Testing It Up » January 2010

Monthly Archives: January 2010

Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards

Children Still Swallowing Soda Tabs

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Despite the 1970’s redesigned tab, a move made to help prevent swallowing the object, soda can tabs are still finding their way into children’s and teen’s stomachs. During a 16 year study at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center 19 children had swallowed the safety tabs, which are designed to fold back but stay attached to cans for soda and other beverages.

The study, which included children between the ages of 1 and 18, found that the tabs are still quite easily removed from the can and are sometimes chewed on deliberately or accidentally swallowed when the tab breaks off into the fluid and is accidentally drunk. When these tabs enter the digestive system there’s a high chance of the bowels or stomach getting cut up by the jagged edges on the tab. What’s more the researchers feel that the number they got in that time was likely lower than what was actually true due to a lack of reported incidents in that span.

Such incidents are harder to resolve because aluminum doesn’t show up as well on x-ray scans as other metals like coins which are commonly swallowed by children. Parents should be careful and monitor their child’s use of beverage containers and may help prevent the problem by pouring the beverage into a glass instead. They also ask that beverage companies consider redesigning the tab to make it harder to remove.

Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards

Salt-Rich Foods to Watch Out For

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While sodium in itself has an important role in keeping the fluid balance of the human body, too much of this important thing – as in anything else – eventually turns out to be detrimental to the body. In a previous post, we shared how a study indicated that Americans seem to be consuming too much salt.

saltIt is therefore important to consume salt in moderation; a feature on WebMD shares some foods that seem safe – but actually have high sodium content.

Ready-to-eat cereal. There are certain corn flake brands that contain as much as 266 mg of sodium in each serving (approximately a cup) and raisin bran brands that contain as much as 342 mg of sodium in each cup. The good news is that there are sodium-free cereals, such as puffed rice and puffed wheat. What you can do to control your sodium intake is to take them half-and-half – half a serving of your favorite raisin bran and half a serving of puffed rice. Or you can simply choose to a low-sodium cereal brand.

Vegetable juice. Vegetables are healthy, right? And in order to keep things interesting, one might choose to have their veggie dose for the day through a cocktail; however, this is not necessarily a great choice for someone who wants to cut back on their sodium intake. A cup may contain as much as 653 mg of sodium. Your option is to search for a brand that produces a low-sodium version.

Another thing that one might want to remember is that sodium intake is not simply affected by what you eat, but how much you eat as well; so watch your food portions.

Substance Abuse

Driver Readily Admitted to Possession of $2000 Worth of Marijuana

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There is nothing like being honest; after all, don’t they always say that “the truth shall set you free”? For a man from Crestview, Florida, however, blurting out the truth got him arrested instead, according to a news feature on the NWF Daily News.

marijuanaTwenty-five-year-old Jason Miles was pulled over after failing to maintain a single lane and speeding while driving along James Lee Blvd by a Crestview Police Department officer. What the officer noticed, though, was a driver who was nervous – and a vehicle that smelled strongly of marijuana.

The officer then asked Miles whether he had something illegal in the truck. Truthful Miles replied: “I got $2,000 worth of weed in the truck!”

After searching the vehicle, the police discovered 110 grams of marijuana (a quantity that is considered as a felony in Florida), two digital scales, and a pack of peach-flavored cigars. Not surprisingly, Miles was charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute. He was also charged with possession of paraphernalia, a misdemeanor charge that carries a penalty of up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.

After the police read the young man his rights, he opened up about his activities. The story Miles told police was that he was a full-time student during the week, but sold marijuana during weekends. He did not just sell weed, though; he kept some of the “goods” for himself as well. He was said to have told an officer: “Man, you don’t know how much weed I smoke.”

Florida Drug Screening

Home Health Hazards

FDA Asks Painkiller Makers to Help Prevent Abuse

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Representatives of 24 pharmaceutical companies met with representatives of the Food and Drug Administration to try to sort out the current prescription drug abuse problem. This is the first time that the organization has asked drug companies to form a risk-management plan for an entire class of drugs. 5.2 million Americans abuse prescription drugs each year according to a 2007 a survey on the subject. This February 16 companies were asked to come up with risk-management plans for prescription painkillers like morphine, oxycodone, and methadone which through abuse lead to hundreds of lethal overdoses every year.

