Testing It Up » May 2011

Monthly Archives: May 2011

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Constipation Myths That Need To Be Dispelled

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Constipation is a painful and frustrating condition that few people are comfortable talking about. Almost everyone experiences constipation at some time in his or her life and it is not serious in many cases. Yet, as common as it is, it has been surrounded by a lot of myths that make it more difficult for people to fully understand.

Here are some constipation myths as shared in a feature on Boots WebMD.

constipationDaily Bowel Movement. While it is common for many to have bowel movement every day, this is not the case for all. One is considered constipated if your bowel movement is less often or cause more strain than usual. Some people go 3 times a day; others go 3 times a week. This will be the ‘normal’ upon which constipation or diarrhea (loose bowel movements) can be referred.

Lack of Fiber. Most people think that constipation only means one needs more fiber in the body. While fiber can help relieve constipation, the condition can be caused by stroke, diabetes, thyroid problems or Parkinson’s disease. It can also signal bowel cancer or autoimmune disease.

Coffee. Others turn to coffee to stimulate the muscles in the digestive system to contract and thus cause a bowel movement. Caffeine, however, is a diuretic and as such, encourages liquid to be drawn out of stools. This makes the stool harder to pass.

People who are regularly constipated may have considered undergoing colon irrigation or colon cleansing. It is advised to first seek medical advice as the procedure can damage the colon and even lead to other issues.

Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards

How to Minimize Exposure to Cell Phone Radiation

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The arguments on whether or not cell phones pose great risks to the health of humans may now take a different turn after scientists at the World Health Organization decided to list mobile phone use in the “carcinogenic hazard” category, under which lead, engine exhaust and chloroform are also listed.

mobile radiationIf this decision announced by WHO caused you alarm, a feature on CNN Health offers tips on how to minimize exposure to cell phone radiation.

Use a wired headset with your cell phone. This decreases exposure to radiation since the unit is far from the body. This may not totally spare you from radiation but it keeps exposure level on a minimum.

Use a speakerphone. This is still in line with keeping the phone from your body. Using a speakerphone takes the device a few inches away from your brain. According to Magda Havas, an associate professor with the Institute for Health Studies at Trent University in Ontario, Canada, “holding out the cell phone by two inches drops the radiation by a factor of four.”

Use your phone to text more and talk less. When you make calls, the phone is next to your head. When you text, the phone is away, keeping that important distance between your cell phone and your brain.

CNN Health also advises to not wear Bluetooth all the time, to avoid radiation hot spots and to read the fine print in instruction manuals.

Health & Wellness

Energy Drinks Are NOT For Kids and Teens, Say Pediatricians

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The needs of people vary as they age, more so when it comes to health and nutrition. Because of consumerism, however, the lines that separate what people of various age groups should ideally consume are diminished; there are kids who end up eating and drinking foods and beverages that are not yet recommended for them.

kids and sports drinksThe Committee on Nutrition of the American Academy of Pediatrics has released a report that advices teens to refrain from consuming sports drinks, such as Gatorade and Powerade, unless they are actually engaged in sports activities, as shared in a feature on Time.com. In addition, the nation’s pediatricians suggested that teens do not consume energy drinks, such as Java Monster, Red Bull, and Full Throttle, at all. The report was published in the journal Pediatrics.

The observation that kids seem to drink sports and energy drinks more often, because sodas were being removed from school vending machines across the country, prompted the investigation. More kids are said to be drinking sports drinks in school lunch rooms.

Dr. Marci Schneider, a member of the nutrition committee and an adolescent medicine physician in Greenwich, Connecticut, shared: “The question was, are there appropriate times when kids should be drinking these, and times when they shouldn’t be drinking them?” While sports drinks are beneficial to athletes following intense practice or workout sessions, Dr. Schneider said that “outside that setting — and honestly most of our teens and children are way outside that setting — they don’t need sports drinks… Water, not sports drinks, should be the major source of hydration for adolescents.”

Early Disease Detection

Women View New Breast Cancer Guidelines As “Unsafe”

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A survey conducted by the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester determined that more than 80 percent of women felt that the recommendation against having women under the age of 50 undergo breast cancer screening is unsafe.

Reuters featured the results of the study, and shared the following quote from the article published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology: “Indeed, they have been exposed to consistent and high profile media campaigns, endorsed by medicine and a variety of interest groups, that have indoctrinated them into the concepts that mammograms lead to early detection and early detection saves lives.”

mammogramMost women, however, overestimate their risk for developing breast cancer.

