Testing It Up » February 2009

Monthly Archives: February 2009

Early Disease Detection

Diabetes: Get Tested and Start Living Right

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Why most people would rather not go to the doctor is beyond me, but it is a known fact that many would rather suffer quietly than touch the doctor’s office with a ten-foot pole. But when things start to go haywire, they begrudgingly show up at hospitals and clinics. Sometimes, it is just too late.

Symptoms of DiabetesOne way to alleviate this unfounded dread may be to educate more people not only of the benefits of proactive testing, but of the procedures that they will need to undergo. And one of the diseases that people need to be proactive about is diabetes.

The tricky thing about diabetes, especially if you are someone who is not familiar with it, is that its symptoms may seem normal that you wouldn’t really think you were actually sick with something. But when you start losing weight even if you weren’t really dieting, don’t rejoice just yet; do a double take, because it may be time to go for a diabetes test. Other symptoms that you will need to watch out for in conjunction with sudden weight loss would be a severe feeling of thirst, frequent and sometimes uncontrollable urination and feeling hungry all the time.

Type 2 diabetes may be diagnosed through two tests: the fasting plasma glucose test and the casual plasma glucose test. The fasting plasma glucose test is the more commonly used method – it is cheaper and more convenient, as shared by the American Diabetes Association. A patient will need to fast for eight hours before blood is drawn, which will then be analyzed for blood glucose levels. In contrast, the casual plasma glucose test does not require abstaining from food. The sample for analysis is still blood.

If a fasting plasma glucose test yields normal glucose levels, and the doctor is still unsure about the patient’s condition, he or she may order on oral glucose tolerance test, where the patient is asked to consume a solution prior to the drawing of blood. This is the best method that can be used during the early stages of diabetes, where a patient is already a borderline diabetic; almost there, but not quite.

Substance Abuse

Marijuana and Meth Use by Teens Declining

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We have always received bad news from studies that it has become hard to see the silver lining. But for a change, the Associated Press reports that a study is now saying that parents and anti-drug advocates may be getting through to America’s youth.

The study is set to be released today and was sponsored by The Partnership for a Drug-Free America. President and Chief Executive Steve Pasierb says further that one factor for the decline may be due to the proactive effort of parents to reach out to their kids, and their children’s positive response to their efforts. Kids nowadays, it seems, are more willing to listen and heed their elder’s advice, especially the girls.

anti-dope imageA five-percent increase was noticed in the number of teens who indicated that they were “learning a lot” from their parents. The annual survey logged the percentage of these teens at 37%; last year’s figure was 32%. While it may not appear to be much, this is actually the highest it has been in 15 years. Over the past 20 years, the noticeable trend is that teenagers who say that they learn about the consequences of substance abuse at home are half as likely to use drugs versus kids who don’t get advice at home.

And if that figure is increasing, there are figures that are declining, but in a positive way — the percentage of marijuana and meth use.

The most widely abused substance among teens is marijuana, and this year, the number of teenagers who admit to having used the drug at least once in their lifetime went down to 33% last year from 37% in 2005. The percentage of methamphetamine use decreased to 6% from 8%. Figures for teen use of pot in the past month saw a decrease of 30% since 1998.

According to the study, parents usually discuss marijuana and meth the most at home, followed by cocaine, crack and heroin. The least discussed substances that are abused are prescription drugs like Vicodin. The rate of teen abuse for prescription drug has not decreased since 2005.

Substance Abuse

Church of Scientology vs Teen Drug Abuse

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The Church of Scientology International, which counts among its faithful the likes of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, and John Travolta and Kelly Preston, has always been an advocate for the education of young people about making the appropriate choices when it comes to drug use.

Scientology Center in HollywoodDue to the increasingly alarming statistics related to the abuse of prescription drugs among teenagers in the United States, the Church of Scientology has decided to help fight the issue by producing a public service announcement to raise public awareness. The public service is in the form of a one minute video clip showcasing teenagers and the fatal consequences of prescription drug abuse, belying the common peer pressure that tends to refer to drug use as being trendy and cool.

There is certainly due cause for alarm. Across the United States there is a dangerous trend in prescription drug abuse, especially in teenagers.

