Research With a ‘Gender Lens’
Chicago Sun-Times November 26, 2007
Women are different from men in so many unexpected ways. For example, women wake up sooner from anesthesia but are slower than men to metabolize alcohol. In order to study such health issues that are unique to women, NORTHWESTERN University recently launched a $3 million Institute for Women’s Health Research. “We should look at every research study with a sex and gender lens,” said institute director Teresa Woodruff.
Women traditionally were excluded from many medical studies. Researchers thought hormone fluctuations during the menstrual cycle would complicate studies. And they feared experimental drugs could damage fetuses if women became pregnant. But in 1990, the federal government established an Office on Women’s Health and later required that federally funded clinical trials include women and minorities. Now, some experts say men might be shortchanged. They note that breast cancer research gets more funding than prostate cancer, and there’s no Office on Men’s Health. NORTHWESTERN is among a handful of universities to establish a women’s health research center. NORTHWESTERN is committing $3 million over five years.
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United Press International November 20, 2007
Women’s differences often not acknowledged
Protein Aids in Knowledge Retention
Scientist Live November 26, 2007
When you meet your boss’s husband, Harvey, at the office holiday party, then bump into him an hour later over the onion dip, will you remember his name? Yes, thanks to a nifty protein in your brain called kalirin-7. Researchers at NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine have discovered the brain protein kalirin is critical for helping you learn and remember what you learned.
Previous studies by other researchers found that kalirin levels are reduced in brains of people with diseases like Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia. Thus, the discovery of kalirin’s role in learning offers new insight into the pathophysiology of these disorders. “Identifying the key role of this protein in learning and memory makes it a new target for future drug therapy to treat or delay the progression of these diseases,” said Peter Penzes, lead author of the study and assistant professor of physiology at the Feinberg School. Penzes studied the brains of laboratory rats which are similar to human brains.
This story was also carried on the following news outlets:
WBBM-TV Nov. 25. Reference to research by Peter Penzes, professor of physiology, on a brain protein and memory.
WCSH-TV (Portland), WLBZ-TV (Bangor), WLWT-TV (Cincinnati), WP:S- TV (Lake Charles), WTLV-TV (Jacksonville), WVTM-TV (Birmingham), CHEK-TV (Vancouver) KFDX-TV (Wichita Falls), KBSI-TV (Paducah), KOBI-TV (Medord), KMTR-TV (Eugene), KULR-TV (Billings), WICU-TV (Billings), WMTV-TV (Madison), WPTV-TV (West Palm Beach), WPTZ (Burlington), KNSD-TV (San Diego), WSIL-TV (Paducah) Nov. 22. Reference to research by Peter Penzes, professor of physiology, on a brain protein and memory.
If You Overeat, Get Back on Track Fast
Associated Press November 26, 2007
ST. LOUIS (AP) — This shouldn’t come as a surprise: Thanksgiving is not the green light to a six-week indulgence that precedes the waddle back to the gym Jan. 2. Experts advise Americans not to throw good habits out the window on Turkey Day and into the holiday season. Instead, choose carefully, eat slowly, and savor.
Dr. Robert Kushner, professor of medicine at NORTHWESTERN University Feinberg School of Medicine, recommends having a plan of action like Wade’s, and visualizing the meal beforehand. He suggests deciding ahead of time what can and cannot be eaten, eating while sitting rather than standing and talking, and from a plate not off a tray to keep things in proportion. Take small bites and eat slowly. And, don’t get stuck in guilt if you’ve eaten too much. “Feeling guilty just leads to ‘I blew my diet, so I won’t start again until January,'” he said. “That’s the worse thing you can do.”.
Chicago Tribune November 25, 2007
“It’s virtually never too late,” said NORTHWESTERN University Feinberg School of Medicine professor of medicine Dr. Robert F. Kushner of revamping one’s diet. “You may not get back to what [you]were at age 18, but you certainly can turn back the clock in terms of the trajectory you were on.” In fact, as little as a 5 to 10 percent weight loss will decrease your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, he said. That translates into a loss of 9 to 18 pounds for someone who weighs 180. Also, “a 10 percent weight loss is enough to change how you look, how easily you can walk up a flight of stairs, your sense of energy.” Focus on smaller mile markers, he recommends, such as decreased shortness of breath, less heartburn or lower blood sugar to fuel your makeover. Obsessing over an end point can be “disappointing.”
If a person is overweight or obese, Kushner first recommends cutting back the total calories consumed daily. Then divide and conquer: Slash calories from trans fats and saturated fats found in animal products and fried foods; get rid of high- calorie beverages such as colas and juices as well as snack foods made with high-fructose corn syrup. In addition to portion control, a simple but effective step is adding fruits and vegetables. Because the current guidelines calling for seven to nine servings a day can be overwhelming, Kushner encourages adding slowly.
Big Cures in Tiny Particles
Chicago Tribune November 25, 2007
Minuscule particles engineered to cause human cells to make their own medicines, regenerate damaged organs and even send up flares to let researchers know each time they kill a cancer cell are already working in labs and poised for commercialization in a few years. Such applications, including sending tiny robotlike machines into human cells to diagnose pathology and treat it, are likely to revolutionize medicine in the next few years, scientists predict.
