Testing It Up

Synthetic Urine for Drug Tests: No to Cheating!

While the government and several concerned groups from the private sector have been struggling in the battle to stop drug and alcohol abuse, some people are making money by going against the flow.

cocaine.jpgRobert Dennis Catalano, 62 years old, and George W. Wills, 65 years old, are facing charges in the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh for selling products that aim to cheat drug tests. Just last week, they have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government by selling products like Whizzinator, Yellow River and Number 1.

These urinating devices release synthetic urine instead of the user’s real urine, so that they do not test positive on drug or alcohol tests. They have been selling their products over the internet.

Their site (name deliberately withheld), which has been reported to be no longer operational, is still running (as of this writing) and continues to blatantly advertise their products. Their first page even includes the statement “If you need fake urine for testing purposes, we have the product for you”. This is truly terrible and inexcusable!

Their sentence is due on February 2009. According to reports, Catalano and Wills may face up to 8 years in prison and a fine of US $500,000. I am not a lawyer, but I think that, taking into consideration the many lives that have been destroyed by drug and alcohol abuse, eight years would not really be enough.

While it is easy to search the web for several ways to cheat on drug tests, most of these methods are no longer effective as drug testing companies have also improved their test kits to be able to detect any attempt of fraud.

Besides, it will never do anyone good if he cheats on drug tests. The first person he would be cheating if he uses synthetic urine and other urinating devices is actually just himself.

I still believe that the best way to ensure a ‘negative’ result in a drug test is to not take prohibited drugs at all.

November 30, 2008 at 9:29 pm Comments (6)

The Threats of Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Poisoning

Parents try their very best to teach their kids the right values. Trusting that they have taught their children well, they allow them to soar high and see the world on their own. However, the question still lingers in every parent’s mind — how safe are our kids after they leave our homes?

Last month, Johnny Smith, a freshman of the Wabash College, was found dead at the fraternity house of Delta Tau Delta. The autopsy indicated that the cause of death was acute alcohol poisoning. Indiana’s legal limit is 0.08. Smith’s blood alcohol content was more than 5 times as much.

It has been almost 2 months, but his parents are still looking for answers, still striving to know how their son died. Recently, the couple’s lawyer, Stephen Wagner, presented a series of emails recovered from Smith’s account. The emails are said to show the disturbing environment of the fraternity that Smith has exposed himself into. Some messages contain information about a party that happened during the weekend of Smith’s death.

Losing a child this way can be devastating. A parent can only think of how much more his or her son could have seen and experienced if fate had it differently.

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The problem on alcohol abuse in the United States has grown to disturbing levels. Vehicular accidents, highway crimes, domestic violence and teenage deaths are some of its most distressing consequences. Also, if the abuse does not kill the person who is consuming too much alcohol, it can lead to permanent damages in his or her physical and mental functioning.

We should become more vigilant on the issue of alcohol abuse, especially when it concerns the young adults in our society. Alcohol abuse awareness programs, alcohol testing and counseling must be regularly conducted. We need to encourage more people to understand the risks, to feel for the victims and to make concrete actions so we can prevent more casualties that happen in the name of alcohol abuse.

November 27, 2008 at 5:51 pm Comments (0)

Your Microwave Oven: Friend Or Foe?

Many of us are becoming more and more conscious of the health hazards that surround us every single day. One of the basic home equipment that has been getting much attention from health experts these days is the microwave oven. Just this month, the US Food and Drug Administration released a Consumer Update about the safe use of microwave ovens.

It is, of course, to the consumers’ best interest to always follow the instructions from the manufacturer as stated in the User’s Manual. Before using the microwave oven, read the guide carefully to avoid incurring injuries or damaging the oven. It is not advisable to operate the oven when it is open or cannot be closed.

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The manufacture of microwave ovens is regulated by the FDA and finished products must pass strict standards before they are released in the market. Thus, there really is no need to worry much on radiation exposure from our newly-bought or old yet well-maintained units. It is an entire different story, though, when our microwave oven has been damaged or if its door is bent or warped.

