Health and Fitness, In the News, Research
on May 9th, 2013
I’ll admit that I often use the excuse of not having enough time to work out. Between the demands of work and raising two small kids, sometimes it really is difficult to drag myself to the gym. That’s why this piece on Well this morning grabbed my attention – a high-intensity workout in just seven minutes, and one that’s backed by science! Blogger Gretchen Reynolds writes:
…Sometimes you just want someone to lay out guidelines for how to put the newest fitness research into practice.
An article in the May-June issue of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal does just that. In 12 exercises deploying only body weight, a chair and a wall, it fulfills the latest mandates for high-intensity effort, which essentially combines a long run and a visit to the weight room into about seven minutes of steady discomfort — all of it based on science.
“There’s very good evidence” that high-intensity interval training provides “many of the fitness benefits of prolonged endurance training but in much less time,” says Chris Jordan, the director of exercise physiology at the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, Fla., and co-author of the new article.
I’m ready to give this a try. If all I need are seven minutes, a chair and wall, then there’s really no room for excuses anymore.
Previously: Fitness research: A year in review, Is fitness level more important than body weight in boosting heart health, Study shows physically fit older adults have fewer age-related changes in their brains, Exercise may be effective in treating depression, Exercise may protect aging brain from memory loss following infection, injury, How physical activity influences health and Study shows how physical activity benefits seniors’ hearts
Photo by lululemon athletica
Media, Stanford News
on May 1st, 2013
For all you MythBusters fans out there, tonight’s season premiere – with Adam and Jamie celebrating the show’s 10th anniversary with the myth that started it all, about the JATO Rocket Car - may be of interest. This will be Adam and Jamie’s third attempt to find out whether a car with a jet assisted take off rocket, or JATO, attached to it can “speed up to 300 miles per hour, become airborne, and impact with the side of a cliff.”
And why are we mentioning this on Scope? Because the part where Adam gives a lecture to a room full of students was filmed here on the medical school campus. My colleagues and I were at the scene back in February.
Photo by Jerome Macalma
Patient Care, Stanford News
on April 26th, 2013
For Stanford nurse Alicia Moreci, RN, the whiteboard has become more than just a place to write information about her patients. It’s also a blank canvas where she displays her now famous drawings in the hospital’s cardiac-monitoring unit. A segment on NBC Bay Area featured her drawings and Moreci explaining how her role as artist-in-residence in the cardiac-monitoring unit at Stanford Hospital & Clinics all began with a small drawing of the Loch Ness Monster.
Moreci creates a new drawing every week and, as reported in a past Inside Stanford Medicine story, her artwork has become so popular that other units have requested she decorate their whiteboards. She told my colleague, “My unit has been joking that it’s going to hire me out and use the proceeds to fund a party.”
Cancer, In the News, Research, Stanford News, Technology
on April 8th, 2013
Adam de la Zerda, PhD, likes to tell his students that the sky’s the limit – something he most likely told himself many times over. At just 28 years old, he already has a pretty impressive laundry list of accomplishments: He’s co-founder of a Silicon Valley startup, he was recently listed in Forbes magazine’s “30 under 30″ in science and health care, and he has garnered numerous other awards, including ones from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
A story in today’s Inside Stanford Medicine profiles the young Stanford faculty member and a technology he developed called photoacoustic molecular imaging, which allows researchers to see cancerous tumors hiding under tissues. As writer Elizabeth Devitt explains, the imaging technique holds promise for cancer detection and other diseases:
The unique advantage of photoacoustic molecular imaging is that it allows scientists to see tumors hiding under other tissues and structures. It can also outline tumor boundaries during surgery, which helps surgeons see what to cut out and what to leave in — avoiding mistakes either way. “It’s like having Superman vision,” said de la Zerda.
“There may be a million different things we can do with this,” he added. “We can study basic tumor biology. We can monitor the treatment of cancer patients. We can even apply this technique to diseases other than cancer.”