“Nanosphere is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Chad Mirkin, director of NORTHWESTERN University’s nanotech institute and a Nanosphere founder. “It’s an early realization of the opportunity, but to keep this technology developing in Illinois we have to play our cards right. It won’t happen if we’re passive. This is very competitive.” Other state governments are appropriating millions to promote nanotech industries while Illinois has been less aggressive, Mirkin said.
Nanosphere’s diagnostic tests predict which individuals are genetically inclined to have dangerous clots form in their lungs or other organs. NORTHWESTERN University’s Samuel Stupp, a materials-science professor, has developed nanoparticles that cause targeted cells to regenerate tissue, seeking to help patients afflicted by strokes or heart attacks. Stupp’s nanoparticles mimic natural chemical signals that are not normally active in adults. “We inject liquid into the spinal cord or the heart,” said Stupp. “The liquid contains smart molecules that when they find themselves within the body assemble into nanostructures, little cylinders, that are ready to signal the cells.”
Major Leap For Stem Cells
Researchers Reprogram Human Skin Cells to Behave Like Embryonic Stem Cells
Chicago Tribune November 21, 2007
In an advance that could transform stem-cell research and accelerate progress toward treating patients with personalized replacement tissue, American and Japanese researchers report they have reprogrammed ordinary human skin cells to behave like embryonic stem cells. The potential of iPS cells was instantly clear to Dr. Jack Kessler, a stem cell researcher and chair of neurology at NORTHWESTERN University. Kessler said his team decided to start exploring the new techniques last year within a week of Yamanaka’s report on mice. “This is groundbreaking, brilliant work,” he said.
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“Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg” WGN-AM Nov. 21. Jack Kessler, MD, professor of neurology, and Laurie Zoloth, director of the center for bioethics, science and society,comment on stem cell research.
Stem Cell Breakthrough Uses No Embryos
Associated Press November 20, 2007
NEW YORK—Scientists have made ordinary human skin cells take on the chameleon-like powers of embryonic stem cells, a startling breakthrough that might someday deliver the medical payoffs of embryo cloning without the controversy. The new work shows that the direct reprogramming technique can also produce versatile cells that are genetically matched to a person. But it avoids several problems that have bedeviled the cloning approach.
For one thing, it doesn’t require a supply of unfertilized human eggs, which are hard to obtain for research and subjects the women donating them to a surgical procedure. Using eggs also raises the ethical questions of whether women should be paid for them. In cloning, those eggs are used to make embryos from which stem cells are harvested. But that destroys the embryos, which has led to political opposition from President Bush, the Roman Catholic church and others. Those were “show-stopping ethical problems,” said Laurie Zoloth, director of NORTHWESTERN University’s Center for Bioethics, Science, and Society. The new work, she said, “redefines the ethical terrain.”
This story was also carried on the following news outlets:
Associated Press November 20, 2007
Stem Cell Breakthrough Defuses Debate
“World News Tonight”, America This Morning (ABC) Nov. 20 and 21. Laurie Zoloth, Director of the Center for Bioethics, Science and Society, comments on new research producing embryonic stem cells.
KCBS-AM Nov. 20. Laurie Zoloth, Director of the Center for Bioethics, Science and Society, comments on new research on producing embryonic stem cells.
WTXL-TV (Tallahassee) , WRGT-TV (Dayton)Nov. 21. Laurie Zoloth, Center for Bioethics, Science and Society, comments on new research on producing embryonic stem cells.
Tracking U.S. Kids from before Birth to Age 21
Chicago Tribune November 20, 2007
The goal of a new federally funded study of children’s health will be massive: to prevent and treat some of the nation’s most pressing health problems, such as autism, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. And the scope is no small stuff: studying children from before birth to age 21. By tracking kids throughout their childhood, researchers hope to address elusive health issues that are increasingly prevalent in the United States.
Dr. Jane Holl, leading the effort locally, is well aware of the enormity of the undertaking. She heads a team from NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, which recently was awarded a seven-year, $32 million contract from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to be the Chicago study center. “This is so important for understanding childhood diseases, but also, so many adult diseases have their antecedents in childhood,” said Holl, associate professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine at the Feinberg School.
Heart Death Rates Worsening for Middle-Aged Adults
Washington Post November 19, 2007
(HealthDay News)—The gains made against coronary death rates in recent decades are starting to slip away for middle-aged Americans, public health officials report. Overall, the picture looks rosy, said a report that used U.S. vital statistics data between 1980 and 2002 for all people ages 35 and older. The death rate from coronary disease fell by 52 percent in men and 49 percent in women.
There is a steady drumbeat of public warnings and doctors’advice about these risk factors, noted Dr. Philip Greenland, professor of preventive medicine at the NORTHWESTERN University Feinberg School of Medicine, who wrote an accompanying editorial. But somehow the message still isn’t getting through, “People do know, and then again, they don’t know,” he said. “The information we’ve tried to get to patients is almost common knowledge. We’re telling people what they already know. They’ve heard it a million times. Maybe they’re waiting to hear something new.” The public may be getting a mixed message, Greenland added. “We’ve been telling people for years that we’ve conquered heart disease, that the mortality rates are going progressively down. But the risk factors exist, and to say that we’ve conquered the problem is a non sequitur.” The increase in death rates has affected other areas of cardiovascular disease, said Dr. Martha Daviglus, professor of medicine and preventive medicine at NORTHWESTERN University, Chicago, and a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association.