The Risks of Microwave Radiation

Constant exposure to high levels of microwave radiation can result to eyestrain, headaches, fatigue, and even temporary sterility. Since the lens of the eyes is one of the most sensitive parts of the body, exposure to radiation can also cause cataracts.

A study on microwave oven leakage indicates that older units leak more radiation than new ones. So, it probably is best to have old units replaced or regularly checked. We can also use microwave oven leakage detectors to determine the level of leakage.

Some experts argue that the amount of radiation that a defective oven leaks is very minimal that it could not cause any noticeable effect on humans. But knowing how serious the effects of microwave radiation are, would we really want to take the risk? I don’t think so.

November 26, 2008 at 12:44 pm Comment (1)

An Honest Fight Is A Worthy Fight

International sports organizations regulating competitions guarantee fair chances to everyone by forbidding athletes to use performance enhancing drugs. This also ensures that athletes do not suffer from any ill effect that these substances may bring.

Just this month, though, we heard quite a number of stories about how top performing athletes in different high-profile competitions have cheated by using banned substances.

Chris (The Crippler) Leben, mixed martial arts star, has been suspended for 9 months from the Ultimate Fighting Championship after he was found positive for the steroid stanozolol, a performance-enhancing drug.

Austrian cyclist Bernhard Kohl was found using the blood booster CERA at this year’s Tour de France, where he finished third. He was then banned for 2 years by the Austrian National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA). Other athletes who failed doping tests at the Tour de France are German Stefan Schumacher, Italians Riccardo Ricco and Leonardo Piepoli, and Spanish Manuel Beltran.

running.jpgDisgraced Olympic athlete Tim Montgomery admitted to taking Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and testosterone before the Sydney Olympics in 2000. This could strip the entire team of the 4×100 Gold Medals it has won in Australia, just like what happened with the US 4×400 Relay Team after Antonio Pettigrew admitted to using performance enhancing drugs middle of this year.

Montgomery set a world record for the 100m sprint in 2002, but such record has been considered invalid when he was found guilty of doping in 2005. At present, he is serving his time in jail for a case on heroin distribution.

It truly is sad when we hear that the athletes we used to look up to fall hard to the ground like this. I believe that we, as a society, must work harder to instill in the minds of our young athletes that an honest fight is always a worthy fight. We need to understand that although winning is good, it is not everything.

November 25, 2008 at 6:22 pm Comment (1)

Is Your Home Lead-Free?

What may be deemed as normal and safe today may turn out to be harmful tomorrow. This is why it is important for people to be vigilant about health concerns and to keep themselves always informed.

An example of such an occurrence is the use of lead. Lead is a metal that has been widely used for thousands of years, since it is easy to extract and to work with.
Lead was used for both conveniences and luxuries. From the making of pipes to ancient cups and platters to beads for jewelry, lead has been found useful. In more recent times, it is, to a certain degree, present in industrial materials such as paints and batteries. Normal, everyday implements such as dishes, mugs and even cosmetics were also found to contain lead.

What was not immediately known, though, were the harmful effects of lead. While it may not be immediately lethal, continuous and excessive exposure to this metal can cause a condition known as lead poisoning. It can damage nervous connections, especially in children.

Lead can also cause disorders in the brain and blood, and various psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia and dementia. It is believed that many Roman Emperors suffered from dementia, probably brought about by the use of various lead-based implements such as pewter cups.

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Only recently, concerns were raised about the possibility of the use of lead in children’s toys. Since children below twelve have the most number of occurrences of lead poisoning, this triggered an issue worldwide. What complicates things with children is that they normally do not understand symptoms, and poisoning may not immediately be noticed.

It is for this reason that it will be beneficial to actively test for the levels of lead in the body. Testing can help you seek for medical attention earlier. It will also allow you to be able to check if the things inside your home are safe for your family.

November 22, 2008 at 6:10 pm Comments (0)

Being A Parent Even Before The Baby Arrives

When we hear would-be parents say that they are preparing for a baby, we automatically conclude that the woman is pregnant. In reality, though, the preparation should start even before the woman gets pregnant. Responsible would-be parents prepare themselves physically and emotionally to ensure that their baby is born healthy.

