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Living near benzene release sites increases cancer risk

From FOX News:

In a study published in the journal Cancer, Dr. Christopher Flowers, associate professor of hematology and medical oncology at the Emory University School of Medicine, and his colleagues gathered data on benzene release sites in Georgia from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Toxics Release Inventory and compared it to data on incidences of lymphoma gathered from the Georgia Comprehensive Cancer Registry.

Researchers have long known that workers exposed to elevated levels of benzene – such as factory workers – often develop adverse health effects, and in vitro studies of the chemical have revealed it to be a known carcinogen. However, this study was the first to analyze the effects of benzene at the population level, looking at the distance and clustering of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma around sites of benzene exposure.

After analyzing the data, researchers found that incidences of non-Hodgkin lymphoma were significantly greater than expected surrounding benzene release sites – such as a refinery or plant that releases the chemical into the air or water supply. Additionally, the population’s risk for contracting non-Hodgkin lymphoma decreased by .31 percent as their distance from the site increased by each one-mile interval.

“We can’t say directly that benzene is causing the cancer,” Flowers said. “But the residential proximity to the sites are associated with higher incidences of cancers.”

Though more research needs to be conducted before measures can be taken to limit people’s exposure to benzene release sites, the EPA is currently required to keep track of benzene exposure sites throughout the United States.

Posted: 7/29/2013 1:03:00 PM

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Link suspected in new drug, 5 overdose deaths

From The Boston Globe:

A sudden spike in drug overdose deaths in Boston has health officials worried that an adulterated batch of heroin or a similarly powerful illict narcotic is being sold on city streets, apparently under the name “fire,” prompting them to alert community treatment centers and homeless shelters.

Five people have died in the city of suspected opiate overdoses since July 15, says the Boston Public Health Commission, a significant jump from the one or two overdose deaths typically recorded in an entire month.

Boston officials are not sure whether heroin is responsible for the recent deaths or a novel injected synthetic opioid, known as acetyl fentanyl, that recently cropped up in Rhode Island and has been blamed for 14 deaths there. Those overdoses prompted the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a nationwide warning.

Acetyl fentanyl is “about five times more potent than heroin,” said Matthew Lozier, a disease tracker at the CDC. “It’s easier for a person, if they are unaware of the drug they are consuming, to overdose.”

Samples of the drugs involved in the Boston deaths have been sent to labs for testing, but the results are pending.

Posted: 7/25/2013 11:32:00 AM

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Police concerned about bath salt drugs after incident

From Stevens Point Journal:

When Stevens Point Police officer Gary Anderson arrived at a home on the northeast side of Stevens Point on July 8, he had no idea he would be encountering the effects of a new drug in the area.

Anderson and other officers found a middle-age Stevens Point woman lying on a bed, thrashing around, seemingly unaware of her surroundings and what she was saying or doing.

What Anderson and other officers were witnessing were the effects of bath salts, a drug obtained on the Internet. The incident has police on edge at the possibility that bath salt use could start becoming more common in the city.

The use of bath salts is becoming an issue in Wisconsin, according tothe Wisconsin Department of Justice. The tribal government in Lac Du Flambeau in northern Wisconsin declared a state of emergency in response to the number of incidents of the drug’s use.

Posted: 7/18/2013 12:03:00 PM

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Stain-Resistant Fabrics May Boost Thyroid Hormones

From MedPage Today:

Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), a class of chemicals used in products ranging from stain-resistant fabrics to fire extinguishers, may increase levels of thyroid hormones, particularly among women, researchers reported.

In an analysis of NHANES data, there was a significant positive relationship between perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and total T3 and between perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) and total T3 and total T4 among women, Chien Yu Lin, MD, PhD, of En Chu Kong Hospital in New Taipei City in Taiwan, and colleagues reported online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

For men, they saw an inverse association between PFHxS and free T4.

"These findings suggest an effect of low-dose PFOA and PFHxS in humans, although the potential biological significance of this effect is small and subclinical in the general U.S. population," they wrote.

PFCs are widely used in consumer and industrial goods, including fabrics, carpets, surfactants, lubricants, paper coatings, cosmetics, and fire-fighting foams. They are characterized by highly stable carbon-fluoride bonds.