This story was also carried on the following news outlets:
Heart Disease Death Rates No Longer Dropping
Reuters November 19, 2007
Reuters November 24, 2007
Heart disease a problem for younger adults
Are You Sure You’re Not a Cheater?
TODAYShow.com November 19, 2007
Dr. Laura Berman uncovers the subtle ways lovers can ‘cross the line’. For most people in monogamous relationships, the rule of no sex with anyone else is clearly understood. But lots of rules are less tacit, such as the ones regarding flirting or wandering eyes. Here, the lines are blurry, and easily crossed—sometimes resulting in damage to a relationship. More often than not, the adherence to these implicit agreements can define where you stand within your relationship.
In our recent TODAY poll, readers confessed which relationship crimes they considered to be “crossing the line.” According to our findings, some relationship sins—such as drooling over Natalie Portman or flirting with a cute waiter—are touchy subjects, but they are not deal-breakers. However, once these behaviors crossed over into the overtly sexual territory—such as cyber-flirting behind a partner’s back or being too affectionate with members of the opposite sex—the majority of survey respondents stated they would be concerned.
Why is this? For one thing, most of us are rational about our partners’ sexuality and desires. We know that it isn’t a crime to be attracted to hot celebrities, and we don’t become blind just because we are in a committed relationship. That behavior doesn’t threaten the relationship, particularly since the reality of us ever meeting Dr. McDreamy or Angelina Jolie is slim to none. Dr. Berman is also assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences and of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at NORTHWESTERN University.
Text Messaging Growing Popular in More Age Groups
ABC7 November 19, 2007
November 19, 2007—At first it was only the kids doing it, and you could easily decide to just let the “phase” pass you by. But now, if seems everyone is using their cell phone to type messages to connect at work, at home and even in love, Whether you know the shortcuts or struggle to find the keys, millions of us now use our cell phones to send and receive messages.
NORTHWESTERN University psychiatrist Alexander Obolsky says texting can be a useful relationship tool. “People who may not have been as socially outgoing because they are worried about how people perceive them, they don’t know how to answer questions quickly or whatever reason now can use text messaging and have relationships,” he said. “If a child is text messaging and very comfortable and the parent is able to do it, why not?” said Dr. Obolsky. Not only are more people texting, but more people than ever are using cell phones in general. Just a few days ago, the total number of wireless subscribers in America officially passed the 250 million mark to reach an all-time high. In the past 10 years, the number of wireless subscribers in the U.S. has jumped 352 percent.
Anti-Snore Pillows’ Designs Force Sleeper to Roll Over
Chicago Tribune November 18, 2007
“Spousal Arousal Syndrome” isn’t nearly as much fun as it sounds. It’s one doctor’s catchy phrase to describe what happens when one person’s snoring disturbs a partner’s sleep. Forget about morning crankiness, reduced work productivity, and the like; bad sleep can lead to marital problems and severe financial consequences, such as divorce or remodeling (to add a second bedroom).
How the pillows work
Anti-snore pillows are behavioral in approach. The design of each pillow encourages side-sleeping as a means of reducing snoring. That’s a valid approach, says Dr. Lisa Wolfe of the Center of Sleep and Circadian Biology at NORTHWESTERN Memorial Hospital and assistant professor of medicine at NORTHWESTERN University. “For some people who sleep on their back, there’s not enough room for the soft palate, tongue, uvula and tonsils,” she says. “When you sleep on your side, it gets the tongue out of the way a bit.” Side-sleep pillows, Wolfe says, fall into one of three categories: Pillows that support and reposition the neck, pillows that elevate the entire head and neck, and pillows designed to prevent back sleep. “All three types have been most successful among those who have benign snoring—they snore and bother their bed partner, but that’s all—or mild to moderate sleep apnea.
“Anyone who has low oxygen levels [while sleeping]should not be treated primarily with a pillow,” Wolfe says. “Nor those with significant difficulty with sleepiness or safety issues such as falling asleep at the wheel. The pillows are most successful among those who have benign snoring or mild to moderate sleep apnea. If you have bad sleep apnea when on your back, but you sleep fine when on your side, you will do well with a side pillow.”
Menus Needn’t Devour Your Cash
Chicago Tribune November 18, 2007
The delicious smell of fast food can make a burger seem tempting. And the price might make it seem even better. Fast food is cheap. Burgers can cost less than a buck, and meal deals feed kids for a few dollars. “One of the reasons fast food is so popular and cheap is because deep-fat frying is a very cheap way to cook,” said Linda Van Horn, professor of preventive medicine and a nutrition researcher at the NORTHWESTERN University Feinberg School of Medicine. And it’s not just the Golden Arches that promise inexpensive eats. Many pizza chains offer discount deals that feed the full family economically. It’s just that skimping on expense also can mean skimping on nutrition. But is there any way to eat healthfully for less? Yes, Van Horn said, but you have to be prepared. Try to buy an apple at a coffee shop and you will pay a premium. “With a little advance planning, you can do an amazing job of coming up with nutritious food,” she said. In the produce section, for example, be prepared to shop for sales. Van Horn said grocery stores often feature produce as a “loss leader,” meaning they slash prices to attract shoppers.
