November 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.


Keep Alzheimer's patients on track in eating, sleeping patterns
People with Alzheimer's disease often develop problems with their diet because of confusion, physical changes or inability to focus on eating.

Dr. Roger Rosenberg, professor of neurology and director of the Alzheimer's Disease Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center, offers the following tips:

  • Offer the person the food he or she wants.
  • Cut the food into small bites.
  • Provide diversity.
  • Offer a balanced diet.
  • Assist the person in eating.
  • Provide a light diet with abundant fruits and vegetables, including prunes, to help avoid constipation.

Alzheimer's also often disrupts sleep patterns, although the reason for this is unknown. Patients may become agitated in the evening, a pattern known as "sundowning," or they may wander at night.

Dr. Rosenberg offers the following tips to promote calmer evenings and encourage sleep for those with Alzheimer's:

  • Keep a light on.
  • After lunchtime, avoid stimulants such as coffee.
  • Avoid liquids after 5 p.m.
  • Provide a light dinner meal.
  • Reassure the patient if he or she awakens with anxiety.
  • Avoid dehydration.
  • Consult with a physician about whether a mild sedative may be required.

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

Media Contact: Aline McKenzie

November is Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month

Self-examinations critical in catching, beating testicular cancer

Early detection plays a key role in improving the outcomes for patients with testicular cancer, says Dr. Ganesh Raj, an urologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Since testicular cancer is prevalent in young men and is the most common cancer in men aged 18 to 35 years of age, all men above the age of 14 should be encouraged to perform monthly testicular self-examination. A self-examination is best performed after a warm bath or shower and involves a manual examination of the scrotum.

"Each testicle should be gently rolled between the thumbs and fingers," says Dr. Raj, who specializes in urologic cancers. "The idea behind a monthly examination is to establish a baseline of what the normal testicle feels like, so that if something feels like a lump, hardness or surface irregularity, then the change can be detected at an earlier stage."

Testicular cancer has become a very manageable disease, thanks to the development of effective therapies. Mortality rates have plummeted by more than 70 percent from a peak in the late 1960s, yet the American Cancer Society estimates that almost 400 men in the United States will die of testicular cancer in 2006. The society indicates that 8,250 men will be diagnosed with the disease this year.

If any abnormality is suspected, then examination by a physician, preferably an urologist, should quickly be scheduled. If the urologist diagnoses cancer, then the involvement of a multidisciplinary health-care team with specific expertise in the management of testicular cancer and with an interest in optimizing surgery, radiation and chemotherapy treatment options may further improve outcomes.

"The goal is to give men who have been diagnosed with testicular cancer at the peak of their lives the best chance to win their individual war against cancer," Dr. Raj says.

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

Media Contact: Toni Heinzl

Don't spoil holiday feasts with spoiled dishes

As the holidays near, the one thing you do not want to serve to family and friends is food-borne illness, which is any disease carried by food. Contamination is primarily due to incorrect holding temperatures and allowing foods to come in contact with unsanitary surfaces, including hands. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and/or fever.

To prevent food-borne illness, UT Southwestern Medical Center nutritionist Vickie Vaclavik recommends keeping all food at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

"Temperatures in between cold or hot are in the temperature danger zone and are not acceptable for holding food for more than a few hours," she says. "Microorganism growth is too likely after four hours of accumulated time in this danger zone."

Ms. Vaclavik also recommends good hygiene by washing hands often and using a clean or disposable towel for drying. In addition, holiday chefs should avoid cross contamination by using clean utensils on all cooked foods.

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

Media Contact: Katherine Morales

Steroid abuse by females is on rise; expert warns of related health risks

A muscle-bound male is the stereotype of a steroid abuser, but a rising number of young girls also abuse steroids to try to boost athletic performance or physical appearance, says Dr. Richard Auchus, an endocrinologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Girls who take steroids often are unaware or misinformed of associated health dangers.

"Steroid abuse by females can lead to growth of facial hair, baldness, menstrual cycle changes and a deeper voice, all of which are usually permanent changes. These possible changes are on top of an increased risk of heart attacks, stunted growth and behavioral problems," Dr. Auchus says.

Health-care professionals occasionally use anabolic steroids, which can build muscle and masculine characteristics, to treat chronic illnesses that cause muscle wasting.

Girls might abuse steroids in hopes of improving their bodily appearance or gaining a competitive advantage in sports. A U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that 7 percent of 15-year-old girls had used steroids, although the exact number who abuse steroids isn't certain.

Dr. Auchus urges females to resist abusing steroids, and offers some advice:

  • Set realistic goals to help avoid peer pressure.
  • A good diet, exercise and enough sleep can go far in maintaining physical appearance. If someone is serious about trying to get stronger, eat right and lift weights.

"Above all, just be yourself. It may be great to be successful, but you shouldn't try to be someone you're not," Dr. Auchus says. "It's better to be second-best and honest than best under circumstances that you'll regret later in life."

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/endocrinology to learn more about

UT Southwestern’s clinical services in endocrinology.

Media Contact: Cliff Despres

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About UT Southwestern Medical Center
UT Southwestern Medical Center, one of the premier medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. Its more than 1,400 full-time faculty members 
 including four active Nobel prize winners, more than any other medical school in the world  are responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and are committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in 40 specialties to nearly 89,000 hospitalized patients and oversee 2.1 million outpatient visits a year. 

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