Testing It Up » May 2010

Monthly Archives: May 2010

Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Ardi Rizal: 2 Years Old, Certified Smoker!

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When I heard about this now controversial video that is sparking an outrage on the web, I could hardly believe it was true. For a little more than a minute, the video shows two-year-old Ardi Rizal from Musi Bayuasin in Sumatra, Indonesia, huffing and puffing and spewing smoke like a pro. It is hard to fathom what kind of havoc this must be bringing into his young body.

According to his mother Diana, Ardi is “totally addicted. If he doesn’t get cigarettes, he gets angry and screams and batters his head against the wall. He tells me he feels dizzy and sick.” It is not exactly a surprising sensation to feel if you have gotten used to puffing 40 cigarettes a day, which is how much Ardi reportedly consumes; the thing is, you expect to hear such a complaint from an adult trying to kick the habit as opposed to a toddler.

His mother has tried to get him to quit smoking, but she has been unsuccessful so far. His father Mohammed said, though: “He looks pretty healthy to me. I don’t see the problem.”

It certainly is funny how this story came out in the days leading to World No Tobacco Day, which this year is focusing against marketing cigarettes to women. What about two-year-old kids?

Health & Wellness

Memorial Day Salute to our Troops: A Healthier New Generation

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It is Memorial Day once again, and we found a post by Penny Lee on the Huffington Post that suggests a unique way through which America can salute its troops.

Lee’s opening salvo was an eye-opener for us, and it showed how history can, indeed, take curious twists and turns. About a hundred years ago – at the time when World War I was about to commence – one-third of draftees for the United States were deemed as “unfit to serve” because they were too thin.

overweightFast-forward to the present, and the country is once again faced with the same scenario, albeit with a bit of a variation. Once again, one-third of young adults who could very well serve in the military will be considered as unfit to serve if they choose to do so, only this time around, it is because they are overweight.

We see Lee’s point and understand that this comment is in no way discriminatory, but an expression of concern for the health and well-being of America’s youth.

Lee shares the passage of the FIT Kids Act in the House over spring. The bill will involve parents as well as the community as schools, districts and states are required to report on the physical activity of students, including how much time they spend on physical education.

There may be those who will think it funny that America will try to ensure that its youth is kept healthy, only to send them to war. That point of view aside, however, the bottom line is that for any generation it is the youth of today that serves as the foundation for tomorrow. It only makes sense that every effort should be done to keep them healthy.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Gary Coleman Dies at 42

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Former child star Gary Coleman, best remembered for his role as Arnold Jackson in the sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes,” passed away on Friday in a hospital in Utah.

News about his death was announced by his spokesman, John Alcantar. Although there were no specific details revealed yet regarding the circumstances that led to his death, an obituary on CNN.com shared that Coleman died after being taken off life support, surrounded by his wife and other members of his family. Coleman had suffered a brain hemorrhage after what was only described as an accident in his home in Santaquin, Utah.

Gary Coleman and wife Shannon PriceThroughout his life, however, Gary Coleman had suffered from a number of health issues, according to a report on CNN. He grew no further than 4 feet 8 inches due to a kidney condition that stunted his growth.

Gary Coleman had suffered from a kidney condition called nephritis and had to undergo several operations, including a kidney transplant at the age of 5. Nephritis is triggered by an abnormal immune system or an infection, where the filters of the kidney become inflamed, scarred and destroyed. This causes an inability to regulate the amount of salt, water and calcium in the body.

Coleman’s first transplant eventually began to fail and he had to receive a second one when he was 14. His kidneys continued to bother him throughout his life and led to hospitalizations.

In addition to his kidney problem, he also suffered seizures; 3 months ago he was hospitalized after suffering a seizure during an interview in LA.

Substance Abuse

World No Tobacco Day Focuses on Women

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May 31, Monday, is World No Tobacco Day, and the World Health Organization conducted a news briefing on Friday that focused against marketing of tobacco products to women. According to the WHO, the female demographic presents a potential growth market for the tobacco industry and they are now being targeted by aggressive ad campaigns linked to such female interests as fashion and entertainment.

pink cigarettesThe director of the WHO tobacco-free initiative, Douglas Bettcher, gave the following statement as shared by a report by Reuters: “The industry’s market strategy is having its desired impact: more and more girls are starting to light up. This is a serious red flag.”

According to a survey on smoking among the youth that was released by the WHO, half of the 151 countries in the survey showed that there were as many girls who smoked as boys. There were even some countries where the number of girls who smoked has surpassed the number of boys. This was observed in Chile, Colombia and Mexico, and in some parts of Eastern Europe.

