Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 18, 2013
Drinking soda, even at modest levels, may lead to a higher risk of developing kidney stones.
The copious consumption of sugary drinks already has been linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. And now, new research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggests that consuming sugar-sweetened beverages, even at modest levels, could put folks at greater risk for developing yet another health issue, a quite painful one – kidney stones.
“Our study found that the relation between fluid intake and kidney stones may be dependent on the type of beverage consumed,” explains Gary Curhan, MD, ScD, a physician in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH and senior author of this study. “We found that higher consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks was associated with a higher incidence of kidney stones.”
After analyzing the data of nearly 200,000 participants from three large-scale studies – the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, the Nurses’ Health Study I, and Nurses’ Health Study II – researchers found that people who consumed one or more sugar-sweetened cola servings per day had a 23 percent higher risk of developing kidney stones than those who consumed less than one serving per week. Similarly, drinking other types of sugar-sweetened beverages, such as fruit punch, were found to carry just as great a risk as soda for developing kidney stones. On the other hand, there also was strong evidence that some beverages, such as coffee, tea and orange juice, were associated with a lower risk of stone formation.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 13, 2013
Knee replacement patient Rick Litavis (center) enjoys a post-surgery family stroll.
With three torn ligaments and no cartilage left in his right knee, 49-year-old Rick Litavis of Hopkinton, MA, had two options – continue to live in pain and suffer through sleepless nights, or get a knee replacement.
Rick was ready for relief.
And thanks to surgical expertise, teamwork, and an innovative approach to improving knee replacement outcomes, Rick was not only pain-free within days after his January 2013 operation, but also walking and biking within weeks.
“I was completely floored,” says Rick. “The first night after my surgery I was standing, the next day I was using a walker without pain, and I was home the day after that.”
After playing football at Northeastern University, Rick continued to play competitive, high-impact sports throughout his 20s and 30s. But such a lifestyle also comes with risks, and Rick managed to severely injure his right knee several times over the years.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 6, 2013
Figure 1 - The underside of the patch has rows of tiny, cone-shaped needles.
When giving thanks to Mother Nature for the bounty that she provides, a parasitic worm may not be on your top 10 list. But a Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) research team has seen the beauty in a spiny-headed worm, the Pomphorhynchus laevis, and used this creature as inspiration for designing an adhesive patch that safely and strongly secures human skin grafts.
This unique worm establishes long-term residency in the intestines of fish by plunging head-first into the host’s intestinal wall and then swelling its head to create a secure hold in the intestinal tissue. Impressed by the strength and simplicity of this technique, a research team led by Jeffrey Karp, PhD, Division of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Medicine, developed a micro-needle patch that mimics the worm’s anchoring mechanism.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 28, 2013
3-D mammography, compared to traditional imaging, offers a clearer view of breast tissue.
Why are radiologists so enthusiastic about 3-D mammography (digital breast tomosynthesis), a new imaging technology for diagnosing breast cancer?
The simple answer is that it could help save thousands of lives each year.
3-D mammography, compared to traditional two-dimensional imaging, offers a clearer view of the dense tissue within a woman’s breast. Specifically, it enables radiologists to see tumors when they are very small and differentiate them from abnormalities that look like tumors but are usually benign, such as micro-calcifications (calcium deposits) or cysts. When radiologists are able to identify malignant tumors at this early stage, it usually means that the cancer has been found before it has spread to other parts of the body.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 16, 2013
Dr. C. Keith Ozaki (center) and his team suggest that a patient's pre-surgery diet can affect their post-surgery recovery.
Does it matter what a patient eats before surgery?
According to a new study led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers, the type of food that patients eat in the days leading up to surgery, as well as their long-term dietary habits, may have a significant impact on their recovery. Partners from the Center for Cancer Computational Biology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and from the Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases at the Harvard School of Public Health also contributed to the findings.
Specifically, the research team found that consuming a high-fat diet, as compared to a low-fat diet, leads to higher levels of post-surgical inflammation in the fatty tissue traumatized during major surgery. This inflammation, in turn, may drive complications such as heart attacks and wound problems.
