Testing It Up » October 2011

Monthly Archives: October 2011

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Strawberry Daiquiri to Protect Stomach from Harm of Alcohol

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Scientists have found a new remedy for upset stomach after consuming alcohol: strawberry daiquiris.

Researchers have discovered that strawberries shield the stomach lining from the effects of alcohol. This could pave the way for the development of cures for stomach ulcers.

In a lab activity, scientists used rats to determine the effect of strawberry on their stomach mucous membrane after they were given ethanol. They noted that rats that have eaten strawberry extract (at 40mg/day per kilo of body weight) for 10 days prior to ethanol administration had less ulcerations in their stomach compared to those who did not have any.

They found that the strawberry extract helped prevent gastric illnesses and slowed down formation of ulcers. The study revealed that having ample amount of strawberry servings in one’s diet can be very beneficial especially for the prevention of gastric illnesses and the formation of free radicals in the body.

Researcher Maurizio Battino clarified, though, that their research “was not conceived as a way of mitigating the effects of getting drunk.” He emphasized that their study should not be used to promote drinking, but that it should be used for the formulation of new drugs for gastric problems and ulcers.

Substance Abuse

Bath Salts, Synthetic Marijuana Now Illegal in South Carolina

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Stores in South Carolina that sell bath salts and synthetic marijuana need to clear these substances off their shelves, after an announcement made by the state public health agency on Friday revealed that these substances have been declared as illegal.

The announcement also served as a warning to the stores concerned, as possession of bath salts and synthetic marijuana will soon have associated charges. Spokesman Adam Myrick shared that stores that carry these substances are urged to turn over their existing inventories to local law enforcement agencies, and pointed out that Friday’s announcement essentially provided U.S. officers with the authority to make arrests.

The main substances used in the manufacture of bath salts and synthetic marijuana have been classified as illegal by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

On Monday, the state board will convene through a teleconference to discuss the classification and allow state law enforcement agencies to make arrests on the grounds of possession of bath salts and synthetic marijuana.

Myrick said further: “People need to understand it’s illegal now. It will be illegal on a state level Monday afternoon… They need to be off the shelves. At the moment of their vote, it instantly becomes state law.”

Law enforcement officers in South Carolina called for action against bath salts and synthetic marijuana, usually marketed as “Spice” or “K2,” as they pose as health hazards to teens – or anyone who used them for that matter.

Celebrity Substance Abuse Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Dina Lohan Hawking Memoir with Revelations About Daughter Lindsay

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We recently shared comments made by Michael Lohan about daughter Lindsay, within hours after she was led away in handcuffs and in tears from a Los Angeles court and after the judge revoked her probation.

Now, attention turns to Lindsay’s other parent – mom Dina – who has reportedly been going around town, trying to hawk a memoir that will bring to light, among other things, Lindsay’s “darkest secrets,” including her supposed drug and alcohol use.

TMZ claims possession of a draft of the prologue of the supposed memoir. Dina Lohan reportedly wrote the following in the prologue: “I blamed her friends, her career and her handlers for an (sic) newfound lifestyle of partying excessively.  Drinking, drugging and behaving irresponsibly became Lindsay’s way of daily living–and it tore me up inside.”

Dina Lohan’s memoir also included the following justification for moving her daughter from New York to Los Angeles at an early age: “How could I deny my daughter the chance of a lifetime?  How could I hold Lindsay back from her dream of becoming an actress?  So, I listened to others and sent my daughter to Hollywood with a few pieces of luggage and a chaperone.”

When Lindsay started getting into all sorts of trouble, Dina shared that she was helpless and could not force her daughter to go back to New York. She also said that she was conflicted, as she was both parent and manager to Lindsay.

So far, according to TMZ, no one is taking the bait.

Alcohol Testing Substance Abuse

Binge Drinking Costing U.S. Society $2 More Per Drink

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A federal research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) quantified the societal costs of binge drinking, and determined that this amounts to an additional $2 per drink.

The study, which calculated the societal costs of heavy drinking, beyond what consumers pay for when they purchase drinks from a liquor store or a bar, is the first such federal estimate in more than 12 years.

The study took into account such costs as lost work productivity, damage to property arising from car accidents, expenses for such medical conditions associated with alcohol as liver cirrhosis, and expenses related to the incarceration of drunk drivers and criminals who used alcohol.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, gave the following statement: “Binge drinking results in binge spending.”

