Testing It Up

Smoking Ban to be Implemented in China May 1st

Smoking and its harmful effects to the body is not just a national concern for Americans, but more a global concern in practically all corners of the world. One of the more common ways that governments are addressing this issue is through smoking bans, and the latest country to join the battle against smoking, based on various news reports, is China.

China smoking banAccording to a Xinhua news report, a regulation issued by China’s Ministry of Health implements a ban against smoking in all enclosed public locations, commencing on May 1st. These locations include hotels, restaurants, theaters, and waiting rooms at railway stations and airports.

China reportedly has an estimated 300 million regular smokers, according to experts. The number of people who are routinely exposed to secondhand smoke, meanwhile, was pegged at more than 700 million.

Yang Gonghuan, the director of the National Office of Tobacco Control in China, shared the following statement regarding the responsibility of business owners with regards to the smoking ban: “It is realistic to demand a bigger role for these business owners in dissuading smokers.”

The regulation calls for the setting up of prominent non-smoking signs in business establishments, by its owners. Owners are also called on to hold promotional activities that will warn people against the dangers of smoking; employees, on the other hand, are to be encouraged to convince people against lighting up.

In addition, outdoor smoking areas should be placed such that these do not obstruct pedestrian walkways, while public places will not have cigarette vending machines.

April 30, 2011 at 4:49 am Comments (0)

Over 4,700 Sites Participate in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Americans who would like to part with unused, unwanted, and expired prescription drugs can troop to the more than 4,700 sites that are participating in the second National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, scheduled for Saturday, April 30, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. local time.

prescription drugsIn a press release from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), it was revealed that hundreds more sites joined in this take back effort, when compared to the first take back day, which had more than 4,100 participating collection sites. As in the previous even, participating sites will be operated by the DEA’s government, community, public health, and law enforcement partners.

One of the participants of the second prescription drug take-back day is the United States Navy. A feature on the Navy website shared the following statement from Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson, Jr., U.S. Navy Surgeon General: “Navy Medicine’s partnership with the DEA on this initiative has led to a significant decrease in the number of prescription drugs in our communities, making them safer, with a decreased chance of drug abuse… I encourage all to participate in this advantageous event to keep our families safe from the harmful effects of unused and un-needed prescription drugs.”

The following Navy facilities are participating in the event: Naval Hospital Bremerton, Wash., Marine Corps Base and Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Naval Medical Center San Diego.

Those who wish to find collection sites near their area may go to the DEA website – www.dea.gov – and click on the “Got Drugs?” banner at the top of the homepage. This will take them to a database where they can conduct a search of a collection site that is most convenient for them.

April 30, 2011 at 2:42 am Comments (0)

Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi Checks into Rehab

Richie Sambora, the 51-year old guitarist of the rock band Bon Jovi, has checked himself into rehab for “exhaustion,” as well as to “regain his sobriety.”

This stint in rehab is one way that Sambora is going to “get his life back on track,” according to a feature on the Daily Mail. A source reportedly told RadarOnline.com: “Richie recently has been drinking too much, and wants to get his life back together.”

Richie SamboraA close friend also allegedly told RadarOnline: “Richie has had a busy year. I think this was a culmination of all the things that overloaded his life and finally he realized he needed to take care of himself.”

Incidentally, this was also the same statement that he gave after leaving rehab in 2007: “I was just drinking too much and I needed to get my life together.” He said further: “I’m still in therapy and stuff like that, but it’s good. I’m great. I feel fine.” Sambora spent one month at Cirque Lodge in Utah in 2007, after he and then girlfriend Denise Richards separated in the same month that his father passed away from cancer.

The year after, in 2008, he was arrested for DUI, with his girlfriend and daughter, Ava, in the car. He was sentenced to three years’ probation, and fined $350.

Bon Jovi, however, still has tour dates in the United States this month; they are also scheduled for a European tour in June, and it is not clear how Sambora’s decision to check into rehab will affect their tour schedule.

April 29, 2011 at 3:02 am Comments (0)

More Tips on Kicking the Smoking Habit

In various previous posts we have shared tips on how to quit smoking, something that smokers have admitted is easier said than done. We think it is prudent, however, to follow that up with additional tips, realizing that there are still smokers out there who are still trying to kick their nicotine habit.

A feature on WebMD shares some of these tips.

stop smokingNicotine-Replacement Therapy. One of the things that make quitting smoking difficult is experiencing nicotine withdrawal, which makes smokers end up feeling frustrated and irritable, among other reactions, and craving desperately for even just one drag. Nicotine-replacement therapy may help in this area. Those who are trying to quit smoking may turn to nicotine gum, lozenges, or patches, in conjunction with an intensive behavioral program.

Consider prescription pills. Those who would rather not have anything with nicotine, in their journey towards being cigarette-free, may ask the doctor about prescription pills. There are medications that can help lessen cravings, make smoking less satisfying, or help ease withdrawal symptoms such as depression.

