COLUMBUS, Ohio – A few weeks before their prom king’s death, students at an Ohio high school had attended an assembly on narcotics that warned about the dangers of heroin and prescription painkillers.
But it was one of the world’s most widely accepted drugs that killed Logan Stiner – a powdered form of caffeine so potent that as little as a single teaspoon can be fatal.
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The teen’s sudden death in May has focused attention on the unregulated powder and drawn a warning from federal health authorities urging consumers to avoid it.
“I don’t think any of us really knew that this stuff was out there,” said Jay Arbaugh, superintendent of the Keystone Local Schools.
The federal Food and Drug Administration said Friday that it’s investigating caffeine powder and will consider taking regulatory action. The agency cautioned parents that young people could be drawn to it.
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An autopsy found that Stiner had a lethal amount of caffeine in his system when he died May 27 at his home in LaGrange, Ohio, southwest of Cleveland.
Stiner, a wrestler, had more than 70 micrograms of caffeine per millilitre of blood in his system, as much as 23 times the amount found in a typical coffee or soda drinker, according to the county coroner.
His mother has said she was unaware her son took caffeine powder. He was just days away from graduation and had planned to study at the University of Toledo.
Caffeine powder is sold as a dietary supplement, so it’s not subject to the same federal regulations as certain caffeinated foods. Users add it to drinks for a pick-me-up before workouts or to control weight gain.
A minuscule amount packs a punch.
A mere 1/16th of a teaspoon can contain about 200 milligrams of caffeine, roughly the equivalent of two large cups of coffee. That means a heaping teaspoon could kill, said Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill ?Hospital in New York.
The powder is almost impossible to measure with common kitchen tools, the FDA said.
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“The difference between a safe amount and a lethal dose of caffeine in these powdered products is very small,” FDA spokeswoman Jennifer Dooren said.
Glatter said he’s seen several younger patients experience complications from caffeine in the last few months. Some arrive with rapid heart rates.
“They’re starting to latch onto the powders more because they see it as a more potent way to lose weight,” Glatter said.
Health officials worry about caffeine powder’s potential popularity among exercise enthusiasts and young people seeking an energy boost.
Dr. Henry Spiller directs a poison control centre at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Over a week or so this month, the centre took reports of three people hospitalized for misusing caffeine powder.
“I can’t believe you can buy this,” Spiller said. “Honestly, I mean, it’s frightening. It makes no sense to me.”
Federal investigations have recently prompted some companies to pull products with added caffeine.
Last year, Wrigley halted sales and marketing of Alert caffeinated gum after discussions with the FDA. In 2010, the agency forced manufacturers of alcoholic caffeinated beverages to cease production of those drinks.
Authorities have also pledged to take action if they are able to link deaths to consumption of energy drinks. Hospitalizations from those drinks have been on the rise.
The number of emergency department visits involving energy drinks doubled – from 10,068 visits in 2007 to 20,783 visits in 2011, according to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Most of the cases involved teens or young adults.
A full teaspoon of caffeine powder could contain 3,200 milligrams of caffeine.
In that concentrated amount, a person can experience adverse effects in a matter of minutes, said Dr. Bob Hoffman, a New York University medical toxicologist.
The brain becomes alert, then agitated and confused. The heartbeat picks up and can become dangerously irregular. A person can suffer nausea, vomiting and potentially a seizure.
“The thing about caffeine is just because you see it every day, just because it’s naturally occurring – it comes from a plant – doesn’t mean that it’s safe,” Hoffman said.
Back in Ohio, the superintendent of the district where Stiner attended school plans to take steps of his own. He wants to add the dangers of caffeine powder to drug and alcohol awareness programs.
TORONTO – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was caught off guard during an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace after Kerry was recorded speaking to one of his aides before the on-air segment.
“While you were on camera and while on microphone,” Wallace said, “you spoke to one of your top aides between the interviews about the situation in Israel.”
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Kerry who apparently forgot his microphone was hot was speaking with one of his aides about a recent operation in the Gaza Strip. Wallace presents the clip in reference to “14 Israelis” killed in the operation, but recent reports suggest that number is actually 13.
During the recorded conversation Kerry keeps repeating “it’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” which seems to reference Israel’s expanding invasion in Gaza.
“It’s escalating significantly and underscores the need for ceasefire,” Kerry’s aide says.
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Kerry responds saying “we’ve got to get over there. I think we should go tonight,” noting that it is “crazy” to be “sitting around.”
The statements appear to contradict the country’s previous unwavering support for Israel in the ongoing conflict.
Wallace asks Kerry if he is “upset that the Israelis are going too far?”
