July 2009

Tanning ourselves to death

That scary title brought to you by a new study that was performed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization, which shows that people who begin using tanning beds regularly before age 30 increase their risk of developing skin cancer by 75%.  The group has said that this makes regular tanning bed use as carcinogenic (cancer-causing) as smoking cigarettes, and as dangerous as arsenic. (You can read the entire article here, if you have log-in credentials).

Photo: Borba.com

Photo: Borba.com

The OSA: Sisters in Science Premier

This Post written by Victor O’Halloran

Last night was the world premiere of OSA: Sisters In Science, a documentary detailing the Oncofertility Saturday Academy. This documentary told the story of what happens when young women from a small south side Chicago high school get introduced to an emerging science like Oncofertility (for more information, click here).  The film documented the hands-on experiences, classes, and testimonies of the young women of Young Women’s Leadership Charter School as they spent their Saturdays interacting with the Woodruff lab and other resources from Northwestern in 2009.


Photo: Roark Johnson

The Ultimate Gift: Women and Organ Donation

This recent article from the BBC discusses how the practice of stranger kidney donations has been increasing in the United Kingdom since it was made legal in 2006. Just to be clear, this refers to kidney donations while the donor is still alive and wherethe donor and recipient don’t know each other. The entire practice seems kind of fascinating to me. Although I carry my donor card around with me and have registered with the National Bone Marrow Registry, I don’t know if I could ever donate an organ to a stranger while I’m still alive.

Our research in the news!

Yes, I’m tooting our own horn – but only because it’s pretty darn exciting!  The Institute’s very own director Dr. Teresa Woodruff (a.k.a. my esteemed advisor) and members of our lab have been in the news for a research article that was just published online this week.  A major part of our research focuses on developing and improving on methods for three-dimensional culture of  ovarian follicles, the compartments of the ovary which individually house the all-important eggs.  Our lab is hoping to establish this technique as a new option in women’s fertility preservation, which currently consists of methods such as freezing of ovarian tissue or performing emergency IVF.  We will definitely post more on fertility preservation in the near future since it is becoming an important decision for an increasing number of women and the Institute is within a hub of fertility preservation not only in research, but also in clinical practice.

Swallowing health news with a grain of salt

While browsing through Facebook status updates earlier today, I noticed that two friends independently posted a link to this op-ed on the New York Times website, written by blogger Nicholas D. Kristof.  Mr. Kristof posted his thoughts on something that has been nagging at us, the consumers, for a while now: chemicals in our plastics that act as so-called endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs).  Simply put, EDCs are imposter molecules that mimic hormones naturally present in our body and therefore interfere with normal biological processes regulated by these hormones.  These affect both men and women but in different ways, as there are notable differences in body chemistry between the sexes.  Perhaps the most infamous EDC is dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, more commonly known as the pesticide DDT, which has been banned in the U.S.

Introducing Alison and Candace

Since we’ll be pretty regular fixtures around here for a while, we’d like to introduce ourselves, as well. We’re both fourth year graduate students, which means (if all goes according to plan) we’ll be “Dr. So and So” some time in the next year or so. We’re currently both involved in that arduous scientific research that Dr. Bristol-Gould outlined in her bio. Alison is working on a project that looks at how certain metals are important in female reproduction, while Candace is studying how oocytes develop and die in pre-pubertal females. Pretty awesome, we know. We also like karaoke, pop music in any language (we’re currently expanding our stock of Hindi and Korean selections!), and Ryan Reynolds, just to show we’re not JUST science nerds! We will typically post every Friday about the newest stories involving women’s health, but we’re open to ideas, so drop us a comment!