Testing It Up » August 2011

Monthly Archives: August 2011

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Chocolate Linked to Reduced Heart Risk

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If you have a sweet tooth and have a chocolate habit of sorts, then this may be good news for you. A study conducted by researchers at Cambridge University indicated that people who eat chocolate on a regular basis have lowered risk for cardiovascular disease.

The findings were based on the analysis of seven separate studies which involved data from more than a hundred thousand study participants. Those who eat more chocolate have a 37 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease, when compared against those who ate little chocolate.

It was clarified that the studies did not just focus on dark chocolate, the type of chocolate that is generally regarded as more beneficial to one’s health. Instead, the studies looked into the consumption of other chocolate products, including milk chocolate and chocolate bars, as well as chocolate drinks, biscuits and desserts. The study followed participants in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the US, and Japan, for an average of around ten years.

Dr. Oscar Franco of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit of Cambridge University shared: “Foods are very complex structures where many substances interact to have a beneficial effect… Chocolate could be contributing to better quality of life, and that could be one of the mechanisms, but that’s just speculation.”

Evidence also pointed to the fact that chocolate can stimulate the release of endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that gave people that sense of well-being.

The results of the analysis were presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology in Paris, by Dr. Franco. It was also published in the British Medical Journal.

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Commercial Marijuana Sales Deemed Illegal in Michigan

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The Michigan Court of Appeals issued a ruling on Wednesday that deemed commercial sales of marijuana illegal.

This is the reason why medical marijuana dispensaries on Michigan Avenue in Lansing, Michigan, remain closed. Most of the dispensaries in this area are used by patients who are students, because of their accessibility. This means that students who are coming back on campus for the fall term will have to find other dispensaries which are open, or find caregivers who are willing to add them to their roster of patients.

Caregivers are legally-certified marijuana growers, who are aged 21 or older.

Jonathan Beagley, a 2011 alumnus of Michigan State University (MSU), founder of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and a medical marijuana patient, shared that the ruling will “totally… change everything.” Having to turn to caregivers, Beagley shared, is not a very reliable option, as based on his personal experience, there are caregivers who agree to add students as patients, then fail to come through at the last minute.

The ruling will most likely be appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court. There is no telling, however, how long the dispensaries would remain closed.

The decision of the Court of Appeals came after the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act received criticism from Attorney General Bill Schuette, and groups of Republican Lawyers. They pointed out that there were holes in the state’s medical marijuana act, and that it did not allow dispensaries to exist legally.

Robin Schneider, a spokeswoman for an advocacy group for dispensaries, shared: “I’m in shock right now… We’ve pushed people out on the streets and back in the neighborhoods to get their medicine illegally.”

 

Michigan Drug Screening

 

Health & Wellness

Health Tips to Remember After a Hurricane

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The worst has finally passed, and it is now time to assess whatever damage a hurricane has caused, and get on with life.
Here are food safety tips to remember post-hurricane, to ensure that you and your family are kept healthy and safe, as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Once local tap water is safe to drink after the storm has passed, you can expect an announcement from the local health department saying that this is so. Until such an announcement has been made, use bottled water exclusively.

If bottled water has run out or if you do not have any on hand, you can opt to boil water, as boiling water may kill most types of disease-causing organisms in the water. If the water is cloudy, it can be filtered through clean clothes, or allow it to settle, before boiling; draw only clear water for boiling. Boil water for one minute, then let it cool down before storing in clean containers with covers.

When it comes to your medications and that of the rest of your family’s, it is prudent to keep them in sealed plastic bags, which are then placed into water-tight containers, in order to keep them safe and dry, even before the storm.

Any medication that gets wet should not be used. In the case of important, life-saving medication that could not be replaced right away, you may choose to examine the container and its contents. If only the container is wet and got contaminated, but the contents are dry, then the medication may be used until replacements could be sourced. Otherwise, discard everything.

Health & Wellness

Breakfast Foods to Avoid

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Leading a healthy lifestyle includes one important thing: starting your day right with a healthy breakfast.

