Alcohol Testing Health & Wellness

Alcohol Ignition Vehicle Device May Help Prevent Drunk-Driving Fatalities

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Would you believe that installing a device in your car may prevent you from figuring in an accident caused by drunk driving?

This seems to be the objective of a group of researchers from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and the University of Michigan Injury Center, as they looked into the impact of alcohol ignition interlock devices. Results of the study, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health, showed that the vehicle installation could decrease drunk-driving car crashes by 85 percent, equivalent to more than 59,000 fatalities in a span of 15 years.

In addition, the device could also prevent more than a million alcohol-related injuries on the road over the same time frame. Return of investment for the purchase and installation of the alcohol-sensing device is projected at three years, with the U.S. government able to save close to $350 billion within 15 years.

Although the researchers were confident with their study, lead author Dr. Patrick Carter of the university’s Department of Emergency Medicine expressed their surprise over the numbers. “Our analysis clearly demonstrates the significant public health benefit and societal cost savings associated with including alcohol ignition interlock devices as standard equipment in all new cars,” Carter said in a news release.

Data collated by the study proponents showed that 35 percent of DUI accidents involved drivers between 21 and 29 years of age. “By capitalizing on recent technological advancements that make alcohol-detecting sensors seamless to the driver and applying such technology more broadly to all newly built vehicles, we can actually have a substantial injury prevention impact among traditionally hard-to-reach high-risk populations,” Carter added.

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Medical Marijuana Real Drug Stories

Study Says Medical Marijuana Smokers Use it to Replace Prescription Opioids

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The majority of qualified patients in Rhode Island who get their medical marijuana from a state-licensed dispensary report that they use it instead of taking regular prescription drugs, particularly prescription opioids.

The revelation comes from a demographic review of patient characteristics published in The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.

Sixty-nine percent of respondents used cannabis to treat chronic pain and 56% said they had used marijuana as a substitute for pharmaceutical drugs, according to researchers at Brown University in Providence and the University of Arkansas.

Over 90% of respondents reported that marijuana was associated with fewer side effects than conventional pain medications.

Most respondents in the study possessed health insurance and had never received treatment for drug or alcohol use and they represented about half of the total number of licensed patients in Rhode Island.

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Addiction Substance Abuse

Abuse-Deterrent Drugs Not A Guarantee To Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

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Several studies aimed to combat prescription drug abuse involve altering the medicine formulation in order to prevent or tame down addiction. However, a recent study claims that some measures are still abuse-prone.

The study was conducted by St. Louis’ Washington University School of Medicine, and involved conducting a survey on close to 11,000 drug dependents listed in drug treatment centers all over the U.S. Despite the modification of components in the prescription painkiller Oxycontin, survey results showed that nearly 25 percent of drug users checked into rehab facilities admitted to abuse the drug, according to a news item.

Study lead author Theodore J. Cicero, who works at the university as professor of neuropharmacology in psychiatry, said that some users “who have figured out how to circumvent abuse-deterrent formulation.” This is contrary to claims by Oxycontin manufacturer Purdue Pharma L.P., which has reformulated the product to prevent abuse. “The product’s label states that OxyContin has physical and chemical properties expected to make abuse via injection difficult and to reduce abuse via snorting,” said Purdue Pharma VP for corporate affairs Raul Damas.

The study suggests that prescription drug dependents have created ways to skip past the reformulation and still use Oxycontin against its intended purpose. Some survey respondents said that procedures to circumvent abuse-deterrent drugs are available in online chat rooms and forums. Worse, some people who find it difficult to abuse the prescription opioid have turned to heroin use. “It used to be an inner city problem, heroin use involving poor minority groups… That problem has now moved in to the suburbs and in rural areas, white middle class individuals who are basically now peddling heroin,” Cicero added

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Health & Wellness

Researchers Investigating the Use of Drones in Medical Emergencies

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You’ve heard a lot about them already and have probably seen them around and now you may be seeing more of unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones.

In the latest Air Medical Journal, three researchers from Mayo Clinic’s Department of Surgery investigate the viability of using drones for medical purposes, including delivering things such as drugs and blood derivatives to clinics, disaster areas, and to remote places that are expensive to reach such as ships and offshore oil platforms.

Blood expires quickly and the thought behind using drones for delivery would be to deliver it while it’s fresh from the blood bank before the patient who needs it even arrives at the emergency room. The would allow hospitals to avoid having to keep large amounts of blood in stock and would, in turn, reduce the overall demand for it.

