Testing It Up » November 2011

Monthly Archives: November 2011

Early Disease Detection Substance Abuse

ADHD in Adults: Behavioral Symptoms and Treatment

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When we encounter the term Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), we usually immediately associate the condition with children, which is not entirely surprising, as it is one of the most recognized developmental problems in children.

ADHD, however, is a condition that is not experienced exclusively by children. Adults may have ADHD as well.

ADHD is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness, and for 60 percent of children who have ADHD, these symptoms continue into adulthood. Adults with ADHD may find it difficult to follow directions, remember information, concentrate, organize tasks, or complete tasks within a specific time limit.

ADHD in adults may lead to several behaviors and problems, including, but not limited to, low self esteem; difficulty in controlling anger; substance abuse or addiction; depression; and relationship issues, among others.

In addition, adults with ADHD were found to be more likely to smoke cigarettes, use illegal drugs, and have various driving violations, such as being cited for speeding; having their license suspended; and being involved in more car crashes.

While there are adults that may suffer from ADHD, researchers agree that it is not an adult-onset disorder and needs to be verified from childhood.

Treatment of ADHD in adults may consist of medication and cognitive and behavioral therapy.

Adults with ADHD are usually prescribed with stimulant drugs. The challenge with this treatment, however, is that stimulant drugs are controlled substances, which is why adults with ADHD are prone to substance abuse. The only non-stimulant medication that has been given approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is Strattera.

Early Disease Detection

New Study Supports Mammograms by Age 40

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The recently-released findings of a new study will undoubtedly add fuel to an already fired-up debate regarding when women should start undergoing periodic mammograms.

A new study, led by Stamatia Destounis, MD, a radiologist at Elizabeth Wende Breast Care, LLC, in Rochester, New York, determined that screening mammograms are just as likely to find invasive cancers in women who did not have a family history of the disease, as in those who do.

Dr. Destounis and her colleagues conducted a review of the medical records of 1,071 women, aged 40 to 49, who went through screening mammograms at Elizabeth Wende Breast Care between the year 2000 and 2010. Of this population, 373 received breast cancer diagnoses.

Further analysis showed that 61 percent of the women who were diagnosed with breast cancer did not have a family history of the disease, and of this group, 64 percent had invasive breast cancer. On the other hand, of those who were diagnosed with breast cancer and had a family history of the disease, 63 percent had invasive breast cancer.

The debate over when women should start getting screening mammograms stemmed from a recommendation released by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in 2009, which recommended routine screenings every other year for women starting at age 50, as opposed to 40. The task force said that over-all, the risks associated with screening mammograms outweigh the benefits that could be derived from the procedure, for women in their 40s. These risks include the possibility of having to undergo unnecessary biopsies.

Early Disease Detection

Polycystic Kidney Disease: Symptoms and Management

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Polycystic kidney disease (PKD), or polycystic kidney syndrome, is the most common life-threatening genetic disease.

Since knowledge is one of key things that will help people manage any disease, we would like to share information regarding the disease.

PKD is characterized by the development of clusters of cysts – non-cancerous round sacs that contain water-like fluid – within the kidneys. While the disease is not limited to the kidneys, they are the most severely affected organs. PKD can lead to the development of cysts in the liver, as well as in other parts of the body.

Common symptoms associated with PKD include high blood pressure, back or side pain, headache, increase in the size of the abdomen, blood in the urine, frequent urination, kidney stones, and urinary tract or kidney infections.

It is possible, however, for people to have PKD and not develop any signs or symptoms, or to not know that they already have it. It is therefore helpful to be keen about such signs as an increase in the size of the abdomen and back and side pain, and to see a doctor to find out what may be behind these symptoms.

One may also benefit from discussing with a doctor the advantages and disadvantages of screening for PKD if one has a first degree relative – such as a parent, sibling, or child – who is suffering from the disease.

There are two types of polycystic kidney disease: Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), and Autosomal recessive polycystic kidney disease (ARPKD).

Early Disease Detection

How to Keep Colorectal Cancer at Bay

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More often than not, one’s thoughts automatically turn to undergoing a colonoscopy when talking about preventing colorectal cancer. Undergoing the procedure starting at the age of 50, however, is not the only thing that could be done in order to prevent the onset of colorectal cancer.

Steer clear of cigarettes. Smoking is associated with a number of health issues, and one of them is colorectal cancer. A study conducted in 2008 indicated that smokers are 18 percent more likely to develop colorectal cancer, as opposed to those who do not smoke. They are also 25 percent more likely to succumb to the disease.

