Testing It Up » April 2010

Monthly Archives: April 2010

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

MS Patient Nabbed for Marijuana Offense Makes Bail

Published by:

In a previous post, we shared with you the case of John Ray Wilson of New Jersey, a patient with multiple sclerosis who was sentenced to five years in jail for second degree manufacturing of marijuana and third degree possession of psychedelic mushrooms. at the time of Wilson’s conviction, the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act has not yet been signed; it was only signed in January this year.

marijuanaAccording to a report by the Associated Press, Wilson was freed from Southern State Prison after posting bail of $15,000. A court had ruled earlier in the week that he can be released as he appeals his drug-related conviction.

The New Jersey medical marijuana law will reportedly take effect on August 1, according to lawmakers.

Wilson shared: “Whenever they open the program, I would register and abide by the law.”

Under the New Jersey law, registered users of medical marijuana will not be allowed to grow their own; they will have to source the pot from treatment centers authorized by the state. Wilson was caught growing pot plants in the yard of his rented home in Franklin Township, but insists that the plants were only for his own use.

Medical marijuana advocates are unsurprisingly up in arms regarding Wilson’s case. Even our own readers left some comments regarding the issue, most of which called for the lifting of prohibition altogether. Reader Jillian writes: “Since the prohibition isn’t providing a benefit to society, and since it’s causing so much misery to so many people, we have to conclude that it should be ended as soon as possible and replaced with a system that causes far less harm.”

Early Disease Detection

Results of Study May Address Overtreatment of DCIS

Published by:

Among the issues that have been the subject of debate over breast cancer are misdiagnosis and overtreatment. There is, however, a new study that indicates that it may be possible to identify which women who have ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) have a higher risk for developing invasive breast cancer.

breast cancerThe results of the study, according to a feature on Medscape Today, were published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on April 28. According to the researchers, the results of the study can address the issue of overtreatment of DCIS. The study’s lead author, Dr. Karla Kerlikowske, who is a professor of medicine, epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, shares that as many as 44 percent of women who have DCIS can make do with surveillance as opposed to further treatment.

Before the study, patients with DCIS were simply taken together as one risk group. Now, the risk factor of the group can be qualified into two: detection of a breast lump by palpation and the high expression of 43 biomarkers.

While this is by no means something that can be used as routine in clinics across the country, it is, nevertheless, being seen by practitioners as a great start. Co-author Thea Tlsty, PhD, a professor of pathology at the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, shares: “This is an exciting and powerful beginning, to be able to predict which precancers will lie dormant and which will lead to invasive cancers.”

San Francisco Health Screening

Health & Wellness

Is Your City Lung-Friendly?

Published by:

The State of the Air report from the American Lung Association has been released last Wednesday, and it is time to weigh in on the quality of the air in various cities across the country. The top ten cities in the United States for Ozone Pollution were revealed; ozone levels are deemed as a possible danger for those who have chronic lung conditions. According to a feature on the Denver Business Journal, the ALA said that ozone “can cause wheezing, coughing, asthma attacks and even shorten your life.”

The ten cities identified as having the highest levels of ozone pollution, as indicated in a feature on U.S. News, are as follows:

Los Angeles, California, metropolitan area (including Long Beach and Riverside)
Bakersfield, California
Visalia and Porterville, California
Fresno and Madera, California
Sacramento, California, metropolitan area (including Arden-Arcade and Yuba City)
Hanford and Corcoran, California
Houston, Texas, metropolitan area (including Baytown and Huntsville)
San Diego, California, metropolitan area (including Carlsbad and San Marcos)
San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles, California
Charlotte, N.C., metropolitan area (including Gastonia and Salisbury)

ozone pollutionWhile Denver was not one of the cities included on the top ten list, most counties in the Denver area received failing marks on ozone pollution. Among those that received “F” grades were Arapahoe, Boulder, Douglas, Jefferson, Larimer and Weld counties.

Ken Lloyd, executive director of the Regional Air Quality Council, released the following statement along with the report: “The Denver region has made great strides in reducing ozone levels in recent years, but more needs to be done… With even stricter limits on ozone pollution looming [from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency], the challenge will be even greater and will require a concerted effort throughout the region.”

Los Angeles Health Screening

Health & Wellness

Dispelling Bad Press About Coffee

Published by:

A CNN feature shared the following comment from 53-year-old former software company representative Elaine Murszewski: “I have been a coffee drinker for more years than I can remember. My coffeemaker must have an auto-start feature so that when I wake up, it’s ready.” It’s good to know that I am not alone!

coffeeLike Ms. Murszewski my day is not complete without a cup of Joe in the morning – which will only be my first of several caffeine fixes throughout the day. According to the National Coffee Association, more than half of American adults are habitual coffee drinkers, and we all together consume around 146 billion cups of coffee a year.

