Testing It Up

Prenatal Smoking Leads To Higher Risk of Child ADHD

A recent study has linked the development of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children to mothers who smoked during their pregnancy.

pregnant-woman-smoking-150Researchers from the Denmark’s Aarhus University released the study via the Pediatrics journal on July 21. Dr. Jin Liang Zhu, an epidemiology assistant professor in the university and the lead author of the study, said that smoking has long been known to be a factor for pregnancy-related complications and a number of abnormalities in the infant. This time, the new study focuses on ADHD as one of the risks in smoking while pregnant.

According to Zhu via a news release, components of cigarette smoke may cause abnormal brain development in the fetus. Some of the harmful chemicals include nicotine, as well as carbon monoxide as a by-product of the smoke.

However, the study does not discount the possibility of other factors that may have caused the link between children’s ADHD and their mothers who smoke. For one, members of families with ADHD patients were found to have more likelihood to engage in smoking, hence the higher probability of mothers to light a cigarette.

July 23, 2014 at 7:08 am Comments (0)

Study: Fish Oil Compound May Protect Brain From Alcohol-Related Damage

Drinking too much alcohol? Fish oil may help retain your brain’s normal functioning.

fish oil capsuleA recent study conducted by researchers from Illinois’ Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine showed how a particular fatty acid found in fish oil may reduce brain damage caused by alcohol ingestion. The breakthrough ingredient — called omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid — was found to reduce damage of brain cells by up to 90 percent.

Dr. Michael Collins, one of the study authors, said that fish oil is unlikely to harm humans, and can instead protect the brain. “Fish oil has the potential of helping preserve brain integrity in chronic alcohol abusers,” said Collins in a news release.

Experiments were conducted on brain cells of adult rats, with the cells exposed to four times the maximum legal limit for blood alcohol concentration. One of the two groups of brain cells was infused with the omega-3 fish oil fatty acid.

Despite the remarkable difference between the two test groups, the study authors recommend more related studies in order to support their initial findings. Furthermore, the authors believe that the results should not be misconstrued as a way for chronic alcohol users to abuse intake just because they can pop a capsule of fish oil to neutralize the damaging effects of alcohol. “We don’t want people to think it is okay to take a few fish oil capsules and then continue to go on abusing alcohol,” Collins added.

July 21, 2014 at 9:51 pm Comments (0)

Drug Tests that Avoid Testing for Marijuana Gaining Popularity

Marijuana used to be at the very top of the list of drugs to test for in the workplace. It was virtually impossible to find a drug test that tested for any combination of the major abused drugs and not have marijuana included.

drug-free workplaceBut, now that Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational marijuana, drug tests that detect all the major drugs except marijuana are starting to pop up.

For example, there is one product named Multi Drug 4 Panel Urine Dipstrip Test that tests for all other relevant drugs like cocaine, opiates, methamphetamine and amphetamine, but does not test for marijuana/THC. These tests are convenient for workplaces that want to have a workplace drug testing policy, but that do not want to risk having an employee test positive for a substance that is currently legal within the state.

Click here to read more about drug testing without testing for marijuana and THC.

July 21, 2014 at 12:33 pm Comments (0)

Majority of Seniors Support Medical Marijuana Legalization in Florida: Report

The senior population in Florida is overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, according to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted this past spring.cape_florida

About 84% of Florida voters who support the initiative are older than 65, the survey found. Among all voters, support was at 88%. Among voters 50- to 64-years-old, 62% admitted smoking marijuana, which was more than any other demographic.

“What we’re hearing from older voters is not a lot different from the electorate as a whole,” said Ben Pollara, campaign manager for United For Care, which landed the issue on the ballot. “For the most part, it’s not a controversial topic…If their doctor recommends a particular treatment plan, whether it’s a medication regimen, a new diet, exercise, yoga or medical marijuana, they should be able to follow their doctor’s orders without being treated like a criminal,” he said.

