Testing It Up

Secondhand Smoke Exposes Non-Smokers To Excessive Air Pollutants

If you are a non-smoker living with someone who smokes indoors, you might as well inhale the fumes of your vehicle exhaust.

secondhand smoke at homeResearchers from Scotland’s University of Aberdeen discovered that people who don’t smoke but live in homes with a smoker are exposed to more than thrice the WHO limit for fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), which are air pollutants such as soot or dust. The data was gathered from 93 smoking households and 17 that are non-smokers. Comparison between the two home living conditions showed that PM 2.5 levels of smoking houses were ten times higher than the non-smoking counterpart.

In addition, air quality in smoking homes was comparable with the outdoor environment in polluted cities such as London. Researchers believe that by living in a smoke-free house reduces the exposure of non-smokers to air pollutants by as much as 70 percent. “These measurements show that secondhand tobacco smoke can produce very high levels of toxic particles in your home: much higher than anything experienced outside in most towns and cities in the UK. Making your home smoke-free is the most effective way of dramatically reducing the amount of damaging fine particles you inhale,” said lead study author Dr. Sean Semple in a news release.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 2.5 million people who don’t smoke have died from secondhand smoke exposure since 1964.

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Oscar de la Renta Dies Of Cancer

The fashion world is mourning the death of legendary designer Oscar de la Renta, who died October 20 at the age of 82. According to Reuters, de la Renta passed away in his Connecticut home. The fashion icon succumbed to cancer, which was diagnosed in 2006.

oscar de la rentaNews spread like wildfire over Twitter, other social networking sites, and in several newspapers.

In his hometown of Dominican Republic, de la Renta was remembered as a cultural icon who never forgot where he came from. “The international fashion (world) and all the Dominican Republic is in mourning. We lost the great Oscar de la Renta,” said Dominican Republic president Danilo Medina. Meanwhile, the country’s foreign minister Andrés Navarro expressed the fashion legend’s impact not only on the runway but also on society. “He was a permanent ambassador of our country abroad. He diffused the qualities that adorn the Dominican Republic. With his departure, the nation says goodbye to one of its most universal sons and a promoter of the best Dominican qualities,” Navarro said.

De la Renta was famous for dressing all of the first ladies starting with Jacqueline Kennedy. The Clinton family expressed their tribute to the late fashion mogul in a statement as posted on CNN: “Oscar’s remarkable eye was matched only by his generous heart… His legacy of philanthropy extended from children in his home country who now have access to education and healthcare, to some of New York’s finest artists whose creativity has been sustained through his support.”

Prior to his death, de la Renta designed the much talked about wedding gown of Amal Alamuddin, who married George Clooney on September 29 of this year.

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New Gallup Pole Shows Americans Still Not Interested in Changing Drinking Age


Courtesy of Gallup

Americans are still widely opposed to lowering the legal drinking age to 18 from 21, with 74% saying they would oppose such legislation, while 25% would favor it.

All major subgroups are opposed to lowering the drinking age with political ideology being one of the major dividing lines on the issue. Liberals (34%) are among the most supportive of lowering the drinking age and conservatives (18%) are among the least supportive subgroups.

Another major predictor of support for lowering the drinking age is whether one personally drinks alcohol, with 29% of those who drink alcohol at least on occasion favoring lowering the drinking age compared with 18% who never drink. Among those who drink regularly on a weekly basis, 35% favor lowering it.

Also, support for lowering the drinking age tends to be higher among those who have higher levels of education, with 37% of those with a postgraduate degree supporting such a change in the law.

October 20, 2014 at 8:07 am Comments (0)

Cairo University Begins Mandatory Drug Testing for Students

Egypt’s premier university has recently unveiled its drug testing mandate on students without receiving any objections thus far.drug testing

Cairo University has reportedly finished drug testing more than 4,000 students, with thousands more pending. Amidst the ongoing series of democratic protests in the country, Cairo University released a statement on its website saying university students will be allowed residence in the school’s hostel only if they agree to drug testing procedures administered by the university’s National Center for Clinical and Environmental Toxicology.

