American Doctor's Popular Posts

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

11 Things to Know About HIV Testing

National HIV Testing Day: 11 Things You Wanted To Know

June 27, 2011 is National HIV Testing Day -- and you know you should get tested for HIV in order to get early access to life-saving care.
But how? And where? And is it painful?
Here are the answers to 11 commonly asked questions about HIV testing, according to David Forrest, Ph.D., a research assistant professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and Lisa Metsch, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and public health at the university.
1. Where can I get tested?
HIV testing is commonly available at community health clinics, the state and local health department and hospitals. You can also ask your doctor to administer a test (or pediatrician for adolescent HIV tests). In some communities, HIV testing is also available at dentist offices and local pharmacies.
2. How expensive are tests?
They can range in price, but many places offer them for free. In Florida, for instance, the actual HIV test is commonly free, unless it is a blood-draw test that also tests for other sexually transmitted diseases, like syphilis and gonorrhea. Tests that provide results shortly after infection may also cost more than ones that require you to wait awhile after you've been infected to see if you're really positive.
3. What are the tests like, anyway?
Most HIV tests are simple, fast and relatively painless. There is a finger-jab test, where the tester will use a lance-like tool to draw just a couple drops of blood. There is also a cheek-swab test, where the tester swabs the cheek for a specified amount of time. It's also possible to get blood drawn, where your doctor can test for a battery of diseases, not just HIV.
4. How long do I have to actually be HIV positive for the test to recognize it?
It depends on the test, but at least for some of the commonly used finger-jab tests, there is a three-month window after the initial infection with HIV. However, there are other, newer HIV tests that can provide results within 10 to 14 days. It just depends on the type of test you use, and how much you are willing to spend on the test to get the fast results.
5. Are the finger-jab tests painful?
No. It is like a small needle pricking the finger, and most people barely even feel it.
6. Is there such thing as a "false positive" for HIV?
The first step of an HIV test is actually called a "preliminary reactive test." HIV positivity, among other factors, could induce a positive reactive result. If you get a positive reactive result, you then need to get a second test to see if you are confirmed HIV positive.
7. If I think I got infected just a few weeks ago, and I go to take the test and it comes back negative, does that mean I'm off the hook?
Generally, no. Because the window period for many rapid tests is up to three months, your HIV test administrator will likely encourage you to come back to be tested again, to be safe.
8. How long will the test take?
Some rapid result tests, like the finger-jab test, take 20 minutes. There are also other tests recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration that provide instantaneous results, though those tests are not as easy to obtain as the other rapid result tests.
9. Does a doctor have to administer the test?
No, but the person administering the test does have to be trained in how to give the test, as well as how to counsel the person taking the test.
10. What is the counseling like?
HIV test administrators are trained to help you figure out what to do if your initial screening test comes back positive, and how to move forward with getting the confirmatory test done. They are also trained to help you decide what to do if the initial screening test comes back negative (for example, they may encourage you to come back in to be screened again at a later date, or they may discuss risky lifestyle choices that put you at risk in the first place). They can also help you figure out what to do if your second test comes back positive.
11. Is it possible for other people to find out that I got tested for HIV?
If your testing center offers anonymous testing, then no. Your testing information is treated as any other private medical information -- completely private to just you and your doctor.
For more information on HIV testing, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National HIV and STD Testing Resource page. For free testing locations around the country today, click here

Monday, June 27, 2011

Roundup: Birth Defects Caused By World's Top-Selling Weedkiller


Roundup: Birth Defects Caused By World's Top-Selling Weedkiller, Scientists Say
By Lucia Graves

WASHINGTON -- The chemical at the heart of the planet’s most widely used herbicide -- Roundup weedkiller, used in farms and gardens across the U.S. -- is coming under more intense scrutiny following the release of a new report calling for a heightened regulatory response around its use.

Critics have argued for decades that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other herbicides used around the globe, poses a serious threat to public health. Industry regulators, however, appear to have consistently overlooked their concerns.

A comprehensive review of existing data released this month by Earth Open Source, an organization that uses open-source collaboration to advance sustainable food production, suggests that industry regulators in Europe have known for years that glyphosate, originally introduced by American agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto in 1976, causes birth defects in the embryos of laboratory animals.

