Testing It Up

E-Cigarettes: Flight Hazard According To Airport Officials

The debate on the effects of electronic cigarettes to human health may still be ongoing, but a recent airline incident may lead to the controversial item being labelled a “flight hazard”.

electronic cigarettes flight hazardAccording to a New York Times report, a bag that heated up inside an Embraer 190 passenger plane at the Logan International Airport in Boston was traced to an e-cigarette inside the bag. Because of this, officials of the airport are now calling on the Transportation Department to include the e-cigarette as a hazard in flights.

Massachusetts Port Authority aviation chief Ed Freni expressed his sentiments on the hazards that the lithium-ion battery-powered cigarettes carry on flight. “The more you see these type of items sold out there, the more our industry has to take a closer look at them, as we’ve done with other hazardous materials,” Freni said.

Although reports are unclear whether the bag caught on fire, passengers were evacuated out of the plane. All checked-in bags were inspected, and the hot bag was sprayed with a fire extinguisher.

Many previous studies have looked into the dangers of e-cigarettes, with some saying that continued use of the electronic variants does not discourage people from kicking the habit. This new incident lists another risk factor for e-cigarettes: lithium-ion batteries.

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August 19, 2014 at 6:55 pm Comments (0)

Robin Williams’ Death Puts Marijuana in Spotlight for Parkinson’s Treatment

Days after the suicide of acclaimed actor Robin Williams, news outlets have been burning up on the issue of his diagnosed Parkinson’s Disease. Amidst reports that the disease had partly affected the actor’s psyche and led to his self-inflicted demise, some advocates are using the current hot topic as a means to revive the idea of using marijuana as a treatment for Parkinson’s Disease.

robin williamsSome studies in the past have focused on the benefits of marijuana in treating the disease. One research paper was released by proponents from Tel Aviv University, which revealed that administering pot in patients diagnosed with the disease exhibited improvements in pain and rigidity. In fact, the nation of Israel has already approved the use of medical marijuana to treat the neural condition.

Still another study conducted in May of this year by the American Academy of Neurology showed that cannabis was beneficial in treating multiple sclerosis, the symptoms of which are similar to Parkinson’s. Although there have been no studies in the U.S. that targeted Parkinson’s Disease using marijuana, the recent news of Williams’ death has definitely triggered experts to look into the matter.

Marijuana Policy Project proponent Mason Tvert emphasized the advantages of medical marijuana in a wide array of diseases. “If it can improve the quality of life for an individual living with Parkinson’s Disease, they should be able to access it legally and safely,” Tvert said in a news release.

August 19, 2014 at 4:33 am Comments (0)

New Drug Reduces Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke in Some Women

Researchers from the University of Sydney found that women who are at risk for heart attack or stroke may find hope thanks to a new cholesterol-lowering drug. women heart disease

Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and high cholesterol usually affect a person in pairs, meaning if the person has one of those conditions, they’ll likely have one of the other two. By decreasing the risk of heart attack and stroke in women, researchers will ultimately be able to lower their likelihood of death.

“The finding is good news for women,” the study’s co-author Tony Keech, and professor of medicine, cardiology and epidemiology at the University of Sydney, said in a press release. “The study shows that fenofibrate reduced the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, or having a stroke or other adverse cardiovascular event by 30% in women and 13% in men.”

Researchers studied 3,657 women and 6,138 men with type 2 diabetes and evaluated their cardiovascular and stroke risk for five years for the study.

Fenofibrate works by triggering an enzyme that breaks down triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) better known as bad cholesterol, while at the same time it works to increase high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or good cholesterol.

August 18, 2014 at 1:52 pm Comments (0)

Hospitalization Due to Heart Attack and Stroke is Down

A recent study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation has revealed the number of hospitalizations and deaths attributed to heart disease has decreased dramatically over the past decade.heart attack

“Interestingly, these improvements happened in a period when there were no real ‘miracle’ clinical advancements,” Dr. Harlan Krumholz, director of the Center of Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Yale-New Haven Hospital, said in a statement. “Rather, we saw consistent improvements in the use of evidence-based treatments and medications and an increase in quality improvement initiatives using registries and other data to track performance and support improvement efforts — as well as a strong emphasis on heart-healthy lifestyles and behaviors.”