There are a number of choices for breakfast fare, and for people on the go, it can be easy to forget what foods constitute a healthy breakfast. Here are some of the things you should avoid.

Pastries. One of the more convenient breakfast foods to get is a pastry – from cinnamon rolls to Danish, toaster pastries to coffee cakes, there is a wide array of yummy breakfast treats to choose from. While they are heavenly to the palate, we should stay away from these foods due to their high sugar content, and their being a source of extra carbohydrates, which would leave you feeling hungry sooner.

Instead of sinking your teeth into these pastries, opt for a slice of whole grain toast, or an English muffin.

Egg dishes with extra stuff. This is an example of how an inherently healthy ingredient may be rendered unhealthy. While eggs in themselves are a good source of protein and vitamins, adding extra helpings of fat and cholesterol will balance out the good that it can do. For a healthier egg dish at breakfast, instead of going for cheesy omelets and eggs benedict with hollandaise sauce, try preparing omelets with green peppers, onions and avocados, or frying eggs in a healthy vegetable oil.

Fruit juice. One might wonder why this is included, but it all depends really on the type of fruit juice that you are having. Some of the commercially-produced fruit juices have added sugar, which would make it no different from having soda at breakfast. Try eating your fruit instead of drinking them out of a package for breakfast – or try making them yourself, from natural fruit.

Health & Wellness

More Tips on Keeping Food Safe During a Hurricane

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In a previous post, we shared tips from the Food and Drug Administration, regarding how to keep food safe when the power goes out during a hurricane. We now share a few more. When the power goes back on, remember to do the following things:

• Check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer, especially if power has been out for several days. A thermometer reading of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below indicates that the food in the freezer is safe to re-freeze.

• If there is no thermometer, examine each package of food to determine safety. If the food in the package still contains ice crystals, then the food is still safe. Remember NOT to taste the food to determine safety.

If the food got wet, take note of the following things:

• DO NOT eat food that got wet. Flood water may contain sewer overflow or feces from the ground, which may carry dangerous diseases. This includes foods packed in plastic, paper, cardboard, cloth, and similar containers, as well as food and beverage stored in screw-caps, snap lids, crimped caps, twist caps, flip tops, and home-canned foods.

• Metal pans, ceramic dishes, and utensils that came in contact with flood water should be washed thoroughly in hot, soapy water, and sanitized by boiling in clean water or immersing them in 15 minutes in a solution that consists of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach for each gallon of drinking water.

• Get rid of wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples, and pacifiers.

• Wash and sanitize commercially-prepared foods stored in undamaged all-metal cans, shelf-stable juice, or seafood pouches. Labels that may harbor bacteria should be removed.

Health & Wellness

Tips for Food Safety During a Storm

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Hurricane Irene has made landfall and is making its way through the East Coast, and it seems a good a time as any to share food safety tips provided by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

One of the things that may happen during an exceptionally strong and heavy storm is that power goes out. If this does occur, follow the following steps:

• Group all food in the freezer, to help them stay cold longer. It helps if ice has been stored beforehand to help keep food cold later on.

• Help stretch and maintain cold temperature in freezers and refrigerators longer by keeping them closed as much as possible. A closed refrigerator may keep food safely cold for about 4 hours, while an unopened freezer will hold temperature for about 48 hours, or 24 hours if it is half-full.

• After 4 hours without power, get rid of such perishable food as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers, and deli items. When it comes to food, people are reminded not to taste food to see whether these are still safe.

• If it is determined that power is going to be out for a long time, get hold of dry or block ice in order to keep your refrigerator and freezer cold for as long as possible.

Health & Wellness

Will Half of Adults in the US be Obese in 20 Years?

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A report published in the British journal The Lancet revealed that if current trends were to continue, half of adults in the United States will be obese by the year 2030.

One way to make a shift in the trend is for the government to prioritize making changes to the food environment, such as making healthy foods cheaper and less healthy foods more expensive through tax strategies, and changing the way foods are marketed.

International public health experts said that the global obesity crisis may steadily grow worse, unless governments, international agencies, and other major organizations will take concrete steps towards monitoring, preventing and controlling obesity.

