Young Canadians face heightened crash risk after consuming cannabis, new study finds

Young Canadians are more at risk of a vehicle crash even five hours after inhaling cannabis, according to results of a clinical trial conducted at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and McGill University, and funded by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).

The research found that performance declined significantly, in key areas such as reaction time, even five hours after inhaling the equivalent of less than one typical joint. The participants’ driving performance, which was tested in a driving simulator, deteriorated as soon as they were exposed to the kinds of distractions common on the road.

The peer-reviewed study is published online today at 6:00 a.m. EST at CMAJ Open, an online sister journal to CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

The trial examined the impact of cannabis on the driving ability of 18 to 24 year old occasional users. CAA polling has found that a significant number of young Canadians – one in five – believe they are as good or better drivers stoned as they are sober.

“This new trial provides important Canadian evidence that cannabis can affect the skills needed to drive safely even five hours after consuming,” said Jeff Walker, CAA chief strategy officer. “The message is simple. If you consume, don’t drive. Find another way home or stay where you are.”

“This rigorous experimental trial adds to a growing body of scientific literature on cannabis use and driving,” said study co-author Isabelle Gélinas, a researcher in McGill’s School of Physical and Occupational Therapy. “The findings provide new evidence on the extent to which driving-related performance is compromised following a typical dose of inhaled cannabis, even at five hours after use.”

Under controlled conditions, researchers tested driving-related performance of young Canadians in a simulated environment, at intervals up to five hours after they had consumed cannabis. Participants were also tested with no cannabis in their system to set a baseline.

While the participants showed no significant effects when there were no distractions, as soon as conditions became more realistic, driving-related performance reduced significantly. In addition, a large percentage of the young drivers reported they did not feel as safe to drive after consuming cannabis, even five hours after use.

“When you feel you are not safe to drive you are right – you are not!” Walker said.

“CAA is committed to doing its part in furthering this important road safety issue, but governments must step up too,” Walker added. “We need funding earmarked specifically to study the effects of cannabis on driving – research that covers the spectrum from basic research to on-road safety initiatives.”

About the study

The CAA-funded study was conducted by a multidisciplinary research team at the Centre for Innovative Medicine (CIM) of the RI-MUHC, under the supervision of Drs. Nicol Korner-Bitensky and Isabelle Gélinas, leading driving researchers, and Dr. Mark Ware, a leading cannabis researcher. The driving simulator used in the study was supplied by Virage Simulation, a Montreal-based company. The lead author, Dr. Tatiana Ogourtsova, is a post-doctoral fellow. Ms. Maja Kalaba, a junior epidemiologist at the MUHC, was project coordinator. (As of July 1, 2018, Dr. Ware became an employee of Canopy Growth Corporation, a Canadian licensed producer of medical cannabis; as of that date, he had no further involvement in analysis of the data for the study.)

Participants in this randomized clinical trial were between the ages of 18 and 24 years old and recreational users of cannabis (i.e. used cannabis at least once in the past three months, but not more than four times per week). The trial tested their driving related performance on four different days using a state-of-the-art driving simulator and a Useful Field of View test. Testing was randomized to occur 1 hour, 3 hours and 5 hours after they had consumed cannabis. They used a medical grade vaporizer to consume a dose of 100 mg dried cannabis flowers containing 13% THC over several inhalations. A typical joint is 300-500 mg of dried cannabis. Full details of the study are available here as of 6 am ET on Oct. 15.

SOURCE Canadian Automobile Association

http://www.caa.ca

The Canadian Breast Cancer Network Releases New Report

A new report released today from the Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN), Breast Cancer: The Lived Experience, provides the comprehensive perspective of almost 500 Canadian women who have experienced a breast cancer diagnosis. Patients and survivors diagnosed with both early stage and metastatic (stage IV) breast cancer, share their experiences with the process of being diagnosed, making treatment decisions, accessing clinical trials, the psychosocial and financial impact, accessing palliative care and managing survivorship challenges. Through their experiences, patients identify current gaps when it comes to meeting the needs of breast cancer patients. This is the first Canadian report to share the experiences of early stage patients in parallel with metastatic breast cancer patients; creating a greater understating of the similarities and differences between both groups.

