Testing It Up » February 2012

Monthly Archives: February 2012

Drug Testing

Parents Test Their Kids for Drugs at Home

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A new program initiated and supported by the Missouri Police Chief’s Charitable Foundation is giving parents all the support they need to be able to drug test their kids within the privacy of their own homes. The program called ‘Test My Teen’ was launched last week at Wentzville with at least 45 law enforcement agencies joining across Missouri.

In the program, free testing kits will be made available after parents register online. Parents will have to shoulder shipping costs.

The kit works by filling the cup with urine and in just a few seconds, parents will be able to determine if their kid is into drugs as well as the type of drug their kid is hooked on. All the processes involved will be made inside their own homes.

Wentzville Police Chief Lisa Harrison said that through the program, parents are empowered especially when it comes to the issue of teen drug abuse. “Parents need to be aware. It seems like parents are always the last to know if the child is doing something wrong. This gives parents a tool to take control. To be proactive in helping their kids stay clean,” says the chief.

The identities of parents who ask for drug test kits will be kept confidential that even police officials won’t get any information about where the kits go.

During the Town Hall meeting where the program was discussed, it gained a number of positive feedbacks from parents and the whole community.

The ‘Test My Teen’ program comes after the St. Charles County was able to tally 138 drug-related deaths in the last five years.  Organizers say that this is the best opportunity for parents to safeguard their kids from the deadly habit of experimenting with drugs.

Early Disease Detection

Colonoscopy Can Reduce Rate of Death Due to Cancer

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A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine provided strong evidence to support the role that colonoscopy plays in saving the lives of people who develop colorectal cancer.

The study involved following patients for a period of up to 20 years. Researchers led by Dr. Sidney J. Winawer, a gastroenterologist at the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, tracked 2,602 patients who underwent removal of adenomatous polyps, or precancerous growths, during colonoscopies from 1980 to 1990.

Consequent analysis of the data gathered showed that death rates due to colorectal cancer was reduced by a significant 53 percent in patients who underwent colonoscopies, and whose doctors removed adenomatous polyps detected during screening.

Dr. Gina Vaccaro, a gastrointestinal oncologist at the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health and Science University, shared: “For any cancer screening test, reduction of cancer-related mortality is the holy grail… This study does show that mortality is reduced if polyps are removed, and 53 percent is a very robust reduction.” Dr. Vaccaro was not involved in the study.

Colorectal cancer is a major cause of death in the United States, but it is one of the few cancers that are preventable, for as long as it is detected early, through screening procedures. Federal estimates indicate, however, that only around 6 out of 10 adults are updated in screening for the disease. Colonoscopies were described in the feature as probably the least liked screening test for cancer.

Substance Abuse

Use of Smartphones for Prevention and Treatment of Drug Abuse

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Apple made it very clear that for practically anything one needs – well, “There’s an app for that!” line implies that the smart phone may become an all-around, indispensable tool for a wide variety of uses – at least for someone who knows how to make the most of what the gadget has to offer.

Take, for instance, a study conducted by clinical researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). The researchers developed a device that is designed to detect physiological stressors linked to drug cravings, and respond with customized behavioral interventions that will prevent drug use.

The device, called iHeal, combines such innovative technologies as artificial intelligence, smartphone programming, biosensors, and wireless connectivity.

The researchers say that behavioral interventions employed in the treatment of patients are ineffective outside the controlled clinical settings where they are taught. These interventions do not work, they say, due to several factors, including the inability of a patient to recognize biological changes that indicate increased risk of relapse, as well as the inability to make the necessary changes in their behavior to reduce health risk.

Lead author Edward Boyer, MD, PhD, a professor of emergency medicine at UMMS, and colleagues at the UMMS and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, designed a mobile device that utilized “enabling technologies” that have the ability to make behavioral interventions for those who engage in substance abuse more effective even outside of the clinic and office environments.

iHeal measures physiological changes, as well as detect trigger points for such risky behaviors as substance abuse, using smartphone software that is customized to respond with patient-specific interventions.

Pregnancy & Fertility Substance Abuse

Colorado to Seek Protection for Pregnant Drug Abusers

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Doctors in Colorado are seeking protection for expectant mothers who test positive for drugs, in order to ensure that pregnant mothers and their unborn children are given the care that they need.

