Testing It Up » December 2008

Monthly Archives: December 2008

Early Disease Detection

Christmas Cholesterol Check

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I am pretty sure that most of you have been to different Christmas parties in the past few days — munching here, drinking there and having your merry way, and there are probably more parties coming as we prepare for the New Year.

I know this is ‘the season to be jolly’, but let us not forget that our cholesterol levels can also party while we do. It may be a bit difficult to control the eating at this time (Yes, I am having a difficult time myself! :D), but there are plenty other ways to manage our cholesterol levels. Aside from having instant cholesterol tests handy, you can also follow these tips I have prepared for everyone.

Exercise

At least 15-30 minutes of walking three times a week can help your metabolism and burn calories faster, as well as lower LDL and increase HDL. If you’re not committed to that, just start with the basics. Don’t lie down immediately after a meal. You can also take time to walk to your destination and back home if it’s nearby (and save gas in the process).

after_the_partyDrink Plenty of Water

There are a lot of advantages in drinking water. Not only does it clean the body of toxins, it also keeps you from being dehydrated, and works wonders for the skin. Drinking water is definitely healthier than chugging down cans of colas or bottles of beer.

Enjoy the Party!

Partying does not necessarily mean disaster to your cholesterol level. You can share one food serving with your partner or with a friend so you don’t have to eat so much.

During parties, stand, go around and chat with other guests. If there is room for dancing, go on and dance! This is a wonderful and fun way to exercise and a great way to interact with other guests as well.

So, see you at the party? ;)

Early Disease Detection

The ABC of HIV

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hivHIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is the cause of AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. The virus affects the immune system of the body, making it more susceptible to deadly infections and diseases. Do you want to learn more regarding HIV? Check the ABC of HIV.

•    A: Acute Symptoms. Most HIV infected individuals don’t realize that they have HIV. If they are newly infected, there are no immediate symptoms. When the symptoms appear, they are usually non-specific and people are led to believe that they are just suffering from other conditions, such as the flu.

Common symptoms include fever, muscle pains, swollen lymph nodes, headaches and skin rash. However, as the illness progresses, the symptoms become more severe, such as persistent diarrhea, oral thrush and vaginal candidiasis.

•    B: Blood Tests. The only definite way to confirm the diagnosis of HIV is through the HIV tests. These tests may be the HIV antibody test or ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) test, which determine the presence of the virus in the body; the antigen test, which determines the presence of antigen in the body (the part of the virus which alerts the body to produce antibodies in the first place); and the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test, which recognizes the HIV within two to three weeks of infection in the blood.

•    C: Counteract HIV. To prevent HIV, it is important to know how it is transmitted. HIV can be transmitted through sexual intercourse, from blood contact such as using contaminated needles or blood products, and through mother-to-child transmission.

In order to deter the spread of HIV, one must employ the following methods: abstinence from sexual intercourse with an infected individual; monogamy or being faithful to one partner; using male or female condoms correctly all the time; and proper education, especially to the youth about safe sex practices and the nature of HIV.

Early Disease Detection

World Alert: Rising HIV Cases in Malaysian Housewives

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In Malaysia, HIV infections used to be limited to drug users. But a new, frightening trend has begun to emerge — the rise of the number of HIV-infected housewives.


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Both the Malaysian Health Ministry and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) released statements that the HIV infections among women increased from 8% in 1998 to 16% in 2007.

In a survey made in 2006, more housewives were found to have HIV than sex workers. And with an average of 12 Malaysians revealed to be positive for HIV daily, Malaysia has been considered to be one of the quickest rising AIDS epidemics in Asia.

According to the survey, the majority of the new HIV infections were married women who were monogamous in their sexual relationships with their husbands. This means that the housewives acquired the infections from their husbands. From the male cases of HIV infections in Malaysia, most of them were drug users, showing that they were probably transmitting the virus to their respective partners, thus the increase of infection in housewives.

Due to the soaring HIV infections among women, the Malaysian government has been taking steps to prevent its further spread. Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak revealed the plans to have HIV screening mandatory for Muslims before entering into marriage.

It was learned that not only the marriage-minded Malaysians approved of this move. Many women are open to the idea of having themselves and their partners tested for HIV, even with marriage still out of the picture. They said that they would not be offended if their partners asked them to undergo the test, affirming that they believed in safety first. I guess people have become more aware of the real threat of HIV/AIDS.

Council president Adeeba Kamarulzaman also stated that it was important for each person testing positive for HIV would be given counseling and treatment, especially for women because they are likely to be more susceptible to prejudice and ostracism if found infected with HIV.

