Keeping Kids Healthy – Parents should urge children to not use e-cigarettes

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Drs. Sally Robinson & Keith Bly

Keeping Kids Healthy

E-cigarettes are easy to buy — but can hook children on nicotine. Parents may try electronic cigarettes to help them quit smoking. Teens may try them because they think they are safer than regular cigarettes.

One electronic cigarette can have as much nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration has found cancer-causing chemicals in electronic cigarettes. Continue reading

Laser procedure new option for cancer treatment?

KTRK-TV Reporter Christi Myers  reported recently on a procedure being performed by UTMB’s Dr. Eric Walser. “There may soon be a new option for men suffering from prostate cancer. The treatment involves a laser and has already shown promising results in studies overseas. This laser procedure is something in between watchful waiting and the radical prostate surgery. And right now they’re testing it with men who have early cancer.”

UTMB uses 3-D brain simulator teach neurosurgery students

In brain surgery, a mistake can mean a disability or death. So how do you teach a neurosurgeon without mistakes? In this recent newscast by the Houston ABC affiliate KTRK, Christi Myers shows how Dr. Jaime Gasco uses a 3-D brain simulator. UTMB has one of only five simulators in the United States. In the first two UTMB studies, they found that medical students who were going into neurosurgery were 30 percent to 50 percent more accurate if they trained on the computer brain simulator.

Sex is a window into who we are as a person

Drs. Tristi Muir and Catherine Hansen

Drs. Tristi Muir and
Catherine Hansen

We treat women, sometimes men and, ultimately, couples for sexual dysfunction. A lot of the time, problems in the bedroom are an indicator of something much bigger. The relationship needs help.

Research has found that married men and women are healthier, happier and live longer than their unmarried counterparts.

We understand on many levels something that our patients may not be aware of when they ask for help — that healing a sexual relationship heals people. It restores individuals, couples, marriages and even families.

Studies have shown that growing up with married parents is associated with better physical health in adulthood and increased longevity.

Keeping our patients’ relationships strong can improve their individual overall health and improve how they function at home, work and in the community.

All relationships go through stages, with the first stage marked by an inability to use necessary brain functions, mainly critical thinking. This is the “honeymoon phase” of infatuation and romance. Continue reading

Bodies change after birth

Drs. Tristi Muir and Catherine Hansen

Drs. Tristi Muir and
Catherine Hansen

Bringing a new life into the world is truly a miracle. Yet in the aftermath of the birth and all the excitement surrounding bringing the baby home, many women find themselves noticing something not so miraculous — their body is not the same.

The uterus, vagina, pelvic muscles and nerves undergo tremendous change during pregnancy, delivery and postpartum.

The uterus shrinks back to approximately its pre-pregnancy size within six weeks. Bleeding can persist throughout this time, but resumption of an actual period is variable and often significantly delayed if a woman decides to breast-feed.

The hormones a woman’s body produces around the time of delivery empower the cervix and vagina with the tremendous capacity to expand and contract.

Frequently, though, the baby exceeds the body’s powers of expansion and tears the vaginal skin. Minimal tears or abrasions will heal on their own (although they can sting with urination during the healing phase), while deeper cuts require stitches. Continue reading

The Right Choices for a Healthy, Smart, Super Baby

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Dr. Victor Sierpina

Infertility, premature birth, children with neurological conditions such as autism spectrum and attention deficient disorders, obesity, and diabetes are now rampant in our society.  Scientists have determined these problems have been increasing rapidly over the last decade and longer.  

No single cause for these trends been agreed upon by specialists. Factors such as brain injury, genetics, behavioral, and social problems all play a likely role.

I am going to suggest a not so radical idea. These problems in the ability to conceive, to have a healthy pregnancy, and a healthy baby are primarily linked by several common causes: nutrition, lifestyle, and environment.

To put it basically, we are living very different lives than our ancestors whose diet was mainly whole, home-cooked foods, without the chemicals that are part of our contemporary environment. In the past, babies were all breast-fed and obesity in adults or children was rare.  And how about daily activity levels? Stress?

Our environment has changed radically. Foods are now highly processed, pesticides and insecticides in them are common, chemicals from plastics disrupt vital hormonal pathways, and nutrient deficiencies alter expression of genes and increase birth defects. Continue reading

Study Shows Big Improvement in Diabetes Control Over Past Decades

At the Stark Diabetes Center, one of the ways we strive to improve the health and quality of care for Texans is through  a specific emphasis on prevention of diabetes and its complications. So, we’re very encouraged when we hear more people are meeting recommended goals in the three key markers of diabetes control, according to a recent study conducted and funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, recently published online in Diabetes Care, shows that, from 1988 to 2010, the number of people with diabetes able to meet or exceed all three of the measures that demonstrate good diabetes management rose from about 2 percent to about 19 percent. Each measure also showed substantial improvement, with over half of people meeting each individual goal in 2010.

The measures are A1C – which assesses blood sugar (glucose) over the previous three months – blood pressure and cholesterol. They are often called the ABCs of diabetes. When these measures fall outside healthy ranges, people are more likely to be burdened by complications of diabetes, including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation.

Despite improvement, the results show continued need for better diabetes control. In particular, young people and some minority groups were below average in meeting the goals. Read more and access the full report…

Lynn Maarouf is a registered dietician offering diabetes education and nutrition counseling at the Stark Diabetes Center at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

“Vajazzle” with care: As new beauty trends drift down there, do we understand the risks?

Dr. Tristi Muir

Dr. Tristi Muir

The human body is amazing! And people are tempted to continue to try to improve upon it. Arms, legs and abs (our favorite!) are worked on for hours in the gym. Hair takes on different shapes and colors. “Body art” has been the rage for the past decade–tattooing is common from head to toe, piercing and gauging has extended from ears to multiple locations on the body and across genders. Women have embraced decorating their bodies for centuries. It has just become more “all inclusive” as of late. Pubic hair is dyed, styled, shaved, plucked and waxed. The vulva (the anatomic word for the area generally covered by pubic hair) can be decorated or “vajazzled.” Recently, the vulva and vagina have become the focus of new cosmetic surgical procedures.

While make-up, manicures and pedicures are part of the routine for many women, there’s a new trend in town: vajazzling. The Urban Dictionary defines vajazzling as “to decorate your vag with jewels, thus bedazzling your vagina.” Continue reading

Prevention is best medicine against kidney disease

Earlier this month, we at UTMB Health joined others around the globe in celebrating World Kidney Day. Our kidneys are crucial and a hardworking organs. Here are a few tips to help keep yours in top form:

What is CKD?
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition where the kidneys are damaged and lose the ability to keep you healthy. As kidney disease gets worse, body waste can build up in your blood and make you feel sick by creating a host of health problems. Problems caused by CKD typically happen slowly over a long period of time.

What causes CKD?
The two main causes of CKD are diabetes and high blood pressure.

What are the symptoms of CKD?
Most people do not have symptoms until their kidney disease is fairly advanced. Lack of energy, poor appetite and nausea are some of the common symptoms of advanced CKD.

Five things you can do to keep your kidneys healthy:

  • Exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet
  • Have an annual physical exam especially after age 40
  • If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions
  • Avoid regular use of medications that may harm your kidneys
  • Ask your primary care physician if it is necessary to see a kidney doctor


Going for Bust: Breast Reconstruction After Cancer Surgery

Dr. Karen L. Powers, an assistant professor of plastic surgery at UTMB Health, recently presented a session on breast reconstruction as part of the free “Lunch Bunch” seminar series. Dr. Power’s special interests include breast reconstruction, microsurgery, wound healing, and medical education.