Q: I read about a study that said sexting was not only an acceptable behavior, but good for relationships as well. What is this world coming to? Doesn’t it lead to risky sexual behavior?
Mildred F., Willoughby, Ohio
A: Sounds like you’re referring to the results of a survey done by researchers at Drexel University that examined “possible positive effects of open sexual communication with a partner.” They found that for adults in committed relationships (and that’s the key), there’s nothing wrong with “sending, receiving or forwarding sexually explicit messages, images or photos through electronic means.” In fact, for those in a relationship, sexting was associated with greater sexual satisfaction. So in that context, it’s just another form of good old-fashioned communication, something that we have always advocated for a healthy, loving relationship.
That reminds us: Did you know Woodrow Wilson wrote steamy letters to his first and second wives (as president of Princeton University and then the United States)? When the letters became public after his death, most folks found him to be quite the romantic. Makes you wonder ... if he’d had a cellphone, would he have texted instead?
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However, for vulnerable teens and young adults, there are serious risks associated with sexting. It’s been associated with unprotected sex, unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Emotionally, sexting can lead to shame, guilt, bullying, depression, drug abuse and even suicide. Parents need to make it clear that it’s not good for their kids. It can be easily shared and can’t be erased.
When is it OK? Think of it as the difference between Anthony Weiner and Woodrow Wilson. Act like a grownup, and things should be fine. If you don’t, it’ll have lasting consequences.
Q: Our kids gave us a Caribbean cruise for our 40th wedding anniversary so we can get some sunshine this winter. But I’m concerned about all those norovirus outbreaks that have hit cruise ships. Am I overreacting?
Jo J., Brookings, South Dakota
Well, a bit, but we get your concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2004 through 2014 there were 158 confirmed outbreaks of the norovirus on cruise lines. But the good news is that the number of norovirus outbreaks per year has come down almost every year since 2004, when there were 36. Last year there were nine. Now you have less than a 1 percent chance of contracting gastroenteritis from any cause on an average seven-day cruise. That’s partly because of the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program.
But still, the norovirus is no fun. It lasts for one to three days and causes acute gastric distress (vomiting and diarrhea). Around 20 million people on solid ground in the U.S. are hit annually, and it’ll definitely put a damper on any cruise. It’s extremely contagious and moves like a brushfire aboard ship, spreading from contaminated surfaces, air, food or water.
That may have been the motivating force that led microbiologists at North Carolina State and Wake Forest universities to create a vomiting machine to study how the infection spreads. Seems the norovirus can be aerosolized in vomit -- and it travels much farther than previously thought, landing on still-healthy folks’ clothing and getting carried out of a room and around the corner.
So whether onboard a ship or at the office or home, here’s how to reduce your chances of getting infected:
--If someone you’re around becomes ill, wash your hands frequently and use hand sanitizer before eating; make sure your food is cooked piping hot; and consider using plastic-wrapped plastic utensils. Underwashed silverware seems to be a major vehicle for transmission.
--If it breaks out onboard ship, make sure you don’t touch your face with your hands unless they are freshly washed. Consider wearing a mask and gloves when out and about. Stay out of places people gather.
But none of that should keep you from heading for the high seas! South Dakota and all 49 other states get hit with noro-nausea too!
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at youdocsdaily(at sign)sharecare.com.