Testing It Up » November 2010

Monthly Archives: November 2010

Early Disease Detection

Drop in Type 1 Diabetes Death Rate Not Fast Enough

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The good news, according to a feature on Bloomberg BusinessWeek, is that death rates for Type 1 diabetes are falling; it is not, however, falling fast enough.

A study led by Dr. Trevor J. Orchard, a professor of epidemiology, medicine and pediatrics in the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, noted a significant drop in the mortality rates of people suffering from Type 1 diabetes. The researchers also determined that patients who were diagnosed with the condition in the 70s had a lower mortality rate when compared against those who were diagnosed in the 60s.

diabetesDr. Orchard gave the following comment: “The encouraging thing is that, given good [diabetes] control, you can have a near-normal life expectancy.”

Despite these encouraging statistics, however, the study also found out that the mortality rates for patients suffering from Type 1 are still significantly higher than the general population – a staggering 7 times higher. For certain demographic groups, such as women, for example, the disparity in mortality rates is even more significant: mortality rates for women who have type 1 diabetes are 13 times higher than those of women who are not suffering from the disease.

Patients suffering from Type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin, so they are forced to rely on insulin replacement therapy all their life. Insulin replacement therapy, however, is not as effective as naturally-produced insulin.

Barbara Araneo director of complications therapies at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, said: “The outcome of this study shows that diabetes care has improved in many ways over the last couple of decades, and as a result people with diabetes are living longer now… Managing and taking good care of your diabetes is the surest way to reduce the risk of developing complications later in life.”

Health & Wellness

Tylenol Cold Products Recalled Over Alcohol Content

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A report on Bloomberg BusinessWeek shared that 9.3 million bottles of Tylenol cold treatments were recalled by Johnson & Johnson (J&J). The recall was triggered by the non-disclosure of the alcohol content of the products involved on its front label.

In a telephone interview, J&J spokeswoman Bonnie Jacobs revealed that the recall involved three types of Tylenol Multi-Symptom liquid cold medicine. The formulations of these products use flavoring agents that contain less than 1 percent alcohol. The J&J website shared that while the alcohol content was disclosed by the company, it was listed on the package as opposed to the front of the bottle.

tylenolJ&J’s statement on its website was quoted on the article, where it clarified the following: “This is a wholesale and retail level recall and is not being undertaken on the basis of adverse events… No action is required by consumers or health-care providers and consumers can continue to use the product.”

The products affected by the recall include the following: Tylenol Daytime 8 oz. Citrus Burst, Tylenol Severe 8 oz. Cool Burst and Tylenol Nighttime 8 oz. Cool Burst. Ms. Jacobs said that the aforementioned products are to be pulled from warehouses as well as retail locations.

In addition to the recall of Tylenol products, McNeil Consumer Health Care Unit, which sells the medicines in the United States, also pulled 4 million packages of Children’s Benadryl allergy tablets, due to “manufacturing lapses.”
J&J recalled more than 40 types of children’s over-the-counter liquid medicines in April, an incident which spurred the suspension of production at a plant, as well as an investigation of how the company handled the recall by the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Substance Abuse

DEA to Ban Chemicals Used for K2 Production

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The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has decided to respond to complaints that involved synthetic marijuana products, according to a report on The New York Times.

In a press release on their website, the DEA announced a ban that will be implemented on five chemicals used in the manufacture of synthetic marijuana products. The chemicals involved are as follows: JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, and cannabicyclohexanol. The DEA is exercising its emergency scheduling authority to temporarily control the chemicals mentioned.

K2The effects of these chemicals mimic the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the component that makes marijuana a potent substance. These chemicals are used in the manufacture of products that come in the form of herbs or potpourri, and are technically marketed as incense. One of the known brands is K2, and the products have also been termed as “synthetic marijuana” or “fake pot;” these are being smoked by users who would like to achieve the high brought about by pot – legally. The chemicals, according to the NY Times, are used to coat these products.

The action by the FDA will render these five chemicals as Schedule I substances, the category that is the most restrictive. The treatment of the chemicals as Schedule I substances will last for a year, during which time the government will conduct studies that will determine whether the chemicals should be banned permanently.

Michele M. Leonhart, acting agency administrator, said the following in a statement: “Makers of these harmful products mislead their customers into thinking that ‘fake pot’ is a harmless alternative to illegal drugs, but that is not the case.”

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

FDA Pulls Darvon and Darvocet from U.S. Market

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Two popular painkillers are to be taken off the U.S. market, by order from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to a report on the Los Angeles Times.

Darvon and Darvocet – generically known as propoxyphene, an opioid – have been available in the U.S. market for pain management for more than half a century. The medication is used for the treatment of mild to moderate pain. The decision to take the two drugs off the market is based on data that showed a risk of serious abnormalities in heart rhythm associated with the drugs.