However, older voters who believe marijuana can act as a painkiller are just as misinformed as the rest of the population who believe that, said John Anderson, 87, of Cocoa Beach. Anderson is a former chairman of the Brevard GOP and a retired nurse anesthetist who does not support the initiative.

“There are many people who think marijuana relieves pain. Marijuana is not an analgesic. You can get more pain relief from aspirin than marijuana, if you’re talking about it in that sense,” he said.

Floridians will vote in November on whether to legalize medical marijuana.


July 21, 2014 at 12:10 pm Comments (3)

Missouri Continues to Baffle Law Enforcement by Refusing to Keep Prescription Drug Database

Missouri is the lone state in the country that refuses to keep a database of the drugs that are prescribed to patients, much to the chagrin of the people who are tasked with trying to stop the prescription drug abuse epidemic in the United States.fighting prescription drug abuse

Not having such a database hampers Missouri’s ability to combat prescription drug abuse and also attracts people from neighboring states looking to stockpile pills and bring them home to either abuse or sell to others, according to law enforcement officials, legislators and data compiled by a prescription drug processing firm.

Drug monitoring program procedures and powers vary from one state to another, but they all require doctors, pharmacists or both to enter all prescriptions into a database that can be consulted later to make sure patients do not get excess medication. In some states, checking the database is mandatory.

Missouri has been urged to put a database into effect by Missouri medical associations, members of Congress from neighboring states, the White House and even Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, the St. Louis-based manufacturer of oft-abused prescription painkiller oxycodone.

But attempts to establish one so far have been blocked by a small group of lawmakers led by State Senator Rob Schaaf, a family physician who argues that allowing the government to keep prescription records violates personal privacy.

“There’s some people who say you are causing people to die — but I’m not causing people to die. I’m protecting other people’s liberty,” Schaaf said in a recent interview in his Senate office. “Missouri needs to be the first state to resist, and the other states need to follow suit and protect the liberty of their own citizens.”

Schaaf’s opposition has come under sharp criticism from fellow Republicans, including representative Harold Rogers of Kentucky, one of eight states that borders Missouri.

“It’s very selfish on Missouri’s part to hang their hat on this privacy matter,” Rogers said. “The rest of us suffer.”

July 21, 2014 at 11:29 am Comments (0)

Humor Article Exposes Dark Side of Addiction for Nurses

An article on the humor website Cracked.com sheds light on the terrifying reality of drug-addicted nurses.

Told from a first-person perspective by former registered nurse John Brooks from Monroe, LA, the article explains how it is surprisingly common for healthcare practitioners to be addicted to drugs and do them at work while they are responsible for the lives of patients.drug addiction in nurses

Brooks says in the article that nurses are surrounded by temptation everyday because they not only have access to drugs, but also clean paraphernalia for doing them. And since nurses know so much about the effects of the drugs they are taking, he says, they often believe that they can do them safely.

He talks about how he stole the drugs from patients and how the measures put in place to stop this from happening are undermined by the severe nursing shortage in the country.

It is a horrifying reminder that the temptation of drugs can be too difficult for even medical professionals to resist.

To read the article, click here.

July 21, 2014 at 7:49 am Comments (0)

WHO issues warning about HIV

Failure to provide adequate HIV services for key groups  of people will threaten the global progress on the HIV response, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned. WHO flag

The WHO identifies these key groups as:

  • men who have sex with men,
  • people in prison,
  • people who inject drugs,
  • sex workers, and
  • transgender people.

These particular groups of people are the most at risk of HIV infection, yet they are also the least likely to have access to HIV prevention, testing and treatment services. In many countries, they are left out of national HIV plans, and discriminatory laws and policies are also major barriers to access for them.

The WHO’s warning came with the release of the report “Consolidated guidelines on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations”, in the lead-up to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, starting on July 20.

The guidelines outline steps for countries to reduce new HIV infections and increase access to HIV testing, treatment and care for these five aforementioned ‘key populations’.

They include a comprehensive range of clinical recommendations but, for these to be effective, WHO also recommends that countries remove the legal and social barriers that prevent many people from accessing services.

