April 2006 News Tips

Note to media: To reach the media contacts for any of these health news tips, call the Office of News and Publications at 214-648-3404.

In sunny conditions, we should all be a little shady

As sunny weather returns, ophthalmologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center remind everyone that sunglasses are more than a fashion statement. The right shades can protect against ultraviolet radiation.

"Sunglasses should be used by adults and children when they're outdoors for prolonged periods of time," says Dr. V. Vinod Mootha, associate professor of ophthalmology specializing in cornea, external disease, refractive and cataract surgery.

UV-B radiation exposure, which is particularly damaging to the surface of the eye and to the cornea, is higher on sunny days — especially at noon — and during low-ozone days as well. 

"Excessive exposure may increase the risk for the formation of a fleshy tissue over the cornea, some forms of cataract and possibly macular degeneration," says Dr. Mootha.

For people who wear eyeglasses, polycarbonate lenses that are thin and shatterproof offer protection from ultraviolet radiation.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/ophth to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in eyes (ophthalmology).

Media Contact: Russell Rian

The best bones are those that get a workout

Exercise can help people with osteoporosis stay fit and improve their balance.

And the best exercises for the bones are weight-bearing activities such as walking, dancing, jogging, hiking, tennis or stair climbing.

"Exercise helps to increase or preserve bone mass and strengthen muscles, which improves balance and can prevent falls," says Dr. Naim Maalouf, assistant professor of internal medicine and mineral metabolism at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

If you've been sedentary for any length of time, be sure to consult with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/endocrinology to learn more about
UT Southwestern’s clinical services in endocrinology.

Media Contact: Connie Piloto


Springtime spreads signal start of spoiling season

Spring weather brings with it picnics and Easter-egg hunts, but UT Southwestern Medical Center dietitians warn: Don't forget about food safety. Warmer weather makes food spoil faster and creates an ideal environment for bacterial growth.

"Eggs are a high-risk food because they contain protein that bacteria love to grow on," says Lona Sandon, assistant professor of clinical nutrition. "If you're involved in an Easter egg hunt, you should boil eggs completely and don't leave them outside for more than two hours. If they are left out longer than that, you should probably toss them."

Picnickers need to be aware that temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s mean that foods such as dairy, cold cuts and raw meat should not be left out longer than one hour, Ms. Sandon says.

"Be careful when you're cooking on a grill that you cook the raw meat quickly after it's removed from refrigeration," she says. "Don't forget to wash your hands, even when you're eating outside. If you have no soap and water, then take some hand sanitizer."

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/nutrition to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in nutrition.

Media Contact: Katherine Morales

Younger-looking skin can be obtained inexpensively

There are four easy steps to younger-looking skin, without using high-end products that employ fancy marketing, says Dr. Sarah Weitzul, assistant professor of dermatology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, who heads the Clinical Center for Cosmetic Dermatology.

"Resist the temptation to buy 'Hope in a bottle,'" she says.

The single most important step is to apply a sunscreen that blocks both UV-A and UV-B, the solar radiation that cause skin damage and cancer.

Next, use a retinoid — a vitamin A derivative that helps build collagen, minimize fine wrinkles, and reverse some sun damage. The most effective retinoids are available by prescription only. These products may be irritating, however, and they must be used in only small amounts every other night when you begin using them.

Third, use a cream containing hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid, lactic acid or salicylic acid. These stimulate collagen, among other actions. Don't buy a "soup" of ingredients - get a cream that has one of these as a single ingredient. To work properly, these acids must be around pH3 or pH4.

Finally, use antioxidants such as vitamins C or E that can slow aging, she says. A good diet can also provide antioxidants.

These items don't need to be expensive, Dr. Weitzul says. For advice on the best products to apply to your skin, go to a board-certified dermatologist instead of the cosmetics counter. 

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/dermatology to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in dermatology.

Media Contact: Aline McKenzie


New test effective in detecting liver damage from acetaminophen overdose

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have successfully tested a new method for detecting liver damage caused by acetaminophen overdose. Researchers tested patients who are part of the nationwide Acute Liver Study Group, and found the new method 100 percent accurate in patients previously known to have overdosed on acetaminophen. It also returned no positive results in samples from control-group patients known to have liver damage from other causes or in patients with acetaminophen overdose without liver damage.

"This test is really the smoking gun," says Dr. William Lee, professor of internal medicine — digestive and liver disease division who leads the Clinical Center for Liver Diseases. "Acetaminophen is the most common cause of acute liver failure and we've been concerned about whether we're identifying all the cases that have it."

The new detection method, developed at the University of Arkansas, shows high levels of an enzyme known as transaminases, which is produced by the liver when it's damaged by acetaminophen. Acetaminophen — a common painkiller that's also found in many cold remedies and some prescription medications — is usually metabolized by the liver, but high doses can cause the liver to instead create a toxic substance that damages the liver cells. An overdose may initially have few if any symptoms, but can lead to loss of liver function, coma and even death within one to two days, if not treated.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/digestive to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in digestive disorders.

Media Contact: Russell Rian

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