Testing It Up » August 2012

Monthly Archives: August 2012

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Working Moms Found to Have Higher Stress Hormone Levels

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Working mothers have become commonplace in today’s generation. In fact, many of them have successfully scored respectable positions in different industries which used to be dominated by men. But while this seems to be a good boost for the female population, the opposite could be true for their health.

A new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology found that working women have higher levels of cortisol, also known as stress hormone, on weekday mornings than on weekends. The researchers measured the morning cortisol levels of 56 working mothers with children between the ages of two and four. They found that among the contributing factors observed in women with higher stress levels include high parenting stress and high job strain.

“Workday mornings create a “collision” of two worlds, as mothers of young children are charged with caring for, and attending to, their children while also mentally and physically preparing themselves for the workday ahead,” wrote the study’s authors, Leah Hibel, Evelyn Mercado, and Jill Trumbell from Purdue University.

The authors suggested that the high cortisol levels experienced by working moms may result from the challenge of balancing both work and family demands.

Cortisol is one of the very important hormone in the body. It is produced by the adrenal glands and plays a crucial role in circulatory system, immune system, glucose metabolism, inflammatory response, and stress response. Women with chronically high and more prolonged cortisol levels are at risk of experiencing various health problems including exhaustion, suppressed thyroid function, decreased bone density, decreased in muscle tissue, cardiovascular problems, and other mental or physical health problems.

Substance Abuse

Pending Substance Abuse Bill in Michigan Seeks for Forced Institutionalization

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A bill that would allow for the involuntary assessment and institutionalization of a drug addict in Michigan is scheduled to go before a committee in September when the House resumes.

State Rep. John Walsh (R-Livonia) introduced the House Bill 5689 on May 29, 2012 to help not only drug addicts, but also families and friends of those affected by addiction. The bill is designed to authorize and establish criteria and procedures for a court to order a person to be taken into “protective custody” for involuntary “assessment and stabilization.”

Under the pending legislation, family members, health professional, or any three people who have personal knowledge of the person’s substance abuse may file a petition with the state if there is an indication that the addicted person either posed a danger to themselves or the public. The petition will be heard by a judge who would then determine whether or not to submit the drug addict for evaluation.

“The way the law is now, parents have nothing they can do if their adult child refuses to get the treatment they need,” Walsh said. “This would give them a chance,” said Walsh.

In Michigan, any individual over the age of 18 can check himself out of a substance abuse treatment facility whenever he wants. According to a data from the Michigan Department of Community Health, there were more than 14,000 people last year who checked themselves out of substance abuse treatment centers against staff advice.

Walsh believes that although the bill will raise civil liberty concerns, it will give families and friends the opportunity to help their loved ones who are struggling with addiction to go through and complete the necessary treatment. He added that the purpose of the legislation is not to put drug addicts in treatment for an extended period of time, but long enough for them to get detox and professional counseling.

Health & Wellness

Healthy Lifestyle for a Better Skin

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Our skin is the largest organ in our body; it’s also often the most ignored part. Your skin doesn’t have to be the sensitive type before you realize it’s time to take better care of it. Although you cannot prevent your skin from aging, there are things you can do to delay the natural aging process and prevent skin problems like skin darkening, pigmentation, or worse, melanoma.

Avoiding Smoking
Aside from the possibility of developing lung cancer, smoking can also make your skin look older and contribute to the formation of wrinkles. It can also damage collagen and elastin that promote strength and elasticity in your skin. If you are already smoking it’s still never too late to quit and give your skin the time to recover.

Wear Sunscreen
When you were younger you probably don’t mind spending hours outdoors under the glimmering rays of sunlight. But now that you’re older and wiser, it’s time to put on some sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun. A sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 is good enough to begin with. When outdoors, reapply your sunscreen every two hours or more if you’re frolicking in the beach.

Manage Your Stress
Too much stress is bad for your overall health. It can cause several health problems, like migraine, body pains, muscle tension, and even heart diseases. For your skin, uncontrollable stress can trigger acne breakouts and other skin problems. Know the causes of your stress and when it’s starting to become unmanageable, assess your priorities and do things at a time.

Early Disease Detection Substance Abuse

Marijuana Use Can Kill Your IQ Level

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A group of researchers followed 1,037 individuals, age 13 to 38, and found that those who frequently use marijuana are risking their IQ levels.

