Testing It Up » July 2012

Monthly Archives: July 2012

Substance Abuse

Exclusive Interview with NCADD President Robert Lindsey Reveals How the Organization Saved Thousands of Lives

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The Employee Assistance Program may have been a familiar name in the U.S. workforce, but not everyone is aware that the idea was founded by the National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependence (NCADD) in the late 1940s.

NCADD President and CEO Robert Lindsey revealed in an exclusive interview with TestCountry that the EAP began through working with unions in order to combat alcoholism. Initially, it was called the Occupational Alcoholism Program, focusing primarily with problems related to alcohol addiction, until it later started to incorporate drug awareness. Over the years, the concept has saved not only thousands of lives, but also rescued companies and corporations from spending millions of dollars. NCADD has firmly hold its ground in the belief that there is no more effective tool for an employer than helping all their employees and their company’s bottom line live a drug-free life.

Mr. Lindsey took over in 2006 as the President of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD). He has been involved in alcoholism and addiction recovery services for over 30 years. He holds a BA in Psychology, a Masters of Science in Education from St. Bonaventure University in New York, and is a Certified Employee Assistance Professional (CEAP). He has also served as executive director of the New York State Council on Alcoholism and Other Drug Addictions, an NCADD affiliate organization for New York State.

During the interview, Lindsey also talks about the National Council’s affiliates and their roles in helping people with addiction problems. Additionally, he mentioned about the organization’s innovative initiative to develop drug courts across the country and how much it can save in future incarceration and emergency room costs.

For the full text of the interview, click here.

Health & Wellness

High Carb Diet in Elderly Bad for the Brain

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A balanced diet include food rich in carbohydrates. Although there are already way too many fitness regimens and programs that cut back on carb intake, we cannot dismiss the fact that we need carbohydrates to supply energy for the body processes. For the physically active people, high carb is an important element of their diet, but for the older ones too much carbs may not be a good idea for the brain.

A recent study examined the types of calories elderly people were eating — fats, carbs and proteins –- then tracked the people to see how diet related to risk of dementia. At the beginning of the study, 937 elderly people who did not have any signs of mild cognitive impairment or dementia were asked to complete a questionnaire about their typical food intake. The researchers then calculated the amount of calories the respondents got from carbohydrates, proteins and fats. About 200 people developed mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Those who got the highest percentage of their calories from carbohydrates were found to have higher risk of developing dementia.

“A dietary pattern with relatively high caloric intake from carbohydrates and low caloric intake from fat and proteins may increase the risk of MCI or dementia in elderly persons,” concluded by the researchers in their abstract.

Though the study did not outline the reasons that a high carb diet may increase risk of dementia, the researchers suggest that more research still need to be done to fully establish the link between high carb diets in elderly and the development of cognitive problems.


Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Text Messaging May Help HIV Patients Take Medications Consistently

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A new Cochrane Systematic Review reveals that mobile phones could be a significant tool in helping HIV patients take their medication every day. Data from two Kenyan trials involving 966 HIV-positive adults were reviewed by researchers and found that patients receiving text messages reminding them to take their medications were less likely to miss doses.

The researchers are saying that text messaging could be used to help millions of HIV patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART) stick to these regimens. Antiretroviral therapy are given to HIV patients to make them feel better and live longer. When a patient miss a daily dose, it can result in the drugs no longer being effective and the patients could die.

Lead author Tara Horvath of Global Health Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco in the United States, said ” There is high-quality evidence for the benefit of sending weekly text messages to promote adherence to antiretroviral therapy. Clinics and hospitals should consider using weekly text messaging as a way to ensure HIV patients stick to their antiretroviral therapy regimens.”

The findings highlight the potential of text messaging in making a significant impact on the HIV epidemic, especially because HIV is much less likely to be transmitted to sexual partners in patients who are taking their daily medication.

More than 34 million people are presently living with HIV infection. The antiretroviral therapy, despite being very helpful in HIV patients, can have side effects that make medication adherence challenging.

Health & Wellness

Depression Linked to Opioid Misuse in Patients

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Opioid therapy is typically prescribed by physicians to patients experiencing chronic pain. The treatment is supposed to be helpful in improving the patient’s mood functioning and in relieving pain, but a new study shows that chronic opioid therapy on patients with depressive symptoms can lead to opioid misuse through self-medication.