According to the CDC, binge drinking, which is defined as the consumption of as many as four to five servings of alcoholic beverages on one occasion, cost society an estimated $224 billion in 2006. Researchers say that this may be broken down to $1.90 per drink: 80 cents of the amount came from the coffers of federal, state and local governments, while the rest are shouldered by the drinkers themselves, as well as their families; private health insurers; employers; and crime victims, among others.

While CDC officials acknowledged the fact that moderate drinking – such as a glass of wine each day – may bring some health benefits, there are no health benefits whatsoever that could be derived from binge drinking.

Early Disease Detection

Actor Larry Hagman Reveals Cancer Diagnosis

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Larry Hagman, who plays the character John Ross “J.R.” Ewing, Jr. in the long-running hit CBS TV series Dallas, announced recently that he has been diagnosed with the big C – cancer.

Hagman had expressed that his diagnosis will not hinder him from appearing in the reboot of the classic series, which will be aired by TNT (the original series aired from 1978 until 1991). The new series will sort of pick up from where the original left off, by focusing on the new generation of the Ewing clan. Hence, Hagman will once again don the cowboy hat that has long been identified with his portrayal as J.R. Ewing.

The actor did not reveal the specific type of cancer that he has been diagnosed with, although Hagman, now 80, had undergone a liver transplant in 1995.

Hagman shared: “As J.R. I could get away with anything—bribery, blackmail and adultery. But I got caught by cancer… I do want everyone to know that it is a very common treatable form of cancer. I will be receiving treatment while working on the new Dallas series.” He did not provide details regarding the kind of treatment that he will receive, however.

Hagman said further: “I could not think of a better place to be than working on a show I love, with people I love. Besides, as well all know, you can’t keep J.R. down!”

Warner Horizon Television, TNT, and the cast and crew of the Dallas reboot gave the following statement of support for Hagman following the announcement of his diagnosis: “We look forward to watching Larry once again work his magic by bringing one of television’s most interesting, complex, and controversial characters back to the screen in the new Dallas series.”

Early Disease Detection

Use of Saliva Test for Detection of Pancreatic Cancer

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A study was able to find promise in using a saliva test to detect or diagnose pancreatic cancer before it has spread. To date, pancreatic cancer is a disease for which the survival rate is poor, and one of the factors linked to its poor survival rate is the fact that there is no early screening test for the disease; it therefore usually spreads before it symptoms are noticed.

A study, conducted by James J. Farrell, MD, medical director of the Pancreas Center at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, and colleagues, linked bacteria in the saliva to early detection of pamcreatic cancer.

Dr. Farrell shared: “We are seeing differences in the bacteria that are colonized in the mouth of patients with pancreatic cancer as opposed to other pancreatic diseases… This piece of data adds another brick in the wall of what is going on with oral health and pancreatic cancer.”

Researchers found that people with pancreatic cancer had significantly higher levels of the bacteria species Granulicatella adjacens, and reduced levels of Neisseria elongata and Streptococcus mitis.

The study involved an analysis of bacteria contained in the spit of study participants. In one phase, they found differences in bacteria in samples from 10 participants suffering from pancreatic cancer, against 10 participants who did not have the disease. In another phase, the researchers conducted an analysis of the saliva of 28 participants who had pancreatic cancer, and 28 participants who did not have the disease, in order to verify their findings.

The findings were then compared against samples from 27 people who were suffering from chronic inflammation of the pancreas, which may increase a person’s risk for developing pancreatic cancer.

Experts who were not involved in the study warned, however, that the time is not yet right to utilize a saliva test for the early detection of pancreatic cancer.

Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Cannabis-Laced Brownies Served at Funeral

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One would certainly not expect cannabis-laced food to be served in any ordinary gathering, so it certainly came as a surprise when cannabis-laced brownies were passed around at a funeral in California.

As this is a rather unusual funeral treat, the question that may be running through your mind right now is: why would anyone serve pot brownies during a funeral?

Cannabis-laced brownies, it turns out, were a tribute of sorts to the memory of the person who has passed on. Apparently, weed brownies were among the things the late friend munched on.

