Testing It Up » February 2010

Monthly Archives: February 2010

Health & Wellness

Weigh In on the F-Factor Diet

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We have often heard about the X-factor – that one of a kind something that is all but impossible to define. In the world of diet and nutrition, there is another alphabet-related factor that seems to be making waves: the F-factor.

The F-Factor diet is the “star” of a book written by Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS RD. Nutritionist Denise Reynolds writes about her take on the book via a review on EMaxHealth.com.

F-Factor DietThe F in F-factor is not as abstract as the iconic X in the X-factor. F stands for fiber, which is the central ingredient to what is essentially a weight-loss plan. Denise Reynolds sums up the F-Factor Diet as follows: “The F-Factor Diet is based on the idea that the intake of high-fiber foods help to promote the feeling of fullness and reduces appetite. Fiber takes longer to digest, so essentially the longer one is full, the less they will eat and therefore lose weight.”

Reynolds also points out that in addition to giving one a feeling of fullness, fiber can also help control blood sugar levels. A diet that is rich in fiber does not create the same glucose increase that is created when one eats refined carbohydrates that eventually leads to excess weight gain. The fact that it also helps “keep hunger at bay” means that one is not prone to eating in excess.

The foods recommended in the F-Factor diet are as follows: brown rice and whole wheat bread; fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts; and lean proteins such as chicken and broiled salmon.

Pregnancy & Fertility

Understanding Sperm Count and Sperm Motility

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Semen analysis, or sperm count testing, is part of a couple’s fertility work-up procedure. Semen analysis is easier and safer as compared to female fertility tests. These sperm tests are usually done to measure the amount and the quality of sperm that is present in a male’s ejaculate. Semen analysis usually takes note of these characteristics: sperm count, motility, morphology, volume, fructose level and PH.

Sperm Count

spermSperm count testing measures the concentration of sperm present in a man’s semen. For a normal reading of sperm in one ejaculate, there should be at least 20 to 40 million sperm per mililiter present. Anything less than 20 million sperm, is considered as oligozoospermia, which is a condition of low sperm count.

Motility

Motility is described as the ability of the sperm to move. The patient can have a normal sperm count, but still be unable to fertilize because of his sperm’s poor motility. However, if a patient’s sperm count is relatively high, there is a great chance that it might not play a factor. There are four motility grades where the sperm are classified accordingly:

• Grade 4: Progressive Motility – strongest and fastest swimmers capable of travelling in a straight line

• Grade 3: Non-Linear Motility- sperm moves forward but tends to travel in a curve or crooked motion

• Grade 2: Non-Progressive Motility- sperm does not move forward despite rapid movement of their tails

• Grade 1: Immotile- sperm fail to move at all

If ever there are abnormalities in the results, the following step includes finding the source of the abnormality and, if possible, correcting the problem. There are also fertility treatments that can be recommended if ever the problem cannot be readily corrected.

Early Disease Detection

Create Your Plate: Eating with Diabetes

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Living with diabetes need not be all that difficult, especially since there are helpful tools available to ensure that one is able to effectively manage the disease. The American Diabetes Organization shares various tips and offers important information, among these on food and meal planning.

manage your plateThe organization shares a method called Create Your Plate, described as “an easy way to get started with managing blood glucose levels.” Forget about the need for special tools or gadgets; its very simplicity adds to how effective it is.

So what does one need to do? When sitting down for a meal, one should draw an imaginary line through the center of the plate, effectively dividing the plate into two sections. Then one of the sections is to be divided further into two.

With these imaginary divisions in place, fill a quarter of your plate with grains or starchy food. Stick to whole grain over processed food, choosing from whole grain bread, brown rice, oatmeal or cooked black-eyed peas. In the other quarter of your plate, pile on meat or meat substitutes, choosing from chicken or turkey sans skin, lean pork or beef cuts such as pork loin, and low-fat cheese.

Reserve the largest section of your plate for non-starchy vegetables. Choose from spinach, carrots and bok choy; broccoli and cauliflower; and beets, okra and mushroom.

Wash this meal down with an 8-ounce glass of non-fat or low-fat milk. If you are not someone who drinks milk, then you can choose to add another small serving or carb, such as a small roll instead. Finish off with a piece of fruit or half a cup of fruit salad, and you have a balanced, healthy, diabetes-friendly meal!

Health & Wellness

HempCon 2010: A Gathering Of All Things Marijuana

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Before you make a mental picture of smoking junkies in your head, think again. We are, after all, beyond the 60’s and 70’s stereotype for marijuana use; nowadays, at least for a certain portion of America, marijuana is an accepted alternative to drug-heavy pain therapy.

marijuanaHempCon 2010 ran from February 19 to 21 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, and medical marijuana advocates, users and vendors were in full force during the event. It was rather amusing to note, though, that what was essentially a marijuana convention had no marijuana on hand, as shared in a feature on The Daily News Los Angeles. Consumption of marijuana, smoked or baked into a treat, was also not allowed during the event.