In addition to PFOA and PFHxS, other PFCs include perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA). The researchers noted that PFOA and PFOS are largely being phased out and replaced with short-chain PFCs such as PFHxS.

Although further study is needed to clarify whether there's a causal relationship between PFC concentrations and thyroid function -- the study was limited by its observational nature and by its cross-sectional design -- the researchers said the findings "provide clues about where to focus future epidemiologic and toxicology research."

Posted: 7/18/2013 11:42:00 AM

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Leaving Track Marks: Meth continues its deadly course

From the Elko Daily Free Press:

Methamphetamine is simple to make, if you know how to do it. The drug can be produced through various chemical processes that use household materials, such as Drano, lithium batteries, matches, lighter fluid and cold medication. The chemicals used from the items to make meth are called precursors.

“A lot of people think meth is dangerous because of all the chemicals that go into it, but that’s not necessarily true,” said Barry K. Logan, president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, during a phone interview with the Free Press. “All those chemicals can be toxic in themselves ... but together they create their own chemical, methamphetamine.”

Logan, who holds doctorates in both chemistry and forensic toxicology, is also the national director of NMS Labs, an independent forensic laboratory in Willow Grove, Pa., that specializes in new drug detection and forensic analysis for criminal justice and death investigation agencies.

Meth is a central nervous system stimulant, Logan said.

“Once the drug gets into the brain, it releases a cascade of brain chemicals inside the user,” he said. “Meth makes people think everything is moving fast around them. They get motor restlessness syndrome and they can’t stand still, they have to be constantly moving.”

Throughout his research, Logan found that many users reported a sense of contentment before the fall.

“Euphoria is gradually replaced with mounting anxiety, inability to concentrate, and delusions,” Logan wrote in an article about the effects of meth. “The user is anxious, irritable, short-tempered, and introspective. Pseudohallucinations can occur, and paranoia sets in.”

This tweaking phase may last for hours and repeat for days, known as bingeing.

If you’re a severe abuser, you may go on “runs” that could last as long as 30 days.

These runs, known scientifically as high-intensity binges, gradually deteriorate your state of mind and frequently end in a psychotic state, according to Logan’s article.

Aside from the mental disorders associated with meth abuse, the drug takes a deadly toll on the body as well. Chronic use of meth can lead to cardiovascular disease, liver disease, stroke, neurological complications (like seizures) and pulmonary problems (like pneumonia).

Addicts commonly have missing or fractured teeth and are subject to gum disease, according to a report written by Dr. Richard A. Rawson, associate director of the Integrated Substance Abuse Programs at UCLA.

Sexually transmitted diseases are also common among meth addicts due to increased risky sexual behaviors and other associated risk behaviors, such as sharing needles, while being on the drug, Rawson wrote.

Despite its lethal consequences, meth remains a staple crop of the drug industry and because of ongoing efforts to stop meth production, the hardcore drug continues to evolve.

Posted: 7/15/2013 1:36:00 PM

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FDA Accepts Eliquis(R) (apixaban) Supplemental NDA for Review for Prophylaxis of Deep Vein Thrombosis Following Hip Or Knee Replacement Surgery

From MarketWatch:

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company today announced that the FDA has accepted for review a Supplemental New Drug Application for Eliquis(R) (apixaban), for the prophylaxis of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which may lead to pulmonary embolism (PE), in adult patients who have undergone hip or knee replacement surgery.

The submission is supported by clinical trials. These trials randomized nearly 12,000 patients and assessed the safety and efficacy of Eliquis compared to enoxaparin in  patients undergoing elective total knee replacement and patients undergoing elective hip replacement.

Patients undergoing major orthopedic surgery, including total knee or total hip replacement, are at high risk for Venous thromboembolism, or VTE. In fact, VTE occurs in 40 to 60 percent of patients undergoing orthopedic surgery who do not receive preventive care.

Eliquis(R) (apixaban) is an oral direct Factor Xa inhibitor. By inhibiting Factor Xa, a key blood clotting protein, Eliquis prevents thrombin generation and blood clot formation. Eliquis is approved to reduce the risk of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation in the United States, European Union, Japan and a number of other countries around the world. Eliquis is approved for prevention of venous thromboembolic events (VTE) in adult patients who have undergone elective hip or knee replacement surgery in the European Union (which includes 28 member states plus Iceland and Norway) and a number of other countries around the world. Eliquis is not approved for this indication in the U.S.