Founded in 2009, Earth Open Source is a non-profit organisation incorporated in the U.K. but international in scope. Its three directors, specializing in
business, technology and genetic engineering, work pro-bono along with a handful of young volunteers. Partnering with half a dozen international scientists and researchers, the group drew its conclusions in part from studies conducted in a number of locations, including Argentina, Brazil, France and the United States.

Earth Open Source’s study is only the latest report to question the safety of glyphosate, which is the top-ranked herbicide used in the United States. Exact figures are hard to come by because the U.S. Department of Agriculture stopped updating its
pesticide use database in 2008. The EPA estimates that the agricultural market used 180 to 185 million pounds of glyphosate between 2006 and 2007, while the non-agricultural market used 8 to 11 million pounds between 2005 and 2007, according to its Pesticide Industry Sales & Usage Report for 2006-2007 published in February, 2011.

The Earth Open Source study also reports that by 1993 the herbicide industry, including Monsanto, knew that visceral anomalies such as dilation of the heart could occur in rabbits at low and medium-sized doses. The report further suggests that since 2002, regulators with the European Commission have known that glyphosate causes developmental malformations in lab animals.

Even so, the commission’s health and consumer division published
a final review report of glyphosate in 2002 that approved its use in Europe for the next 10 years.

As recently as last year, the German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BLV), a government agency conducting a review of glyphosate, told the European Commission that there was no evidence the compound causes birth defects, according to the report.

The agency reached that conclusion despite almost half a dozen industry studies that found glyphosate produced fetal malformations in lab animals, as well as
an independent study from 2007 that found that Roundup induces adverse reproductive effects in the male offspring of a certain kind of rats.

German regulators declined to respond in detail for this story because they say they only learned of the Earth Open Source report last week. The regulators emphasized that their findings were based on public research and literature.

Although the European Commission originally planned to review glyphosate in 2012, it decided late last year not to do so until 2015. And it won’t review the chemical under more stringent, up-to-date standards until 2030, according to the report.

The European Commission told HuffPost that it wouldn’t comment on whether it was already aware of studies demonstrating the toxicity of glyphosate in 2002. But it said the commission was aware of the Earth Open Source study and had discussed it with member states.

“Germany concluded that study does not change the current safety assessment of gylphosate,” a commission official told HuffPost in an email. “This view is shared by all other member states.”

John Fagan, a doctor of molecular and cell biology and biochemistry and one of the founders of Earth Open Source, acknowledged his group’s report offers no new laboratory research. Rather, he said the objective was for scientists to compile and evaluate the existing evidence and critique the regulatory response.

“We did not do the actual basic research ourselves,” said Fagan. “The purpose of this paper was to bring together and to critically evaluate all the evidence around the safety of glyphosate and we also considered how the regulators, particularly in Europe, have looked at that.”

For its part, Earth Open Source said that government approval of the ubiquitous herbicide has been rash and problematic.

"Our examination of the evidence leads us to the conclusion that the current approval of glyphosate and Roundup is deeply flawed and unreliable," wrote the report’s authors. "What is more, we have learned from experts familiar with pesticide assessments and approvals that the case of glyphosate is not unusual.

"They say that the approvals of numerous pesticides rest on data and risk assessments that are just as scientifically flawed, if not more so," the authors added. "This is all the more reason why the Commission must urgently review glyphosate and other pesticides according to the most rigorous and up-to-date standards."

Monsanto spokeswoman Janice Person said in a statement that the Earth Open Source report presents no new findings.

"Based on our initial review, the Earth Open Source report does not appear to contain any new health or toxicological evidence regarding glyphosate,” Person said.

“Regulatory authorities and independent experts around the world agree that glyphosate does not cause adverse reproductive effects in adult animals or birth defects in offspring of these adults exposed to glyphosate," she said, "even at doses far higher than relevant environmental or occupational exposures.”

While Roundup has been associated with deformities in a host of laboratory animals, its impact on humans remains unclear. One laboratory
study done in France in 2005 found that Roundup and glyphosate caused the death of human placental cells and abnormal embryonic cells. Another study, conducted in 2009, found that Roundup caused total cell death in human umbilical, embryonic and placental cells within 24 hours. Yet researchers have conducted few follow-up studies.

“Obviously there’s a limit to what’s appropriate in terms of testing poison on humans,” said Jeffrey Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, which advocates for genetically modified food. “But if you look at the line of converging evidence, it points to a serious problem. And if you look at the animal feeding studies with genetically modified Roundup ready crops, there’s a consistent theme of reproductive disorders, which we don’t know the cause for because follow-up studies have not been done.”