A new way of calculating how much calories ought to be cut to lose weight was also presented, a method that was described as a more accurate way to estimate projected weight loss over time. The new approximate rule of thumb for an average overweight adult who would like to lose weight was outlined as follows:

“Every change of energy intake of [about 24 calories] per day will lead to an eventual bodyweight change of about 1 kg (just over two pounds) . . . with half of the weight change being achieved in about 1 year and 95 percent of the weight change in about 3 years.”

The report is being released as a four-part series, prior to the first high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, the focus of which is on the prevention and control of noncommunicable disease.

New York Health Screening

Health & Wellness

Women Avoid Exercise for Hairstyle

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Surgeon General Dr. Regina M. Benjamin has taken up a new cause, one that has something to do with two seemingly unrelated things: hair and health. For some American women, however, hair may play a role in their overall health, as some tend to forego exercise in order to preserve a certain hairstyle.

Dr. Benjamin shared the following thoughts on the matter in an interview: “Oftentimes you get women saying, ‘I can’t exercise today because I don’t want to sweat my hair back or get my hair wet…’ When you’re starting to exercise, you look for reasons not to, and sometimes hair is one of those reasons.”

A number of women, according to Dr. Benjamin, invest quite a bit of time, money, and effort, in order to get their hair to look a certain way. For African-American women, this may involve chemical relaxers and other such treatments, which may transform hair from naturally tight curls into straight locks. This effect can be reversed by moisture and motion, so much so that some women prefer to avoid physical activity.

Medical experts do say, however, that keeping a hairstyle is just one of the obstacles that may prevent women for exercising. A study conducted by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina determined that about a third of the study participants, who consisted of 103 African-American women from the area, engaged in less exercise because they did not want to ruin their hair.

Of the women in the study, 88 percent did not meet the minimum guidelines for physical activity set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which called for about 20 minutes of physical activity daily.

Substance Abuse

Facebook Linked to Teen Drug Use

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The results of a survey conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) indicated, among others things, that teens who use such social networking sites as Facebook are more likely to drink alcohol and smoke tobacco and marijuana, compared to those who do not.

But then again, how many teens in the United States do not use Facebook in this day and age?

Teens who use Facebook are five times more likely to use tobacco, nearly three times more likely to use alcohol, and nearly twice as likely to smoke marijuana.

CASA Founder Joe Califano released the following statement to accompany the report: “The results are profoundly troubling. This year’s survey reveals how the anything goes, free-for-all world of Internet expression, suggestive television programming and what-the-hell attitudes put teens at sharply increased risk of substance abuse.”

The study analyzed data from a survey that included more than a thousand teens, aged 12 to 17, as well as their parents. The respondents were contacted based on their home address, and were asked to fill out an online survey. Of the respondents, 21 percent reported ever using alcohol; 8 percent admitted to having used tobacco; and 11 percent admitted to having smoked marijuana.

Califano wrote further: “Especially troubling – and alarming – are that almost half of the teens who have seen pictures of kids drunk, passed out, or using drugs on Facebook and other social networking sites first saw such pictures when they were 13 years of age or younger; more than 90 percent first saw such pictures when they were 15 or younger. These facts alone should strike Facebook fear into the hearts of parents of young children.”

Celebrity Substance Abuse Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Lenny Dykstra Charged with Indecent Exposure

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Lenny Dykstra, former outfielder for the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of indecent exposure in Los Angeles City on Tuesday.

If convicted, Dykstra may spend six months in jail, and pay $1,000 per count in fines. This was revealed by LA prosecutors.

According to LA City Attorney spokesman Frank Mateljan, Dykstra is accused of exposing himself to six women, who answered an ad for a housekeeper or personal assistant, which he placed on Facebook.

The recent charges only add to existing charges that the former athlete has been ordered to stand trial for. The charges include 25 counts of grand theft auto, attempted grand theft auto, filing false financial statements, and possession of controlled substances. The last charge stemmed from an investigation into a scheme involving Dykstra; a search of his home had yielded cocaine, ecstasy, and a synthetic growth hormone.

Los Angeles Drug Screening