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Children with autism 40 times more likely to die from injury, study says


Two motives drove Dr. Guohua Li, senior author of the study and founding director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University, to research the relationship between autism and injury. “First, the prevalence of autism has been increasing,” Li said, noting that there are an estimated 3.5 million people living with autism in the US, including about 500,000 children under the age of 15. “Second, there is anecdotal evidence that people with autism are at higher risk of injury.”

Henry S. Lodge, Author of ‘Younger Next Year’ Books, Dies at 58

New York Times

Dr. Henry S. Lodge, whose series of health-advice books, “Younger Next Year,” written with his patient Chris Crowley, sold in the millions, died on Friday in Manhattan. He was 58. The cause was prostate cancer, his partner, Laura Yorke, said.

Brain aging linked to common genetic variant


“If you look at a group of seniors, some will look older than their peers and some will look younger,” said the study’s co-author Asa Abeliovich in a news release. “The same differences in aging can be seen in the frontal cortex, the brain region responsible for higher mental processes.”

Bad gene that ages your brain by 12 years: Discovery could lead to treatment for rare form of dementia within five years

Daily Mail

Dr. Asa Abeliovich, co-author of the study led by Columbia University Medical Centre, said: “If you look at a group of seniors, some will look older than their peers and some will look younger. The same differences in ageing can be seen in the frontal cortex, the brain region responsible for higher mental processes. Our findings show that many of these differences are tied to variants of a gene called TMEM106B.”


The history of cancer

CBS Sunday Morning

Prehistoric animals had cancer, said physician and scientist Siddhartha Mukherjee. “In humans, you can find signs of cancer in ancient specimens,” he said. Mukherjee calls cancer “The Emperor of All Maladies” in his Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the disease. Around 400 B.C., Hippocrates, the Greek physician known as the father of medicine, is said to have first given it a name: karkinos.

Breakfast, fasting, snacking: Heart panel weighs in on meal-timing questions

Washington Post

“Americans have an around-the-clock lifestyle, so food consumption also occurs at nearly all hours,” says Marie-Pierre St-Onge, associate professor of nutritional medicine at the Columbia University Medical Center and chair of the AHA committee. “Animal studies have shown that this can have adverse effects on health. Now is the time for studies on optimal food consumption times for humans.”

Pot and booze tied to lower college grades


“For many students, high achievement during the first two years of college provides them with skills and confidence that help propel their performance during the final years of college,” said Dr. Mark Olfson, a psychiatry researcher at Columbia University in New York who wasn’t involved in the study. “The new findings make clear the real academic risks to college students posed by combined heavy alcohol and marijuana use,” Olfson added by email. “Parents should be encouraged to have open discussions about alcohol and marijuana with their children before they go off to college.”


The rise of Obamacare: Why is the ACA so popular?

BBC News

“To a certain extent much of the debate over the years has been a referendum on the Obama administration,” says Michael Sparer, chair of the department of health policy and management at Columbia University. “Opposition to the law very effectively painted it as an expensive bureaucratic interference in the American healthcare system,” he said. “But the debate is shifting a little bit from pure rhetoric to what would actually happen if the law was gone.”

Drs. Michael Vitale, Lawrence Lenke on 2nd Safety in Spine Surgery Summit

Becker's Spine

A significant gap in spine surgery safety awareness struck Michael Vitale, MD MPH, of New York City-based NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia Orthopedics, in 2012. Although physicians fiercely respect their oath to do no harm, complications happen. “If we’re just a little more thoughtful about slowing down the machine, optimizing better teams and developing infrastructure to protect patients, we can avoid a lot of these things,” explains Dr. Vitale. “It’s a miserable thing being a surgeon trying to do good, and being the executor of patient harm.”

Working Longer May Benefit Your Health

New York Times

“Volunteering and paid work produces better physical and mental health,” said Linda Fried, a founder of the Experience Corps who is also dean of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “People need purpose. They need a reason to get up in the morning.”

