Stop! Don’t Eat Out of That Can!

Guess what?  Another warning on what we should and shouldn’t be eating.  This time though, it’s not the type of food, but what it’s wrapped in that matters.  Eating locally grown, fresh produce is even better for you than you thought, so go ahead, stop by the farmer’s market on the way home.  We have all heard warnings about BPA and its hazards.  Recent research has demonstrated a link between exposure to bisphenol (BPA) and numerous diseases and disorders including breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, infertility, and in children Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  Most of the focus has been on plastic water bottles and baby bottles, but the net has widened. The newest research showed that eating only freshly prepared, organic foods for 3 days reduced the amount of BPA in your system by 66%.  The endocrine disrupting chemical is found not only in bottles, but in food storage containers and plastic sealing wrap.  It is also used to line the inside of food cans.  Yes, not eating any prepared or pre-packaged foods is a huge sacrifice, but if you are at risk for any of the diseases or disorders that BPA may cause, you might want to think about cutting  back as a start.  You can be tested to determine the level of BPA in your system with a urine test.  It’s a good way to start making a decision about whether you need to get organic.  The FDA hasn’t come down against BPA and the research isn’t clear on whether lowering BPA levels in your body really matters.  Another one to watch and see, but less trash is good for the...

Poison Prevention Week: A Good Reminder!

Have you checked your home lately for poisonous substances?  Oh, you don’t have children!  Well, what about your pet or your niece, nephew, or neighbor’s child?  Keeping poisons including medications, cleaning supplies and garden chemicals put away can prevent tragic accidents.  Pets have been known to drink radiator fluid because it tastes good.  Old medications that have dropped on the floor may look like candy to young children and to pets.  This week is Poison Prevention Week sponsored by PoisonPrevention.org and it’s a good time to be sure that dangerous chemicals and medications are out of reach of children and pets, whether yours or visitors’. Heavy metals, like lead and mercury, can be found in old paint that can be on metal objects in the house and around the yard and in the case of mercury on broken thermometers or thermostats.  Environmental toxins such as those found in some fertilizers could be anywhere if you do a lot of yardwork.  If you aren’t sure if you or a loved one has been exposed, blood can be tested for exposure to toxins and the environment can be tested to determine whether it is safe.  When in doubt, contact the new National Poison Control phone number, 1-800-222-1222.  This will connect you to one of 61 regional poison control centers where you can get the information you need to act quickly and, possibly, save a life.  Take a look around.  Is your home safe? Written by...

Decriminalizing Marijuana: Is This the Right Direction?

Another state, Connecticut, is considering decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, less than 1 ounce.  The Governor’s intent is to reduce the prison population and save the state money.  This would also map to similar laws in their neighboring states of New York and Massachusetts.  Is this really a legitmate way to save money?  Many legislators don’t agree and this could open the door to marijuana use becoming more prevalent.  The proposed law doesn’t stipulate an age limit or how many times it is okay to be in possession. Was the current prison population in the state that was convicted of marijuana possession also charged with another offense?  Detractors say that rarely is possession of a small amount of pot the only offense and that there are usually aggravating factors.  Of the 31 cases of possession as the primary offense up for trial now all of them are for 4 ounces or more and include other charges in addition to the possession charge or are part of a plea bargain that reduced the charges to only marijuana possession.  Drug tests are frequently used to determine whether someone has been driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and these would still be prosecuted as they have been.  Proponents of the bill say that in 2009 there were 8,118 arrests statewide for possession of marijuana. In 2,700 of those cases, possession of marijuana was the only charge and 75 percent of those involved less than one ounce of the substance.  Based on these statistics, it looks like this might save the state money, but will this increase drug use and arrests in...

Drug Testing Companies Are Getting More Effective

If you were hoping that your heroin use was tough to catch, you could be in trouble.  In October of last year the US Department of Transportation (DOT) changed their regulations for drug testing, lowering the cutoff levels for amphetamines and cocaine and adding the urine test for the heroin marker to its list of required tests.  The addition of the test for heroin creates complications for employers who need to test their drivers to ensure safer highways.  Heroin metabolizes quickly to 6-AM and then to morphine.  Previously a test for heroin was only conducted after a positive result for morphine.  Testing laboratories, such as Quest Diagnostics, have updated their arsenal of tests to include an oral fluid test that can accurately reveal five times more heroin use in the general US workforce than previously believed.  The oral fluid test is much easier to administer, making observation simpler, and oral fluid is more difficult to tamper with.   According to the Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ oral fluid testing with more than 320,000 oral-fluid samples from the general U.S. workforce from January to June 2010, detected a marker for heroin use at a rate of 0.04% compared to the 0.008% positivity rate for urine testing.  If you are a professional driver up for drug testing, it’s time to get clean! Written by...

Fake Pot Banned by DEA

Up until today it has been legal in most states to purchase  and possess “fake pot”, also known as Spice and K2, among other names.  For those looking for a legal high, this seemed like a perfect solution.  The war on drugs has been the mother of invention and encouraged  people to seek other ways to get what they want.   Unfortunately for them, the synthetic marijuana has sent hundreds of people to emergency rooms nationwide with seizures, rapid heart rate, and hallucinations.  This newer, more dangerous drug prompted the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to step in and ban the chemicals JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497 and cannabicyclohexanol for at least a year while it looks into whether to ban  them permanently.  Although the drug was meant to mimic marijuana’s effects in laboratory animals for research purposes and never meant to be consumed by humans, humans got a hold of the recipe and it’s been sold as “incense” in head shops.  Many states had already begun the process of making synthetic marijuana illegal and laws were passed in 15 states .  The DEA used its emergency powers and after a waiting period of 30 days possession of the substance will be a federal crime.  Tests are available to determine if someone has been using it but weren’t readily available.  With the DEA’s action today, the test will become more widely available as the federal agency tries to crack down on the designer drug and prevent what it considers a health and safety crisis.  Most studies don’t show that real marijuana is any more dangerous or addictive than alcohol.  The fact that it’s illegal is what gets most pot smokers...

Smoking is Bad for Your Job, Too!

As I enjoy my daily glass of red wine, I’m wondering if one day I might lose my job because I drink.  How many unhealthy habits do people have that cost the rest of us money: eating fast food and obesity, smoking, driving motorcycles, drinking alcohol?  These habits and behaviors are legal, but some companies are starting down a slippery slope.  A new trend in some organizations is to not only ban smoking, but to ban smokers.  The argument laid out by one such company, St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo., is that it’s unfair for those who don’t smoke to pay for the medical care of those who do.  Although this may be true, the flip side of the coin is that smoking is an addiction and smokers need help, not discrimination.  Being penalized for a legal behavior by not being able to work may not be the best method for helping them to quit. Some employees have already lost their jobs for smoking after they were hired and some of these companies are instituting nicotine testing to catch cheaters.  Talk about Big Brother watching over your shoulder!  Although there are already tests available to monitor abuse of alcohol, which could be dangerous on the job, using tests for something that doesn’t interfere with someone’s ability to do their job is extreme.  Even some anti-smoking groups oppose this move as too intrusive.  I don’t like paying for smokers’ illnesses or watching them take “smoke-breaks” while I’m working, but job discrimination isn’t the right way to go.  Let’s help them quit, not punish them. Written by...