Testing It Up

Medical Marijuana Law For Veterans Lobbied in Congress

Medical marijuana was a hot topic during the vote earlier this month, and it seems that some members of the government are planning to push for wider coverage.

marijuana legalizationHouse representatives Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and Earl Blumenaur, D-Ore. are pushing the Veterans Equal Access bill, a legislation that gives medical professionals in the Veterans Affairs Department the opportunity to prescribe medical cannabis to their patients. At present, the department has disallowed its doctors from giving marijuana prescriptions to retired military personnel.

Rep. Rohrabacher believes that veterans must be given equal rights as other U.S. citizens. “Our antiquated drug laws must catch up with the real suffering of so many of our veterans… This is now a moral cause and a matter of supreme urgency,” Rohrabacher said in a news release.

Meanwhile, Rep. Blumenaur emphasized the dire need of veterans to a wide variety of medical options. “We should be allowing these wounded warriors access to the medicine that will help them survive and thrive, including medical marijuana, not treating them like criminals and forcing them into the shadows,” the Oregon lawmaker said.

Many of the war veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is supposedly a qualifying condition for issuing medical marijuana in selected U.S. states. According to VA records, roughly one-sixth of the veterans are diagnosed with PTSD, with some of them assigned to war-stricken areas such as Afghanistan and Iran in the past.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Study: Breast Size Linked To Mental Health In Teenage Girls

Women who think too much about their breasts may seem superficial, but a recent study confirms that this concern may affect their mental condition.

teenage girlsAccording to researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital, young women who have breasts that are either asymmetric or excessively large were found to have issues with their emotional well-being. Study co-author Dr. Brian Labow, who works at the hospital’s Director of the Adolescent Breast Clinic, confirmed this through an interview with Yahoo!. “We found that breast asymmetry negatively impacts social and emotional functioning,” Dr. Labow said.

The study involved a survey on females between the ages of 12 and 21 who were found to have breast asymmetry of at least one cup size difference. Some of the respondents were diagnosed with tuberous breast deformity, a health condition characterized by impaired breast growth. Results of the survey showed a significant difference between the responses of girls with asymmetric breasts and those with normal breast growth.

In addition, women who had large breasts were inclined to have lower self-esteem and higher risk of developing mental health problems.

Dr. Labow further stated that while breast cancer is still an important and pressing issue, it has somehow shifted focus away from other breast-related health concerns. “I love the awareness for breast cancer, and the pink ribbons, but cancer has really dwarfed all other breast health problems,” added Dr. Labow. However, this hasn’t stopped him and Boston Children’s Hospital Oncology Department from developing clothing for teenagers who feel insecure with their breasts. “[Breast reconstructive surgery] is not for everyone, and we’re not advocating it for everyone. But with the corrective clothing, a girl can feel more confident. She can feel whole,” said Dr. Labow.

November 26, 2014 at 10:05 pm Comments (0)

AI Proposed to Help Cut Down on Opiate Drug Addiction

A clinical trial to test whether monitoring from artificial intelligence can help reduce opiate dependency is about to get underway. smartphone health

Getting over addiction to opiates often requires addicts to adhere to medication therapy, but patients sometimes don’t take their medication or take it incorrectly or, worst of all, they sell it to others. This means, obviously, that recovering addicts don’t benefit from this medication therapy as much as they should.

That’s where AiCure comes in.

The company has created an app using advanced facial recognition and motion-sensing technology that can detect, in real time, whether a person is taking their medication as prescribed without the need for human supervision. Patients who take incorrect doses or do not use the software are automatically flagged for immediate follow-up.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has provided $1 million in funding to assess whether patients using the AiCure platform are more adherent to their medication therapy and whether adoption of the system can improve treatment duration and reduce the risk of relapse.

The trial is being carried out with the Cincinnati Addiction Research Center (CinARC) at the University of Cincinnati and includes a total of 130 participants over the course of 12 months.

Preliminary results of the trial are expected to be published in August 2015.


