July 2011

New Target for Smoking Cessation without Weight Gain

A new study uncovers a brain mechanism that could be targeted for new medications designed to help people quit smoking without gaining weight. This research, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, shows that a specific subclass of brain nicotinic receptor is involved in nicotine’s ability to reduce food intake in rodents. Prior research shows that the average weight gain after smoking is less than 10 pounds, but fear of weight gain can discourage some people who would like to quit.

More preventive health tests should be covered for women

A new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends that eight preventive health services for women be added to the services that health plans will cover at no cost to patients under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA).  The ACA requires plans to cover the services listed in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) comprehensive list of preventive services.  At the agency’s request, an IOM committee identified critical gaps in preventive services for women as well as measures that will further ensure women’s health and well-being.

Can Soda Tax Curb Obesity?

To many, a tax on soda is a no-brainer in advancing the nation’s war on obesity. Advocates point to a number of studies in recent years that conclude that sugary drinks have a lot to do with why Americans are getting fatter.   But obese people tend to drink diet sodas, and therefore taxing soft drinks with added sugar or other sweeteners is not a good weapon in combating obesity, according to a new Northwestern University study.

Menstrual cycle hormones influence seizure frequency

Monthly hormone cycle changes

Researchers are exploring how hormone levels impact certain brain activity during the menstrual cycle and the results may influence how birth control pills doses are prescribed to women with conditions like epilepsy in the future.

Increased levels of certain reproductive steroids correspond to more frequent generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS) in women with epilepsy, according to new research from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

Marilyn Monroe sculpture: icon or sexism

It’s the talk of Chicago:   the new 26 foot tall sculpture of Marilyn Monroe on Pioneer Court on Michigan Avenue.   Sculpted by Seward Johnson, known for his massive figures taken from famous paintings and photos, this highly visible piece of art is drawing lots of comments : “Beautiful”— “it exploits women”— “she was an icon and a piece of history”—”hey, you can see her panties!”   Even some of my favorite columnists are suggesting that if they want to feature important women, why Marilyn?

Take steps to keep mosquitos and ticks from bugging you this summer

Summer allows more time for children to play outdoors, but when kids (and grown-ups, too) are covered with bug bites after spending time outside, we start to worry about disease spread by ticks, such as Lyme disease, or by mosquitoes, such as West Nile virus. Luckily, there are simple steps to prevent bites and diseases spread by bugs.  The US Center for Disease and Prevention Control offers some good suggestions.  Click HERE to see the fact sheet.  It also provides information on Lyme disease and maps that show West Nile activity.

Sex Differences in GI Surgery Outcomes

In the first study to consider the impact of gender on patient outcomes in major gastrointestinal surgeries, researchers at UC San Diego Health System have found that women are more likely to survive after the procedure than men. The pattern is even more pronounced when comparing women before menopause with men of the same age.

Results, now published online in the Journal of Surgical Research in a paper titled “The Battle of the Sexes: Women Win Out in Gastrointestinal Surgery,” shed light on major differences between patients which impact treatment success, and open pathways to creating new therapies aimed at improving survivability of surgical patients.

Women are tough when it comes to soccer injury

With the Women’s World Cup in full swing (congrats to the US team for upsetting Brazil in the semifinals!), soccer fans can now rest assured that women are less likely than men to fake on-field injuries, according to a new study by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center published in the July issue of the journal Research in Sports Medicine.