Author Archives: Josephina Kim

Crossed Legs, Health Risk or Not?

How do you usually sit on chairs? Sitting cross-legged is one of my unchanging habits because I feel very comfortable sitting like this. Even now, I have my legs crossed! Is this really harmful to us? Many say crossing legs can lead to numerous health problems even if it may seem harmless. Commonly known consequences of spending long hours with legs crossed are effects on blood pressures and heart, varicose veins, and blood circulation. Check the video below for brief overview.

Credit: Abilhail Abihu

According to the study in 2007, sitting with crossed legs at knee increased blood pressure, whereas with crossed legs at the ankles didn’t result the same. In the study, 50 healthy volunteers and 53 patients with hypertension, abnormally high blood pressure, participated and randomly allocated. Seated blood pressure was measured with their legs in three different positions; one with feet flat on the ground and two with legs crossed differently. During blood pressure measurements, crossing legs increased systolic and diastolic blood pressures in patients with hypertension. In contrast, healthy volunteers had an increased systolic blood pressure, and a little effect on diastolic blood pressure. Blood pressure was higher when seated legs crossed, but it was a temporary increase.

Varicose veins, enlarged veins that are visible through the skin due to increased blood pressure, appear commonly in legs and feet. Age, genetics, obesity, gender, and pregnancy are all risk factors. Dr. Mohmmed Moursi, an UAMS vascular surgeon, indicated that crossing legs isn’t the major cause of this vascular problem. Instead, they result from an intrinsic problem inside the veins. Another common belief he mentioned was that standing for long hours is another cause of varicose veins. Nonetheless, standing may magnify the existing problems with veins but shouldn’t directly cause them.


Normal Vein (left) and Varicose Vein (right). National Heart Lung and Blood Institute via Wiki Commons

Many say crossing legs can cause problems for blood circulation but there aren’t many evidences supporting that. Not only sitting cross-legged, but also staying in one position for too long can lead to the numbness in feet. The sensation is from sitting legs crossed which created pressure on the peroneal nerve, located in the back of the knee. People generally change their position when they begin to feel uncomfortable. The recent study in Korea found that sitting legs crossed wasn’t the cause, and in fact, sitting sedentary positions for long time did affect.

Crossed Legs

Women sitting with legs crossed. Ion Chibzii via Wiki Commons

Perhaps, avoiding sitting stationary or improving postures when seated are the solutions. In fact, good posture can improve muscle function, blood flow, lung functions, and mental health. Surprisingly, recent studies showed good posture affects intelligenceimproves abilities to remember, and protects from having back-problems. Thus, sitting with legs crossed isn’t the direct cause but sitting in the same position for long periods of time can be. Exercising regularly, stretching, taking walks in between, and even focusing on sitting up straight can help one change one’s sedentary lifestyle. 

By: Josephina Kim

ALS, Still Incurable?

About this time last year, you may have seen millions of videos on social media: people were pouring buckets of ice water over them, nominating others to either take the challenge itself or financially to help fight ALS. Until I saw one of those videos, I, personally, didn’t have any clue what they were doing. Yet, I had no scientific knowledge about ALS.

Normal nerve cell (left) and damaged ALS nerve cell (right) (Source: Mahesh Kumar - via Flickr -

Normal nerve cell (left) and damaged ALS nerve cell (right) (Source: Mahesh Kumar – via Flickr)

ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), often called as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease which causes motor nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to degenerate. Eventually, the brain becomes impossible to initiate and control muscle movement. Patients in the beginning stage may experience difficulties with breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Later in the stage, patients become completely paralyzed. Stephen Hawking, one of the most recognizable scientists, was diagnosed with slow-progressing form of ALS in his early age. Most people who develop ALS are in between the age 40 and 70, but there are cases occurring in twenties and thirties. For more information of how it is like living with ALS, check the video below:

Credit: Roundabout U

According to an article from Johns Hopkins Medicine, ALS affects nearly 30,000 people in the United States. Every year about 5,000 people are diagnosed with ALS. Through the Ice Bucket Challenge, one of the most powerful examples of social media movement, the number of people, politicians, celebrities, and CEOs participated in this challenge, luring attention to the society. There was one of the key important message embedded in the ice bucket challenge. The idea of challenging people to douse themselves in cold water help them indirectly experience muscle contraction, just like how the ALS patients are going through.

Ice bucket (Source: Mauviel M30 Ice bucket - license available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license via Commons - )

Ice bucket (Source: Mauviel M30 Ice bucket via – Wikipedia Commons)

According to the article from Time magazine, ALS Association (ALSA), has received over $115 million in donations. ALSA allocated towards a number of research, community services and patients to improve the quality of lives. So far, it has spent about $47 million. Two-thirds of them were spent toward various researches of gene discovery, drugs and disease model development, and identification of biomarkers. 20% of the donations have been spent on patients and community services, and 11% on fundraising and education. According to ALSA, 79% of their budget was spent toward services and programs, and 28% of that was on research.

Recently, researchers have found a protein, TDP-43.  This is what ALS patients fail to have in their cells and if they repair this protein, the damaged cells in ALS can restore. Researchers are hoping to see if this method can be applied to many diseases that weaken muscles, such as  Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Without those funds, it would have been difficult to demonstrate this high-risk-high-return experiment. Through social media, ALSA has been able to draw the attention to this “incurable” disease for further research and education. Hopefully soon in the future, TDP-43 becomes a key to many neuromuscular disorders and therefore cure many patients.


Posted By: Josephina (KyungBin) Kim