November 24, 2014 at 9:45 am Comments (0)

Ontario Moves to Treat E-Cigarettes the Same as Traditional Cigarettes

The Canadian province of Ontario is making moves that would essentially make e-cigarettes the same as traditional tobacco cigarettes.e-cigarette

The province wants to:

  • regulate the sale of electronic cigarettes,
  • make it illegal to sell them to youth,
  • make it illegal to use them in restaurants and public buildings,
  • outlaw vapor lounges, where people use vaporizers similar to e-cigarettes to smoke nicotine vapor, and
  • ban all flavoured tobacco products, including menthol.

In another health-related measure, the government wants to mandate calorie counts on restaurant menus.

The Liberal government says it will also reintroduce legislation to ban all flavoured tobacco products, many of which are designed to appeal to teens, and will expand the prohibition to include menthol cigarettes.

The industry will have up to two years to phase out the menthol smokes, which the government claims are favored by young people, which is why the long-time flavor is under the gun.

November 24, 2014 at 9:24 am Comments (0)

Eating More Hummus Can Help Cut Down on Smoking

Eating hummus, the spread and dip made from chick peas, can help cut down on smoking … just not how you think.cigarettes

Since tobacco farming is becoming less and less lucrative thanks to fewer people smoking, tobacco farmers are now switching to chick peas, as chick pea sales continue to rise thanks to more and more people eating hummus.

The anti-smoking group truth, has produced a video encouraging people to keep eating hummus in the hopes that more tobacco farmers will make the switch.

Tobacco smoking is still the number one preventable cause of death in the U.S.

November 24, 2014 at 9:10 am Comments (0)

New Survey Finds Stimulant Abuse “Normal” for College Kids

A new survey entitled Under Pressure: College Students and the Abuse of Rx Stimulants and released by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids confirms that the abuse of prescription stimulants is becoming normalized among current college students and other young adults.drug abuse among students

It found that 1 in 5 college students (20%) report abusing prescription stimulants at least once in their lifetime, compared to 1 in 7 non-students (15%).

Among young adults between the ages of 18 to 25, 1 in 6 (17%) has abused a prescription stimulant at least once in their lifetime. Young adults are most likely to abuse the prescribed stimulants Adderall (60%), Ritalin (20%) and Vyvanse (14%), which are all prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The reasons college students and other young adults cite for abusing these Rx medications are for functional reasons:

  • 50% report abusing Rx stimulants to study or improve academic performance
  • 41% say they misuse or abuse them to stay awake
  • 24% misuse or abuse Rx stimulants to improve work performance at a job

Among current college students specifically:

  • 44% say they abuse Rx stimulants in order to study and improve academic performance
  • 31% say they abuse in order to stay awake
  • 21% report abusing Rx stimulants in order to improve work performance at their jobs
  • 27% who report abuse of Rx stimulants also hold full-time jobs, in addition to attending school compared to just 12% of those who do not abuse Rx stimulants

Perhaps most worrying of all, the research shows college students perceive tangible rewards after they’ve abused Rx stimulants. 64% who report abusing Rx stimulants indicate that doing so helped them obtain a higher grade, improve work performance or gain a competitive edge.

“Students need help in learning how to manage their busy lifestyles effectively,” said Dr. Josh Hersh, Staff Psychiatrist at Miami University. “Learning time management strategies such as ‘block scheduling’ and ‘syllabus tracking’ can help prevent ‘cramming’ – the main reason people look to stimulants at whatever the price. In addition, teaching students with ADHD who are prescribed stimulants about how to properly care for their medication will help address misuse and prevent these drugs from getting into the hands of students who might abuse the meds.”

November 21, 2014 at 12:54 pm Comments (0)

Mental Health Care Essential In Pregnancy and Parenting

It might not seem as important as physical health, but the mental condition of the mother is important during pregnancy.

parent mental health childbirth pregnancyThis was identified through several research studies highlighted in the journal The Lancet, which recently released a series of articles that emphasized the importance of mental health care for parents. Abandoning the mental health of the mother may have adverse consequences on the child.