The event was dubbed as an educational one that “promotes goods and services” associated with marijuana. Convention participants can learn more about medical marijuana laws and practices, enjoy live music and comedy acts, witness a showcase from various entrepreneurs presenting innovative marijuana-based products and services and basically “be part of a community interested in promoting and elevating the public awareness of the Medical Marijuana movement.”

There was lupus patient and Pomona resident Lastarr Lang who was promoting a system for cloning plants while wearing fake cannabis lei around her neck. There was also Chef “Herb” – Herb Seisel III – who has a line of THC cooking oil and butter, all for the benefit of patients who would like to “get their daily dose of cannabis while savoring delicious meals.”

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Peanut Allergy Therapy in Progress

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A feature on CNN may be good news to children suffering from peanut allergies and their respective parents. Peanuts are a benign and yummy – and even nutritious – treat for some people to snack on, but it can spell disaster for others. In what is touted as the largest ever trial involving peanut allergies, researchers from the Cambridge University Hospitals show that immunotherapy, defined on the CNN feature as “a method of giving a small dose of peanut to a patient in a controlled setting and then increasing the amount over a few months,” may help temper allergic reactions.

peanutsThe study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science last Friday. A controlled trial involving 104 British children is scheduled to begin next month, according to researcher Dr. Andrew Clark of Cambridge University Hospitals.

The pilot study that was conducted involved only a small group of 23 children who are all allergic to peanuts. That small group was given increasing doses of peanuts every two weeks, starting from just 1 mg a day until such time that the children were eating 5 peanuts a day. This quantity was then kept over the next six weeks, with 21 out of 23 children “safely able to eat at least five peanuts a day without any reaction.” After a year, 15 of the participants can tolerate having 32 peanuts.

The same concept will be used in the randomized controlled trial. Dr. Anna Nowak-Wegrzyn, associate professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, commented to CNN that she was “confident that within the next three to five years will we have a treatment that we can offer to our patients, which is not necessarily a cure.”

New York Health Screening

Health & Wellness Home Health Hazards

Best Cities for Health and Well-Being

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If you have been feeling down and out for who knows how long, the city you are living in may have something to do with it. No, we are not asking you to move; but if you are interested, we would like to share with you the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, featured on USA Today.

communityBased on the study, Western cities seem to be faring better in the health and happiness department, with the “healthiest and happiest” people in the United States determined to be living in Boulder, Colorado, located at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. At the other end of the spectrum – at least among 162 large and medium-sized cities – is Huntington, West Virginia.

The conclusions drawn up from the study were based on data gathered from interviews conducted via landline and cellphone with more than 353,000 Americans last year. The respondents were asked to evaluate the following: jobs, finances, physical health, emotional state of mind and communities.

Research director Dan Witters commented that the highest-scoring cities were usually located in the West, while cities with low scores were found in the South. If a community is wealthy, it usually scores higher.

The cities that made it to the top ten include 4 California cities, two cities in Utah, and one city each in Colorado and Hawaii. Located in the Eastern time zone are Holland, Michigan and Washington DC.

The six indexes used in the study are as follows:

Life Evaluation: Personal assessments of one’s present life and life in five years, on a scale of 0 to 10.

Emotional Health: Measures a composite of respondents’ daily experiences, including laughter, happiness, worry, anger and stress.

Work Environment: Measures job satisfaction, ability to use one’s strengths at work, trust and openness in the workplace and whether one’s supervisor treats him or her more like a boss or a partner.

Physical Health: Measures chronic diseases, sick days, physical pain, daily energy and other aspects of physical health.

Healthy Behaviors: Measures smoking, consumption of fruit and vegetables and exercise.

Basic Access: Measures basic needs optimal for a healthy life, such as access to food and medicine, having health insurance and feeling safe while walking at night.

Michigan Health Screening

Substance Abuse

6 Health Threats Caused by Heavy Alcohol Consumption

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Adults who drink large amounts of alcohol are causing serious damage to their health that they could pay for over time. Many of us are aware of the risk of cirrhosis of the liver but many of these other health threats aren’t as well known, take a look.

Cancer

Habitual drinking increases the risk of cancer according to research. Scientists believe the amplified risk is caused when the body converts alcohol into acetaldehyde,  which is a powerful carcinogen. Cancers that are most common in drinkers include the mouth, larynx (voice box), pharynx (throat), liver, esophagus, breasts, and colorectal cancer. The risk for these cancers is multiplied if the drinker is also a smoker.

Anemia

Heavy drinking can cause the number of red blood cells to be unusually low this is called anemia. Anemia can set off a series of symptoms which include shortness of breath, fatigue, and lightheadedness.

Gout

Gout is caused by the development of uric acid crystals in the joints of the body. While some cases are hereditary, alcohol and other dietary factors are beginning to be linked as well. If there is already gout present before the drinking becomes dramatically heavy it can get worse as the consumption level increases.