PropoxypheneDarvon and its dangerous side effects, according to the article, has been the subject of controversy for years; for Sidney Wolfe of the Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, the decision to remove the two drugs from the market came too late. Wolfe has called for congressional hearings to determine why the FDA took a long time to make its move.

The withdrawal of the drug from the market called for doctors to immediately stop prescribing the drug. Patients are advised, however, to continue taking propoxyphene while consulting physicians as soon as possible regarding alternative medication. According to pain management experts, Darvon and Darvocet – along with their generic counterparts – are easily replaceable.

Al Anderson, a family practitioner in Minneapolis and president of the board of directors of the American Academy of Pain Management, said that doctors have been subscribing the drugs mainly because they have been around for a long time. The removal of the drugs may affect a small number of patients who cannot tolerate other pain medication, but for the majority, there are many other alternatives.

Los Angeles Health Screening

Early Disease Detection

Breast Cancer Survivor Forced to Remove Prosthesis at Airport Pat Down!

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Airport security pat-downs are certainly not gaining in popularity, despite the fact that its primary purpose is to ensure security.

A report from The Daily Mail shared the story of Cathy Bossi, a flight attendant and breast cancer survivor. Bossi has been a flight attendant for 30 years, and has been with U.S. Airways for 28 years. She is a 3-year breast cancer survivor. She had lost her right breast because of the disease, and now wears a prosthesis.

airport pat downIn early August, Bossi was asked to go through the full-body scanners of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport. She was reluctant to go through the scanners, however, as she was worried about the radiation from the machine passing through her body. At any rate, she did go through the scanners, and was eventually asked by two female Charlotte TSA agents to go to a private room for further screening.

In the private room, Bossi was subjected to what was described as an “aggressive pat down.” When the agents got the area around her right breast, where she was wearing a prosthesis, the agent questioned her. Bossi related: “She put her full hand on my breast and said, ‘What is this?’. And I said, ‘It’s my prosthesis because I’ve had breast cancer.’ And she said, ‘Well, you’ll need to show me that.’”

Bossi then shared that she was asked to remove her prosthetic breast from her bra, and then show it to the TSA agents.

A representative from the TSA said that while agents are allowed to see or touch the prosthetic of a passenger, they should not have it removed. The incident is now being investigated, according to the report.

Early Disease Detection

Every Minute Matters: Signs of Stroke and When to Call 911

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The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Stroke Association (ASA) jointly remind everyone of a very basic concept concerning stroke: it is a medical emergency where every minute counts. The website Power to End Stroke shares tips on how to recognize the warning signs of stroke, so that we can learn how to react in an appropriate and timely manner.

911There are several signs that one should look out for that may indicate a stroke, and all are characterized by sudden onset of symptoms. The following are listed on the website: numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; confusion; trouble speaking or understanding; trouble seeing in one or both eyes; difficulty walking; dizziness; loss of balance or coordination; and severe, unexplainable headache.

We are lucky enough to live in an era where doctors can do something about a stroke, unlike in the early days when a stroke can almost always lead to disability or death, and there is nothing much that medicine can do. The key thing to remember and learn is how to recognize a stroke when it happens, and get the patient to a hospital immediately. The AHA and the ASA explain that the clot-dissolving drug tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, can lessen long-term disability, for as long as it is administered within three hours after the onset of an ischemic stroke. Ischemic strokes are caused by clots, and are the most common types of stroke.

It is unfortunate, however, that tPA is underutilized in some cases, simply because the patient is not brought in for medical care in time. All the warning signs listed above should prompt a call to 911.

Pregnancy & Fertility

Was Nadya Suleman Subjected to Experimental Procedure Without Consent?

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A testimony during a state medical board hearing for Dr. Michael Kamrava, the fertility doctor who made it possible for Nadya Suleman to conceive octuplets, indicated that Suleman and Kamrava’s other patients may have been subjected to an experimental procedure without their informed consent.

Nadya SulemanAccording to a feature on the Los Angeles Times, Donna Tartaglino Besone, an investigator for the Canoga Park Office of the Food and Drug Administration, testified before Administrative Law Judge Daniel Juarez on Thuursday. Besone’s testimony included her findings out of an unannounced five-day inspection conducted in September.

Besone looked into whether Kamrava was able to secure the appropriate consent from patients, which allegedly included Ms. Suleman, to participate in a study that involved the use of an experimental technique. The study used a small telescopic device to film inside patients when the embryos are inserted.