One of the papers examined factors that increase the likelihood of prenatal anxiety, depression, and other psychological and mental disorders. Study lead author Louise Howard — who works as a professor of Women’s Mental Health at UK’s King’s College London under the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience — said that anticipation during childbirth can be a very difficult time for any parent. “The stigma around [pre] and postnatal mental illnesses can prevent people from getting the help they need. It’s important that people seek treatment promptly to prevent suffering and distress for the whole family,” Howard said in a news release.

Another study discovered a link between mental health issues of the parent and a higher risk of physical and psychological problems on the child. University of Oxford Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit chief Alan Stein said, “parents at risk of mental health disorders during or after pregnancy need to be identified early to try to prevent symptoms from affecting offspring.” Apart from the mental health of the mother, depression by the father may also affect development of the child.

Meanwhile, another research from the UK — this time from Cardiff University’s Medical Research Council Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics — suggests that giving birth may lead to extreme mental disorders on the mother. Ian Jones, study lead author, said that the field is still wide open for further research in order “to understand what triggers psychotic episodes after childbirth so that we can predict women at risk and develop treatments that are safe to be administered for mother and baby.”

The series of articles suggests that identification and intervention are crucial in preventing negative effects on the parent and child due to mental disorders.

November 21, 2014 at 6:24 am Comments (0)

Prescribed Medication Not Taken By Patients, Intervention Necessary

A new study recently shed light into the truth that prescriptions do not guarantee better health outcomes of the patients receiving them.

take prescription medicineAccording to a study by a team of researchers at Canada’s McMaster University, patients do not take the medications prescribed to them based on the intended dosage. Amidst widespread news about prescription drug abuse and how some people are circumventing medical laws to procure prescription medicines, the study suggests that some patients are not even taking the medicine issued to them.

Study lead author Robby Nieuwlaat said that previous studies have delved into this issue but interventions and recommendations are few and far between. “The studies varied so much in terms of their design and their results that it would have been misleading to try to come up with general conclusions,” said Nieuwlaat in a news item.

The study looked into more than 180 trials from past researches to check if the approaches to ensure correct administration of prescription drugs was followed by patients. The team’s results showed that while previous studies had the best of intentions, it was difficult to determine the effectiveness of each. Many of them were deemed “unreliable and inconsistent” in terms of proof of effectiveness. The studies covered a wide range of diseases and were “measured using wide-range methods”, which complicated the data review even more.

“We need more advanced methods for researching ways to improve medicine adherence, including better interventions, better ways of measuring adherence and studies that include sufficient patients to draw conclusions on clinically important effects,” the research team said. All in all, less than 10 percent of the 182 trials produced high-quality approaches.

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November 20, 2014 at 8:09 pm Comments (0)

November 20 is Great American Smokeout Day

If you’re thinking about quitting smoking sometime soon, why not do it during a “quit smoking” campaign?

great american smokeout day november 20 2014The third Thursday of November is celebrated in the U.S. as the Great American Smokeout Day, a campaign by the American Cancer Society to urge smokers to kick the habit. The date was marked by the organization to invite people who are planning to quit smoking to do so on this day. Participants are encouraged to devote 24 hours to abstain from smoking on November 20 — the third Thursday of this month — with the hope that this will kick-start a habit to make the right decision.

According to cancer.org, quitting smoking gives the person immediate health benefits such as a drop in heart rate and blood pressure within 20 minutes from smoking cessation. Halfway into the day, the carbon monoxide level in the bloodstream returns to normal. As the person continues to abstain from tobacco products, the respiratory system will improve dramatically over the course of 2 weeks to 3 months, together with improving breath capacity and making the lungs cleaner.

Statistics reveal that almost one in every five adults in the U.S. smokes cigarettes, which remain one of the leading causes of disease and death in the country. The silver lining for people who are currently addicted to smoking is that they can decide today — or on the Great American Smokeout Day — to stop the vice and live a healthier life. Even better, deciding to quit smoking will not only benefit smokers but also protect people close to them against the hazards of secondhand smoke.

November 17, 2014 at 12:00 am Comments (0)

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