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food addiction

9/12/14 5:30pm

Sugar Not Addictive, Study Says

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An international group of researchers has concluded that the culprit in food addiction is not so much the ingredients, such as fat or sugar, but rather the act of consuming food itself.

Their findings, which were published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, showed that “macronutrients” like sugars, starches, or fats do not produce the same response in the brain as substances like cocaine.

"There is currently very little evidence to support the idea that any ingredient, food item, additive or combination of ingredients has addictive properties,” noted study co-author and Gothenburg University professor Suzanne Dickson, who also serves as coordinator of the NeuroFAST consortium, an EU-funded project studying the neurobiology of eating behavior, addiction, and stress.

However, the positive neurological response generated by the brain towards eating itself can generate compulsive feelings. The study authors concluded that eating addiction is a behavioral disorder, not unlike gambling, and suggest that treatment for obesity and other eating-related disorders should be focused on the individual’s relationship with food and not the items they eat.

The study also suggests that the current classification for food addiction in the DSM-V, which is listed as a Substance-Related and Addictive Disorder, should be revised to define the behavior as an eating addiction. Additional research would be required, however, to provide a more definitive diagnosis.

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By Paul Gaita

flying high

9/12/14 3:30pm

More Airline Pilots Testing Positive for Drugs

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An increasing number of pilots are using both legal and illegal drugs, raising safety concerns about how the risk of impairment could affect performance.

A study released Tuesday by the National Transportation Safety Board examined the toxicology reports of 6,677 pilots killed in crashes from 1990 to 2012, using data from the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute toxicology database and the NTSB aviation accident database. It revealed that in the study period, pilots testing positive for at least one drug increased from 9.6% to 39%, pilots testing positive for two drugs increased from 2% to 20%, and pilots testing positive for three drugs increased from zero to 8.3%.

The most common potentially impairing drug found in the toxicology tests was diphenhydramine, a sedating antihistamine and an active ingredient in many over-the-counter cold and allergy medications as well as sleep aids.

Although the study found an increase in drug use among the pilots that were tested, there has not been a corresponding increase in the number of accidents in which impairment was determined to be a cause or contributing factor to the accident, according to the NTSB. This figure has remained at about 3% of fatal civil aviation accidents and has not made a marked increase since 1990.

The study authors emphasized that while an increased use of medications point to an increasing risk of impairment, it remains uncertain whether more pilots are actually flying impaired. They also note that it was difficult to determine whether a pilot who tested positive was actually impaired at the time of the accident.

Illicit drug use was relatively uncommon among the study population. Illicit drug use among the pilots tested increased from 2.3% to 3.8% in the study period, largely due to increasing marijuana use.

The study included six safety recommendations that strive to further study the relationship between drug use and accident risk, as well as better educating pilots on the risks of potentially impairing drugs.

“I think the key take-away from this study for every pilot is to think twice about the medications you’re taking and how they might affect your flying,” said acting NTSB Chairman Chris Hart. “Many over-the-counter and prescription drugs have the potential to impair performance, so pilots must be vigilant to ensure that their abilities are in no way compromised before taking to the skies.”

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By Victoria Kim

suspended

9/12/14 1:00pm

Baltimore's Chris Davis Suspended for Adderall Use

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Chris "Crush" Davis, the Baltimore Orioles slugger who cracked 53 home runs in 2013, was suspended for 25 games after testing positive for Adderall.

The suspension is effective immediately and will cover Baltimore's final 17 games of the season before carrying over for the first eight games of the postseason. The Orioles are currently perched in first place with a 10 game lead in the American League East.

News first broke when Baltimore Sun sports reporter Dan Connolly tweeted that Davis had been suspended. Major League Baseball later confirmed the report.

After struggling four or five seasons of his career, Davis broke out in a big way when he hit 53 homers and batted .286 with 138 RBIs in 2013. His sudden power surge prompted some to accuse Davis of using performance-enhancing drugs, though Adderall—a prescription drug used to treat ADHD—does not fall under MLB's drug policy.