New Mom Nancy Grace’s Condition Improving
ABC News November 15, 2007
Cable TV host Nancy Grace is expected to be released soon from a hospital after a close call earlier this week. The 48- year-old delivered premature twins last week, only to land in the hospital a few days later with dangerous postpartum complications. “Twenty percent of women that die as a complication of pregnancy is directly related to blood clots,” said Dr. Lauren F. Streicher, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NORTHWESTERN University. But doctors warn that these mature moms may be putting their babies’ health and their own health at real risk. “Forty-five is still 45, and statistically those women are still at significantly increased risk for developing complications of pregnancy, which is not only dangerous to their unborn child but also could be very dangerous to themselves,” Streicher said.
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“Good Morning America” (ABC) Nov. 15. Lauren Streicher, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, discusses pregnancy-related blood clots.
WXLT-TV (Tallahassee), Nov. 15. Lauren Streicher, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, discusses pregnancy-related blood clots.
Adherence to HIV Therapy Linked to Health Literacy
Reuters November 15, 2007
HIV-infected patients with low literacy levels often don’t understand the medication instructions offered by health care providers and are therefore much less likely to be compliant with treatment, study findings suggest. The findings also indicate that African Americans with HIV infection are more than twice as likely to be nonadherent compared with their white counterparts. However, when the data were analyzed, lead investigator Dr. Chandra Y. Osborn, at NORTHWESTERN University, Chicago, and colleagues found that health literacy mediated the racial disparities.
Socially Anxious More Attuned to Signs of Fear
Globe and Mail (Canada) November 15, 2007
If you suffer from social anxiety, you may have been told it’s all in your head. Now, scientists have zeroed in on a key brain function that explains how you interpret the world around you. By measuring electrical activity in the brain while it processes emotion in other people, researchers found that socially anxious subjects were wired to have a stronger response to a key emotion: fear. Evaluating ambiguous cues as negative is a very hallmark symptom of social anxiety,” says Wen Li, lead author of the study at NORTHWESTERN University’s medical school in Chicago. “What we found might be one of the underlying mechanisms.” The results show that an unconsciously perceived signal of threat, such as a brief facial expression of fear, can still bubble up and unwittingly influence social judgments and how we act, Dr. Li says. “We live in an ocean of sensory input we are not necessarily aware of,” she says. The findings have direct implications for understanding psychiatric disorders such as phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder, Dr. Li says. It’s possible that socially anxious people might be able to retrain themselves not to overemphasize the negative and to “pay more attention to neutral and pleasant cues rather than unpleasant,” she says.
Mapping the Crowd
Keeping track of the dizzying proliferation of information in the digital age can overwhelm managers, and sizing up potential alliances can be daunting. But getting lost can be a costly setback for those with valuable ideas they want to develop. With a topographical view of their interactions, Johnson has pushed the scientists to work together more often. As a result, the latest map shows the intertwined work of Stephen Miller, an immunologist at NORTHWESTERN University, and Brian Popko, a University of Chicago geneticist. Their circles didn’t connect on the initial 2003 map. But as the current one shows, they’re citing one another and coauthoring papers often.
Socioeconomics Key Factor in Disability Disparities
Reuters November 13, 2007
Older African Americans are more likely to become disabled than whites, but most of this discrepancy is due to socioeconomic status and differences in health, a new study shows. The researchers also found that while Hispanics who chose to be interviewed in Spanish had a greater risk of becoming disabled than whites, those interviewed in English had a risk equal to that of whites. Culture-specific programs to boost physical activity and stabilize weight “may prove to be efficient strategies not only for reducing rates of disability in activities of daily living but also for lowering racial/ethnic disparities in disability,” Dr. Dorothy D. Dunlop of NORTHWESTERN University in Chicago and colleagues conclude.
Minorities represent the fastest-growing sector of the US elderly population, Dunlop and her team note in the American Journal of Public Health. To compare disability among whites, blacks and Hispanics, the researchers looked at a nationally representative group of 8,161 men and women 65 years of age or older, none of whom were disabled at the study’s outset. Dunlop and her team found that health behaviors had more influence on health disparities than chronic illness did. Most importantly, exercise and maintaining a healthy weight protected individuals from becoming disabled regardless of racial or ethnic factors. However, these behaviors were less common among blacks and Hispanics interviewed in Spanish.
Single, Double, Triple
Chicago Sun-Times November 13, 2007
For 14 frustrating years, Jack and Sharon McManus tried and failed to have a baby. Then in quick succession they had a daughter, followed by twins, followed by triplets. At one point, they were changing 400 diapers a week. The government doesn’t keep track of “multiple-multiples”—families with more than one set of multiple births. But anecdotal evidence suggests the number of multiple-multiples also has increased, said Dr. Louis Keith of the Center for the Study of Multiple Births, affiliated with NORTHWESTERN University.
