Scripps Tips - March 2008

A monthly list of story ideas for journalists

When is a Clinical Trial Right for You?
Scripps Offers Advice to Patients Interested in Participating
Clinical study. Clinical trial. Clinical protocol. They all mean the same thing: a scientific study of how a new medicine or treatment works in people. Through clinical studies, doctors find new and better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, control and treat illnesses. But for those interested in participating, what should they know before signing up?

With more than 250 clinical trials under way at Scripps, Brian Issell, M.D., vice president of clinical research for Scripps Health can offer advice to those interested in participating in a clinical trial. For example:

  • What type of clinical trial is right for you?
  • How do you find a clinical trial?
  • Who decides if you are eligible for the trial?
  • Can your doctor be involved?
  • Is your confidentiality protected?
  • How does a clinical trial work?
  • How do you assess the benefits and risks?
  • How to read and understand the informed consent form.
  • How to get out of a trial at any time for any reason.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Dr. Issell, contact Jori Victor at (858) 678-7141 or

How Effective Was This Year’s Flu Vaccine?
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza activity continued to increase in the U.S. for 10 consecutive weeks, between mid-December and February. A flu shot is believed to provide significant protection each winter from getting the flu — but unfortunately, the strains that circulate each year are different. How well the flu vaccine works depends on how well the match is between the vaccine and the types of flu viruses that are circulating that year. Because the flu vaccine is manufactured months before the actual start of flu season, experts never know for sure which strains may come. This year, the flu viruses are different from what was predicted, and vaccines offered protection from only about 40 percent of the flu viruses. Andrew Accardi, M.D., Scripps Encinitas emergency room physician is available to discuss this season’s flu outbreak and answer questions about the variations of the vaccine from year to year. To speak with Dr. Accardi, please contact Jaime Szefc at 858-678-7348 or

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colon Cancer Death Rates Falling Thanks to Better Screening
Colon cancer is the third-most common cancer in the United States, and the American Cancer Society estimates that there will be more than 108,000 new cases of colon cancer in the country this year. But thanks to screening techniques like colonoscopy that find the disease in its most treatable stages, the death rate from colon cancer has been decreasing; the five-year survival rate for patients whose cancer is detected in the early stages is 90 percent. For more information on colon cancer and to speak with Dana Launer, M.D., a board-certified colorectal surgeon, contact Lisa Ohmstede at 858-626-7142, or

March is Save Your Vision Month

Consumers Who Purchase Contact Lenses Online Face Greater Eye Health Risk
While purchasing contacts online after receiving a doctor’s prescription may save consumers time, the process could cause more problems in the long run according to a study reported in the Journal of the American Optometric Association. Study findings indicate that online shoppers are less likely to receive yearly comprehensive exams, and do not regularly follow up with their physician when the prescriptions in the mail “don’t seem right.” Wearing ill-fitting lenses or contacts with the wrong prescription can result in a multitude of long-term eye damage. Scripps Clinic optometry expert Anthony Novo, O.D., is available to further discuss the importance of keeping your optometrist informed of any discomfort or change in vision that results from wearing contacts, whether purchased online or direct from your optometric physician. To arrange an interview, please contact Ian Wright at 858-554-2098 or

Macular Degeneration Updates: Tips for Well-Used Eyes
One of the most promising new treatments for macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness, may also be one of the most surprising. A chemotherapy medication commonly used to treat colon cancer is one of the medications being used to treat one type of macular degeneration. Learn more about this and other new treatment options at a free seminar on macular degeneration with Scripps La Jolla ophthalmologist and leading researcher Anne Hanneken, M.D., on Friday, March 14 at 6 p.m. To cover this event or to book Dr. Hanneken as an in-studio guest, email Lisa Ohmstede at or call 858-626-7142.

Red Wine & Dark Chocolate Can Reduce Heart Risks
Dr. Matthew Lucks gives a healthy heart talk March 25 at Scripps La Jolla
Studies exploring the benefits of dark chocolate and red wine continue to show that intake of the two in moderation can reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. This is just a couple of the lifestyle choices that Scripps cardiologist Matthew Lucks, M.D., will address in his upcoming talk on how to maintain a healthy heart. This free event will take place on Tuesday, March 25 at 6 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Schaetzel Center at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. To cover this event or to book Dr. Lucks as an in-studio guest, email Lisa Ohmstede at or call 858-626-7142.

March is National Nutrition Month

Vegetable Consumption May Slow Rate of Cognitive Decline in Elderly
A study published in the medical journal Neurology concluded that high amounts of vegetable consumption may cause a slower rate of cognitive decline in older people, but most Americans are still not consuming a full five servings of fruit and vegetables per day. Danielle Lipparelli, R.D., is available to discuss ways to work these anti-oxident-packed foods into the average diet. For more information, please contact Kristin Reinhardt at (619) 686-3787 or