Media Coverage

The work done by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine faculty members (and even some students) is regularly highlighted in newspapers, online media outlets and more. Below you’ll find links to articles and videos of Feinberg in the news.

Amid high demand for laxatives, doctors are cautioning people not to overuse the products to take them for purposes other than constipation relief, such as weight loss. Over time, they said, more people have come to see constipation as an illness — especially now that more prescription treatments are available and advertised. The median age in the U.S. has also reached a record high (nearly 39 years), and people have become more sedentary, are eating less healthy diets and are taking more medications than ever, all of which can contribute to constipation. “The longer you live, the more illnesses you’re likely to get, the more medications you’re likely to take. So it all kind of compounds on itself,” said Darren Brenner, MD, a gastroenterologist at Northwestern Medicine.

According to a new survey conducted by Harris Poll and the American Heart Association, 70 percent of heart attack and stroke survivors had no idea that LDL cholesterol is commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol” because it contributes to the buildup of fat in the arteries. Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, the Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the past president of the American Heart Association, says that many people have a mix of genes that make them more prone to absorb cholesterol and saturated fats from their diet. This makes them more at risk of having high cholesterol. “Blood levels of LDL-cholesterol are a major causal risk factor for cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones says. The problem, he says, is that many people don’t realize their risk. This is exactly why Dr. Lloyd-Jones says that it’s important to know what your cholesterol numbers are and find out if you are sensitive to dietary cholesterol. He says that not working with a doctor to find out one’s cholesterol numbers and risk is the number one mistake people make when it comes to managing cholesterol.

Allergies don’t only crop up in the spring. The persistent sniffles, clogged nose, itchy eyes and sneezing also happen in the fall — and, experts say, they’re getting more common, and more intense. Symptoms can vary from person to person, but many people will exhibit the same signs of allergies in the fall as they do in the spring, said Anju Peters, MD, an allergist at Northwestern Medicine. That means runny noses, sneezing, stuffiness, postnasal drip and fatigue — symptoms that sound a whole lot like colds and Covid. The only way to be completely sure you don’t have Covid is to take a test — but there are a few clues to help pin down the source of your sniffles. Viral infections tend to develop suddenly, and then run their course, Dr. Parikh said, while allergies slog on for four or six or eight weeks at a time. And allergies — unlike colds, Covid and the flu — don’t usually cause fevers, body aches or gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, she said. Itchiness can be a telltale sign that you’re dealing with allergies, so watch out for scratchy, tingling ears, eyes, throats and noses, she added. Fall allergens can also cause rashes like eczema.

There are many known causes of vaginal or vulvar itching, and they can range from the most mundane causes (like a new shower gel) to something much more serious. While itching of the vulva and vagina may not always indicate that something is wrong, it’s important to confer with a medical professional in order to find the source of the issue. A common cause of irritation, which can lead to itchiness, is using products that shouldn’t be anywhere near one’s vulva. “Women are told they should use all these vulvar washes and other products, and it’s really poison to the vulva,” says Dr. Lauren Streicher, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University. “It’s not meant for vulvar use, even if the product says it is. All these perfumes and chemicals can cause a lot of problems in terms of itching and burning and irritation.” Ceasing use of these products will clear up the issue, says Streicher. “I ran a vulvar clinic, and one of the first things we would tell women when they came to the vulvar clinic is stop using all this junk on their vulva. Nothing. Not even soap,” she says. “There are certain soaps that are better than others, but for someone who is having problems, we tell them, ‘Just rinse with water. You will not smell. I promise.’”

Even though hair loss is common in men, it doesn’t make it suck any less for those enduring hair shedding and thinning. Amy Forman Taub, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor at Northwestern University Medical School, tells Yahoo Life, “You can effectively stop genetic hair loss to a large degree.” But it can be harder to reverse prolonged genetic hair loss and grow back the hair you’ve lost, she says, making time of the essence here. So whether your hair loss is due to genetics, COVID, stress, poor diet or illness, you can absolutely restore hair health with the right products and a little patience.

For starters, food allergies are on the march. Among children, they doubled from 2000 to 2018, according to our analysis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey, and they probably have risen further in the years since. Christopher Warren, PhD, a Northwestern professor who helped design the survey in his capacity as director of population health research at the allergy center, mainly just to make sure we’d measured everything correctly. But Warren instead opened our eyes to a grand, unified theory of why everybody is suddenly allergic to everything. First, he patiently explained that what we commonly call a food allergy is an immune response, particularly one from an antibody called immunoglobulin E, which causes your body to release the biochemical histamine to eject an invader. (Histamine causes itching and swelling and, if too much of it builds up, serious gastrointestinal reactions and even anaphylaxis.) “The nature of the reaction,” Warren said, “has to do with your antibodies identifying something … and being like, ‘We got to get this out of here! Get ’em sneezing! Get ’em inflamed! Get ’em vomiting! Get ’em diarrhea!’”

The latest wireless implant from the labs of Northwestern University’s bioelectronics pioneer John A. Rogers could continuously monitor the health of transplanted organs in real time, alerting patients and physicians to organ rejection at the earliest sign. “I have noticed many of my patients feel constant anxiety — not knowing if their body is rejecting their transplanted organ or not,” Lorenzo Gallon, MD, a Northwestern Medicine transplant nephrologist who led the clinical portion of the study, said in the statement. “They may have waited years for a transplant and then finally received one from a loved one or deceased donor. Then, they spend the rest of their lives worrying about the health of that organ. Our new device could offer some protection, and continuous monitoring could provide reassurance and peace of mind.” “If rejection is detected early, physicians can deliver anti-rejection therapies to improve the patient’s health and prevent them from losing the donated organ,” John A Rogers, PhD said in the statement. “In worst-case scenarios, if rejection is ignored, it could be life-threatening. The earlier you can catch rejection and engage therapies, the better. We developed this device with that in mind.”

A team of doctors and scientists at Northwestern University has created a wireless device to monitor transplanted organs for early signs of rejection. “I hear my patients when they talk to me, so they tell me about their anxiety about the risk for rejection,” said Lorenzo Gallon, MD, one of the study authors and a professor of nephrology, hypertension and organ transplantation at Northwestern University. Dr. Gallon teamed up with John Rogers, a professor of material science and engineering, biomedical engineering and neurological surgery, to test out a theory. “The idea is when the kidney gets inflamed, you know, the temperature on the surface goes up. This was our hypothesis,” Dr. Gallon said. They created a small implant that monitors the organ’s temperature. In clinical trials in animals, it was attached to a transplanted kidney during surgery.

There is a new way to make sure transplants are successful. By adding a tiny monitor to transplant organs, doctors can spot the first sign of potential problems. Northwestern University scientists tested the implantable electronic system on transplanted kidneys. It’s smaller than a quarter and has wireless sensing technology. Current monitoring methods are infrequent and invasive. The new implant sits directly on the organ constantly tracking temperature irregularities associated with inflammation, an indicator of transplant rejection. When doctors get a smartphone alert, they can be proactive, intervening to preserve the organ.

A Northwestern Medicine research team is constantly searching for tumor treatments and funding is a factor. “You just need somebody to give you a chance,” said Craig Horbinski, MD, PhD, a Northwestern medicine neuropathologists and professor of pathology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Horbinski said the results of work paid for by hisfirst grant led to more funding. Now, scientists under his watch are studying how to shrink tumors, especially fast-growing and deadly glioblastomas. About 800 kids and adults are diagnosed with brain tumors every day. The hope is to continue funding research, so every patient can bounce back.

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