Testing It Up

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)

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)

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)

Laser Imaging Technology: Key To Better Asthma Inhalers

Inhaler drugs for asthma are difficult to assess in terms of effectiveness because the method of introduction to the body may not be consistent. However, a new study looks into using laser technology to monitor the drug particles as they enter the patient’s respiratory system.

asthma inhalerThe study, conducted by researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Birmingham in the U.K., assessed the behavior of asthma inhaler drug particles as they are dispersed in the air. The study involved the use of laser imaging technology to trace where the particles are going as they are emitted by the inhaler casing. The researchers are hoping that this could pave the way for pharmaceutical companies to improve the current inhalers in the market and increase their effectiveness and accuracy.

The microscopic particles of the drug salbutamol sulphate were traced using the Octopus laser imaging facility housed in the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Central Laser Facility. Through the device, researchers were able to study how the particles behave as they are expelled to the air. According to the study, as the particles enter the body, water is absorbed by the particles, which get dissolved and absorbed by the body. Together with the use of Raman spectroscopy, researchers were able to observe the salbutamol particles in detail. “You can observe the size and shape of drug particles using a microscope, but you don’t get any chemical information about what exactly is happening to the particles if they float in air,” said study co-author Markus Kalberer in a news item.

Study team lead Francis Pope shared the potential of their new discovery. “This research could lead to more efficient inhalers to deliver drugs for respiratory problems. We would not have been able to do this work without the unique capability of these lasers to capture and levitate particles, providing a new way to test the performance of the inhalers.”

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

Health Benefits of Moderate Alcohol Intake Require Specific Genotype

We’ve all heard the belief that one glass of wine a day can pump up our cardiovascular health, but a new study indicates that this benefit is enjoyed by only a fraction of the population.

drinking alcoholA team of researchers from Sweden’s Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg studied the advantage of moderate alcohol consumption on decreasing the risk of coronary heart disease. Results of their study showed that in order for the benefits of alcohol to take effect, the person needs to possess CETP TaqIB (rs708272) polymorphism, a specific genotype of the cholesteryl ester transfer protein.

The study involved more than 600 patients below 75 years of age and diagnosed with myocardial infarction. The respondents were asked about their drinking habits, particularly the amount and frequency of alcohol intake over a variety of different alcoholic beverages. They were also tested for the presence of the CETP TaqIB genotype and whether they possessed the genotype’s B1 or B2 allele.

Results revealed that people with the B2 allele of the genotype exhibited a lower risk of coronary heart disease, and the result was more significant on people who enjoyed moderate alcohol consumption. However, the researchers said that not everyone has this B2 genotype. Academy Professor Emeritus Prof. Dag Thelle said in a news item that “moderate drinking has a protective effect among only 15% of the general population.” He added that further research must be conducted to strengthen the results of the study. “Assuming that we are able to describe these mechanisms, it may be a simple matter one day to perform genetic testing and determine whether someone belongs to the lucky 15%.”

November 15, 2014 at 7:22 pm Comments (0)

World Diabetes Day on November 14: Interesting Facts

The global recognition of World Diabetes Day November 14 allows people around the world to understand and gain more awareness about the disease. The annual event is being carried out by the World Health Organization and the International Diabetes Federation as a way to make people aware of diabetes and to address the increasing risk of the disease.

Diabetes continues to be one of the most prevalent diseases globally. In 2013, more than 380 million people were diagnosed with diabetes, with most of the cases having Type 2 Diabetes. Projections estimate the cases to increase to almost 600 million by the year 2035. It has also become one of the leading causes of death, which is probably the reason why world governments spend a lot of money on diabetes treatment and studies.

As we recognize World Diabetes Day today, here are some interesting facts about the awareness campaign:world diabetes day logo

  • November 14 is the birthday of Canadian scientist Frederick Banting who discovered insulin (together with colleague Dr. Charles Best) as a treatment for diabetes.
  • The first World Diabetes Day was celebrated in 1991 as a response to the increasing risk of the disease.
  • The event’s simplistic logo is a blue circle, which is considered the global symbol for diabetes. The circle shape signifies life, health and unity. The color blue is aligned with the color of the United Nations flag.
  • The World Diabetes Day focuses on a different theme every year. This year will focus on “healthy living and diabetes”, particularly on eating healthy. Key messages to be used in this year’s campaign are the following: “Make healthy food the easy choice,” “Healthy eating: make the right choice,” and “Healthy eating begins with breakfast.”
  • The International Diabetes Federation has more than 230 member associations across 160 nations.
November 14, 2014 at 8:00 am Comments (0)

Smoking Cigars Poses Same Risk As Cigarettes

If you think that cigars are safer to smoke than traditional tobacco cigarettes, a new study revealed that cigars can still introduce toxic substances to the body.

cigar smokingA study by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products discovered that cigars infuse the same toxicity to the human body as cigarettes. The research team collected data from the National Health Nutrition and Examination Survey between the years 1999 and 2012 to investigate the level of tobacco exposure in the respondents. Results showed that cigar smokers were found with higher levels of toxic substances — most notably cotinine, cadmium and 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol (NNAL) — compared with non-smoking individuals.