In Arizona, it has been determined that prescription drugs are abused more by Phoenix high school students as opposed to the other “hard drugs” like cocaine, heroin and meth.

In West Virginia, police have uncovered a particular middle school where an alarming 75% of teenagers have been abusing prescription drugs.

A report from Wisconsin showed that 60% of its teenage population have access to prescription drugs either in their homes or in environments where they regularly circulate, and of that percentage, 20% have misused these controlled substances to get high.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already cited a survey that showed that over a period of one month, about 5.2 million Americans from the tender age of 12 and older have turned to prescription medication for pain and used them for non-medical purposes.

The one-minute clip is part of a series of 16 public service films about the effects of substance abuse produced by the Church of Scientology. The films are part of educational materials, which include pamphlets, books, posters and other teaching aids produced by the Church.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Health Groups and Insurance Companies Unite Against Childhood Obesity

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An alliance of health groups and insurance companies recently announced an initiative that will assist in battling one of America’s biggest health problems in children: obesity.

Statistics reveal that over one-third of American children are overweight or obese, and one of the biggest challenges that they and their parents face is how to pay for doctor’s visits and other health care that they may require. Insurance companies normally do not cover these types of health services. If left unchecked, these children may become the first generation in recent history who will not live as long as their parents will.

Waist Circumferences of Normal, Overweight and ObeseThis will hopefully be addressed by this new initiative, which aims to give children and their parents better access to anti-obesity health care. The provisions in the initiative require participating health insurance companies to cover four dietitian and physician visits over a period of one year. These visits are expected to provide guidance on proper eating habits and taking the right steps towards weight loss and weight control.

Childhood obesity has become a growing concern as it is the precursor to other more serious health issues in children, conditions which they can carry with them to adulthood. Obese children are more likely to develop diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia at a young age, and are also prone to depression.

Two of America’s biggest insurers – Aetna and WellPoint – have signed on to the initiative, along with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Other companies have opted to independently offer the privilege to their employees’ children, such as PepsiCo, Owens Corning and Paychex.

Organizers expect the initiative to reach up to a million children in its first year of implementation, and surpass six million in three years. Medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dietetic Association have signed on to assist in monitoring the program and provide expertise.

Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility

5 Ways to Get Pregnant Now

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You have waited long enough, and you have achieved everything else you wanted to achieve before becoming a parent. You want to get pregnant, and you want to get pregnant now. Here are 5 ways to help you achieve this goal.

1. Get a check up. Before taking the plunge, submit yourself to a pre-conception check up. Ask your gynecologist about prenatal vitamins to ensure that your body has the right amount of nourishment that your baby will need. This is also the surest way to detect underlying medical problems that need to be addressed to ensure a safe pregnancy.

pregnancy2. Get to know your monthly cycle. Women who wish to get pregnant should fully understand their cycle and determine when they are most likely able to conceive, which is during ovulation. You can consult your gynecologist and inform yourself about the symptoms of ovulation, such as changes in cervical mucus.

An easier way of monitoring ovulation is by using home ovulation prediction kits to help determine the best time to get pregnant.

3. Take it easy. You will want to take it slow if you want to get pregnant – in life in general, and in the act of trying to get pregnant in particular. While it may not be totally true that lying in bed with your feet up after intercourse will help you get pregnant, it is still good advice to rest awhile and allow nature to take its course. Don’t jump up and run to the kitchen to do the dishes.

On a more general note, you and your partner should try to de-stress and lay low from work and other worries as you try to get pregnant. Stress can actually affect ovulation, so taking a spa break once in a while is certainly not a bad thing to do.

4. Don’t try too hard. Too much of a good thing can still turn out to be bad, so don’t overdo it and try too hard, even if you are ovulating. A man’s sperm count can actually decrease if ejaculation happens too often, so as mentioned previously, try, and then take it easy.

5. Be healthy. Make sure that you lead a well-balanced and healthy lifestyle. Exercise, but not too much. Eat a sensible diet, and if you’re a smoker, try to stop. It’s all about making sure that your body is ready for the changes that you are about to subject it to.