 

“I think we can all agree that the objective for both patients and government are the same – to improve the lives of those burdened with disease and find efficient solutions to achieve this,” says Cathy Ammendolea, Chair of the Board of Directors, CBCN. “To best accomplish this, however, it’s critical to understand the patient-perspective in order to address these needs with a patient-centred approach.”

THE CANADIAN BREAST CANCER NETWORK’S RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Based on the experiences of these women, CBCN has identified five overarching factors that can greatly improve the health outcomes and the quality of life of Canadians diagnosed with breast cancer:

  1. Improved Educational Resources: The quality and availability of patient focused education has increased over the past couple of decades: however, there are still some patient-friendly educational resources that are lacking. These include specific resources for newly diagnosed metastatic breast cancer patients, decision aids that support breast cancer surgery and post-surgery decision making and the navigation of financial resources.
  2. Increased Access to Treatments: This challenge was specifically identified and vocalized by people living with metastatic breast cancer. Efforts need to continue to shorten the drug approval process time, increase equitable access to new medications and ensure equitable access for take-home oral cancer medications.
  3. Increased Access to Information: Information available to patients about their health and treatment has increased; however, there is still information that isn’t always communicated to patients that would help them make informed decisions about their health. This includes information about breast density, palliative care options and information about clinical trials.
  4. Integrated Systemic Supports: The health care system as a whole is responsible for many of the services and supports that patients need to achieve optimal health and manage their breast cancer; however, these supports can be challenging to navigate and are sometimes lacking. Supports that need to be addressed at a systemic level include patient navigation, communication tools to support general practitioners during the diagnosis process and increased Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits.
  5. Increased Awareness and Understanding of Metastatic Breast Cancer: Accurate statistics and increased awareness would help further the understanding of the impact of this stage of breast cancer and better support those with it.

The recommendations laid out in this report provide key starting points and practical solutions to address the burden of breast cancer and improve the lives of those impacted by this disease. Visit CBCN.ca for more information and read the report to learn more about these recommendations.

ABOUT CBCN
The Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN) is Canada’s only patient-directed national breast cancer health charity. The Canadian Breast Cancer Network is committed to ensuring the best quality of care for all Canadians affected by breast cancer and strives to voice the views and concerns of breast cancer survivors and patients through the promotion of information sharing, education and advocacy activities.

SOURCE Canadian Breast Cancer Network

Food safety tips for Thanksgiving

Many Canadians serve poultry (turkey, chicken and duck) at Thanksgiving. If poultry isn’t properly prepared, cooked or stored, you and your family could be at risk of getting food poisoning (also known as foodborne illness).

Symptoms of food poisoning include diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps. There are approximately 4 million cases of food poisoning in Canada every year. Many of these cases could be prevented by following proper food handling and preparation techniques.

Cooking poultry to the proper internal temperature kills harmful bacteria in the food, but it doesn’t help control bacteria that may have been spread around your kitchen while the food was being prepared.

Follow these safety tips to help protect you and your family:

Clean:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw poultry.
  • Clean and sanitize the sink, as well as all surfaces and utensils that have come into contact with raw poultry or its juices to avoid cross-contamination.
  • You can either use commercially available cleaners or make your own cleaning spray by mixing 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of household bleach with 750 ml (3 cups) of water.

Separate:

  • Store poultry in a leak-proof bag or container in the refrigerator or freezer immediately after you buy it.
  • Thaw poultry in the refrigerator or in cold water. If you thaw poultry in cold water, keep it in its original packaging and change the water regularly. Thawing poultry at room temperature is not recommended.
  • Do not rinse poultry before cooking it. This can spread bacteria throughout your kitchen, wherever the water splashes.

Cook:

  • Cook whole poultry until the temperature of the thickest part of the breast or thigh is at least 82ºC (180ºF). Cook poultry pieces to a minimum internal temperature of 74ºC (165ºF). Use a digital food thermometer.
  • Cook stuffing separately in its own dish or on the stove top. If you do stuff your turkey, stuff it loosely just before roasting and remove all stuffing immediately after you remove it from the oven. Cook stuffing to a minimum internal temperature of 74ºC (165ºF).

