Testing It Up » January 2010

Monthly Archives: January 2010

Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards

Children Still Swallowing Soda Tabs

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Despite the 1970’s redesigned tab, a move made to help prevent swallowing the object, soda can tabs are still finding their way into children’s and teen’s stomachs. During a 16 year study at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center 19 children had swallowed the safety tabs, which are designed to fold back but stay attached to cans for soda and other beverages.

The study, which included children between the ages of 1 and 18, found that the tabs are still quite easily removed from the can and are sometimes chewed on deliberately or accidentally swallowed when the tab breaks off into the fluid and is accidentally drunk. When these tabs enter the digestive system there’s a high chance of the bowels or stomach getting cut up by the jagged edges on the tab. What’s more the researchers feel that the number they got in that time was likely lower than what was actually true due to a lack of reported incidents in that span.

Such incidents are harder to resolve because aluminum doesn’t show up as well on x-ray scans as other metals like coins which are commonly swallowed by children. Parents should be careful and monitor their child’s use of beverage containers and may help prevent the problem by pouring the beverage into a glass instead. They also ask that beverage companies consider redesigning the tab to make it harder to remove.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility

Gene Test Could Help Parents with Rare Genetic Disease Traits

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A Silicon Valley start-up is claiming that it can help eradicate more than 100 genetic disorders by alerting parents-to-be who have the carrier genes before they conceive. Counsyl, is a company that is selling a test that they claim is  able to tell couples whether they are at risk of having children with a range of inherited diseases, such as  cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs, sickle cell anemia, spinal muscular atrophy and Pompe disease. Once these parents are told about the traits they carry they can move forward using in vitro fertilization combined with genetic testing of the embryos to avoid bearing children who would have these incurable and commonly fatal childhood diseases.

While there are already tests available to look for certain genetic disorders many others aren’t able to be detected by current testing and leave parents in the dark until their child has already become ill. These tests are also very cost prohibitive ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. The Counsyl test costs $349 for an individual or $698 for a couple and analyzes DNA from saliva samples. The test, if it proves effective, could make help many families to overcome long standing fertility and genetic issues that made having children a painful experience. As yet the ability of the tests remain unknown however because no papers have been printed about its results or approach. Despite this Counsyl claims that it has already administered thousands of the tests which are already offered by more than 100 fertility clinics around the country.

Counsyl executives say 35 to 40 percent of people tested are carriers for at least one disease in the test. In about 0.6 percent to 0.8 percent of cases, they say, both members of the couple are carriers for the same disease.

Health & Wellness

Mood Swings, Anxiety, Depression and Hormonal Imbalance

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When men say that some women are hard to understand – or even live with – it is no laughing matter. The mood swings, the anxiety, the bouts with depression – these are not exactly things that are just in women’s heads, nor are they an exclusively all-female problem. It is the woman, however, who is more known for this condition. Whatever other people may say, there is a science behind almost anything, and in cases like these, the scientific explanation may be hormonal imbalance.

mood swingsThere are various hormones that affect equally varied functions of the human body. It is for this reason that it is important to keep hormones in their proper balance. For women, however, there are certain periods in their lives when their hormone levels can go haywire. Menstruation and menopause can change the levels of certain hormones in the body. In addition, external factors such as birth control pills, being exposed to household chemicals, stress and eating processed foods can contribute to hormonal imbalance.

This is something that is manageable, though, provided that one recognizes the symptoms and does not dismiss them as “just in one’s head”. One way of being able to tell if you are experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalance is by taking an online test. Besides being available free of charge, using such a tool is an easy, non-invasive, fast and effective way of identifying the early signs of menopause as well as symptoms for hormonal imbalance in women. One can then take these results to a physician or a health care professional who will then help you with what you should do next.

Early Disease Detection

Six-Year-Old Jasmina Anema Dies of Leukemia

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A young girl’s battle became the battle of a whole lot of other people – but hers was a battle, unfortunately, that she was unable to win.

Six-year-old Jasmina Anema made a lot of high-profile friends who eventually fought for her cause. She was suffering from leukemia and became the rallying point behind a charity, “One for Jasmina,” that moved celebrities such as Rihanna, Kelly Rowland and Lamar Odom to encourage people to register as bone marrow donors.