Did You Get Bit By A Lyme-Infested Tick? Here’s What To Do


And when you find a tick:

1. Don’t panic, says Dr. Brian Fallon, who directs the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center at Columbia University Medical Center.

2. Get out the tweezers. “Very carefully, go under the head of the tick with the tweezers and just pull out the mouth of the tick, which is embedded in the skin,” Fallon says. “What you don’t want to do is squeeze the body of the tick,” he says. “That will cause the tick to spew all of its stomach contents into the skin, and you’ll be more likely acquire whatever infection that tick was carrying.”

The 9 Best New University Buildings Around the World

Architectural Digest

The medical center at Columbia University has added to the school’s roster of notable architecture with a design by New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The Roy and Diana Vagelos Education Center’s 14-story cubic façade—built upward rather than out to accommodate Manhattan’s modest acreage allowance—is nearly all glass, showcasing a stellar view of the Hudson River and symbolizing a relationship and connection with the surrounding community. Inside, state-of-the-art classrooms and practice labs provide the most modern facilities for some of the most advanced medical students in the world.

What America First really means


Susan Michaels-Strasser, an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, is Implementation Director of ICAP at Columbia University. She is a Public Voices Fellow with the OpEd Project and is a public health professional with over 25 years of experience in nursing and public health. 

6 colon cancer warning signs never to ignore


Probably the most common warning sign is rectal bleeding, said Dr. Alfred Neugut, a medical oncologist and cancer epidemiologist at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. If you notice blood on the toilet paper, in the toilet bowl or mixed in with your stool, tell your doctor. The blood can be bright red or a darker maroon color.

Concussions More Likely in Female Athletes

Philadelphia Inquirer

The findings add to the existing evidence that female athletes may be more susceptible to concussions, even as attention has tended to focus on the risk to male football players. “The more we look at concussion, the more we realize that women are at high risk,” said study co-author Dr. James Noble. He’s an assistant professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

Our Politics, Our Kids

WNYC Radio

Andrew Solomon, president of PEN America, professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University, National Book Award-winning author of Far and Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change (Scribner, 2016), talks about the balance of instilling political values in your children that are important to you while still teaching them to think for themselves and form their own opinions.

Same-sex marriage linked with 7% drop in US teen suicide attempts


In an editorial accompanying the paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, Columbia University’s Mark Hatzenbuehler wrote that “stigma is one of the most frequently hypothesized risk factors”. But, he wrote, research into stigma and mental health is almost exclusively at the personal level, rather than looking at factors in society at large. “That literature has tended to overlook what we call structural forms of stigma – which include … laws and policies,” he said in an interview. “Those results really highlight the fact that the legal climate surrounding LGB adolescents really deserves greater attention,” he added.

Same-sex marriage laws linked to fewer youth suicide attempts, new study says


In the past, the denial of same-sex marriage has been motivated by false stereotypes of gay men and lesbians as unfit for marriage or parenthood, according to a 2006 paper by Dr. Gilbert Herdt, founder of the Department of Sexuality Studies at San Francisco State University, and Dr. Robert Kertzner, Associate Clinical Professor at the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry. In the paper for Sexuality Research and Social Policy, Herdt and Kertzner argued that those societal attitudes added to a sense of stigma and social isolation for gay men and lesbians and detracted from their mental health. “Policymakers in the United States should be concerned about the impact the denial of marriage has on the mental health and wellbeing of gay men and lesbians,” they wrote.

ADHD is linked to delayed brain development

Washington Post

“The reliability of ADHD research has not been great, because of [small] sample sizes,” said Jonathan Posner, who did not take part in the study but who does pediatric brain imaging research at Columbia University Medical School. “So because this study was orders of magnitude higher in terms of participants, and because it involved sampling broadly and internationally, it gives us more confidence.”

