The Woodruff Lab contributes to the Women’s Health Research Institute and Oncofertility Consortium blogs. Read the latest information disseminated from these blogs below:  

The handwritten letter: a thing of the past?

Today, I walked by a filled meeting room and overheard someone say,  ” I never open my paper mail any more.”   It sounded like the group was discussing email banking and other electronic transactions.   Though I still pay my bills by snail mail, I recognize  the potential benefits of the latest phone and computer apps–I’m just not ready for it!    Email and facebook has reconnected families and opened communications lines that enable busy, overworked people to keep you posted on their latest activities.




Battling Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

This time of year, the shorter days and lack of sunlight can cause some people to feel depressed. Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, affects between 10 to 20 percent of Americans, primarily younger adults and women. Although the exact cause of SAD is unknown, experts believe changes in melatonin and serotonin levels, or a disruption in the body’s internal clock may be to blame. John Stracks, MD, from Northwestern Integrative Medicine says there are ways to beat the blues caused by SAD and suggests those who experience symptoms visit their doctor before symptoms become severe.

Bring in the New Year with better food safety habits

Some people don’t take food poisoning very seriously. Maybe that’s because the symptoms usually are not long-lasting in most healthy people—a few hours or a few days—and usually go away without medical treatment. But foodborne illness can be severe, even life-threatening to anyone, especially those most at risk such as older adults, infants and young children, pregnant women, and people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or any condition that weakens their immune systems.

More Knee Replacement Surgery Due to Baby Boomers

Women and men between the ages of 45 and 64 were more than twice as likely to have had knee replacement surgery in 2009 than in 1997, recent data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) show.  The rates among women were even higher. Knee replacement surgery is most common in people whose knees have been damaged by osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis, or injury. Due to their age and fondness for sports, Baby Boomers fit neatly into each category.

Eating fish once a week may lower risk of dementia is elderly

Eating fish at least once a week could help lower older patients’ risk of developing dementia, according to Cyrus Raji, MD, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh and colleagues reported at the Nov. 2011 Radiological Society of North America meeting.

Those who ate baked or broiled — but not fried — fish on a weekly basis had a greater volume of gray matter in areas of the brain associated with Alzheimer’s disease than people who didn’t eat fish as often.  Preserving brain volume was also associated with lower rates of developing cognitive impairment, he said.

Blood pressure changes at middle age raises risk for later heart attack or stroke

A hike in your blood pressure during middle age significantly raises the risk of having a heart attack or a stroke during your lifetime, according to new Northwestern Medicine research. The study offers a new understanding on the importance of maintaining low blood pressure early in middle age to prevent heart disease later in life.  Men and women who developed high blood pressure in middle age or who started out with high blood pressure had an estimated 30 percent increased risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared to those who kept their blood pressure low.

A new kind of ‘road rage’

Remember when road rage was mainly triggered by rush hour traffic?   Recently, I was driving in local traffic near the university when a car in front of me was signaling left and made a sudden move to the RIGHT lane.   Okay, we all get confused.   In the next block the driver all of a sudden moved to the middle of the road between two lanes.  I slammed on my brakes and honked my horn.     When the driver finally pulled into one lane,  I moved up and saw the elderly woman driver clearly on her cell phone.   She looked at me as I motioned “get off your phone” and I don’t think she had a clue why I was signaling her.   Within two city blocks I could have not o

Report provides new insight into risks for stillbirths

Half of all stillbirths result from pregnancy disorders and conditions that affect the placenta, according to a new report. Risk factors already known at the start of pregnancy—such as previous pregnancy loss or obesity—accounted for only a small proportion of the overall risk of stillbirth.

Breast cancer patients often skip medications due to side effects

Why do so many postmenopausal women who are treated for estrogen-sensitive breast cancer quit using drugs that help prevent the disease from recurring?

The first study to actually ask the women themselves — as well as the largest, most scientifically rigorous study to examine the question — reports 36 percent of women quit early because of the medications’ side effects, which are more severe and widespread than previously known. The Northwestern Medicine research also reveals a big gap between what women tell their doctors about side effects and what they actually experience.