“More independent research is needed to evaluate the toxicity of Roundup and glyphosate,” he added, “and the evidence that has already accumulated is sufficient to raise a red flag.”

Authorities have criticized Monsanto in the past for soft-peddling Roundup. In 1996 New York State's Attorney General
sued Monsanto for describing Roundup as "environmentally friendly" and "safe as table salt." Monsanto, while not admitting any wrongdoing, agreed to stop using the terms for promotional purposes and paid New York state $250,000 to settle the suit.

Regulators in the United States have said they are aware of the concerns surrounding glyphosate. The Environmental Protection Agency, which is required to reassess the safety and effectiveness all pesticides on a 15-year cycle through a process called registration review, is currently examining the compound.

“EPA initiated registration review of glyphosate in July 2009,” the EPA told HuffPost in a written statement. “EPA will determine if our previous assessments of this chemical need to be revised based on the results of this review. EPA issued a notice to the company [Monsanto] to submit human health and ecotoxicity data in September 2010.”

The EPA said it will also review a “wide range of information and data from other independent researchers” including Earth Open Source.

The agency's Office of Pesticide Programs is in charge of the review and has set a deadline of 2015 for determining if registration modifications need to be made or if the herbicide should continue to be sold at all.

Though skirmishes over the regulation of glyphosate are playing out at agencies across the U.S. and around the world, Argentina is at the forefront of the battle.

THE ARGENTINE MODEL

The new report, "
Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?" comes years after Argentine scientists and residents targeted glyphosate, arguing that it caused health problems and environmental damage.

Farmers and others in Argentina used the weedkiller primarily on genetically modified Roundup Ready soy, which covers nearly 50 million acres, or half of the country's cultivated land area. In 2009 farmers sprayed that acreage with an
estimated 200 million liters of glyphosate.

The Argentine government helped pull the country out of a recession in the 1990s in part by promoting genetically modified soy. Though it was something of a miracle for poor farmers, several years after the first big harvests residents near where the soy cop grew began reporting health problems, including high rates of
birth defects and cancers, as well as the losses of crops and livestock as the herbicide spray drifted across the countryside.

Such reports gained further traction after an Argentine government scientist, Andres Carrasco conducted a study, "
Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Produce Teratogenic Effects on Vertebrates by Impairing Retinoic Acid Signaling" in 2009.

The study, published in the journal
Chemical Research in Toxicology in 2010, found that glyphosate causes malformations in frog and chicken embryos at doses far lower than those used in agricultural spraying. It also found that malformations caused in frog and chicken embryos by Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate were similar to human birth defects found in genetically modified soy-producing regions.

"The findings in the lab are compatible with malformations observed in humans exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy," wrote Carrasco, director of the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology at the University of Buenos Aires. "I suspect the toxicity classification of glyphosate is too low.”

“In some cases this can be a powerful poison," he concluded.

Argentina has not made any federal reforms based on this research and has not discussed the research publicly, Carrasco told HuffPost, except to mount a "close defense of Monsanto and it partners."

The Ministry of Science and Technology has moved to distance the government from the study,
telling media at the time the study was not commissioned by the government and had not been reviewed by scientific peers.

Ignacio Duelo, spokesman for the the Ministry of Science and Technology’s National Council for Scientific and Technical Research [CONICET], told HuffPost in an statement that while Carrasco is one of its researchers, CONICET has not vouched for or assessed his work.

Duelo said that the Ministry of Science is examining Carrasco’s report as part of a study of the possible harmful effects of the glyphosate. Officials, he added, are as yet unable to “reach a definitive conclusion on the effects of glyphosate on human health, though more studies are recommended, as more data is necessary.”

REGIONAL BANS

After Carrasco announced his findings in 2009, the Defense Ministry
banned planting of genetically modified glyphosate-resistant soy on lands it rents to farmers, and a group of environmental lawyerspetitioned the Supreme Court of Argentina to implement a national ban on the use of glyphosate, including Monsanto's Roundup product. But the ban was never adopted.

"A ban, if approved, would mean we couldn't do agriculture in Argentina," said Guillermo Cal, executive director of CASAFE, Argentina's association of fertilizer companies,
in a statement at the time.