Jasmina AnemaJasmina passed away on Wednesday in New York. On Thursday, Lamar wrote on his Twitter page: “I’m very sad to hear that my little friend, Jasmina, lost her battle with leukemia. My prayers are with her family.” Lamar Odom speaks in a video for DKMS Americas, the world’s largest bone marrow donor center, along with Isabelle Huurman, Jasmina’s best friend. She was diagnosed with leukemia a little over a year ago.

Her death, however, may not exactly be in vain. Jasmina’s battle with cancer resulted in the registration of more than ten thousand people as bone-marrow donors. What this translates to is a bigger opportunity for hundreds of leukemia patients to get a match and receive a bone marrow transplant right when they need it the most.

DKMS Americas co-founder Katharina Harf gave the following statement: “Her strength and positive attitude provided inspiration – not only to the 140,000 people diagnosed with blood cancer such as leukemia or lymphoma each year – but to the thousands of healthy Americans who were inspired to register as donors.”

New York Health Screening

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

St. Helena, California Drafts Regulations for Pot Dispensaries

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The city council of St. Helena, near Calistoga, California voted Tuesday in favor of having staff draft regulations regarding marijuana dispensaries. Once regulations are finalized and adopted, it will become legal to open a medical marijuana dispensary in the town. Until then, though, potential applicants will need to sit tight and wait.

medical marijuana grow roomPerhaps it was of help that a city council member, Eric Sklar, had a personal experience regarding the potential benefits that the use of medical marijuana can bring. His father lost his battle with pancreatic cancer, but he said that medical marijuana somehow made his father’s last few months bearable.

According to a feature on the Weekly Calistogan, Sklar said that St. Helena could adopt an ordinance in a period of six to eight weeks. This ordinance will include, among other things, how and where pot dispensaries could operate and how leftover products should be handled.

Thus far, a marijuana-related business license has been issued by the city, but the business did not include actually dispensing marijuana itself. Napa Valley Marijuana Growers, which was granted a license in 2009, sold marijuana-themed shirts and t-shirts. It is owned by Crane Carter, a resident of St. Helena; he is an advocate for marijuana legalization, and will “consider opening a (pot) dispensary” but does not mind having to wait until regulations are adopted by the city council.

Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Native Americans also Feel Effects of Mexican Gangs and Drug Cartels

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Native American 12

American Indian reservations across the US have become the target of Mexican gangs and drug cartels because of their reduced police presence and the lower income of the citizens who reside there.  As a result meth abuse has risen dramatically among the Native American population where substance abuse has long been a problem. Gang violence and drug use pose serious problems to several of these communities and tribal leaders are seeking help to resolve the matter. Three reservation officials testified before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee about the growing prevalence of these problems in their areas.

According to Ivan Posey Chairman of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe in Wyoming, only 6 police officers patrol the 2.2 million-acre reservation, a location where there are 13,000 residents. Fremont County, where the reservation is located, is the highest in violent crime and substance abuse in the state of Wyoming. According to Posey it’s the economic and social vulnerabilities and rural locations of these reservations have attracted gang activity and drug smuggling.  In the last 8 months the reservation of 9,300 residents has had two gang fights, one drive-by shooting and a homicide, all related to gang or drug activity.

Without more funding and better police coverage these problems could expand a problem that has long plagued reservations in the US. More focus needs to be given to these sorts of crimes when they may be a more manageable problem than if they’ve grown in scale. The Native American communities who suffer from these crimes are already dealing with many factors that negatively impact their society, they don’t need this negative influence for the younger generations.

Celebrity Substance Abuse Substance Abuse Workplace Testing

USADA’s Travis Tygart: Boxing Commission Testing Is A Joke!

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He was dragged into the failed negotiations between boxers Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, but he did not seem to mind. And how could he not end up in the middle of it all? After all, he is at the helm of the U.S. Anti-Doping Association.

mayweatherIn an interview with MLive.com, Tygart called the urine testing that is being used by the country’s boxing commissions as “a joke”. This stance may have led boxing to give its views on performance-enhancing drugs a second look.

As for Mayweather Jr.’s announcement about demanding Olympic-style drug tests for all his fights, he had this to say: “At the end of the day, our interest is the interests of clean athletes. So anyone, Mayweather or otherwise, who stands up and says ‘I want the best program to protect my right to compete,’ we’re going to support him.”

