Thursday, March 29, 2012
In 1977, the FDA decided that it was dangerous to systematically treat farm animals with antibiotics because their widespread use in farm animals would reduce their effectiveness in humans. Some steps were taken to enforce the 1977 law such as an FDA recommendation in 2010 that farmers seek the advice of a veterinarian before using antibiotics on their animals. Despite these efforts and the knowledge of risk, though, antibiotics are still used routinely by farmers. A recent ruling was made by federal court judge Theodore Katz, that takes a step toward outlawing widely used antibiotics in animal feed.
A hearing will be held at which drug companies must prove that the use of their antibiotics in farm animals is safe. If they cannot prove the safety of their drug, the FDA will issue a withdrawal order that will restrict farmers providing their animals with feed containing antibiotics.
The issue is quite controversial. Farmers and drug companies argue that the drugs, such as penicillin and tetracycline, are necessary to keep their animals healthy and they contribute to a more successful farm. Many farm animals are housed in crowded, unsanitary feed lots where disease can spread quickly. Administering routine antibiotics would certainly reduce the likelihood of spreading disease. The risk, however, is that the widespread use of antibiotics allows resistant bacteria to proliferate. The more we use antibiotics, the more resistant harmful bacteria will become because they can adapt. For example, if penicillin kills a certain bacteria in cattle, a few resistant bacteria may survive. These resistant bacteria will reproduce, passing on their antibiotic-resistance traits. There is a possibility of creating a superbug, a bacteria that we do not have a medicine to kill.
This ruling may pose changes for the farming industry in the United States, but it will also help ensure public safety. To engage more with this issue, you can stay tuned during Public Health Week at UNH from April 2nd-6th. The film Contagion, featuring Matt Damon and Kate Winslet, which is about a diesase outbreak of a resistant bacteria, will be shown in MUB Theater 2 on Tuesday (4:30-6:30pm), Thursday (1-3pm) and Friday (2-4pm). Students can attend for free. For more Public Health Week events see the schedule on the Healthy UNH website.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Usually when I think of Health Services on campus I think of the place I would go if I’m feeling sick and need medical care or a prescription. However, after visiting the UNH Health Services website I realized how many other helpful programs and services they provide for the UNH community. One service they provide is massage therapy.
Massage therapy can be used simply for relaxation and stress relief. Many athletes use it to relieve pain from sore muscles and joints. Also, the health benefits of massage therapy extend to alleviating digestive problems, high blood pressure and depression. Swedish massage is the standard type of massage, however, health services also offers hot stone massage which places hot stones on specific muscles to relieve tension.
All massages offered at health services are 50 minutes long. Traditional massages are $35 for students and $45 for faculty and staff; hot stone massages are $45 for students and $55 for faculty and staff. You can set up an appointment online, call (603) 862-3823 or go to room 249 in the health services building. Also, you can purchase a gift certificate online and give a massage as a gift. I got my roommate a massage gift certificate from Health Services this semester and she absolutely loved it! She said it was the most relaxed she’s felt all year.
Check out the health services website for a plethora of other services they offer including many different types of counseling, light therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder and support groups. I know I am going to take advantage of more of the services that are provided right on campus and I encourage you to do the same!
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
March is National Nutrition Month, so for everyone who made a New Years resolution to eat better but maybe hasn’t always stayed on track, ahem, myself, this is a great time to focus on “getting your plate in shape” . The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics created this annual educational and informational campaign to stress the importance of making healthy food choices and developing lifelong eating and physical activity habits. A few tips on just how to get your plate in shape include making half of your plate have fruits or vegetables, making at least half your grains whole grains, switching to fat free or low-fat dairy products, varying your protein, and cutting back on sodium and sugar rich processed foods.
I think the most important piece of advice is to slow down and enjoy your food. Eating smart doesn’t mean chocolate, chips or pizza are never allowed, but it certainly doesn’t mean it is okay to eat an entire box of Thin Mints in one sitting. You can see more about March’s healthy eating initiative on the website as well as healthy recipes, and books to help you on your way to becoming a National Nutrition Month all-star!
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
The amount of pharmacies we can bring our prescriptions to can seem overwhelming at times; and given the current economy, we always want to make sure we’re getting the best deal. But how can you possiblely visit each pharmacy near your house and check how much each presciption costs? Luckily, this little thing called the “internet” has completely revolutionized our lives over the past couple decades. From hotels, books, to even electronics, it seems that we can compare prices on just about everything these days. Now thanks to Scott Marlette and Doug Hirsh, we can add prescriptions to that list.