Posted: 7/12/2013 1:22:00 PM

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New Zealand: Prove recreational drug is safe, then you can sell

From CNN:

The New Zealand government wants to make sure your high is safe.

In an attempt to tackle the popularity of new-generation synthetic party drugs -- sold widely in convenience stores and blamed for triggering a spate of mental health issues -- New Zealand authorities have taken a radical new tack.

A new law shifts the onus to the makers of synthetic recreational drugs, forcing them to conduct clinical tests to prove their products are safe -- similar to the way pharmaceuticals are regulated.

It's the first nation to take a dramatically different approach to psychoactive substances like party pills and synthetic marijuana.

In a 119-to-1 vote on Thursday, the country's parliament passed the Psychoactive Substances Bill, establishing a framework for testing, manufacturing and selling such recreational drugs.

Under the law, new psychoactive drugs cannot be sold unless they pass health regulations. That process will be determined by the country's Ministry of Health.

Here is what else the Psychoactive Substances Bill entails:
- Restricts where and how psychoactive drugs are sold
- Prohibits sales to minors
- Restricts labeling and packaging of products
- Gives existing products a grace period to begin application process

New Drug "Molly" Making Way Around Northwest Florida

From WEARtv.com:

Local law enforcement agencies already have their hands full dealing with a slew of illegal drugs. But a relatively new drug is creeping its way into our area. The drug is called 'Molly' and it's believed to be as dangerous as bath salts.

It's only been around for a couple of years, yet Methylone or Molly has fast become the 8th most popular drug in Florida, behind the likes of Cocaine and Marijuana.

The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office says Molly is starting to show up into Northwest Florida. Joseph Graves with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement works in the crime lab. He says his office is on track to process about 150 drug specimens of Molly this year alone.

Graves says the effect of Molly is closely related to bath salts, more so than Ecstasy despite popular belief. And like bath salts can have dangerous consequences.

Posted: 7/12/2013 9:16:00 AM

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Several deaths in Scotland and the U.S. are linked to fake ecstasy tablets

From BBC News:

The deaths of seven young people in the west of Scotland are linked to a batch of fake ecstasy drugs, Police Scotland has confirmed.

An 18-year-old woman from Alexandria in West Dunbartonshire died on Tuesday morning after taking the tablets.

Six others from Glasgow, Lanarkshire and Ayrshire have died during the past two months after taking pills with a Rolex crown stamped on them.

It is understood the pills contain a dangerous chemical called PMA.

Also, formely, from ABC News:

A knockoff of the popular “club drug” Ecstasy is being blamed for the deaths of six young people in Florida and at least three in suburban Chicago since May, law enforcement officials said.

The clusters of deaths in Illinois and Florida, along with sporadic reports of fatalities across the nation involving Ecstasy, underscores the dangerous nature of a drug that has been thought by many to be relatively harmless.

In Florida, the fake Ecstasy, called PMA or paramethoxyamphetamine, and PMMA, or paramethoxymethamphetamine, is killing young people by raising their body temperatures to as high as 108 degrees.

The pills being sold in central Florida are believed to be more lethal than Ecstasy, which is made of MDMA or methylenedioxymethamphetamine.The pills are similar and medical experts say it is virtually impossible to tell them apart unless they are tested in a laboratory.

Pennsylvania warns about heroin-like drug that caused 50 deaths

From the Lebanon Daily News:

State officials have issued a warning about a heroin-like drug that has caused 50 deaths in Pennsylvania this year, including one in Lebanon County.

The state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs said Thursday that fentanyl and its derivative, acetyl fentanyl, has been blamed for at least 50 deaths in 15 counties. Five nonfatal overdoses also have been reported.

The state also is awaiting toxicology reports from overdose deaths in several other counties.

Fentanyl is a prescription drug used to relieve severe or chronic pain. It is commonly given to cancer patients or used as a last-resort medication.

When used in a recreational manner, the department's warning said, the narcotic can resemble heroin, featuring the same consistency, color and packaging.

The state began investigating a possible outbreak of fentanyl overdoses after six, including one fatality, were recently reported in Lebanon County.

Posted: 7/8/2013 9:02:00 AM

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