The Perfect Gift for A Graduate? Nip and Tuck Cosmetic Surgery

Dr. Roxanne Guy, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), said that more teens are asking for cosmetic surgeries as graduation presents this spring. They want procedures they see on television shows like “Extreme Makeover,” such as breast implants, liposuction, skin resurfacing, teeth whitening, and so forth.

About a quarter of a million American teenagers ages 10 to 19 years old had cosmetic surgery last year. That figure includes 47,000 nose jobs and 9,000 breast augmentations, according to the ASPS.

Some psychologists worry that this trend is not a good thing.

Dr. David Sarwer, psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, said that about five to 15% of cosmetic surgery candidates suffer from “body dysmorphic disorder,” characterized by a false belief that they are unusually ugly. He said that teens with this disorder should have psychiatric treatment, not surgery. Others have expressed concern that teens are too young to make a decision with lifelong consequences.

 Girls Closing Gender Gap for Drinking, Drugging, Smoking

Girls are catching up to boys in negative ways, such as drinking and drugging too much and getting into car accidents, according to a report in The Washington Post.

Teenage girls are now drinking, smoking, and using drugs at a level equal to or above the level of teenage boys, and they are slowly closing the gap in the number of car accidents. In addition, more girls are entering the juvenile justice system than ever. This is according to data from the National Center on Additions and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and a study of emergency room physicians by the University of California. The statistics show that drug use among girls is actually increasing in an era when overall teenage drug use is slightly declining.

Many experts believe the same feminist movement that empowers girls to go to college and pursue non-traditional careers is also “empowering” them to smoke, drink, and go clubbing.

“When you take off the shackles, you release all kinds of energy – negative and positive,” said James Garbarino, a psychology professor at Loyola University in Chicago. “By letting girls loose to experience America more fully, it’s not surprising that they would absorb some of its toxic environment.”

Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith, a professor of public health at Harvard University, said the explanation for the girls’ bad behavior is “in part a direct response to the advances that we’re making as a society around gender equality. We really have to ask the question, ‘Why wouldn’t you expect girls to behave like boys?’ Girls and women are closing other gaps.”

Three Studies Find Links Between Genetics and Adolescent Behaviors

Three new studies point to a link between problematic teen behaviors, genetics and physical differences in brain function.

The first, published in American Sociological Review, links genetic differences with juvenile delinquency. Researchers at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill studied 1100 boys in grades 7 through 12 and found three genetic variations that govern behaviors like aggression and motivation.

They then linked these “risky genes” to environmental factors such as having meals with parents, attending church, repeating a grade in school, etc. Certain behaviors like eating meals with parents seemed to suppress the risky genes, and others -such as repeating a grade at school– seemed to trigger them.

Lead author, Professor Gang Guo, said his study by no means backs up the argument that “the genes do it.”

A study from the University of Utah printed in Plos Genetics found that having certain common genetic variations increases the chances of a teen using tobacco before age 17 and developing a lifelong dependency on it.

Those who carry the variations only have a 5% chance of quitting smoking as adults, according to lead author Professor Robert Weiss. He and his colleagues used smoking diaries from 2827 European-Americans.

Glen Hanson, a former director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse, called the Utah study “an incredible discovery. This isn’t the answer but it opens the door to where we might find answers.”

Finally, a study of adolescent monkeys found that certain ones are physically “wired” to feel anxious and afraid even in safe situations. “Anxious monkeys” had increased activity in the amygdala of their brains, even in secure situations.

These findings from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine indicate that certain people may be unable to stay calm because they are “wired” for anxiety. The study, which appears in Plos One, notes that scientists have already proven that anxious children are at risk for depression, substance abuse and anxiety disorders.