Monday, February 28, 2011

For February -- American Heart Month -- I reviewed the latest American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for heart health for the Los Angeles Times. The AHA has boiled their advice down to seven things: some are straight numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose) and some are behaviors (not smoking, diet, and exercise) and one is a little bit of both (maintain a healthy weight).

Easy to understand, seemingly easy to do, and yet surveys say that only 1% of Americans actually hit all seven criteria.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Last year I wrote about two brothers who are developing a better epi-pen -- one that's smaller and easier to carry, has a retractable needle, and has clearer label instructions. Eric and Evan Edwards both have life-threatening allergies and they started work on their device when they were still in college. Now they have a patent on their invention in partnership with Virginia Commonwealth University, where Eric is on leave from the medical school. The story can be found here in the Spring 2010 Dean's Discovery Report.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A new study says less is more in breast cancer treatment. I wrote about this counterintuitive finding for the Los Angeles Times. In women with small tumors and signs of lymph node invasion, it turns out that surgically removing cancer-containing lymph nodes from under the arm makes no difference in a woman's survival. Breast cancer experts say this shift in strategy has been a long time coming.

Why wouldn't cutting out cancer help? It's because by the time cancer shows up in lymph nodes, it's proof of escape from the initial tumor site, and many routes are open to spreading cancer cells including the blood and the lymph. "You can't cure metastatic disease with a scalpel," says UCLA's John Glaspy.