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Say what??

May 20, 2010

A study published yesterday in the Archives of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery has found that Viagra could double a man’s risk of hearing loss with regular use.

Researchers said that while one in  six men over 40 who did not take the drug had some sort of hearing loss, the instance jumped to one in three among those who did.


Jack Mydlo, a urologist at Temple University’s School of Medicine, worries that some men could rush into using Viagra or other drugs to treat ED – putting themselves at unneeded risk.

“The last thing I want them to do is take a pill and jump in bed because a certain part of the mechanism for erections is psychological. They have to be in the right mood, with the right person and take care of themselves,” he said.

Instead of opting for the little blue pill, Mydlo suggests three lifestyle changes that could help:

  • Quit smoking. “The number one thing we can do to stop erectile dysfunction is to stop smoking. It’s the number one environmental cause of ED in our society,” said Mydlo.
  • Watch what you eat.  “Men with a cholesterol level of 240 or higher have almost a twofold increase of ED compared to a man who has lower cholesterol numbers.”
  • Lose weight. Losing weight will improve the testosterone to estrogen ratio, which may improve libido. “Adipose tissue in body fat converts testosterone to estrogen, and lower levels of testosterone can make it difficult for a man to achieve an erection, no matter how many pills they take,” he said.

Helping build Freedom

May 19, 2010

Last month, a group of students from the department of Therapeutic Recreation in the College of Health Professions and Social Work spent their Friday afternoon helping build a playground in Haverford, Pa.

The space, Freedom Playground, will be built with special needs children in mind so that everyone – despite any physical or sensory issues – can enjoy it.

Each semester, the TR class is required to complete 20 hours of community service, and can choose from a variety of activities.

“I had already filled my requirement of 20 hours, but the building of the Freedom Playground sounded like too much fun to pass up,” said therapeutic recreation student Ornela Ustayev. “To be able to say that I was a small tiny part of the creation of this beautiful idea was enough for me.”

Photos from build day, courtesy Nanette Vliet, clinical instructor and student services manager in the TR department:

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A strong visual

May 14, 2010

A proposal by the Massachusetts state Department of Public Health is calling for stores that sell cigarettes to prominently display posters of some very graphic images that show the effects of smoking -diseased lungs, rotted teeth and damaged brains.

Could these practices be effective?  Jennifer Ibrahim, an associate professor of public health in the College of Health Professions and Social Work, says that attitudes are changing as the public is becoming more aware about the dangers of smoking, secondhand smoke and the deceptive practices of the industry.

Ibrahim has studied the marketing efforts of both the tobacco industry and anti-smoking advocates, and said that state health departments face an uphill battle when dealing with the industry’s political clout through lobbying, campaign contributions and specials events.

In a 2007 study, Ibrahim found that the tobacco industry has spent millions of dollars attempting to quash anti-smoking ads that reveal its “deceptive practices.”  In addition to powerful political allies, Ibrahim says the tobacco industry has also resorted to launching its own campaigns – albeit ineffective ones – to show that anti-smoking ads are repetitive and wasteful.

“Vigilance is important though, because the tobacco industry will continue to adapt marketing efforts to overcome anti-smoking efforts,” Ibrahim said.

Can you really walk your way to a better butt?

May 7, 2010

That’s the claim for both Sketchers’ Shape Ups and Reebok’s Easy Tone sneakers.  Their claim lies in the shoes’ designs, which creates an unstable walking pattern that forces leg muscles to work harder.

“There’s a fair amount of biomechanical related research that has been conducted on unstable rocker soled shoes,” said Kendrick Whitney, a professor of podiatric medicine at Temple University, and director of the pedorthics program.  He cites research which shows that unstable shoes like these have led to better muscle strengthening than a leg workout at the gym.

He added that these shoes may have other benefits as well – research conducted by the Human Performance Laboratory in Canada found that the instability of these shoes can help to reduce pain and osteoarthritic changes and could also improve back pain by improving posture.

Whitney cites the MBT shoe, a rocker-bottomed shoe, as the gold standard of these unstable types of shoes.

“It leads the pack in research, quality and stressing the importance of appropriate training with a gradual break-in during initial wearing of their shoes,” he said.  “But, I worry that as this fad gains popularity, it will also lead to shortcuts in quality, fitting and lack of gait training.”

2 docs, one legislation

April 28, 2010

The healthcare debate is a divisive one, particularly among doctors.  Specialists and generalists tend to have opposing viewpoints as to the pros and cons of the new legislation, and at Temple University, it’s no different.

Alfred Bove

Alfred Bove, an emeritus professor of medicine in the section of cardiology, has been very vocal as to how the new legislature will shift funding from specialists to primary care providers.

On the other hand, Lawrence Kaplan, a professor of medicine in the section of general internal medicine, feels that more specialists will mean more expenditures, and thus drive up the cost of healthcare.

Lawrence Kaplan

The two doctors met and debated at Temple School of Medicine’s grand rounds session this week, offering their own unique perspectives to a nearly packed house of medical residents, faculty, students and staff.

At the event, Bove said that existing data on the cost of healthcare and the level of patient satisfaction was misinterpreted.

“The U.S. does look bad if all areas of the country are averaged together,” he said.  “But if you look at the data regionally, it is equal to or better than the rest of the world.”

Kaplan, however, was not convinced, and cited research that said regional variations aren’t truly representative of the whole picture.

“More specialists mean more expenditures,” he said. “Primary care doctors are the key to cutting health care costs, and for better outcomes.”

Still, both doctors agreed that payment issues aside, the system needs to be changed.

“Right now, we’re driven by a system that pays for sickness,” said Bove.  “You get paid 20 bucks to advise a patient on his heart health, but you get paid 1500 to admit that patient, get an ECG and run tests.”

Is social media a new drug?

April 27, 2010

Research released this week by the University of Maryland found that among college students, usage of different media outlets  has reached almost addictive levels.

The study looked at what happened when 200 students gave up their “media links” – cell phone, iPod, television, car radio, magazines, newspapers and computer – for 24 hours.   After the experiment, students reported feeling upset, lonely and anxious.

But aside from the emotional implications, too much texting and typing could have physical ramifications as well, according to Temple University researcher Judy Gold.

As the director of the Ergonomics and Work Physiology Laboratory, she’s been looking at college student’s posture as they text and type on their laptops.  In research presented at the American Public Health Association last fall, Gold found that too much texting could lead to neck and shoulder pain.

“[College students are] the age group that texts the most, so it’s important to know what the health effects may be to learn whether it will cause long-term damage,” says Gold.

Read more on Gold’s research here.

Up, up and away…

April 14, 2010

A group of Temple University engineering students tested a high-altitude balloon on campus this afternoon, sending the balloon several hundred feet in the air outside Gladfelter Hall.  The tethered balloon carried a camera and other sensing equipment down-linking  data in real-time back to terra firma.

The students, who are doing this as their senior design project, will be launching the balloon at State College, Pa., this Saturday.  According to their faculty adviser, Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor John Helferty, the balloon will soar to about to about 120,000 where the balloon will pop and the data equipment will parachute back to earth about 60 miles away in Lancaster County, Pa.

“Hopefully, it will come down in some nice cornfield so we won’t have to go climbing any trees to retrieve it,” said Helferty.

Watch a slideshow of today’s test flight here.