Older women reduce their endometrial cancer risk with weight loss


“The majority of women with endometrial cancer are diagnosed with early-stage tumors that are associated with a high cure rate. However, despite this paradigm, not only is the incidence of endometrial cancer increasing, but the number of women who die as a result of the disease also is increasing,” Dr. Jason Wright, chief of gynecologic oncology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and New York Presbyterian Hospital, writes in an editorial accompanying the study.

Cooling Cap May Limit Chemo Hair Loss In Women With Breast Cancer


“These findings appear to represent a major step forward in improving the quality of life of individuals with cancer,” says Dr. Dawn Hershman, who studies the effects of cancer treatments at the Columbia University School of Medicine in New York. She wrote an editorial accompanying the studies in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association. But Hershman cautions that more study is needed to determine whether there is a psychological benefit in using the caps to prevent hair loss.

America’s dangerous and dwindling commitment to global health

The Hill

Craig Spencer, MD MPH is the director of global health in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and an assistant professor of medicine and population and family health at the Columbia University Medical Center.

Nerve Cells That Go Out on a Limb Show How the Ability to Tweet Evolved

Scientific American

The molecular-scale view provided in this latest study suggests how the wiring process may have evolved. It may also provide insight into diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which begins with muscle weakness in the extremities. Study co-author Thomas Jessell, who co-directs Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute, talked to Scientific American about the findings and their implications.

Brain Series: Childhood Adversity

Charlie Rose

We are joined by Deborah Temkin of Child Trends, Charles Nelson of Harvard Medical School, Kimberly Noble of Columbia University, Ken Dodge of Duke University, Michael Meaney of McGill University and Dr. Eric Kandel, a Nobel Laureate, a professor at Columbia University and a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator.

Sharp Rise Reported in Older Americans’ Use of Multiple Psychiatric Drugs

New York Times

The research team, led by Dr. Donovan T. Maust of the University of Michigan and Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University, analyzed data from annual government surveys of office-based doctors. The team focused on office visits by people 65 or older that resulted in the prescribing of at least three of a list of psychiatric, sleep and pain medications like Valium, Prozac, OxyContin and Ambien.

Time to eat? When you chow down, not just on what, can affect your heart

Chicago Tribune

“Meal timing may affect health due to its impact on the body’s internal clock,” said Marie-Pierre St-Onge, an associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University in New York City, in a statement. “In animal studies, it appears that when animals receive food while in an inactive phase, such as when they are sleeping, their internal clocks are reset in a way that can alter nutrient metabolism, resulting in greater weight gain, insulin resistance and inflammation. However, more research would need to be done in humans before that can be stated as a fact.”

Study shows ketamine may prevent PTSD symptoms


“Ketamine is a powerful drug, and we wouldn’t advocate widespread use for preventing or reducing PTSD symptoms,” Christine A. Denny, Ph.D., assistant professor of clinical neurobiology in the Department of Psychiatry at CUMC and lead author of the study, said in a press release. “But if our results in mice translate to humans, giving a single dose of ketamine in a vaccine-like fashion could have great benefit for people who are highly likely to experience significant stressors, such as members of the military or aid workers going into conflict zones.”

Which Genes Make You Taller? A Whole Bunch Of Them, It Turns Out


David Goldstein, a professor of genetics at Columbia University, says an expanded effort could ultimately implicate every gene in existence, and that hardly helps scientists narrow down the biological factors that contribute to height. It’s likely scientists will never be able to figure out what these hundreds of common variants do to influence height, Goldstein says. Instead, a much better strategy is what Hirschhorn used in this latest study: looking for rare variants that pack a big punch.

