New Study Shows Being Thankful for What You Have Makes You Healthier

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Happy Thanksgiving - Mark K

No study to report, but be thankful for what you have, anyway.

We at TestCountry are thankful for our friends, family and all the wonderful support from our wonderful customers. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

[Photo courtesy of Mark K. on Flickr]
Health & Wellness

Moderate Coffee Drinking In Pregnant Women Not Harmful To Child Intelligence

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coffee pregnancy caffeine

Caffeine remains to be a controversial compound, with many medical experts debating on its health benefits and adverse effects. While some doctors advise pregnant women against caffeine intake, a new study suggests that drinking coffee in moderation does not affect the intelligence of the mother’s child.

This was revealed by a team of researchers from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, who followed close to 2,200 pregnant women who participated in the Collaborative Perinatal Project from 1959 to 1974. According to the scientists, intake of caffeine during this time was higher than in today’s generation of expectant mothers.

The research team assessed the level of paraxanthine (the main metabolite in caffeine) at two specific points of the women’s pregnancies, and cross-checked the data with the IQ and overall behavior of their children at 4 and 7 years old.

Results showed that caffeine intake had no significant impact on the children’s IQ. “We did not find evidence of an adverse association of maternal pregnancy caffeine consumption with child cognition or behavior at 4 or 7 years of age,” said study lead author Dr. Mark Klebanoff in a news release.

The researchers believe that their study could make pregnant females less fearful of their current coffee drinking habits. “Taken as a whole, we consider our results to be reassuring for pregnant women who consume moderate amounts of caffeine or the equivalent to one or two cups of coffee per day,” said study coauthor Dr. Sarah Keim.


Health & Wellness

New Compound May Address Slow Wound Healing in Diabetic Patients

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type 2 diabetes treatment

Many people diagnosed with diabetes experience chronic wounds that heal too slowly, resulting to at least 70,000 cases of limb amputations in the U.S on an annual basis. A recent study might pave the way for improvements in wound healing for diabetics.

Researchers from the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry looked into matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) — a group of compounds that have the ability to degrade extracellular matrix proteins — to address the issue of diabetic wound healing. The team focused on MMP-8 and MMP-9, altering their natural composition to yield better results in terms of healing chronic wounds.

A previous study by the team of researchers led by Mayland Chang initially used the ND-322 inhibitor to address the adverse effects of MMP-9, but they discovered a better inhibiting compound in the form of ND-336. “ND-336 is a six-fold more potent inhibitor than ND-322 and has 50-fold selectivity towards inhibition of MMP-9 than MMP-8,” Chang said in a news report.

In addition, the scientists found a more potent wound healer in combining MMP-8 and an MMp-9 inhibitor. “The compound ND-336 has potential as a therapeutic to accelerate or facilitate wound healing in diabetic patients… Likewise, the enzyme MMP-8 could be used to accelerate/facilitate diabetic wound repair. The combination of a small molecule (ND-336) and the enzyme MMP-8 has the potential to accelerate further diabetic wound repair,” the study lead author added.

Details of the study were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Drug Testing Pet Health Workplace Testing

TestCountry Holiday Gift Ideas and Special Offers: For Healthier Holidays

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The holidays are just around the corner! Why not give something unique but also extremely useful and take advantage of TestCountry’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals?

Xmas_GiftsWhen you shop on Black Friday (November 27) and Cyber Monday (November 30), get a 10% discount on any order. Restrictions may apply.

Check out TestCountry’s holiday gift ideas, which feature a wide range of health-centric products for your family and friends. (Click on the picture to the right to go to the TestCountry gift ideas page.)

For Pet Owners:

PetConfirm Pet Health Testing Kits – These pet health testing kits can help pet owners monitor their cats’ and dogs’ health between veterinary checkups.

Enerchip VitaCell Supplement for Cats and Dogs – Simply add to your pets’ water to support the vitality and enhance the growth rate of stem cells.

For Children:

Ancestry Testing Kit – Let your children find out where they come from (with the help of an adult). Makes an ideal educational STEM gift.

