Testing It Up » November 2010

Monthly Archives: November 2010

Substance Abuse

How to Keep Hangovers Away for the Holidays

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Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful, and a time to celebrate. Thanksgiving dinner is not exactly the time to exercise extreme restraint regarding what you eat and drink, or you will end up spending the weekend being cranky.

That being said, however, it is also not a good idea to indulge indiscriminately and throw caution to the wind, so much so that whatever “good times” you had the night before would be replaced by a hangover the following day.

hangoverThere are things you can do so that you can have your liquor – and drink it too (so to speak!)  – over the holidays. A feature on WebMD shares a few.

First, you are encouraged to drink more – but not of alcohol, but good ole’ H2O. Jim Woodford, PhD, a forensic chemist whose specialization is drugs and alcohol, explains that a hangover is caused in part by the dehydration brought about by alcohol consumption. Each alcoholic beverage that a person consumes can cause the body to expel liquid of up to four times as much as the drink that one had.

New York City wine expert and author Anthony Giglio suggests a one-for-one ratio between alcoholic drinks and glasses of water – no ice.

Still related to adding water to your drink list, another tip to avoid a hangover is to go on-the-rocks. Giglio once again gave this tip; the ice melts into the drink as time passes, essentially diluting the beverage.

It is also suggested that one “take it slow” while drinking, since the body absorbs alcohol faster versus metabolizing it.


New York Health Screening


Health & Wellness

Counting Calories at Thanksgiving

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We found an interesting tool on The Washington Post: a calorie-counter that will help you plan what to put on your plate during Thanksgiving dinner, and the post-holiday workout plan that will help you work those calories off.

thanksgiving dinnerCounting calories at a party? This is exactly what the tool is for. You no longer need to actually count the calories; just heap treats on your virtual plate and plan the workout that you need to do. Simply take note of what you placed on the plate – and the workout plan that you come up with – and you should be all set.

A traditional Thanksgiving dinner plate will most probably be loaded with the following: roast turkey with gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and a dinner roll, accompanied by a glass of wine. This may have been preceded with a serving of garden salad, and then capped off with a slice of pumpkin pie topped with a dollop of whipped cream, and a cup of coffee. All told, this feast will add up to an estimated 1,527 calories – assuming that you only had one serving of each dish (the definition of one serving, however, was not established).

So how do you burn all that off? For starters, you may want to volunteer to do the dishes, and then to take walks and go for a run. Instead of driving over to Grandma’s house to visit, take your bike out of the garage. Organize a touch football game for everyone, and if you live in an area where you get to enjoy a white Thanksgiving, then you may also want to volunteer for a little snow-shoveling.  If you get to do all this, you can work off all but 62 calories of what you had for Thanksgiving. This final 62 calories can be worked off by playing football on the Xbox – with 3 calories to spare.

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Massachusetts and Kansas Ban Caffeinated Alcoholic Drinks!

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Two more states joined Michigan, Utah, Oklahoma, and Washington in banning Four Loko energy drinks and other beverages like it.

The state of Massachusetts became the fifth state to ban caffeinated alcoholic beverages Thursday last week, as reported by The Associated Press. The state of Kansas soon followed, releasing an announcement of the ban on Monday, as reported by Reuters.

caffeinated alcoholic drinksKim Gainsboro, head of the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission in Massachusetts, revealed that the agency has filed an emergency regulation to ban caffeinated alcoholic drinks and to remove them from store shelves. According to AP, the initial plan of the commission was to restrict sales of the energy drinks starting Monday, November 22; this was overturned, however, after the FDA released a warning that described caffeine as an “unsafe food additive” to the alcoholic beverages.

On Monday, the Kansas Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) announced that it was rescinding its approval of alcoholic energy drinks. ABC director Tom Groneman issued an order that is being sent to suppliers and distributors of the beverages in question, notifying them of the decision. Four products are included in the ban: Four Loko, Four Maxed, Joose and Max, the same products that have been banned in other states.

Tom Groneman issued a statement that said in part: “The Division’s concern for the health, safety and welfare of Kansas citizens along with the FDA’s recent ruling validate that these products should no longer be on Kansas shelves.”
Kansas’ move to ban the energy drinks was also prompted by the warning issued by the FDA.

Michigan Drug Screening

Health & Wellness

Study Stresses Vegetables Are Good For You!

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It has been confirmed and reconfirmed, supported no less by the results of a structured study: vegetables are good for you, so it may well be time to heed Mom’s advice and include them in your diets – and maybe throw in a little “Thanks Mom!” on the side.

A feature on Time shared the results of a study conducted by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and released by the Archives of Internal Medicine. Based on the study, people who have high blood levels of alpha-carotene, an anti-oxidant found in a variety of vegetables, are less likely to die during a longitudinal study that lasted for 14 years, when compared against people who have low levels of the carotenoid.

fruits and vegetablesThe study explained that certain fruits and vegetables that are rich in carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and lycopene, have a way of mitigating oxygen-related damage of DNA, protein and fat cells. This damage is said to be a key contributor to such chronic diseases as cancer and heart disease.