Results of drug testing on university students are released on the same day of administration and sent to the hostel. The school website also stated that approximately 13,000 students eligible to stay in Cairo University’s hostel are set to be tested under the new procedures.

University president Gaber Nassar expressed that the drug testing policy “is in the interest of students” and emphasized the importance of “finishing analysis procedures to students quickly and easily.”

October 20, 2014 at 7:41 am Comments (0)

DNA Helps to Protect Some Hispanic Women from Breast Cancer

New research has found that some Hispanic women are less prone to breast cancer thanks to their DNA. mammogram showing breast cancer

Compared with women of European or African-American descent, fewer Hispanic women develop breast cancer and fewer of them die from it, medical statistics show, and an international team led by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, recently said they now know the reason why this is.

A tiny difference in the DNA of certain women makes Latinas who inherit it about 40% less likely to develop breast cancer, medical geneticist Laura Fejerman and her colleagues reported in Nature Communications. And, if women have inherited the variation from both sides of their family, they are 80% less likely to get breast cancer.

“It is strongly protective,” said cancer specialist Elad Ziv at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, who helped conduct the study funded by the National Cancer Institute. “We really need to do more experiments to nail it down and understand what it is doing.”

Women who carry the genetic variant have breast tissue that appears less dense on mammograms. High-density breast tissue is a known risk factor for breast cancer.

The finding may lead to more effective genetic testing for women at risk, by helping to determine who most needs to take preventative measures.

October 20, 2014 at 7:33 am Comments (0)

Women Consider Pregnancy As Perfect Time To Crave Chocolate Without Guilt

If you’re pregnant and in dire need of chocolate, you’re probably one of the expectant moms who think that eating decadent foods at this stage will make you feel less guilty.

pregnant food cravingsThat idea was revealed by a recent study by researchers from the State University of New York. Study author Natalia Orloff attempted to debunk the age-old belief that cravings exist only as part of a pregnant woman’s natural hormonal changes. Instead, she hypothesized that food cravings during pregnancy are also caused by several other factors, including cultural and psychological factors.

“Conflicting attitudes toward foods like chocolate that are perceived to be simultaneously appealing and ‘forbidden’ have recently been hypothesized to be associated with a greater likelihood of craving,” said Orloff in the study published in Frontiers in Psychology. “Evidence suggests that efforts to avoid foods that cause these conflicting feelings may have the paradoxical effect of increasing the likelihood of craving.”

Orloff said that more studies need to be conducted to understand the psychosocial factors behind a woman’s cravings when she’s with child. “These views on cravings may leave pregnant women susceptible to overconsuming high calorie foods, resulting in excess weight gain, especially for women high in restraint and those with pre-existing eating disorder symptoms.”

According to the study, women in the U.S. are culturally pounded on the importance of staying away from unhealthy foods, and that’s why many pregnant females tend to increase their cravings during pregnancy.

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October 20, 2014 at 5:34 am Comments (0)

Blue Light Controls New Type 2 Diabetes Drug to Improve Treatment

The erratic response of the human body to existing drugs for Type 2 diabetes has prompted a group of scientists to develop a new treatment that involves blue light technology.

blue light controlled antidiabetic drugA joint research from the UK’s Imperial College London Department of Medicine and Germany’s LMU Munich created JB253, an experimental drug that triggers pancreatic beta cells to release insulin. What’s unique about this new drug is that it is triggered by blue LED light exposure. The prototype medication is a hybrid of the antidiabetic drug sulfonylurea but with the ability to change shape in the presence of blue light.

The motivation behind this research is the fact that sulfonylurea may increase the risk of developing hypoglycemia and heart diseases. By using the new drug, the patient can control the activity of the medication by switching on a blue LED light source pointed at the abdomen. This causes the drug’s active ingredient to change shape and become active. When the light is switched off, the drug’s components become deactivated. This mechanism gives the patient more control over how the drug will function, so as to prevent side effects.

