During a recent workshop, small groups of students met with multiple patients who live with dermatological conditions to learn advanced diagnosis skills.
Northwestern Medicine investigators have identified new genetic variations effecting gene expression in the liver cells of patients of African descent, findings that provide insight into how drugs are metabolized differently in different populations.
Targeting calcium signaling in neurons may represent a promising therapeutic approach for treating a rare form of schizophrenia, according to a Northwestern Medicine study.
Consuming certain types of alcohol over long periods of time as well as binge drinking both speed up biological aging, according to a recent Northwestern Medicine study.
The Department of Ophthalmology has received a Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB) Challenge Grant to support investigators advancing the field of ophthalmology and vision science.
Transgender and nonbinary youth experienced sustained improvements in depression and anxiety over two years after starting treatment with gender-affirming hormones, according to a recent study.
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Ranked as fifth best overall in the U.S. News and World Report’s annual ranking of popular eating plan, the TLC (therapeutic lifestyle changes), which was devised by the National Institutes of Health to help people lower their LDL cholesterol levels, is more of a program than a diet plan. It offers an eating plan, but also recommends other lifestyle modifications including 30 minutes of activity each day and weight management in an 80-page booklet available online. The program focuses on how changing eating habits might help lower “bad” cholesterol. The dietary part of the program emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and fish, while advising the avoidance of saturated and trans-fats. One thing people don’t understand is that the more you eat something, such as sugar, the more you will crave it, Van Horn says. “So the more frequently the average consumer goes for fruits or vegetables or whole grain products the more they will crave them,” says Linda Van Horn, PhD, RD, professor emeritus of nutrition at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The eating plan suggests avoiding foods high in sodium, sugar, trans fats and saturated fats. One good thing about the TLC is that it doesn’t suggest completely avoiding any foods, says Van Horn. “What people fail to recognize is that by ignoring certain foods in the diet, they are doing themselves a disservice nutritionally as well as metabolically,” Van Horn says.
Devices might be able to reset circadian clocks the right way, but scientists say users should take all promises with a grain of salt. Circadian rhythms guide the body through the 24-hour cycle. They tell us when it’s time to eat and sleep, and when it’s time to get up and start a new day. Ideally, humans get enough blue light from going outdoors, but on a dark day, especially when you’re stuck indoors, tech could help make up for a blue light gap, says Phyllis Zee, MD, PhD, director of Northwestern University’s Center for Circadian and Sleep Medicine and professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She recommends circadian lighting systems, in which many smart lights are installed throughout a home. They create a semblance of natural blue light during the day, then shift later on to longer-wavelength lighting that resembles amber sunsets that cue our bodies to prepare for sleep. “That will allow us to remain more stably entrained to the light-dark cycle,” Zee says.
Demand for weight loss drugs as soared over the last year, to the point that semaglutide has been in short supply at pharmacies nationwide. Doctors who treat obese patients are increasingly frustrated that the people who really need the injection medications aren’t getting them. Ozempic, which is approved for people with diabetes but is prescribed off-label for weight loss, and Wegovy, which is approved for weight loss, can carry price tags of more than $1,000 a month. Neither drug is covered for weight loss by most insurance plans. “A majority of my patients can’t afford to pay $1,300 a month, especially for a medication that they need to be on long term,” said Dr. Veronica Johnson, an obesity specialist at Northwestern Medicine and assistant professor of general internal medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “As a Black woman and treating patients who look like me, knowing that a lot of Black women struggle with the disease of obesity, I, unfortunately, can’t treat a lot of my patients the best way that I would like to.”
Obesity training in medicine is still relatively unusual. Obesity affects so many people — 42% of Americans — and is linked to more than 200 other chronic conditions and major causes of death, from heart and kidney disease to diabetes. Its impact on patients and their health care is hard to overstate. And yet, even as scientific understanding of the disease evolves rapidly, doctors are taught very little about the causes of obesity in medical school, and even less about how to counsel or help those who have it. One 2020 survey found medical schools spend, on average, 10 hours on obesity education. That’s insufficient, given the wide-reaching impact obesity has across the medical profession, says Dr. Robert Kushner, a professor of medicine and medical education at Northwestern University and co-author of the survey. He says the problem also perpetuates itself: “There aren’t a lot of people trained in obesity,” he says, and “if you weren’t trained in medical school and you didn’t take it upon yourself to learn about it, you’re not going to be in a position to be an informed, expert faculty member.” As a result of the training deficit, health care providers themselves often perpetuate weight stigma or misconceptions about how best to treat patients who have it.