Unfortunately, the brownies were served without any prior announcement – or warning – about the extra ingredient that have been placed in them. As a result, three people who attended the funeral – two 71-year-old women and an 82-year-old man – wound up in the hospital on Saturday, after consuming the brownies at the memorial service. The patients complained of being nauseous, dizzy, and unable to stand without help.

Early Disease Detection

Is There Really No Need for PSA Screening?

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It may take a whole lot of convincing before some prostate cancer patients will concede to anyone that will recommend that men forego PSA screenings altogether, but in the interest of keeping readers informed about the latest developments in prostate cancer research, we share this piece of information.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force may soon recommend that men forego undergoing screening for prostate cancer, in very much the same way they previously recommended that women in their 40s do not need to undergo mammograms.

The reason behind this possible recommendation, according to an unnamed source who has inside info regarding task force deliberations, is that the group is expected to recommend a rating of “D” for the protein specific antigen (PSA) test, which screens for prostate cancer. What this rating means is that “there is moderate or high certainty that the service has no net benefit or that the harms outweigh the benefits.”

On Friday, a draft copy of the report that was released indicated that a review of studies related to the screening showed that screening with PSA blood test only leads to “small or no reduction” in prostate cancer deaths. In addition, the report indicated that the screening is “associated with harms related to subsequent evaluation and treatments.”

The decision of the task force did not sit well with some prostate cancer patients, and shared further that the decision has been called “a tremendous mistake” by a spokesman for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Early Disease Detection

Famous People Who Suffered From Pancreatic Cancer

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Steve Jobs is but one of a number of celebrities who suffered from pancreatic cancer. While it is a known fact that cancer of any form can strike anyone, regardless of stature in life, gender, and race, celebrities who suffer from a certain illness usually help raise awareness about the disease.

Other famous and high-profile people who suffered from pancreatic cancer include:

Dr. Ralph Steinman
A few days before Jobs passed away, another important figure also succumbed to pancreatic cancer. Dr. Steinman, a Canadian immunologist and cell biologist at Rockefeller University, died on September 30, 2011, three days before it was announced that he had won the 2011 Nobel prize in medicine, for his extraordinary work and contributions to cancer research.

Patrick Swayze
Patrick Swayze, the star of Dirty Dancing, as diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2008. He did not, however, undergo surgery, but did undergo intense treatment. His cancer had spread to his liver, and he passed away on September 14, 2009.

Luciano Pavarotti
Pavarotti is a well-known and well-loved Italian tenor. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July 2006, and passed away on September 6, 2007.

Michael Landon
Most remembered for his role in “Little House on the Prairie,” Landon succumbed to pancreatic cancer a mere three months after being diagnosed. The cancer had spread to his lymph nodes and his liver at the time he was diagnosed, and his case was considered terminal. He passed away on July 1, 1991.

Joan Crawford
Crawford, voted the tenth greatest female star in the history of American cinema, may have succumbed to a heart attack, but she was also suffering from pancreatic cancer at the time of her death on May 10, 1977.

Health & Wellness

Low Vitamin B12 Levels Linked to Cognitive Problems

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A cross-sectional study led by Dr. Christine C. Tangney of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found a link between cognitive problems in adults and decreased vitamin B12 levels. The said study received support from the National Institute on Aging.

After almost five years of follow-up, vitamin B12 insufficiency markers predicted lower global cognitive scores, based on information shared by Dr. Tangney and colleagues. The team wrote the following in the September 27 issue of Neurology: “Vitamin B12 status may affect the brain through multiple mechanisms.”

Martha Clare Morris, ScD, director of nutrition at Rush University Medical Center and co-author of the study, shared that the Institute of Medicine recommends that seniors take B12 supplements. Morris said that “insufficient vitamin B12 is very common in older people… The older we get we have a decreased ability to absorb vitamin B12 from our diet. … Medications can also impair absorption.”

She shared further, however, that it may be beneficial not just for seniors, but for middle-aged adults as well, to undergo screening for vitamin B12 deficiency, as well as to take vitamin B12 supplements. While their study did not specifically determine that providing a boost in vitamin B12 may lead to the prevention or reversal of the cognitive effects of suffering from a deficiency, there was evidence from a previously-conducted randomized trial that “high-dose B complex supplements could slow down brain atrophy in older adults.”

Morris shared: “At least from this one clinical trial it appears that [supplementation] may have some benefit.”