Testing It Up

HIV-infected men may be more prone to heart disease

Men with HIV may have a higher risk of heart disease, a new study suggests.heart attack

The reason for the increased risk of heart disease is because men with HIV have more more soft plaque buildup in the arteries that bring blood to the heart, a condition called coronary atherosclerosis, than men without the virus, the study, which was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, showed. Coronary atherosclerosis is a risk factor for heart attack.

Unlike hard plaque, which eventually builds up and blocks blood from flowing to the heart stifling the supply of oxygen to the organ, soft plaque can cause part of the artery to rupture, leading to a blood clot, which can cause a heart attack by blocking blood flow.

For the study, researchers from Northwestern University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Pittsburgh examined the heart health of 618 HIV-infected men and 383 men without HIV who were part of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study. The men who participated in the study were between ages 40 and 70 and had sex with other men.

Sixty-three percent of the HIV-infected men in the study had coronary atherosclerosis from soft plaque, while only 53% of the men without HIV had the condition. The increased coronary atherosclerosis association remained true for the HIV-positive men even after researchers took into account other heart disease risk factors, such as smoking and high blood pressure.

Additionally, men with HIV who had taken anti-HIV drugs for the longest amount of time and whose immune health had worsened the most were more likely to experience coronary artery blockages from soft plaque.

“Thanks to effective treatments, many people with HIV infection are living into their 50s and well beyond and are dying of non-AIDS-related causes – frequently, heart disease,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., the director of the National Institute Of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a statement. “Consequently, the prevention and treatment of non-infectious chronic diseases in people with HIV infection has become an increasingly important focus of our research.”

April 2, 2014 at 7:37 am Comments (0)

Study: E-Cigarettes Don’t Help People Quit Smoking

Do you believe the advertisements that say using e-cigarettes can help people stop smoking? Then you must be one of those who are grossly misinformed.

electroSmokeBNPS_468x348Research was done concerning the use of electronic cigarettes from the Center for Tobacco Control by the University of California. It disclosed that there is no factual basis for the efficiency of e-cigarettes to help people kick the habit.

According to Live Science, the study based on the survey conducted in 2011 involved close to a thousand respondents who were confirmed smokers. The respondents were followed up with a year later to determine the rate of participants who stopped smoking. The data shows a 13.8% reduction of smokers after one year for those who did not use electronic cigarettes compared to 10.2% of electronic cigarette users.

These results did not quantify that the use of electronic cigarettes really helped increase smoking cessation. The results of the study suggest that those who are using electronic cigarettes have no interest in quitting smoking. In fact, the use of e-cigarettes made it more difficult for them to quit.

An interview with Dr. Mitchell H. Katz, deputy editor of JAMA internal Medicine said that “the evidence on whether e-cigarettes help smokers to quit is contradictory and inconclusive” and that it has no proof of increasing the rates of cessation from smoking.

He also sees the need to regulate the use of electronic cigarettes citing the potential harm it could contribute to  minors due to the fact that there are no laws or restrictions for the use of electronic cigarettes.

He is also calling for the prohibition of e-cigarette advertisements that say these devices could help you quit smoking, until there is scientific evidence to support this claim.

April 2, 2014 at 12:00 am Comments (10)

The U.S. FDA Proposes New Nutrition Facts Label

Back on St. Patrick’s Day, the US Food and Drug Administration released a notice  to propose a new Nutrition Facts label. proper nutrition for kids

The proposed new labels would help consumers quickly identify the number of servings per container, plus, the nutrition numbers would be paired with a “normal” serving size, and calories per serving size, as well as the % DV (percent daily value) per nutrient.

The emphasis will be for the producers to identify a normally expected serving size (for some foods) of what a consumer would consume in one sitting rather than what the producers choose as the serving size, which is often misleadingly tiny. The small serving sizes often skew the % DV consumed for items like Total Fat, or Total Carbohydrates. The U.S. FDA wants to bring visibility and clarity to the packaged products.

The proposed new labels will help enable you to make better health decisions about the products you purchase, and food and amount you consume. However, it still requires good judgment on consumers’ part.

The FDA is also looking for feedback on the proposed design change, or any other comments you may have about nutrition, regulation, and labeling.

To give your feedback, click  here until June 2, 2014.

April 1, 2014 at 6:03 am Comments (0)

Canada puts medical marijuana decisions into hands of doctors

A new rule that takes effect today puts the entire decision making process about who should receive a marijuana prescription on doctors’ shoulders in Canada. medical marijuana

Previously, patients wanting to get a prescription to marijuana had to get a licence from Health Canada by submitting an application form signed by their doctor, which indicated that the physician was aware the patient was using pot for medical purposes.

But under the new rules, users seek a medical document directly from their doctor — similar to a prescription –instead of applying through Health Canada.