In March 2010, a regional court in Argentina's Santa Fe province
banned the spraying of glyphosateand other herbicides near populated areas. A month later, the provincial government of Chaco province issued a report on health statistics from La Leonesa. The report, which was carried in the leftist Argentinian newspaper P√°gina 12, showed that from 2000 to 2009, following the expansion of genetically-modified soy and rice crops in the region, the childhood cancer rate tripled in La Leonesa and the rate of birth defects increased nearly fourfold over the entire province.

MORE QUESTIONS

Back in the United States, Don Huber, an emeritus professor of plant pathology at Purdue University, found that genetically-modified crops used in conjunction with Roundup contain a bacteria that may cause animal miscarriages.

After studying the bacteria, Huber wrote Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in February warning that the "pathogen appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings."

The bacteria is particularly prevalent in corn and soybean crops stricken by disease, according to Huber, who asked Vilsack to stop deregulating Roundup Ready crops. Critics such as Huber are particularly wary of those crops because scientists have genetically altered them to be immune to Roundup -- and thus allow farmers to spray the herbicide liberally onto a field, killing weeds but allowing the crop itself to continue growing.

Monsanto is not the only company making glyphosate. China sells glyphosate to Argentina at a very low price, Carrasco said, and there are more than one hundred commercial formulations in the market. But Monsanto’s Roundup has the longest list of critics, in part because it dominates the market.

The growth in adoption of genetically modified crops
has exploded since their introduction in 1996. According to Monsanto, an estimated 89 percent of domestic soybean crops were Roundup Ready in 2010, and as of 2010, there were 77.4 million acres of Roundup Ready soybeans planted, according to the Department of Agriculture.

In his letter to the Agriculture Department, Huber also commented on the herbicide, saying that the bacteria that he’s concerned about appears to be connected to use of glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup.

"It is well-documented that glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases; it dismantles plant defenses by chelating vital nutrients; and it reduces the bioavailability of nutrients in feed, which in turn can cause animal disorders," he wrote.

Huber said the Agriculture Department wrote him in early May and that he has had several contacts with the agency since then. But there’s little evidence that government officials have any intention of conducting the “multi-agency investigation” Huber requested.

Part of the problem may be that the USDA oversees genetically modified crops while the EPA watches herbicides, creating a potential regulatory loophole for products like Roundup, which relies on both to complete the system. When queried, USDA officials emphasized that they do not regulate pesticides or herbicides and declined to comment publicly on Huber's letter.

A spokesman eventually conceded their scientists do study glyphosate. "USDA’s Agricultural Research Service’s research with glyphosate began shortly after the discovery of its herbicidal activity in the mid 1970s," said the USDA in a statement. "All of our research has been made public and much has gone through the traditional peer review process.”

While Huber acknowledged his research is far from conclusive, he said regulatory agencies must seek answers now. “There is much research that needs to be done yet,” he said. “But we can't afford to wait the three to five years for peer-reviewed papers.”

While Huber’s claims have roiled the agricultural world and the blogosphere alike, he has fueled skeptics by refusing to make his research public or identify his fellow researchers, who
he claimscould suffer substantial professional backlash from academic employers who received research funding from the biotechnology industry.

At Purdue University, six of Huber’s former colleagues
pointedly distanced themselves from his findings, encouraging crop producers and agribusiness personnel “to speak with University Extension personnel before making changes in crop production practices that are based on sensationalist claims.”

Since it first introduced the chemical to the world in the 1970s, Monsanto has netted billions on its best-selling herbicide, though the company has faced stiffer competition since its patent expired in 2000 and it is
reportedly working to revamp its strategy.

In a lengthy email, Person, the Monsanto spokeswoman,
responded to critics, suggesting that the economic and environmental benefits of Roundup were being overlooked:
The authors of the report create an account of glyphosate toxicity from a selected set of scientific studies, while they ignored much of the
comprehensive data establishing the safety of the product. Regulatory agencies around the world have concluded that glyphosate is not a reproductive toxin or teratogen (cause of birth defects) based on in-depth review of the comprehensive data sets available.

Earth Open Source authors take issue with the decision by the European Commission to place higher priority on reviewing other pesticide ingredients first under the new EU regulations, citing again the flawed studies as the rationale. While glyphosate and all other pesticide ingredients will be reviewed, the Commission has decided that glyphosate appropriately falls in a category that doesn’t warrant immediate attention.



