Testing It Up » April 2012

Monthly Archives: April 2012

Health & Wellness

Are Softdrinks the Primary Culprit for Obesity?

Published by:

It is a reality that the United States is facing at this time, health-wise: that obesity has risen to epidemic proportions, even among children. And among the foods that are being singled out as one of the primary causes of obesity are soft drinks.

Dr. David Ludwig, director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Children’s Hospital in Boston, said: “Soft drinks and sugar-containing beverages are the low hanging fruit in public health today… Many children are consuming 300 calories per day or more, just in sugar-containing beverages. Compare the challenge of giving up three glasses of sugary beverages, versus getting them to do two hours of moderate physical activity.”

Those who are in the soft drink industry, however, said that these sugary drinks are being unfairly singled out in the fight against obesity. Karen Hanretty, Vice-President of Public Affairs for the American Beverage Association, shared: “Consumption of added sugars is going down… Soda consumption has declined, even as obesity has increased. To say that sugar is solely responsible for obesity, doesn’t make sense.”

The hugely popular Coca-Cola, on the other hand, revealed that it has adapted to meet consumer demand, according to Vice President and Chief Scientific Regulatory Officer Rhona Applebaum. Consumers have increasingly favored low-sugar products, with Diet Coke and Coke Zero making up 41% of Coke’s North American soda sales. She shared: “Our products are part of a balanced, sensible diet, and they can be enjoyed as a valuable part of any meal, including snacks.”

Early Disease Detection

Music Helping Robin Gibb in Cancer Fight

Published by:

There is a hopeful update to a previous feature on Testing It Up UK, which shared that Robin Gibb has slipped into a coma and may only have a few days left to live.

The singer, of the Bee Gees fame, had been diagnosed with colon cancer, which had spread to his liver, during an emergency procedure to treat a blocked bowel. His twin brother, Maurice, had died due to complications from a twisted intestine in 2003.

A recent report  from The Telegraph shared that the singer is showing “hopeful signs of recovery,” according to a source, although he is admittedly not “out of the woods” yet. The source was quoted as saying: “There were flickers of life from Robin. His eyes moved and there was an attempt at speech.”

Gibbs was admitted to a hospital in Chelsea, west London last week. He had lost consciousness after contracting pneumonia.

Since then, his family – wife Dwina, daughter Melissa, and sons Spencer and Robin-John – has been keeping vigil by his bedside. His brother Barry, his wife Linda and son Stephen have flown to London from the U.S. to be with the singer and his family.

Wife Dwina shared that music seems to be helping her husband. This may very well be but fitting, being as it were that Gibbs and his brothers are music icons. Their children, Dwina said, have played music for their father, while his brother Barry sang to him.

In an interview with the Northern Irish publication the Impartial Reporter, Dwina expressed gratitude for the support and prayers from fans.

Substance Abuse

Key to Quitting Smoking: Recognizing Triggers

Published by:

It is something we have heard time and again, from the people who have tried – and are still trying – to do it: quitting smoking is easier said than done.

The important thing to remember, however, is that regardless of how difficult it may be to kick the cigarette habit, it is something that is not impossible, especially for those who have the right level of determination, resources, and support.

A strategy that can be employed by those who wish to quit smoking is to find one’s smoking triggers, or things that ignite an urge to smoke, and manage them.

Steven Schroeder, MD, director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California, San Francisco, shared: “For long-time smokers, daily life can be filled with triggers.” Triggers may include certain places, times of the day, foods, and activities.

These triggers may make giving up one’s cigarette habit difficult, but once a determined smoker recognizes what these triggers are and makes a conscious effort to avoid or defuse them, he or she may very well be on the right path towards a smoke-free life.

Triggers, the article shared, are a type of conditioned response. For instance, if one usually has a cigarette during a coffee break, than one may associate the smell of coffee with smoking. Scott McIntosh, PhD, associate professor of community and preventive medicine at the University of Rochester in New York and director of the Greater Rochester Area Tobacco Cessation Center shared, however, that these responses can be broken.

“If you’re used to smoking in the car, for example, practice driving short distances without smoking. If coffee triggers a craving, practice taking your coffee break without having a cigarette. Have a glass of wine but don’t accompany it with a cigarette. Focus on breaking your own most powerful triggers in advance of quitting,” McIntosh said.

Health & Wellness

Join for Me: Experimental Childhood Obesity Program in Rhode Island

Published by:

It is said that childhood obesity in America has risen to epidemic proportions, and all across the country advocates are coming up with programs to address this concern. An experimental childhood obesity program in Rhode Island has achieved success and will soon be rolling out in other states as well.