Coffee, however, has been given bad press, and is considered as one of the factors that contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle. Among the transgressions that it is being accused of is over-caffeination, insomnia and dehydration. Coffee is generally viewed as not at par with that other favorite in terms of hot beverages – tea – which is generally more favored across the Atlantic.

But over the years, several studies have been conducted and have yielded the fact that coffee consumption has its health advantages as well. Among the things that it may be capable of is reducing the risk for developing liver and colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.

A 2005 study also indicated that coffee is a great source of anti-oxidants, and for coffee drinkers across the country, it has become the leading source of anti-oxidants.

There is, however, a need for further studies before coffee is endorsed by medical practitioners as a health drink. In addition, the profile of the coffee drinker usually involves having other risk factors, such as smoking, that can affect their over-all health.

Celebrity Substance Abuse Substance Abuse

Lohan Family Drama: Who Really Needs Help?

Published by:

It seems all the Lohans are able to do these days is land themselves in the tabloids – and not much else. Between the mishaps that are being reported and all the tweeting Lindsay is doing, it would seem like there is no space in the day to squeeze work in. This is just as well because TMZ has made public that Lindsay Lohan has been dropped from the David Michael’s film “The Other Side.” If it is true that Lindsay is currently in debt, then we sure hope that she has another gig in the wings.

sisters Lindsay and Ali LohanThe former child star has admitted to drug use in the past but has been adamant recently that she has learned her lesson and is now clean. According to a report on Fox News, she even sent out the following tweet over the weekend: “Last night never again believe it or not she’s done with the club scene,” Lilo Tweeted on the weekend. “I’ve learned my lesson – sometimes it just takes a glimpse of reality.”

Her father Michael Lohan, however, is not the least bit convinced. He insists that his daughter needs help, and if she does not get help for herself then he is going to force her into it. He has engaged the services of Gloria Allred’s daughter, attorney Lisa Bloom, as well as chemical addictions specialist Marty Brenner. Michael Lohan is concerned that Lindsay’s questionable behavior may rub off on her sister, who is living with her unsupervised.

What is their mother Dina doing, we wonder? As far as Dina is concerned, though, her girls are alright and that Lindsay has no issues.

It seems that it’s not just Lindsay who needs to get some help – they should all do!

Celebrity Substance Abuse Substance Abuse

Tito Ortiz Blames Jenna Jameson’s Drug Use for Their Altercation

Published by:

On Monday, several news sites reported that mixed martial arts star Tito Ortiz has been accused of domestic violence by his partner of four years, adult film star Jenna Jameson. Ortiz was accused of hitting Jameson, which the MMA star has denied.

Tito Ortiz and Jenna JamesonAccording to a report on the Honolulu Advertiser, Ortiz was arrested in the home that he shares with Jameson and their twin sons, Jesse and Journey, in Huntington Beach. Ortiz posted $25,000 bail and he and his attorney denied that Ortiz struck Jameson.

Ortiz spoke during a news conference at an Italian restaurant in North Hollywood. The MMA star reportedly wept during the conference, and said that his family’s support, as well as that of Jameson’s father, means a lot to him. He said: “My parents have gone through an addiction, and I’m seeing a mirror of that… I hold everything dear to my heart that Jenna will be OK.”

Ortiz’ lawyer Chip Matthews revealed that the altercation was caused by Jenna Jameson’s battle with prescription drugs. Ortiz had found drugs in their home on Monday morning, which caused a confrontation between the couple and eventually led to the arrest of Ortiz. Matthews gave the following statement: “Jenna Jameson has been fighting an ugly battle with an addiction to Oxycontin for well over a year, and this morning, she had a relapse… We’re here because Tito was trying to help her. Tito Ortiz never laid a hand on Jenna.”

Jameson, however, has denied Ortiz’ claims and said that the MMA star threw her into a bathtub because she said “something very hurtful to his ego.”

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Bitter Connection Between Chocolate and Depression

Published by:

Here’s something that people may find ironic: consuming chocolate has been regarded by many as a satisfying activity, but a study now indicates that it may be linked with depression.

chocolateAccording to a feature on the Los Angeles Times, researchers from UC San Diego and UC Davis have determined that there may be a link between chocolate and depression. Their study looked into the chocolate consumption as well as other dietary intake patters of more than nine hundred men and women who were not using anti-depressants. The participants of the study were also asked to take a depression screening test.

The researchers found that those who screened positive for possible depression consumed, on average, 8.4 servings of chocolate in a month. Those who had possible major depression consumed an average of 11.8 servings of chocolate a month. In contrast, those who were not depressed consumed an average of 5.4 servings of chocolate a month.

