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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

College: Where Healthy Habits Go to Die?

<tober 1st marked the beginning of National Sudden Cardiac Awareness Month, and Carleton recognized this day probably the same way most colleges across the country did—by doing nothing. After all, we fit young college students have no reason to worry about long-term health problems like heart disease.

It turns out that’s wrong, as new studies are beginning to suggest.

Recent research released by the American Heart Association reveals that college students who drink excessively can potentially increase their risk of heart disease. The report, out of fellow Minnesota school College of St. Bennedict, shows that undergrads who drink in excess can double their level of what’s known as C-reactive protein, or CRP. CRP is a biological marker for artery inflammation that scientists have associated with higher chances of heart problems. In the study, heavy drinking was defined as at least three drinks three or more days per week, or at least five drinks two days per week. The CRP levels of these heavy drinkers were more than double those of the moderate college drinkers (who downed between two and five drinks, one or two days a week). The heightened levels put these people in a category with a moderate risk of heart disease.

Understand that it is still unclear whether drinking heavily during college spells heart problems later down the road. And even though we would need an official long-term study to follow college students through to middle age, scientists still point out that even previously high CRP levels can carry over to increase the risk of heart disease.

While college students have little risk for heart problems, what’s troubling is that their knowledge of the condition is equally limited. The most well-known and understood health topics amongst college students continue to be STDs and psychological issues, according to a report from Arizona State University.

Now, there is no need to run to the doctor’s office, but let’s be honest. During our time at Carleton, we accomplish a lot of special things both in and outside the classroom, but we don’t put much effort into taking care of the bodies that make these pursuits possible.

The philosophy of moderation is simply not one any college is known for. (After all, who wants to take it slow during what many grads and parents call the best years of our lives?)

We pull all-nighters, during which we cram snacks and down jugs of coffee. Some of us indulge in the more-than-occasional drink. Some even smoke cigarettes. And to top it off, in the winter we spend most of our time indoors. To be sure, these are generalizations, but there is some truth to every stereotype.

“Staying healthy,” these reports show, does not simply mean avoiding any unwanted trips to the doctor’s office or hospital. Eating balanced meals, exercising, and getting enough sleep will pay dividends in the long run, both during and after college.

Take care of yourselves. Perhaps keep these things in mind as you gear up for the final push before the end of the term.

-The editorial represents the views of The Carletonian editors.

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