Previously: Stanford structural biologist named one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30 rising stars
Photo by Norbert von der Groeben
FDA, Parenting, Pediatrics
on March 19th, 2013
Last week, my co-worker had to ask me if I was okay after hearing me sneeze and blow my nose every 15 minutes. I immediately chalked it up to allergies and took some antihistamines. The sneezing stopped, but for the next few days I still had a runny nose and developed a sore throat. So deciding it must be the sniffles and not seasonal allergies, I tried some cold meds this time around.
Because symptoms for a cold and allergies can be very similar, choosing which medication to take can be difficult and confusing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is stressing the importance of paying attention to the active ingredients in medications, especially when it comes to treating kids – as mixing drugs can cause adverse reactions or serious health complications. From an agency news release:
Many medicines have just one active ingredient. But combination medicines, such as those for allergy, cough, or fever and congestion, may have more than one.
Take antihistamines taken for allergies. “Too much antihistamine can cause sedation and—paradoxically—agitation. In rare cases, it can cause breathing problems, including decreased oxygen or increased carbon dioxide in the blood, Sachs says.
“We’re just starting allergy season,” says Sachs. “Many parents may be giving their children at least one product with an antihistamine in it.” Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines (with brand name examples) include diphenhydramine (Benadryl), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), clemastine (Tavist), fexofenadine (Allegra), loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), and cetirizine (Zyrtec).
But parents may also be treating their children for a separate ailment, such as a cough or cold. What they need to realize is that more than one combination medicine may be one too many.
“It’s important not to inadvertently give your child a double dose,” Sachs says.
Previously: CDC launches campaign to reduce accidental drug overdoses among children and New ways to prevent drug overdoses in children
Photo by anjanettew
Stanford News, Surgery
on March 13th, 2013
A story in today’s San Francisco Chronicle highlights a new surgical approach for treating achalasia, a rare throat disease that affects the ability of the esophagus to move toward the stomach and makes it hard for those who suffer from the disorder to swallow. Writer Drew Joseph describes peroral endoscopic myotomy, or POEM – a technique developed by Japanese surgeons. It is performed by only a handful of doctors in the United States, including Stanford’s Homero Rivas, MD:
Called peroral endoscopic myotomy, or POEM, the surgery is a less invasive means of accomplishing what a traditional operation has done – relaxing the muscle to allow food to enter the stomach.
Both POEM and the traditional procedure involve surgeons making a small cut in the muscle – called the lower esophageal sphincter – to loosen it. But while the standard operation requires doctors to make incisions in the patient’s abdomen, POEM leaves patients with no external cuts.
Instead, doctors insert an endoscope down the patient’s mouth and tear a little slit in the esophagus to gain access to the muscle. Surgeons say the new minimal approach helps patients recover faster.
Events, Health Policy, Stanford News
on March 12th, 2013
As a New York Times’ science and health reporter, Pam Belluck has written about many different health-related subjects – fetal surgery, hospital delirium, Alzheimer’s disease and the donation of HIV-infected organs. Next week, as part of the Stanford Health Policy Forum series, she’ll discuss her work in a conversation with Paul Costello, chief communications officer at the medical school.
“Health Care in Practice: A Journalist’s Perspective,” will take place on March 20. A flyer (.pdf) for the free event offers more details.
Belluck joined the Times in 1995 as a general assignment reporter on the metropolitan desk, and she began covering health and science in 2009. She is also author of Island Practice, a book about an eccentric doctor and the adventures and challenges of his community on the island of Nantucket.
Neuroscience, Stanford News
on March 8th, 2013
The Chocolate Heads, a group of Stanford student dancers, musicians, and visual and spoken-word artists, will be joining jazz bassist William Parker in a performance tonight at the Bing Concert Hall on the Stanford campus. The band brings performers together from different dance traditions to collaboratively create a multi-genre performance around a unifying theme. The theme for this upcoming performance is ‘synesthesia.’ As explained in a Stanford Report article:
For the performance, they are using the neurological condition known as synesthesia, where the senses are conjoined or mixed, to explore how spoken word can be dance and how movement can be music.
