March 2008 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.

Early detection is key to successful colon-cancer treatment

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. for both men and women. When colorectal cancer is found early and treated, however, the survival rate over five years is about 90 percent.

Many options for early detection exist, such as testing the stool for invisible blood or examining the inside of the colon with a colonoscopy procedure.

“Routine screening of asymptomatic people for colon cancer can save lives,” says Dr. Samir Gupta, a colon specialist at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “The most important step is having at least one screening test done on a regular basis.”

Beginning at age 50, most people should have screenings annually. Those with increased risk for colon or rectal cancer, such as anyone with blood in the stool or who has a close family member diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer or who has polyps, should be seen by a medical doctor and considered for age-appropriate testing.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in cancer.

Media Contact: LaKisha Ladson

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Treat decorated eggs with care

Eggs will be flying off store shelves this month en route to everything from egg salads to bejeweled hard-boiled works of art. 

Unfortunately, where there are eggs there is also the potential for food-borne illness.

Dietitians at UT Southwestern Medical Center say egg artisans can help prevent illness – and possibly a trip to the local emergency room — by deciding prior to coloring whether they plan to eat their miniature Picassos.

“If you want to eat decorated hard-cooked eggs, be sure that all the decorating materials are food-safe and that you wash each egg beforehand,” says Dr. Vickie Vaclavik, a registered dietitian and clinical nutritionist at UT Southwestern. “Also, wash your hands between all the cooking, cooling, dyeing and decorating processes and keep the finished hard-cooked eggs refrigerated as much as possible.”

She says individuals who “hide” eggs should carefully place the eggs, considering location to ensure that the decorated eggs aren’t tainted by contamination from animals or lawn chemicals.

“Most importantly, don’t leave eggs outside for more than two hours,” Dr. Vaclavik says. “Hard-cooked eggs that have been refrigerated will last for about one week, but any left out for more than two hours should be tossed.”

Media Contact: Kristen Holland Shear

Get some sleep before getting behind the wheel

Driving drowsy can be as dangerous as drinking and driving. Sleepiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness and impairs judgment — all of which can make an accident more likely to happen. 

Studied have shown that being awake for 24 hours straight is the equivalent of being legally intoxicated. And mixing lack of sleep and alcohol worsens the situation exponentially.

“Even a small amount of alcohol when a person is already sleepy can affect his or her ability to stay awake while driving,” says Dr. Nilesh B. Dave, medical director of the Sleep and Breathing Disorders Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “Ingesting one alcoholic drink while sleepy is like having several drinks at once.”

Drowsy drivers often have “microsleeps,” in which their eyes are open but they are not really aware of their surroundings, making them less likely to attempt to avoid a crash. The easiest way to combat drowsiness while driving is to drink caffeine equal to two cups of coffee and pull over to take a short nap.

“A 15- or 20-minute nap when a driver is drowsy might just save his or her life,” Dr. Dave says. 

To lessen the need for caffeine and naps while driving, Dr. Dave says drivers should plan ahead to get at least seven hours of sleep and limit driving between midnight and 6 a.m.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in sleep and breathing disorders.

Media Contact: LaKisha Ladson

March 3-9 is National Sleep Awareness Week

Smaller lower face deemed more attractive, study finds

That square-jawed face may be making you look older, new research has shown.

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center compared radiographs from eight men and eight women over their lifetimes and discovered that the mandible (lower jaw) continued to grow and widen, changing the shape of the face as the person matures, according to plastic surgeon Dr. Joel Pessa, lead author of the study appearing in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, who has done extensive work in the arena of facial aging.

A smaller lower face is generally perceived as more attractive and conveys an impression of youth, regardless of gender, according to the study. Contrary to Hollywood perceptions, the male feature of a “square-jawed” look isn’t deemed more attractive by men or women in studies.

“As a result, cosmetic procedures and surgeries that create the illusion of a diminutive lower face will make you look younger and improve the cosmetic result of a face lift,” according to Dr. Rod Rohrich, chairman of plastic surgery at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study.

Visit to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in plastic surgery.

Media Contact: Russell Rian


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