However, this puts doctors in the uncomfortable position of being gatekeepers to medical marijuana for patients. The Canadian Medical Association has made its concerns clear, noting in a news release earlier this month it “remains adamant that it will not throw its support behind medical use of the drug until numerous questions about safety, efficacy, dosage and delivery have been answered.”

The new rules also stipulate that the roughly 40,000 people in the country that use medical marijuana can no longer grow their own, but must now purchase it from commercial distributors, although this is currently being challenged in court.

It is estimated that the new private-sector commercial marijuana production industry  could be worth more than $1 billion a year by 2024.

March 31, 2014 at 6:33 am Comments (0)

Porn Addict Makes and Releases his Own Documentary About Dealing with Addiction

Documentary filmmaker Matt Pollack’s Run Run It’s Him will be available for download April 1 at runrunitshim.com.

Movie still courtesy of RunRunItsHim.com.

Movie still courtesy of RunRunItsHim.com.

The film, made during the 2000s prior to internet porn being so prevalent, documents Pollack’s obsessive behavior about porn, which included him planning his entire day around searching for and masturbating to pornography. Pollack says his apartment used to be filled with pornographic tapes and DVDs and he used to keep meticulous notebooks cross-referencing various porn scenes so he would know exactly where to go to on any given tape or DVD for a favorite scene.

Co-directed with Jamie Popowich, the low-budget movie describes how Pollack deferred the loss of his virginity to age 24, how pornography made him terminally ill-at-ease around women, the estimated “thousands of hours” he spent masturbating, and the way his brain began to fixate on pornography constantly.

He said he felt compelled to make Run Run It’s Him as a way of admitting his addiction and dealing with it, including confessing his addiction to various female friends and former girlfriends – some of whom he asks to sit and watch some of his favourite scenes. Pollack also takes the viewer on a city tour of his preferred porn shops, and he confronts his parents with his secret.

March 28, 2014 at 9:00 am Comments (0)

Scientists Develop Fluorescent Date Rape Drug Sensor

A new study has taken another step towards preventing the potential of date rape drugs to victimize unsuspecting women.

Photo credit: National Univ. of Singapore

Photo credit: National Univ. of Singapore

Prof. Chang Young-Tae and his team of researchers from the National University of Singapore’s Department of Chemistry identified an orange fluorescent substance that can detect the presence of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), a well-known date rape drug. The compound, which the research team named as GHB Orange, was found to change its color as it reacts with GHB.

The study, published in the Royal Society of Chemistry online journal, involved an investigation of a number of known fluorescent dyes, which were mixed with varying concentrations of the date rape drug compound. GHB Orange was singled out because of its effectiveness and observable visual change in the presence of GHB, according to a news report.

What’s beneficial about this date rape drug sensor is its ease of use. Visual results can be observed within 30 seconds after mixing GHB Orange with a suspected spiked beverage.

GHB has become infamous for its effectiveness to render a person incapacitated, resulting in a higher risk of sexual crimes. The date rape drug is undetectable to the naked eye, and does not emit any identifying odor. The drug is very potent: ingesting just two grams of GHB may result in unconsciousness less than 30 minutes after ingesting the drug. The incapacitating effect can last up to six hours. It is not detectable in urine until up to six to 12 hours after it is ingested.

March 27, 2014 at 8:14 pm Comments (0)

Molly Package Intercepted By Virginia Police


ecstasyIn a recent news article, a 41-year-old man was arrested in Leesburg, Virginia for the possession of a package containing MDMA – short term for a synthetic drug known as 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine – intercepted by the police.  Allegedly, the US Postal Service was used as the delivery method to send 10 oxycodone pills and about 8-1/2 grams of MDMA otherwise known as “ecstasy” and “molly” to the address of a man named Thomas C. Watson.

According to Phil Erickson, Substance Abuse Program Manager for Loudoun Country, drugs like molly are precarious to the still-developing brains of teenagers.  This is highly addictive and one of the side effects for using it is long-term depression.

The use of molly in Virginia is very rampant.  Any high school and college students know about “molly” and it’s the cool thing to do now.  This party drug is often used in night clubs thus it is known as a “club drug”.  It makes a person free spirited, as if you are friends with everyone even though you are not. This is a very popular drug with a big supply.  Though this drug is illegal, it can be accessed and bought through the internet, with Mexico and China being the major sources of this substance.

March 26, 2014 at 9:44 pm Comments (0)

More Women Being Arrested for DUI in California

Significantly more women are being arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in California, according to an analysis of Department of Motor Vehicles data performed by the KPCC public radio station. women alcohol drinker

Women accounted for about 11% of DUI arrests in 1989, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, and that number increased to about 24% in 2011, which is the last year for which statistics are available.

“They were somewhat stable in the 1980s and then began to go up and just accelerated, particularly from 1999 to 2011,” said Steven Bloch, senior research associate with the Automobile Club of Southern California.