Scott Marlette and Doug Hirsch, both Santa Monica natives, have founded their own company called “GoodRX.” Although their company is located in a small building in California, it reaches people all over the nation through their webpage. This site allows users to enter their zip code and prescription(s) he/she is seeking. The site then calculates the closest pharmacies in that specific area and the prices they are selling the medications for. Keep in mind that this site does not account for insurance coverage, it only shows what prices would cost without health insuranace. The company says its database contains over 1 million prices at drugstores and mail-order pharmacies nationwide for more than 6,000 brand name and generic drugs.
With the cost of health insurance being a major concern to many Americans and with millions of others being uninsured, this site is a great way for the cost-conscious consumer to try not to break the bank because of their necessary medications.
Friday, March 16, 2012
For those of you who might not know, the UNH College of Health and Human Services is home to the nationally renowned and innovative non-profit organization called Northeast Passage, providing therapeutic recreation and adaptive sports for those with disabilities. Guiding principles of the organization include promoting client independence through education and problem solving, creating opportunities, and collaborating with others to create a strong network of accessible recreation. “Research has shown that regular participation in physical activity has a positive effect on the rehabilitation process, self-esteem, education, employment, and overall health” and Northeast Passage honors this through their Recreational Therapy program. This offers wellness education, fitness plans, functional skill development, community integration, resilience techniques, and resource and network development. There is a community/home based program that works with veterans on a one to one ratio to help them utilize the most of their community as well as a school based program that is designed to work with parents, students, administrators, therapists and teachers to provide an equal opportunity to disabled students. Northeast Passage also provides the option to rent equipment needed for activities such as cycling, golfing, power soccer, skating, skiing and snowshoeing, even if you just need a wheelchair, the options are endless and you have the freedom to take the equipment where ever you want. You can easily rent equipment online under their “equipment rentals” tab. If you are interested in becoming a therapist and teacher for Northeast Passage, UNH conducts clinical research and practical classroom and living lab teaching. Any one is welcome to apply for a position, intern or volunteer and the doors of Northeast Passage are always open to visitors.
Northeast Passage is affiliated with the U.S. Paralympics and has recently gathered much attention at UNH after receiving Paralympics grants for disabled veteran activities. The program plans to use the $150,000 grant to launch the New England Veterans Paralympic Regional Development Program and $17,000 for its Paralympic Sport Club. “With the larger grant, Northeast Passage will help build a pipeline for veterans with disabilities to access community adapted sports and recreation programs”. Sounds like a great organization doesn’t it? If you would like to get involved with Northeast Passage at UNH, sign up to volunteer on their website.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
The World Health Organization defines health as “physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Too often, this holistic view is forgotten. The interdependence of all aspects of health is important when creating wellness programs.
Manadnock Family Services, a non-profit, comprehensive, community mental health service in Peterborough, NH, recognizes the important connection between physical and mental health through their In SHAPE program. Launched in 2003, In SHAPE serves 150 clients with serious mental illnesses in the Keene, NH area. In SHAPE stands for Self Help Action for Empowerment. Dr. Stephen Bartels, director of Dartmouth College’s Centers for Health and Aging, supervises the program. He feels strongly about addressing mental illness, stating, "It can legitimately be said that this is largest and most important health disparity in the nation that has been unappreciated”. The idea of empowerment is the core of the program—inspiring participants to feel better through physical activity. Exercise has been proven to stimulate endorphins in the brain, which chemically improve one’s mood.
Through In SHAPE, individuals with mental illnesses are paired with personal mentors to engage in physical activity. With the local YMCA as a partner, participants often work out every day. If a person does not feel motivated to go to the Y, their mentors encourage them to still engage in activity, often coming to their home for a walk. A personal relationship is formed between the participants and their mentors, which allows social well being to develop.
The program’s success has impacted many aspects of participants’ lives. Ken Jue, the creator of the In SHAPE program explains, "As people have become involved in the program and as they begin to improve their physical health, they develop a sense of self-confidence that really frees them up to do some incredible things". Some participants have started jobs, or have pursued education after the program. As a result of such positive ramifications, the program recently was awarded a $10 million grant to expand its services throughout the state. This grant is a significant achievement to help aide the 43,000 individuals in New Hampshire currently living with a serious mental illness. In SHAPE leads the mental health field in recognizing physical activity’s role in treatment. With the rising rates of chronic disease, other types of wellness programs are sure to follow In SHAPE’s example, and consider a more holistic view of health.
Monday, March 12, 2012
While running, we repetitively hit our feet against the pavement, one in front of the other. Lots of times, our brain runs as well, thinking about your current to do list, a conversation earlier in the day, how you’re breathing, what music is playing, but do you ever stop to think about just how your moving your feet? It is almost like breathing, you don’t think about each breath in and out, it just happens, but a recent study from Harvard University is saying we should be making a conscious effort to think about how our foot hits the ground. The New York Times article “Does Foot Form Explain Running Injuries?” discusses the way you run, either heel to toe or forefoot first, can be causing you unintentional injury. While most of us strike the ground with our heel first, we don't always maintains the same stride. Many factors affect how we run such as speed, terrain and whether you’re tired or not. So while researchers were studying the relation between stride and injuries amongst the Harvard University cross country team they found a larger distribution of injuries among predominant heel strikers.