Drug Testing Substance Abuse

Hair Drug Test Kit Available in Ohio Drug Store

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The number of teenagers experimenting with and abusing illegal drugs has led parents to take a proactive part in submitting their children to drug testing. But kids being kids, some wayward children have found ways to escape detection when subjected to the usual saliva or urine screenings by taking advantage of the two to three day limitation of these tests. They simply refrain from using drugs for a short period of time, enough to prove their ‘innocence’, then go back to their old ways.

A new home-based drug test kit now available in Discount Drug Mart overcomes this limitation by using hair strands as test samples as opposed to saliva or urine. The home test kit, HairConfirm, uses a technique called hair follicle drug testing to test for the presence of illegal drugs. It was developed by Biotech Company Confirm BioSciences and works by measuring drug molecules and their metabolites.

hair follicleAfter drugs are processed by the human body, trace amounts are inserted into the hair follicle through the blood stream, and these are detected by hair follicle tests. HairConfirm measures molecules embedded in the hair shaft, which ensures that positive results are free from external contamination. It also ensures that products such as shampoos and hair bleach cannot affect test results.

Hair follicle testing will prove to be more effective for use by parents for drug testing, since it is best suited for detecting low level drug use over a longer period of time — up to ninety days. This makes it best for monitoring in the long term. The metabolites will be present in the hair for that period, although this time frame is affected by the rate of hair growth. It may actually be possible to go back even further than ninety days. The hair sample need not necessarily come from the scalp. Body hair can also be tested.

HairConfirm analyzes samples for seven different types of illegal drugs, including the ones most commonly used by teenagers: marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine and meth.

Celebrity Substance Abuse Early Disease Detection Substance Abuse

Patrick Swayze Refuses to Quit Smoking!

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Valentines Day falling on a weekend this year makes it ideal to go on a chick flick marathon at home. Since among the staples for times like this in our home are Dirty Dancing and Ghost, we suddenly thought about how Patrick Swayze was doing in his fight against pancreatic cancer. What we were greeted with online were latest pictures of him smoking while waiting for his wife outside a pizza place in Beverly Hills.

Patrick SwayzeSwayze, a self-confessed chain smoker, is said to consume up to sixty cigarettes a day. This fact has received mixed reactions from people since the actor was diagnosed. Photographed by paparazzi outside the pizza restaurant, he was said to have consumed several cigarettes in less than ten minutes.

In a recent interview, Swayze was quoted as saying that if it seems that he has a chance of “living longer than five minutes”, he will stop smoking. But until then, it looks like he is resigned to his fate and would rather continue smoking. He has admitted that there is a chance that he might lose his battle with cancer within five years.

There are reports that he has already stopped undergoing chemotherapy after experiencing extreme side effects such as intense dental pain, which made it impossible for him to chew food. The actor has denied this openly, with his representative Annett Wolf denying the allegations on People.com. Patrick himself told Barbara Walters that he can take whatever is thrown at him. As for the dental problems, there are reports that he has undergone dental surgery to fix the damage to his gums and save his teeth.

Just last January, Patrick Swayze ushered in 2009 by being hospitalized for pneumonia, said to have been a side effect of his ongoing chemotherapy sessions. He is set to be seen in the TV series ‘The Beast’, which he filmed in July last year. As for his smoking, many still believe that, even in his condition, the actor should be allowed to live his life the way he sees fit and that he should be left alone. Or should he?

Substance Abuse

The Innocent Victims of Meth in Hardin, Kentucky

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The Narcotics Task Force of Hardin County, Kentucky, are constantly fighting meth and cracking down the labs that manufacture them. In 2008, task force agents were able to break into 105 meth labs in Hardin and around the counties that surround it. The sad discovery is that eight out of every 10 of these labs come with innocent victims – children.

meth laboratoryHardin County Narcotics Task Force Agent Rex Allaman has seen children hospitalized and tested positive for meth in his thirteen years on this beat. Awareness on the issue is widespread. Even the primetime drama Grey’s Anatomy did an episode in their fourth season on the effects of meth on children, where an eighteen-month old baby suffered a stroke after a meth lab operated by his parents out of their home exploded.

This is a scene that is replayed no doubt across the country, as irresponsible adults unnecessarily expose children, sometimes their own, to the dangers of meth. To combat this, new laws are now being enforced which consider exposing children to meth manufacturing as a type of felony child abuse. Parents who are found guilty under this abuse law may have their children taken away – and this has already been the result for a number of cases.