Researchers looked into and followed the alpha-carotene levels in the blood of 15,318 adults, aged 20 and older. These adults were participants of the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Follow-up Study between 1988 and 1994. In 2006, a survey was conducted to verify who among the sample population have died, and from what causes. Researchers determined that of the sample population, 3,810 have died, and the likelihood that someone with the highest levels of alpha-carotene in the blood would die was significantly less.

In addition to the low over-all mortality rate, regardless of the cause of death, the study also determined that people who had high-levels of alpha-carotene had a lower risk of cancer and heart disease.

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

Health & Wellness

What You Need to Know About the 3 Day Diet

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With the holiday season fast approaching – Thanksgiving and the scrumptious feasts that accompany it is mere days away – there will be no shortage of people looking to shed weight gained over the holidays. This demand undoubtedly results in a million and one quick weight loss schemes, most of them to be found on the internet.

A feature on WebMD shared information regarding one of these fad diets: the 3-day diet.

dietThe diet goes back to 1985, and its name refers to the duration of the diet itself. It involves following a strict meal plan for three days, to be followed by four to five days of “normal” eating, before starting the regimen again. The 3-day diet promises as much as 10 lbs of weight loss in three days, as well as cleansing, reduced cholesterol, and increased energy. There is, however, no written documentation or book to back up the science behind the diet.

The meals in the 3-day diet are very specific, and the plan lists the kind of food and the portions that the dieter should eat. The plan should be followed very precisely in order to achieve the promised weight loss. There is no mention of exercise to accompany the plan.

The diet reportedly works by creating a unique metabolic reaction that boosts fat burning. This is said to be brought about by the combination of foods – and, we are presuming, portions – suggested in the plan.

Will the diet work? WebMD says that weight loss is possible, but this is mainly because the 3-day diet is very low in calories. The bottom line is that when it comes to weight loss plans, it is advisable to choose one that controls calories but allows one to choose from a wide variety of healthy foods, and that incorporates exercise.

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.

Substance Abuse

UK Government to Push for Plain Cigarette Packaging

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In a previous post, we shared the proposed images that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will require on cigarette packaging starting in October, 2012. The images were very graphic in nature and will take up half of the front and back packaging of cigarettes. The objective of these pictures is to deter people from buying cigarettes to begin with.

cigarette packsA feature on BBC News shares a different packaging strategy from the government of the United Kingdom – a strategy that is at the other extreme of the one being employed by the FDA.  Instead in-your-face, graphic images, the UK government plans to ask retailers to sell cigarettes in plain, unattractive packages.

The government plans to make all cigarette packets come in plain brown or grey, instead of the bright colors that cigarettes come in now, starting next year. The objective is to make these packages less attractive to children. The Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), a campaign group, called the planned move “an enormous leap forward.”

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “The evidence is clear that packaging helps to recruit smokers, so it makes sense to consider having less attractive packaging. It’s wrong that children are being attracted to smoke by glitzy designs on packets… We would prefer it if people did not smoke and adults will still be able to buy cigarettes, but children should be protected from the start.”

Martin Dockrell, director of policy and research at ASH, described packaging as “the silent salesman,” adding: “They use it to seduce our kids and mislead smokers into the false belief that a cigarette in a blue pack is somehow less deadly than a cigarette in a red one.”

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.

Substance Abuse

Some Major Airports Continue to Allow Smoking

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Investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that despite the fact that many airports in the United States have implemented a ban against smoking indoors, there are still three large airports who continue to allow smokers to do so at will, according to a report on MedPage Today.

airport smokingThere are seven airports that allow smoking indoors, and three of them are among the busiest in the country: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Dallas/Fort Worth International, and Denver International Airport.

In a survey conducted in 2009, 76 percent or 22 out of 29 “large-hub” airports are described as “smoke-free”. This rate is an increase from 42 percent, the figure from a survey conducted in 2002.

The seven airports that continue to be lenient to smoking, however, do not necessarily allow smokers to light up indiscriminately, anytime, anywhere. Two airports confine smoking only to public smoking rooms, while another two only allow smoking in bars. One airport allows smoking only in both public smoking rooms and bars, while another restricts smoking only to private airline clubs. Another airport restricts smoking to non-public, leased tenant space.

CDC investigators also looked at airport policies regarding smoking outdoors. There are no airports that ban outdoor smoking entirely; 79 percent, however, restrict smoking only to certain designated areas on the airport property.

The investigation revealed further that airports that continue to allow smoking indoors are less likely to have a designated smoking area outdoors. These airports are also less likely to have minimum smoking distance requirements from airport entries.