The pre-clinical study suggests that patients who habitually follow a low-fat diet may fare best in minimizing post-surgical fat inflammation. Importantly, the researchers also observed that short-term behavior modification can reap benefits. Their findings revealed that in the setting of a high-fat diet, patients might significantly lower their levels of post-surgical inflammation simply by shifting to a low-fat diet for a short time frame before surgery.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 7, 2013
Two healthy hearts – Brad and his son, Darby. (Photo by Alexandra Elizabeth Photography)
Before he had a life-saving heart transplant in 2007, Brad Biscornet was a warm-hearted, jovial, and active guy. He’s the same way today.
Despite being born with congenital heart disease, doctors were able to effectively manage Brad’s condition for many years. However, as his condition continued to decline and complications intensified during his early 30s, it became clear that he would need a heart transplant to save his life.
It did that and more.
Brad looked at his new gift as a way to not only save his life, but also to restore his life. It even inspired him to take on a role that wasn’t considered realistic before he received a new heart – fatherhood.
“Brad was so sick that we couldn’t look forward to doing something like that. We really didn’t know what kind of time Brad had left,” explains his wife, Mandra. “To be able to, a few years later, start a family has been just such a blessing for us.”
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 2, 2013
Face transplant recipient Carmen Blandin Tarleton embraces her donor's daughter, Marinda Righter.
Recent events have made us grimly aware of the intense suffering that just a few people can cause. But in the wake of such tragedies, we also have seen the other side – the eagerness of neighbors, friends, and strangers to help as best they can.
Carmen Blandin Tarleton, a 44-year-old registered nurse and mother of two from Thetford, Vermont, has experienced both extremes first hand, but her heart is now focused on what she has been given, not what has been taken away.
On June 10, 2007, Carmen’s estranged husband doused her with industrial-strength lye and beat her. Over 80 percent of Carmen’s body was severely burned. Despite the subsequent efforts of 55 surgeries over five years, including 38 during a three-month period immediately after the attack, Carmen remained in pain, severely disfigured, and legally blind. She also suffered from uncontrolled drooling and an inability to rotate her neck.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 17, 2013
Psychologist Laura Holsen, PhD, explains how hormones can affect your appetite.
Can hormones play a part in what motivates us to eat? And, if so, how can studying hormones help address health issues such as anorexia or obesity?
These, and other questions, are at the heart of research being done by Brigham and Women’s Hospital psychologist Laura Holsen, PhD, Division of Women’s Health, Department of Medicine, who recently took some time to answer a few questions about how hormones may affect people at both ends of the weight spectrum.
- How can studying hormones help us better understand eating disorders?
We know that there is an overlap between eating disorders and mood disturbances such as depression. This may be due to disruption within the brain regions that process reward.
It turns out that there are several hormones involved in appetite and mood that act on these regions of the brain involved in reward and making decisions about food intake. So by studying hormone levels while collecting brain activity data, we will get a deeper understanding of the relationship between hormone levels and brain activity in regions involved with appetite, food intake, and mood.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 10, 2013
Andre Seale, driver of our new Blood Mobile.
Andre Seale isn’t going to wait for you to come to a blood drive. He’s going to bring it to you.
Starting this month, Andre will take on a huge responsibility: driving the brand new 42-foot Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham and Women’s Hospital Blood Mobile around the greater Boston area. The vehicle, which includes everything needed for a blood drive, will expand our ability to make blood donation more convenient and help spread the word about its importance.
“Now we can have a blood drive anywhere that has a wide enough area for us to park in,” explains Seale. “I also won’t need to lug around equipment, because it’s all on board.”
Judith Wallace, MSM, Administrative Director for the Joint Program in Transfusion Medicine at Brigham and Women’s and Dana-Farber, says that about 30,000 units of blood are needed each year to serve all the patients at both institutions, and we often struggle to meet that target. “We collect from 3,500 to 4,500 units a year, year after year, or about 10 to 15 percent of our needs,” she notes.
Wallace hopes that the new Blood Mobile, complete with its five donor beds, three screening rooms, and additional space, will allow more organizations to host blood drives and increase the number of units collected.
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Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital March 28, 2013
A recent study shows that vitamin D supplementation may help African-Americans lower their blood pressure.
There are a variety of things that you can do to help lower your blood pressure, such as exercise more, consume less salt, quit smoking, and eat low-fat foods. Now, African-Americans may be able to add “take more vitamin D” to that list.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attacks, heart failure, and stroke, and is 40 percent more common in African-Americans than in other American ethnic groups. Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) recently collaborated with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital in a study that shows that vitamin D supplementation may help African-Americans lower their blood pressure. The study was published in the March 13, 2013, online edition of the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.
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