Krumholz and his fellow researchers gathered findings from close to 34 million Medicare Fee-For-Service recipients in 1999-2011. Data was used to investigate trends surrounding patients’ rate of hospitalization, those who died within a month of being admitted, those who were readmitted within a month, and those who died during the following year.

After taking into account several individual factors such as age, sex, race, other illnesses, and geography, the rate of hospitalizations attributed to a heart attack dropped by 38% by the end of 2011.

Over the past decade,

  • rates of sudden chest pain, (a tell-tale sign of a heart attack), decreased by 83.8%;
  • heart failure by 30.5 %; and
  • ischemic stroke by 33.6%.

The number of people who died:

  • as the result of heart failure and stroke dropped by 13%,
  • unstable angina by 21%, and
  • heart attack by 23%.

“Huge strides in lifestyle, quality of care and prevention strategies for cardiovascular health have seemed to have a ripple effect on saving lives,” Krumholz added. “As a result, our country has undergone remarkable changes, which has reduced suffering and costs. There is still more work to do as heart disease and stroke combined remain the leading cause of death and disability, but this study documents astonishing progress and national achievement.”

Factors contributing to such notable declines in cardiovascular disease complications included identifying and treating high blood pressure, increased use of statins, declines in the number of smokers, and quicker treatment options for heart attack victims.

August 18, 2014 at 1:40 pm Comments (0)

West Africa Ebola Outbreak Could Linger For Months

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa isn’t going to die down anytime soon, according to a charity group.

ebola outbreak in west africaDoctors Without Borders, a humanitarian and non-partisan medical care organization, said via a news release that the situation in the Ebola-stricken countries of West Africa has escalated to “dangerous.”

“With the massive influx of patients that we had over the last few days, we’re not able to keep zones of patients anymore,” said Joanne Liu, the international president of the group.

As of the latest record from the World Health Organization (WHO), Liberia tallied the most fatalities at 413. Many other patients continue to line up in various medical facilities not only in Liberia but also in Sierra Leone and Guinea. According to the WHO, the fatality figure as of this writing has reached 1,145.

Apart from locals, the Ebola virus has also claimed lives of medical staff who are treating the patients. Ernest Bai Koroma, president of Sierra Leone, said two physicians and more than 30 nurses have already died. “We need specialized clinicians and expertise and that is why we are appealing to the international community for an enhanced response to our fight (against Ebola),” the nation’s president said.

The world has yet to search for a cure of treatment for Ebola patients, although an experimental drug is currently under development in the U.S.

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August 15, 2014 at 3:12 pm Comments (0)

9/11 Attack Caused Pregnancy-Related Health Concerns

The World Trade Center attack has not only claimed lives, but also affected the health of babies whose mothers were near the collapse of the Twin Towers.

world trade center twin towers collapse dust cloud affect pregnancy healthAccording a study posted in the National Bureau of Economic Research, the events that unfolded on 9/11 “released a million tons of toxic dust into lower Manhattan, an unparalleled environmental disaster.” The study was conducted by Janet Currie and Hannes Schwandt of Princeton University, and is currently on working development mode.

The study’s abstract describes the results of the initial investigation. “Using all births in utero on 9/11 in NYC and comparing them to their siblings, we show that residence in the affected area increased prematurity, low birth weight, and admission to the NICU after birth, especially for boys.”

The entire world bore witness to the Twin Towers’ destruction, where a huge dust cloud emerged from the collapsed structures. Various reports have revealed that the cloud unleashed massive amounts of asbestos, gypsum, cement dust, lead, and glass fragments. Aside from earlier reports that the dusty environment triggered asthma and respiratory complications in emergency response staff and nearby residents, this new study infers that the toxic fumes have also affected the health of pregnant mothers and their babies.

As reported in a news release, the study suggests that premature deliveries doubled in number due to the mothers’ exposure to the dust. Meanwhile, low birth weight as a result of the catastrophe increased by 5 percent, and NICU admission by 7.6 percent.

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August 14, 2014 at 5:29 am Comments (0)

What do you think the most dangerous drug in the world is?

At TestCountry, we want to hear what you think the most dangerous drug is. You can vote on this list of 10 drugs or add any that you believe should be on the list.drugs and alcohol abuse

Share in the comments section what you think makes the drug you voted for the most dangerous.


