Scripps Tips - September 2007

A Monthly List of Story Ideas for Journalists

New Laser Technology Takes Aim at Stroke Patients in Scripps Clinical Trial
A recently launched clinical research trial at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas is exploring whether a new treatment using infrared energy can be effective in improving outcomes for ischemic stroke patients. Ischemic stroke, caused by a clot or other blockage within an artery leading to the brain, affects more than 600,000 people in the United States each year. The noninvasive laser technology being used in the Scripps Encinitas trial can be applied via the scalp up to 24 hours after the onset of stroke symptoms – by comparison, traditional treatments must be used in the first few hours after the stroke occurs. The medical community has long been looking for a treatment to help salvage brain cells that are at risk of dying after stroke. To date, no medication has been approved for this purpose, but the use of infrared light is a unique strategy to help injured cells survive. To arrange an interview with Scripps neurologist and clinical trial lead investigator Dr. Thomas Chippendale, contact Steve Carpowich at carpowich.stephen@scrippshealth.org.

Cranberries Found to Have Chemo-Enhancing Power – The Right Foods May Increase the Effectiveness of Drugs
Combining medications with the right foods can improve the effectiveness of drugs and possibly reduce the amounts of medication patients need to take, lowering costs. According to findings presented recently at a American Chemical Society meeting, a compound found in cranberries may increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs used in the treatment of ovarian cancer. For more information on this timely health topic or to arrange an interview with Harminder Sikand, Pharm.D., clinical director of pharmacy at Scripps Mercy Hospital, please contact Kristin Reinhardt at reinhardt.kristin@scrippshealth.org.

Early Detection Safest Way to Prevent Prostate Cancer
September is Prostate Health Month
Because the early stages of prostate cancer don’t usually exhibit any warning signs the safest way to prevent prostate cancer is early detection. Prostate cancer is the second-most common type of cancer found in American men, after skin cancer and chances of getting the disease increase after the age of 50. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 218,890 new cases in the United States in 2007. While some studies have suggested Lycopene protects against prostate cancer, recent data have shown that the chemical in tomatoes and other red fruits has no effect. These conflicting studies underscore the need for greater understanding about simple, inexpensive approaches to prostate cancer prevention and stress the importance of regular prostate checks. To speak to Carol Salem, M.D., medical director of minimally invasive robotic surgery program at Scripps Mercy Hospital, please contact Kristin Reinhardt at reinhardt.kristin@scrippshealth.org.

Use of Sleeping Pills May Increase Symptoms of Depression
Patients taking sleeping pills in a clinical trial were twice as likely to become depressed as those taking a placebo, according to a manuscript published in BMC Psychiatry by Daniel Kripke, M.D., of the Scripps Clinic Sleep Center. Challenging the popular belief that sleeping pills prevent depression, their use appeared more likely to cause depression than prevent it. The data come from New Drug Applications released by the FDA for the popular sleep aids Ambien®, Sonata®, Lunesta® and Rozerem™. To arrange an interview with Dr. Kripke or for more information, please contact Ian Wright at wright.ian@scrippshealth.org.

Helmets Give Vital Protection to Bicycle Riders
According to NeurosurgeryToday.org, there were more than 65,000 estimated bicycle-related head injuries treated in U.S. hospitals in 2006. Many of these injuries could have been prevented by wearing a helmet. Although children make up a large percentage of those injured in bicycle related accidents, all bike riders should wear a helmet to protect themselves against serious head trauma. To arrange an interview with a neurologist about traumatic brain injuries or to speak to a helmet fitting therapist, please contact Nichole Warren at warren.nichole@scrippshealth.org.