In addition to chocolate, researchers also looked at other dietary factors and related them to mood, including caffeine, fat and carbo intake. However, it was only chocolate that could be correlated to mood.

Beyond this correlation, though, the researchers indicated that it was not clear as to why the chocolate and depression are linked. A theory mentioned in the feature is that depression may lead to chocolate cravings in order to make one’s self feel better.

Marcia Levin Pelchat, a psychologist who studies food cravings at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, shares: “It’s unlikely that chocolate makes people depressed… Most people believe the beneficial effects of chocolate are on mood and that they are learned. You eat chocolate; it makes you feel good, and sometime when you’re feeling badly it occurs to you, ‘Gee, if I eat some chocolate I might feel better.’”

Los Angeles Health Screening

Early Disease Detection

Nearly Half of American Adults Have Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Published by:

The leading cause of death in American adults is heart disease, and based on the data in a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of American adults – 45% – are at risk for developing heart disease, as shared in a feature on ABC News.

heart healthNearly half of American adults are suffering from either one, a combination of two or all three of the following chronic conditions: high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. About 3 percent suffer from all three conditions, while 13 percent suffer from two. The report also indicates that nearly 1 in 7 adults have one or more of these conditions still undiagnosed.

Dr. Steve Nissen, Chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, shares: “These findings are disturbing and reflect the cumulative effects of the modern American lifestyle.”

Dr. Rosemarie Hirsch, the Chief of Analysis Branch at the National Center for Health Statistics, shares that these conditions may have been brought about by dietary changes made by Americans starting about forty years ago.
So what should be done? Prevention strategies are deemed as important. Dr. Lori Mosca, Director of Preventive Cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, shares that even a 5-10 lb weight loss can lower blood pressure and improve the levels of cholesterol and blood sugar.

Americans are encouraged to be aware and have their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels checked. It is also advisable to eat sensibly and watch the amount of food and salt that one takes in, as well as to be physically active.

New York Health Screening

Celebrity Substance Abuse Substance Abuse

Maureen McCormick, aka Marcia Brady, Talks About Getting Over Addiction

Published by:

She was best remembered as that sweet and pretty teenager who looked like she could do no wrong. Her on-screen persona belied the struggles that she suffered when the cameras stopped rolling.

Maureen McCormickMany teenagers in the 70s either looked up to Marcia Brady – or fantasized about her. Now 53 years old, Maureen McCormick, who played Marcia in The Brady Bunch, shares her life with others in the hopes that her personal experience can be of help to others.

At a Changing Lives Luncheon in Palm Beach Gardens, McCormick talks about the changes that happened in her own life. The luncheon was attended by about two hundred people and was for the benefit of the Drug Abuse Treatment Association (DATA), an organization that has programs for children and teenagers who are suffering from substance abuse or have delinquency issues.

Despite the fact that Hollywood has been linked as the culprit to many celebrity addiction stories, McCormick reveals that whatever it was that she went through was not because of Hollywood, as shared in a feature on the Palm Beach Daily News.

McCormick was 18 when a boyfriend introduced her to cocaine – and she got hooked. Her addiction lasted from five to six years. She shares: “It took up every thought of my day, that’s how addictive a personality I have… I couldn’t really think about anything else, other than getting my next toot. It was very scary.”

She credits going back to Church and finding God for changing her life. She has been sober for 29 years. McCormick shared her story by releasing a tell-all book, Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding my True Voice.

Early Disease Detection

PSA Test Can Predict Cancer Aggressiveness

Published by:

A group of researchers from John Hopkins University shared during the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington DC the results of a small study that indicated that a version of the standard test for prostate cancer can help determine whether a patient is in need of immediate treatment.

prostate cancerThere had been some debate previously about prostate cancer screening and its importance, partly because the standard PSA test cannot tell the difference between slow-growing cancers that can be left alone and those that are life threatening and require surgery or radiation therapy. The PSA test measures blood levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein that is produced by the cells of the prostate gland.

The new, updated version of the PSA test measures the blood levels of three different types of PSA. According to the results of the study, this updated version is about 70 percent accurate in identifying aggressive tumors when combined with annual biopsies.

The test was given the name “Prostate Health Index by Beckman Coulter Inc., the company that intends to market the test.

Study leader Robert W. Veltri, an associate professor of urology and oncology at John Hopins, shares: “What we have shown is that using the Prostate Health Index and tissue DNA measurement is informative in separating out patients whose cancers are likely to progress vs. those that are not likely to progress.”

The test is to be given twice a year and will be accompanied by a digital rectal exam that will check the size of a tumor and an annual biopsy.