Chill:

  • Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of cooking. Foods like fully cooked poultry and potatoes can be eaten cold, but if you are reheating leftovers, heat them to 74ºC (165ºF) or warmer. Gravy should be reheated to a full boil.
  • You can safely re-freeze poultry that has not been fully defrosted if the meat is still cold and ice crystals are present.

For more information:

Également disponible en français

SOURCE Health Canada

Mental health issues are less likely to be seen as a disability

Highlights:

  • Canadians still hold a bias toward viewing disabilities as being largely physical rather than mental in nature.
  • Yet, 30 per cent of Canadians who have taken time off because of a disability say it was for a mental illness.
  • For most Canadians, disability insurance isn’t something they think about in-depth until they need it.

Despite the rise in public awareness of mental health issues, Canadians still hold a bias toward viewing disabilities as being largely physical rather than mental in nature, according to a recent survey from RBC Insurance. While two in three view multiple sclerosis (65 per cent) and physical accidents (65 per cent) as disabilities, fewer than half feel the same way about depression (47 per cent) and anxiety (36 per cent).

“There is a misconception that disabilities tend to be catastrophic in nature, caused by one-time, traumatic events,” explains Maria Winslow, senior director, life & health, RBC Insurance. “What most Canadians don’t realize is that mental illness causes the majority of disabilities. In fact, almost one-third of group disability claims at RBC Insurance are related to mental health, and that number is higher if you count physical disabilities that lead to mental health concerns.”

Many have already been impacted
Despite Canadians’ perception of mental illness, 30 per cent of working Canadians who have taken time off for a disability say it was because of a mental illness.

“It’s important that we continue to raise awareness around mental illness and provide ongoing support so that Canadians are more comfortable speaking about their illness and being honest with their family, their friends and their employer,” adds Winslow.

Room to educate
While the majority of Canadians (82 per cent) with disability coverage feel they’re well covered through their disability benefits, many don’t fully understand the coverage they have:

  • Nearly one-in-five (23 per cent) say they don’t know anything beyond the fact that they have some sort of coverage.
  • Only one-in-three (33 per cent) who currently have disability coverage say they understand the details ‘very well’.
  • Half (52 per cent) know how their benefit plan defines a disability.

“When faced with a mental illness, the last thing you want to worry about is whether you have the proper coverage in place,” explains Winslow. “It’s important that Canadians not only ensure they have disability coverage, but that they understand the details of their policy. Find out how your plan defines a disability and what is and isn’t covered. For example, while some policies cover mental illness, others may not.”

Here are a few more tips to consider:

  • Ensure you have a trusted network in place such as family, friends or professionals you can reach out to for support when necessary.
  • Confirm you have adequate coverage. Some things to look for include how your plan defines a disability; does your plan provide valuable rehabilitation and return to work services; and if you’re covered for injury as well as illness.
  • Utilize programs and services that are available to you. For example, RBC Insurance offers their clients Onward by Best Doctors, a program that provides personal support and faster access to top mental health specialists.

About the RBC Insurance Survey
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between January 2nd and January 4th, 2018 on behalf of RBC Insurance. For this survey, a sample of 1,505 employed Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the results are considered accurate to within ±3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all working Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

About RBC Insurance
RBC Insurance® offers a wide range of life, health, home, auto, travel, wealth and reinsurance advice and solutions, as well as creditor and business insurance services to individual, business and group clients. RBC Insurance is the brand name for the insurance operating entities of Royal Bank of Canada, one of North America’s leading diversified financial services companies. RBC Insurance is among the largest Canadian bank-owned insurance organizations, with approximately 2,500 employees who serve more than four million clients globally. For more information, please visit rbcinsurance.com.

SOURCE RBC Insurance

Science Says: What makes something truly addictive

By Lindsey Tanner

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

CHICAGO _ Now that the world’s leading public health group says too much Minecraft can be an addiction, could overindulging in chocolate, exercise, even sex, be next?

The short answer is probably not.

The new “gaming disorder” classification from the World Health Organization revives a debate in the medical community about whether behaviours can cause the same kind of addictive illness as drugs.

