Scripps Tips – June 2010

A monthly list of story ideas for journalists

Patient Survival Rate Doubles as Scripps’ Blood & Marrow Transplant Program
Hits 30-Year Mark

The outlook for patients with leukemia and other life-threatening blood cancers has improved dramatically since Scripps Health founded San Diego County’s first blood and marrow transplantation (BMT) program 30 years ago. Dr. James Mason, the medical director of Scripps’ BMT program, says the survival rate of Scripps’ patients has more than doubled since 1980. “The field has gone from being viewed as something of a last resort in its early days to now being a viable option where likelihood of recovery is often strong,” Dr. Mason says. Despite significant advances in the fight against leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma, these diseases continue to pose major public health concerns, collectively accounting for 53,000 deaths in the United States last year. For an interview with Dr. Mason and a local 25-year leukemia survivor, contact Steve Carpowich at 858-678-7183 or

Fat Festival? Scripps Dietician Rates the Best and Worst Fair Foods
Funnel cakes, fried Twinkies, giant turkey legs, cotton candy and foot-long hot dogs. Eating at the fair can wreak havoc on your waistline because it is so easy to consume thousands of calories. A Scripps La Jolla registered dietician is available to tour the upcoming San Diego County Fair to give her assessments of the best and worst fair foods. To arrange a visit to the County Fair with a registered dietician, contact Lisa Ohmstede at 858-626-7142 or

Scripps Clinic Pioneers Treatment Plan for Common Inflammatory Condition
For millions of Americans with asthma, exercise is a common trigger of symptoms. Few know that a common over-the-counter pain reliever can spark respiratory distress as well. Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD), a chronic inflammatory condition of the upper and lower airways, is activated by aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). AERD commonly affects asthmatic individuals with chronic sinus problems like nasal polyps. Most of these patients are unaware of the possible role NSAIDs play in their condition. Physicians from the Aspirin Desensitization Program at Scripps Clinic helped to pioneer an effective treatment for AERD – the only one of its kind in San Diego. To learn more about the condition and arrange an interview with allergist Andrew White, MD, please contact Regan Olsson at or 858-652-5519.

Tips to Stem Rising Tide of Distracted Driver Accidents;
Two Southern California Highways on America’s 100 Deadliest Highways List

Nearly 6,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2008, and more than half a million were injured, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — and the number is rising. Whether it’s using a cell phone, listening to an iPod or applying cosmetics, 80 percent of all motor vehicle crashes involve a distraction. Dr. Michael Sise, medical director of trauma services at Scripps Mercy Hospital, a Level 1 Trauma Center, has tips on how to eliminate distracted driving and its associated dangers. For more information, or to arrange an interview, contact Kristin Reinhardt at 619-686-3787 or

Youth Get First-Hand Experience in Health Care Careers at Camp Scripps
Throughout the month of June, students from around San Diego will get first-hand experience in health care careers at Scripps Mercy Hospital Chula Vista. Designed to introduce youth to careers in health care, Camp Scripps is a three-week, camp-style experience with activities that include “operating” on frozen chickens, visits to various medical units. Students will also participate in hands-on activities with health care professionals and listen to presentations on specific health careers and health-related issues. For more information, or to arrange an interview with Kendra Brandstein, director of community benefit services at Scripps Mercy, and Camp Scripps students, contact Kristin Reinhardt at 619-686-3787 or

120 Years of Scripps Mercy – Calling All Mercy Babies
Scripps Mercy Hospital is celebrating 120 years of caring for San Diego County, and invites the community and our Mercy Babies to join in the fun! On Saturday, July 10, the hospital will host a community celebration, complete with free refreshments, health screenings, a kid zone and more. Visit to read and submit stories about Scripps Mercy, and be sure to join our Facebook page and participate in our Twitter contests. For more information, or to arrange an interview with Scripps Mercy babies, long-time Scripps Mercy employees, or Sisters of Mercy, contact Kristin Reinhardt at 619-686-3787 or

Scripps Dermatologist Debunks Claims that Some Sunscreens
Are Snake Oil

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently released a list of recommended sunscreens. EWG recommends just 39 out of the 500 sunscreens evaluated, most of which cannot be found in major retailers. The organization questioned the effectiveness and safety of many top-selling sunscreens. One of its claims is that the active ingredient oxybenzone, which is found in more than 60 percent of sunscreens, is unsafe because of concerns that it can penetrate the skin or be inhaled and disrupt hormone balance. Edward Ross, MD, dermatologist and laser specialist with Scripps Clinic, calls this claim and several other claims made by the environmental group unsubstantiated.

“There is no evidence that active ingredients in sunscreens are dangerous,” says Dr. Ross. “People should not throw away or forgo putting on sunscreen just because of this claim.”

Dr. Ross is available to discuss what types of sunscreens are best to use this summer and new manufacturer regulations regarding SPF ratings that should be announced later this year. To arrange an interview with Dr. Ross, contact Regan Olsson at or 858-652-5519.

Low-Income San Diegans Receive Diabetes Care from Scripps
Project Dulce is a culturally competent, comprehensive diabetes management program for underserved and uninsured populations in San Diego County. The program addresses the region’s third-highest health concern by increasing patients’ access to care through a network of community clinics across the county. Classes are tailored to fit the specific cultural needs of the community served. In Mira Mesa and National City, Project Dulce partners with Operation Samahan to address the specific issues contributing the high rate of diabetes among the Filipino community. More than 14,000 people were served through 440 classes held in 2009 at a cost of more than $449,000. During fiscal year 2009, Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute devoted approximately $1.5 million to local community benefit programs. For more information about Project Dulce, or to arrange an interview with Dr. Athena Philis-Tsimikas, endocrinologist and corporate vice president of Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute, please contact Rachel Lichterman at 858-678-7348 or