Mark Sullivan, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington School of Medicine, and a team of researchers investigated the links between depression and opioid misuse in patients being treated for pain management. The group used the patient data provided by the Kaiser Permanente health care group of Northern California and the Group Health Cooperative, as well as interviewed 1,334 patients with chronic opioid therapy (COT) for non-cancer pain. The patients in the study have no history of substance abuse and each one was assessed for depression via three specific questions: Did they take their opioid for any symptoms other than the physical pain the medication was prescribed for? Did they increase their doses themselves? Did they give or get opioids from others?

The researchers found that patients experiencing depressive symptoms are more likely to misuse opioids by taking them for something other than their physical pain. Given the findings, they are suggesting that prescribing health care professionals should screen for depression in patients even when the patients don’t have a history of drug abuse in order to prevent the risk of opioid misuse other than for medication purposes.

The study was funded by a grant from the National Institute for Drug Abuse and published in the July/August issue of Annals of Family Medicine.

Health & Wellness

7 Walnuts a Day Could Help Keep the Doctor Away

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Walnuts may be one of the most familiar nuts that consumers have ever known, but people are not eating plenty of them. In fact, there are people who don’t eat them at all; thus, missing the health benefits they offer.

According to Joe Vinson of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, walnuts contain high quality of antioxidants and it takes only about seven walnuts a day to get the potential health benefits. “A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut,” he said in a statement.

Vinson also noted that the antioxidants in walnuts were 2 to 15 times as potent as vitamin E — known for its role in preventing inflammation, preventing the clumping off platelets and strengthening of the immune system.

Over the years, the nutritional benefits of walnuts have been the subject of many studies.  Researchers, including medical experts, are convinced that eating walnuts helps lower the person’s risk to heart disease, diabetes, certain kinds of cancer, and other health problems.

Walnuts are rich in unsaturated, fatty acids, iron, and B vitamins. They also contain numerous heart-healthy compounds, including potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

Health & Wellness

Watching TV May Result to Larger Waistline in Children

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Even with the advent of computers, tablets, and smartphones, watching television remains a favorite past time among children. But beware with the habit, though, because a new study found that children’s muscular fitness decreases the more hours they spend in front of the television. Consequently, their waist lines become larger as they approach their teens; thereby, posing potential threat in their health as they reach adulthood.

The study, featured in BioMed Central’s open access journal International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, was conducted by a team of researchers from Montreal University in Canada to investigate the relationship between early childhood television viewing and physical fitness in school age children. A sample of 1,314 children from the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development were examined for the study.

The researchers found for each hour per week of watching TV at the age of 29 months, children scored 0.361 cm less in the Standing Long Jump. A one hour increase in average weekly television exposure from 29 to 53 months was associated with a further 0.285 cm reduction in Standing Long Jump test performance. Interpretation of the study result suggested that watching television excessively in early childhood, may eventually compromise muscular fitness and waist circumference in children as they approach pubertal age.

“TV is a modifiable lifestyle factor, and people need to be aware that toddler viewing habits may contribute to subsequent physical health. Further research will help to determine whether amount of TV exposure is linked to any additional child health indicators, as well as cardiovascular health,” said leading researcher Dr Caroline Fitzpatrick from New York University

Several studies in the past have link television watching to obesity in children — an epidemic that is affecting millions of children in the United States. The growing cases of child obesity in the country has alarmed the government and parents due to the consequences it may contribute to the health of affected children.


Social Media May Reduce Risk of Depression in Elderly

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A study conducted at the University of Alabama found that Internet and social media users over the age of 50 may have lower risk of depression compared to people who do not engage in the same activity.

Sociologist Shelia Cotton, author of the study, analyzed survey results from 8,000 men and women over the age of 50 and found that those using the Internet and social media are less likely to suffer from depression. Although it wasn’t the first study to evaluate the mental health issues of older people using the Internet and social media, Cotton’s findings demonstrated how social media helps reduce the feelings of social isolation in elderly.

According to a separate research from the Pew Research Center, the use of social media and the Internet has significantly increased in three years, and of the Internet users over the age of 65, about 6% are using Twitter. Through social media and the Internet, older adults, particularly those with impaired mobility, are able to stay in contact with friends and family, as well as expand their social circles.