The strictest definition of addiction refers to a disease resulting from changes in brain chemistry caused by compulsive use of drugs or alcohol. The definition includes excessive use that damages health, relationships, jobs and other parts of normal life. Brain research supports that definition, and some imaging studies have suggested that excessive gaming might affect the brain in similar ways.

Under a looser definition, addiction is considered “a disease of extreme behaviour. Any behaviour carried to extreme that consumes you and keeps you from doing what you should be doing becomes an addiction as far as life is concerned,” said Dr. Walter Ling, a UCLA psychiatrist.

In its widely used manual for diagnosing mental illness, the American Psychiatric Association calls excessive video gaming a “condition” but not a formal diagnosis or disease, and says more research is needed to determine if it qualifies as an addiction.

DRUGS AND THE BRAIN

Certain drugs including opioids and alcohol can over-activate the brain’s reward circuit. That’s the system that under normal circumstances is activated when people engage in “behaviours conducive to survival” including eating and drinking water when thirsty, explained Dr. Andrew Saxon, chairman of the association’s addiction psychiatry council. The brain chemical dopamine regulates these behaviours, but narcotic drugs can flood the brain with dopamine, encouraging repeated use and making drug use more rewarding that healthy behaviours, Saxon said. Eventually increasing amounts are needed to get the same effect, and brain changes lead to an inability to control use.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER SUBSTANCES?

Caffeine is a stimulant and also activates the brain’s reward system, but to a much lesser degree than addictive drugs. The “reward” can make people feel more alert, and frequent users can develop mild withdrawal symptoms when they stop, including headaches and tiredness. Caffeine-containing chocolate may produce similar effects. Neither substance causes the kinds of life problems found in drug addiction, although some coffee drinkers develop a tolerance to caffeine and need to drink more to get the same “buzz” or sense of alertness.

The World Health Organization recognizes caffeine “dependence” as a disorder; the American Psychiatric Association does not and says more research is needed.

“The term ‘addiction’ is tossed around pretty commonly, like ‘chocoholic’ or saying you’re addicted to reality TV,” said Dr. Ellen Selkie, a University of Michigan physician who studies teens’ use of digital technology. But addiction means an inability to control use “to the point where you’re failing at life,” she said.

WHAT ABOUT Behaviour?

The only behaviour classified as an addiction in the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual is compulsive gambling. To be diagnosed, gamblers must have several symptoms including repeatedly gambling increasing amounts of money, lying to hide gambling activity, feeling irritable or restless when trying to stop, and losing jobs or relationships because of gambling. Research suggests excessive gambling can affect the brain in ways similar to addictive drugs. Since the diagnostic manual was last updated, in 2013, studies have bolstered evidence that excessive video gaming may do the same thing, and some experts speculate that it may be added to the next update.

The manual doesn’t include sex addiction because there’s little evidence that compulsive sexual behaviour has similar effects on the brain.

Many excessive gamblers, gamers and sex “addicts” have other psychiatric conditions, including anxiety, attention deficit disorder and depression, and some mental health specialists believe their compulsive behaviours are merely symptoms of those diseases rather than separate addictions.

Excessive use of the internet and smartphones is also absent from the psychiatric manual and World Health Organization’s update. Psychiatrists disagree on whether that is a true addiction _ partly because overuse is hard to measure when so many people need to use their smartphones and the internet for their jobs.

DOES THE TERM MATTER?

The World Health Organization’s decision to classify excessive video gaming as an addiction means “gaming disorder” will be added to this year’s update to the organization’s International Classification of Diseases. Doctors worldwide use that document to diagnose physical and mental illnesses. Insurers, including Medicaid and Medicare, use billing codes listed there to make coverage decisions. The American Psychiatric Association’s manual is widely used for defining and diagnosing mental disorders. If conditions aren’t listed in these documents, insurance coverage for treatment is unlikely.

Find Out If You Are Hard Working or Working Too Hard

Many people confuse hard-working people with workaholics.

What is workaholism?

Workaholism is more than a dedication to your job. It’s a near-obsessive commitment that supersedes most, if not all, other aspects of life. For many, workaholism is a true addiction, inextricably tied to feelings of self worth and identity.

What are some characteristics of workaholics? How could a person tell that he/she is a workaholic?