If you are a couple planning to have a baby, it is to your advantage if you both submit yourselves to a general health and wellness check up. This will inform you of your overall state of health. Based on the results of this check-up, you can work with your doctor regarding specific health concerns that you need to address before actually getting pregnant.

What does your doctor need to know? A pre-existing medical condition is not just something that only an insurance company is interested in. Pre-existing medical conditions also affect a woman’s pregnancy and the health of the baby. Your doctor will be interested to find out whether you, your partner, or your families have a history of diseases such as diabetes, lupus or hypertension.

Lifestyle choices such as smoking and drinking will also affect your preparation for pregnancy, as will your choice of contraception. If you are currently under medical treatment for illnesses such as depression, you will need to inform your doctor about that, too.

Checking for prenatal wellness can also be done at home. There are home wellness evaluation kits specifically designed for checking prenatal health, focusing on factors such as levels of folic acid, magnesium and niacin. The results of these tests can be taken to your gynecologist to help plan your pregnancy.

So before you take the plunge, prepare yourself well. As a couple, choose to improve your lifestyles health-wise. It is best to start making these changes about a year before actually getting pregnant. Do this and get ready to become the happy parents of an equally happy and healthy baby.

November 21, 2008 at 2:36 pm Comments (0)

A Carrot A Day Keeps The Cancer Away

It is certainly good that more and more people are making a decision to lead healthy lifestyles. For some, though, eating and living healthy is sometimes taken to mean depriving oneself of good food. ‘Healthy living’ has been taken to mean eating bland food and slaving away in the gym for hours on end.

Nothing can be further from the truth! Eating healthy can be an interesting journey for the palate, as well. It can be a chance for you to be creative in how you prepare your meals.

A good starting point will be to use ingredients that are rich in antioxidants. These are substances that reduce the damaging effects of oxidation and are best known for reducing the risks of contracting cancer.

An example of an antioxidant is beta-carotene. This naturally occurring antioxidant is present in fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, leafy vegetables and cantaloupes. Beta-carotene sources can be used to create a well-balanced meal, and can be used for an entire course, starting from appetizers and soups, all the way to dessert.

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My favorite source of beta-carotene is carrots. This is one ingredient which is so versatile, you can use it for practically anything, raw, sautéed or baked! It can be eaten raw, simply sliced and sometimes dipped in dressing. It is a staple ingredient in most green salads. It can also be used as a main ingredient in soup. My mother makes a creamy carrot soup that even the kids in the family enjoy (and they do not realize they’re actually eating vegetables). For dessert, you can enjoy the carrot baked into a moist cake, frosted with cream cheese. Yummy!

If you just made the decision to live healthy, it may help if you know the level of antioxidants in your body. This can keep you informed about your general health, especially that of your immune system.

November 20, 2008 at 5:28 pm Comments (0)

Why We Need To Sleep At Night

Today’s working environment is undeniably different. Gone are the days of the 9 to 5 work schedule. Some may work from early in the afternoon until late evening. Others may even start early in the evening until the wee hours of the morning. There are also those whose day jobs may end at 5, but have second jobs to go to at night.

What many people do not realize is that the pattern of waking and sleeping is something that naturally occurs in our bodies. This means that it is not simply an issue of getting a certain number of hours of sleep in a 24-hour cycle. The normal sleeping cycle – being awake during the day and sleeping at night – is actually dictated by our brain.

sleep1.jpgSleep is induced by a hormone called melatonin, which is made by a gland above the middle of the brain called the pineal gland. This gland is inactive during the day. When darkness sets in, a special ‘center’ in the hypothalamus called the supra-chiasmatic nucleus (SCN) activates the gland.

The SCN can be likened to a clock that determines the activities that our body does in a day. It is stimulated by a nerve through the eye. This is why it knows when it becomes dark, and proceeds to activate the pineal gland.