“The data was there but the regulators were glossing over it," said John Fagan of Earth Open Source, "and as a result it was accepted in ways that we consider really questionable.”

CORNERING THE INDUSTRY?

Although the EPA has said it wants to evaluate more evidence of glyphosate's human health risk as part of a
registration review program, the agency is not doing any studies of its own and is instead relying on outside data -- much of which comes from the agricultural chemicals industry it seeks to regulate.

"EPA ensures that each registered pesticide continues to meet the highest standards of safety to protect human health and the environment," the agency told HuffPost in a statement. "These standards have become stricter over the years as our ability to evaluate the potential effects of pesticides has increased.
The Agency placed glyphosphate into registration review. Registration review makes sure that as the ability to assess risks and as new information becomes available, the Agency carefully considers the new information to ensure pesticides do not pose risks of concern to people or the environment."

Agribusiness giants, including Monsanto, Dow Chemical, Syngenta and BASF,
will generate much of the data the EPA is seeking as part of a 19-member task force. But the EPA has emphasized that the task force is only “one of numerous varied third-party sources that EPA will rely on for use in its registration review.”

The EPA is hardly the only industry regulator that relies heavily on data supplied by the agrochemical industry itself.

“The regulation of pesticides has been significantly skewed towards the manufacturers interests where state-of-the-art testing is not done and adverse findings are typically distorted or denied,” said Jeffrey Smith, of the Institute for Responsible Technology. “The regulators tend to use the company data rather than independent sources, and the company data we have found to be inappropriately rigged to force the conclusion of safety.”

“We have documented time and time again scientists who have been fired, stripped of responsibilities, denied funding, threatened, gagged and transferred as a result of the pressure put on them by the biotech industry,” he added.

Such suppression has sometimes grown violent, Smith noted. Last August, when Carrasco and his team of researchers went to give a talk in La Leonesa they were
intercepted by a mob of about a hundred people. The attack landed two people in the hospital and left Carrasco and a colleague cowering inside a locked car. Witnesses said the angry crowd had ties to powerful economic interests behind the local agro-industry and that police made little effort to interfere with the beating,according to the human rights group Amnesty International.

Fagan told HuffPost that among developmental biologists who are not beholden to the chemical industry or the biotechnology industry, there is strong recognition that Carrasco’s research is credible.

"For me as a scientist, one of the reasons I made the effort to do this research into the literature was to really satisfy the question myself as to where the reality of the situation lies,” he added. “Having thoroughly reviewed the literature on this, I feel very comfortable in standing behind the conclusions Professor Carrasco came to and the broader conclusions that we come to in our paper

“We can’t figure out how regulators could have come to the conclusions that they did if they were taking a balanced look at the science, even the science that was done by the chemical industry itself.”

Friday, June 24, 2011

Adult ADD/ADHD and Substance Abuse

Adult ADD/ADHD and Substance Abuse

Many adults with ADD/ADHD become substance abusers. Learn why - and how you can avoid drug and alcohol addiction.

Having adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)can shake a person's self-esteem and confidence. And combining an impulse disorder with feelings of low self-worth can lead adults with ADD/ADHD down the path of substance abuse. In fact, studies have shown that many individuals who have ADHD also struggle with drug or alcohol addiction. One study estimates that as many as 25 percent of adults with a lifetime history of substance abuse may also have ADHD. And research presented in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry shows that nearly one-third of young adults diagnosed with ADHD can go on to develop some form of substance abuse.
For years, the drugs prescribed to treat ADD/ADHD, which are often stimulants, have been pinpointed as the link between ADHD and substance abuse. But one study funded by the National Institutes of Health found no link between prescription ADHD medications given in childhood and the risk of substance abuse later in life. However, depression, which results from that low self-esteem and lack of confidence, is a contributing factor to the high number of adults with ADD/ADHD who develop substance-abuse problems, says Don Kerson, M.D., a psychiatrist in New York City who specializes in treating adults with ADHD. "Adults with ADHD are impulsive, and when you don't feel good about yourself, you're quick to act on the impulse to feel better," he says, "even if that impulse is a dangerous one."
Avoiding depression can help adults with ADD/ADHD lessen their chances of developing a drug or alcohol problem, says Dr. Kerson. This means increasing self-esteem and confidence. Seeing a counselor (or a doctor, if you already feel the symptoms of depression or think you're abusing drugs or alcohol) can help. In the meantime, here are tips you can use immediately:
View yourself as a smart, capable person. Give yourself due praise at every opportunity. Stop assuming you "can't" do something, or that when you do execute a task, your success is the result of happenstance. "Acknowledge that when you do something well, it's not a fluke; your accomplishment is the result of hard work and determination," says Kerson. Self-rewarding can boost your self-confidence.
Be lenient when things go wrong. "Don't beat yourself up when things don't go according to plan," Kerson says, "and praise yourself when things go right."
Act, don't react. Before responding to situations that may affect your self-confidence, pause to collect your thoughts. Emotional responses, such as blame and anger, will diminish when you stop, look, listen, and then respond. "Don't get angry for forgetting to follow through with something; look for a positive way to correct the situation," says Kerson. "Then, give yourself credit for coming up with a reasonable, rational solution to the problem."