Scientists Identify Chemical That Causes Parkinson’s
Indianapolis Star November 13, 2007
Researchers at the St. Louis University School of Medicine have discovered the key brain chemical that causes Parkinson’s disease—a breakthrough finding that may lead to new, more effective therapies to treat one of the most common, debilitating neurological disorders. Now, the main way to treat the disease is replacing dopamine that’s lost when the cells that produce it die off and cause the disorder. St. Louis scientists say they can better work toward “neuroprotective” therapies that actually block dopamine cells from dying off. They’ve identified the chemical, called dopal, that triggers the events in the brain causing this disorder. In one of the first studies to prove that this is the case, NORTHWESTERN University researchers studied more than 2,600 young adults for two decades. People who engaged in at least 30 minutes of vigorous activity a day, such as jogging, biking or swimming, were more than twice as likely to maintain a stable weight. Among people who gained weight, those who were highly active put on 14 pounds less than those who did little or no exercise.
Herbal Sex Pills Pose Hidden Dangers
Associated Press November 12, 2007
LOS ANGELES—Many of the pills marketed as safe herbal alternatives to Viagra and other prescription sex medications pose a hidden danger: For men on common heart and blood-pressure drugs, popping one could lead to a stroke, or even death. Mark B. Mycyk, a Chicago emergency room doctor who directs NORTHWESTERN University’s clinical toxicology research program, said he is seeing increasing numbers of patients who unwittingly took prescription-strength doses of the alternatives, a trend he attributes to ease of purchase on the Internet and the desperation of vulnerable men. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if there’d been undetected deaths from bad herbal pills.
Thinking Makes It S Science Extends Reach of Prosthetic Arms
The Hindu (India) November 12, 2007
BETHESDA, Md.—Motorized prosthetic arms can help amputees regain some function, but these devices take time to learn to use and are limited in the number of movements they provide., says eurekalert press release. Todd A. Kuiken, MD, PhD, a physiatrist at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and professor at NORTHWESTERN University, has pioneered a technique known as targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR), which allows a prosthetic arm to respond directly to the brain’s signals, making it much easier to use than traditional motorized prosthetics. This technique, still under development, allows wearers to open and close their artificial hands, and bend and straighten their artificial elbows nearly as naturally as their own arms.
This story was also carried on the following news outlets:
Asian News International November 12, 2007
Now Artificial Arms Connect to Brain
New Scientist November 12, 2007
Enhanced Prosthetic is Seven Times Faster
The Register (UK) November 13, 2007
Boffins refine mind-to-prosthetic link
Aerobics For the Brain
Chicago Tribune November 11, 2007
Aerobics for the brain, neurofeedback is a mental exercise designed to optimize brain function by altering dysfunctional brain-wave patterns. The patient sits in deep concentration with electrodes attached to her scalp and ears and wired to a computer. By focusing her mind, she controls the wavy lines produced by her brain’s electrical activity on a monitor. Although it resembles a 1950s science fiction film, this scene unfolds with increasing frequency in clinics throughout Chicago and around the country. Dr. J. Peter Rosenfeld, professor of psychology at NORTHWESTERN University’s Institute for Neuroscience, worked with Baehr to develop the original protocol for treating depression with neurofeedback. Despite what he calls “pretty impressive” clinical results, he insists that more control-group research is required.
Rosenfeld believes that the strongest scientific case for neurofeedback therapy has been made with ADD and attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but he cautions that some “neurofeedback people make claims that are silly and unfounded. It’s absurd to think that training EEG frequencies will cure any given psychopathology.”
New Mom’s NYC Marathon Win Stirs Debate
Associated Press November 8, 2007
CHICAGO (AP) — For bleary-eyed new moms, the image of Paula Radcliffe celebrating her astonishing New York marathon victory just nine months after giving birth is more than slightly surreal. There she was, one sinewy arm holding a baby, the other victoriously waving a British flag, ribs visible beneath a washboard-flat torso, not an ounce of visible fat on her sleek body. Still, the 33-year-old women’s marathon world record- holder is a seasoned pro who won six previous marathons. So for her, running during pregnancy and afterward made sense, said Dr. Alan Peaceman, chief of maternal-fetal medicine at NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “New moms are extremely tired, so the prospect of getting on a treadmill or even running outside at six weeks when your children—at least my children—aren’t sleeping through the night” seems unimaginable, said Chase, who also has a 3-year-old daughter. Except for women who have had a Caesarean section, which takes longer to heal, most women are ready to resume prior activity levels by eight weeks post-baby, Peaceman said.
Put Down That Fork: Being Fat Is Still Unhealthy
Reuters November 8, 2007
Being overweight may not kill you, but it could lead to obesity, U.S. health experts cautioned on Wednesday in response to research suggesting that being a bit heavy does not raise the risk of death. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that being overweight did not increase the risk of dying from heart disease and cancer. It also was linked with a significantly decreased rate of death from noncancer and nonheart-related causes, such as accidents or diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Experts noted that the research only looked at death rates, not overall health. It did find that obesity was associated with a significantly higher risk of death from heart disease. “You should not take heart in the idea that if you are only overweight you are OK,” said Dr. Robert Kushner, professor of medicine at NORTHWESTERN University who specializes in nutrition and diet. “Given time, there is a high likelihood you will be obese because people gain weight as they age in this country,” Kushner said in a telephone interview. He said many studies have shown that as one starts gaining weight, health risks develop. “We’ve done very well at medicating people to keep the medical complications at bay, which allows people to live longer,” he said.
