Making or Breaking Our Habits
Pioneer Press September 25, 2008
How many of us have been involved in a fender bender and then afterwards compulsively reviewed the chain of events only to identify one moment where if we had only done something else—the collision would have been avoided?
Absent moments like that, we often live insensitive to the passage of time. When these occasions happen upon us, there is some realization that past is truly inaccessible and beyond modification. Life changes in an instant.
So, you may ask, what does this have to do with your health? Well—life for most of us is a series of accumulated choices and as a consequence, accumulated benefits and/or detriments. Our lives and our health are the by-products of those choices, and we will live and eventually die largely as a consequence of the decisions that we make….
Dr. Russell Robertson is chair and professor of family medicine at NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis
WLS-TV (Chicago) September 25, 2008
Arthritis is not just an older person’s disease. In fact, inflammatory arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis in particular, tends to begin in the 30’s and 40’s, says Dr. Eric Ruderman, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, NORTHWESTERN University Feinberg School of Medicine.
There is a big difference between degenerative arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, where the main issue is wear and tear on the joints, and inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), where the main issue is an inflammatory process in the tissue lining the joint, leading to damage and destruction of bone and cartilage, Dr. Ruderman adds.
Rheumatoid arthritis, like many types of arthritis, more commonly affects women—about 75-80%, according to the doctor…
A bronchodilator drug used for more than a decade by patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is linked to cardiac risk, U.S. researchers said.
The drug, ipratropium, is sold under the brand names Atrovent and Combivent—the latter a combination product that contains ipratropium, researchers at NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine said.
The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found veterans with recently diagnosed COPD using ipratropium were 34 percent more likely to die of a heart attack or of arrhythmia than COPD patients using only albuterol—another bronchodilator—or patients not using any treatment.
“This medication may be having some systemic cardiovascular effect that is increasing the risk of death in COPD patients,” lead author Todd Lee said in a statement.
COPD is an umbrella term for respiratory diseases that include chronic bronchitis and emphysema primarily caused by smoking….
Web Site Helps Cancer Patients with Fertility Preservation
Washington Post September 15, 2008
A new Web site to help cancer patients learn more about how they can preserve their ability to have children has been launched by NORTHWESTERN University in Chicago.
“It’s overwhelming for cancer patients to have to make urgent decisions about fertility preservation at the same time that they are struggling to come to terms with their recent cancer diagnosis and imminent treatment plan. This offers them a critical resource that is easy to use and understand,” Web site creator Kemi Jona, a research associate professor in learning sciences and computer sciences at NORTHWESTERN’s School of Education and Social Policy, said in a university news release.
The multi-media Web site, www.MyOncofertility.org, contains more than 200 expert videos and survivors stories and informs patients about the potential effect of cancer treatments on their fertility, options to preserve their fertility, and how to discuss these issues with their doctors….
The Web site is an educational project of the national Oncofertility Consortium of NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. The consortium is a research, clinical and education program focused on cancer treatment-related fertility problems.
Hospitals Lax in Post-colon Cancer Screens
United Press International September 8, 2008
Most U.S. hospitals do not conduct adequate post-colon cancer surgery screenings to determine if the cancer has metastasized, a study reveals.
Researchers from NORTHWESTERN University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the American College of Surgeons say most of the nation’s hospitals don’t check enough lymph nodes after a patient’s colon cancer surgery to determine if the disease has spread…
The researchers said they found more than 60 percent of nearly 1,300 institutions in the United States fail to comply with the recommendation.
“It’s disappointing that despite so much emphasis on this particular issue, so many hospitals still aren’t checking enough lymph nodes to ensure they diagnose the accurate stage of cancer,” said Dr. Karl Bilimoria, lead author of the report. “Knowing the accurate stage of your disease affects your survival and treatment. That’s critical.”…
This story was carried on the following news outlets:
Few Hospitals Meet Colon Cancer Care Standard
Associated Press September 9, 2008
CBS Radio Sept. 9. Karl Bilimoria, surgery resident, comments on his study on the failure of hospitals to check lymph nodes following colon cancer surgery.