Substance Abuse

Psychotic Diseases Linked to “Skunk” Weed

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Those who smoke skunk weed are nearly seven times more likely to develop psychotic illnesses than those who have the regular form of the drug according to a study.  In the UK where the rate of available cannabis is roughly 80% skunk this is particularly problematic. At the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London scientists made the discovery after they studied admissions to hospitals for illnesses like serious depression, schizophrenia, and paranoia. Patients were seven times more likely to have used skink weed than regular forms of the narcotic even with increased risk associated with heavy use of the weaker variety of the drug.

“Our study is the first to demonstrate that the risk of psychosis is much greater among people who are frequent cannabis users, especially among those using skunk, rather than occasional users of traditional hash,” said Dr Marta Di Forti. “Unfortunately, skunk is displacing traditional cannabis preparations in many countries, and the availability of skunk on the UK “street market” has steadily increased over the past six years. Public education about the risks of the drug abuse use of high potency cannabis is vital.”

Roughly 1% of the UK population has suffered some for of psychotic illness including paranoia, schizophrenia and hallucinations at some point in their lives and the risk only rises with consistent habitual use. Teen pot users are particularly vulnerable and are more likely to develop paranoid personalities, hallucinatations and even schizophrenia later in life. Family history is the still the most common determining factor for these mental health issues but the drug may act as a trigger for these predispositions. Researchers feel that THC may be the cause. There is up to 20 per cent of THC in skunk, while there is only 4% in regular grade marijuana. Skunk also has almost none of a counteracting agent known as CBD (cannabidiol).

“Psychosis was associated with more frequent and longer use of cannabis. Our most striking finding is that patients with a first episode of psychosis preferentially used high-potency cannabis preparations of the skunk variety.”

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Fake Alli Diet Pills Proliferate Online!

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The Food and Drug Administration warned against the proliferation of counterfeit versions of the GlaxoSmithKline diet pill Alli. The fake pills can reportedly be bought on the Internet, including online auction sites.

According to the FDA, lab tests have shown that these counterfeit pills have “dangerously high levels of a prescription weight loss ingredient.” The ingredient, sibutramine, is an appetite suppressant and is manufactured by Abbott Laboratories under brand names such as Reductil and Meridia.

Alli pillsThe head of the drug unit of the FDA, Dr. Janet Woodcock, gave the following statement to reporters through a conference call, according to a feature by Reuters: “The amount of sibutramine in the counterfeit Alli poses a serious health risk to some individuals. A person taking the counterfeit Alli as directed would be exposed to twice the maximum prescription dose of sibutramine every day.”

Concerns have been raised about the safety of sibutramine, and early last week the FDA issued a warning saying that sibutramine should not be used by people with a history of cardiovascular disease, as it could potentially increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. In Europe, regulators have determined sibutramine as “too risky,” and Abbott has reportedly agreed to suspend sales there. In the United States, sibutramine is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance.

The fake Alli is allegedly being sold as 60-mg, 120-count refill packs. Glaxo is working with the FDA to have these fakes removed from online auction sites.

Those who are taking Alli are encouraged to ensure that they buy legitimate pills and should discard fake pills immediately.

Substance Abuse

Cocaine-Flavored Donut, Anyone?

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“It’s just a powdered donut!”

At least, that is what a 21-year-old woman from Knoxville, Tennessee tried to tell police officers when she was pulled over on Airport Highway in Alcoa, Tennessee on Thursday. According to a report on The Daily Times, the woman told officers that she had been munching on what we assumed she meant was a powdered sugar coated donut when police approached her window.

donutsWhat Whitney Alison Holte was trying to pass off as a sugary delight, however, turned out to be cocaine, according to an Alcoa police report. Police most probably found her alibi a wee bit too hard to believe, and the true nature of the substance was revealed after a field test was performed on the white powder that Holte was trying to stuff in her mouth.

Holte has been arrested and charged with the following: possession of a Schedule II substance (substance with, among others, a high potential for abuse) with intent to sell or deliver and three attachments for contempt. In addition, she was also caught and charged with driving with a suspended driver’s license, driving without proof of insurance, failure to maintain her lane of traffic, as well as having drug paraphernalia in her possession.

For now, she is being held at the Blount County Jail. Bonds were set at a total of $12,250, which are pending on Monday at 1:30 in the afternoon and on January 28 at 9 in the morning. Hearings have been set for January 28 at the Blount County General Sessions Court.