Drug abuse during pregnancy can result in problems when the child is born. It can also mean legal consequences for the mother. Unfortunately, the latter causes pregnant drug abusers to stay away from the doctor’s office due to fear of criminal prosecution. While the use of drug test results against pregnant drug abusers in court is not common in Colorado, other states have taken to using these test results as a way of upholding the rights of unborn children.

Efforts are currently being made by lawmakers in Colorado to protect these expectant mothers from the results of their drug tests, through a bill that would make drug test results inadmissible in court, if these are given to a pregnant woman by her doctor.

Doctors have been vocal about the fact that having a mother be afraid of the law will be detrimental to the unborn child. Dr. Josh Kopelman, an OB/GYN in private practice, shared: “She’s not going to come in… Neither she nor the baby is going to get an opportunity to treat and prevent the complications that can be caused by these drugs.”

A report from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment estimated that 17 percent of the 66,000 babies born in Colorado in 2010 were exposed to tobacco; 12 percent were exposed to alcohol; 6 percent were exposed to prescription drugs; and 4 percent were exposed to illegal drugs.

Substance Abuse

Study: Smokeless Tobacco Can Help Save Smokers’ Lives

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Using smokeless tobacco products can help save the lives of smokers, according to a study conducted by a researcher from the University of Louisville.

The study indicated that substituting smokeless tobacco products can save smokers’ lives. The findings were the result of 20 years of research conducted by Brad Rodu, D.D.S., professor of medicine at the University of Louisville (U of L) School of Medicine and the Endowed Chair in Tobacco Harm Reduction of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center of U of L.

The research findings were presented by Rodu during the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on February 18. He said, “Quit or die: that’s been the brutal message delivered to 45 million American smokers, and it has helped contribute to 443,000 deaths per year, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The truth, however, is that total nicotine and tobacco abstinence is unattainable and unnecessary for many smokers.”

Rodu found that replacing smoking products with e-cigarettes or spit-free smokeless tobacco is a safer alternative for smokers who are still unwilling or unable to give up their tobacco habit. Smokeless tobacco products, the feature shared further, continue to deliver nicotine without the other harmful effects of smoking tobacco products.

Rodu shared: “Nicotine is addictive, but it is not the cause of any smoking-related disease. Like caffeine, nicotine can be used safely by consumers.”

There is, however, controversy over Rodu’s findings, as those who opposed the use of nicotine delivery products claim that smokeless tobacco increases a user’s risk for developing oral cancer.

Celebrity Substance Abuse Substance Abuse

Sir Paul McCartney Gave Up Pot for the Sake of Young Daughter

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Sir Paul McCartney has certainly come a long way and has made an indelible mark in music history. A lot has changed since his days with The Beatles, and in a recent interview with Rolling Stone, the music legend revealed one such change: pot use.

Sir Paul shared that his pot smoking days are officially over, and that he arrived at the decision to give up marijuana for the sake of his 8-year-old daughter with former wife Heather Mills, Beatrice. McCartney was quoted as saying: “I smoked my share. When you’re bringing up a youngster, your sense of responsibility does kick in, if you’re lucky, at some point. Enough’s enough… you just don’t seem to think it’s necessary.”

It is a known fact that McCartney was arrested in Japan in 1980, while on tour with his band Wings. Customs officials in the country found half a pound of marijuana in his luggage, and the singer spent 10 nights in prison. He was eventually released and deported.

Celebrity Substance Abuse Substance Abuse

Whitney Houston Fell Off the Sober Wagon in Months Leading to Her Death

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The death of music icon Whitney Houston placed a spotlight yet again on the dangers of substance abuse, despite the fact that the actual cause of her death is yet to be determined.

A feature on the Daily Mail quoted a source that told Star magazine that “the last three months of Whitney’s life were truly tragic.”

There were eyewitness accounts of the singer partying, drinking, and behaving erratically. Another source was quoted with the following statement to RadarOnline: “Bobbi Kristina, Clive Davis, and members of Whitney’s closest advisers were urging her to go back to rehab because people close to her saw her downward spiral into drugs and alcohol. It was extremely hard for Clive in particular to see Whitney under the influence again. He was absolutely powerless to stop her. Clive and Whitney had a very close relationship, but her addiction to drugs and alcohol did a lot of damage to that.”