Among adults, 40 percent of men are said to be smokers, versus 9 percent of women.

In 2003, 160 countries ratified a WHO treaty that recommended a complete ban on the advertising, promotion and marketing of tobacco products. So far, however, only 26 countries have implemented the ban.

The WHO shared that unique marketing strategies are being used in some countries to attract young female smokers, including pink cigarette packs in Japan, where the rate of male smokers has declined in recent years, and cigarette packs done in the shape of a perfume container in Egypt.

Celebrity Substance Abuse Substance Abuse

Does Zach Randolph Finance Drug Dealers?

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Zach Randolph, forward for the Memphis Grizzlies, has been implicated in a case involving marijuana in Indiana. According to a report by The Associated Press, a friend of Randolph’s was caught driving the NBA star’s SUV with a cooler containing bags of marijuana.

Zach RandolphAlthough the Indianapolis police has said that Randolph himself is not yet the target of an active investigation, it has been revealed that Randolph has been named as a “financier” to drug dealers, supplying them with marijuana, vehicles and a house in a probable cause affidavit filed in Marion County Superior Court. Investigators claim that the informant is “credible and reliable.”

Randolph’s friend, 32-year-old Arthur Boyd, was pulled over while driving Randolph’s 2008 Cadillac Escalade for a traffic violation. He was followed by officers from a home in Indianapolis which, according to informants, was being used as a distribution point for marijuana. The affidavit indicted that officers found the following in the SUV: 90 grams of marijuana divided into bags in a cooler placed behind the driver’s seat, an empty suitcase that smelled of marijuana, and ammunition in a hidden compartment.

Boyd and Randolph have been friends for years, as revealed by Randolph’s lawyer John Tompkins. Boyd runs errands for Randolph and takes care of his home in Indianapolis during the NBA season.

Boyd has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and was released on $5,000 bond. Randolph, for his part, has denied being involved in the drug activity. His lawyer, Tompkins, dismissed the fact that police were following up on informants’ tips by saying that informants are “notorious liars.”

Health & Wellness

Johnson & Johnson Not Fast Enough on Manufacturing Issues

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In a previous post, we shared with you the voluntary recall made by Johnson & Johnson on more than 40 over-the-counter (OTC) children’s medications, including children’s Tylenol, Benadryl, Motrin and Zyrtec.

While there were no reports of illnesses or fatalities associated with the medicines that were recalled in April, the story behind it has not exactly ended. On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that Johnson & Johnson did not improve its manufacturing practices as fast as they should have, according to a feature on the Los Angeles Times.

Johnson and Johnson recallApparently, the FDA has spoken to senior officials of Johnson & Johnson as early as February, urging them to improve their manufacturing processes and to address consumer concerns faster. Among the issues that Johnson & Johnson had, aside from the April recall, were having to pull off 8 million bottles of children’s medicines from the market in September 2009 due to a quality control issue as well as consumer complaints about a musty odor emanating from medicine bottles that made some consumers sick.

The FDA also revealed that Johnson & Johnson were not as forthcoming as they should be about consumer complaints. The company is required to inform the FDA about complaints within three days, but it took them a year to do that.

At this time, Johnson & Johnson is being investigated by the criminal division of the FDA to see whether any of their lapses will result in the need for prosecution, as revealed by FDA principal deputy commissioner Joshua Sharfstein.

Los Angeles Health Screening

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Doctor Fined Over Recommending Medical Marijuana!

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A doctor was fined by the Montana Board of Medical Examiners for not having spent enough time with several medical marijuana patients before prescribing treatment, according to a report on KECI News. Dr. Patricia Cole of Whitefish was fined $2,000, and Casey Kyler – West, Communications Director of the Department of Labor and Industry, shared: “They want to make sure that doesn’t happen especially with these travelling clinics for lack of a better word.  They want to make sure that doctor/patient care meets that standard.”

medical marijuanaDr. Cole, however, told KECI news that there is a need to come up with more specific guidelines regarding doctor – patient care. According to Dr. Cole, the patients for whom she prescribed medical marijuana to had legitimate conditions that make them eligible for the treatment. She gave as an example the fact that labor and outdoor activities lead to injuries to a lot of people in Montana, and that she is “relieved” that she is able to offer them something else other than narcotics.

Dr. Cole believes that the state is trying to make an example of her at a time when there are no set standards in place yet.

