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I hope that anybody reading this post would not need additional reasons to avoid cocaine use, but on the off chance you dabble in the white powder, you should probably check out this story:

Cocaine contaminated with levamisole, a cheap and widely available drug used to deworm livestock, could result in a U.S. public health epidemic, experts warn.

In a report released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, doctors revealed that patients in Los Angeles and New York who smoked or snorted cocaine diluted or “cut” with the veterinary drug developed serious skin reactions.

Six patients developed patches of purple necrotic skin on their ears, nose and cheeks, as well as other parts of their body, the doctors reported. In some instances, the cocaine users suffered permanent scarring as a result of using the tainted drug.

Two similar cases were also reported in San Francisco along with others that reported additional side effects, including agranulocytosis — a potentially life-threatening immune-system disorder.

The problem, however, could reach epidemic proportions. The U.S. Department of Justice has reported that up to 70 percent of cocaine in the United States is contaminated with levamisole…

Read the rest at US News and World

If you can’t trust drug dealers these days, who can you trust?

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Cell Phones Cause Brain Activity

Published on February 24, 2011 by in Neurology, Public Health

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ABC News February 22nd, 2011

ABC news that covers the correlation between cell phone use and cancer. While it can’t be proven either way the simple fact remains that with every passing study that researchers can’t find proof, the danger still remains. Here is a key segment from the article:

“There have been several studies since the late 1990s trying to address whether the human brain is affected by the electromagnetic radiation from cell phones because it’s very, very weak,” said the lead author on the study, Dr. Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “The studies were very inconsistent, but we designed this study so it would be powered to detect small activity.”

“This shows that the human brain is sensitive to these weak magnetic impulses.”

Now after reading this I’m not suggesting that we all go back to pagers, I just wanted to bring this to your attention so that you can plan accordingly. I’ve started using a headset anytime I take a call when I’m at home. This at the very least cuts my exposure in half. I hope that this article helps in some way.

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Published Jan 18th, 2011 U.S. News and World Report

Smoking has negatively impacted my family for years now so when I came across this article I felt compelled to post it. I had always known that smoking caused lung cancer but I had no idea just how fast it started…

Cigarettes damage the body within minutes of taking a puff, new research suggests. In a small study, scientists tracked the level of a chemical associated with cancer—one polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)—in 12 smokers and found it began damaging their DNA within 15 to 30 minutes of finishing a cigarette, according to a report published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Chemical Research in Toxicology. “Almost everybody knows that smoking can cause lung cancer,” Martin Dockrell, director of policy and research at the advocacy group Action on Smoking and Health, told BBC News. “The chilling thing about this research is that it shows just how early the very first stages of the process begin—not in 30 years, but within 30 minutes of a single cigarette. But it is never too late to quit.

I hope this was informative and will sway more people to quit smoking.

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Get Your Flu Shots

Published on December 28, 2010 by in Public Health

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I had the misfortune of having to travel the Monday after Christmas, you know, when that whole blizzard thing was happening. I was flying out of San Francisco Airport but the ripple effect reached all the way across the country, delaying my flight for 4 hours. Needless to say the terminal was packed, people sleeping on the floor waiting for the airports in NY to re-open, the whole nine yards. Sitting there in the mass of humanity (and the germs that accompany it), I couldn’t help but think ‘I really wish I had gotten a flu shot’. Which leads me to my point, get your flu shot!

Boston Globe, December 28, 2010

Trying to figure out what to do now that your holiday shopping is over? How about getting a flu shot? There’s still time, says Dr. Al DeMaria, medical director of infectious diseases at the Massachusetts Department of Health. “We’re starting to see a little bit of activity, but flu will probably peak in this area at the end of January or early February. People shouldn’t think it’s too late.”

If you get vaccinated this week, you should have good immunity before flu really gets underway. DeMaria says it takes about two weeks after you get vaccinated for your immune system to be fully revved up — and perhaps even less time if you’ve been vaccinated in the past.

Pharmacies and clinics are still offering flu shots on a walk-in basis for $20 to $30 a shot if your insurance doesn’t cover it.

Unlike those vaccine lines that stretched around the block during last year’s swine flu epidemic, DeMaria tells me there’s “less urgency” this year about getting the flu vaccine. The health department hasn’t collected numbers yet on the leftover stockpiles of vaccine, but “some of the community clinics didn’t see as many people as they expected to see,” DeMaria says.

That’s a shame given that H1N1 — the strain responsible for swine flu — is still circulating this year, already causing some deaths in Europe. It was included along with two other circulating strains in this year’s vaccine. DeMaria says they’ve seen all three strains already in Massachusetts. “They got the vaccine right this year,” he adds.

Sometimes the vaccine doesn’t contain the correct circulating strains since it’s difficult to predict in the early spring — when manufacturers begin producing the yearly vaccine — which viruses will be dominant in North America come winter. Hence the long wait for last year’s H1N1 vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone over the age of six months get a flu shot but puts particular emphasis on high-risk individuals like “young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.”

Luckily I am still symptom free, we’ll see tomorrow if I really dodged that bullet though.

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