The study, led by Madeline H. Meier, PhD, postdoctoral associate at the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University, investigated the relationship between early marijuana use and psychological development. All respondents do not have history of marijuana use prior evaluation at age 13. However, the researchers begin assessing their marijuana use at ages 18, 21, 26, 32 and 38.

Those who have not taken marijuana were found to have an increased intelligent quotient (IQ), while the group who used marijuana showed a greater decline in IQ.

According to the researchers, those who used marijuana before turning 18 have greater IQ decline compared to those who started using the drug after the age of 18. The lowered IQ in younger marijuana users is attributed to the fact that their brains are still developing. Sadly, the authors also noted that cessation in marijuana use after adolescent did not reverse the effects of marijuana on neuropsychological functioning.

Still, the study authors suggested that their findings showed good reason for putting policies in place to prohibit adolescent access to marijuana.

Early Disease Detection

Legendary Astronaut Neil Armstrong Passed Away at 82

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The first man to walk on the moon died on Saturday following complications that resulted from cardiovascular procedure.

Neil Armstrong, 82, was best known as the first man to ever set foot on the lunar surface. He inspired millions of people when he made the “giant leap for mankind” on July 20, 1969.

In a statement released by the family, Armstrong’s demise was caused by “complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.” No details had been provided as to where he died.

Armstrong underwent bypass surgery in Cincinnati on Aug. 7, two days after his birthday, the Daily RX reports. The procedure is usually performed to improve blood flow in blocked arteries.

While a bypass surgery cannot cure heart disease, it can help avert heart attack, as well as reduce heart disease symptoms, such as chest pain and shortness of breath. The most common complications that may arise in this kind of procedure include bleeding and irregularities in the heart beat, called arrhythmias.

Millions of people have expressed condolences to Armstrong’s family via social networking sites like Twitter. President Obama, in a statement from the White House, called Armstrong as “among the greatest of American heroes.”

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Health Risks Your Tattoo Artist May Not be Telling You

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Getting a tattoo could be one of the coolest way to express one’s self, but it could also put your health at serious risk if the paraphernalia used by your tattoo artist are contaminated with bacteria.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expressed particular concern about a family of bacteria called nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM) that has been found in a recent outbreak of illnesses linked to contaminated tattoo inks. One of the several disease-causing NTM species that has been observed to be causing tattoo infection is M. chelonae which can result to lung disease, joint infection, eye problems and other organ infections.

Early this year, the FDA initiated an investigation when, through its MedWatch reporting program, found about seven people in Monroe County, New York who had nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM) infections after getting tattoos from the same artist who used the same brand of ink on all of them. FDA later discovered twelve more people who got their tattoos from this same artist had NTM infections. Surprisingly, the NTM infection outbreak also occurred in other states including Washington, Iowa, and Colorado.

The cases observed in Washington, Iowa, and Colorado involved different NTM species or different ink manufacturers than those in New York; however, FDA learned there was a link identified between the M. chelonae infections in Washington and Iowa.

The FDA is reaching out to tattoo artists, ink and pigment manufacturers, public health officials, health care professionals, and consumers to warn them of the potential for infection. It is also encouraging people to report tattoo-associated complications to its MedWatch program in order to raise awareness campaign.

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Obesity in Teenagers Leads to Gallstone Disease

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Gallstone disease is relatively common in obese adults, but it seems to be also affecting more and more younger individuals now, according to a new study reported in the BBC News Health.

A team of healthcare providers from Kaiser Permanente looked at the electronic records of 510, 000 youth, aged 10-19, enrolled in its Southern California Children’s Health Study and found that 766 have gallstones. According to their findings, those who were overweight were twice as likely to have gallstones compared to those with healthy weight, and the risk is four times higher in moderately obese teenagers.

Gallstones are small, pebble-like substances that develop in the gallbladder. If the liquid bile, which helps the body digest fat, contains excessive amount of cholesterol, bile salts, or bilirubin, it can harden into gallstones. As gallstones move into the duct biles they can create blockage that will cause symptoms, such as steady pain in the right upper abdomen, pain in the back between the shoulder blades, and pain under the right shoulder. When left undiagnosed and untreated, gallstones can eventually cause severe damage or infection in the gallbladder, liver, or pancreas and can be fatal.