Cardiovascular Disease

Binge drinking makes platelets more likely to form blood clots, which in turn can lead to heart attack and stroke. In fact binge drinking doubles the risk of death among people who survived an initial heart attack. Cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscle weakens and eventually fails can also occur.  Ventricular fibrillation, another heart condition can cause muddled twitching in the heart’s main pumping chambers and cause sudden loss of consciousness. If treatment isn’t received soon it can even be fatal.

Nerve Damage

Heavy drinking can result in a form of nerve damage known as alcoholic neuropathy, this produces a painful pins-and-needles feeling in the extremities, constipation, erectile dysfunction muscle weakness, and incontinence, among other problems. Alcoholic neuropathy arises because alcohol is toxic to nerve cells and nutritional deficiencies that come with heavy drinking damage nerve function.

Dementia

As people age, their brains shrink about 1.9% per decade, heavy drinking hastens the shrinkage of certain key regions in the brain, this causes memory loss among other symptoms of dementia. It can also cause slight but potentially weakening deficits in the ability to make judgments, solve problems.

Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Father of 15 month old Who Ingested Meth is Arrested

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A 28 year old man whose daughter ingested meth was arrested on suspicion of felony child endangerment. Jeremy Ochoa admitted being high on the drug when he went to visit his young son a few days before the arrest. The charges stem from the events which followed the visit. The mother of the young boy found him ill and took him to Dominican Hospital after noticing the baby was acting out of character. At 11 that night the authorities were called because the child had tested positive for meth use. Taken into custody by child protective services the boy was kept overnight at the hospital because the amount if the drug he’d taken was unknown.

The mother was home when the boy’s father came to visit and had asked him to leave when she detected that he was under the influence. She’s been cleared of criminal involvement in the case and it’s thought that the boy got the drug unintentionally.

“It could have been from (Ochoa’s) clothing, or he could have dropped some,” he said. “He’s not sure exactly how the child ingested it. But he was under the influence at the time, so accounting for his behavior is not a reliable measure.” It’s worth noting that Ochoa was also under the influence when he was arrested though he cooperated with officers when he was arrested.

While the mother is thought to have no involvement Children’s services will complete its own case before determining if the 15 month old can go back to his mother. Ochoa was jailed with bail set at $5,000 and that his arrest charges include a probation violation.

Drug Testing

Steelworkers Fight Drug Testing “Intimidation”

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The United Steelworkers intends to fight the Iron Ore Company of Canada who plan to require drug testing for some new employees at its mine in Labrador West starting in January. It said drug tests would be mandatory for people hired to work in what the mine calls “safety sensitive positions.”

Union members feel that the move is a thinly veiled attempt to invade their privacy and a form of management intimidation according to United Steelworkers Local 5795 president George Kean.

“We had calls from some of our members indicating that team leaders had told them that they want them to go for drug testing today,” Kean told CBC News. “When we called back their superintendent … the supervisor said he was just kidding around. We see that as just intimidation.”

The IOC says there’s no plan in place to screen those who are already employed by the company provided there’s no suspicion that the employee may be abusing drugs. The company claims that the move is an attempt to keep the workplace safe for everyone and is based on employee concerns that were brought to management about drug use on the jobsite.  Josephine Gaulton-Rowe, the local president of MADD (Mother’s Against Drunk Driving) feels that the move is a good one.

“I don’t see why people have a problem with this,” she said. “If they have nothing to hide, why do they have a problem with it? Some of the issues we have now didn’t exist 30 or 40 years ago, and we all know it’s a problem. Impaired operation of vehicles is a big problem.”

Early Disease Detection

FDA Looks into Over-Radiation of Patients in Hospitals

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Among the things that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been looking into over the past few weeks is the reason behind the over-radiation of more than 300 patients in four hospitals by CT scans. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles first found out about cases of over-radiation last year, with some patients receiving up to eight times as much radiation as needed, according to a report on The New York Times.

CT scanApparently, the errors have been going on for a year and a half, but it was only after patients lost their hair that these errors were detected.

With that going on, the FDA made an announcement on Tuesday that they will be “taking steps to more stringently regulate three of the most potent forms of medical radiation.” The medical imaging procedures included are CT scans, a procedure that can “deliver the radiation equivalent of 400 chest X-rays”; nuclear medicine studies where a radioactive substance is given to a patient and the physician watches as it moves through the body; and fluoroscopies, a procedure where a continuous internal image is provided on a monitor by a radiation-emitting device.

According to the FDA, “these types of imaging exams expose patients to ionizing radiation, a type of radiation that can increase a person’s lifetime cancer risk. Accidental exposure to very high amounts of radiation also can cause injuries, such as skin burns, hair loss and cataracts.”

While the FDA has had jurisdiction over medical devices for quite some time, it has not fully utilized its power.

Los Angeles Health Screening