“The concept of the show is based on synesthesia and the human experience. You can expect to traverse through multiple worlds, including African dance, athletic football movement and pedestrian ballet,” said student dancer Ben Cohn, referencing just a few of the numerous events the group will present in their upcoming performance.
The fulfillment of the concept is realized when the members of the movement band are able to immerse themselves in every sense of the dance and music experience. Second-year medical student and Heads dancer Bonnie Chien provides a synesthesia example: “In the pedestrian ballet piece, I try to maintain as much tension, focus and gaze through multiple sensory engagement, including the visual, tactile and auditory senses.”
The Chocolate Heads with special guest William Parker will be performing at 8:00 p.m. at the Bing Concert Hall. It is sold out but the box office will be giving away any unclaimed tickets at 7:45 before the show.
You can see the movement band in action in a TedxStanford video from last August.
Photo by Toni Gauthier
Parenting, Research, Sleep
on February 12th, 2013
The cause of some of my sleep-deprived nights.
New research out of the University of Madison-Wisconsin may fall on deaf ears – specifically parents’ ears. The study, published in American Journal of Epidemiology, has found that the amount of sleep deprivation that parents experience is actually quite minimal.
Say what?! Have the researchers seen the dark circles under my eyes or scanned the Facebook updates of my mom friends, who constantly complain about how tired and sleep-deprived they are? I guess not. But, as described on Today.com:
Researchers relied on data collected between 1989 and 2008 by the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study, where participants tracked how much they slept, how sleepy the were during the day and the amount they dozed. Then, to arrive at their findings, they factored in which participants had kids and how many they had.
Here’s what they found: Each child under age 2 years was associated with 13 fewer minutes of parental sleep per 24-hour period. For kids ages 2 to 5, parents had nine fewer minutes of sleep. And each child ages 6 to 18 years was associated with four fewer minutes of sleep.
“In general, parents with younger children reported shorter average sleep durations, and for parents with multiple children, each child contributed to reductions in sleep duration,” said study author Paul Peppard, assistant professor in the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Population Health Sciences.
As a mom to two little girls, the finding that more kids means more sleep loss is something I can relate to. But only 21 fewer minutes of sleep (9 minutes because of my 2.5 year old and 13 minutes because of my 11-month-old)?? I respectfully beg to differ.
Previously: Exploring the effect of sleep loss on health
Photo by Margarita Gallardo
In the News, Science
on February 8th, 2013
Last fall, we posted a fun video exploring the scientific plausibility of a real-life zombie apocalypse. Now, a Popular Science article asks the question, “Do zombies experience consciousness?” The query was prompted by the new movie, “Warm Bodies,” in which a zombie has feelings and falls in love.
So, what’s the verdict? According to some scientists, the answer is yes. After all, as Harvard psychiatrist and author Steven Schlozman, MD, says, zombies are really just sick people who got infected with a virus. And: “We would never say that somebody that is sick with another kind of disease isn’t conscious.”
The rest of the piece, during which other scientists weigh in on the issue and offer their philosophies and methods to test zombie consciousness, is entertaining and worth a read. I liked this part:
”We can establish — as we largely have done already — which parts of the human brain are critical for the kinds of consciousness that we have and see if they are intact in a zombie,” says Daniel Bor, a scientist at the University of Sussex’s Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science. “If we could ever get a zombie in a brain scanner.”
If we could see that they didn’t have a thalamus, for example, scientists would agree that zombies probably wouldn’t be conscious. If there were a lot of complex interactions between regions of their zombie brain, that would imply a high level of consciousness.
Previously: Could a virus turn people into zombies? and CDC wants you to prepare for a zombie pandemic
Photo by adamjonfuller