A workaholic displays symptoms similar to any other addict. He/she works long hours, at the expense of personal relationships and health. When not working, they’re thinking about work. Work dictates their mood: when work is going well, they’re up; when work is going less well, they’re down. Workaholics often go months without seeing friends; put their marriages on cruise control; defend their choice to work as hard as they do (come up with justification after justification); and may use work as a distraction from other problems or aspects of life.

What are some reasons that workaholics work so hard?

Working, or simply being busy, can be a hard habit to break. Busy people are important people. They’re also often pleasantly distracted people. In an op-ed that went viral in the New York Times a few years ago, a cartoonist named Tim Kreider wrote that “Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness.” When workaholics aren’t busy working — or doing something to promote their work — they feel anxious and guilty. For both men and women, this is often a result of recession — they hang onto jobs for dear life and do everything they can to ensure they’re indispensable. For  women in particular, workaholism may stem from the lingering notion that great opportunities for women are still rarer than they are for men, and as such must be strived for with unflagging determination and drive. What’s more, today’s female employees are among the first generation to have been raised by mothers who, as a whole, placed importance not just on a job, but a career. For many of these women, the slide into workaholism seems almost predisposed.

Is there a link between health problems and workaholism?

There is. Just because work itself is a respectable pursuit doesn’t mean that an addiction to it is any less damaging than other sorts of addictions. A number of studies show that workaholism has been associated with a wide range of health problems, such as insomnia, anxiety, and heart disease.

Besides from health problems, does being a workaholic bring negative effects?

Yes. For some people, working serves as a Band-Aid for other issues, a way to numb undesirable feelings or fill certain voids, much in the way that alcohol might do for an alcoholic or sex for a sex addict. What’s more, working too much can lead to lower job satisfaction, as found in a 2008 study published in The Psychologist Manager Journal that compared overworking employees to those who maintained a better work-life balance. Also, the ill effects are contagious: A study published in the International Journal of Stress Management found that workaholics can even make their co-workers stressed.

What about the effects to the families?

A 2001 study published in the American Journal of Family Therapy found that working too much negatively impacted an employee’s marriage. This isn’t surprising, since if you’re married to your work it can be difficult to be married to anything, or anyone, else. There have also been studies looking at the impact of workaholic parents on their children and the news isn’t good. In one study, adult children of workaholic fathers experienced more depression and anxiety and a weaker sense of self. That study appeared in the American Journal of Family Therapy.

What about the positive side?

There are many positive aspects to working hard and to an increasing commitment to career. These days, more and more people, women especially, are embarking on, and staying with, careers that are personally fulfilling, identity making, and lucrative. Hard work can reap great rewards. For many, it’s how they develop feelings of self worth and confidence and purpose. This can be empowering.

Since many workaholics often deny having a problem, what are solutions for them?

It’s difficult to convince a workaholic to change their behavior if they’re not also willing. If you have a workaholic in your life you might point out the things he or she is missing out on while at work, whether it’s a child’s soccer game, a good book, or a yoga class. Seek to understand why the person feels the need to work so much and support them in finding a resolution. Perhaps they feel pressure to earn money, or they feel insecure about their performance. Work together to find ways to handle the dilemma beyond longer hours at the office. For people who wonder if they might be workaholics, I might suggest they resolve to check in every so often and ask themselves: Am I working too hard? And if so, why? What am I getting out of 60 hours that I couldn’t get out of 40? Or 35? Many who work hard are working for reasons beyond the benefits good work provides but it requires really stopping and evaluating the situation to recognize that.

Can the symptoms get better?

They can, but it almost always requires a total overhaul in perspective. The first step is acknowledging and accepting — really accepting — that work isn’t the most important thing in your life. Decide what is. You won’t be able to say “no” to work unless you are saying “yes” to something else. The second step is actually starting to say no — to working late, to extra assignments, to doing a little more ‘for the team.’ Finish one task before taking on another. Third, be firm and vigilant about the time you spend working. Decide in advance that you will work, say, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., or no more than 40 hours a week. Often, you will find that limiting the time you have to spend on work will make you more efficient during those working hours. You’ll get just as much done — because you have to — and still have time to have dinner with the family.

Excerpted article written by Dr. Peggy Drexler, Huffington Post

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