For heart health, it’s not just what you eat, but when

CBS News

“People who consume breakfast on a regular basis have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Marie-Pierre St-Onge, the author of the statement and a researcher at Columbia University Medical Center, told CBS News. St-Onge points to studies that show eating earlier in the day – when your body can better metabolize food – may lower heart disease risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

NYC med schools participate in day of action to save the Affordable Care Act


Meanwhile, the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons scheduled a late-afternoon “teach-in,” during which the leaders of different student-run clinics and affinity groups spoke about how the repeal of the ACA would be detrimental to the groups they serve. They then wrote down future actions they could take to help protect the ACA on note cards. According to an organizer at Columbia, the note cards will later be placed in a prominent place on campus and arranged to spell out a message: “Do no harm.”

Can Sobriety Tests Weed Out Drivers Who’ve Smoked Too Much Weed?


Margaret Haney, a professor of neurobiology at the Columbia University Medical Center says testing a person for alcohol intoxication is a breeze in comparison to testing a person to determine if they are high. As she explains, marijuana is fat soluble, so traces of its main ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, can show up in blood long after a person has sobered up. “That just tells you somebody has smoked,” Haney says. “But you don’t know if they smoked an hour ago or if they smoked a week before or two weeks before.”

Kangaroo Care Helps Preemies And Full Term Babies, Too


Gray also points to the work of Myron Hofer, a psychiatrist with Columbia University Medical Center who studies attachment between mother and infants. Hofer coined the term “hidden regulators” that pass between mother and baby. It’s not just that mother and baby are together, Gray says, but also that the mother is in some way “programming the baby, the breathing, temperature, and heart rate.”

No pie need apply

Manhattan Times

To mark a series of landmark anniversaries on its campus this year, Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) kicked off 2017 with a “Cake-Off” event, held at The Armory in Washington Heights on January 10. Local bakeries were commissioned to bake a cake for each of the four CUMC schools, which are all observing a major milestone in 2017.

Why the ‘gluten-free movement’ is less of a fad than we thought

Washington Post

What is still increasing is the number of people who have abandoned gluten for different reasons: how many have done so because it’s trendy or because they have a real allergy, researchers aren’t quite sure. Benjamin Lebwohl, the director of clinical research at Columbia University’s Celiac Disease Center, estimates that more than half of the 3.1 million PWAGs observed in this latest study have a legitimate, non-celiac gluten sensitivity — a phenomenon that has only emerged in the past five years in the medical literature. “An increasing number of people say that gluten makes them sick, and we don’t have a good sense why that is yet,” Lebwohl said. “There is a large placebo effect — but this is over and above that.”

How to Stay Forever Young, Really


“An important key to aging successfully is feeling that our lives are meaningful, that we have created something that will endure beyond us,” says Linda Fried, dean and DeLamar professor of public health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. “At every age we need some structure in our lives and a reason to get up in the morning. Without it, sickness and earlier death are more likely.”

How LSD Saved One Woman’s Marriage

New York Times

The risks, however, are clear, said Dr. Elias Dakwar, a psychiatrist at Columbia University Medical Center who researches mind-altering substances. LSD is sometimes adulterated or improperly synthesized, and may vary widely in potency, with someone intending to take a tiny, subperceptual dose at risk of having “a full-blown psychedelic effect when trying to do a PowerPoint presentation,” he said.

Obstetricians balk at FDA warning on anesthesia in pregnant women


Dr. Lena Sun, professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, has been studying the issue in children and said she believes the FDA acted in an abundance of caution.  “We do not need to unduly alarm the public, but we want the public to be aware of this potential risk,” she said in a phone interview. “While we are pretty sure and reassured that single and brief exposures in healthy children should not raise any concerns, we cannot offer the same reassurance for prolonged and repeated exposures,” she said.

‘Hidden’ celiac disease less common now in U.S.


Dr. Benjamin Lebwohl, the director of clinical research at the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University in New York, told Reuters Health the findings are a departure from the longstanding problem of having many undiagnosed patients. Lebwohl, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email, “The numbers of patients are small, and this was only observed in the most recent two-year period, but if confirmed it may mark a turning point in our efforts to increase awareness and identify patients with celiac disease.”