The drugs are supposed to be used to treat chronic pain such as that associated with cancer, but are often used contrary to drug labeling to treat other forms of pain such as migraines. These drugs are designed to be swallowed and due to this extended release form can result in overdose if they’re chewed instead. The rising rate of abuse and the resultant high levels of overdose have spurred the FDA to work with drug companies to find a way to solve the problem.

Executives from Johnson & Johnson and King Pharmaceuticals suggested including patient medication guides, sending letters to doctors and additional physician training, but agency officials said more specific plans are needed to prevent the misuse of prescription painkillers. Purdue applied with the Food and Drug Administration to reformulate the pill to reduce the chances of misuse or abuse last September. The company wants to reformulate how the pills are made making them tamper resistant by making them harder to crush and making the drug a gel so that it will be harder to inject.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility

Gene Test Could Help Parents with Rare Genetic Disease Traits

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A Silicon Valley start-up is claiming that it can help eradicate more than 100 genetic disorders by alerting parents-to-be who have the carrier genes before they conceive. Counsyl, is a company that is selling a test that they claim is  able to tell couples whether they are at risk of having children with a range of inherited diseases, such as  cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs, sickle cell anemia, spinal muscular atrophy and Pompe disease. Once these parents are told about the traits they carry they can move forward using in vitro fertilization combined with genetic testing of the embryos to avoid bearing children who would have these incurable and commonly fatal childhood diseases.

While there are already tests available to look for certain genetic disorders many others aren’t able to be detected by current testing and leave parents in the dark until their child has already become ill. These tests are also very cost prohibitive ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. The Counsyl test costs $349 for an individual or $698 for a couple and analyzes DNA from saliva samples. The test, if it proves effective, could make help many families to overcome long standing fertility and genetic issues that made having children a painful experience. As yet the ability of the tests remain unknown however because no papers have been printed about its results or approach. Despite this Counsyl claims that it has already administered thousands of the tests which are already offered by more than 100 fertility clinics around the country.

Counsyl executives say 35 to 40 percent of people tested are carriers for at least one disease in the test. In about 0.6 percent to 0.8 percent of cases, they say, both members of the couple are carriers for the same disease.

Health & Wellness

Bill Gates Pledges $10 Billion for Vaccines in Poor Countries

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Bill Gates and wife Melinda have thus far given $4.5 billion towards the production of vaccines designated for children in developing countries, spread over a ten-year period. As another decade begins, the couple announced during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which constituted even more commitment to helping children in the world’s poorest countries.

vaccineThey are stepping up their contribution, pledging an additional $10 billion over the next decade to be spent on the research, development and delivery of much-needed vaccines for developing countries. It is their hope that their commitment for more vaccines will help reduce child mortality by the end of the decade.

The couple was joined by Julian Lob-Leyvt, CEO of GAVI-Alliance, which is a public-private partnership channeling money for vaccines in poor countries. The goal is to help prevent the deaths of almost 8 million children under the age of five.

The future is promising, considering that in recent years there has reportedly been an improvement in the vaccination rates in even the poorest of countries. As an example, Malawi now has vaccination coverage rates that are similar to those of Western cities. With more cash, it is possible to make even more of the new vaccines that are available, such as vaccines against severe diarrhea as well as pneumococcal disease from GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Pfizer.

Health & Wellness

Mood Swings, Anxiety, Depression and Hormonal Imbalance

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When men say that some women are hard to understand – or even live with – it is no laughing matter. The mood swings, the anxiety, the bouts with depression – these are not exactly things that are just in women’s heads, nor are they an exclusively all-female problem. It is the woman, however, who is more known for this condition. Whatever other people may say, there is a science behind almost anything, and in cases like these, the scientific explanation may be hormonal imbalance.

mood swingsThere are various hormones that affect equally varied functions of the human body. It is for this reason that it is important to keep hormones in their proper balance. For women, however, there are certain periods in their lives when their hormone levels can go haywire. Menstruation and menopause can change the levels of certain hormones in the body. In addition, external factors such as birth control pills, being exposed to household chemicals, stress and eating processed foods can contribute to hormonal imbalance.

This is something that is manageable, though, provided that one recognizes the symptoms and does not dismiss them as “just in one’s head”. One way of being able to tell if you are experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalance is by taking an online test. Besides being available free of charge, using such a tool is an easy, non-invasive, fast and effective way of identifying the early signs of menopause as well as symptoms for hormonal imbalance in women. One can then take these results to a physician or a health care professional who will then help you with what you should do next.