Besone shared that “there was a lot of confusion about when the study was conducted,” saying further that Kamrava gave conflicting information regarding the timeline for the study, and who he was doing the study with. Initially, Kamrava had said that he did the study with a lab technician from the year 2000 until 2008; he then said that he conducted the study with an embryologist, from the year 2000 to 2004.

Dr. Kamrava testified, however, that Ms. Suleman knew that she was a participant in the study, which was published in a journal based in Tehran this year. Suleman reportedly volunteered to get involved in the study, and Kamrava discussed the study “extensively” with her.

If it is proven that Kamrava had been negligent in his treatment of Suleman as well as two other patients, his medical license may be revoked.

Los Angeles Health Screening

Early Disease Detection

Today Is World Diabetes Day

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Sunday, November 14, is World Diabetes Day. Starting in 2009 until 2013, the observance of World Diabetes Day will carry the same theme: Education and Prevention.

diabetesWorld Diabetes Day was jointly created by the World Health Organization and the International Diabetes Federation to address concerns over the rising threat of diabetes. The United Nations passed Resolution 61/225 in 2007, making World Diabetes Day an official United Nations day.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every 10 Americans suffers from diabetes. A feature on The New York Times cited CDC estimates, which projected that if current trends continue, that ratio will become one in every three Americans in the year 2050.

The theme of World Diabetes Day focuses on the importance of understanding diabetes as a way to manage the disease, as well as a means to avoid the disease altogether – or at least delay its onset. The campaign has three key messages: know about the warning signs and risks associated with diabetes; know how to respond to diabetes, and who to turn to; and know how to manage and take control of the disease.

The International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization would like to encourage governments to set up, boost, and implement policies towards the prevention and control of diabetes. It is also hoped that the observance of World Diabetes Day will raise awareness regarding, among other things, the warning signs of diabetes, in order to encourage early diagnosis of the disease.

All over the world there are various events that have been organized to mark World Diabetes Day. These include sports events such as charity Run/Walks, workshops, exhibitions, and free diabetes screening.

 

New York Health Screening

 

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Medical Marijuana Measure Approved in Arizona

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Arizona joins the list of states where the use of marijuana for medical purposes has been legalized, as shared in the feature by The Associated Press. Proposition 203, the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, won by a narrow margin of just 4,341 votes.

medical marijuanaThe Arizona Department of Health Services shared the following information on Proposition 203: “the initiative will enable a ‘qualifying patient,’ who is registered with the Arizona Department of Health Services (Department), to legally obtain an ‘allowable amount of usable marijuana’ from a ‘nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary’ and possess and use the marijuana to treat or alleviate symptoms associated with a ‘debilitating medical condition.’”

With the approval of Proposition 203, patients suffering from such diseases as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and Hepatitis C, among other chronic illnesses, who are able to meet with set guidelines, will be allowed to buy 2 ½ ounces of marijuana every two weeks, or grow marijuana plants.

Qualified patients will be required to secure a recommendation from their attending physicians, and register with the Arizona Department of Health Services. As a deterrent against the possible mushrooming of dispensaries, which is what eventually happened in California, the Arizona medical marijuana law limits the number of medical marijuana dispensaries that will be allowed to operate in the state to 124. The law will go into effect 120 days after the canvassing of ballots on November 29.

Andrew Meyers, campaign manager for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project, acknowledged that the passage of the measure is just the beginning: “Now begins the very hard work of implementing this program in the way it was envisioned, with very high standards.”

Celebrity Substance Abuse Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Marie Osmond Talks About Son’s Suicide on Oprah

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Singer-actress Marie Osmond is talking for the first time since her teenage son committed suicide in an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, according to a feature on ABC News. Ms. Osmond talked, among others, about speculations regarding her son’s sexuality; there were bloggers who believed that the teen was struggling with his sexuality, and that this struggle pushed him to commit suicide.

Marie Osmond with OprahMarie Osmond categorically declared: “My son was not gay… He wanted to be married and have a family and travel all over the world.” She did clarify, however, that even if he was, it would not have mattered; Osmond has a daughter who is gay.

Michael Blosil, then 18, had jumped off the roof of his apartment building in Los Angeles on February 26. He is one of five children that Marie Osmond had adopted with her now ex-husband Brian Blosil.

Michael was a first year student at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in California at the time of his death. It is said that he had previously tried to commit suicide in 2007, after Osmond and Blosil divorced. The young man had reportedly struggled with depression and substance abuse; he went into rehab for the first time when he was 12.

Marie told Oprah: “”I’ve been through some tough things in my life, Oprah. This is probably the hardest that I’ve been through… I think there are always what-ifs. … I think if you live in what-ifs, you stop living.” Marie had shared that her son called her on the night that he died, but that she had been unable to answer his call because she was performing.

Los Angeles Health Screening