‘Jersey Shore’ cast can school you on good and bad health habits — from tanning to toning
The gang of wild twenty-somethings on the MTV reality show “Jersey Shore” has been catapulted to celebrity status. That means fans of The Situation, Snooki, Pauly D, JWoww, Ronnie and the rest of the tan-loving, alcohol-guzzling crew are adopting many of the stars’ lifestyle habits.
In some cases, that’s not a bad thing. Losing weight, giving up cigarettes and exercising are all good for you — and they’re all positive behaviors that have been exhibited by “Jersey Shore” dwellers.
“These things reduce the chances you’ll need to file a health insurance claim,” says Dr. Wayne Andersen, co-founder and medical director of Take Shape for Life and author of “Dr. A’s Habits for Health.” “If you live a healthy lifestyle, you’ll spend less on health care.”
But not all the examples set on the “Shore” are good ones.
If you follow Pauly D’s and Snooki’s mantras — “GTL” (gym, tan, laundry) and “HTN” (hair, tan, nails) — you could be staring at some pretty hefty health care bills. Plus, you could find it tough to qualify for health or life insurance if you embrace their hard-partying ways.
Here’s a look at some health care lessons you can learn from the “Jersey Shore” cast.
When she joined the cast in August 2010, Deeana Nicole Cortese was proudly sporting a deep, bronze tan. Boasting that she’s spent every summer on the shore for years, Deanna obviously hasn’t spent much time slathering on sunscreen.
|Deeana Nicole Cortese|
New York City dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman, assistant professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology, says Deeana could be looking at some staggering health care bills, co-payments and health insurance claims in a few years.
“The sun’s rays damage the collagen and elastic tissue in your skin, which can lead to skin cancer,” Jaliman says. The price tag to treat skin cancer can exceed $10,000.
Even if Deeana doesn’t get skin cancer, Jaliman says, she’s probably on her way toward other skin problems. “I treat many patients for wrinkles, sagging, brown spots, white spots and leathery skin all caused by sun damage and exposure,” Jaliman says.
In real life: Want a healthy glow like Snooki, Deeana and the gang? Forget tanning beds. Jaliman says they’re worse than being in the sun because “they have only UVA rays, which penetrate deep in the skin.”
Instead, reach for the spray-on tanner or bronzer. “And always use your SPF 30 whenever you’re outside to prevent aging and skin cancer,” Jaliman says.
In the show’s second season, Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola unveiled a svelte physique. She credited her buff bikini-ready body to cutting out carbs like pasta and doing cardio workouts.
|Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola|
Dr. Gregg Kai Nishi, a bariatric surgeon at the Khalili Center for Bariatric Care in Beverly Hills, Calif., says Sammi’s slimdown is great, “as long as she doesn’t become a yo-yo dieter. Yo-yo dieters have a higher incidence of high blood pressure.”
High blood pressure can to heart disease and high health care costs. A September 2010 study by George Washington University says obese women spend $4,879 a year on health care. Guys spend about half that.
Repetitive “weight cycling” boosts someone’s chances of gaining back lost pounds and losing muscle mass, Nishi says. “When the individual regains weight, it is often primarily fat that is gained, which may alter the body’s fat-to-muscle ratio,” he says.
Nishi says yo-yo dieting can trigger extreme emotions linked to stress brought on by the struggle to lose weight quickly. “Depression is often associated with weight cycling,” Nishi says.
In real life: Don’t toy with yo-yo dieting. Nishi says the safest way to diet is following a healthy, balanced diet, getting 30 minutes of exercise daily and not losing more than 1½ to two pounds a week. “You can’t starve yourself when you’re dieting and shouldn’t completely cut out one food group.” Nishi recommends consuming an adequate amount of calories, including fats, proteins, vitamins and fluids; the amount varies based on gender, body type and other factors.
|Jenni “JWoww” Farley|
Before the start of the show’s second season, Jenni “JWoww” Farley was spotted puffing on an electronic cigarette instead of her usual tobacco sticks.
Andersen says that since smoking is the main risk factor for lung cancer, it’s smart for JWoww to kick the butts. “Smoking is one of the leading causes of death,” Andersen says.
Not only are 90 percent of lung cancer cases a product of puffing on cigarettes, smoking increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
“It also stains your teeth and gums, and increases the number of wrinkles you’ll have, because smoking reduces the blood supply to the skin and lowers levels of vitamin A — two things needed to fight off wrinkles,” Andersen says.
JWoww’s decision to kick the butts is sure to improve her budget and her health. The National Cancer Institute estimates the first year of treatment for lung cancer costs at least $24,600.
In real life: Andersen says if you’ve already quit smoking, continue steering clear of cigarettes. “If you’re still smoking, it’s never too late to quit and improve your chances of avoiding a deadly and costly disease,” Andersen says.
The Situation’s fitness situation
|Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino|
Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino rarely misses a chance to show off his six-pack abs. And why not? If you’ve got ‘em, flaunt them.
Andersen says developing that type of sculpted, lean muscle mass requires hours of weight resistance training and cardio exercise. “Exercising is good for your heart, to maintain a healthy weight and prevent developing a host of diseases like diabetes, cancer and others,” he says.
So this is one “Jersey Shore” habit you should pick up, doctors say.
In real life: Shoot for at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. “Alternate between weight resistance training, like lifting weights and cardiovascular exercise for the maximum health benefits,” Andersen says.
Muscleman Ronnie Ortiz-Magro vehemently denies using steroids. He claims he takes only supplements and over-the-counter “stuff.”
But some health experts wonder whether the 5-foot, 5-inch, 220-pound beefcake is telling the truth. Ronnie’s raging temper and bulked-up body are two signs that he’s using steroids.
If Ronnie is dabbling in dosing, Andersen says he’s risking cardiovascular disease, premature balding or hair loss, insomnia and liver damage.
In real life: Stick to lifting weights and eating a healthy diet. “That’s the best way to maintain weight and muscle mass,” Nishi says.
Sleeping by day and chugging alcohol by night can cause all sorts of expensive health woes, Andersen says.
“Sleep is not a luxury. Males only need seven to eight hours and females need six to seven hours in order to stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight,” he says.
Guzzling too much booze is a no-no, too. Excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of cancer of the esophagus, according to a Swedish study published in March 2011 in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention.
“It also increases the odds of liver damage and disease,” Andersen says.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the price tag for a liver replacement is between $150,000 and $250,000. The annual cost of post-transplant medication adds up to about $12,000.
In real life: It’s OK to party — just do so in moderation. Limit your booze intake to no more than two drinks a day, experts say.