Young people—both girls and boys—are developing eating disorders in increasing numbers, according to a UK study published in BMJ Open. Based on the numbers of patients attending general practitioners, medical experts found that one in ten teenage girls has an eating disorder. The highest rates of new cases were among girls ages 15 to 19 and boys ages ten to 14. The data also showed that there was a 13% jump in new cases diagnosed each year between 2003 and 2009. “Modern society exerts pressure for children and young people to be perfect, to look perfect and be high achievers,” says study researcher Dr. Nadia Micali of the Institute of Child Health, University College in London. “Boys are starting to suffer as girls did in the past. It’s a mix of genes and environment, nature and nurture, but the reality is we don’t know enough about what causes eating disorders yet.” While diagnoses of anorexia and bulimia have stayed mostly consistent, there has been a “significant increase” in other eating disorders, including binge eating. Micali says that doctors are becoming more aware of eating disorders, which could partially explain the increase in diagnoses, but she adds: “I suspect these figures are an under-estimate, with many not going to their GP with symptoms that are just as bad.” Studies done in the US have found similar data, with research suggesting that 80% of 10-year-old girls have already dieted at least once, and 70% of 6- to 12-year-old girls want to lose weight. The rate of development of new eating disorder cases in the US has been increasing steadily since 1950.
Sixteen people have been busted in what authorities are calling a "Palestinian cigarette-smuggling ring," and three of them allegedly have ties to terrorists, reports the New York Daily News. The NYPD and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman took down multiple distributors transporting cheap, contraband cigarettes from North Carolina to Virginia, in a massive "buttlegging" operation that made a supposed $22 million over the past 17 months. The lucrative business is "better than selling drugs," one defendant said on tape. The distributors were aided by resellers who sold the contraband cigarettes around New York and accomplices who, instead of turning tax revenue over to the state and city, allegedly funneled the money to terrorists. City Hall estimates that half of the cigarettes sold in NYC are illegal and New York has just about given up on enforcing tax laws, which means hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue have been lost. However, most smokers are still paying the full taxable amount on their cigarette packs—so where does the tax money go? The Daily News has no doubt: It's "flowing unimpeded into a dark underworld...and every time [smokers] light up, they could be pumping money into Hamas. Or Hezbollah. Or Al Qaeda." One of the busted bootleg smugglers reportedly had financial links to Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who is serving life for a plot to blow up city landmarks; another lived in the same building as the main fund-raiser for Hamas; and a third was "a confidant" of the gunman who opened fire on a van of school boys on a Brooklyn Bridge ramp in 1994, killing a student. No wonder Mayor Bloomberg wants cigarettes out of sight.
A 21-year-old college student had to be rescued yesterday off a Colorado mountain after she reportedly ingested mushrooms and "freaked out." Thirty-five total rescue personnel were dispatched to the mountain in Chautauqua Park after a 911 call was received that a female hiker was "high on mushrooms and in distress." Taylor Powers, a University of Colorado undergrad, was located by a park ranger who reported that she had “removed all of her clothing and was being restrained” by two of her hiking companions. Her meltdown forced rescuers to handcuff her before transporting her to a local hospital, where she was treated and released last night. She has been cited for unlawful consumption of a controlled substance, and “further charges are pending against others involved.” Powers' Facebook page includes photos of her hiking and skiing, but no comments on the incident. This is not the first time a hiker's drug use has warranted a rescue mission: Earlier this year, officials in Orange County, California launched a $160,000 search-rescue operation to find two teenagers who had used meth and gotten lost in the woods.
Ray Manzarek, the keyboardist and founding member of The Doors, has passed away from bile duct cancer at age 74. Manzarek founded The Doors with Jim Morrison in the '60s, and helped the band become one of the most successful rock and roll acts of its time. The band eventually fell apart after Morrison's death in 1971, following his epic battle with alcoholism and addiction. Manzarek continued to play in other bands, and will be remembered as one of the most notable keyboard players in the history of rock and roll. He was also an ardent advocate of marijuana legalization. At a conference of marijuana advocacy group NORML in 2008 (video below), the keyboardist recalls getting high during the first recording session with The Doors, and muses on God, outer space, and the effects of marijuana on the time/space continuum. "Years, days, they don't matter. Time is an ephemeral thing," he says, "Time is some sort of Judeo-Christian construct, that has nothing to do with smoking marijuana. Smoking marijuana puts you into a timeless state in which you are kind of revolving with the planet in its eternal rotation around the sun...what's great about marijuana is that it opens the doors to perception."
- Honduran Victims of US Drug War Still Await Justice [Al Jazeera]
- Jon Bon Jovi: Daughter's Heroin Overdose was "My Worst Moment as a Father'' [Fox News]
- Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul Push For Hemp Legalization In Senate Fight [Huffington Post]
- Americas Coalition Puts Marijuana Legalization Up for Discussion [New York Times]
- Finally, a Toothbrush That Shoots Caffeine into Your Mouth [TIME]
- One in 10 Teens Using "Study Drugs" But Parents Aren't Paying Attention [Science Daily]
- Former Yahoo! Employee Killed After Falling From Roof During San Francisco's Booze-Infused 'Bay to Breakers' Party [Daily Mail]
In response to a surge in heroin use in Melbourne, Australia, researchers from the Burnet Institute are proposing a radical new approach: syringe vending machines. The dispensaries, which are already being piloted in Sydney, would operate like drink vending machines by charging a nominal fee for syringes and providing access to clean, safe equipment 24/7. According to a report released today, drug use in North Richmond, an area of Melbourne, is "widespread, frequent and highly visible," with drug users flocking from other parts of the city to openly buy and sell drugs—mostly heroin. Many addicts say they inject in public, out of desperation and fear of withdrawal; discarded syringes often end up littering parks, streets, and even residential driveways. To address the situation and curb the spread of disease, public health experts have proposed 24-hour access to sterile injection equipment and greater collaboration between police and local services to encourage service use. “Effective public health responses require whole-of-community, holistic strategies that balance the requirements of health with those of law enforcement to reduce harm to individuals and the community,” says Professor Paul Dietze, one of the authors of the report. "We have tried different measures and the problem persists, so it's time to change our approach." He says that poor access to clean needles after hours and on weekends puts drug users at risk because they are forced to share equipment and re-use needles from syringe disposal bins.
In the US, there has been a ban on federal funding for needle exchange programs since 1988, though it was briefly overturned by Obama in 2009. Many states have needle exchange programs, which are funded at state and local levels, and the laws vary widely. But needle exchange programs have been proven to work—saving $3 to $6 million in medical care and other expenses for every dollar spent, getting participants into treatment, and helping increase employment rates. Harm reduction advocates want to expand access to syringes in the US because they view addiction as a public health issue, not only a legal one. Depending on the success of Melbourne's new approach, the US may want to consider expanding their vending machine options.