In late 2009, a group of independent experts funded by the government changed the recommendation regarding screening mammography. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended that women should only start undergoing routine screening upon reaching the age of 50. Furthermore, women between the ages of 50 and 74 are advised to undergo mammograms every two years.

The decision to undergo screening mammography among women under the age of 50 is left to the discretion of the individual woman concerned, and her attending physician.

The survey involved the distribution of questionnaires to 247 women in their 40s who underwent annual well-woman exams. Of these respondents, Dr. Autumn Davidson and her colleagues determined that more than eight out of ten women preferred to undergo annual mammograms. They also incorrectly assessed the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer among women in the US at 37 percent; scientists indicate that 12 percent, or one in eight women, will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Vegetarians Have Lower Cataract Risk Than Meat Eaters

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Vegetarians or non-meat eaters have 30% to 40% lower risk for cataract compared to regular meat-eaters. This has been found by researchers at the University of Oxford in England. The study is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

cataractAccording to a feature on WebMD, scientists looked into the data of 27,670 people participating in the European Prospective Investigation in Cancer and Nutrition study. The participants, all over 40 years old, filled out dietary surveys between 1993 and 1999 and were checked on between 2008 and 2009. It was found that about 1,500 had developed cataracts.

The risk for developing cataracts was highest for the people who ate the most meat (3.5 ounces or more a day). Mid-range meat eaters (1.7 to 3.4 ounces a day) exhibited a decreased risk of 4%, low-meat eaters (less than 1.7 ounces a day) 15%, fish eaters 21%, vegetarians 30%, and vegans 40%.

A person with cataract may suffer from blurred vision and visual loss with the eye’s lens becoming cloudy. It is more common in older people. About 21 million Americans had at least one cataract.

Early Disease Detection Pregnancy & Fertility

Risk of Diabetes in Pregnancy Can Be Predicted Years Before

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Diabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar level is elevated because of insufficient insulin in the blood, or inability of the body to properly respond to insulin.

Gestational diabetes milletus, or diabetes in pregnancy, develops when the woman’s body is unable to meet the extra insulin demands of pregnancy. It usually starts in the second half of pregnancy and goes away after the baby is born. When diabetes in pregnancy is not controlled well, the woman may suffer from an increased risk of premature labor, pre-eclampsia and other complications. It also elevates the chances of having caesarean delivery, as well as increase the baby’s risk for obesity, diabetes and metabolic disorders.

pregnancyAccording to a feature on Medical News Today, the risk of developing diabetes in pregnancy can be predicted up to seven years before. This can be extremely useful since women can receive special pre-conception care that will ensure their optimum health during pregnancy and delivery.

Researchers at health care provider Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research in Oakland, California studied the healthcare records of 580 ethnically diverse female plan members in Northern California; 199 of them developed diabetes during pregnancy while 381 did not.

Dr Monique Hedderson, lead author and research scientist, said “Our study indicates that a woman’s cardio-metabolic risk profile for factors routinely assessed at medical visits such as blood sugar, high blood pressure, cholesterol and body weight can help clinicians identify high-risk women to target for primary prevention or early management of GDM.”

The findings of the study are published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards

Mercury Found in Fish Along California Coast

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A study funded by the State Water Resources Control Board found mercury in PCBs in several species of fish along the coast of California. Some of the levels detected were higher than thresholds set by the state, although none of these levels were high enough to warrant the modification of guidelines regarding fish consumption.

According to a feature on The Orange County Register, the study is part of an effort to observe fish in the ocean and in inland waters. It involved sampling 42 coastal sites in 2009, 27 of which were located in Southern California.

fresh fishThe study classified the fish into several categories, based on the levels of mercury detected. The categories included “one serving per week” and “no consumption”. Average concentrations in the tested fish from Ventura to San Mateo Point south of San Clemente placed them in the “one serving per week category.” Around 5 percent of the samples were placed in the “no consumption category,” mostly in sharks.

Samples for the Southern California study included kelp bass, Pacific chub mackerel, white croaker, yellowfin croaker, barred sandbass and spotted sandbass. Spotted sandbass and kelp bass had the highest mercury levels, based on the results of the study.

Majority of the samples fell into the moderate range for mercury and PCBs. PCBs (polychlorinated biphenals) are cancer-causing chemicals, and were usually used in electrical transformers prior to their being banned in 1979.