Study lead author Dr. Jiping Chen, who works for the FDA center’s Office of Science, said that cigars are no better than cigarettes in terms of human health. “Cigar smoking exposes users to similar types of harmful and cancer-causing agents as cigarette smoking,” Dr. Chen said in a news release.

Furthermore, the study discovered that cigar smokers who engaged in smoking cigarettes in the past are more inclined to have even higher amounts of toxic substances in their bodies.

The popular belief that cigars are safer seems to stem from the idea that a person who puffs a cigar does not inhale the smoke, unlike cigarette smokers. Still, the National Cancer Institute says that the risk of contracting lung diseases is still higher in cigar smokers than those who don’t smoke at all.

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November 10, 2014 at 7:11 pm Comments (0)

Massachusetts Town Could be First to Ban All Tobacco Sales

Massachusetts town Westminster is contemplating banning the sale of all tobacco products. tobacco taxes

A draft of the proposed ban has been posted on the town’s website and would prohibit sales of products containing tobacco or nicotine, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and electronic cigarettes.

Tobacco use is already prohibited in all Massachusetts workplaces, including restaurants and bars. It is illegal to sell tobacco products to minors in the state, and some communities have gone as far as banning smoking in public parks.

Westminster has a population of about 7,400 and sits about 25 miles north of Worcester.

“This sends a clear message to residents that this is a bad product,” said D.J. Wilson, director of the municipal association’s tobacco control program. He pointed out that a ban may not stop adults from driving to another town to buy cigarettes, but may be effective in curbing smoking in younger people, who are unable to drive.

But owners of the seven stores licensed to sell tobacco in the community said it is unfair to ban sales of a legal product and they worry that their financial losses will be considerable.

“Where do you draw the line, a candy ban because it causes diabetes? Are we going to ban bacon because it causes [high] cholesterol? It seems like a slippery slope,” said Brian Vincent, owner of Vincent’s Country Store.

What do you think about banning the sale of all tobacco products? Is this good or bad?

November 10, 2014 at 8:38 am Comments (0)

Clinical Trial: Blood Pressure Medication May Cure Diabetes

The title says it all, and its impact may be lasting and significant in the quest to find a cure for an incurable disease.

Scientists from the University of Alabama at Birmingham led by Dr. Anath Shalev are investigating the potential result of verapamil — a drug used to treat high blood pressure — on diabetics. Initial trials on lab mice have so far turned out positive, with the results showing a total removal of the disease.


The study has been ongoing for more than 10 years at the university’s Comprehensive Diabetes Center. To bolster its move to pursue human trials, the study team was reported in a news release to have received a research grant amounting to over $2 million over the course of three years from Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), a major charitable institution that focuses on Type 1 diabetes research.

According to the study, the success of the experiments may be attibuted to the action of the blood pressure drug on TXNIP, a protein in the human body that is produced in excessive amounts due to high blood sugar. Once the TXNIP levels increase above the threshold, the risk of pancreatic beta cell death becomes greater, eventually leading to the malfunction of the cells and inability of the body to create insulin, worsening the diabetic condition.

The researchers believe that with the use of a well-known and oft-prescribed drug, people who take verapamil to treat diabetes will not experience adverse effects. “This trial is based on a well-known blood pressure medication that has been used for more than 30 years and is unlikely to have any severe side effects,” said Dr. Shalev. The study could pave the way for a real cure for Type 1 Diabetes. “We want to find new drugs – different from any current diabetes treatments – that can help halt the growing, worldwide epidemic of diabetes and improve the lives of those affected by this disease … Finally, we have reason to believe that we are on the right track,” Dr. Shalev added.

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November 8, 2014 at 9:16 pm Comments (0)

Alex Rodriguez Found Way To Beat Urine Test During PED Scandal

It’s probably old news for some, but the seemingly tricky technique that professional baseball player Alex Rodriguez used to beat tests for performance-enhancing drugs (PED) has escaped medical practitioners and other people invested in the scandal. This time, a recent report shed light on how A-Rod was able to succeed in this matter.

alex rodriguez linked to biogenesis performance enhancing drugs scandalThe Yankees A-lister circumvented a possible positive result by cheating his way through the urine test. His secret? Discard the beginning and end of the urine stream and collect just the mid-stream. This was a tip given to him by Anthony Bosch, the shady doctor and owner of Biogenesis of America, the company behind the controversial drugs.

Here’s a snippet of what was reported in the Miami Herald:

According to Rodriguez, “Bosch advised him to only use mid-stream urine for MLB drug testing. Bosch told Rodriguez not to use the beginning or the end urine stream.”

It worked. During the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers, Rodriguez was called to take a drug test. He passed. The Yankees were swept in the series.

In addition, while A-Rod publicly and categorically denied his usage of banned substances to enhance his performance, he admitted in a private conference room in the presence of federal drug enforcers and prosecutors that he purchased PEDs from Biogenesis. He was granted immunity from being prosecuted because of his confession. The baseball player’s private meeting with DEA took place on January 29.

November 5, 2014 at 9:11 pm Comments (0)

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