Depression can adversely affect the course and outcome of common chronic conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. In the United States alone, an estimated 1 in 10 adults report depression, and people aged 45-64 are said to be among the most vulnerable in developing the illness.

The new study, to be published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, also revealed that lack of knowledge of the Internet and/or access to the Internet is the main reason other adults are not participating in social media websites or surfing the web.

Health & Wellness

Common Beverages That Can Stain Your Teeth

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Having bright, white smiles boosts our confidence and makes us look a lot younger. While many people have turned to teeth bleaching to achieve white teeth, one need not spend so much to get pearly whites. Aside from brushing and flossing regularly as well as steering clear from smoking and chewing tobacco, simply knowing and limiting intake of foods and beverages that can stain our teeth can help us flash brighter, whiter teeth.

Check these common beverages that could take away the brightness from your smile. Remember that completely avoiding these beverages may not be the best plan, as these also bring other health benefits.

Black Coffee. It might be difficult for some people to start the day without their regular cup of coffee, but if you want to keep your teeth white, avoid or limit black coffee. You may add milk to your coffee to lighten the color as well as to take advantage of the calcium and vitamin D found in milk.

Tea. While tea has been regarded as a healthy beverage, it’s not really a good beverage option when it’s teeth whitening we’re focusing on. Because of its tannins, tea is a teeth stainer too. You may opt for green, white or herbal teas over the basic black variety for less tooth staining.

Red Wine. Red wine is an acidic drink with tannins and chromogens. This drink may be good for the heart, but it’s not good for your tooth’s color. Since red wine also has its advantages on the mouth, such as reducing inflammation and preventing gum disease, you may just opt to swish water around the mouth after indulging in red wine.

Health & Wellness

Foods to Effectively Help You Fight Stress

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For many people these days, stress is so common that it is considered the norm. Some people experience stress so often they think it is a way of life. While certain amounts of stress in one’s life can motivate you, constantly balancing several things may have its harmful effects. People under constant stress are known to be more vulnerable to infections and diseases, and has little control over their moods.

To counter such negative effects, effective stress management is key. There are several ways to cope with stress, and one of the most effective methods is eating the right kinds of foods. Below are some of the best stress-reducing foods you should include in your diet:

Fatty fish. Omega-3 fatty acids help keep stress hormone levels down, control mood disorders and prevent heart diseases. Feel good with at least 3 servings of fatty fish every week.

Oranges. Vitamin C, which oranges are rich of, can reduce stress hormones at the same time strengthen the immune system. So, have some oranges every morning or just before you take on a stressful task.

Oatmeal. A warm bowl of oatmeal boosts levels of serotonin, which calms the brain.

Green leafy vegetables. Munch on green leafy vegetables, which are rich in magnesium to avoid headaches and fatigue. Spinach is one great source of magnesium, as are soybeans and salmon.

Black tea. Found yourself in a stressful situation? Drink black tea to help you recover quickly. It helps one feel calmer and more in control.

Health & Wellness

“Teach Me How to Brushy” Video Makes Brushing Teeth Fun for Kids

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The Oregon Dental Association created a public service campaign encouraging oral health care for kids via the video “Teach Me How to Brushy.”

Set to the tune of Cali Swag District’s “Teach Me How to Dougie,” the new video is geared at parents to teach their kids the importance of regular brushing of teeth. In a statement to ABC News, Dr. Jill Price, Oregon Dental Association president-elect and one of the stars of the video, said “We wanted to create a fun, interactive tool parents can use to get their kids excited about good dental habits.”

Studies show that nearly 17 million children in the United States are not getting their yearly dental check-up and that an increasing number of preschoolers are showing up to dentist clinics with 10 or more cavities.

“The mouth is a major health center in the body; unhealthy mouths can lead to diabetes, heart issues, and worse. But rather than lecture parents and expect that lecture to reach their kids, we wanted to create a hub for good facts that families will actually want to check out,” Price noted.

The video, along with quick facts and FAQs regarding dental health for children, is featured on a Facebook page created by the Oregon Dental Association. It brings an appealing approach to the younger audience who are more likely to take their teeth for granted. Through the video, the association hopes to get more children adopt a better dental habits.