When the pineal gland is activated, it releases melatonin into the blood. As melatonin increases, you begin to feel less alert. If we try to fight this natural urge to sleep because we still have work to do (or a party to attend to), remember that sleep will not occur naturally during the day. This is also why it is said that sleep that is lost will never be regained.

If sleep no longer comes readily to you after continuous night time activities, you might want to check your melatonin levels. Since melatonin is a hormone, there are actually synthetic versions available in the market. Work with your doctor regarding your sleeping habits so that he or she can provide you with options you can take.

November 19, 2008 at 5:06 pm Comments (0)

No Smoking in the Office: Who’s In?

Evolution is certainly interesting. If we flashback to the early part of the 20th century, we will most likely find almost everyone huffing and puffing their way through packs of cigarettes. Smoking was not just considered acceptable, it was actually hip. You can smoke practically everywhere.

In the movie “Down with Love”, editor Vikki Hiller clouded up the elevator of a New York high-rise. In “Mona Lisa Smile”, the alumni board meeting of the exclusive Wellesley College is accompanied by a cloud of smoke from cigarettes of the erstwhile conservative board members.

The negative effects of continued use of nicotine, however, have lead to what may be termed as a “health revolution”. The workplace has evolved in this matter, as well. Nowadays, not likely that smoking is still allowed in the company lobby, much less in cubicles and conference rooms.

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Nicotine testing is now widely used not just by insurance companies, but as part of the recruitment and hiring processes of companies. There is a company in Michigan that has gone as far as implementing a zero-tolerance policy for smoking, refusing to hire smokers and conducting random nicotine tests.

Most companies indicate that conducting nicotine tests have been helpful in determining the appropriate health benefits for employees and the amount of co-payment that will be required of employees for health insurance coverage.

While most might think that nicotine testing help employers by reducing the cost of health coverage for employees, a study made in Brown University has indicated that this may not be true at all times. On the contrary, nicotine testing and how the results have been used have even lead to additional costs for some employers, mainly due to discrimination lawsuits.

Despite this, however, nicotine testing still has its advantages for employers. The advantages may only be less that of the reduction of health coverage costs, but more on an increase in productivity brought about by encouraging employees to lead healthy lifestyles.

Knowing which fraction of the company’s working population can also help employers plan a healthy working environment for the general population without discriminating against smokers. The company can use the information to designate smoking areas, and how big these areas need to be.

New York Background Screening

November 18, 2008 at 5:48 pm Comment (1)

Abusing Prescription Drugs

The mere mention of drug abuse brings with it a negative connotation, and anyone who has fallen into the trap is, more often than not, immediately branded as a delinquent or, worse, a criminal. Statistics will show, however, that while a lot of substance abusers are miscreants, there is a fraction of this population for whom the abuse started out of necessity.

Outside of the illegal drug trade, the next substance abused by addicts is prescription drugs. Not everyone, though, does the deed on purpose. What some people fail to realize is that prescription drugs can bring about addiction and dependency. This is why these medicines will only work for the better under a doctor’s guidance and supervision.

Unfortunately, even when the treatment has taken its course, the physical and emotional boost that prescription drugs can bring to some patients stay with them. This is what they will look for even after they have been cured. This is what will lead them to using the medicine beyond their physician’s advice. Since they started taking the drug for a legitimate purpose, they will see nothing wrong with continuing to do so.

The most common prescription drugs that end up being abused are painkillers and antidepressants. Some medicines that treat anxiety and depression when stopped abruptly can bring about withdrawal symptoms. Doctors usually place patients under a controlled, gradual decrease in dosage and frequency prior to total removal of the drug to reduce these effects.

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The people who fall into this path are usually upstanding people who have been pushed by health issues and circumstance into these situations. Fortunately, there are ways now of testing oneself for substance abuse in the comfort and privacy of the home, away from prying and judging eyes.

At any rate, what is important is realizing and controlling the situation in time. Just remember that for anything, work with your doctor. It may not be an absolute, but he or she will always know what’s best for you.

November 17, 2008 at 2:49 pm Comments (0)

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