for one, discovered the hard way after immediately accepting Blisstree’s first offer of $5,000 per column. Live and learn, live and learn.

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