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Long-term study shows why bullying is a public health problem








Bullying may be responsible for nearly 30% of cases of depression among adults, a new study suggests.

By tracking 2,668 people from their early childhood through to adulthood, researchers found that 13-year-olds who were frequently targeted by bullies are three times more likely than their non-victimized peers to get depressed as adults.

Even when researchers accounted for factors like a teen’s record of behavioural issues, social class, child abuse and depression in their family history, those who were bullied at least once a week were more than twice as likely to become depressed when they grow up.

Name-calling was the most common type of bullying, with 36% of teens saying they had been on the receiving end of this behaviour (including 9% who were victimized frequently). And 22% of the kids said bullies had taken their stuff. Beyond that, 16% of the teens said bullies had spread lies about them; 11% said they had been hit or beaten up; 10% were shunned by their peers; 9% said they had been blackmailed; 8% said bullies tried to get them to do something they didn’t want to do; 8% said they had been tricked; and 5% said bullies had spoiled a game to upset them.







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Taking paracetamol regularly while pregnant can reduce testosterone in male offspring




baby scan

Pregnant women who administer the commonly used analgesic, paracetamol for longer then a week can lead to reproductive problems in male offspring, suggests a new study.

The research at the University of Edinburgh, which involved a mouse xenograft model using human foetal testicular tissue, was published in Science Translational Medicine[1] on 20 May 2015.

Scientists are aware that common male reproductive disorders — such as un-descended testes, or in young adults, low sperm count or testicular germ cell cancer — are associated with lower testosterone exposure in the foetus, although the reasons are largely unknown. Paracetamol use during pregnancy has been linked with un-descended testes (or cryptorchidism).

“Even though these disorders appear at different stages in life, they are interconnected and may have a common origin in foetal life,” said study author Richard Sharpe, a researcher of male reproductive health at the University of Edinburgh.

Small deficiencies in the production of testosterone by the testes of a foetal male would predispose it to develop one or more of these conditions, added Sharpe. This could be caused by various factors, one of which is the mother’s exposure to chemicals such as paracetamol.

By grafting human foetal testicular tissue from cultures onto castrated mice, the team observed the development of the testes both in the presence and absence of paracetamol over a 24-hour period for up to seven days using clinically relevant doses. “It is not possible to do such studies in humans and therefore our experiments are as close as we can get to re-create the normal situation in human pregnancy,” said researcher Rod Mitchell, also at the University of Edinburgh.

By measuring blood testosterone levels, and weighing the seminal vesicles of the testes, which is highly dependent on testosterone production, the team concludes. That paracetamol negatively impacts the hormone production in the foetal testes. “Prolonged (7 day) exposure reduces testosterone production by 45% in the developing human testis,” said Mitchell. No long-lasting suppression in testosterone production was noted after only one day of ingestion.

Mitchell advises that if pregnant women need to use paracetamol, they should use the lowest effective dose, for the shortest possible time. “All painkillers can have side effects and we would not recommend switching to an alternative painkiller without consulting a doctor.”

Maureen Baker, chair of the Royal Society of General Practitioners agrees. “Pregnant women who have been taking paracetamol to ease discomfort — either as prescribed by their doctor or self-medicated — should not panic as a result of this research. But if they are concerned about taking the drug regularly, over a long period of time they should make a non-urgent appointment with their GP, or visit their local pharmacist.”

Steve Tomlin, consultant pharmacist for children services at the Evelina London Children’s Hospital, said: “This research reminds us that we need to be careful with all medicines during pregnancy and [also] during the first few years of life; and it is essential that we carry on doing these studies.”





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The risks of buying medicine on-line


Don’t Be Deceived

Buying prescription and over-the-counter drugs on the Internet from a company you don’t know means you may not know exactly what you’re getting.

There are many websites that operate legally and offer convenience, privacy, and safeguards for purchasing medicines. But there are also many “rogue websites” that offer to sell potentially dangerous drugs that have not been checked for safety or effectiveness. Though a rogue site may look professional and legitimate, it could actually be an illegal operation.

