This Week in Health: Bikini pic fights Crohn’s stigma

Crohn's disease colitis UK bethany townsend bikini pic colostomy bag Bethany Townsend shared this photo on the Crohn’s and Colitis UK Facebook group. The original post has been viewed over 12 million times.
Credit: Crohn’s and Colitis UK

Instead of hiding her condition, a British woman posed for a bikini pic — and has inspired others around the world to show off instead of feeling shame about their illness.

Bethany Townsend, 23, has Crohn’s disease, which causes chronic inflammation of the intestines. Four years ago, Townsend had to be fitted with two colostomy bags, which collect waste from diverted bowels.

She shared her story on the Facebook group Crohn’s and Colitis UK, where the post has been viewed more than 12 million times, according to the group.

“Finally after three and a half years, I decided that my colostomy bags shouldn’t control my life,” she wrote. “So when I went to Mexico with my husband in December last year I finally showed I wasn’t ashamed.”

She’s been battling Crohn’s since age 3, but wasn’t properly diagnosed until age 11. Townsend underwent six surgeries to remove or repair parts of her intestines and has suffered complications including a burst bowel and MRSA infections.

But the disease persisted, even after a stem cell trial treatment, and she’s hoping that a rare drug will receive funding through the UK’s National Health Service.

She ended her post with, “Still hoping for a cure…”

Kids of same-sex parents are healthier

Children of gay or lesbian parents are physically and socially better off than the average child, according to a newstudy.

Researchers at the University of Melbourne surveyed 315 same-sex couples, about 80 percent of them women, with a total of 500 children aged up to 17 across Australia. The parents answered questions about their kids’ health and wellbeing “using internationally recognized measures,” study author Simon Crouch wrote in the academic news outlet The Conversation.

Their children scored, on average, 6 percent higher on general health and family cohesion, after controlling for socioeconomic differences. In most health-related measures, kids of same-sex couples scored comparably with their peers in traditional families.

Crouch noted that same-sex couples are more likely to share child care and work responsibilities, which contributes to family cohesion.

However, two-thirds of these children also experience a stigma related to their families, which impacts their wellbeing.

Follow Eva Kis on Twitter @thisiskis or email eva.kis@metro.us.

Hookahs popular with wealthier kids

Cigarettes may have a bad rep among high schoolers, but that doesn’t extend to another method of smoking.

About 18 percent of students tried hookah in the past year, with wealthier kids more likely to report using the water pipe, according to a new study by NYU’s Langone Medical Center.

Those more likely to have tried hookah smoking include white and hispanic students versus their black peers; those living in urban areas; children of parents with higher education levels; and kids with higher weekly incomes.

Hookahs, which use a mouthpiece to deliver tobacco smoke through a bowl of water, carry many of the same dangers as conventional cigarettes.

The data was collected from annual questionnaires given to several thousand high school seniors from 130 public and private schools in 48 states. The survey first added questions about hookah use in 2010.

Lead author Joseph Palamar said the “lower class stigma” associated with cigarettes doesn’t seem to apply to hookahs.Reuters

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