12% of United States troops in Iraq and 17% of troops in Afghanistan are on anti-depressants

On June 5, 2008, Time Magazine ran a story entitled, "America's Medicated Army". Here is a snippet from the article:

The medicines are intended not only to help troops keep their cool but also to enable the already strapped Army to preserve its most precious resource: soldiers on the front lines. Data contained in the Army's fifth Mental Health Advisory Team report indicate that, according to an anonymous survey of U.S. troops taken last fall, about 12% of combat troops in Iraq and 17% of those in Afghanistan are taking prescription antidepressants or sleeping pills to help them cope. Escalating violence in Afghanistan and the more isolated mission have driven troops to rely more on medication there than in Iraq, military officials say.

It seems that fighting pre-emptive and immoral wars is not good for one's mental health. I wonder when we as a nation will realize the error of our ways and demand that our government do something about it?

I don't know of any other occupation that has this high a rate of mental illness. Would you want your loved one to enter such a career?

Prozac: The Military's Secret Weapon, MSNBC with Joe Scarborough. Video lasts 3:25

This is article #4 on militarism.

Pediatric drug samples unsafe practice

Drug pushing Free drug samples pose risk to children's health according to a study in the October, 2008 issue of the journal, Pediatrics, as reported by Reuter's HealthDay on October 6, 2008. Here is a snippet from the Reuters HealthDay article:

 Free prescription drug samples distributed to pediatric patients may be unsafe, research suggests.

The study, published in the October 2008 issue of Pediatrics, examined data on 10,295 children and adolescents from the 2004 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.

The researchers found that one in 20 American children received free drug samples in 2004. And among those who took at least one prescription drug that year, nearly one in 10 received free samples.

This in concerning, since the researchers also found that some of the most frequently distributed samples may be unsafe.

Four of the 15 most frequently distributed samples in 2004 were identified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as having significant new safety concerns, including new black box warnings or significant revisions to existing warnings.

The top 15 samples included (among others) Strattera (atomoxetine) and Adderall (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine), drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Both of those medications are Schedule II controlled substances, meaning they are controlled and monitored by the Drug Enforcement Agency due to high potential for abuse.

Some physicians welcome the use of free sample medications as a way to get medications to needy patients. But this study's findings showed that few free samples actually go to the children who most need them.

Only 16 percent of the children who received free samples were uninsured for all or part of 2004, and less than one-third had low family incomes, defined as less than $38,000 for a family of four.

This is article #2 in a series on medications.


Children in U.S. 3xs more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medications than in Europe

Child taking pill Science Daily reported on September 25, 2008 on a study which will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, which found that children in the United States are three times more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medications than children in Western Europe. The authors speculate on the reasons for the difference in practice. If you would like to read more click here.


Cheerleading causes majority of female athlete injuries

Cheerleading Reuters HealthDay reported on August 25, 2008 on this year's report from the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that the most female sports injuries are sustained in cheerleading. Almost 2/3rds of all female sports injuries to females occur in cheerleading. Often denigrated as even being a sport at all, most people greatly underestimated the physical demands of cheerleading. Here is a snippet from the HealthDay article:

Over the past 25 years, cheerleading accounted for two-thirds of all catastrophic sports injuries experienced by high school and college females in the United States, a much higher proportion than previously thought, a new report says.

Cheerleading accounted for 65.1 percent of female high school athlete injuries and for 66.7 percent of female college athlete injuries.

It was previously believed that cheerleading accounted for 55 percent of injuries among high school females and 59.4 percent of injuries among college females. But the percentages increased when new data was used for this year's report from the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Center director Frederick O. Mueller, a professor of exercise and sports science who's authored the annual report since it began in 1982, said catastrophic injuries to female athletes have increased over the years.


Abstinence based sex ed programs don't work - Bush Administration gets it wrong

 Abstinence based sex ed Reuters HealthDay reported on August 21, 2008 on a study which appears in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health which found that abstinence based programs don't work.

In 2007 alone the Bush administration spent 176 million dollars on abstinence only sex education for our young people and nothing for comprehensive sex education. Here is a snippet from the HealthDay article:

"Interventions that have been created to encourage abstinence have treated abstinence and sexual activity as opposites. However, teenagers say they don't think of them as opposites," lead author Tatiana Masters, a doctoral student in social work, said in a university news release.

"These (abstinence-only) interventions are less likely to work than more comprehensive sex-education programs, because they are not meeting adolescents where they are, and they are speaking a different language," Masters said.

The study included 365 adolescents (230 girls, 135 boys) in Seattle who took part in an intervention to reduce HIV risk behavior. The participants filled out questionnaires asking them about their attitudes and intentions about abstinence and sex, and about their sexual activity in the previous six months.

At the start of the study, 11 percent of the boys and 4 percent of the girls had had sexual intercourse. That increased to 12 percent of the boys and 8 percent of the girls six months later, and to 22 percent of the boys and 12 percent of the girls one year later.

"This paper demonstrates that increasing abstinence intention does not lead to less sex. In fact, when abstinence intention and sex intention interact with each other a teenager is more likely to have sex," Masters said.

The study was published in the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

In 2007, the U.S. government provided $176 million for abstinence-only programs, but there is no federal funding for comprehensive sex education programs. This study's findings "raise serious concerns about the abstinence-only approach as a risk-reduction method for adolescent sexual behavior," Masters and colleagues concluded.


Smoke-Free Policies Prove Effective

No smoking Reuters HealthDay reported on July 1, 2008 on a study in the July 2008 issue of Lancet Oncology that found that smoke free policies work.

It has taken a fight in many places to get smoke free policies in place. There have been many obstacles and barriers. It is always difficult to overcome addiction and to give up the profits that accrue from them. It turns out that the Public Health professionals were right all along.

Here is a snippet from the Reuters article:

Smoke-free policies are extremely effective at reducing smoking rates, exposure to secondhand smoke, and even smoking-related heart disease, new research shows.

The report, by an International Agency for Cancer Research working group, also found smoke-free rules don't affect business in restaurants or bars.

The researchers analyzed available evidence and found:

  • Implementation of smoke-free policies substantially decreases secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Smoke-free workplaces decrease cigarette consumption in continuing smokers.
  • Smoke-free policies decrease respiratory symptoms in workers.
  • Smoke-free policies don't decrease business in restaurants or bars.
  • Voluntary smoke-free home policies decrease adult and youth smoking and children's exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Smoke-free workplaces decrease adult smoking rates.
  • Smoke-free policies decrease tobacco use in youths.
  • Smoke-free legislation reduces rates of heart disease.

MedlinePlus: Smoke-Free Policies Prove Effective.


53 years ago today the U.S. cremated the population of Hiroshima with an atomic bomb

Hirsohima explosion It was on this day, August 6th, �in 1945 that the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The United States is the only nation in the world that has ever used an atomic bomb in combat against an enemy. It is debatable whether the use of the Atomic bomb saved lives and accelerated the end of World War II. It certainly brought a new level of awareness of what human beings are capable of.

Hirsohima body As a young person in the 50s we went through the exercise of "duck and cover" hiding under our desks in drills as if this would save us from death by an atomic bomb. Looking back now, the fact that adults instilled such fear in young people for no good reason almost seems abusive. We have a long way as a species to mature into the creatures that God created us to be.

Here is a video which lasts 3:56 about the naivete of the times. I wonder if "duck and cover" would have saved our fellow human beings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?