Testing It Up » February 2011

Monthly Archives: February 2011

Substance Abuse

Is Medical Marijuana Going Mainstream?

Published by:

A new weGrow store opened in Sacramento, California on Saturday, February 26, and a post on the CBS Health Blog asked an expected question: Is medical marijuana going mainstream?

The establishment, however, is not what people might expect of, or associate with, a “store.” You will not be seeing shelves upon shelves of weed, or various weed-based products, according to the post; so it will not exactly be a CVS or Walgreens or, for that matter, Wal-Mart – although the new weGrow store is already being referred to as the “Wal-Mart of Weed”. WeGrow will offer merchandise, as well as have how-to experts available, to help medical marijuana patients hydroponically grow pot.

marijuanaWhat will be available for sale are hydroponic growing equipment, and plant nutrients such as “Kushie Kush” and “Big Bud”. They will also offer classes on cultivating pot. At the weGrow opening, Frederick H. Nesbitt III whipped up omelets for the crowd, according to a feature on Time.com. Nesbitt is the executive chef of CannabisCatering.com, which specializes in marijuana dishes. The omelets he served that day, however, were of the “traditional” kind.

The weGrow store in Sacramento is a 10,000 square foot emporium. According to the Sacramento Bee, the weGrow enterprise began as a warehouse store in Oakland last year. This is a new direction for hydroponics outlets, as these initially avoided mentioning marijuana because cultivating pot is illegal under federal law. As more states approve the use of medical marijuana – there are now 15 states that allow its use to relieve pain and nausea for chronic conditions such as cancer an AIDS – an increasing number of hydroponics stores have also cropped up.

WeGrow Sacramento serves as a “beginning” of sorts for the company. They also intend to put up similar stores in Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey and Oregon.

Early Disease Detection

March Is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Published by:

As we usher in the month of March, we leave behind the month of red and think blue: for colorectal cancer.

March is colorectal cancer awareness month, and this year marks the conduct of the third annual “Dress in Blue” Day, an effort towards raising awareness regarding colorectal cancer. People are enjoined to don blue outfits on Friday, March 4.

colon cancerColorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death due to cancer in the United States. According to information provided by the American Cancer Society, an estimated 51,370 men and women died from colorectal cancer in 2010.

One of the things that have been widely written about colon cancer is the fact that it often does not exhibit symptoms until its advanced stages, but is treatable if detected early enough. It is for this reason that awareness and education is key towards preventing or effectively managing the disease.

A feature on the website of the American Cancer Society shares myths regarding colon cancer that may be preventing you from taking the tests that you need.

Myth: Colorectal cancer is a man’s disease.

Women can also develop colorectal cancer; it is, in fact, as common among women as it is among men.

Myth: Colorectal cancer is fatal, so testing is of no use.

Colorectal cancer can be treated if it is found and treated early, with a 5-year survival rate of 90 percent for cancers detected while these are still small, and before it has spread. One of the reasons for the rather low survival rate is the fact that many people are not getting tested, and only 4 out of 10 patients are diagnosed at the disease’s treatable stage.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Possible Measles Exposure Being Tracked at Three Airports

Published by:

A report by Reuters shared that a contagious passenger who passed through three major airports in the United States has spurred an effort by state health officials to track down travelers who may have been exposed to measles.

Tom Skinner, spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, revealed that a woman, who has been confirmed as having a case of the measles, traveled from the United Kingdom to Albuquerque International Airport last week. The said passenger had passed by Washington Dulles International Airport and Denver International Airport, en route to Albuquerque.

measles spotsSkinner shared further that state officials have been provided with information regarding passengers on those flights who may have had contact with the female passenger in question. The information came from the CDC, and state officials are expected to trace and check if the immunizations of anyone who had contact with the passenger are current.

The woman was said to have spent several hours at the Denver Airport on Tuesday night, and Colorado health officials had already issued a warning to travelers and workers at Denver International Airport of possible exposure.

Measles is caused by an airborne virus that is highly contagious, and is spread person to person. It develops 7 to 18 days after exposure; initial symptoms mimic those of the common cold, but a rash eventually develops on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. Skinner revealed further that officials believe that the woman may have contracted measles while overseas.

The CDC will be providing assistance to states in determining who are at risk, according to Skinner.

Substance Abuse

Police Crackdown on Florida Pill Mills

Published by:

A number of pain clinics in south Florida were subjected to raids by state and federal agents, in an operation that sought to expose what was termed as “pill mills,” according to a report by Reuters.

Six clinic owners and operators were charged with conspiring to illegally dispense more than 660,000 doses of the often-abused painkiller oxycodone, to patients who are reached through the internet, in a scheme that was said to have netted $22 million in profits.