The “Join For Me” program of the Greater Providence YMCA, sponsored by the insurance company United Health Care, teaches kids about nutrition. They learn to choose fruit over potato chips, grilled food over fried food and small portions over large ones. The program, according to director Cindy McDermott, also includes parents, in recognition of the fact that eating habits are learned at home.

McDermott shared: “People think that children won’t eat fruits and vegetables, they don’t like those foods. They do like those foods. They need to be exposed to them, and learn that they’re actually better for their body.”

Among those who have benefited from the program is Tyler Sumner, who at 7 years old, already weighed 110 pounds, nearly double the normal weight for someone his age. At the time, he already had trouble breathing, and was at risk for diabetes. His dad, Mike, shared: “He would come home, his feelings would be hurt. He would say, ‘Dad, I just want to be like everybody else,’ or ‘Dad, I just don’t feel that great today,’ or ‘I’m tired.’”

Tyler’s parents, Mike and Kim, enrolled him in the “Join For Me” program, and since then, he has lost 20 pounds. He lost the first 11 during the program; the rest he lost by continuing to practice the healthy habits he learned.

“Join For Me” will soon be available for kids and their parents in Texas and Louisiana.

Substance Abuse

Scholarships Available for Illinois Teen Institute on Substance Abuse

Published by:

The annual Illinois Teen Institute on Substance Abuse is scheduled for July 22 to 26, 2012, at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, IL, and qualified teen leaders are encouraged to apply for the 60 scholarships available statewide.

The principal sponsor for the event is the Illinois Sheriff’s Association, as announced by Clay County Sheriff James C. Sulsberger.

The Illinois Teen Institute website clarifies that the Institute is a national, award-winning prevention (as opposed to treatment) program. Furthermore, it is a comprehensive education and training program that promotes positive attitude towards improving all areas of life, emphasizes positive peer influence, and helps adults and youth to come together towards preventing substance abuse.

The qualifications for those who will attend the Illinois Teen Institute are as follows:

• A freshman, sophomore, junior or senior in the 2012-2013 school year and under 18 years of age.
• Willing to attend the entire institute
• Willing to serve as a youth leader and prevention resource in his or her school, neighborhood or community.
• Responsible
• Positive and flexible

The 60 available scholarships will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis. Participants will be provided with tuition, lodging, T-shirt, workshop materials, recreation and meals. Transportation, however, will not be included.

Applications are available at the ITI website, and inquiries may be directed to IADDA at 800.252.6301 ext. 16, or info@os-iti.org. Students from Clay County may contact St. Clair County Sheriff’s Major Thomas Knapp, Executive Deputy, at 277-3505, ext. 5721.

Drug Testing

Navy Releases Synthetic Drug Testing Operating Guide

Published by:

An operating guide for the conduct of synthetic drug testing has been released by the Navy Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Office (NADAP), according to officials.

Officials shared the posting of the new Synthetic Drug Testing Operating Guide on the NADAP website on April 5. The guidelines are in support of the zero-tolerance policy on drug abuse enforced by the United States Navy, which is considered as a key contributor to the readiness of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine.

Dorice Favorite, director of NADAP, shared: “The operating guide provides commands easy access to the procedures of synthetic drug testing… It is important that the samples are collected, documented and processed correctly. The operating guide will help units do that.”

In March, the Navy had announced through NAVADMIN 082/12 that it will be testing for synthetic drugs. NAVADMIN shared further that testing for synthetic drugs is separate and unique from the urinalysis program directed by OPNAVINST 5350.4D. A positive result may be used by commanders as basis for taking the necessary health, safety, and security actions.

Favorite shared further: “Navy has zero tolerance for drug use, including the use of designer and synthetic chemical compounds, such as Spice… Our efforts are twofold: we will continue to educate Sailors on the dangers of drug use including new and designer drugs and at the same time identify those who use or possess the substances and hold them accountable.”


The Navy will be investing $1.73 million in 2012 to test for synthetic chemical compounds; they expect to increase that amount to $2.9 million the following year.

Early Disease Detection

False Positive Mammograms Linked to Higher Risk of Breast Cancer

Published by:

A false positive mammogram may not necessarily mean that one is out of the woods when it comes to developing breast cancer.

A Danish study indicated that women who had false positive mammograms were more likely to develop breast cancer later in life, when compared against women who had negative mammograms.

The study analyzed data from more than 58,000 women, and was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

It determined that women who had false positive mammograms (those whose results suggested breast cancer even though there was none) had a 67 percent higher risk of developing breast cancer.

The study authors wrote: “The excess breast cancer risk in women with false-positive tests may be attributable to misclassification of malignancies already present at the baseline assessment … or to a biological susceptibility for developing breast cancer in some women without malignancies at baseline.”

