Testing It Up » April 2010

Monthly Archives: April 2010

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Bitter Connection Between Chocolate and Depression

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Here’s something that people may find ironic: consuming chocolate has been regarded by many as a satisfying activity, but a study now indicates that it may be linked with depression.

chocolateAccording to a feature on the Los Angeles Times, researchers from UC San Diego and UC Davis have determined that there may be a link between chocolate and depression. Their study looked into the chocolate consumption as well as other dietary intake patters of more than nine hundred men and women who were not using anti-depressants. The participants of the study were also asked to take a depression screening test.

The researchers found that those who screened positive for possible depression consumed, on average, 8.4 servings of chocolate in a month. Those who had possible major depression consumed an average of 11.8 servings of chocolate a month. In contrast, those who were not depressed consumed an average of 5.4 servings of chocolate a month.

In addition to chocolate, researchers also looked at other dietary factors and related them to mood, including caffeine, fat and carbo intake. However, it was only chocolate that could be correlated to mood.

Beyond this correlation, though, the researchers indicated that it was not clear as to why the chocolate and depression are linked. A theory mentioned in the feature is that depression may lead to chocolate cravings in order to make one’s self feel better.

Marcia Levin Pelchat, a psychologist who studies food cravings at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, shares: “It’s unlikely that chocolate makes people depressed… Most people believe the beneficial effects of chocolate are on mood and that they are learned. You eat chocolate; it makes you feel good, and sometime when you’re feeling badly it occurs to you, ‘Gee, if I eat some chocolate I might feel better.’”

Los Angeles Health Screening

Early Disease Detection

Nearly Half of American Adults Have Risk Factors for Heart Disease

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The leading cause of death in American adults is heart disease, and based on the data in a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of American adults – 45% – are at risk for developing heart disease, as shared in a feature on ABC News.

heart healthNearly half of American adults are suffering from either one, a combination of two or all three of the following chronic conditions: high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. About 3 percent suffer from all three conditions, while 13 percent suffer from two. The report also indicates that nearly 1 in 7 adults have one or more of these conditions still undiagnosed.

Dr. Steve Nissen, Chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, shares: “These findings are disturbing and reflect the cumulative effects of the modern American lifestyle.”

Dr. Rosemarie Hirsch, the Chief of Analysis Branch at the National Center for Health Statistics, shares that these conditions may have been brought about by dietary changes made by Americans starting about forty years ago.
So what should be done? Prevention strategies are deemed as important. Dr. Lori Mosca, Director of Preventive Cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, shares that even a 5-10 lb weight loss can lower blood pressure and improve the levels of cholesterol and blood sugar.

Americans are encouraged to be aware and have their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels checked. It is also advisable to eat sensibly and watch the amount of food and salt that one takes in, as well as to be physically active.

New York Health Screening

Celebrity Substance Abuse Substance Abuse

Maureen McCormick, aka Marcia Brady, Talks About Getting Over Addiction

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She was best remembered as that sweet and pretty teenager who looked like she could do no wrong. Her on-screen persona belied the struggles that she suffered when the cameras stopped rolling.

Maureen McCormickMany teenagers in the 70s either looked up to Marcia Brady – or fantasized about her. Now 53 years old, Maureen McCormick, who played Marcia in The Brady Bunch, shares her life with others in the hopes that her personal experience can be of help to others.

At a Changing Lives Luncheon in Palm Beach Gardens, McCormick talks about the changes that happened in her own life. The luncheon was attended by about two hundred people and was for the benefit of the Drug Abuse Treatment Association (DATA), an organization that has programs for children and teenagers who are suffering from substance abuse or have delinquency issues.

Despite the fact that Hollywood has been linked as the culprit to many celebrity addiction stories, McCormick reveals that whatever it was that she went through was not because of Hollywood, as shared in a feature on the Palm Beach Daily News.

McCormick was 18 when a boyfriend introduced her to cocaine – and she got hooked. Her addiction lasted from five to six years. She shares: “It took up every thought of my day, that’s how addictive a personality I have… I couldn’t really think about anything else, other than getting my next toot. It was very scary.”

She credits going back to Church and finding God for changing her life. She has been sober for 29 years. McCormick shared her story by releasing a tell-all book, Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding my True Voice.

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Quadriplegic Arrested and Jailed for Growing Marijuana

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John Haring is a 45 year-old man from Clearwater, Florida, who has been suffering from chronic pain for more than twenty years.

