As marijuana moves towards legalization throughout the country, the Drug Enforcement Administration took action this week against the dangerous designer products pretending to be a pot substitute — called cannabinoids — sold at some gas stations, convenience stores and head shops.
Drugs that mimic the natural plant of marijuana have been popping up in the last decade under the brand names Spice, K2 and a dozen others. Now the DEA has temporarily added six more analogs of the THC – the drug found naturally in pot — to Schedule I list, which includes heroin.
One of the new banned substances, MDMB-CHMICA, is believed to have attributed to 42 overdoses and 29 deaths in Europe. Another, ADB–FUBINACA,is found in K2.
Synthetic marijuana is akin to the bath salts that have caused so much havoc, a chemical goop cooked up in labs. The Palm Beach Post took a look at bath salts last year. Read the story by clicking here.
The major concern is these substances are being targeted to adolescents. The DEA said it is not aware of any currently accepted medical uses for these substances in the United States.
Synthetic cannabis was developed to assist in the research of AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and chemotherapy, resulting in 450 synthetic cannabinoid compounds, according to The Daily Beast.
The pro-pot website, Herb, praised the DEA for its move, saying the hundreds of synthetics that act on the same receptors in the brain as natural marijuana are not equal because they affect the brain in different ways.
“This makes their potency range from tens to ten-thousands magnitude higher than THC, and with different effects,” according to Herb. “Synthetics are to real THC as rubbing alcohol is to vodka.
Recently, I had moved on from my Newport cigarettes to cigarillos but was now up to three a day. And the grief – as any traditional smoker can attest – from family members about the smell was growing to a deafening din. My wife said it was her No. 1 “turn-off.” Ouch.
Now two weeks into vaping, I can tell you that I haven’t picked up a traditional tobacco product. I haven’t even wanted to smoke a cigarillo. My cigars in my humidor have gone untouched.
Still, this passion-in-the-making hasn’t been without its pitfalls. And it’s been quite a learning curve for a 50-year-old someone as clumsy as me.
First of all are the safety concerns from health officials, including our own Dr. Alina Alonso at the Health Department in Palm Beach County. She fears vaping is appealing to kids because the e-juice used to vape comes in as many flavors as there are in a candy store.
As addressed in my vaping culture story, the warnings are said to be suspicious by the vaping industry considering health officials in England has endorsed electronic cigarettes as a much better alternative to smoking traditional tobacco products.
The ingredients in “e-juice” of propylene glycol, glycerin, water and nicotine seem pretty straight-forward. Last I checked, there are 599 different additives to cigarettes. Gregory Conley of the American Vaping Association says these additives have an anti-depressant effect on the smoker and that this is the real reason why they are harder to kick than heroin.
The vaping industry is not corporate – or at least not nearly as corporate – as traditional tobacco.
Vapinig proponents say everyone is losing money to the upstart industry: the government through taxes, tobacco companies through the sale of cigarettes, and pharmaceutical companies from the sale of cessation products such as patches or gum.
The Food and Drug Administration is set to clamp down further on the industry, possibly even driving it out of business. Which would be an interesting, because it is – like I reported previously – an amazing mom-and-pop American entrepreneurial story. So either the U.S. government is about encouraging small businesses or it is all just button-pushing rhetoric.
Then, there is that learning curve.
First off. It’s not cheap. At least, not to get started.
There is the vape, there is the e-juice, there is figuring out what kind of e-juice you like and purchase of rechargeable batteries. Then there are the replacement parts that make the vape work. I’ve easily spent close to $300 in the last month getting this thing up and running — after some missteps — and I’m still far from perfecting it.
But if you are the obsessive-compulsive type, vaping will fit right into your lifestyle. Besides flavor choices, there are as many types of vapes and e-cigarettes as there are stars in the sky. Figuring out what apparatus to buy is daunting.
I bought an e-cigarette type device that was not to my liking. I thought it would be closest to cigarettes but didn’t fit the bill. I then settled on a vape sold by Smok, an AL85, with a tank called the “Baby Beast” for its efficiency.
Immediately, I couldn’t figure out how to make it work and had to head back to the store to find out how to set it up. My first embarrassment, but not my last.
I bought some tobacco-flavored juice and something called Mr. Brunch, which aims to taste like stuffed French toast in blueberry syrup. I had to get familiar with e-juice terms such as the PG/VG ratio which dictates flavor, vapor production and harshness – what vapers call throat hits.
I also had to settle on my nicotine level. I found that 12 mg was too harsh. Some juice I bought was nicotine-free and was a waste of money. It was supposed to taste my black-and-mild cigarillos. Not exactly.