Alcohol Testing Drug Testing

Iditarod Competitors Will Be Tested

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The organizers of the Iditarod will be conducting drug and alcohol testing on its competitors in March. Few competitors have a problem with the plan to test but 3 time winner Lance Mackey feels that the move is a ridiculous waste because the one’s who’ll truly be competing are the dogs and not the humans. He also states that human drug use wouldn’t affect the final outcome of the race. Mackey, a throat cancer survivor who at one point had a medical marijuana card and has publically admitted he used the drug while racing, feels that the move is an attempt to disqualify him and mollify jealous competitors.

“It isn’t the reason I’ve won three years in a row,” said Mackey, though he admits that the drug helps him stay focused during the almost 10-day race.

Organizers of the competition say they’ve been trying to arrange for drug testing for years and that there has been an informal alcohol and drug policy in place since 1984. “Where during a race (we will test) has not yet been finalized,” Hooley said by phone on Monday. “It might be random. It might be a group of mushers at a specific checkpoint.”

The drug test will be at random and mushers are unlikely to be informed about when it will be done ahead of time. Most of the policy has been hashed out and organizers are likely to proceed with the plan which is intended to prevent the use of marijuana, amphetamines, narcotics and opiates including codeine. Previously, mushers were subject to testing under reasonable suspicion from a race official or on a random basis. Now the circumstances include “a random group or all mushers on a date or dates to be determined within 30 days of the start of the race” and “the first fixed number of mushers who arrive at a stated checkpoint.”

Failing the test means being disqualified.

Early Disease Detection

Six-Year-Old Jasmina Anema Dies of Leukemia

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A young girl’s battle became the battle of a whole lot of other people – but hers was a battle, unfortunately, that she was unable to win.

Six-year-old Jasmina Anema made a lot of high-profile friends who eventually fought for her cause. She was suffering from leukemia and became the rallying point behind a charity, “One for Jasmina,” that moved celebrities such as Rihanna, Kelly Rowland and Lamar Odom to encourage people to register as bone marrow donors.

Jasmina AnemaJasmina passed away on Wednesday in New York. On Thursday, Lamar wrote on his Twitter page: “I’m very sad to hear that my little friend, Jasmina, lost her battle with leukemia. My prayers are with her family.” Lamar Odom speaks in a video for DKMS Americas, the world’s largest bone marrow donor center, along with Isabelle Huurman, Jasmina’s best friend. She was diagnosed with leukemia a little over a year ago.

Her death, however, may not exactly be in vain. Jasmina’s battle with cancer resulted in the registration of more than ten thousand people as bone-marrow donors. What this translates to is a bigger opportunity for hundreds of leukemia patients to get a match and receive a bone marrow transplant right when they need it the most.

DKMS Americas co-founder Katharina Harf gave the following statement: “Her strength and positive attitude provided inspiration – not only to the 140,000 people diagnosed with blood cancer such as leukemia or lymphoma each year – but to the thousands of healthy Americans who were inspired to register as donors.”

New York Health Screening

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Has Your Child Received His Second H1N1 Vaccine Dose?

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Doctors in Indiana are getting worried about the fact that a majority of children – roughly two-thirds – who have received their first dose of the H1N1 vaccine have yet to receive their second dose. Without the second dose, children are still not fully protected from the H1N1 flu strain.

vaccineIt may be a good time as any to remind parents about this fact. It is imperative that children are brought back for the second dose in order to become fully protected from getting sick with swine flu.

In Indiana, an estimated 300,000 children have received the H1N1 flu vaccine. Only 85,000, however, received both doses.

Dr. Joan Duwve, the medical director for public health and preparedness for the Indiana State Department of Health, explained how the flu vaccine doses work in children. The first dose only serves to “wake up” the immune system, introducing it to a virus that it has not seen before. It is the second dose, also known as the booster shot, which serves to protect the child.

In order to remind its citizens of the need to bring their children back for the second dose, the Health Department will be mailing postcards to the parents of children who have already received their first dose over the next few weeks. The postcards will remind them to take their child to the local clinic or their doctor for the booster shot.

The State Department of Health will continue to provide its free public clinic on Tuesdays at the Carew Medical Park through the end of February.