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Pediatrics says poison centers answered 222 calls in 2012 related to the so-called "cinnamon challenge," which involves eating a teaspoon of the spice and going 60 seconds without any water.
In 2011, only 51 such calls were fielded. More importantly, some teenagers are suffering collapsed lungs or ending up on ventilators.
You have to hand it to the medical community. They are reacting quickly to this one, even though 222 calls in a year doesn't seem like a lot. Look on Youtube, though, and you will find literally thousands of videos of people taking this challenge. I have included one example below.
Just because only 222 people were distressed enough to call a poison center, many more kids are trying the stunt, putting themselves in danger.
Maybe Dejah Reed has the answer to that one. NBC quoted her as saying she,
"thought it would be cool" to try.
She had seen it on Youtube. Now she has long-term breathing problems that may never go away.
Human beings sometimes do stupid things as teenagers. This isn't because they're stupid, necessarily. It's because they haven't yet developed the judgment skills needed to make intelligent decisions independent of peer pressure. Many of them think they're invincible. They lack the judgment to avoid risky dares or challenges.
Eating cinnamon is just a little easier to understand than binge drinking. Some youths consume such vast amounts of alcohol in a short period of time that they literally drink themselves to death. An Associated Press' analysis of federal records a few years ago found 157 college-age people who died of alcohol poisoning between 1999 and 2005.
The dangers associated with too much alcohol are generally known. So are the dangers associated with tobacco smoke. Cinnamon is something else, however. You can't really expect kids to understand the dangers involved there.
Studies have shown the human brain isn't through developing until the age of 21, or even older in some cases (I know some people in middle age who never seem to have arrived).
Knowing this, it's amazing most of the human race survives past those ages.
No, a lot of teens aren't likely to read this or any of the other reports about the cinnamon challenge. But they will know if the adults in their lives pass on the warnings and make them watch the videos. I've included a report from the Today Show and a typical Youtube video of the challenge below.
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Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist of the Deseret News. He has nearly 40 years experience as a reporter, editor and editorial writer in Oklahoma, New York City, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. He also has been an adjunct journalism professor at Brigham Young and Weber State universities.