Ken Schiff, deputy director of the independent science group Southern California Coastal Water Research Project and one of the study authors, shared: “Mercury really hasn’t been measured throughout all of coastal Southern California, especially edible fish… The fact that we’re getting moderate contamination here – that’s a new finding.”

Health & Wellness

From Food Pyramid to Food Plate

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) may replace the food pyramid, which is currently used as a visual guide to healthy eating, with a new icon later this week.

According to a feature on CNN.com, the food pyramid may be replaced by the USDA with a plate icon by Thursday, based on information provided by an unnamed source that was reportedly familiar with the new guidelines.

food pyramidThe food pyramid was first unveiled in 1992, and arranged various food groups in a hierarchy. Those located at the base of the pyramid, which consisted of grains, vegetables and fruits, represented foods that should be consumed more often. Those that were located at the top of the hierarchy, which included fats, dairy products, and meats, were foods that should ideally be consumed in moderation.

The icon, however, has been the subject of criticism over the years. CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen commented: “The pyramid, to put it gently, is not considered a great public health success… It was confusing and divided into lots of intricate sections.”

The USDA, however, has not officially confirmed exactly what the new icon will be. In its statement, the USDA only said that the move would be “part of a comprehensive nutrition communication initiative that provides consumers with easy-to-understand recommendations, a new website with expanded information, and other tools and resources.”

Cohen shared that the unconfirmed plate icon may be “divided into sections that will show you how much of different types of foods you should be eating.”

Celebrity Substance Abuse Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Amy Winehouse Back to Rehab

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Amy Winehouse, the voice behind the hit song “Rehab,” has checked herself into a rehab clinic in the U.K. on Wednesday. This was revealed by her publicist, Tracey Miller, on Friday.

A report by Reuters quoted the following statement given by Miller: “Amy has embarked on a treatment program at the Priory Clinic… She wants to be ready for performances in Europe this summer and decided to seek an assessment. She will remain at the Priory on doctor’s advice.”

Amy WinehouseThe singer has several shows in Europe lined up for the summer. She is known to be struggling with substance abuse, as well as other health issues.

The decision to enter rehab, according to a report on People.com, may have been prompted by Amy Winehouse’s father Mitch, who reportedly felt that his daughter was having one drink too many.

A feature on MTV.com shared reactions of some of Amy Winehouse’s fans, expressed via Twitter. Some of her supporters offered kind words and encouragement for the singer.

“I want Amy to get some help so she can put out some more music,” tweeted a user named Jubi The Great. Kisha Green, on the other hand, posted the following tweet: “She needs to stay in rehab and confront those inner demons that are destroying her life. If she’s in rehab she needs to STAY there!” Isis the Blogger had this to say: “She needs an intervention, a new crew that cares so she can reach her musical potential. Yet, I’m not surprised she’s going back. Example of the tortured talented.”

Celebrity Substance Abuse Early Disease Detection Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

“Grease” and “Taxi” Actor Jeff Conaway Dead at 60

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The manager of Jeff Conaway, who starred in the movie “Grease” and the TV series “Taxi,” announced the actor’s death on Friday morning. Phil Brock, Conaway’s manager, shared that the actor had been in a medically-induced coma for two weeks, at a hospital in Encino, California. He had been suffering from pneumonia and sepsis in the weeks leading up to his death.

Jeff ConawayBrock said the following of Conaway: “He was the consummate performer and entertainer… We’re thankful his struggles are over, but we know he will be missed by legions of fans worldwide.” The actor was taken off life support on Thursday afternoon, surrounded by his family.

A feature on CNN.com shared that Conaway’s death has been attributed to pneumonia. However, Dr. Drew Pinsky, who treated Conaway for prescription drug abuse, said that his addiction also played a role in his demise.

Pinsky spoke during a taping for his show, “Dr. Drew,” on HLN: “Jeff was a severe, severe opiate addict with chronic pain, one of the most serious and dangerous combination of problems you could possibly interact with… The pain seemed to be motivating him back to the opiates, and I told him for years that it was going to kill him.”

Conaway had appeared on the reality show, “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew,” in 2008. Conaway had been struggling with alcoholism and drug abuse.

John Travolta, Conaway’s co-star in “Grease,” said the following upon receiving news of Conaway’s passing: “Jeff Conaway was a wonderful and decent man and we will miss him. My heartfelt thoughts are with his family and loved ones at this very difficult time.”