Evaluate your symptoms with the Adult ADHD Screening Test

Share your successes. Don't let humility keep you silent. "Point out your accomplishments to co-workers, friends, or loved ones so they can share in your triumphs," Kerson adds.
Carry a notebook. You can quickly jot down things you do well, compliments people give you, or times when you feel proud of something you've accomplished.
Reach out to others. Support groups can be very helpful for adults with ADD/ADHD, says Kerson. "Talking with other adults who understand how impulses can lead to bad habits or addiction helps you know you're not alone," he explains, "and that feeling of belonging can be good for your self-esteem." Similarly, 12-step programs can be helpful for people with ADD/ADHD who are tempted by substances or believe they may have a drug and alcohol addiction. If problems with memory, attention, or organization make it hard to attend meetings on a regular basis, ask a friend or family member to remind you or provide transportation.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Millions Don't Get Meds for Serious Artery Disease


Millions Don't Get Meds for Serious Artery Disease: Study

Peripheral artery disease indicative of a 'whole-body problem,' researcher says.


Millions of Americans suffer from a condition known as peripheral artery disease but aren't receiving medical treatment, putting them at risk of potentially fatal heart problems, a new study finds.
Those who had the condition but didn't take medications were more likely to die of all causes during the period studied, although it's not clear how the disease specifically affected their health, the researchers noted.
The findings, released online June 20 in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal Circulation, reinforce the belief that peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is an early warning sign of possible clogged vessels elsewhere in the body, said study lead author Dr. Reena L. Pande, a cardiologist and associate professor at Harvard Medical School.
"We think of it as a manifestation of a whole-body problem," she said. "What happens in the legs can happen in other parts of the body, like the heart and the brain even."
Atherosclerosis — or blockages in the arteries in the legs caused by plaque — is the source of PAD. Physicians have long known about the condition, but it's only begun to receive much attention in the last couple of decades, Pande said.
People with the condition may experience cramping in the hips, thighs or calves, pain and burning sensations in the legs, ulcers and even amputation. But in many cases, no symptoms occur.
A simple test of the blood pressure in the arm and the ankle can detect the condition, and there's debate about whether the test should be routine, said Pande, who is also an associate physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
In the new study, funded in part by federal grants, Pande and colleagues analyzed statistics from a national survey of 7,458 people aged 40 and older. The participants were tracked from 1999 through 2004.
The researchers found that about 6 percent of the participants suffered from peripheral artery disease, translating to about 7 million adults in the United States. Of those, 25, 36 and 31 percent, respectively, took high blood pressure medication, aspirin or cholesterol drugs.
Those who took two or more of the drugs were 65 percent less likely to die of all causes during the seven years of the study, Pande said. However, she said the percentages of people who died in each group — those who took two or more drugs and those who didn't — weren't available.
The research "raises the question of whether we should be looking for these people to get them on the appropriate treatments," Pande said. "We don't have any studies that tell us that if we find them and treat them, they'll have a lowered risk of dying. But it makes us wonder if we should try to find these individuals with a simple screening test."
The screening test is inexpensive and can be conducted by health care professionals other than doctors, she said. As for cost, at least one of the medications in question — aspirin — is very inexpensive.
Dr. Jeffrey W. Olin, a vascular medicine specialist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, said the study provides more evidence that doctors should take peripheral artery disease seriously and treat it. In many cases, he said, doctors don't prescribe medications even when they know a patient has the condition.
"We've been working on this for 15 years, trying to get health care providers to be aware of the fact that people with peripheral artery disease don't die because of their legs," he said. "They die because they have heart attacks and strokes."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