Keep red meat consumption at a minimum. Diets rich in red meat, especially processed, salted, smoked, or cured meats such as bacon, sausage, and hot dogs, have been associated with a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. The Health.com feature suggests limiting red meat consumption to two 4-ounce portions of lean meat (trim off the excess fat!) a week, and discourages charring the meat on a grill.

Avoid binge drinking. Binge drinking, like smoking, is something that no one should do, and one reason to add to a long list of reasons to refrain from binge drinking is the fact that it has been associated with an increased risk for colorectal cancer. An analysis conducted this year revealed that people who have two or three alcoholic drinks a day have a 21 percent higher risk of colorectal cancer, when compared against those who do not drink, or who only drink occasionally.

Health & Wellness

Managing Psoriasis Without Spending Big Bucks

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Anyone who lives with psoriasis will undoubtedly not be too fond of a number of things associated with the chronic skin condition, including the constant itch and the cost of treatment. Here are some free ways to manage psoriasis.

Get out and enjoy the sun. Sunlight is everywhere and is available for free – and can play a key role in managing psoriasis, according to Marian T. McEvoy, MD, a professor of dermatology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Psoriasis is characterized by the overproduction of skin cells, due to the accumulation of overactive white blood cells in the skin. Ultraviolet light kills these white blood cells, resulting in the slowing of overgrowth of skin and less inflammation. It may also lead to the reduction of scaling and flaking.

Psoriasis sufferers, however, are warned against overdoing exposure to sunlight, as sunburn may also trigger psoriasis.

Shed those extra pounds. Since psoriasis is an inflammatory disease, losing weight may help manage the condition as weight loss can lead to decreased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is produced by the body in response to inflammation, so reduced CRP levels may help with psoriasis flare-ups.

Lead a clean lifestyle. Smoking and heavy drinking are not advisable for anyone, but that is even more so for those who are suffering from psoriasis. Smoking increases one’s risk for developing psoriasis, and the risk increases with the degree of one’s smoking habit, while quitting will slowly reduce that risk.

Heavy drinking, on the other hand can aggravate psoriasis and lower one’s response to treatment.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Most ER Visits by Seniors Linked to 4 Common Medications

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A study conducted by researchers of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that most emergency room visits of senior citizens may be traced to four common medications. The results of the study indicated that the medications, which consist of two diabetes and two blood-thinning agents, account for two-thirds of drug-related emergency hospitalizations.

Dr. Daniel Budnitz, director of the medication safety program of the CDC and lead author of the study, gave the following statement: “Of the thousands of medications available to older patients, a small group of blood thinners and diabetes medications caused a high proportion of emergency hospitalizations for adverse drug events among elderly Americans.”

In contrast, drugs that had been designated as “high risk” accounted for only 1.2 percent of hospitalizations.

The study analyzed data retrieved from a nationally representative database, from which CDC researchers were able to identify more than 5,000 cases of “drug-related adverse events” among Americans aged 65 and older, from 2007 to 2009.

The results of the analysis indicated that nearly half of the hospitalizations, at 48 percent, occurred among Americans aged 80 years old and above, while 66 percent were due to unintentional overdose.

The four medications, used alone or together, are the blood thinning medication warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven); insulin; antiplatelet drugs such as aspirin and clopidogrel (Plavix); and oral hypoglycemic agents.

Dr. Budnitz shared: “These are often critical medicines for patients’ health. Patients who are on these medicines should tell all their doctors what they are taking and work together with their doctors and pharmacist to make sure that they are taking these medicines correctly.”

The study was published in the November 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Early Disease Detection

Moderate Drinking Associated with Reduced Risk for Diabetes

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A study published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that middle-aged women, whose diets were high in refined carbs, but who drank moderately may lower their risk for developing diabetes.

While drinking moderately has been linked previously with reduced diabetes risk, the new study sought to explain that association by focusing on women who had high-glycemic diets, which may more likely lead to increased blood sugar levels.

Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health, senior author of the study, shared: “If you eat a high carb diet without drinking alcohol, your risk of developing diabetes is increased by 30 percent… However, if you eat a high carb diet, but (drink) a moderate amount of alcohol, the increased risk is reduced.”

The study involved an analysis of data from 82,000 women, who participated in the long-term Nurses’ Health Study. Around 9 percent of these women, who were initially diabetes-free, developed the condition after a follow-up period of 26 years.