Blood Type Test Kit – A great educational STEM gift for children (must be used with adult supervision). Knowing your blood type is also extremely important in emergencies.

Health Related:

Food Intolerance Testing Kits – For people who are feeling unwell, but cannot seem to find the answer, these testing kits can allow them to test for various types of food intolerance to help get them back on track to feeling 100%.

Hormone Imbalance Testing Kits – People both young and old can suffer from hormone imbalances, which can lead to a whole host of health problems.

Home Safety Related:

Drinking Water Testing Kits – Just because water comes out of the tap doesn’t mean it’s safe to drink. Perfect for anyone who has reason to question if their water is safe.

Asbestos Home Testing Kit – Asbestos is still out there and many people don’t even know they have it in their homes.

Visit the TestCountry Holiday Gift Ideas page for your holiday shopping this year, and take advantage of the sale. Let’s all promote healthy holidays!

Medical Marijuana Pregnancy & Fertility

Is Marijuana Use During Pregnancy Harmful?

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One of the questions regarding marijuana is its safety for the person taking it. The impact of the controversial drug is especially important in people who are experiencing special health conditions, one of which is pregnancy.

The question: Is marijuana safe for women who are pregnant?

In a news statement a few weeks ago, the American Medical Association (AMA) said that cannabis use may increase the risk of pregnancy and childbirth complications such as low birth weight or premature delivery. Because of this, the organization recommended proper labeling on medical and recreational marijuana, such as the following — “Warning: Marijuana use during pregnancy and breastfeeding poses potential harms.”

However, according to Forbes contributor on drug topics Jacob Sullum, other larger studies say that marijuana use has no adverse effect on the pregnant mother or the child. In his recent article, Sullum cited a statement from National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) deputy director Paul Armentano that “other studies with much larger samples in the U.K., Australia, and the Netherlands likewise have found no evidence of fetal harm from marijuana exposure.” There may be other factors that need to be considered, such as the mother’s age and her smoking habits.

Studies on marijuana — particularly on its medicinal use — are still being conducted, and it might be premature to conclude the affirmative or negative at this point in time.



Kids who take Medication for ADHD Twice as Likely to be Bullied

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As if they didn’t have enough problems dealing with their disorder, middle and high school students who have been diagnosed with  attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are twice as likely to be bullied as those who have not been diagnosed with the disorder.

University of Michigan study has found that students taking medication like Ritalin and other stimulants were twice as likely to be bullied as students without ADHD while those who sold or shared their medications were four-and-a-half times likelier to be victimized. This was true for both genders.

For the study, research assistant professor Dr. Quyen Epstein-Ngo and her colleagues surveyed nearly 5,000 middle and high school students over four years. About 15% had been diagnosed with ADHD while nearly 4% had been prescribed Ritalin or another stimulant within the past year. Of those who took pills, 20% said they’d been asked to sell or share them, and about half of the students did share or sell their pills with others.

The University of Michigan researchers recommend a closer collaboration between parents and doctors to ensure effective treatment of ADHD children without increasing their risk for victimization.



Health & Wellness

Study: Type 2 Diabetes Risk Reduced By Taking Viagra

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viagra diabetes treatment

In a surprising twist for the controversial drug, the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra was recently discovered to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

This was revealed through a study sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) to determine its potential effect on people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. According to early results, the drug could help overweight people and those predisposed to diabetes in terms of insulin sensitivity.

For the study, 42 people diagnosed with prediabetes and high body mass index were given 25 milligrams of Viagra thrice a day for three months. Half of the group were given Viagra, while the rest were given inactive placebo. Results showed that the Viagra group had higher insulin sensitivity.

An added bonus was also discovered in terms of kidney and cardiovascular disease, as the group who took Viagra were found with a lower risk of these diseases. “Because existing drug therapies to prevent type 2 diabetes can have negative effects on the heart or be of limited use in patients with kidney disease, strategies to prevent diabetes without adversely affecting the risk of kidney and heart disease could have a large impact on public health,” said study lead author Dr. Nancy Brown in a news article.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, was pursued by a team of researchers from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.