Does this mean all heel strikers should change their form? First, have you been prone to getting injured in the past? If not, you probably do not need to change your form, however if you have experienced multiple injuries you should consider it. You will need to proceed with this change slowly however or you may hurt yourself even more. “The body’s tissues adapt to the forces generated by long-term heel striking. Change your form and the forces will affect different parts of the leg, leading to soreness and, potentially injury” says Mr. Douad, one of the researchers of the study. He suggests focusing on landing forefoot during the last five minutes of your run and gradually increasing that time; as you become more comfortable and you do not notice any significant continuing soreness. So next time you’re on the road or the treadmill, take a minute to think about how you are running and what works best for your feet and form.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
With spring break only a few weeks away, I have seen the gym with a constant influx of students, faculty, and staff in determination to get their beach body ready. However, there is one catch. I tend to see these die-hard, rock hard ab go-getters at the Hamel Recreation Center on Mondays through Saturdays. So where are they on Sunday, you may ask? Well one popular answer put forth by ”Greatist”, a website linked to by the Huffington Post, is that these exercise gurus are on the coach cheating. By cheating, I mean the often belief that since I worked out for six days straight and stuck to my nutrition regiment, I deserve to eat whatever I want for a whole day. I know I’ve sure used this excuse but in reality, is it physically and emotionally healthy for us? Unfortunately while Kelly Fitzpatrick does not suggest a total free for all with our eating habits, she does put forth some great alternatives to reward our hard work without completely ruining our diet.
One of the pro-cheating claims is that cheat days boost metabolism by upping leptin production and in turn, help the body burn more calories after overeating. Leptin is a hormone responsible for maintaining our energy balance and causing weight loss and while some scientific based evidence does support the prior statement, this technique only increases the metabolism by three to ten percent for twenty-four hours. Now, you don’t need to be a math expert to calculate exactly how many calories you would be burning because 3-10% in such a small percentage that it won’t help burn the hundreds to even thousands of extra calories you are consuming. One study found overeating on a high protein diet and high carbohydrates increased resting metabolism; the amount of calories you burn at rest. While eating foods loaded with fat like ice cream and pizza, did not have the same effect. The main takeaway from the diet end of a cheat day is this: To help the body’s metabolism stay at a stable rate and burn calories efficiently, trying a high-carb, high-protein, low-fat, and alcohol free diet will keep you on top of your diet routine.
In addition to the physical effects, there are also physiological ones that come along with cheat days. Psychologists and nutritionists often believe allowing a cheat meal or cheat day to satisfy a craving allows people to stick to otherwise restrictive diets. Diet experts such as Mark Sisson claims, “The key, according to Mark, is getting past the guilt of assigning “good” and “bad” tags to various foods. Rather than turning a minor slip-up into a major back-slide, he says cheaters should simply accept what they ate, and continue with their diet as planned.” I think this is some of the most sound advice and if you want to take a day to splurge on a specific craving rather than binge eating, then that is a-okay!
Friday, March 2, 2012
Do you pay outrageous amounts of money for your medications? The FDA just issued guidelines that will allow drug companies to make duplicates of certain medications called biotech drugs. The result of this will be increased market competition and decreased cost for medications. Biotech drugs are expensive, injectable medications. Prior to the recently developed FDA guidelines, biotech companies claimed that their drugs could not be duplicated due to their high-tech nature. Since they are made from living cells, it would be impossible to create an effective duplicate, they argued. However, under Obama’s administration, the FDA was required to develop a system for approving the efficacy of “biosimilar” drugs. The guidelines allow biotech industries to have new biotech drugs on the market for only 12 years without any market competition. Then, after 12 years other companies can produce a similar product. However, the biosimilar drugs must pass certain requirements. The most important qualification is that rival medications will need to be proven through testing to function the same way as the original medication.
It is estimated that with competition for medications on the market, the US government will save $25 billion dollars in health care costs over the course of the next 10 years. Roche’s Avastin is one specific example of a biotech drug that could be potentially duplicated. It currently costs over $100,000 dollars for a year’s supply of this cancer drug. It is unknown exactly how much a biosimilar counterpart drug would cost, but competition in the market would certainly facilitate decreased cost. In Europe, where biosimilar drugs have been allowed for several years, they are usually 20-30% cheaper than the original medication. This increase in market competition is a positive development for the US populace because it will keep our medications reasonably priced.
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