These rogue sites often sell unapproved drugs, drugs that contain the wrong active ingredient, drugs that may contain too much or too little of the active ingredient, or drugs that contain dangerous ingredients.

FDA also became aware of a number of people who placed orders over the Internet for one of the following products:

•Ambien (zolpidem tartrate)

•Xanax (alprazolam)

•Lexapro (escitalopram oxalate)

•Ativan (lorazepam)

Instead of receiving the drug they ordered, several customers received products containing what was identified as foreign versions of Haldol (haloperidol), a powerful anti-psychotic drug. As a result, these customers needed emergency medical treatment for symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, muscle spasms, and muscle stiffness—all problems that can occur with haloperidol.

Other websites sell counterfeit drugs that may look exactly like real FDA-approved medicines, but their quality and safety are unknown.

Signs of a trustworthy website

•It’s licensed by the state board of pharmacy where the website is operating. A list of these boards is available at the website of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

•It has a licensed pharmacist available to answer your questions.

•It requires a prescription for prescription medicines from your doctor or another health care professional who is licensed to prescribe medicines.

•It provides contact information and allows you to talk to a person if you have problems or questions.

Another way to check on a website is to look for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s (NABP) Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites™ Seal, also known as the VIPPS® Seal.

This seal means that the Internet pharmacy is safe to use because it has met state licensure requirements, as well as other NABP criteria. Visit the VIPPS website to find legitimate pharmacies that carry the VIPPS® seal.

Signs of an unsafe website

•It sends you drugs with unknown quality or origin.

•It gives you the wrong drug or another dangerous product for your illness.

•It doesn’t provide a way to contact the website by phone.

•It offers prices that are dramatically lower than the competition.

•It may offer to sell prescription drugs without a prescription—this is against the law!

•It may not protect your personal information.

Know Your Medicines

Before you get any new medicine for the first time, talk to a health care professional such as your doctor or pharmacist about any special steps you need to take to fill your prescription.

Any time you get a prescription refilled

•check the physical appearance of the medicine (color, texture, shape, and packaging)

•check to see if it smells and tastes the same when you use it

•alert your pharmacist or whoever is providing treatment to anything that is different

Be aware that some drugs sold online

•are too old, too strong, or too weak

•aren’t FDA-approved

•aren’t made using safe standards

•aren’t safe to use with other medicines or products

•aren’t labeled, stored, or shipped correctly

•may be counterfeit

Counterfeit Drugs

Counterfeit drugs are fake or copycat products that can be difficult to identify.

The deliberate and fraudulent practice of counterfeiting can apply to both brand name and generic products, where the identity of the source is often mislabeled in a way that suggests it is the authentic approved product.

Counterfeit drugs may

•be contaminated

•not help the condition or disease the medicine is intended to treat

•lead to dangerous side effects

•contain the wrong active ingredient

•be made with the wrong amounts of ingredients

•contain no active ingredients at all or contain too much of an active ingredient

•be packaged in phony packaging that looks legitimate

 How to Protect Yourself

•Only buy from state-licensed pharmacy websites located in the U.S.

•Don’t buy from websites that sell prescription drugs without a prescription.

•Don’t buy from websites that offer to prescribe a drug for the first time without a physical exam by your doctor or by answering an online questionnaire.

•Check with your state board of pharmacy or the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy to see if an online pharmacy has a valid pharmacy license and meets state quality standards.

•Look for privacy and security policies that are easy to find and easy to understand.

•Don’t give any personal information—such as a social security number, credit card information, or medical or health history—unless you are sure the website will keep your information safe and private.

•Use legitimate websites that have a licensed pharmacist to answer your question.

•Make sure that the website will not sell your personal information, unless you agree.

For information on protecting yourself against a whole range of bogus health products that includes counterfeit drugs, see FDA’s Consumer Update, “FDA 101: Health Fraud Awareness.”