Scripps Tips - November 2007

A monthly list of story ideas for journalists

New Scripps Research Study of America’s ‘Healthy Elderly’ Looks to Uncover Genetic Secrets of Good hHealth
Genomic researchers are looking to America’s “healthy elderly” – those 80 and older with no history of chronic disease – to help them unlock the genetic secrets behind lifelong health. Scripps Genomic Medicine recently began enrolling participants in its “Wellderly Study,” which seeks 1,000 elderly volunteers to donate their DNA to the program’s gene bank. Scripps researchers seek to uncover the protective elements of the human genetic code, and to translate key discoveries into improved patient care. “Looking at the genes of healthy elderly people is a unique approach to understanding the underpinning biology of health, and ways this can be inherited,” said Scripps’ Eric J. Topol, M.D., the study’s principal investigator. To date, medical research has largely neglected the genetics of health, instead focusing on finding genetic markers of disease. To arrange an interview with Dr. Topol and a study participant, please contact Steve Carpowich at

Managing Respiratory Issues – Risk to Lungs Could Last 4-5 Weeks After Fires
The recent San Diego wildfires have left many San Diegans breathing uneasy — the lingering smoke and dust is creating respiratory issues for many people, and exacerbating existing allergies and asthma problems. Valerie Norton, M.D., chief of emergency medicine at Scripps Mercy Hospital is available to offer tips on lessening symptoms, ways to prevent them and practical treatment options. For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Kristin Reinhardt at

First World Diabetes Day Set for November 14
Diabetes currently affects 246 million people globally, including nearly 21 million children and adults in the United States. For all of them and the many millions more at risk, Nov. 14, 2007 is a highly significant date as it marks the first United Nations-observed World Diabetes Day. Dr. Athena Philis-Tsimikas of The Whittier Institute for Diabetes is available to speak on the prevalence of diabetes and can also address the top seven risk factors of type 2 diabetes. More information about World Diabetes Day can be found at To arrange an interview with Dr. Tsimikas, contact Lisa Ohmstede at

Knowing Your Health Risks Can Be Matter of Life & Death
For most people, diseases are influenced by a combination of genes, habits and environment – and personal risk factors can often be controlled, with the right information. Scripps Health physicians are available to shed light on how people can better understand – and minimize their risks to – a range of prevalent diseases, such as:

  • Type 2 Diabetes: More than 20 million Americans have diabetes – a potentially deadly disease – and nearly one-third of them don’t even know it. Obesity is the top risk factor, but exercise, blood pressure and cholesterol also come into play. Symptoms include extreme thirst and unexplained weight loss.
  • Stroke & Heart Disease: Some risk factors can be controlled, including tobacco smoke, blood pressure and physical activity. It’s critical to know the symptoms of heart disease and stroke, because receiving care in a timely manner is critical to effective patient outcomes.
  • Skin Cancer: Accounting for nearly half of all U.S. cancer cases, skin cancer is almost always curable if detected early – but certain forms can be deadly. Symptoms include changes in the size and color of a moles and the spread of irregular pigmentation. To arrange an interview, please contact Jaime Szefc at

What Tests Do You Need to Take – and at What Age?
Many people wait until they are sick to see their doctor – but simply taking the right test at the right time can help avoid disease, or at least detect it early when it can be most effectively treated. For example, men and women routinely need an initial screening for colon cancer at age 50. Women should have annual mammograms to detect breast cancer starting at age 40. And to keep tabs on risk for heart disease, a complete lipoprotein profile is often recommended beginning at age 20. Scripps physicians are available to provide a full rundown of recommended tests and offer insights into their importance. To arrange an interview, please contact Jaime Szefc at