Health
Thursday, March 18, 2010
 
Legalizing marijuana will create a new class of addicts, problems

By Anthony Policastro

Some states have legalized medical marijuana and Delaware is considering such a law. Many individuals feel that marijuana should be legalized because it would decrease usage since the purchase would be taxed. History does not support that concept. In 1907 the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed which regulated controlled substances. At the time of its passage, approximately one out of 500 citizens was addicted to some kind of controlled substance. Prohibition was a failure because regulation of alcohol was difficult. The one thing Prohibition did do was decrease the number of alcoholics in this country. Marijuana is an addictive drug. Making it legal for reasons other than medicinal purposes will result in more people becoming addicted to it. Some individuals believe that marijuana is harmless. However, it is just like any other drug. The more you use it, the more side effects exist. Regular users of marijuana have a predictable series of side effects. The first is on sexual function. Marijuana affects the levels of testosterone in the body. Males have decreased sperm counts while women can have fertility issues. The second affected area is the lungs. There is an increased rate of lung cancer in chronic marijuana users. Smoking one joint can do as much damage to the lungs as a pack of cigarettes. The third area of the body affected is the brain. There appear to be a variety of learning skills that are affected from the use of marijuana. Some of those occur only during its use while others linger. The most significant effect is motivation. Chronic users (defined as daily users) develop what is called amotivational syndrome, a lack of desire to do anything productive. For school aged individuals, it usually means failing grades because they do not want to do their class work or homework or study for exams. Marijuana use is often the cause of an adolescent's grades suddenly dropping. In adults, this shows up in the workplace. They are not motivated to perform which may result in unemployment or jeopardize advancement opportunities. Some of the individuals advocating legalization suggest that it is no different than legalizing alcohol. In a way that is true. Unfortunately, there are still more alcoholics today than there were during Prohibition. Legalizing marijuana will create an additional group of addicts. We need to realize that now before we pass any laws, to keep us from being surprised at the long term effects of such legislation.

Getting a Colonoscopy may help save your life

It's a deadly and silent killer, and it's the third leading type of cancer in the United States. Colorectal cancer is especially dangerous because patients may not know they have this cancer - until it's too late. "There are no obvious symptoms, at least not in the beginning stages of the cancer," said Bayhealth Medical Center Cancer Screening Nurse Navigator Paula Hess, MSN, RN, OCN. Hess says colorectal cancer is likely in an advanced stage by the time symptoms surface. These symptoms may include unexplained fatigue, pain in the abdomen or rectum, bleeding from the rectum, and changes in bowel habits lasting a week or more. To help raise awareness about colorectal cancer, and to potentially save lives, Bayhealth Medical Center is sponsoring Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month during March 2010. Bayhealth will provide educational seminars and activities and continue to provide lifesaving colorectal screenings. "The best way to protect yourself is to have a colonoscopy. Most polyps that are found are an overgrowth of normal tissue. But when a precancerous polyp is removed, we know we've prevented colon cancer," said Hess. Cancer screening guidelines call for colorectal screenings for men and women starting at age of 50. For anyone with a family history of colorectal cancer or precancerous polyps, or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, screening will need to start earlier. Colonoscopies should be repeated every seven to 10 years, or more frequently, depending on the results of your exam and your family history. "The colonoscopy is actually a very simple procedure that takes less than 30 minutes while you are under conscious sedation. Most people don't even remember the procedure," said Bayhealth Clinical Coordinator for Endoscopy Cheryl Schmidt, RN. Schmidt says people who have their polyps removed have a 90 percent reduction in incidents of colorectal cancer. "The best thing to know about colorectal cancer is that it is preventable and curable by having colonoscopies and being proactive with your health," said Schmidt. For more information about colorectal screenings, call 302-744-6752.

Bayhealth offers cancer screening Bayhealth Medical Center will offer free colorectal and prostate cancer screenings in late March and early April. These free screenings are part of Bayhealth's efforts to educate the community and help people identify cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage. Cancer screening guidelines call for colorectal screenings for men and women starting at age 50. African Americans and anyone with a family history of colorectal cancer or precancerous polyps, or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, screening will need to start earlier. You should receive an annual screening if you're a man over the age of 50. African-American man are twice as likely to die from prostate cancer and should begin screenings at the age of 40. Family history of prostate cancer in a close relative (father, brother) may also require earlier screening. In Sussex County, a screening will be held at Milford Memorial Hospital on Saturday, March 27 at 9 a.m. To register, call 744-6752.

Seventh H1N1 death Officials with Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) have learned that a 47-year-old Kent County man became Delaware's seventh H1N1-related death on March 7. He was hospitalized on Feb. 8 and tested positive forH1N1 on Feb. 19. The man had several underlying health conditions. "People with chronic underlying health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and those who areimmunosuppressed are at higher risk of complications from theH1N1 flu," said Dr.Karyl Rattay,DPH director. For more information on theH1N1 flu, visit www.flu.delaware.gov

'National Start! Walking Day' Bayhealth Medical Center is partnering with the American Heart Association to sponsor National Start! Walking Day for Kent and Sussex Counties. National Start! Walking Day is a national event on Wednesday, April 7, marking the campaign and fundraising kickoff for the 2010 Heart Walk this fall. Bayhealth employees will join community members in a short walk to raise public awareness about the health benefits of walking. Physical inactivity and obesity are responsible for many health issues including many cardiac issues. Walking and other moderate physical activity can lower risk for heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes and even certain breast cancers. Walking can also lower your blood pressure and reduce your "bad cholesterol." For those people with busy schedules, only a few minutes a day can make a difference. Walking for just 30 minutes each day, five days a week can significantly reduce your risk for many health problems including heart attacks. For more information, visit www.startwalkingnow.org