Most Dangerous Drugs
August 12, 2014 at 1:39 pm Comments (0)

Robin Williams Found Dead in Home

Hollywood and the world over is shocked at the loss of one of the greatest comics in history.

robin williams dead suicideRobin Williams, 63, was pronounced dead after emergency personnel found him unconscious in his California home at noon today. Although an autopsy has yet to be conducted, preliminary evidence seems to suggest an apparent suicide due to asphyxia, as reported by the Marin County Sheriff’s office.

Williams’ wife Susan Schneider expressed her grief over the sudden turn of events. “This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend… While the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin’s family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”

According to the actor’s publicist Mara Buxbaum via Yahoo! News, Williams had been experiencing depression in the past months. Last July, Williams checked into rehab at Minnesota’s Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center for sobriety issues.

He has always been transparent about his battle with substance abuse. Back in the 1980s during his Mork and Mindy days, Williams admitted to cocaine abuse, but decided to quit after the death of fellow actor John Belushi. He also underwent treatment for alcohol abuse in 2006.

Williams has had a very colorful acting career, winning an Oscar for his touching performance as supporting actor in Good Will Hunting. He also has six Golden Globes, five Grammys, and two Emmy awards to his name.

The actor had three children — Zachary (31), Zelda (25), and Cody (22).

August 11, 2014 at 4:52 pm Comments (0)

Ebola Drug Experimentation Under Way After FDA Hold

Roughly a month after testing was held by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Ebola drug being developed by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is now ongoing development anew.

ebola virus africaThe FDA recently lifted its hold on medical experiments by the Canadian company, probably due to the urgency of the Ebola situation. As of this writing, no vaccines or medicines have been developed and released for treatment of the Ebola virus, amidst official reports that about a thousand people have already died from the lethal virus.

Tekmira Chief Mark Murray expressed positivity in light of the latest FDA decision. “We have been closely watching the Ebola virus outbreak and its consequences, and we are willing to assist with any responsible use of TKM-Ebola,” Murray said in a news item.

The pharmaceutical company was given the green light by the U.S. government to develop a drug that could treat people infected with Ebola. The government-approved project was pegged at $140 million, but was held by the FDA last July due to reported safety issues when tested on human trial subjects.

Although the hold has been loosened, Tekmira’s anti-Ebola drug has yet to be tested for safety and effectiveness by the FDA. Meanwhile, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to ravage locals and neighboring countries, and worldwide fear of the virus’ spread is still escalating.

August 11, 2014 at 4:34 pm Comments (0)

New Research Says Workplace Drug Testing Benefits African-American Men

In what many may see as an odd twist, people’s own bigoted misconceptions actually mean that workplace drug testing benefits African-American men.drug testing Texas politicians

This is because even though drug use is about equal between white and black people, the common perception is that black people abuse drugs much more than their white counterparts, freelance writer Max Taves says. Workplace drug testing shows this misconception to be false, enabling black men to get higher paying jobs more frequently.

Taves wrote an article about the study, which was done by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

“It’s a counterintuitive study. The economist who wrote this kind of knew going into it and wanted to test it,” Taves told the Huffington Post. “What it means is that companies’ information, their perception of African-Americans employees relative to white employees and drug use is wrong.”

Fourteen states, mostly in the South and Midwest, adopted laws back in the 1980s to enforce testing by offering legal and financial incentives to companies that test current and prospective employees. Seven states, mostly in the Northeast and West, developed laws to explicitly limit testing while 29 states made little or no significant changes.

Notre Dame University economist Abigail Wozniak studied the impact of those laws on African-American employment between 1980 and 2010 and found that low-skilled black men were significantly impacted by the pro-drug test laws. Their wages in states that tested rose 12% more than black employees in states opposed to testing and 4% more than in the “neutral” states.

The overall employment rate of black men in pro-testing states didn’t change, Wozniak said, but black men were able to get better jobs because of it. The firms most likely to test employees are bigger, pay better and offer more benefits than firms that don’t test.

“These pro-testing firms hired more blacks and paid more,” said Wozniak.

 Once the companies realized their perception about hiring black employees was incorrect — proven to them by drug testing — they felt more confident hiring black employees.

August 11, 2014 at 12:27 pm Comments (0)

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