Bonds For Northwestern Doctors’ Group Upgraded
Chicago Tribune November 7, 2007
An improving balance sheet and revenue growth at NORTHWESTERN Medical Faculty Foundation, one of the nation’s largest academic physician practices, earned the doctor group an upgraded rating of its bonds this month from Moody’s Investors Service. The New York-based ratings agency increased the foundation’s ratings two notches to A2 from Baa1, a report released Friday said. The increase to the sixth-highest notch on Moody’s 21-notch scale helps should the foundation want to finance capital projects or go back to the debt market for additional funding for other needs. The faculty foundation’s debt is largely related to its issuance of bonds in 1995 to help finance about $80 million of the $580 million replacement of NORTHWESTERN Memorial Hospital, erected in 1999. The faculty foundation owns seven floors of the 22-story Galter Pavilion, the ambulatory care tower that is part of NORTHWESTERN Memorial. Founded in 1980, NORTHWESTERN Medical Faculty Foundation is an independent not-for-profit organization governed by its own board. The foundation’s more than 600 physicians are the full-time faculty of NORTHWESTERN University who practice at NORTHWESTERN Memorial Hospital. They work in more than 40 medical and surgical specialties and subspecialties.
Atkins Diet Can Raise Heart Risks
Forbes (HealthDay News) November 6, 2007
The high-fat, high-protein and low-carbohydrate Atkins diet may put practitioners at risk for heart disease in as little as one month, a new study suggests. When individuals followed the maintenance phase of the diet—without weight loss—they experienced increased “bad” cholesterol and other markers for heart disease, experts report. “Nutrition continues to be an area of interest, and clearly, there is conflicting information out there,” said Dr. Robert Bonow, immediate past president of the American Heart Association. “With the Atkins diet, you do lose weight and experience a short-term beneficial effect on lipid parameters, but the concern would be long term. Saturated fats are not good for heart health, and many people experience rebound weight gain, which is not good.” “We recommend weight loss in a slow and consistent manner rather than a crash course,” said Bonow, who is also Goldberg Distinguished Professor at NORTHWESTERN University Feinberg School of Medicine, and chief of the Division of Cardiology at NORTHWESTERN Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
Bonow offered what he believes is a quick nutritional checklist for health: “Exercise and paying attention to calories in and out, lots of fruits and vegetables, less saturated fat, milk products should be skim, fried foods are bad, omega-3 fatty acids are good.”
High-Fat Diet Can Disrupt Body’s Clock
Washington Post (HealthDay News) November 6, 2007
There’s more bad news about a high-fat diet—it disrupts the body’s 24-hour internal (circadian) clock, which regulates sleeping, waking, eating, as well as the daily rhythms of many metabolic functions, U.S. researchers say. A team from NORTHWESTERN University and Evanston NORTHWESTERN Healthcare (ENH) found that mice fed a high-fat diet gained weight and showed a sudden disruption in their circadian clock, eating extra calories when they should have been sleeping or resting.
The team also found that a high-fat diet caused changes in genes that encode the circadian clock in the brain and in peripheral tissues (such as fat), resulting in reduced expression of these genes. The findings are published in the Nov. 7 issue of the journal Cell Metabolism. “Our study was simple—to determine if food itself can alter the clock,” senior author Dr. Joe Bass, assistant professor of medicine and of neurobiology and physiology at NORTHWESTERN and head of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at ENH, said in a prepared statement. “The answer is, yes; alterations in feeding affect timing. We found that as an animal on a high-fat diet gains weight, it eats at the inappropriate time for its sleep-wake cycle—all of the excess calories are consumed when the animal should be resting. For a human, that would be like raiding the refrigerator in the middle of the night and binging on junk food,” Bass said.
This story was also carried on the following news outlets:
Reuters November 6, 2007
High-fat diet disrupts body clock: study
Agence France Presse November 6, 2007
High-fat diet can alter body clock: study
WFLD-TV, WMAQ-TV Nov. 7. Reference to research by Joe Bass, MD, assistant professor of medicine and of neurobiology and physiology, on fat diet and the body clock.
New York Post November 7, 2007
FAT, NAP LINK
Nature November 6, 2007
Excessive fat intake can throw out the body clock
TV New Zealand November 7, 2007
High-fat diet disrupts body clock – study
Daily Telegraph (LONDON) November 7, 2007
Bad diet ’causes night binges’
KXAS-TV (Dallas), Nov 12. Reference to research by Joe Bass, assistant professor of medicine and neurobiology and physiology, on body clocks and high-fat diets.
Vigorous Exercise Reduces Weight Gain Risk
United Press International November 6, 2007
People who say they do about 30 minutes of jogging, bicycling or swimming a day were twice as likely to maintain a stable weight, a U.S. study found. NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine researchers said a consistently high level of physical activity—30 minutes a day of vigorous activity—from young adulthood into middle age increases the odds of maintaining a stable weight and lessens the amount of weight gained over time. Lead author Arlene Hankinson and colleagues examined data from more than 2,600 participants in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study to determine if high activity patterns over time were associated with maintaining a stable body mass index. “The results will hopefully encourage young people to become more active and to maintain high activity over a lifetime,” Hankinson said in a statement.
