From the ancient Greeks to modern medicine (part 1)

Ken Burns’ PBS documentary on cancer features U-M medical historian

A depiction of ancient Greek physician Galen treating a patient, by 20th century artist Robert Thom

A depiction of ancient Greek physician Galen treating a patient, by 20th century artist Robert Thom

If you look in the night sky at this time of year, you might see a constellation called Cancer. To the ancient Greeks, who gave it that name, the collection of stars looked like a crab. So they gave it the Greek name for crab: carcinos.

Later, the Romans kept that name for the same constellation, but used the Latin word for crab: cancer.

Both cultures also used those words for something else: a terrible disease that formed growths as hard as crab shells inside the body, and sent spindly legs out from a central body.

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Spirituality and health: Is there a connection?

Faith and support help people deal with stress, add to overall health

person praying on beach

Studies show that spirituality can impact the healing process of someone who is experiencing a health challenge

Do religion and spirituality impact our health? Scientific researchers and clergy alike believe in the positive relationship between spirituality and health. Regardless of the religion, evidence points to a connection between the two.

Rev. Jamie D. Hawley, M.Div., is an ordained United Church of Christ minister and staff chaplain with the University of Michigan Spiritual Care Department, believes that spirituality can impact the healing process of someone who is experiencing a health challenge. He references studies from the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health Sciences, the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education and Harvard Health Publications to support this belief.

Rev. Hawley says the U-M spiritual care team offers support to all faiths, using a holistic approach that takes into consideration the body, mind and spirit. “Even if we don’t have the faith represented in the department, we will get that patient the right care. We often partner with faith communities outside the hospital, so that a patient knows he or she is supported via prayer or pastoral visits.” As a Christian chaplain, Rev. Hawley says that “Holy Week is a humble reminder that our task as spiritual care providers often includes journeying through the gloom of a patient’s Good Friday experience all the way to an Easter vision, whatever that may be for the patient.” Continue reading


A Gentler Colonoscopy Prep

Gentler Colonoscopy PrepMany people will tell you that the worst part of a colonoscopy is the prep. Preparation is critical, though, to help your doctor identify any polyps — it also helps the colonoscopy go faster. Some colonoscopy prep involves drinking up to four liters of a prep solution to help cleanse your colon. Even for someone who typically drinks a lot of fluids, that’s a large amount and you have to drink a few ounces every 15 minutes, which makes the prep almost a full-time job.

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What women want to know about ICDs

Four frequently asked questions by women about implantable cardioverter defibrillators

women and ICD blogAn implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is an electronic device that provides immediate therapy to a life-threatening arrhythmia (heart beating too quickly) via a painless pacing sequence or a jolt of electricity. It can also act as a pacemaker if the heart is beating too slowly.

Men and women are equally at risk for arrhythmias and the need for an ICD. However, women have different issues regarding ICD. Here is what women want to know about ICDs.

  1. Can I have routine mammograms?

Depending on your ICD placement, the device may interfere with imaging of breast tissue and may require additional testing for optimal results (possible follow-up ultrasound). Further, the presence of an ICD (typically left or right upper chest area), may make the imaging of the breast more uncomfortable, but it will not cause damage to the device. Continue reading


5 Ways to Protect Your Memory

Many middle-aged adults are concerned about developing memory loss later in life. While there is no guaranteed way to prevent memory loss, researchers are finding out more and more about how the brain works and how to keep it healthy. Here are five important steps you can take to maintain a healthy brain:

It's important to interact with others.

People are good for our brain.

  1. Eat right

Choose vegetables, fish, eggs, legumes (lentils, beans), nuts, olive oil and fruits. Limit red meat, alcohol and sugar. Avoid processed and packaged food as much as possible. A healthful diet will also reduce the risk for diabetes, which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. Exercise

We can’t stress enough the importance of all types of exercise. If you haven’t exercised for a while, start by walking. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. Talk with your doctor before you pursue any formal exercise program.  Continue reading


How to grow human lungs in a dish

Scientists coax stem cells to form 3D mini lungs for study

Lung organoid recipe illustration (blog)Scientists from the University of Michigan Medical School have figured out how to grow human stem cells into three-dimensional mini lungs. Having the ability to probe a 3-D model could help researchers better understand lung conditions, especially those linked to genetic mutations, and test new therapies.

Working with colleagues from across the country, U-M researchers Jason R. Spence, Ph.D., and Briana Dye, succeeded in growing structures resembling both the large airways of the lungs and the small air sacs.

The advance, published in the online journal eLife, provides an unprecedented view of human lung anatomy and takes research to a new level by devising a system to form self-organizing lung tissue in a dish. Continue reading