Now my mind was racing. What was the best juice for me? I got a pumpkin pie flavor one and another called Bacon Maple Sin, which was delicious.
I had to learn how to put the vape together properly so it didn’t leak. I lost a lot of liquid at first.
But that was only part of my education.
The liquid is heated by an atomizer, which – guess what? – comes in many different sizes and configurations for my device. The atomizer is inside a tank, which holds the liquid.
The heating element is the coil. Some coils are better for taste. Some are better for producing vapor – or clouds.
The cotton or wick surrounding the coil burns out and when that happens the sweet spot you get with your vape evaporates like – well you know what – and it tastes awful.
The coil dilemma has been the most frustrating part. I learned the hard way – actually still learning –that you had to prime your wick so as not to burn the cotton that surrounds right away.
Also, it is not unusual to get a bad coil and I got a few of them just by bad luck. Two in one pack right off the bat – not discounting operator error.
Those who really like flavor use “drippers,” atomizers where the e-juice is dripped in a little at a time. They take some work but aficionados swear by them.
So right now I’m waiting to see if the third coil from the pack does the job and delivers the flavor I was experiencing just yesterday. It is steeping.
But there is no doubt I’m obsessed. And now some millennial vapers are thinking “what a tool” but the fact is I haven’t smoked a cigarette or cigarillo in two weeks.
There is indeed a tight vaping community at the many little stores that have popped up over the nation. The local ones have been more than willing to help me and to discuss all issues vape.
And, finally, the family reaction has been positive for the most part. The wife is not happy about the money outlay to get this thing started. But there is no longer the endless criticism about “my cigar smell.”
And it is a stress reliever, an oral fixation once fulfilled by the cigarette – something I was skeptical it could replace. I’ve even entertained my youngest lately by struggling to blow vape rings.
The CDC announced last week that nearly half of U.S. adults have caught HPV. That is nearly 80 million Americans and about 20 percent of them — or 1 in 5 — have the kind the causes cancer. Other types of HPV cause genital warts.
About 45 percent of Americans ages 18 to 59 had some form of genital human papillomavirus. The report released last Thursday is the most complete look at how common HPV is among adults.
More concerning, about 25 percent of men and 20 percent of women had certain strains that carry a higher risk of cancer.
Vaccinations against HPV first became available in 2006, aimed at protecting kids before they become sexually active.
Geraldine McQuillan, a senior infectious disease epidemiologist with the CDC and the lead author of the report, said researchers were surprised to see the number of adults who had high-risk genital HPV.
Previous data estimated that 15 percent of adult females had high-risk HPV.
“The next step is to increase awareness of the high prevalence of high-risk genital and oral HPV in our general US population so individuals will realize that this is a serious problem and they will get their children vaccinated in early adolescence before they become sexually active,” McQuillan told CNN.
Who needs fancy scanners, blood tests and X-rays to tell us if we have cancer. Soon, if an Alabama company has its way, all we will need is to chew a stick of gum.
Volatile Analysis is developing the product that can determine if a person has cancer. The gum works by having the wad absorb what are called “volatiles” in the saliva as it is chewed, according to a story on Fox News Health.
The gum then will be analyzed to see if it contains certain chemicals that are produced when a person has the deadly disease.
And last year there were 1.5 million new cases of cancer.
“Over the last 15 years there have been a lot of attempts with different products and processes for early detection of cancer,” Dr. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said.
Breath samples, urine samples and even dogs that might be able to smell cancer have been tried recently. “None of these efforts are proven to detect cancer early,” Lichetenfeld said.
The gum is in the testing stage but Volatile Analysis plans to have the gum available to doctors and patients sometime in 2018.
Read the whole Fox News Health story by clicking here.
Animal activists want the state Legislature to pass a bill prohibiting the use of steroids on female racing greyhounds, saying it can have long-term negative effects.
But the greyhound racing industry says if the bill passes, the Legislature will create hordes of horny dogs that no handle would be able to stop, according to WSFU-FM. Testosterone is administered twice a month to female racing greyhounds to keep them from going into heat. It is given in a chewable tablet.
Fred Johnson works with the Florida Greyhound Association of Jacksonville, said a catastrophe would ensue without the ability to use anabolic steroids.
“If there’s a fight with males trying to get over here to get to those females that you have 30 of them outside and 30 males it’s disastrous—I wouldn’t be able to stop them. Nobody in here could stop them,” Johnson says.
Jack Cory who represents the Florida Grey Hound association says he doesn’t see why anyone would want to stop dog owners from using the drug.