“In principle, this type of therapy may allow better control over blood sugar levels … because it can be switched on for a short time when required after a meal. It should also reduce complications by targeting drug activity to where it’s needed in the pancreas,” study co-author Dr. David Hodson said in a news release.

The prototype is still being developed, and has not reached human trials thus far. “There’s a long way to go before a therapy is available to patients, but this remains our ultimate goal,” Hodson added.

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October 18, 2014 at 12:00 am Comment (1)

Study: Smoking Causes Millions of Medical Conditions in the U.S.

The idea that millions of medical issues are attributable to smoking may sound far-fetched, but a recent study merely echoes what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said in the past decade.

smokingResearchers from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products analyzed deaths related to smoking based on data from national surveys. The results are astounding: about 14 million major medical conditions can be traced to smoking.

Despite the large number, the proponents of the study said that the figure was a conservative estimate because it did not include other recent discoveries on smoking-related diseases. Excluded in the study were ovarian cancer cases that may have been caused by smoking, or detrimental health effects of secondhand smoke. “Most of these conditions were chronic bronchitis and emphysema, often classified as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)… but these estimates and methods, to our knowledge, have not been subsequently updated or refined,” according to the study authors in a news item.

The study data came from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) between 2006 and 2012, as well as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

CDC’s version of the report, which was released in 2000, revealed that 12.7 million medical cases linked to smoking were experienced by more than 8 million people.

October 16, 2014 at 12:00 am Comments (0)

Dallas Nurse Condition Improving After Blood Transfusion From Ebola Survivor

The first person to contract the deadly Ebola virus on U.S. soil has been declared as “doing well” after receiving blood plasma from a virus survivor.

nina pham dallas nurse ebola virusThe patient was identified as Nina Pham, a nurse who was part of the medical team that took care of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to arrive in the U.S. carrying the Ebola virus. Pham received blood from Dr. Kent Brantley, an American doctor who successfully recovered from the virus after being treated using an experimental Ebola drug last August.

Pham is currently being treated at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, Texas. Health inspectors continue to investigate the circumstances behind Pham’s contracting of the disease, citing a possible protocol breach. Standard procedures in the hospital require medical professionals to wear protective gear such as masks, gloves and gowns when caring for an Ebola patient.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) chief Tom Frieden said in a news release that he should have sent a stronger and much larger response team during the first case of Ebola in Dallas. “Ebola is unfamiliar. It’s scary and getting it right is really important because the stakes are so high,” said Frieden. “(Sending a larger team) might have prevented this infection.”

The CDC continues to monitor Pham as well as other healthcare workers and people who have come in contact with Duncan, who died last week.

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October 15, 2014 at 12:00 am Comments (0)

Employees’ Opioid Use Wreaking Havoc with Companies

Abuse of prescription painkillers and heroin among employees is leading to lower productivity and higher turnover for companies where abuse is rampant, according to The Wall Street Journal.drug testing

Employers in Allen County, Ohio say up to a whopping 70% of job applicants are failing drug tests, according to Jed Metzger, President of the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce. Employees in the greater Cincinnati area have tested positive for opioids after being involved in accidents, ranging from damaging property with heavy equipment to crashing company vehicles.

In addition to higher accident rates, employee opioid use can contribute to increased theft and absenteeism in the workplace, Trey Grayson, President of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, said.

Although between 2003 and 2013, overall drug use among U.S. workers declined 18%, it actually rose for certain opioids, including Dilaudid and Vicodin, according to Quest Diagnostics numbers.

Companies are combatting employee opioid use by expanding drug testing, introducing zero-tolerance drug use policies and adding employee-assistance programs for workers who need addiction treatment.

October 14, 2014 at 8:53 am Comments (0)

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