Young women were largely responsible for the increase in statewide DUI arrests in that time period. In Los Angeles County, DUI arrests of women ages 21 to 30 years old jumped by about 134% from 1999 to 2011.

Another group that stood out during the same period was women over the age of 50:

  • Arrests of women age 51 to 60 years old rose by 81%.
  • Arrests of female drivers age 61 to 70 climbed by 67%.
  • Women older than 70 saw a 76% increase in DUI arrests.

Conversely, overall DUI arrests for male drivers in L.A. County fell from 1999 to 2011, with the only age group seeing an increase being men between the age of 51 to 70 years old.

The Traffic Injury Research Foundation found similar results in a survey of women arrested for driving under the influence in California, Michigan, Missouri, and New York.

“We don’t know if more women are drinking and driving,” Erin Holmes, who is with the foundation, said. “All we do know is that more women are being arrested.”

Researchers have yet to come up with a definitive reason to explain the rise. One explanation is that law enforcement has made it a priority to get impaired drivers off the roads.

March 24, 2014 at 6:31 am Comments (0)

DR-TB: A New And Tougher Strain Of Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is an airborne disease that is spread through coughing and sneezing. It is highly contagious and fatal.  It is one of the deadliest diseases in the world as reported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As if that is not enough bad news, a new strain of the disease is fast gaining a reputation as the Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (DR-TB).

Photo from CDC

Photo from CDC

Standard tuberculosis is curable, but because in most cases it hasn’t been properly diagnosed and treated, the disease has become drug resistant making it harder to cure. Available drugs for standard tuberculosis do not work on DR-TB.

There is a fast growing epidemic of drug-resistant TB. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Medical Director Dr. Sidney Wong said in a news release, “The DR-TB crisis is everybody’s problem and demands an immediate international response.”

According to the World Health Organization, people are getting sick at a fast rate on a daily basis – that’s around 1,000 people from the European region.  MSF says figures in the U.K. have doubled over the last 10 years, making London the “TB capital of Western Europe.”  Therefore, being a global problem, tuberculosis can affect the whole populace regardless of location.

Furthermore, medical reports indicate that in every 5 people infected with the disease, only one gets the proper treatment.

TB requires long and diligent treatment, which by itself is already strenuous as it can make the patient terribly ill.  A patient under treatment experiences nausea and can go deaf from the amount of various drugs being swallowed duing the long treatment.

At the rate things are going, it will be harder to treat it now that a new strain of it has become drug resistant.  This means scientists still need to find the cure, and conduct more research and studies for the best cure. In a news item from Voice Of America, Dr. Du Cros said that “if a global investment is not made to address the epidemic there will be a price to pay.”

Treatment for DR-TB will take two years, which includes daily injections for 8 months and the patient may swallow about 10,000 pills and yet there is no assurance it is going to work.

March 21, 2014 at 9:05 pm Comments (0)

Sleeping Soundly? Snoring Is A Serious Health Issue

March 14 marked the celebration of World Sleep Day. This is a wake-up call to encourage people around the globe regarding the importance of getting the right amount of sleep. Studies have proven that the lack of sleep can lead to a lot of health problems and serious health complications.

snoringSnoring may lead to a poor night’s sleep. This condition is described as the obstruction of air flow while a person is asleep. It has a loud, unpleasant and disturbing sound especially to one’s bed partner, spouse or roommate. As British novelist Anthony Burgess wrote, “Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone.”

Often times we believe that this is a common manifestation when we are asleep. Most of the people who snore do not give much attention to it and are unaware of their snoring until someone complains about the loudness of their sleep.

Here are some factors why some people are prone to sleep soundly (albeit too loudly):

  1. Narrow airways may make a person snore either temporarily or permanently.
  2. A person who experiences nasal allergies, sinusitis and flu has a higher probability of snoring.
  3. People suffering from deformities of the nose like deviated septum or having polyps have a tendency to snore.
  4. When breathing through the mouth, the tongue is pushed backwards and the dangling uvula touches the roof of the soft palate at the back of the throat, causing it to vibrate and create a disturbing sound.
  5. During sleep, our throat muscles can relax, thereby narrowing the airways and even closing them temporarily.
  6. Overweight persons have the tendency to snore due to their flabby necks. The bulky throat tissue caused by obesity can cause the person to snore.
  7. It can be genetic, like if one or both of the parents snore.

Don’t take this condition lightly because it can be a serious problem. Also, it might be an indication of a life-threatening condition like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). A person suffering from this may have partial or complete blockage of airways and when this happens, breathing stops and the oxygen levels in the blood and brain drop as well.

Snoring defies age, and it has no exemptions. As disclosed by medical studies, about 40% of the total population are snorers, while 5.6% are children who snore habitually.

March 21, 2014 at 7:54 pm Comments (0)

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