This story was also carried on the following news outlet:
Daily News & Analysis (India) November 6, 2007
Sweat It Out Early to Stay Slim Later
WMJI-TV (Cleveland) Nov. 16. Reference to research by Marlene Hankinson, instructor in preventive medicine, on physical activity and weight.
When It Comes To Prescribed Drugs, Ignorance Isn’t Bliss
Chicago Tribune November 6, 2007
Asking patients what drugs they’re taking may be bad for their health. Although doctors often rely on their patients to report what medications they’re on, a new study has found most don’t have a clue. Researchers from NORTHWESTERN University set out to discover how well patients with high blood pressure—especially those with little education—could identify their prescribed medications. The answer, they reasoned, might have something to do with the quality and safety of the care the patients receive.
“It was worse than we expected,” said Dr. Stephen Persell of the university’s Institute for Healthcare Studies. Only about half of the patients in the study could name any of the pills they were supposed to be taking. “Even people reading above the 6th-grade level can’t recall the names of the drugs they use,” said Persell, whose study appears in this month’s Journal of General Internal Medicine. “It’s not part of people’s working knowledge.” “We’re increasingly recognizing that the drugs physicians think their patients are taking and what they’re actually taking often don’t coincide,” he said.
Kids Who Skimp on Sleep Tend to Be Fatter
U.S. News & World Report (HealthDay News) November 5, 2007
While the connection between a child’s weight and the amount of sleep that child gets may not be immediately apparent, new research has found a strong correlation between the two. Sixth-graders who averaged less than 8.5 hours of sleep a night had a 23 percent rate of obesity, while their well-rested peers who averaged more than 9.25 hours of sleep had an obesity rate of just 12 percent, according to a new study.
Dr. Stephen Sheldon, director of the Sleep Medicine Center at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, said he would’ve liked to see sleep studies so the researchers could have known more about the quality of sleep these children were getting, such as how much REM sleep did they get and how fragmented was the sleep? But, he said, the bottom line is that “pediatricians and parents really need to start paying closer attention to sleep-wake habits. In this society, we put a premium on being awake, and that premium may hurt us in the long run. Sleep may be as important as food to our health and well-being,” said Sheldon, who’s also professor of pediatrics at NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
Both Lumeng and Sheldon recommended trying to keep a consistent sleep schedule. Bedtimes and wake times are both important—for children and adults. Sheldon said it’s usually OK to vary your sleep times a little bit on the weekend, about an hour or so, but, he cautioned, “Letting you child sleep till noon or mid- afternoon is inviting trouble.”
Blood Pressure Harder to Control in Winter: Study
Reuters November 5, 2007
ORLANDO—For people with high blood pressure, the condition can prove tougher to control in the winter, researchers said Monday. Veterans treated in the winter were less likely to see their blood pressure levels come down to a healthy level than those treated in the summer, researchers told an American Heart Association meeting. The five-year study focused on blood pressure readings for 443,632 U.S. military veterans with hypertension, or high blood pressure, in 15 cities, including such far-flung locales as chilly Anchorage, Alaska, and warm San Juan, Puerto Rico. “There have been data looking at seasonal variation in heart attacks and strokes. And they tend to be higher also in the winter,” added Dr. Robert Bonow of NORTHWESTERN University Feinberg School of Medicine, a spokesman for the American Heart Association.
Chicago Sun-Times November 5, 2007
Most local governments in the United States already have assigned the running of their hospitals to people who are trained administrators and doctors who know the difference between a stethoscope and an otoscope. Cook County is one of two major systems that is still run the old-fashioned—and we would argue inefficient—way, by elected officials. To give just one example of that inefficiency, the system’s billing process, by one estimate, misses out on up to $120 million a year in Medicaid and other payments.
There’s also a perception, if not a reality, that patronage and politics are more important than sound management. Things have to change. “The archaic approaches to health care governance and administration require attention now,” a report by NORTHWESTERN University concluded in July 2006. Then last month, a committee formed by Stroger at the behest of Sen. Dick Durbin came to the same conclusion. “It is unlikely that the president and County Board will (or possibly can) streamline the current bureaucracy and modify the system of current oversight sufficiently to adequately address this crisis,” the committee wrote.
Health in the Hispanic Community
WBBM-TV Nov. 2. Martha Daviglus, MD, professor of preventive medicine, comments on health in the Hispanic community.
Study: Certain Stents Are Safer
Orlando Sentinel (FL) November 5, 2007
People with drug-coated stents were less likely to die or suffer heart attacks within two years than those treated with plain metal devices, according to research presented Sunday in Orlando. Doctors said the study should be reassuring to millions of Americans whose previously blocked arteries are being propped open by the tiny mesh tubes. Safety concerns about drug-coated stents—which have been implanted in about 6 million people worldwide—have caused a sharp decline in their use this year.
But the new study showed “bare” stents had higher rates of death and heart attacks at two years after implantation than devices dipped in medicine. “This is definitely encouraging news,” said Dr. Robert Bonow, chief of cardiology at NORTHWESTERN University and a former president of the American Heart Association. “We can say that [drug- coated] stents appear to be very effective and that, at least at two years, adverse events are not a major concern.”
