The Daily Dose: Pill Popping, Hand Transplants and How Unemployment Makes You Sick

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REUTERS/Mark Blinch

A pharmacist counts pills in a pharmacy in Toronto in this January 31, 2008 file photo. Pressured by an aging population and the need to rein in budget deficits, Canada's provinces are taking tough measures to curb healthcare costs, a trend that could erode the principles of the popular state-funded system. To match ANALYSIS CANADA-HEALTH/ REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Files (CANADA - Tags: HEALTH POLITICS BUSINESS)

RxAmerica: Nearly half of all Americans have taken a prescription drug in the last month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center of Health Statistics. So what are we on? Asthma treatment was the most common prescription for the 20% of American children on medication. Stimulants appeared most frequently among adolescents, while middle-aged adults were more likely to be on antidepressants. Cholesterol-lowering medications were the most popular among the 90% of the 60-plus crowd who take at least one prescription drug regularly. We also spent a whopping $234 billion in prescriptions in 2008 alone — more than twice 1999 expenditures.

Kitchen Fail! A Los Angeles County study found that 14% of L.A. County home kitchens would fail the health inspection that restaurant kitchens must have to remain in business. While 98% of the area’s restaurant kitchens get an A or B, only 34% of home cooks would ace the inspection.

U.S. unemployment went up from 9.5% to 9.6% this month, according to the Labor Department and apparently it’s bad for your health. Healthy workers who were laid off for reasons other than poor performance (known as “no fault” scenarios) were 80% more likely to report a new illness, according to a 2009 study in the social science journal Demography.

Kate Strully, the study’s author and a demography professor at the University at Albany, State University of New York, calculated the employment and health data of 8,125 white- and blue-collar workers at different points in their careers: 1999, 2001 and 2003. The data held true even if the workers had new jobs by the time of the next survey.

“The most common problems that emerged following no-fault job loss were cardiovascular conditions — primarily, hypertension and heart disease — and arthritis,” wrote Strully. “These are serious conditions, which at the aggregate level could impact the broader U.S. economy.”

Richard Edwards, recipient of the nation’s third ever double-hand transplant, told the AP that he felt “fantastic” yesterday, after he emerged with two new hands. Edwards, a chiropractor from Edmond, Okla., severely burned his hands (along with his face, back and arms) when a brush fire enveloped his truck in 2006. Dr. Christiana Savvidou, a “senior hand fellow” at the Jewish Hospital Hand Care Center, which performed the first successful hand transplant in 1999, live-tweeted the surgery under the hashtag #handtx.

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