When compared to helicopters, drones are also much less expensive to use for delivering blood and plasma. The Mayo Clinic’s helicopters make 400 flights per year delivering blood and plasma. Each of these trips costs thousands of dollars.

[Photo courtesy of Don McCullough on Flickr]

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Addiction Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Guidelines Released To Help Cancer Patients Quit Smoking

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Lung cancer continues to be one of the leading causes of death, with smoking being the primary culprit. This is the reason why a network of non-profit agencies have drafted a set of guidelines to help patients kick the habit.

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recently released the Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology for Smoking Cessation, which delineates proper instructions and procedures on helping smokers diagnosed with cancer off the deadly practice. NCCN Chief Executive Officer Robert W. Carlson, MD expressed the importance of the NCCN Guidelines for Smoking Cessation. “Addressing the physical and behavioral impact of cigarette smoking dependency and offering a support system for people with cancer can positively impact their quality of life, both during treatment and during survivorship,” Carlson said in a news release.

The panel of experts who formulated the guidelines include Peter G. Shields, MD, deputy director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital . As a lung cancer specialist, Shields said that addiction to smoking is a very difficult thing to reject, but the need to do so will benefit the health condition of cancer patients. “Science has shown us that smokers with cancer have a high level of dependence and smoking cessation leads to improvement in cancer treatment effectiveness and decreased cancer recurrence,” Shields said.

NCCN believes that a sustainable and effective method of ensuring that cancer patients are tobacco-free involves a combination of medical therapy and preventive counseling.”Our hope is that by addressing smoking cessation in a cancer patient population, we can make it easier for oncologists to effectively support their patients in achieving their smoking cessation goals,” Shields added.

Data from the American Cancer Society showed that more than 25 percent of cancer-related deaths are caused by cigarette smoking.

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Health & Wellness

Diabetes and Obesity Risk Heightened By Poor Sleep

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Avoiding two of the most common and dangerous diseases may involve something so simple: sleeping enough.

According to a new study by researchers from UK’s University of Bristol and Qatar’s Weill Cornell Medical College, health issues such as diabetes and obesity may be linked to lack of sleep. The study discovered that not having enough sleep causes abnormality in hormonal functioning, which may lead to pre-diabetes and even obesity. “Sleep loss is widespread in modern society, but only in the last decade have we realised its metabolic consequences,” said study co-author Shahrad Taheri.

The study involved more than 5oo participants whose sleeping patterns were monitored in accordance with the concept of “sleep debt”, which may be described as the difference in the number of sleeping hours between weekdays and weekends. The idea was based on the assumption that people generally sacrifice sleeping hours during weekdays because of work, but try to catch up on rest during the weekend.

“We found that as little as 30 minutes a day sleep debts can have significant effects on obesity and insulin resistance,” said Taheri in a news release. The research team added that eliminating sleep debt in a person’s normal life cycle may yield beneficial effects on metabolism related to obesity and diabetes.’

International healthcare group BUPA supports sufficient sleep, which should be 7-8 hours for adults, 9 hours for adolescents, and up to 10 hours for children.

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Substance Abuse

Study: TV Ads on E-Cigarettes Trigger Increased Craving For Tobacco Smoking

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Manufacturers of electronic cigarettes may be dubbing their products as the answer to quit smoking tobacco, but a recent survey seems to indicate the opposite.

The study, conducted by researchers from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, monitored about 800 individuals who were either actively smoking, doing so on irregular intervals, or have quit the habit. The participants were made to watch e-cigarette ads on television and answered a set of questions to assess their response in terms of wanting to smoke.

Results of the study revealed the following findings:

  • Regular smokers who watched a TV ad of someone smoking an e-cigarette were more inclined to reach for a cigarette than those who saw a TV ad without someone vaping on screen.
  • Many of those who already quit smoking expressed that they may find themselves unable to refuse tobacco when they see a person vaping on TV, as opposed to participants who didn’t see a person smoking in the advertisement.

Study co-author Dr. Erin K. Maloney expressed in a news release that the power of the human eye can influence a person to do something, as confirmed by the survey results. “We know that exposure to smoking cues such as visual depictions of cigarettes, ashtrays, matches, lighters, and smoke heightens smokers’ urge to smoke a cigarette, and decreases former smokers’ confidence in their ability to refrain from smoking a cigarette,” Maloney said.