New Efforts to Remind Patients to Take Pills
U.S. News & World Report November 4, 2007
The Electronic Medication Management System—EMMA, for short—is a sculpted off-white box with a small black screen nestled in its center. It works like a personal computer—only for prescription medications. EMMA stores, organizes, and dispenses up to 10 different drugs, keeps track of complex dosing schedules, maintains printable records of a patient’s medical history, and sets off alarms whenever it’s time to take a pill.
Cost. If cost is a significant barrier to carrying out your treatment, share your concerns with your health-care providers. The medicine your doctor has prescribed might not be the only, or the cheapest, drug of its kind, says Michael Wolf, assistant professor of medicine and director of the Health Literacy and Learning Program at NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Find out which drugs are covered by your insurance, and whether cost-saving generics are available, says Wolf.
Report Urges Doctors to Watch for Lead Poisoning in Children
Washington Post November 2, 2007
Health Highlights: Nov. 2, 2007
Doctors need to be more alert to signs of lead poisoning in children, according to a new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, which noted that even children with blood levels lower than the U.S. standard of 10 micrograms per deciliter can still have lower IQs and various health problems. The report, prepared by the federal government’s Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention, didn’t
propose a new standard but is “emphasizing that all levels are important,” primary author Dr. Helen Binns, of NORTHWESTERN University, told the Associated Press.
Children with blood lead levels below 10 micrograms per deciliter may not show any obvious symptoms but may still have impaired intellectual development, she said. In their report, Binns and her colleagues advise doctors on how to speak to parents of children with lower blood lead levels, including mention of the risks, and nutrition changes and measures to prevent additional lead exposure, the AP reported. The paper was published in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics. Its release coincides with growing concern over high lead levels in imported toys.
Wait and Watch—or Not?
Globe and Mail (Canada) November 1, 2007
Faced with a test result showing he could have prostate cancer, Murray Gordon had a choice: He could wait and repeat the test in six months or begin more medical investigations to determine if he had a cancer that may—or may not—ultimately harm him. One such urologist he has debated is William Catalona, director of the clinical prostate cancer program at NORTHWESTERN University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chicago, who is perhaps best known for developing the PSA test.
One of the problems with active surveillance, Dr. Catalona said, is that there is no consensus on when urologists should intervene. His concern is that waiting can mean delaying treatment, or worse—having patients become incurable. “Anywhere from 15 to 30 per cent of the patients, when you remove the prostate, you find out it was a lot worse than you thought,” Dr. Catalona said in a telephone interview from Chicago. The problem for some men, especially those who are feeling healthy, is that a diagnosis of prostate cancer and a recommendation of surgery “turns their world upside down.” That, he said, is why active surveillance is so attractive to many of them. “Really the best thing, especially for a young person with a long life expectancy, is to get it out and never have to deal with it again,” Dr. Catalona said. “[The surgery is] not bad if it’s done by an experienced surgeon who has good results.”
Diabetes linked to Alzheimer’s
Toronto Star November 1, 2007
Is Alzheimer’s disease, in effect, a form of type 3 diabetes? A team of scientists at NORTHWESTERN University in Evanston, Ill., has shown a connection between insulin resistance in the brain and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The study, published in the Aug. 24 edition of the FASEB Journal (a publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology), points to a toxic protein called amyloid beta-derived diffusible ligand (ADDL) as the culprit.
The authors say this protein, which is found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s, binds to brain synapses and crowds out insulin receptors, which turn on a mechanism needed for nerve cell survival and memories to form. “With other research showing that levels of brain insulin and its related receptors are lower in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, the NORTHWESTERN study sheds light on the emerging idea of Alzheimer’s being a ‘type 3’ diabetes,” the university said in a news release.
This story was also carried on the following news outlets:
KLKN-TV (Lincoln), WJSU-TV (Birmingham), WTNH-TV (Hartford) Nov. 21. Reference to research by William Klein, professor of neurobiology and physiology, on the theory that Alzheimer’s disease is a form of diabetes.
WTNH-TV (Hartford), WGGB-TV (Springfield), WFAA-TV (Dallas), Nov. 20. William Klein, professor of neurobiology and physiology, comments on his research on Alzheimer’s disease as a form of diabetes
Eli Lilly: Will They Get Lucky With ‘One A Day’ Cialis?
CNBC October 31, 2007
Today’s the day Eli Lilly was expected to get a Food and Drug Administration decision on the first-ever one-a-day impotence drug. Right now, the company sells Cialis for use as needed. But men could pop this one every day—like an aspirin or multi-vitamin—so the drug would always be “on board.”
Dr. Kevin McVary at the NORTHWESTERN University School of Medicine, who does consulting and/or works on clinical trials for the ED drugmakers, says there’s a “sizeable minority” of patients who would take Cialis every day. He told me that he works with couples who don’t like their foreplay interrupted by what can be a mood-killing pause to take an ED drug and then sit around waiting for it to take effect. With a one-a-day version, he says, that worry is gone.
Comments on this story were also carried on the following markets:
“Squawk Box” CNBC Oct.30.
Kevin McVary, MD, professor of urology, comments on the drug Cialis.
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