June 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.

This Father's Day, ditch the tie and share a healthier future

Father's Day, June 18, may not seem like the time to talk to your dad about his prostate, but families with a history of prostate cancer could benefit from passing information from father to son and to brother, UT Southwestern Medical Center physicians suggest.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in males, affecting one out of every six men over a lifetime, says Dr. Yair Lotan, assistant professor of urology. A family history of prostate cancer is one of the best predictors of the disease, with double the risk if one family member is affected and a five- to 11-fold risk increase if two or three first-degree relatives are affected, Dr. Lotan says.

"Fortunately, cure rates for prostate cancer are high if detected early," Dr. Lotan says. Men who have a family history of prostate cancer should begin annual screenings with a digital rectal exam and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test at age 40 and should share this information with family members, Dr. Lotan says. Don't let reluctance to visit a doctor or denial that a problem may exist put your life in danger.

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

Media Contact: Toni Heinzl

Swat away mosquitoes, and West Nile, this summer

Summer weather signals a prime time for outdoor hiking, biking and camping … and West Nile virus, says Dr. Gary Sinclair, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

The season for the virus, a disease transmitted by mosquito bites that usually causes mild flu-like symptoms but can lead to death in infants and the elderly, starts in June and lasts to September.

Being outside at certain times of day puts you at risk, Dr. Sinclair says.

"Each year, the number of severe West Nile cases declines, but the risk is still there," he says. "People should avoid being outside when mosquitoes are prevalent, evenings and mornings."

If you're planning outdoor activity, Dr. Sinclair recommends bringing an insect repellant that contains the chemical DEET to help ward off mosquitoes. There are other ways to avoid bites. Wearing long-sleeved shirts, and long pants tucked into boots, can be effective. Also keep doors, tents and window screens in good repair, and get rid of standing water — prime mosquito breeding grounds — around the house.

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

Media Contact: Cliff Despres

Incontinence sufferers need not silently accept condition

Incontinence costs $1 billion to $2 billion a year for the institutionalized elderly, $10 billion a year globally, and is one of the most common chronic conditions in women, yet sufferers often remain in denial about it, and internists are unfamiliar with it.

"Incontinence has been one of those taboo fields," says Dr. Philippe Zimmern, professor of urology and director of the Bladder and Incontinence Treatment Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

There are two kinds of incontinence — stress incontinence, in which sneezing or laughing leads to leaking; and urge incontinence, in which it's hard to hold urination until reaching a restroom.

Simple tests, which may include X-rays and bladder function studies, can help pin down what is wrong with the bladder. Treatment may include pelvic muscle exercises, medications, injection of collagen to enhance urethral closure, or surgery to place a sling beneath the urethra for support.

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

Media Contact: Aline McKenzie

Diet, exercise magnify liposuction's positive sculpting effects

Patients who have liposuction obtain better outcomes if they follow a healthy diet and exercise program after surgery, rather than relying on the surgical procedure to help them lose weight.

"One of the key messages I give patients is that liposuction is merely a way to shape and contour unwanted fat in trouble areas such as hips and thighs. It is not a method for losing weight," says Dr. Rod Rohrich, chairman of plastic surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center and senior author of the first study chronicling long-term results after liposuction.

Published in the May issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery , the study analyzed results of a survey sent to more than 600 UT Southwestern liposuction patients, of whom more than 200 responded. Survey results included the following:

  • 80 percent of patients were happy with the procedure and would do it again
  • 86 percent would recommend liposuction to family and friends
  • 55 percent reported dropping an average of three dress sizes after surgery
  • 33 percent said they are exercising more 
  • 44 percent said they are eating 

Liposuction is the most common cosmetic surgery procedure performed.

"Patients who pursue a healthy diet and exercise typically maintain or lose weight after surgery, while those that do not may gain small amounts of weight. Ultimately, lifestyle can affect long-term results," says Dr. Jeffrey Kenkel, associate professor and vice chairman of plastic surgery at UT Southwestern and study co-author.

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

Media Contact: Donna Steph Hansard

Millions of Americans in need of eye exams aren't focused on problem

A new study from the National Institutes of Health has found that more than 10 million Americans have visual impairments, many of which could be corrected with glasses or contact lenses, but aren't.

That rate has remained fairly level over the years, but ophthalmologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center say it's a good reminder for people to schedule regular vision tests.

"Many of them could be helped," says Dr. Dwight Cavanagh, professor and vice chairman of ophthalmology. 
People under 50 should have an eye exam every two to three years. Those 50 and older, as well as diabetics, should have exams annually. And children should be examined before they enter kindergarten.

The study, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that 6 percent of Americans aged 12 and older (14 million) are visually impaired and about 11 million have uncorrected visual impairment. Teenagers, diabetics, Hispanics, and the economically disadvantaged have higher rates of visual impairment and can most benefit from corrective lenses, according to the study.

Catching some eye diseases early is critical because the vision loss can be irreversible.

"You can't undo glaucoma," which damages the optic nerves, Dr. Cavanagh says. Glaucoma can also be painless and show no symptoms, so an eye test is the best way to catch it early. Diabetics are particularly vulnerable to glaucoma, so eye exams are even more important.

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

Media Contact: Russell Rian


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