'Shocking' Report Warns of Extinction

State Of The Ocean: 'Shocking' Report Warns Of Mass Extinction From Current Rate Of Marine Distress
By Travis Donovan

If the current actions contributing to a multifaceted degradation of the world's oceans aren't curbed, a mass extinction unlike anything human history has ever seen is coming, an expert panel of scientists warns in an alarming new report.
The preliminary report from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) is the result of the first-ever interdisciplinary international workshop examining the combined impact of all of the stressors currently affecting the oceans, including pollution, warming, acidification, overfishing and hypoxia.
“The findings are shocking," Dr. Alex Rogers, IPSO's scientific director, said in a statement released by the group. "This is a very serious situation demanding unequivocal action at every level. We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime, and worse, our children's and generations beyond that."
The scientific panel concluded that degeneration in the oceans is happening much faster than has been predicted, and that the combination of factors currently distressing the marine environment is contributing to the precise conditions that have been associated with all major extinctions in the Earth's history.
According to the report, three major factors have been present in the handful of mass extinctions that have occurred in the past: an increase of both hypoxia (low oxygen) and anoxia (lack of oxygen that creates "dead zones") in the oceans, warming and acidification. The panel warns that the combination of these factors will inevitably cause a mass marine extinction if swift action isn't taken to improve conditions.
The report is the latest of several published in recent months examining the dire conditions of the oceans. A recent World Resources Institute report suggests that all coral reefs could be gone by 2050 if no action is taken to protect them, while a study published earlier this year in BioSciencedeclares oysters as "functionally extinct", their populations decimated by over-harvesting and disease. Just last week scientists forecasted that this year's Gulf "dead zone" will be the largest in history due to increased runoff from the Mississippi River dragging in high levels of nitrates and phosphates from fertilizers.
A recent study in the journal Nature, meanwhile, suggests that not only will the next mass extinction be man-made, but that it could already be underway. Unless humans make significant changes to their behavior, that is.
The IPSO report calls for such changes, recommending actions in key areas: immediate reduction of CO2 emissions, coordinated efforts to restore marine ecosystems, and universal implementation of the precautionary principle so "activities proceed only if they are shown not to harm the ocean singly or in combination with other activities." The panel also calls for the UN to swiftly introduce an "effective governance of the High Seas."
"The challenges for the future of the ocean are vast, but unlike previous generations we know what now needs to happen," Dan Laffoley of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and co-author of the report said in a press release for the new report. "The time to protect the blue heart of our planet is now, today and urgent."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Is it normal to feel an x-ray?

Is it normal to feel an x-ray?



Asked by Karen from Ontario, Canada
I have had several dental x-rays within the past 3 to 4 years, as I have had braces, and other dental problems that have needed x-rays in order to deal with the problems. When I had my 3-D scan last summer I felt fuzzy for at least a day after the x-ray. Now again I had an x-ray three days ago, and I still feel very fuzzy and not all there. Is it normal to actually feel the effects of an x-ray?

Expert answer
Thanks for your question. To best help you, I consulted with Dr. Richard Woodcock atNorthwest Radiology Consultants in Atlanta.
Dr. Woodcock shares the following information: X-rays and radiation certainly may have effects on your body, and rarely may be felt in special circumstances.
However, those effects are not typically felt right away for plain x-rays - even multiple ones - unless there was something unusual about the exam or equipment.
The types of symptoms experienced that would show up right away would be related to skin injury, possibly even skin burns, but that is very uncommon.
Also, those are usually caused by long exposures to x-ray, such as with cardiac catheterization or specialized CT scans to look at blood vessels or the heart, or rarely due to problems with the equipment.
Radiologists, physicists and the medical profession, in general, continue to learn about long-term effects that can result from multiple episodes of radiation exposure.
Such effects are usually at the molecular level and not felt by individuals as such. In short, it is unlikely that your symptoms were related to the x-rays themselves, but perhaps could have been related to other parts of your visits, such as your position or other treatment and evaluation.
A good resource is the American College of Radiology patient info page and as always you can consult with your physician if you have more questions or concerns.