Allergic to Essential Medication?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 22, 2016


Serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, occur when mast cell chemicals flood the body, causing an array of acute symptoms.

What do you do when your body is not tolerating a medication that you need?

Patients fighting cancer, severe infections, autoimmune disorders, and many other conditions may become sensitized to the very drugs that are most effective in treating their diseases. These patients can suffer serious allergy symptoms, such as hives, flushing, itching, shortness of breath, wheezing, hypotension, and even anaphylaxis – a severe life-threatening allergic reaction.

Because of the potential allergic reaction upon re-exposure to these drugs, these patients are often told that they can no longer be treated with their best medication. A technique called drug desensitization can be used to help these patients get back on their medications.

Read More »

Subscribe to Our Weekly Emails for Expectant Parents

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 20, 2016

Our new personalized e-newsletters are each timed to your week of pregnancy and your baby’s first months.

Pregnancy is an exciting time and a very special experience in the life of every family. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, we provide many resources to help you have the healthiest pregnancy possible.

We offer two personalized e-newsletters – one on pregnancy and childbirth and another on breastfeeding – each timed to your week of pregnancy and your baby’s first months.

You can read your weekly e-newsletter on your smart phone, tablet, or computer. The e-newsletters are also available in multiple languages.

Subscribe today to our free e-newsletters or visit  to learn about other pregnancy resources. Your partner, family members, and friends can also subscribe to this service and share this exciting time with you.

Related links:

Bringing Health Equity to Rwanda

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 15, 2016


Physicians and other health care providers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital are helping to build sustainable health care services in Rwanda.

Traumatized by years of civil war and a devastating act of genocide in the 1990s, Rwanda used to be a place where hope was in short supply.

Over time, however, the country came back stronger than ever—investing in education, infrastructure and regional trade—and Rwanda’s economy enjoyed one of the largest growth rates in the world last year. Still, one critical resource remained scarce: health care.

In 2010, the World Health Organization reported that Rwanda had one of the lowest rates of physicians per capita in the world. A country of nearly 11 million people, Rwanda was home to about 600 physicians at that time. Most were concentrated in large cities like Kigali, leaving rural areas underserved, especially in terms of specialists.

Read More »

How Does Exercise Reduce Cancer Risk?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 13, 2016

Group Yoga Class in Studio

Researchers at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center are investigating the link between exercise and lower risk of cancer, including risk of cancer recurrence.

This much is known: A sedentary lifestyle raises the risk of cancer, while physical activity – even moderate exercise – can reduce the risk not only of developing cancer but having a recurrence following treatment. What’s not so clear is exactly why.

“It’s still a little unknown,” says Dr. Jeffrey Meyerhardt, co-director of the Colon and Rectal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, who has studied the relationship of exercise and colorectal cancer risk. In a previous study, he and Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center, reported that in patients with stage III colorectal cancer, more physical activity was associated with a lower risk of cancer recurrence and mortality.

According to Dr. Meyerhardt and other researchers, one way exercise can influence cancer risk is by lowering the amounts of insulin and insulin-like growth factors in the bloodstream. These hormones stimulate tumor cells to spread and survive despite the body’s attempts to kill abnormal cells. Studies show physical activity can directly reduce insulin levels, and research on this link is continuing. Jennifer Ligibel, MD, a Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center oncologist and director of the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies, led a study in breast cancer patients that showed that participation in an exercise program led to a reduction in insulin levels in previously inactive breast cancer survivors.

Read More »

What is High-risk Pregnancy Care?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 9, 2016


Chelsea received specialized high-risk pregnancy care at BWH when she was diagnosed with a failing heart valve during her pregnancy with her daughter Aria.

When 29-year-old Chelsea was in the second trimester of her pregnancy with her daughter Aria, she began experiencing dizziness and shortness-of-breath. An echocardiogram revealed that one of her heart valves had deteriorated.

Chelsea was referred to the Cardiovascular Disease and Pregnancy Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), where a team including high risk pregnancy (maternal-fetal medicine) specialists, cardiologists, and cardiac surgeons worked together to develop a specialized plan for her care. This included delivering her baby in a hybrid operating suite at BWH to enable the team to quickly respond with a range of treatments for Chelsea’s heart condition if needed during the delivery. Chelsea delivered a healthy baby girl and had successful valve replacement surgery at BWH the following week.

Maternal-fetal medicine specialists provide individualized care before, during, and after pregnancy for women who are considered high risk. These include women with pre-existing medical conditions, women who develop complications during pregnancy, women at risk for premature birth, and women of advanced maternal age (35 years of age or older).  “Our goal is to ensure a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery for each mother and baby through careful planning, medical expertise, and team-based care,” said Dr. Louise Wilkins-Haug, Division Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at BWH.

Read More »

Finding Relief from Pain

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 6, 2016

Among the many reasons why patients go to see a doctor, pain is often a primary complaint. Whether it is acute or chronic, pain can be debilitating. In recognition of Pain Awareness Month, we have compiled some of our blog posts featuring ways to address pain.


PainInnovations in Chronic Pain Management

Treating chronic pain often requires different approaches than those used for acute pain. In this post, Dr. Edgar L. Ross, Director of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Pain Management Center, talks about the importance of playing an active role in your treatment plan and the benefits of having a multidisciplinary, collaborative care team that specializes in pain management.