Dr. Cole shared: “A number of people have been prescribed narcotic medication. So, it’s been exciting for me to be able to prescribe or recommend to people marijuana because many people are able to decrease the other medications they are taking.  Marijuana, in my view, is a much safer alternative.”

The doctor paid the fine, but said that she will continue to prescribe medical marijuana to patients who need it.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Metformin May Trigger Vitamin B12 Deficiency

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Metformin, a medication usually given to patients suffering from diabetes, has been linked to vitamin B12 deficiency.

A study conducted by a team that included Coen Stehouwer of the Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands was published in the British Medical Journal. They studied 390 patients, 196 of whom were given metformin three times a day while the rest were given placebo for a period of more than four years. It was determined that those who took metformin had a 19% reduction in vitamin B12 levels. Those who were only given placebo had no change.

MetforminThe researchers also determined that the deficiency got worse over time.

Stehouwer wrote: “Our data provide a strong case for routine assessment of vitamin B12 levels during long term treatment with metformin,” adding that their study “Our study shows that it is reasonable to assume harm will eventually occur in some patients with metformin-induced low vitamin B12 levels.”

Vitamin B12 is important for the maintenance of healthy nerve and red blood cells. Sources of vitamin B12 include meat, dairy products, eggs, and fortified breakfast cereals; one can also choose to take it as a supplement.

Those who are suffering from low vitamin B12 levels may experience fatigue and anemia, among others; these are, however, also symptoms that may be misdiagnosed as the effect of diabetes and its complications. Hence, vitamin B12 deficiency can go unchecked among metformin users.

It is then indicated that among metformin users, it may be beneficial to check vitamin B12 levels in order to address the appearance of symptoms appropriately.

Drug Testing Substance Abuse

Drug Testing for Everyone in Sports

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We have featured different drug-related stories in the world of sports, the number of which is too many to mention. If there is one thing that we noticed, however, it is the fact that while drugs – steroids, performance-enhancers, illegal substances – seem to be an issue that plagues the world of sports in general, each sport deals with the issue in their own way. In the world of professional boxing, for example, there are even differences in the way drug testing is performed based on the state where the fight will be held.

sportsA piece by Robert Weiner, former spokesman for the White House National Drug Policy Office, and Yusuf Hassan, senior policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates, on The Charlotte Observer makes a good point regarding the use of drugs in sports. If we were to dream about being able to see sports being played in its raw form, before the dawn of what we can only call “chemical interference,” it may indeed be beneficial to have all athletes – regardless of the sport – to follow the same methods of drug testing and drug use monitoring.

It was an athlete who reportedly articulated the idea, according to the feature, as the authors related asking eight-time Olympic medalist speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno regarding drug testing in sports at a White House function. When asked if athletes in sports such as baseball and golf ought to undergo tests that are as stringent as the ones done in the Olympics, Ohno replied: “as athletes, we should all be held to the same standards. It would make sense to have one unified body testing everyone.”

Well said, indeed. But will anyone do anything with this suggestion?

Health & Wellness

Xtreme Eating Awards 2010: Take a Bite!

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The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has done it again, making known to America the “Xtreme” caloric contents of certain dishes found in restaurant chains. While some of these establishments have become the epitome of comfort food, CSPI serves to remind consumers that comfort food is as different as you can get from healthy food.

Around this time last year we brought to you the recipients of the Xtreme Eating Awards 2009 – and the time has come to see which of your fave hang-outs have dishes that made it to the latest list – one of ours did. Drum rolls please… we give you the awardees of the Xtreme Eating Awards 2010.

Chocolate Tower Truffle CakeAt the top of the list of what CSPI termed as “dis”- honorees is the Cinnamon Cream Stacked & Stuffed Hotcakes from Bob Evans. If one only makes food-related decisions based on one’s taste buds, there will certainly be nothing wrong about hotcakes stuffed with cinnamon chips and cream cheese-flavored filling and topped with cream sauce, whipped cream and powdered sugar. But when you factor in the 1,380 calories and 34 grams of saturated fat into the equation – and what a steady diet of that will mean to your body – then it may be best to steer clear of such a dish.

Other dishes that made it to the list are the Tostada Pizza with Grilled Steak from California Pizza Kitchen, the Bacon Cheeseburger from Five Guys, the Double Pan-Fried Noodles Combo from P.F. Chang’s, and the Pasta Carbonara with Chicken and Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake from our all-time favorite, The Cheesecake Factory.

We sure wish bad-for-you didn’t have to taste so good.