RadarOnline also claimed that Clive Davis had offered to pay for rehab, but that the late singer refused.

A funeral service in Whitney Houston’s memory will be held at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey.

Health & Wellness

Having It All: Eat Cake and Lose Weight!

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Can one really eat cake at breakfast – and lose weight in the process?

A study conducted by Dr. Daniela Jakubowicz of Tel Aviv University in Israel found that having carbs and protein in the morning help keep one full, as well as curbs further cravings for more of these gastronomic delights later in the day.

The study, which lasted for 16 weeks, had 193 obese adult participants. Each group was asked to eat the same amount of calories per day: 1,600 calories for men, and 1,400 calories for women. It was determined that those who ate a high-protein, high-carbohydrate breakfast – which included dessert – were able to stay more faithful to their diet and keep the pounds off longer, when compared against those who ate low-carb, low-calorie breakfasts that did not include yummy treats.

The results of the study suggests that meal timing and meal composition play a role in weight loss. The carbs and protein help keep one full for the rest of the day, while the sweets early in the day will help curb cravings for them.

Nutritionists, however, are not keen on supporting the findings. Dessert at breakfast is considered by some as a diet no-no, and that it may actually increase, as opposed to curb, cravings for sweets.

One of those who expressed disapproval for the findings is Katherine Tallmadge, a registered dietitian and author of “Diet Simple,” who was not involved in the study. She said: “I would never, in a million years, recommend cookies or cake for breakfast.”

Real Drug Stories Substance Abuse

Michigan Parents Come Together Against Drug Abuse

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The death of an 18-year-old graduate of Plainwell High School in Michigan has raised concerns over teen substance abuse in the community. In response, two dialogues regarding substance abuse prevention among teenagers has been organized at Plainwell Community Schools.

The death of Tyler Scott Warner, a graduate of Plainwell High School who overdosed on prescription drugs last November, served as a wake up call to the members of the community.

Deb Burley, assistant principal at Plainwell High School, shared: “I know in my heart that every school has their own problems with underage drinking and drug use… It’s no better or worse here. But when something like this happens so close to home, it really causes you to stop and take a look at the situation.”

The first dialogue will involve parents and other adults, who will gather at the performing arts center of Plainwell High School. Local law enforcement officials and members of the Allegan County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition will talk about teen substance abuse; serving as moderator is Allegan County District Court Judge William Baillargeon.

Topics that will be discussed include what substances are being abused by teens; how to dispose of unwanted prescription drugs; how to talk to young people about using drugs and alcohol; and the efforts being done by the school district towards the establishment of a confidential system for the reporting of suspected drug and alcohol abuse.

The other dialogue will have teens meeting with a facilitator to talk about what substances are being abused; where teens are getting these substances; and how they can be encouraged to stay away from substance abuse.

The community forum will be held on Thursday, February 16, at Plainwell High School.

Early Disease Detection

CDC Recommends HPV Vaccinations for Young Boys

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Recommendations to vaccinate against the human papillomavirus (HPV) are now being extended by federal health experts to include young boys.

A new immunization schedule released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published in The Annals of Internal Medicine explicitly recommends HPV vaccinations for boys 11 to 12 years old, and catch-up vaccinations for boys 13 to 21 years old.

Previous recommendations for HPV vaccinations focused mainly on girls and young women, which were brought forth in 2006, for the purpose of preventing cervical cancer. Not until now, however, did health authorities specifically give the same recommendation for young boys, although they did previously say that boys “could” receive vaccinations to protect against genital warts and certain cancers, as well as to help prevent the spread of HPV.

The recommendations were issued in the wake of a report, released last week, which indicated that roughly 1 in 15 Americans are infected with oral HPV, and that it is especially common among young men. Eileen Dunn, a scientist at the CDC, also shared that new data over the past couple of years showed that HPV vaccines are “very effective” in the prevention of genital warts in both men and women, as well as certain cancers.

HPV is usually found in the genital area, and may affect up to 80 percent of men and women at one point in their lives, although it may be transmitted to the mouth through intimate contact. HPV infection can increase one’s risk for several cancers, including cervical, anal, and oropharyngeal.