“Birth control is birth control. Whether it’s in a dog or a human being. And birth control methods have been used for a long time in this country—legally, honestly and morally,” Cory says.
But animal rights activists, like Kate MacFall with the Humane Society of the United States say steroids are abusive to female greyhounds.
“For the female dogs it gives them male parts over time. That’s sort of what happens. It’s bad for their health. It’s bad for other parts of their body, but over time that’s what can happen,” MacFall says.
In other countries, greyhound owners have long stopped using drugs to keep their female dogs from going into heat.
“The female dogs are segmented. They’re separated from the male if they’re in heat for the period of time they’re in heat and then they’re allowed to race. It’s not complicated,” said Carey Theil with the animal rights group Grey2K.
Former Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottkamp who also represents the greyhound racing industry it is antithetical to think owners would harm a dog that must be in top racing condition.
“Frankly nobody cares about these animals than their owners,” Kottkamp says.
For more information, read the whole WSFU-FM on Health News Florida by clicking here.
Sick of hearing about Zika already? Get used to it as more birth defects related to the virus are expected in 2017 in Florida and throughout the U.S.
This summer, there will be a full-court press by health officials against Zika.
“It’s not something to be taken lightly,” said Dr. Alina Alonso, head of the Palm Beach County Health Department, in an interview with The Palm Beach Post.
“The main emphasis again is going to be on pregnant women. The CDC expects to see a 20-fold higher proportion of Zika-affected birth defects compared to those that were seen in the 2013-14, before Zika came to the Americas.”
Before 2014, there were three cases of Zika-caused microcephaly for every 1,000 births. That number is now up to 60 cases per 1,000. “That’s a large increase,” Alonso said.
Microcephaly is a rare neurological condition in which an infant’s head is significantly smaller than normal.
On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention released a report that 15 of infants were born with birth defects in pregnancies with a confirmed Zika virus infection in the first trimester. “These findings highlight why pregnant women should avoid Zika virus exposure,” the report stated.
The CDC suggest that because the full effects of the virus is unknown, all pregnant women infected with Zika should receive postnatal imaging and a comprehensive newborn physical exam and hearing screen.
So as the summer comes barreling down the calendar, the focus of health officials will be on the mosquito-borne virus that causes severe birth defects. More than 2,000 cases have been recorded in Florida.
Alonso said she dispatched teams last summer that went door-to-door in neighborhoods about Zika. “We were very pro-active,” she said. “I expect to see more cases because the mosquito is already established here in our environment.”
The Aedes aegypti is the main culprit that carries Zika. It also can transmit dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika fever and yellow fever viruses.
The Health Department will work with doctors to continue a registry of pregnant women who are positive with Zika. “We will see if they have healthy babies or affected babies,” she said.
Alonso said the best prevention, of course, would be a vaccine, but until then citizens have to practice prevention whether it is draining standing water or using repellant. About 80 percent of people who contract the virus don’t exhibit any symptoms of fever, rash, body aches. But for those that do, Zika can have serious, even neurological, consequences.
Zika can be transmitted through sexual activity, so Alonso suggests the use of condoms or abstaining from sex for people who have traveled to infected areas in the Caribbean and South America.
And Alonso doesn’t shy away from the fact that Zika can cost the state plenty.
“Because it is affecting pregnant women, it is affecting our tourism. It is very important,” she said.
Last week Gov. Rick Scott held a news conference with Alonso to talk about efforts to combat Zika. With serious tourist dollars at stake, Scott can claim some initial victories.
He has called on the CDC for advice and assistance. A Zika hotline was created. Lab testing capacity was expanded. He has demanded more money from Washington. He used emergency power to release $61 million from the general fund for research, prevention and response. Mailers were sent out to residents in multiple languages.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has announced that vaccination trials have begun using an experimental DNA serum.
The trial aims to enroll at least 2,490 healthy participants in areas of confirmed or potential active mosquito-transmitted Zika infection, including the continental United States and Puerto Rico, Brazil, Peru, Costa Rica, Panama, and Mexico.
“A safe and effective Zika vaccine is urgently needed to prevent the often-devastating birth defects that can result from Zika virus infection during pregnancy,” NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci said on March 31.
“Evidence also is accumulating that Zika can cause a variety of health problems in adults as well. This trial marks a significant milestone in our efforts to develop countermeasures for a pandemic in progress.”
Whatever happened to the bright-eyed bushy tail employee who bounded out of bed ready for the day and the job ahead? Cup of Joe and ready to go. Now, he or she is hiding under the covers.
