October 2017

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No Increase In Cardiac Mortality from Breast Radiotherapy

October 30, 2014

Patients that I see routinely ask me about the heart-related side effects from breast treatment. Today, I can provide them with even greater evidence that the techniques that we use today are safer and have less risk of cardiac injury.

Putting the science into action: helping children benefit from reading

October 29, 2014
It is astonishing to me how important it is to read to children from an early age. Research tells us there are short term and long lasting benefits from exposing children to books and language from the beginning. In an exciting progression, the idea of early literacy has moved from academia to policy. Supporting parent engagement and early literacy programs is a core part of Washington’s Early Learning System.

Early literacy does not mean early reading. Early literacy emphasizes positive exposure to a literacy-rich environment. Many important reading concepts begin before kindergarten. Studies show us that a child’s early literacy environment (age 0-3) plays a crucial role in school success and reading ability. Children enter kindergarten with different knowledge levels. Those who enter with the least knowledge of beginning reading skills are at academic risk.

The benefits of early literacy do not stop at kindergarten; it continues throughout the school years. Frequen...

Medical Mission in Ethiopia: Week 5

October 29, 2014
Tuesday October 22, 2014
We went hiking in the Simien Mountains this weekend.  Janis, the British anesthesiologist, arranged the all-inclusive trip and invited us along.  I was concerned that Josh and Sonja may not be able to keep up with the 5 adult hikers, but the trekking company “Explore Abyssinia” suggested that we hire 2 mules and the kids could ride when they wanted to, and hike when they felt like hiking.  This turned out to be a wonderful option. 

Can food allergies be undiagnosed?

October 29, 2014
With food allergies on the rise in the past several years, you probably know at least one person who is allergic to cow’s milk, eggs, soy, wheat, nuts, or seafood. Individuals with a food allergy typically experience symptoms every time they eat a particular food. These symptoms range from relatively mild like hives and swelling to more severe such as coughing, vomiting, or loss of consciousness.

Unfortunately, there are no approved treatments for food allergies today. Individuals cope by avoiding the food and having proper medications nearby in case of an allergic reaction. As most children eventually outgrow some food allergies, it’s important to get tested for an accurate diagnosis.

To diagnose a food allergy, allergy specialists usually ...

Breastfeeding, Disease Modifying Therapies (DMTs), and Postpartum Relapse in Multiple Sclerosis

October 27, 2014
Women with multiple sclerosis (MS) have higher risk of relapse during the postpartum period.  Can exclusive breastfeeding alone prevent relapses? How soon after delivery should disease modifying therapies (DMTs) be reintroduced? Are any DMTs safe to take while breastfeeding? 
 
While disease modifying therapies (DMTs) have been shown generally to reduce relapse rates, none of them are indicated for use during pregnancy and lactation. Therefore, the question of when to restart DMTs postpartum remains a difficult one for physicians counseling MS patients who wish to breastfeed their children.
 
Trying to predict the risk of relapse for any one individual is very difficult. The risk factors for postpartum attacks include ...

Rare infection occurs in patient on Tecfidera

October 24, 2014
On Tuesday 10/21/14 Biogen announced that a patient treated with Tecfidera developed a rare infection, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). This patient was from Europe and had been treated with Tecfidera for 54 months. For approximately 3 ½ years, this person’s lymphocyte counts were very low, in the 200-500/mm3 range. After an illness lasting about 4 months this patient died from complications of the infection.
 
PML is an infection caused by the JC virus. About half of the population has the JC virus. Once a person has the JC virus, the immune system quickly brings it under control, but the virus remains hidden in the kidneys after that. From the kidney, the virus can periodically flare up and the immune system quickly brings it under control again. There are many other viruses that have this ability to periodically flare up, for example a virus that remains hidden in the nerves of the face can periodically flare up causing fever blisters, or chicken pox virus r...

October Pet of the Month at the Multiple Sclerosis Center

October 23, 2014

Name:   Bootsy

Age: 6 years old

Born: Bootsy was ...

A (Slightly) New Medication for Multiple Sclerosis Comes Out in November

October 21, 2014
Interferons have been used for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) since 1993. The existing line-up of interferons for MS (Avonex, Betaseron, Extavia and Rebif) will soon be joined by Plegridy, approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in August 2014. Plegridy will become commercially available in November 2014.

Plegridy is a pegylated form of interferon beta. Pegylation is a process, used by several other non-MS medications, whereby a long string of polyethylene glycol molecules is attached to the interferon beta molecule, to extend its half-life by reducing clearance via kidneys or other elimination pathways in the body. This modification allows less frequent dosing of Plegridy – once every two weeks – although it is still administered as an injection under the skin.

In the ADVANCE trial, Plegridy was ..

Physical activity and lung cancer

October 20, 2014

Can physical activity help treat or prevent lung cancer? According to a 2007 study presented at the American Association for Cancer Researcher’s 6th Annual International Conference on Cancer Prevention, the answer is yes! 
 
Physical activity is linked with a lower risk of developing lung cancer. The benefits of physical activity extended to men, women, current smokers, former smokers and never smokers. The activities did not require hours a day or an expensive gym membership. Even gardening twice a week reduced the risk of developing lung cancer.
 
A growing body of research shows that it is safe for patients with lung cancer to exercise before, during and after treatment. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs have

What you should know about Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives or IUDs

October 17, 2014
Does it seem that more of your friends are using IUDs or contraceptive implants?  IUDs, intrauterine devices, and contraceptive implants are becoming more popular in the United States.  In this post, we will discuss these birth control methods and why they are gaining in popularity. 

IUDs are plastic devices that are placed in the uterus by a healthcare provider.  There are three products available in the U.S.:
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