As related in a feature on TampaBay.com, when he was 24, Haring suffered an accident while working as a truck driver in Ohio. His rig rolled as he tried to avoid a kid who suddenly came in the way of the 18-wheeler that he was driving. His injuries left him without the use of his fingers and his legs; he has spent time on a wheelchair since.

John HaringIn order to manage the pain that he suffers from arthritis, among other things, he has, over the years, been prescribed with prescription painkillers. Thus far, however, these medicines have not worked well. So he turned to marijuana, growing them in his home in Clearwater.

This would have been perfectly alright if he had been living in California, and if a doctor legally advices him to turn to pot and writes a prescription for it. The thing is, Haring lives in Florida – a state where marijuana – even when used for medical purposes – is illegal.

He was initially caught in 2007, with 41 plants growing in his home. In 2009, he was caught with three times the number he was initially caught with. For his latest arrest, Haring will be doing jail time for ninety days, and serve three years of drug offender probation – which means that he will be undergoing drug testing. If he fails a test, he may be facing up to five years in jail.

The feature questions whether there is sense in locking up a man in a wheelchair. What do you think?

Florida Drug Screening

Substance Abuse

Important Tips to Prevent Date Rape

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As part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we would like to share an article on www.Testcountry.org that provides self-defense tips on how to prevent date rape.

This year’s theme is the prevention of sexual violence in campuses, where cases of date rape are reportedly on the rise. The sad thing about date rape is that since it is something that usually happens between two people who know each other – a classmate, roommate or ex-boyfriend – it usually goes unreported.

date rape drugsThe first tip talks about first dates. If possible, schedule these during the day – and do a double date (or maybe even a group date) with a couple that you are familiar with or who will be having a date in the same venue. And have a first date at a public place and do not ask someone you are dating for the first time to pick you up from home or from your dorm alone.

Next, protect yourself from accidentally ingesting date rape drugs by not taking alcohol, since this is what attackers use to dilute roofies and whatnot. Besides, if you are under 21, you should not be taking alcohol anyway.

Also, be careful about your demeanor when you are out with someone, or even when attending a party. Sometimes, one’s actions may lead potential attackers into singling you out as prey for the night. Then, do not show a man that you hardly know that you are afraid of him.

Another useful reminder that was given to us was to never let one’s drinks out of one’s sight, and to never accept a drink from a stranger. True, having a martini suddenly arrive at your table courtesy of the cute leather coat guy (credit to Christina Applegate’s character Courtney in The Sweetest Thing) is flattering and sexy; but it is not safe.

Substance Abuse

Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Date Rape Drugs

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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and April 21 is observed as Denim Day. According to a feature on Lake County News, the “Denim Day California!” campaign started in 1999 as a move in protest against the decision of an Italian Health Court to overturn the conviction of a 45-year-old rapist who was accused of raping an 18-year-old girl. The reason? The girl reportedly wore tight jeans, and those kinds of jeans cannot be removed from the wearer without assistance.

date rape drugsThe theme for the 2010 observance of Sexual Assault Awareness month is “Prevent sexual violence… on our campuses.” One of the issues that is causing concern on campuses is the issue of date rape, and it is a good a time as any to provide information on date rape drugs.

Rohypnol or Roofies

Slipping a “roofie” in someone’s drink is one of the things that date rape perpetrators use to drug their victims. Rohypnol is the brand name of the pill Flunitrazapam, is said to be ten times stronger than Valium and can be dissolved in water. The “high” that a roofie brings can last for up to eight hours, and the unknowing victims cannot remember anything that happens over that period of time.

Gamma-Hydroxy Butyrate or GHB

As in most abused prescription drugs, GHB finds legitimate use in Europe as a general anesthetic for such conditions as narcolepsy, alcohol withdrawal, insomnia and anxiety. It is, however, not yet approved in the United States, because of the severe effects that it can bring to a person, which includes loss of consciousness and dizziness.

Celebrity Substance Abuse Drug Testing Substance Abuse

Floyd Mayweather Jr: I Am the Face of Boxing and I Am Here to Clean It Up

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It seems that a Mayweather fight is always preceded by a war of words. And the words, more often than not, come from his mouth – or that of his father’s.

It is a less than a couple of weeks before his scheduled fight with Shane Mosley in Las Vegas, and Mayweather Jr. let another one rip, which Dallas Martial Arts Examiner Ted Gambordella found laughable, as implied in his post on the Examiner.com.

mayweatherApparently, Mayweather gave the following statement: “I am the face of boxing and I am here to clean it up.” Gambordella thinks that the “cleaning up” is referring to fighters like his next opponent, Shane Mosley, who admitted to drug use seven years ago, and Manny Pacquiao – whom Mayweather never got to fight because of all the talking that went on – who has adamantly denied using performance-enhancing drugs.