Health & Wellness

Customized Diets: The Answer To Diabetes and Obesity?

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customized meal plans

Many studies in the past have attributed one of the causes of obesity and diabetes to poor nutrition and eating habits. A recent study confirms this finding, stating further that people need to follow personalized meals that are customized to their nutritional requirements.

The study, led by Eran Segal and Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, looked into the health data of 800 individuals who were assessed for their blood sugar levels in a number of days. The assessment was based on the standard glycemic index (GI), a figure used to rank foods according to their respective effects on the blood sugar indices of people. The study participants ate a set breakfast meal, and recorded their daily food intake in a mobile app.

Although the correlation between blood sugar level was expected, one surprising discovery through the study was that each person had a unique response to the meal, even though everyone was given the same meal each time. According to Segal via a news release, it might generate a more profound improvement in terms of diabetes and obesity if people were given specific meal plans to satisfy their body’s needs.

“Measuring such a large cohort without any prejudice really enlightened us on how inaccurate we all were about one of the most basic concepts of our existence, which is what we eat and how we integrate nutrition into our daily life, In contrast to our current practices, tailoring diets to the individual may allow us to utilize nutrition as means of controlling elevated blood sugar levels and its associated medical conditions,” Elinav added.

Details of the study were published in the journal Cell.


Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Cure For HIV May Be Found In Alcoholism Treatment Drug

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HIV cell

HIV treatments at present are confined to antiretroviral therapy, but is not considered a real cure because it merely renders the virus dormant in human cells. A breakthrough discovery is now looking at disulfiram, a drug known for treatment of alcoholism, as a potential cure for HIV.

This was revealed in a new research by scientists from the University of Melbourne in Australia as published in The Lancet HIV journal. The anti-alcoholism drug helps a person abstain from drinking. In a biological viewpoint, disulfiram blocks the dehydrogenase enzyme, which functions as an alcohol metabolism agent, as stated in a news article.

Through the research, it was discovered that the anti-alcoholism drug can reactivate HIV cells that lay dormant, making the virus open to being destroyed. Although earlier studies have seen similar effects by using cancer treatment drugs, disulfiram did not exhibit any toxic side effects even in high doses of up to 2,000 mg.

Study lead author Sharon Lewin of The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity said that the alcoholism treatment drug may be the answer that the world is looking for, in terms of an HIV cure. “This trial clearly demonstrates that disulfiram is not toxic and is safe to use, and could quite possibly be the game changer we need,” Lewin said.

Meanwhile, study co-author Julian Elliott said that the action of disulfiram on HIV cells is just the first step, although it’s a big one. “This is a very important step as we have demonstrated we can wake up the sleeping virus with a safe medicine that is easily taken orally once a day… Now we need to work out how to get rid of the infected cell. A kick-start to the immune system might help. We have an enormous amount still to learn about how to ultimately eradicate this very smart virus,” Elliot said.


Substance Abuse

CDC: Smoking Rate in the U.S. Drops Significantly in 2015

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smoking lung cancer

The U.S. government’s initiatives to help people quit smoking seem to be working, based on a recent report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report, published by the agency’s National Center for Health Statistics, revealed that 14.9 percent of U.S. adults engage in cigarette smoking, based on smoking rate data until June 2015. This figure is lower than the initial 16.8 percent smoking rate declared by CDC last week. “Interventions like increasing the price of tobacco and the passage of comprehensive smoke-free laws at both the state and local levels have made a difference,” said Brian King of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health in Atlanta.

Moreover, the latest smoking rate is a far cry from the 25 percent back in 1997, proving that the measures to address cigarette use and nicotine abuse are effective. “This is indeed encouraging news that suggests that investment in public health and education initiatives to reduce smoking rates among adults are paying off,” according to Mount Sinai National Jewish Health Respiratory Institute director Dr. Charles Powell in a news item.

Despite the promising news, the agency emphasized that cigarette smoking remains to be one of the leading causes of death in the world. “To get rates even lower, we need to put more resources and attention to our youth, for whom smoking rates are increasing and for whom the effects of cigarette smoke exposure can be particularly damaging,” Powell added.