Oct. 8 - 12, 2012

Deadly meningitis outbreak grows
USA Today
...Steroids decrease inflammation, which can ease pain. Injections are a mainstay of pain management, used for decades. They're a good alternative to narcotics for people with chronic pain, because they are very safe, effective and pose no risk of addiction, said David Zvara, chair of anesthesiology at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Skin Cancer Thrives as Tanning Culture Survives
On sunny days, Dr. Brad Merritt has watched on the sidelines of his son's sporting events from the shade of his umbrella. The 37-year-old dermatologist, who already has had basal cell skin cancer on his face, is determined to protect himself from the sun. “Is there any such thing as a safe tan?” asked Merritt, assistant professor of dermatology at the University of North Carolina. “The answer is, `There is not.’”

Pressure to be thin may be heightened by genes
HealthDay News
..."Basically, we vary in how permeable we are to environmental toxins — including media pressures about the thin ideal -- and that variation can have its roots in genes," said Cynthia Bulik, director of the University of North Carolina Eating Disorders Program, in Chapel Hill. She was not associated with this study.

Researcher says virus may hold key to breast cancer cure
The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)
...In fact, the use of adeno-associated viruses to fight cancer is not new, though better understanding of genetics makes the research more promising. "The idea and concept of using AAV to target tumors is somewhat 'old new,' " said Dr. Richard J. Samulski, a researcher at the University of North Carolina.

Health care debate toned down in 2012 election
The Fayetteville Observer
...That's not surprising, said Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of social medicine and health policy and management at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He said campaigning on health care presents a dilemma for both presidential candidates.

New Prescription
The Chapel Hill News
It’s a case Dr. Evan Ashkin can’t forget. ...To help, UNC Family Medicine has begun a new medical training program at Prospect Hill Community Health Center in Caswell County, 30 miles north of Chapel Hill. Ashkin, the program director and others hope it will become a model for meeting the needs of the state’s underserved areas.

AG Roy Cooper will seek ways to curb N.C. hospital prices
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
Calling the state’s health care costs artificially high, state Attorney General Roy Cooper said he will examine whether to use antitrust laws or new legislation to reduce them. ...Duke University Health System and UNC Health Care have both posted record profits in recent years. Duke’s total profit last year, including investment income, was $542 million.

Researchers gain funding
The Herald-Sun (Durham)
Two autism researchers at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine each have been awarded $12.6 million grants in the latest round of funding from the National Institutes of Health’s Autism Centers of Excellence research program.

Recent medical school graduates train for underserved areas
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
...Dr. Christina Drostin, one of the center’s new residents in training, is seven months pregnant but isn’t slowing down on her rounds. Drostin is part of the new program Ashkin and UNC Family Medicine hope may dramatically change the outlook for North Carolina’s rural areas, and possibly for states with similar challenges across the country. Last year, Prospect Hill became the first health center to test what UNC School of Medicine calls “The Underserved Track.”

Medical examiner gets more space; state gets better lab
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
...Now the state medical examiner will share an address with the North Carolina Laboratory of Public Health, the agency responsible for examining hazardous substances that could be used as bio-weapons, testing for rabies infections and screening blood samples of newborn babies for birth disorders. ... “We outgrew our old facility (in Chapel Hill) 15 years ago,” said Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Deborah Radisch. That office is part of University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.

Genetics Research May Slow Without Privacy Protections, Federal Panel Warns
The Chronicle of Higher Education
...With current technologies, only a very small percentage of people can benefit from the knowledge gained by identifying their genetic makeup, said James P. Evans, a professor of genetics and medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who also serves as editor-in-chief of Genetics in Medicine. In general, the commission needed to "highlight both the potentials and the concerns, and I think they've done that," Dr. Evans said.

UNC program helps women cope with breast cancer diagnosis
WRAL-TV (CBS/Raleigh)
A breast cancer diagnosis is devastating to women of any age, but when it happens before the age of 40 – the age doctors normally begin screening women regularly – there are often special considerations. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s comprehensive cancer support program is just one way younger women cope with an early diagnosis and all the challenges that come with it.

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