OxyContinOxycodone is abused by crushing and then snorting the drug, or by dissolving and injecting it. The drug is addictive and has led to a number of overdose cases, some of which have been fatal.

In a news release, U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer shared that “according to recent estimates, Florida prescribes ten times more oxycodone pills than all other states combined.”

The crackdown was given the name “Operation Snake Oil,” and targeted storefront pain clinic owners and operations. These entities were marketing prescriptions using more than 1,600 Internet sites.

The indictment revealed that drug dealers are able to sell a 30-mg oxycodone pill on the street for $10 to $30, sometimes even more, as demand for the drug increased. The clinics in question demanded cash payments, and justified the prescriptions it issues for the drugs by falsifying urine tests and “over-aggressively” interpreting medical imaging.

Michele Leonhart, administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, said: “Prescription drug abuse is our country’s fastest growing drug problem, and pill mills such as those in Florida are fueling much of that growth.”

Florida Drug Screening

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Women More Prone to PTSD Than Men

Published by:

A feature on Time.com shared the results of a study conducted by a group of scientists led by Dr. Kerry Ressler of Emory University. The study sought to understand the differences in the ability of people to recover from the trauma associated with violent attack, or violence witnessed in combat zones; those who are unable to recover from these experiences suffer from flashbacks, depression, and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSDDr. Ressler and his team conducted a study of 64 traumatized civilian patients at the Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. The focus of their research was a hormone-like molecule called pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide, or PACAP. The molecule is known to have an effect on the response to stress at the cellular level.

The scientists determined that PACAP was present at higher levels among patients who suffered from PTSD, when compared against those who did not. In addition, they were also able to determine that as blood levels of PACAP increase, so does the severity of PTSD symptoms.

After the scientists split the data by gender, however, they observed that the link between PACAP and PTSD was only significant among women. This prompted the design of a follow-up study at the same hospital, this time consisting only of traumatized female patients. ABC News reported: “Again, PACAP levels correlated with PTSD symptoms — especially those considered essential for a diagnosis of PTSD: intrusive flashbacks, avoidance of trauma reminders and increased startle response.”

Dr. Ressler and his colleagues wrote the following: “These data may begin to explain sex-specific differences in PTSD diagnosis, symptoms and fear physiology.”

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Towards A Healthy Heart: More DON’Ts

Published by:

In a previous post, we shared several DON’Ts to ensure that you maintain a healthy heart, courtesy of WebMD. We would like to share a few more.

Don’t just accept that heart disease is genetic. Just because practically every generation, on both branches, of your family tree has heart disease does not mean you simply have to be resigned to the fact that you are bound to have it too. Nieca Goldberg, MD, a cardiologist and director of the New York University Women’s Heart Program, told WebMD: “heart disease isn’t just what you inherit. It’s also what you do about it.” Doing what was described as “heart-friendly things” can make a difference in terms of lowering one’s risk for heart disease, such as lowering one’s LDL by half.

heart healthDon’t skip checkups. It will be more difficult for one to detect silent heart risk factors if one does not get checked regularly. These “silent” factors include high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which are common, symptom-free, and easily treatable – if they are discovered in time.

Don’t ignore your growing waistline. If you are not using the same belt hole that you used to, or your jeans are simply not fitting right, then it is not vanity to feel concerned. Excess fat that accumulate in the midsection may mean metabolic syndrome, a combination of risk factors that may eventually lead to diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Dr. Goldberg shared further that a “hefty waistline” may double one’s risk for heart disease.

Don’t ignore elevated blood pressure. Ignoring elevated blood pressure will force the heart to work harder and enlarge, which can then lead to heart failure. Dr. Fonarow warns: “A good way to wreck your heart is to leave your blood pressure elevated and untreated.”

New York Health Screening

Substance Abuse

FDA Sued by Tobacco Companies Over Menthol Cigarettes

Published by:

An advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration is slated to deliver their final report on March 23, where they are expected to make a recommendation as to the fate of menthol cigarettes. Before that decision is handed out, however, two cigarette manufacturers launched a “preemptive strike” of sorts, and filed a lawsuit against the FDA.

cigarettesAccording to a report by Reuters, Lorillard, Inc., manufacturer of top-selling cigarette Newport, and Reynolds American Inc., manufacturer of Kool, sued the FDA on charges of “conflicts of interest and bias among members” of the FDA advisory panel.

Information from Euromonitor International revealed that menthol cigarettes make up roughly 30 percent of annual cigarette sales in the United States, pegged at more than $83 billion. In 2009, the FDA was given regulatory power over tobacco products through a law. This led to a ban on the use of chocolate, fruit, and other flavorings for cigarettes, as these are said to be attractive to children and encourage them to start smoking.