Dr. Susan Love, president of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, shared that women who have a family history of breast cancer are also more likely to have a false positive. She also talked about the decision of a radiologist to order a biopsy after a suspicious mammogram. Dr. Love shared: “It’s so subjective… If you had a mother with breast cancer, the radiologist and … probably you yourself would be more aggressive in following up any slightly suspicious abnormality in a screening mammogram.”

She shared further that cancer risk may be increased by surgery or needle biopsies, which may cause a local inflammatory or wound-healing reaction. The extra radiation from the workup due to the false positive may also increase breast cancer.

Health & Wellness Pregnancy & Fertility

Post-Pregnancy Foods for Nursing Mothers

Published by:

A breastfeeding mom faces a tough job – taking care of the baby and taking care of one’s self. A healthy, balanced diet is the key to a fast recovery and a safe way of losing weight. Here are some foods to help new mothers stay healthy after giving birth and offer best nutrition to their babies as well:

SALMON. Not only is salmon loaded with proteins and other nutrients, it is packed with a fat called DHA. DHA, which is present in breast milk, plays an important role in your baby’s nervous system. The more DHA-rich foods you eat, the higher the DHA content in your milk. Salmon is considered to have the lowest mercury content compared to other fishes. Furthermore, DHA may also contribute positively to your mood, lessening the chance of post-partum depression.

LOW-FAT DAIRY FOODS. Aside from providing you with protein and vitamins B and D, dairy products are great sources of calcium, essential to your baby’s bone development. Whatever dairy product you choose, include at least 3 cups of it in your daily diet.

LEAN BEEF. Iron-rich foods such as lean beef can increase your energy levels as you cope with the demands of a newborn. Moreover, lean beef supplies you with extra protein and vitamin B-12.

BEANS. Legumes, particularly dark-colored ones like black beans and kidney beans, are excellent sources of iron and protein. Beans are also ideal for vegetarian moms, who need non-animal source of proteins.

ORANGES. Oranges are handy and healthy sources of Vitamin C. Take it as a snack or drink it as juice.

Celebrity Substance Abuse Substance Abuse

Final Autopsy Report on Whitney Houston’s Death Released

Published by:

The final autopsy report on the death of Grammy Award-winning singer Whitney Houston has been released, and her death has been ruled as accidental drowning.

The “effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use” were contributing factors to her death, information that has already been shared when the results of toxicology tests were released.

Coroner’s investigator Kristy McCracken wrote that investigators found “a small spoon with a white crystal like substance in it and a rolled up piece of white paper” in the bathroom where the singer was found unresponsive. McCracken wrote further that “remnants of a white powdery substance” were found on a bathroom counter, a drawer, and the bottom of a mirror in the same drawer in the bathroom counter.

In addition, detectives found bottles of various medications, although these prescription drugs, the coroner said, did not contribute to Ms. Houston’s death.

Toxicology tests found 0.58 micrograms of cocaine per milliliter of blood which was drawn from a vein in Ms. Houston’s leg during the autopsy. Addiction medicine specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky described this amount of cocaine as “moderate.” Chief Coroner Craig Harvey, on the other hand, revealed that Whitney may have used cocaine “in the time period just immediately prior to her collapse in the bathtub at the hotel.”

Other substances found in her body were marijuana, Xanax, Flexeril, and Benadryl.

The final autopsy report indicated that Ms. Houston had drowned face down in a tub of “extremely hot water” about 12 inches deep. The coroner’s report indicated that she had suffered several small scald burns on her face at the time of her death.

Dr. Pinsky shared that the report suggested that the singer may have suffered a seizure due to cocaine use, combined with withdrawal from alcohol and a prescription sedative.

Early Disease Detection

Marine General Shares Prostate Cancer Story

Published by:

Lt. Gen. Robert Milstead, deputy commandant of manpower and reserve affairs, began 2012 with news that no one would want to learn. The three-star manpower chief of the Marine Corps had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer.

His diagnosis was the result of a battery of tests that began in November last year, as part of his annual physical. The sign that something was wrong came from the score on his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, which had increased when compared against the previous year.

Lt. Gen. Milstead shared: “Once they told me, ‘You’ve got cancer,’ I said, ‘Whoa’… The C-word can be intimidating. The range of options goes from denial to acceptance, and I think I was able to jump pretty quickly up to, ‘OK, I’ve got cancer. How am I going to deal with this?’”

Last February 28, the general underwent surgery to remove his prostate. He is sharing his story, he said, in order to help raise awareness regarding the importance of annual physical exams and regular screenings. He shared further that he sought to undergo screening as his father and paternal grandfather were both treated for prostate cancer.

“This is a huge fraternity,” Milstead shared. “You’ve got a better chance as a man of getting prostate cancer than you do as a female of getting breast cancer. It’s not a club I ever wanted to join, but I’m a card-carrying member now.”