“It’s very difficult in these situations, obviously,” Kerry said. “You have people who have come out of tunnels, you have a right to go in and take out those tunnels. We completely support that, and we support Israel’s right to defend itself against rockets that are continuing to come in.”
CHICAGO – Disadvantaged teens may get more than an academic boost by attending top-notch high schools – their health may also benefit, a study suggests.
Risky health behaviour including binge-drinking, unsafe sex and use of hard drugs was less common among these kids, compared with peers who went to mostly worse schools. The teens were otherwise similar, all from low-income Los Angeles neighbourhoods who applied to top public charter schools that admit students based on a lottery system.
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The researchers compared behaviour in almost 1,000 kids in 10th through 12th grade who were admitted to the high-performing schools and in those who went elsewhere. Overall, 36 per cent of the selected kids engaged in at least one of 11 risky behaviours, compared with 42 per cent of the other teens.
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The study doesn’t prove that the schools made the difference and it has limitations that weaken the results, including a large number of students who refused to participate. Still, lead author Dr. Michael Wong said the results echo findings in less rigorously designed research and they fit with the assumption that “better education will lead to better health.” Wong is an internist and researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The study involved mostly Latino students who applied to one of three top-performing public charter schools from 2007 to 2010. About half of the kids had parents who didn’t graduate from high school and most didn’t own their own homes.
Results were published online Monday in Pediatrics.
Teens were given computerized questionnaires to answer in private, to improve the chances for accurate self-reporting. Standardized test scores were obtained from the California Department of Education.
The results aren’t a referendum on charter schools but the lottery system they use for enrolment made the comparison fairer, Wong said.
Despite the limitations, the study “is a beautifully conducted natural experiment” that could occur because there’s more demand for high-performing schools than there is space available, said Kelli Komro, a professor of health outcomes and policy at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She was not involved in the research.
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Because the Los Angeles schools’ lottery system selects students randomly, not on grades or other differences, the study design “mimics a randomized controlled trial, the gold standard in health research,” Komro said.
Most of the selected kids chose to attend those schools, while 83 per cent of those not picked went to schools with worse performance records. Math and English scores after freshman year were higher in selected kids than the other teens. Moreover, just 9 per cent of the selected kids dropped out of school, versus almost 1 in 4 of the others.
Prof. Harold Pollack, a University of Chicago public health researcher, said the study is important and highlights the challenge – and need to – create “a much larger number of schools that serve kids well.”
Pollack said better academic performance among the charter school kids is likely more important for their long-term health than their risky behaviour choices.
“Educational outcomes are just so critical for people’s well-being,” he said.
AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner can be reached at 杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活twitter杭州夜网/LindseyTanner
TORONTO – A new survey says Canadians, on average, expect to be mortgage-free by age 58, one year later than in a similar poll a year ago.
But the survey, conducted for CIBC by Angus Reid, found some big discrepancies across the country.
For example, homeowners in British Columbia thought they wouldn’t be able to pay off their mortgages until they hit 66, while those in Alberta expected to be mortgage-free more than a decade earlier at 55.
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The survey also found that just over half of those polled were taking advantage of the current low interest rate environment to pay down their mortgages faster.
Fifty-five per cent said they were putting in extra effort into repaying their mortgages, although that was down from 68 per cent last year.
Of those paying off their mortgages quicker than necessary, 32 per cent said they were making payments more often, 28 per cent were increasing the amount they pay while 18 per cent said they had made either an additional prepayment or a lump sump payment.
Beyond Alberta and British Columbia, the survey found the average age respondents expected to be mortgage-free ranged from 56 years in Quebec to 57 years in Atlantic Canada and Ontario and 58 years in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
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CIBC says even small efforts can lead to big savings for homeowners in the long run.
For example, someone paying 4.99 per cent interest on a $250,000 mortgage with 25-year amortization can expect to save nearly $35,000 of interest if they add $147 to their $1,453 monthly payments.
The same homeowner can save as much as $30,000 on interest if they make $726 payments every two weeks, instead of waiting until the end of the month to make a payment.
The bank pointed out that even making a lump sum payment every year — for instance, putting the average $1,600 tax refund towards the mortgage — would shave off $33,103 of interest.
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“Employing one or more of these strategies does take some planning and discipline,” said Barry Gollom, vice-president of secured lending and product policy at CIBC.
“If becoming mortgage-free sooner is something you want to achieve, it’s important to look at your mortgage as part of your overall financial picture and to balance your mortgage payment plan against your other goals.”
The online poll was conducted by Angus Reid Forum with 1,509 Canadian adults between May 21 and May 22.
The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error as they are not a random sample and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.
©2014The Canadian Press