Substance Abuse

Medical Marijuana in New Jersey

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Marijuana is a drug derived from the plant, Cannabis sativa, which is part of the Cannabaceae family. Cannabis sativa has been used throughout the different parts of the world at countless times in recorded history for various reasons, such as fiber, oil, food, drug, and medicine.

marijuanaMarijuana is a combination of green, brown, or gray mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers. It can be smoked through a cigarette or a pipe. It can also be incorporated in food and in tea. It also comes in the form of hashish, which is a concentrated and sticky black liquid form of marijuana.

The marijuana contains an active chemical called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. It binds to certain protein receptors in the brain and serves as a catalyst for a series of cellular reactions leading to a feeling of being “high”. As it affects the brain, several health risks or health benefits may be involved.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the health risks involve short term effects such as “distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty in thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory”. Also, marijuana is said to be potentially addictive. Users may develop tolerance to the effects of marijuana and may seek larger amounts to get their “high.”

On the other hand, marijuana can be used for health benefits. In New Jersey, a bill called “The New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act” has been passed and voted favorably on. It will now then go to the Senate for a vote, maybe as early as January 2009.

An organization called the Coalition for Medical Marijuana–New Jersey (CMM-NJ) has the following mission: to bring about safe and legal access to medical marijuana for New Jersey patients who are under the care of licensed physicians and nurse practitioners. It has been noted in studies that marijuana has benefits, such as treating symptoms of different diseases, including nausea as an effect of cancer chemotherapy, pain related to cancer, reduction of pressure in the eyes in patients with glaucoma, and protection of nerve damage in multiple sclerosis.

This bill on the use of medical marijuana has actually been facing a lot of criticisms lately. Which side are you on?

Celebrity Substance Abuse

Top Celebrities who Have Fallen to the Curse of Fame, Fortune and Forbidden Drugs

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There had been numerous accounts from both past and present, highlighting the drug habits and worse, death by drug overdose, of well-known celebrities.

389px-elvis_presley_1970In the past, among the notorious ones were Elvis Presley (the legendary singer-actor who died of a heart attack brought about by long-term drug abuse), Marilyn Monroe (model, actress and sex symbol who died in her sleep caused by overdose of sleeping pills) and Jimi Hendrix (guitarist, singer and songwriter who died as a result of mixing sleeping pills and alcohol).

As seen by the celebrity news, gossip and stories circulating today, it’s clear that times have not changed. It may have gotten worse. There is no clear-cut explanation as to why celebrities are most often found to be abusing drugs. Factors may include hidden insecurities, inability to cope with the demands of fame, peer pressure or pride. But then, who knows? The only obvious thing that you can discern from this is that they are struggling.

487px-lindsaylohanmugshotAt present, icon Britney Spears and singer-actress Lindsay Lohan makes it to the list. They have both been in and out of rehabilitation, manifested destructive behavior and severed several social relationships.

Both women have started their careers at an early age, and throughout the years they have been placed keenly under a microscope, and the whole world watched as they produced one spectacle after another. However, as of now, both women have been shown to have picked up the pieces of their lives and are straightening out their priorities.

Another presently famous celebrity who joins the ranks of drug abusers is actor Robert Downey Jr. A perennial presence in court houses, prisons and drug rehabilitation centers, Robert Downey Jr. was trapped in an unceasing cycle of drug abuse, arrest, rehabilitation and relapse. However, he was finally capable to start his recovery from his drug addiction and was able to make a big comeback as the lead role in the blockbuster hit ‘Iron Man’ in 2008.

Some celebrities never learned – either from the legends who came before them or from their own past mistakes. As millions of young fans look up to celebrities as role models, we can only hope that these stars are able to shed better light for our youth.

Health & Wellness

Obama Kicking The Smoking Habit

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obama.jpgPresident-elect Barack Obama has given his word that there will be no violating of the no-smoking rule imposed by former First Lady Hillary Clinton in the White House.

From the start of his campaign for presidency, Obama’s smoking habit, which is reported to have gone as far back as 2 decades, has been talked about. Well, the United States has been spending millions of dollars every year to combat the cause of at least 1 of every 5 deaths in the country, so this can be expected.

Even in his interviews during the campaign period, Obama has mentioned that he has been chewing Nicorette gum, which, in its official site, claims to make a smoker quit within 12 weeks. It allows small amounts of Nicotine to the quitter’s system to aid in the process of withdrawal.

In a recent “Meet the Press” program in NBC, Tom Brokaw asked Obama if he has successfully stopped smoking. Although Obama said that he has ‘fallen off the wagon’ at times, he assured that the White House will remain smoke-free.

I think that would only be fair in a country where at least 24 states, including that where the White House is located, impose smoking bans in the workplace, restaurants and bars. Check the list of smoking bans in the US.

This can be a good venue for President-elect Obama to further strengthen his reputation as a man with tough nerves. By doing something that many Americans have been trying to do and have failed over and over — quit smoking, that is, he can set one of the toughest examples as a leader of this country.