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New Studies Show That Dogs Can Really Chase Away Loneliness



Dogs really can chase away loneliness

by Lauren Powell and Emmanuel Stamatakis for The Conversation

SYDNEY — Feeling lonely? A dog may help. Our research out today confirms what many dog owners already know: dogs are great companions that can help you to feel less lonely.

Cuddles and slobbery kisses, meeting other dog owners in the park and a general lift in mood all likely help.

But our study, published today in BMC Public Health , found dogs didn’t affect psychological distress, the type seen in depression and anxiety.

Why are we studying this?

Almost two in five Australian households own a dog. And although most dog owners will assure you, in no uncertain terms, their dog is a source of sheer happiness, scientific evidence is lacking.

Most previous studies have compared the mental well-being of dog owners to non-owners at a single point in time. The problem with these studies is they cannot tell if dogs actually make us happier, less lonely or less stressed. They also cannot tell us if dog owners are simply in a more positive state of mind in the first place.

So, in this study, we measured mental well-being at three points in time: before owning a dog, three months after owning a dog and eight months after owning a dog.

What did we do?

Our study, known as the PAWS trial, involved 71 Sydney adults who were separated into three groups:

  • people who bought a dog within one month of starting the study
  • people who were interested in getting a dog in the near future but agreed not to get one during the study, and
  • people who had no interest in getting a dog.

People filled out surveys to measure their mood, loneliness and symptoms of psychological distress at the three different time-points. We then compared the mental well-being of the groups at the beginning of the study, to the mid-point and to the end-point.

Here’s what we found

New dog owners felt less lonely after they got a dog compared to the other two groups. The effect happened quite quickly, within three months of acquiring a dog. There was no further decrease in loneliness between three months and eight months.

We also found some evidence that dog owners had fewer negative emotions, such as nervousness or distress, within three months of getting a new dog but this finding was not as clear cut.

We found that symptoms of depression and anxiety were unchanged after acquiring a dog. Maybe the dog owners in our study already had low levels of psychological distress before they got a dog, so dog ownership didn’t lower these levels any further.

What does it all mean?

There are lots of possible reasons dogs can help to lessen feelings of loneliness. We know having a quick cuddle with a dog boosts people’s mood in the short-term. Maybe daily dog cuddles can also boost owners’ mood in the long-term which could help to lower feelings of loneliness.

Dog owners may also meet new people through their dog as people are more likely to talk strangers if they are accompanied by a dog. In our study, dog owners also said they had met new people in their neighborhood because of their dog.

So far, there have only been two similar studies to look at mental well-being in new dog owners, one of which was conducted almost 30 years ago.

Of these studies, one found dog owners had fewer symptoms of psychiatric disorders after they acquired a dog. The other study found no difference in loneliness after people brought a new dog home.

Dogs may also improve our physical health, by reducing blood pressure, improving cardiovascular health and increasing the amount of physical activity their owners perform. But, as is the case with mental well-being, the scientific evidence is still limited.

So, what happens next?

One of the things our study cannot determine is how dogs affect men’s mental well-being. By chance, all the new dog owners in our study were women. So, we don’t know whether dogs affect men’s mental well-being in a different way to women’s.

Our next step is to look at mental well-being in a much bigger group of new dog owners to confirm these findings. A bigger study could also provide more insight into the relationship between dog ownership and mental illness, such as depression and anxiety.

Lauren Powell is a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney. Emmanuel Stamatakis is a Professor of Physical Activity, Lifestyle, and Population Health at the University of Sydney.

The Conversation publishes knowledge-based journalism that is responsible, ethical and supported by evidence from academics and researchers in order to inform public debate with facts, clarity and insight into society’s biggest problems.

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L.A. Teachers Sue Delta Airlines for Fuel Dump on Elementary School



L.A. Teachers Sue Delta Airlines for Fuel Dump on Elementary School

LOS ANGELES — Delta Airlines just got hit with a lawsuit because one of its jets allegedly dumped fuel on an L.A. elementary school.

Video showed Delta flight 89, a Boeing 777 bound for China, turning back to LAX Tuesday to make an emergency landing, and spewing fuel as it went in preparation for landing. Unfortunately, that fuel ended up dousing children at Park Avenue Elementary in the city of Cudahy, CA.

Four teachers at the school have hired Gloria Allred to take on Delta. In the suit, obtained by TMZ, they say the pilot was asked by air traffic control if there was a need to dump fuel before landing … and the pilot said no.

The suit alleges the pilot dumped the fuel without notifying the control tower … and the big problem is … it was done at an altitude of about 2,000 feet. According to docs, that’s simply too low to allow the fuel to evaporate before it reaches the ground — it should be done at 5,000 feet or higher.

In the suit, the teachers say their clothes, flesh and eyes were coated in jet fuel — and it also got into their mouths. They say they had trouble breathing and needed medical treatment.

They’re suing Delta for negligence … and seeking damages.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

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CA Hospitals Report First Local Death of 2020 Flu Season



SAN BERNARDINO (CBSLA) — As flu season rages, Loma Linda University Medical Center has once again set up its overflow tent as a waiting room for patients suffering from the virus.

“We are seeing a lot of cases of flu, more so than we have in previous years,” Dr. Heather Tassone, who works in the Loma Linda emergency room, said. “We are seeing, in California, a greater number of deaths than last year at this time.”

The current flu season is on track to be one of the worst in recent history. In almost every state, 10 million have become sick so far, 4,800 people have died — including 70 in California and […]

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Dr. Oz Says Breakfast is a Sham, Waiting for Brunch Is Healthier




Dr. Oz Says Breakfast is a Sham, Waiting for Brunch is Healthier

(TMZ) –Dr. Oz has a radical New Year’s resolution for folks that goes beyond dieting and sounds a little crazy … he wants to cancel breakfast.

The popular TV doctor is adamant the first meal of the day — the most important meal of the day according to lore — is actually a sham created by the advertising industry … and there’s a healthier alternative.

Dr. Oz tells us it’s better to wait a few hours until you’re actually hungry to eat — don’t just load up in the morning because you think you are supposed to. He suggests brunching daily over breakfast.

As for those who claim they ARE hungry first thing in the AM … Dr. Oz says you’re mistaken — it’s actually just withdrawals because you’re a food junkie.

BTW — we got Dr. Oz at his System 20 event in NYC, which featured his new plan to take control of your health in 2020 … so he’s certainly serious about the topic.

We did a little research ourselves, and it turns out … he might be on to something. Several studies in recent years show that breakfast has little to no effect on a person’s body weight, resting metabolic rate, cholesterol or blood sugar levels.

However, other studies suggest skipping breakfast is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity … and being less physically active than someone who eats breakfast.

According to Dr. Oz, though — brunch is the new breakfast.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

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