Major League players sometimes receive exemptions to use Adderall, a practice that has earned its share of criticism since professional baseball players are prescribed the drug at twice the rate as that of the general public.

Davis claimed to have received such an exemption for the 2013 season, but said in a statement that he did not have permission to use Adderall this year.

"I apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Orioles organization and especially the fans," Davis said. "I made a mistake by taking Adderall. I had permission to use it in the past, but do not have a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) this year. I accept my punishment and will begin serving my suspension immediately."

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By Shawn Dwyer

drug busts

9/12/14 10:30am

Police Raid Results In Nine Arrests In L.A.'s Fashion District

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This wasn’t a Joan Rivers red carpet critique: Federal agents raided garment businesses in the fashion district of Los Angeles, arresting nine people and seizing $56 million in a sting referred to as “Operation Fashion Police.”

Nearly 1,000 federal and local law enforcement officials swept into the area on Wednesday morning after it was discovered that garment businesses in the area were helping drug cartels get profits from U.S. drug sales back into Mexico. Warrants were issued at 40 locations in the area, including 19 storefront businesses and six warehouses. Officials discovered $10 million hidden in duffel bags during one particular raid of a Bel-Air home.

One particular business, QT Fashion, allegedly laundered the cartel money as a ransom payment for a drug-dealing relative who was being held hostage in Mexico by the Sinaloa Cartel. They gave the cartel $140,000 by funneling the money through 17 other businesses. The three owners of QT Fashion have since been arrested, but the hostage is now safe and back in the U.S.

Two members of one family connected to two businesses, Yili Underwear and Gayima Underwear, were arrested after accepting money from an undercover officer posing as a drug trafficker. Meanwhile, four people connected with Pacific Eurotex Corp. were arrested and charged with conspiracy to launder money and illegally structuring financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements.

“Los Angeles has become the epicenter of narco-dollar money laundering with couriers regularly bringing duffel bags and suitcases full of cash to many businesses," said Robert Dugdale, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District of California. While he made it clear that most of the businesses in L.A.’s $18 billion garment Industry are perfectly legitimate, he said the recent arrests “portend a potentially troubling trend.”

Smuggling cartel money across the border certainly isn’t new, but drug lords have had to become smarter in how they do it. Federal officials have stepped up enforcement for vehicles crossing the border. A Chinese toy company also got involved with laundering money for cartels, but that business has since been shut down after the owners were arrested.

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By McCarton Ackerman

deadly combo

9/12/14 8:30am

Drug Combo "Gumbo" Ravages Southeast Texas

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A new drug mixture called “Gumbo” is the latest way that users are combining marijuana with other illicit substances to create a potentially lethal high.

Gumbo is a marijuana cigar laced with other ingredients including ecstasy, cocaine, or PCP. Based on the combination of drugs, the effects can leave users frozen or have the opposite effect and make them combative and unable to feel pain. However, Gumbo can potentially lead to strokes, heart attacks, or organ failure.

It has become an increasing problem throughout Southeast Texas, where local police are reporting that it has been the cause of several overdose deaths and violent crimes that have ravaged local communities. "We've had guys breaking out car windows, we've had guys jump on top of cars, we've had guys take their families hostage," said Port Arthur Detective Marcelo Molfino.

Gumbo can also be laced with synthetic marijuana, which has been causing its own set of problems throughout the country. Last July, 19-year-old teenager Connor Eckhardt slipped into a coma and eventually passed away after smoking synthetic marijuana with friends.

Synthetic marijuana typically consists of dried herbs sprayed with chemicals that simulate marijuana's effects for a legal pot. It can also cause side effects such as irregular heartbeat and seizures.

“These substances are not benign,” said Dr Andrew Monte. “You can buy designer drugs of abuse at convenience stores and on the Internet. People may not realize how dangerous these drugs can be—up to 1,000 times stronger binding to cannabis receptors when compared to traditional marijuana.”

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By McCarton Ackerman

headlines

9/12/14 7:00am

Morning Roundup: Sept. 12, 2014

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By Shawn Dwyer

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