Senior African descent woman grabs lower back in painTips on Managing Back Pain

Managing back pain can be challenging because it is often non-specific and may be the result of many different conditions. In this post, Dr. Jason Yong, an anesthesiologist and pain management specialist in the Comprehensive Spine Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), offers some guidance for people suffering from back pain.




Hip painYoung and Active? Don’t Ignore Hip Pain.

 Many young and active adults who experience hip pain during exercise attribute the discomfort to overdoing it during a workout. In this post, Dr. Scott Martin, an orthopedic specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, explains why it is important to be evaluated for a condition called femoroacetabular impingement if you are young and experiencing repeat hip pain, stiffness, or a catching sensation in the hip during movement.



gel pack on kneeTreating Injury and Pain: Ice or Heat?

Often when someone gets injured or feels pain, they wonder whether to treat it with cold or heat. This post by Dr. Elizabeth Matzkin, Surgical Director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, offers a few simple guidelines to help you determine which approach to take.


Read More »

Can Pancreatic Cancer Be Inherited?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 1, 2016

3d rendered illustration of the male pancreas

Familial pancreatic cancer refers to families in which at least three members, or two or more individuals who are first-degree relatives of one another, have been diagnosed with the disease.

Most cases of pancreatic cancer develop for unknown reasons, but about 10 percent occur in families that have a strong history of the disease. That doesn’t mean that if you are a member of such a family you will develop pancreatic cancer, but rather that you are at a higher risk for it.

“Research has shown that familial pancreatic cancer is not as rare as we had thought,” says Dr. Matthew Yurgelun, a specialist in the Pancreas and Biliary Tumor Center and the Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

Pancreatic cancer, which is often deadly, is diagnosed in about 53,000 people in the United States each year. Factors such as older age, smoking, and obesity increase the risk.

Familial pancreatic cancer, or FPC, refers to families in which at least three members, or two or more individuals who are first-degree relatives (a parent, child, or sibling) of one another, have been diagnosed with the disease. Healthy individuals in such families have an increased risk of developing the cancer during their lifetimes – several times higher than the 1.3 percent lifetime risk for non-familial pancreatic cancer.

Read More »

Great News for Nature Lovers

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 30, 2016

Adult Woman Enjoying Time with Pet Dog

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that women residing in greener areas have a lower mortality rate.

Living in an area with lots of trees and other plants may actually lead to a longer life. In a recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Channing Division of Network Medicine and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that women residing in greener areas had a lower mortality rate.

The researchers used satellite imagery to rank the cumulative average greenness of the residential locations of more than 100,000 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study. They found that those women residing in the greenest areas had a 12 percent lower rate of non-accidental mortality compared to those women residing in areas with the least amount of vegetation. The study adjusted for mortality risk factors, such as age, race, smoking, and individual- and area-level socioeconomic status. Findings were consistent across all regions of the United States, as well as in urban and rural areas.

Read More »

Avoiding Injuries while Being Active

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 25, 2016

During the late summer and fall, popular outdoor activities include tennis, golf, and running. In this blog roundup, Dr. Elizabeth Matzkin, Surgical Director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), offers some helpful advice on ways to avoid common injuries while enjoying these activities.


Women's Tennis doublesUnderstanding and Preventing Tennis Injuries

Tennis has many proven health benefits, such as improving cardiovascular fitness, balance, motor control, hand-eye coordination, bone strength, and flexibility. Learn how to avoid some of the most common tennis injuries, whether you’re a pro or a beginner.



golf shot manGolf Injuries – How to Avoid the Rough

Golf is a terrific way to enjoy the outdoors and stay active, especially if you choose to walk the course. On average, a golfer playing 18 holes on foot will walk anywhere from three to six miles. Read our tips on the prevention of common golf injuries and how to recognize the signs of injury.




female athleteAvoiding Bumps in the Road while Training for a Road Race

In order to get ready for a long-distance running event, every runner should have a training plan that gradually builds intensity as race day approaches. This post explains some of the most common running overuse injuries and what you should do to get back on track.



Related links:

Mom with Breast Cancer Finds Care Close to Home

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital August 23, 2016

Breast cancer patient Cathy McCue (consent # 8413). Photographed at Dana Farber South Shore in Weymouth for Turning Point magazine Spring Summer 2016. Cathy McCue is a patient at South Shore who benefits from the expanded Young Women with Breast Cancer program.

Cathy, a 44-year-old mom from Hanover, Massachusetts, received breast cancer care close to her home through Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center in clinical affiliation with South Shore Hospital.

When Cathy McCue, 44, tried to find words to tell her 8-year-old twin boys about her cancer, she turned to books like “Mom Has Cancer” and “Nowhere Hair.”

Her own story began in June 2015, when she felt a pain in her right breast while at the gym. After finding a lump later that night, Cathy, a homemaker in Hanover, Massachusetts, went to see her primary care physician, and was guided quickly through detection to diagnosis.

A biopsy revealed that she had triple negative breast cancer, in which the cancer cells do not have estrogen, progesterone, or HER2 receptors, and therefore do not respond to some commonly used breast cancer drugs.

Read More »