Find alternative ways to relieve stress. Some smokers turn to the cigarette to relieve stress. So what do you do when you take the cigarette away? The feature suggests turning to other ways to relieve stress, such as regular massages or listening to relaxing music. It is also advisable to steer clear from stressful situations in the first few weeks when one is trying to quit smoking.

Avoid smoking triggers. We just mentioned avoiding stress when you’re trying to smoke, and we would like to extend that advice to anything that may trigger the urge to smoke, such as alcohol or coffee. Another common trigger is eating very rich meals, so opt for lighter meals instead. For those who usually smoke after meals, since you can’t very well stop eating altogether, it will help to find something else to do after eating, such as brushing your teeth or chewing gum.

April 29, 2011 at 2:56 am Comment (1)

Aspirin and Prozac = Bad Combo

It seems that painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen, and anti-depressants such as Prozac and Celexa, are not a good combination, according to a study published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

ProzacA feature on The Wall Street Journal shared that researchers were able to determine that painkillers, specifically the class of pain medication that are classified as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), seem to decrease the effectiveness of a class of anti-depressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI).

First study author Jennifer Warner-Schmidt, a researcher at Rockefeller University in New York, said: “It appears there’s a very strong antagonistic relationship between NSAIDs and SSRIs… This may be one reason why the response rate [in patients of SSRIs] is so low.”

The results of the study, however, need confirmation through further studies. In addition, it was unclear if taking ibuprofen occasionally for headaches can affect the effectiveness of an anti-depressant, or if a patient needs to take NSAIDs long term for such conditions as arthritis for an inhibitory effect to kick in.

The researchers initially looked into the effect of combining NSAIDs and SSRIs in mice, before looking into the effect of the combination in humans. They examined data from a large clinical trial participated in by 4,000 patients, known as STAR*D, and determined that there was a significant difference in the effectiveness of SSRIs when taken with NSAIDs.

Steve Wengel, a depression researcher and chair of the University of Nebraska Medical Center psychiatry department, commented: “If it’s substantiated in further studies, it would certainly imply we would have to use a different treatment for patients who are chronically taking NSAIDs.” Dr. Wengel is not involved in the study.

New York Health Screening

April 28, 2011 at 5:32 am Comments (0)

American Lung Association Releases Annual State of the Air Report

Half of Americans are reportedly breathing in air that is of poor quality, according to the recently-released State of the Air report from the American Lung Association.

air pollutionA feature on the Voice of America shared details from the 2011 State of the Air report, which was released on April 27. Based on the report, 53.3 percent of the population of the United States, which roughly translates to 165 million people, breathes in air deemed as “too often dangerous to breathe.” The report ranks the quality of air in cities and counties in the United States, taking into consideration the most common types of air pollution.

Janice Noland, an assistant vice president at the American Lung Association, shared that there are various sources of pollutants which are currently polluting our nation’s air. She shared: “Driving down the highway, turning on the electricity contribute to some of the pollution sources because of the burning combustion, burning coal, burning gasoline or the diesel that is delivering food to our grocery store.”

Twenty-five major metropolitan areas are listed in the survey as having the worst air quality. Most of the cities in the list, according to the feature, are located in California; these areas, according to Noland, have a lot of cars, sea ports with emissions from barges, trucks, and ocean vessels, which contribute to the worsening state of the air. Air quality rankings conducted a measurement and comparison of ozone levels and particulates, which are the two most common types of air pollution.

The cities with the cleanest air are Honolulu, Hawaii, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

April 28, 2011 at 5:27 am Comments (0)

E-cigarettes to be Regulated as Tobacco Products

The selling point of e-cigarettes may be the fact that it does not contain tobacco – and the harmful effects that it may have on the body – but it cannot completely keep its relationship with tobacco at bay. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced recently that it will be regulating e-cigarettes in the same way that other tobacco products are being regulated.

e-cigaretteAccording to a feature on MedPage Today, Lawrence R. Deyton, MD, the director of the agency’s Center for Tobacco Products, and Janet Woodcock, MD, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, indicated in a letter addressed to stakeholders that the government has decided against appealing a decision made by the federal appeals court, which classified e-cigarettes along with other products which are made or derived from tobacco.

They wrote further that e-cigarettes “are not drugs or devices unless they are marketed for therapeutic purposes.”

Since they are not considered as such, they are subjected to certain restrictions under the federal Tobacco Control Act. The feature shared the following example: “manufacturers are prohibited from marketing a “tobacco product” in combination with any other article or product regulated under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, such as a drug, biologic, food, cosmetic, medical device, or a dietary supplement.”