Mayweather Jr. is thus far undefeated as a fighter; but then again, it was Pacquiao who was named by ESPN as best boxer of the year for 2009, and then again as fighter of the decade by the Boxing Writer’s Association of America. Of his feat, Mayweather reportedly told Fightnews.com: “It’s not my fault that I am so much better that the fighters I am facing. It’s always so one-sided. They want to see me fight on a toe-to-toe battle. I am just a smart and intelligent fighter.”

We echo Gambordella’s sentiments: we would like to see Mayweather actually battle it out on the ring, instead of dishing out against his opponents. He is, after all, still a boxer, isn’t he?

Las Vegas Background Screening

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

April 20 is National Weed Day

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It is said that a group of friends huddled together at 4:20 in the afternoon to share a common activity: smoking pot. This led to the term 4-20 being synonymous to pot, and becoming a way for smokers to communicate with fellow smokers.

national weed dayThings have come a long way from the 60s and 70s, however. If anything, the “current state” of marijuana is in limbo; with an increasing number of people clamoring for the end of prohibition, there might no longer need to be a “4-20” to secretly identify one another. Marijuana may yet find legitimacy in American culture.

There are currently 14 states that allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and the idea of regulating it in the same manner as alcohol is currently regulated is being looked into. It can be recalled that alcohol did go through a prohibition phase before getting to where it is today. Marijuana advocates point out that alcohol has even more harmful effects than pot.

From being a time of day, 4-20 has since been translated to 04/20 – April 20 – which is now being “celebrated” as a “Stoner Holiday”, as shared in a feature on Examiner.com. According to the same feature, it is “a day for the celebration of the culture and identity surrounding marijuana.”

Substance Abuse

Project Prevention: Unusual Approach to Dealing with Addiction

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A charity based in North Carolina is taking a rather unusual approach to helping drug addicts, as shared in a feature on Time. Project Prevention is not your usual drug rehab program: its work with drug addicts involves compensating them should they decide to go on long-term birth control – or undergo sterilization altogether.

drug addict motherProject Prevention founder Barbara Harris explains that the charity aims to prevent drug addicts from having children that they are not capable of caring for, as well as to reduce the number of babies who are born addicted to drugs. The article quotes Harris: “Even if their babies are fortunate enough not to have mental or physical disabilities, they’re placed in the foster care system and moved from home to home… What makes a woman’s right to procreate more important than the right of a child to have a normal life?”

Harris knows all too well about this issue, as she has in her care four children whom she adopted from a mother addicted to crack.

The charity gives addicts it works with $300 for choosing to undergo sterilization or long-term birth control. Critics have pointed out that addicts are incapable of making decisions regarding reproduction, especially when they are being offered money.

Harris remains committed to her advocacy despite the criticism, though she has admitted that some addicts use the $300 they received from the charity to buy more drugs. She says, however: “They’re going to do drugs with or without the money. But maybe our money means they won’t rob someone tomorrow…”

Celebrity Substance Abuse Substance Abuse

The Downfall of Cameron Douglas

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At the center of several news reports is the son of Hollywood star Michael Douglas, Cameron Douglas. The 31-year old will be sentenced next week on charges of dealing methamphetamine.

His mother Diandra and stepmother Catherine Zeta-Jones have both expressed support for Cameron during these rather challenging times.

Cameron with dad Michael DouglasA feature on the Huffington Post shares some information regarding the life of Cameron Douglas, considered as part of Hollywood royalty, with Hollywood blue-blood running through his veins. Both his father Michael and grandfather Kirk are considered legends in the biz, and his stepmother Catherine is revered by many. But most people probably notice by now that such a privileged pedigree does not necessarily translate to personal satisfaction and success.

The young Douglas reportedly grew up with nannies as his father focused on his acting career and his mother worked on wildlife preservation. At 13 Cameron went to boarding school – and started smoking marijuana. When his parents’ marriage started having problems, Cameron eventually started using cocaine.

Douglas later dropped out of school and worked as a DJ in clubs in New York. By 2004, he was hooked on heroin and mixing in the wrong circles. His friend Jen Gatien shared: “His new ‘family,’ as he called them, was a group of fellow addicts who took over his life. No one had jobs or responsibilities. … Cameron was the sole provider.”

It was this need to provide – and the fact that he has been cut off from the family fortune after refusing to get help – that led the younger Douglas to deal meth.

New York Health Screening