Maybe, this hard worker is suffering burnout. Getting to the job early, staying late, working weekends and then lying in bed at night thinking about work. It’s no joke that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
A few years ago, Forbes’ contributor Lisa M. Greary wrote about burnout and a criteria for what defines it, the signs that you — yes, you Mr. and Mrs. Type A workaholic personality — may be suffering from it.
You keep telling yourself, “Hey, this is America 2017. I could be easily out of work in my chosen profession. Double down. Make that quota, make those goals.” Workaholism is a badge of honor, right?
It could, however, be akin to trying to dig yourself out of a hole with a shovel, Greary points out, saying it a lifestyle that is not sustainable.
The American Psychological Association’s David Ballard describes job burnout as “an extended period of time where someone experiences exhaustion and a lack of interest in things, resulting in a decline in their job performance.” Ballard is an expert on healthy and unhealthy workplaces.
Ballard is an expert on healthy and unhealthy workplaces. Here are some signs, he says,, that you may be experiencing burnout:
Exhaustion: Emotional, mental or physical. It’s the sense of not having any energy, of being completely spent.
Lack of Motivation: Do you wake up in the morning and think, “Kill me now?” You are suffering from this ailment in which there is nothing that gets you enthusiastic anymore. It’s the off-ramp to clinical depression. Beware.
Cynicism: Ah, that cancer in the workplace. With burnout it is rampant. Frustration turns to negative emotions and pessimism. You become disillusioned with everything. You walk around like FBI Agent Mulder from the X-Files, muttering, “Trust No One.”
Cognitive Problems: Hey, the brain is saying, “I’m outta here.” You can’t pay attention or concentrate. You’ve been spinning plates and they are about to come crashing down. Ballard says, “Our bodies and brains are designed to handle stress in short bursts,” but when stress becomes chronic our ability to multi-task goes out the window.
All of this leads to slipping job performance and problems at home, as well as work. Greary wrote to combat burnout it is imperative to get enough sleep, be organized, stay attuned to your body and stress and cultivate a rich non-work life.
Palm Beach County got it’s annual physical and the news was good.
Diverse and with a population of 1.4 million, Palm Beach County moved up to No. 8. It has moved up one slot each of the last two years and health officials say it shows that wellness programs by the Department of Health are working.
All the other counties ahead of them have far less population.
The researchers look at physical environments, social and economic factors, health behaviors and clinical care.
“These rankings are a testament to the hard work and commitment our community partners have toward assuring a healthy community,” said Dr. Alina Alonso, Director, Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County.
Patrick McNamara, president and CEO of Palm Healthcare Foundation, said programs such as Let’s Move, Diabetes Month and Healthier Together have paid off with healthier citizens.
He pointed to Joshua Timmer, a 14-year-old from St. Ann’s Catholic School in downtown West Palm Beach who took it upon himself to bring the Let’s Move program — a Palm Healthcare initiative – to his classmates. The program encourages 30 minutes of vigorous exercise a day to combat obesity.
On Wednesday, Joshua said between classes he was thrilled with the county’s ranking but wants to get people moving around the world.
He said it wasn’t easy putting down the video games at first.
“It was a hard change,” he said. “At the beginning, I wanted to play more video games, but then I realized I got stuff to do and I need to do more stuff outside.”
These days he plays basketball with his sibling and golf. “I do at least 30 minutes outside every day,” he said.
McNamara said it was Timmer and residents like him that moved the needle for Palm Beach County in the right direction.
“He was just an example of a resident taking it upon himself to be part of the solution,” he said. “One of the affirming things for us is that we are seeing growing numbers like him.”
Timmons is not alone. Andrea Bruton, the owner of SkyeHigh Fitness, leads an exercise program for older women in the black community in Delray Beach.
“Let’s Move has already made such a positive difference, such as bringing people and communities together–groups that would never otherwise mingle and building great rapport between the community and law enforcement,” she said.
The program gets companies, schools, colleges, non-profits, local community groups, families, to organize a team whose members log the minutes they have “moved” and compete against each.
Let’s Move is held each March for the entire month.
So let’s look at the numbers of the county’s annual checkup.
We got good numbers in the category of “health behavior” be it smoking tobacco or drinking excessively, ranking third among all Florida’s 67 counties. We landed in the top 10 in Life Expectancy (9) and Clinical Care (9).
Palm Beach County did get seem dings. It ranked 19th in Social and Economic Factors, such as income inequality and violent crime. It also ranked 32nd in “Physical Environment” that measures everything from pollution to driving alone to work.
We are lonely commuters, it appears.