Dealing with Alzheimer's Disease Are you among those dealing with the impact of Alzheimer's Disease? Do you know someone who is? Join us at the Methodist Manor House at 6 p.m. on

Tuesday, March 30 for "Remembrances Past: How to deal with the impact of Alzheimer's Disease". Featured speakers include Kay Lynne Ege of Good News Consulting, a leading expert in the field of progressive care for Alzheimer's; Jamie Magee, Sussex County Alzheimer's Association chapter director; and Dr. Jervis Cooke, a Manor House resident who will share his personal insights based on his experiences as a caregiver for his wife. A question-and-answer session will immediately follow the speaking program. Alzheimer's and related dementia disorders is becoming a growing concern in the community as Sussex County's older adult population ages. We invite you to come and listen and ask questions. An open house will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. with light refreshments. The program begins at 7 p.m. This event is open to the public, however, reservations are required. To RSVP, call the Manor House at 628-5617 by March 26.

Reduce the risk of falling The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Sussex County will offer a free eight week course emphasizing practical strategies to reduce the risk of falling and increase activity levels. Classes will be held in the Fellowship Hall of Methodist Manor House, 1001 Middleford Road, Seaford, once a week for eight weeks from 10 a.m. to noon. The classes start Monday, March 29, and continue through Monday, May 17. The program is based on "Fear of Falling: A Matter of Balance" developed at Boston University. RSVP volunteers have been trained to teach the classes with the help of Methodist Manor House staff, including a physical therapist. Anyone who has fallen in the past or who is concerned about falls; anyone interested in improving balance, flexibility and strength; and anyone who has restricted activities because of falling concerns should attend. For more information or to register, call RSVP at 856-5815.

Hospice plans fundraiser Delaware Hospice's Beef and Brew fundraiser will be held on Friday, April 16, from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. at the Georgetown CHEER Center. Tickets are $30 per person through Monday, April 12, and $35 per person after April 12 or at the door. Beef and sides will be catered by the Georgia House and beer sponsored by Banks Wines & Spirits and the Starboard. The evening will include raffles, a silent auction and dancing with "The Funsters." Delaware Hospice invites you to participate through sponsorships or donations of auction items. Call Peggy Dolby, 856-7717, or Mary Morgan, 800-838-9800, for tickets or sponsorship information.

Registration open for Walk MS Registration is now open for this year's Walk MS season in Delaware. Organized by the Delaware Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the goal is to raise awareness and funds for the programs and services needed by more than 1,500 Delawareans with MS and their families. Each of the five events takes place on an accessible 5K route, and plenty of support is available as well as the opportunity for lots of fun with family and friends. Two events take place in Sussex County:
  • Walk MS: Twilight at Heritage Shores steps off at Providence At Heritage Shores, One Heritage Shores Circle in Bridgeville, on Friday, April 30, at 6 p.m.
  • Walk MS: Twilight at Baywood Greens steps off at the Baywood Greens Golf Course, 32267 Clubhouse Way in Long Neck, on Friday, May 21, at 6 p.m.
Day-of registration begins one hour before the event, but advanced registration is recommended. For more information or to register, call 302-655-5610 or visit www.delawarewalk.org

Cancer support group The Wellness Community-Delaware offers a free general cancer support group for people affected by cancer and their loved ones at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford. The monthly support group meets in the second floor conference room of the Cancer Care Center on the third Monday of each month from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The Wellness Community is dedicated to helping people affected by cancer enhance their health and well-being through participation in a professional program of emotional support and hope. All facilitators of these groups are trained mental health professionals. Call 645-9150 for information or to register.

Man to Man support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital offers a Man to Man support group meeting on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Man to Man helps men cope with prostate cancer by receiving information and peer support. Man to Man is a forum for men and their support network to learn about diagnosis and treatment options through presentations, written materials and videos. Specialists share information such as side effects and how to cope with prostate cancer and its treatment. News and information about nutrition, general health, research and treatment, as well as messages from men living with prostate cancer and other Man to Man activities, are offered to assist in the recovery process. Pre-registration is not required for this free support group. For more information, contact Larry Skala (337-3678) or Grafton Adams (628-8311).

Depression Support Group There is a free bimonthly Depression Support Group meeting in Laurel on the second and fourth Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Any person who has signs and symptoms of depression and is under the care of a professional counselor/MD is welcome to attend. To register, call 302-465-6612.

Breast cancer support group Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc. (DBCC) has expanded its Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey, a program for women newly-diagnosed with breast cancer, by partnering with Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center in Seaford. The free, monthly program is offered at the Cancer Center located at 801 Middleford Road, Seaford, the third Thursday of each month from 3 to 4 p.m. The program is facilitated by Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center professional staff - Terri A. Clifton, MS, NCC, Cancer Care coordinator; Mary Brown, RN, DSN, manager Cancer Care Center; and Wendy Polk, nutritionist - with assistance from Lois Wilkinson, DBCC special projects manager, who helps facilitate the program at Bayhealth. Together, they answer questions, help calm fears, and share information about resources that are available at Nanticoke, through DBCC, and other organizations within the local community. Of particular value to newly-diagnosed women is DBCC's Peer Mentor Program through which they are paired with a long-term survivor for one-on-one support. To learn more about Beginning Your Pink Ribbon Journey at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital Cancer Center, call Lois Wilkinson at 672-6435. Registration is required and light refreshments and small gifts are provided.

Bereavement support group Compassionate Care Hospice, The Wellness Community-DE and Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will collaborate to present a monthly bereavement group, The Next Step. The group focuses on issues of loss that continue beyond the early stages of grief. Mary Van House, bereavement coordinator, will facilitate the group at 10 a.m. on the third Tuesday of each month, at the Nanticoke Cancer Care Center, second floor conference room. To register, call Lisa at 629-6611, ext. 2378.