In order to lessen the trauma of such experiences to affected children, the Kentucky State Police has partnered with several organizations to support these children, who may have been forcibly taken by the police or social services from their parents or caregivers during meth lab busts. Last December, seventy volunteers from the Severns Valley Baptist Church helped KSP by stocking about 700 backpacks with toys, crayons, books, shirts, blankets and decontamination materials. These backpacks are distributed to social workers and police officers throughout the state to give to kids found during meth lab raids.

Although few of the 7,000 cases of children in state custody in Kentucky can be directly tied to meth, which may indicate that this is not yet a serious problem, the potential for danger to a child is serious enough for the issue to warrant a certain level of attention and concern. In 2008, meth is considered as a significant contributor to the 305 cases where children were removed from Hardin County homes.

Early Disease Detection

3 Simple Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

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Today is Hearts Day, and this month is American Heart Month. So, what better time is there to think about matters of the heart? Here are a few tips on making sure your heart is always in tip-top shape and beating strong.

Happy Hearts Day!1. Be on the go. Constant physical activity helps reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke dramatically. Plus, it is a healthy, cheap, and natural way to lower the risk to other factors that contribute to heart attack — cholesterol, hypertension and obesity.

A simple activity such as walking, when done for a certain period of time and on a regular basis, can do wonders for one’s health. The recommendation is about an hour of light activity such as walking, half an hour to an hour of moderate activity such as leisure biking or swimming, and twenty to thirty minutes of vigorous activity such as running or aerobics daily.

2. Don’t light up. Resist the urge to light up a cigarette. Smoking not only increases the risk of contracting heart disease, but also causes a buildup of plaque in the arteries, increases the risk of blood clots, and increases blood pressure. It also reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood and makes the heart work harder. Truth be told, a smoker has a 70% greater chance of dying from coronary heart disease compared to a non-smoker.

Blinking Heart3. Be informed. Keeping a close watch on blood pressure and cholesterol levels is a good way to monitor your heart condition. Regular check-ups with your doctor or even just self-monitoring using home testing and monitoring kits are enough. Since these two conditions are known factors that contribute to heart disease and heart problems, early detection of any abnormalities will help you address your issues before they get out of hand.

Hypertension can be addressed through exercise, lower caffeine intake and refraining from smoking, while high cholesterol levels can also be checked through exercise and a proper diet. In some cases, medication may be the way to go.

So once again, Happy Hearts Day! And keep your heart going strong, all day, everyday!

Early Disease Detection Substance Abuse

Legalization of Medical Marijuana Sought in Minnesota

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Medical MarijuanaLawmakers in the state of Minnesota will most likely find themselves looking at images of Stephanie Whiting-Shadinger as advocates of the legalization of the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes plead their case.

Shadinger was a twenty-six year old mother who suffered from malignant melanoma that caused her to undergo experimental treatments, chemotherapy, and a total of ten surgeries. No amount of pain killers, administered daily, rescued her from her misery; only her passing in 2003 did. Her mother, Joni Whiting, testified before a Senate committee that she decided to set her prejudices and misgivings about illegal drug use and consented to her daughter’s smoking of marijuana during her final days. And she has no regrets.

It was through marijuana that Joni saw renewed life and vigor in Stephanie, after all the suffering and the pain. It relieved some of her pain and restored her appetite. She was able to smile again, enjoyed playing a little with her children, and even managed to consume a mushroom and cheese omelet the day before she died.

Marijuana and PipeThose who are against the legalization of marijuana are concerned about the possibility of even more abuse than what is currently prevalent and its effects on society, but its supporters are hoping to convince everyone that the good that the plant can bring may far outweigh its negative effects, and that proper legislation and control should be enough to prevent abuse.

They may have a good supporter in President Obama. The new president was quoted in March by the Mail Tribune of Medford, Oregon, saying that the concept of using marijuana for medicinal purposes may be placed in the same league as prescription drugs, applying the same controls. He also recounts in his memoir, “Dreams From My Father”, how he once turned to marijuana and cocaine to “push questions of who I was out of my mind”.

If Minnesota legalizes marijuana for medicinal purposes, it will become the 14th state to do so.