January 2005 Health News Tips

Educating employees about eye safety - in English and Spanish - can protect their vision 

A recent study by ophthalmologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center found that the vast majority of work-related traumatic eye injuries - some resulting in blindness - involve young construction workers. Many of those injured were not wearing protective eyewear.

"These are the most preventable injuries," says Dr. Preston Blomquist, associate professor of ophthalmology at UT Southwestern and senior author on the study, published in the December issue of Texas Medicine.

Safety glasses or goggles with polycarbonate lenses are effective in preventing most work-related eye injuries. In the Dallas study, most of the injured workers were young Hispanic males.

"Educating employers and blue-collar workers, especially young Latino men in high-risk occupations, on the importance of eye protection - in English and Spanish - could help reduce ocular injury," Dr. Blomquist says.

Media Contact: Staishy Bostick Siem

Liposuction patients still need to eat right and exercise to keep pounds off

For those almost half million Americans who had liposuction surgery last year and the millions more considering it, diet and exercise are particularly important, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

A recent survey of more than 200 liposuction patients showed that people who have had the body-contouring surgery are three times more likely to gain weight if they don't follow a healthy diet afterward and four times more likely to add pounds if they don't exercise regularly.

On the other hand, patients who follow a healthy diet and exercise are twice as likely to lose weight after the surgery.

"If patients want positive, long-term results from liposuction, they have to be willing to eat a proper diet and exercise," said Dr. Rod Rohrich, professor and chairman of plastic surgery at UT Southwestern. "Liposuction should not be viewed as a weight loss tool, but as an adjunct to living a healthy lifestyle. Patients should understand that they are the ones ultimately responsible for the long-term results of their liposuction."

Media Contact: Donna Steph Hansard

Snoring - it's more than a jab-in-the-ribs aggravation

Everyone snores at some point - because of exhaustion, congestion, an unnatural sleeping position, or obesity, for example. Persistent snoring, however, is not normal and may require a doctor's attention. Snoring is the result of the airway being partially obstructed.

"For mild snoring cases, changes in body or head position may be sufficient," says Dr. John Truelson, associate professor of otolaryngology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Nasal airway problems often contribute to the problem as well. Patients with sleep apnea may be treated with devices or with surgery."

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious problem because you periodically stop breathing while you sleep, preventing delivery of oxygen to the lungs. The condition carries risks including higher incidence of hypertension, stroke, or heart attack.

Media contact: Kara Lenocker

Simple procedure an alternative to hysterectomy for fibroid tumors

For some women with uterine fibroid tumors, a hysterectomy is the only option. But doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center offer a less invasive procedure - uterine fibroid embolization (UFE).

Millions of women have uterine fibroid tumors, noncancerous growths in the uterus. Most of these cause no symptoms, but about a quarter of women with fibroids have heavy menstrual bleeding, pain and other symptoms. Nearly a third of all hysterectomies are done because of these fibroids.

"Hysterectomies are a good surgical procedure, and it cures abnormal uterine bleeding in all cases," says Dr. Shellie Josephs, assistant professor of radiology. "Still, some women feel very strongly about keeping their uterus, while others do not. It is a personal choice as long as they are a candidate for options other than a hysterectomy."
 Instead of a hysterectomy, doctors can perform UFE, a minimally invasive procedure that shrinks the tumors so they are less likely to cause symptoms. It requires an overnight hospital stay and about seven to10 days for recovery, much less than what is needed for a hysterectomy.

"The primary benefit is that it is a uterine-sparing procedure for those women who want to retain their uterus," Dr. Josephs says. "It is effective in treating symptoms of heavy bleeding, with a patient satisfaction rate of 90 percent or higher."

Media Contact: Scott Maier

Protect yourself from prostate cancer, which one in six men develop

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men except for skin cancer and frequently develops without obvious symptoms. The American Cancer Society reports that one in six men will get the disease during their lifetime, and 1 in 32 will die as a result.

Prevention and early detection can reduce the risk of prostate cancer and improve treatment options for those diagnosed with the disease. Symptoms include a weak urine flow, frequent or painful urination, blood in the urine or semen, and pain in the lower back, pelvis or upper thighs.

"Unfortunately, for prostate cancer, there are few preventable risk factors," says Dr. Yair Lotan, assistant professor of urology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. "The main risk factors are increasing age, family history and African-American ethnicity, which are not alterable. However, a high-fat diet is a potentially modifiable risk factor."

Several therapeutics are currently being studied for prostate cancer prevention. The drug finasteride has shown early promise in high-risk patients, and anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory agents such as selenium and vitamin E are also under evaluation.

"A low-fat diet will likely reduce the risk for many cancers," says Dr. Lotan. "A balanced diet that includes sufficient vitamin content such as vitamin E, vitamin C and selenium is appropriate."

In addition, men over age 45 should have a yearly exam that includes a digital rectal examination to detect irregularities in the prostate and a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Those at especially high risk should begin these tests earlier.

Media Contact: Scott Maier


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