The hospitals see it from a different perspective. They see a community benefiting greatly from the Charles E Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University which spins out doctors in training to five hospitals.
“It is kind of known fact whenever you have academic institution affiliated with a hospital provider that elevates the level care,” said Dr. Anthony N. Dardano, the vice president for Medical and Academic Affairs at Delray Medical Center.
He also said that increase the quality of care and cutting-edge medical care are due to the elderly population.
So next time you shake your fist at a senior maybe driving too slow think that he or she is to thank for heart surgery techniques not available in other counties and a host of other specialties that are available when it comes to treating cancer and brain disorders.
“The average age of a patient at Delray Medical Center is in the 80s,” Dardano said. “They are sicker people and in order to keep up we have developed state of the art techniques and have recruited physicians who can do all these specialties.”
According to Florida News Service, the judge rejected a plan by the Florida Department of Health that likely would have led to an increase in trauma centers across the state. A contingent of lawmakers are following Gov. Rick Scott’s lead in trying to inject more competition into medical care, saying it will lead to better services and lower prices.
A contingent of lawmakers are following Gov. Rick Scott’s lead in trying to inject more competition into medical care, saying it will lead to better services and lower prices despite many medical professionals saying it will actually do the opposite.
In a 70-page ruling, Administrative Law Judge Garnett Chisenhall, in a 70-page ruling, said the Health Department’s position actually turned two state laws on its head.
Five major hospitals — UF Health Jacksonville, Tampa General Hospital, Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, Bayfront Health-St. Petersburg and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa —had challenged the plan. Currently, Florida caps the number of trauma centers statewide to 44 as well as the how many can operate in 19 different regions in the state.
The battle is not over. A House subcommittee on Monday approved a bill that would eliminate the limits opposed by Gov. Scott and HCA health care company.
Scott was CEO of Columbia/HCA, but resigned in 1997 after the company came under fire for Medicare billing practices.
In Palm Beach County, Tenet Hospitals runs two Level 1 trauma centers at St. Mary’s Medical Center and Delray Medical Center.
Dr. Robert Borrego, medical director of the Trauma Center at St. Mary’s Medical Center, says most trauma surgeons would be opposed to lifting caps on the number of trauma centers in the state.
“Can you imagine coming to a center and you have traumatic brain injury and the neurosurgeons only do about 10 operations a year? he said. “Are you going to comfortable there or do you want somebody who does 1,000 operations a year?”
The women were injected in their eyes with a cell preparation derived from her own fat tissue.
Ophthalmologist Dr. Thomas Albini of the University of Miami, who examined the women, said one woman is totally blind and the others legally blind. He said all suffered detached retinas.
“These women had fairly functional vision prior to the procedure … and were blinded by the next day,” Albini said.
The clinic’s method hasn’t been proven effective or tested for safety in people, he added.
“It’s very alarming to us as clinicians that somebody would do this to both eyes at the same time,” said Albini.
Elizabeth Noble, one of the women said she was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration that blurs the central vision. The former educator said she heard about the treatment at the clinic for a research study described on ClinicalTrials.gov, a website run by the National Institutes of Health.
The former educator said she heard about the treatment at the clinic for a research study described on ClinicalTrials.gov, a website run by the National Institutes of Health.
“It’s very easy to register studies on ClinicalTrials.gov and essentially use a government website as a marketing device,” Leigh Turner, a bioethicist at the University of Minnesota, told BuzzFeed News.
Noble went to the clinic in June 2015 where staff took fat from around her belly button, extracted those cells and mixed them with Noble’s blood plasma. They then injected it into both her eyes for $5,000, according to a story in Buzzfeed.
In an editorial accompanying the Journal’s report, stem cell expert Dr. George Daley, dean of Harvard Medical School, called the clinic’s treatment careless.
“This report joins a small but growing medical literature highlighting the risks of such wanton misapplication of cellular therapy,” he wrote. Providing such treatments for profit outside a proper research setting “is a gross violation of professional and possibly legal standards,” he said.
Buzzfeed reports this isn’t the first time experimental procedures at a clinic have gone awry.
In 2010, for example, a woman with the autoimmune disease lupus died after her own bone marrow cells were injected into her kidneys at a clinic in Thailand.
In 2013, the Florida Department of Health revoked the medical license of Zannos Grekos over the death of a 69-year-old woman. He had extracted material from her bone marrow, filtered it, and then infused it into the arteries feeding her brain. The woman had a stroke.
Treatment for age-related macular generation is at the center of the Medicare fraud trial in West Palm Beach of Dr. Salomon Melgen, who happens also to be tied to a bribery scandal involving a U.S. senator.