To read the entire WHO news release about the issuance of the report, click here.

July 18, 2014 at 10:56 am Comments (0)

New research explains how marijuana may fight tumor growth

New research published in in the Journal of Biological Chemistry shows how a compound derived from marijuana might be used to fight cancerous tumors. marijuana legalization

The research reveals two previously unknown “signaling platforms” in cells that allow THC to shrink some cancerous tumors.

“THC, the major active component of marijuana, has anti-cancer properties,” Dr. Peter McCormick, a researcher from University of East Anglia in England and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “This compound is known to act through a specific family of cell receptors called cannabinoid receptors. However, it was unclear which of these receptors were responsible for the anti-tumor effects of THC.”

When the researchers applied THC to tumors induced in mice using human breast cancer cells, the interaction between the CB2 and GPR55 cannabinoid cell receptors were responsible for THC’s anti-tumor benefits.

“Our findings help explain some of the well-known but still poorly understood effects of THC at low and high doses on tumor growth,” McCormick said. Dosage is critical, since the wrong protocol can sometimes increase tumor growth, he added.

“So, the ideal would be either the purified THC in an effective dose provided by a health care provider to reduce the known cognitive side effects and still deliver the appropriate reduction in tumor growth, or a synthetic homolog that provides the same effects,” McCormack said.

The research team didn’t screen all tumors and said that some types may not respond to this treatment if they do not have compatible receptors expressed.

July 18, 2014 at 10:38 am Comments (0)

Marijuana Causes Users To Be Paranoid

Pot users, beware: That next puff might cause you to worsen your fears.

marijuanaA team of researchers from the University of Oxford conducted a study to assess the effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in marijuana, on a person’s paranoid tendencies. While previous studies have shown that THC brings forth paranoia, the new study confirmed the earlier findings through a series of tests.

The study was conducted by injecting THC into more than 120 respondents who were between the ages of 21 and 50, with no diagnosed mental conditions, and who had used marijuana at least one time in their lives.

The result: about 50 percent of test subjects injected with THC expressed feelings of being paranoid, as compared to only 30% of those administered with a control placebo. According to the participants, paranoia exhibited in them through negative thoughts and feelings. “Paranoia is likely to occur when we are worried, think negatively about ourselves, and experience unsettling changes in our perceptions,” said study lead author Prof. Daniel Freeman in a news release.

Marijuana use seems to introduce alterations in how people perceive the world, thereby leading to a heightened sense of fear. “Just small differences in our perception can make us feel that something strange and even frightening is going on,” Freeman added.

July 16, 2014 at 9:54 pm Comment (1)

Physician calls for quicker process for approving epilepsy medication

The United States needs a faster process for approving medication, particularly epilepsy medication, Dr. Nathan Fountain said in a post for Kevin MD.medicine

Fountain said he sees about two patients per year die from complications due to epilepsy while new, potentially life-saving treatments are stalled in the long, arduous process of approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the two organizations that have to provide final regulatory approval of new medicines.

Fountain said  there is no time limit on the scheduling process, which is in place to help prevent drugs with the potential for abuse from getting into the wrong hands while ensuring patients who need them have access to them. But the time it takes for drugs to get approved by the DEA has progressively gotten longer after they receive approval by the FDA. The amount of time has gone from 49 days in the period of 1997-1999 to 237 days in the period 2009-2013 according to a published analysis. This is an average of nearly eight months; and sometimes it takes more than a year for approval.

Fountain has joined with the Epilepsy Foundation in support of the Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act (H.R. 4299), which would provide needed clarity and predictability to the DEA review process and help ensure innovative treatment options are made available to patients who need them by setting a 45-day deadline for the DEA to schedule new medicines as recommended by the FDA.

“This problem applies to all drugs reviewed by the DEA and particularly for conditions that are in urgent need of avoiding unnecessary delays,” Fountain said.

July 14, 2014 at 1:39 pm Comments (0)

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