WFLD-TV, WBBM-AM, WLS-TV Sept. 10. Reference to a study by Karl Bilamoria, MD, surgery resident, on failure of hospitals to check lymph nodes following colon cancer surgery.
USA Today September 3, 2008
At 65, Blackwell, now retired, is experiencing the baffling symptoms of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia that afflicts about half of the estimated 5.2 million Americans who have Alzheimer’s, according to the Alzheimer’s Association….
…Many people who have Alzheimer’s are reluctant to talk about it publicly, says Darby Morhardt of NORTHWESTERN University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago. But Blackwell and his family will share their journey, documenting the course of the disease in occasional news stories in USA TODAY….
The Washington Post September 2, 2008
Avast human experiment is afoot. And no one is taking good notes.
Fueled by demand from desperate patients, dozens of companies around the globe are peddling stem cell injections for $15,000 to $50,000 and more. Based merely on the claims made by these companies, at least a few thousand patients from the United States have paid for stem cells overseas….
The only way to know if the injections help patients, academics say, is to subject them to fully documented, placebo-controlled studies. That’s why the 2,500-member International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) is developing guidelines to encourage overseas stem cell companies to collect and share data. A draft of the guidelines says the society “condemns” injections of stem cells outside rigorous studies.
At the same time, a few academics voice regret about overplaying the promise of stem cells. Reams of evidence suggest various types of stem cells do possess healing properties, but figuring out how to harness that power will take years of careful human trials, they say. “There’s been extremely high levels of hope and hype” surrounding stem cells, said Laurie Zoloth, a bioethicist at Northwestern University….
Fish Oil Appears to Help Against Heart Failure
Washington Post August 31, 2008
Fish oil supplements may work slightly better than a popular cholesterol-reducing drug to help patients with chronic heart failure, according to new research released Sunday.
Chronic heart failure is a condition that occurs when the heart becomes enlarged and cannot pump blood efficiently around the body.
With few effective options for heart failure patients, the findings could give patients a potential new treatment and could change the dietary recommendations for them, said Dr. Jose Gonzalez Juanatey, a spokesman for the European Society of Cardiology, who was not connected to the research….
…Comparing the results from both studies, the researchers concluded that fish oil is slightly more effective than the drug because the oil performed better against a placebo than did Crestor.-“It’s a small benefit, but we should always be emphasizing to patients what they can do in terms of diet that might help,” said Dr. Richard Bonow, chief of cardiology at NORTHWESTERN University Hospital in Chicago and past president of the American Heart Association….
This story was carried on the following news outlets:
Fish Oil, Not AstraZeneca Drug, Fights Heart Failure
Breast Cancer: No Guarantees
Newsweek August 27, 2008
…Like Meiser and, more recently, actress Christina Applegate, a small but growing number of women with cancer in only one breast are opting to get their healthy breast removed too. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology last October, researchers found that the rate of bilateral mastectomies among women with cancer in only one breast more than doubled from 1998 to 2003, from 1.8 percent to 4.8 percent. “The main motivation is fear,” says Stephen Sener, a doctor and former president of the American Cancer Society. “Some women say, ‘I can’t live with the anxiety of having this happen again.'”…
…Some women simply overestimate the risk of getting cancer in the opposite breast. The typical patient has about .5 percent to .75 percent risk per year of developing a new cancer in the healthy breast, which works out to a 20 to 30 percent chance of developing a new cancer by age 80 if she is treated and diagnosed at age 40, says Seema Khan, co-leader of the breast cancer program at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at NORTHWESTERN University.
The rise in prophylactic mastectomies also disturbs some breast-cancer awareness advocates. “It’s just terrible that that’s the position women are in after spending billions of dollars on research and on awareness and on building cancer centers and treatment centers around the country, and that’s still the choice we give women—cut off healthy breasts,” says breast-cancer survivor Fran Visco, president of the National Breast Cancer Coalition.
And experts say women facing the choice of prophylactic mastectomy and reconstruction should remember that reconstructed breasts are very different from natural breasts. While modern implants may look more natural, the process can be arduous. In the end, “it gives you a mound on the chest wall,” says Khan. “Without clothes, it doesn’t really look like a breast, it doesn’t feel like a breast, and it certainly doesn’t have much of the sensation of the breast.”
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