Women whose diets were high in refined carbs, such as breakfast cereals, breads, mashed potatoes, colas and orange juice, and who ate a lot of meat, were most at risk for developing diabetes. However, women within this group who were moderate drinkers had 30 percent lower risk when compared against those who did not drink at all. Moderate drinkers were defined as those whose average alcohol intake as more than 15 grams a day.

Dr. Hu clarifies, however, that he is not advocating drinking as a means of lowering one’s risk for developing diabetes.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Coffee Associated with Lower Cancer Risk in Women

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The results of a new study, published in the current issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, revealed that women who consume moderate to high amounts of coffee may have reduced risk for endometrial cancer.

Based on the study’s findings, women who drink four or more cups of caffeinated coffee daily seem to reduce their risk for endometrial cancer by 25 percent, when compared against those who drink less than a cup of coffee a day.

Study co-author Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, cautioned, however, that the study “does not prove cause and effect… But this observation has been suggested previously, and there’s strong reason now to believe that this association is real.”

Dr. Giovannucci went on to share possible explanations for the findings of the study. This includes the fact that coffee seems to reduce the levels of estrogen and insulin. Women with increased levels of these two hormones, Dr. Giovannucci said, have a higher risk for endometrial cancer. He also said that “women with diabetes also face a much higher risk, and coffee has been associated with a lower risk for diabetes. So there are several factors that could be involved.”

The study involved an analysis of data previously collected by the Nurses’ Health Study, which was launched initially in 1976. Study participants consisted of women aged between 30 and 55, who lived in 11 different states.

The researchers focused on the coffee-drinking habits of an estimated 67,500 study participants, and conducted surveys at two-year intervals, tracking occurrences of endometrial cancer over a period of 26 years. These steps yielded 672 observed cases of endometrial cancer.

Early Disease Detection

George Michael Being Treated for Pneumonia, Postpones Tour

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George Michael, the former frontman for Wham! who is known for such songs as “Careless Whisper” and “Faith,” is being treated for severe pneumonia and has postponed the remainder of his European tour.

The British singer’s spokeswoman released a statement on Friday, announcing the postponement of the rest of his Symphonica tour, as well as denying reports that he was suffering from serious heart problems.

The statement indicated the following: “George Michael is ill with pneumonia and any other speculation regarding his illness is unfounded and untrue… He is receiving excellent medical care; he is responding to treatment and slowly improving.”

George Michael is said to be in a hospital in Vienna.

The postponement of the tour was made upon the suggestion of the singer’s doctors, Christoph Zielinski and Thomas Staudinger. The two doctors released the following joint statement: “George Michael has severe community acquired pneumonia and is being treated as an inpatient. His condition has stabilized and he is responding to treatment… From the current point of view, the time until recovery cannot be estimated, but he will not be able to perform the rest of the tour. Besides medical treatment, complete rest and peace and quiet are mandatory.”

Ticket holders of George Michael’s Symphonica European tour, however, were asked to retain their tickets and wait for further announcements regarding the re-scheduling of the performances.

Among the performances that were called off were three scheduled for this month, and 11 scheduled for December.

Health & Wellness

Eating Canned Soup May Increase Risk for BPA Exposure

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A study conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that consuming canned soup may increase one’s risk for exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a plastics additive that is associated with several health issues.

The results of the study indicated that BPA concentrations in the urine of 75 volunteers, who consumed 12 ounces of vegetarian canned soup, were 1,221 percent higher when compared against levels measured after consuming soup made from fresh ingredients.

BPA is used in making polycarbonate plastic bottles and epoxy can linings. In a statement sent through e-mail, Harvard shared that BPA has been associated with vascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Karin Michels, senior author for the study, suggested that food companies consider eliminating BPA from can linings.

Lead author Jenny Carwile gave the following statement: “We’ve known for a while that drinking beverages that have been stored in hard plastics can increase the amount of BPA in your body… This study suggests that canned foods may be an even greater concern, especially given their wide use.”

The study used Progresso, a canned soup brand manufactured by Minneapolis-based company General Mills, Inc. Kirstie Foster, a spokeswoman for General Mills, said that the company had no comment as it has yet to see the study: “Scientific and governmental bodies worldwide have examined the science and concluded that the weight of evidence support the safety of BPA, including comprehensive risk assessments in Japan and in the European Union.”

The study was published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.