The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, pointed out that the three members of the FDA advisory panel for tobacco had “severe financial and appearance conflicts of interest and associated biases.”

The advisers, according to the lawsuit, have received research funding, or payment for consultation work, from manufacturers of smoking-cessation products.

In addition, two other members of a panel subcommittee were also accused of having biases, as they have allegedly served as paid expert witnesses against tobacco companies, according to the lawsuit.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Towards A Healthy Heart: The DON’Ts

Published by:

If you want to have a healthy heart, there are things that you simply should NOT do. A feature on WebMD shares what these Don’ts are.

Don’t smoke – or continue to smoke. Smoking is a major cause of heart disease, as it raises one’s blood pressure, causes blood clots, and makes exercising more difficult. It is also the primary cause of premature death in the United States, according to the American Heart Association.

healthy heartDon’t ignore chest pain. There are people who simply find it more convenient to ignore aches and pains, but learning which ones merit attention may save your life. You can attribute chest pain after a heavy meal to your stomach trying to make a scene, but if it happens while exercising, then you should take notice. If you feel like an elephant is sitting on your chest and you’re breaking out in a sweat, then whip out your phone and call 911.

Don’t be a couch potato. It’s time to get movin’! Gregg Fonarow, MD, spokesperson for the American Heart Association, and associate chief of the division of cardiology at UCLA, shared: “Being sedentary increases heart risks. Physical activity simply translates to living longer.” It’s never too late to start exercising. And you can have the best of both worlds: set up a treadmill or exercise bike in front of the TV, and you can still catch your favorite shows while getting the exercise you need.

Don’t eat like there’s no tomorrow. As in most things, eating should be done in moderation. Obesity and being overweight are risk factors for heart disease, so it may be a good time as any to start eating sensibly and aim for a healthy and balanced diet, consisting of fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Justin Tennison of “Deadliest Catch” Dies

Published by:

A little over a year after the death of Cornelia Marie captain Phil Harris, after suffering a stroke on board, another cast member of the reality show “Deadliest Catch” has died, according to a feature on ABC News.

Justin TennisonThe body of Justin Tennison, 33, was found on Tuesday afternoon in a room at the Best Western Bidarka Inn in Homer, Alaska. He works on the ship Time Bandit, fishing for king crab. He is supposed to make his first appearance on the reality show in April.

Cast member Eddie Uwekoolani, who is also Tennison’s second cousin, shared that he last saw Tennison on Monday night. He said: “That evening, he came down to the boat about 10 o’clock, and I had one drink with him and took off to my house with my grandson and son, and next morning called to find out if he was coming to work. I never got a hold of him. I texted him. I just thought he didn’t make it to work… The manager said they found Justin nonresponsive on the bed, not breathing, so she called the cops and they came down.”

Homer police Lt. Randy Rosencrans told the Associated Press that responding police found beer, hard liquor, and a small amount of marijuana in the room. Tennison’s cause of death, however, is yet to be determined, and an autopsy is already being conducted towards that end.

“Deadliest Catch” follows the challenges associated with Alaskan king crab fishing in the dangerous waters of the Bering Sea.

Celebrity Substance Abuse Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

David Arquette Opens Up on Oprah

Published by:

David Arquette rang in 2011 by seeking help for alcohol addiction, and now that he has gotten that out of the way, he sat down with THE Oprah, after talking only on Howard Stern’s show.

A feature on Entertainment Weekly shared details from his childhood and his marriage, as well as the battles that he had to fight. David looked back at his younger days, sharing that he had stolen beer from his father at the age of 4, and that by the age of 8, he was stealing pot from his father. Arquette claimed that he started drinking seriously at the age of 12.

David Arquette and Courteney CoxDavid and his sisters, Rosanna and Patricia, who spoke via a pre-taped interview, shared images of a rather tough childhood: their father used pot and had a whiskey habit, while their mother once subjected the children to physical abuse. Over the years, however, the siblings proudly recounted that their parents eventually healed themselves. Their father became sober, while their mother eventually became a marriage-family counselor – and their children eventually found love and forgiveness for them.

David shared, however, that he got into drugs while dealing with his mother’s passing in 1997, which was also the time when his relationship with Courteney Cox began. He eventually gave up the hard drugs and stuck to just drinking and pot, and he and Cox eventually got married. After 11 years of marriage, however, Cox reportedly said: “I don’t want to be your mother anymore.”

He also shared that Courteney and his sister, Patricia, staged an intervention for him; they showed up by his bed one day, and his best friend, his business manager, and a person he didn’t know was downstairs waiting for him.