Dr. Deyton and Dr. Woodcock wrote further: “The additional tobacco product categories would be subject to general controls, such as registration, product listing, ingredient listing, good manufacturing practice requirements, user fees for certain products, and the adulteration and misbranding provisions, as well as to the premarket review requirements for new tobacco products and modified risk tobacco products.”

April 27, 2011 at 7:10 am Comments (0)

Fast Food Drive-Through Breakfasts to Drive Away From

It’s Saturday morning and you slept in for a bit, and would rather not make the effort to make breakfast; or you are rushing to beat Monday morning traffic into work, so you decide to simply drive by a fast food drive-through to pick up breakfast. While this may be the most convenient option for anyone to take, it may also be unhealthy – if you do not know how to choose.

A feature on WebMD features drive-through breakfast meals that you ought to drive away from.

big breakfastOne of the worst choices, at least according to the feature, is also one of my favorites: the McDonald’s Big Breakfast with Hot Cakes. The meal consists of hot cakes (with butter and maple syrup), hash browns, a biscuit, sausage patty, and scrambled eggs. That adds up to 1,090 calories, 56 g of fat, 19 g of unsaturated fat, and 2,150 mg of sodium.

Another breakfast drive-through fare that you may need to steer clear from is the Double Croissan’wich with Double Sausage from Burger King, which comes packed with 700 calories, 49 g of fat, 18 g of unsaturated fat, and 1, 510 mg of sodium. The “croissan’wich” consists of two sausage patties, double cheese, fried eggs and bacon, piled high between two halves of a giant croissant bun.

Other “worst choice” breakfast meals, at least in the health aspect, are as follows: Jack in the Box’s Sirloin Steak and Egg Burrito; Carl’s Jr.’s Breakfast Burger and Loaded Breakfast Burrito; Dunkin’ Donuts’ Sausage, Egg and Cheese Croissant and Sausage, Egg and Cheese Bagel; Starbucks’ Cranberry Orange Scone; and Subway’s 6” Sunrise Subway Breakfast Melt.

April 27, 2011 at 4:57 am Comments (0)

Study: Some Contraceptive Pills Are Riskier Than Others

A new study reveals that not all contraceptive pills are created equal, and some pills may be riskier than others. Specifically, “third-generation” contraceptive pills, which were developed in the 1980s, seem to increase a woman’s risk for blood clot.

contraceptive pillsAccording to a feature on The Telegraph, women taking “third-generation” contraceptive pills were up to three times more likely to suffer a blood clot, when compared against women who were taking varieties that were developed earlier. This is based on a new research that used British and American records.

The study was conducted by Dr. Susan Jicks of the Boston University School of Medicine and colleagues. It involved two types of birth control drugs, and the findings “provide further evidence that levonorgestrel oral contraceptives appear to be a safer choice.”

Scientists recommend that it was “prudent” to make older pills the “first line of choice,” given the fact that there were no added advantages to prescribing the newer drug. Doctors are also encouraged to prescribe pills that contain the hormone levonorgestrel, as opposed to drospirenone.

The feature indicated, however, that all types of oral contraceptives are linked to an increase in blood clot; it’s just that some types present more risk than others. In October, 1995, scientists issued a warning that women taking such “third generation” pills as Yasmin were more likely to develop blood clots in the deep veins of the legs or the pelvis, called venous thromboembolism (VTO). These blood clots may prove to be fatal if they move through the circulatory system and become lodged in the lungs.

An estimated three million people are said to be taking pills in Britain.

April 26, 2011 at 5:48 am Comments (0)

Vitamin-Takers More Likely to Overindulge in Unhealthy Food, Habits

There is downside to taking vitamin pills, according to a recently-released research: people who take vitamins can become complacent, and are more likely to indulge in unhealthy food and activities.

take vitaminsAccording to a feature on the Daily Mail, taking multi-vitamin pills and other dietary supplements seem give people a false sense of security, so much so that they are more prone to gorge on fast food or neglect physical exercise.

The study was led by Wen-Bin Chiou of National Sun Yat-Sen University in Taiwan, who drew inspiration from an instance where a colleague chose an unhealthy meal over a healthier alternative because he had taken a multivitamin. It involved two groups of volunteers; one group had been told that they were taking a multivitamin pill, while the other had been told that they were taking a dummy pill. In reality, however, both groups were given placebos.

It was determined that the group who believed that they were taking multivitamins was more likely to forego going out for a walk, and choose a buffet meal over a healthier, organic meal. Dr. Chiou said: “After taking dietary supplements in the  morning, individuals should diligently monitor whether illusory invulnerability is activated by restored health credentials and subsequently licenses health-risk behaviours.”

Another member of the research team gave the following comment: “To put it simply, people who take dietary supplements may have the misconception that they are invulnerable to health problems and may make poor decisions when it comes to their health, such as choosing fast food over a healthy and organic meal.”

The study will be published in the journal Psychological Science.

April 26, 2011 at 4:40 am Comments (0)

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