The study proponents believe that traditional tobacco companies are in full support of the e-cigarette trend in order to boost their sales. “Given the sophistication of cigarette marketing in the past and the exponential increase in advertising dollars allotted to e-cigarette promotion in the past year, it should be expected that advertisements for these products created by big tobacco companies will maximize smoking cues in their advertisements, and if not regulated, individuals will be exposed to much more e-cigarette advertising on a daily basis,” the researchers expressed.

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Substance Abuse

Children Face Risk Over Marijuana Candy Products

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Marijuana is now sold in different forms to excite and entice buyers, but a recent discovery might led young kids to inadvertently take pot.

Researchers from Stanford Law School said U.S. states that legalize marijuana have already welcomed dispensaries and licensed stores that sell candylike marijuana products such as Munchy Way and Twixed. Robert MacCoun, co-author of an investigatory piece published in the New England Journal of Medicine, said that this increases the risk of children to ingest marijuana without their knowledge. “There’s the concern that young children will find these products and eat them, thinking they are ordinary sweets… This can be a very traumatic experience, and there are even some indications it can be physically dangerous for young children,” said MacCoun in a news item.

MacCoun expressed that marijuana in candy form is usually more potent in terms of THC per serving, and is processed unnaturally by the human body. “At high doses, THC can produce serious anxiety attacks and psychoticlike symptoms,” MacCoun added.

MacCoun and fellow Stanford Law School professor Michelle Mello recommend more stringent measures on edible marijuana products. Although marijuana product manufacturers in Washington and Colorado use packaging materials that prevent children from eating the product accidentally and put a “keep out of reach of children” warning, researchers said these may not be enough. “A package should have a predictable standard dose [and] adequate warning labels, and it should not look like candy or a cola drink,” MacCoun said.

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Health & Wellness

Vaccine For Type 1 Diabetes? Scientists Get Closer To The Answer

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The quest to address diabetes is under way, as a new research breaks ground on discovering a cure.

Research teams from various universities in the U.K. are set to collaborate on a series of studies that will determine whether a cure for Type 1 Diabetes is feasible. King’s College London researchers led by Professor Mark Peakman are starting a new trial that aims to test a Type 1 Diabetes vaccine for adolescents and children. Cardiff University professor Colin Dayan is connecting with peers and other interested parties to increase the number of “immunotherapy” diabetes tests, including training of experts. Meanwhile, Imperial College London’s Desmond Johnston will pursue continued identification of patients recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in order to give them opportunities to receive test drugs as part of clinical investigations.

All of the studies are part of a comprehensive plan to come up with a vaccine to counter Type 1 Diabetes. Sponsors of the £4.4million study include Diabetes UK, diabetes charitable institution JDRF, and Tesco.

Diabetes UK research chief Dr. Alasdair Rankin expressed the significance of this endeavor. “This research is hugely ­exciting because it has the potential to ­transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of people ­living with Type 1 diabetes, as well as leading us towards a longed-for cure,” Rankin said in a news statement.

Rankin added that “more than 300,000 people in the UK” are affected by Type 1 diabetes.

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Medical Marijuana

Federal Medical Marijuana Bill Pushed By Bipartisan Senators

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Itching to get medical marijuana in your state? This new revelation seems to be the solution not only for the restricted U.S. states but also for supporters of either political party.

A new bill called the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act was pushed March 10 as a way to legalize medical marijuana in the federal level. The comprehensive (and controversial) legislation is authored by senators from the Democratic and Republican parties: Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker, and Republican Paul Rand.

This joint bipartisan bill aims to remove the ban on medical marijuana in the federal laws so as to provide states with the option to offer the drug to patients. “We need policies that empower states to legalize medical marijuana if they so choose — recognizing that there are Americans who can realize real medical benefits if this treatment option is brought out of the shadows,” Booker said in a news release.

In behalf of her co-authors, Gillibrand expressed the need to update existing federal laws and embrace the advantages that medical marijuana has to offer. “Current federal law turns its back on families in need of this medicine, which doctors want to prescribe to ease pain and suffering… The CARERS Act will no longer put politicians between doctors and patients. It will let doctors do their job and give parents every available option to comfort their children,” said Gillibrand.

The current classification of marijuana — medical or recreational — is a Schedule I Controlled Substance, in the same line as LSD, ecstasy and heroin. The CARERS act is designed to remove marijuana from the list so that the transport and availability of the substance becomes less restricted.

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