“These findings add to an alarming trend – youth who are obese or extremely obese are more likely to have diseases we normally think of as adult conditions,” said Corinna Koebnick, lead author of the study.

Meanwhile, Professor David Haslam, chairman of National Obesity Forum, said that while the link between obese teenagers and gallstone was not surprising, it’s alarming nevertheless.

“We know there is a link between the condition and obesity. But yet again we are seeing an adult illness in young people – because of obesity. We have already seen Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Now it’s gallstones,” Haslam noted.

Home Health Hazards

Johnson Utilities Assured Residents of Safe Drinking Water

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San Tan Valley residents can now breathe a sigh of relief after Johnson Utilities announced on Thursday that their water supply system is free from any harmful bacteria

Johnson Utilities recently sent a memo to the Florence Unified School District advising customers to boil their water before using after E.coli was found in their water on Aug. 16. The memo explained that while the 75 additional follow-up samples collected earlier did not show any E. coli bacteria, one sample still tested positive for the presence of total coliform bacteria.

The company sent water samples to two state-certified laboratories to be retested and they learned that the water is not contaminated. Following the latest findings, Johnsons Utilities lifted their “Drinking Water Warning,” assuring their customers that they no longer have to worry about drinking contaminated water.

Johnson Utilities apologized to their client base and explained that although water can sometime get contaminated, the false positive tests were likely caused by sampling errors or cross-contamination at the laboratory.

To make sure that they continue to provide safe and reliable drinking supply, Johnson Utilities said they will exceed the mandated water testing frequencies established by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

Celebrity Substance Abuse

MTV’s ‘Real World’ Star Dead at 29

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MTV’s The Real World: Hollywood star Joey Kovar left many of his fans, friends, and family saddened when he was found dead on Friday, Aug. 17, at a friend’s home in Chicago Ridge, Illinois.

The 29-year-old reportedly took a combination of Viagra, cocaine, and alcohol the night before his lifeless body was discovered by a friend, Stacey Achterhof.

According to TMZ report, Kovar went to Achterhof’s house and asked her where he could get more cocaine. Achterhof declined Kovar’s request and instead asked him to spend the evening at her house. Already under the influence of alcohol, Kovar was said to have taken Viagra and the next morning  Achterhof found him bleeding from the nose and ears.

Law enforcement sources told TMZ that Kovar’s eyes were also “blackened,” a symptom that frequently occurs when someone overdoses. Kovar’s autopsy report was already released but remained inconclusive until his toxicology results come out. The law enforcement sources said the toxicology report will take weeks, but they believe the results will most likely show a fatal combo of Viagra and cocaine and alcohol.

Kovar, a native of Illinois, gained famed in 2008 when he was cast in MTV’s The Real World: Hollywood. He was reported to have suffered from a long history of addiction. In 2010, he joined VH1’s Celebrity Rehab to beat his addictions to alcohol and various drugs/medications.

Pregnancy & Fertility

5 Fertility-Enhancing Foods for Women

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Fertility issues nowadays don’t seem to sound so bad anymore. Given the advancement in medical technology, women who are trying to get pregnant have quite a few options to consider. There are also natural remedies that include quitting bad habits like smoking or drinking alcohol, avoiding stress, and getting the right nutrition.

Speaking of the foods to eat, you don’t have to feel deprived when attempting to make a baby. Here are some of the foods you should start including in your diet.

Red lean meat. It helps lower the risk of infertility arising in the ovulating process and it’s a great source of zinc which supports ovulation and maintains efficient cell division. Other alternatives include whole grains and oysters.

Nuts and seeds. Almonds and sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E which boost the female sex drive and help build the uterine lining. Pumpkin seeds contain zinc that are good for ovulation process. You can also opt for some walnuts which are not only tasty but also contain omega 3 fatty acids that nourish your blood and eventually support neural development of your baby.

Baked potatoes. They are high in vitamin B and also contain vitamin E that are both helpful in enhancing cell division.

Black beans and lentils. Black beans are loaded with protein, fiber, folate, iron, and antioxidants which are all essential vitamins and minerals for your fertility; whereas, lentils are found to support ovulation.

Tofu and soy products. They are rich in calcium which is not only important for bone development but also in boosting your chances of conceiving. Other sources are broccoli and green leafy vegetables.