Sunday House Call 2007 year in review

Sunday House Call 2007 Year-in-Review

January 21st

Researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), the University of Calgary and The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine have found a new mechanism that is directly involved in the pathophysiology of diabetes. This new insight into the mechanism of diabetes has advanced possible new treatment strategies, with the potential as seen in animal trials of achieving reversal of the disease without severe, toxic immunosuppression. This research is reported in the December 15 issue of the journal Cell.

  • Dr. Hans-Michael Dosch, MD, PhD, Senior Scientist (Neurosciences and Mental Health) at Sick Kids in Toronto and Professor in the Depts. of Immunology & Paediatrics at University of Toronto.

Why do we choose certain foods over others? Why do we overeat when most of the time it is not due to hunger? How does food advertising influence us and does it shape our lifestyle? How many decisions do we make each day with respect to food selection? The actual number may be much greater than what you assume it to be.

In his book “Mindless Eating”, Dr Brian Wansink discusses and reviews the food science and psychology that lies behind our actions. He discusses the science behind comfort foods, how food companies, restaurants and grocery chains have used his research to influence our behaviour.

Wansink emphasizes that “Most people believe they are Master and Commander of their food choices. I want them to see that they aren’t. But I also want them to see that they can make small changes that can put them back in the driver’s seat. I want people to see that making small changes in their kitchens and routines will make all the difference with no real sacrifice.”

  • Dr. Brian Wansink, Director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab and Fulbright Senior Specialist in food marketing and nutrition, as well as author of “Mindless Eating”.

February 4

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended this week that all Canadian girls and women aged 9 to 26 should be routinely vaccinated to protect them against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), the primary cause of cervical cancer. The vaccine is only the second anti-cancer vaccine developed, the other being the Hepatitis B vaccine. What is the evidence to support this recommendation and what is the scope of this infectious disease?

  • Dr. Joan Murphy, Chair of the GOC (Society of Gynecologic Oncologists of Canada) Task Force on Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control.

February 25th

One of our callers to Sunday House Call asked a pertinent question about the genetics of cancer. He asked, if our understanding of the genetic makeup of certain tumours becomes established, would this knowledge be applicable to other forms of cancer?

As reported in the September 6 edition of Science magazine, US scientists have cracked the entire genetic code of breast and colon cancers, offering new treatment hopes. Researchers at John’s Hopkins crack cancer ‘gene codes’ of breast and colon cancers. The genetic map shows that nearly 200 mutated genes, most previously unknown, help tumours emerge, grow and spread.

The Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center says the findings suggest cancer is more complex than experts had believed.

  • Dr. Victor Velculescu, Associate Professor of Oncology at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Centre at Johns Hopkins University.

March 11th

A great deal of research connects nutrition with cancer risk. Overweight people are at higher risk of developing post-menopausal breast cancer, endometrial cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer and a certain type of esophageal cancer. Now preliminary findings from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggest that eating less protein may help protect against certain cancers that are not directly associated with obesity.

The research, published in the December issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that lean people on a long-term, low-protein, low-calorie diet or participating in regular endurance exercise training have lower levels of plasma growth factors and certain hormones linked to cancer risk.

  • Dr. Luigi Fontana, M.D., Ph.D. Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Sciences and Center of Human Nutrition at the Washington University School of Medicine.

March 18

Dan Gardiner

April 1

One of the challenges has been to accurately predict a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke. Various risk calculators have been developed based on 50 years of research. With each revision of the tools used to calculate heart disease and stroke risk, new evidenced-based information is added to improve its accuracy and prevent disease.

Aside from the usual risk factors that are used to calculate risk, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have devised a new Web-based formula called the Reynolds Risk Score, and state that for the first time more accurately predicts risk of heart attack or stroke among women. The findings of their study appeared in the February 14, 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association and are available in a user-friendly format for both physicians and their patients at

  • Dr. Paul Ridker, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and medical researcher and Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health.

April 15th

How much table salt do you consume each day? What are the short and long term health consequences of excessive salt intake? A study by Statistics Canada published this week in Health Reports has determined the majority of Canadian men and women exceed the upper recommended limit. Most Canadians consume far more salt in their average daily diet than is necessary, or recommended, according to a new study published today in Health Reports.

Among individuals aged 19 to 70, the upper limit was surpassed by more than 85% of men and 60% of women.

  • Dr. Stephen Havas, vice president of public health for the American Medical Association and Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine

April 29th

Is there another method to repair a child’s defective heart valve other than invasive surgery? Two Montreal cardiologists went to London, England to learn a new technique that accomplishes just that. The procedure, called percutaneous pulmonary valve implant, replaces open-heart surgery, and was performed in February this year by Montreal cardiologists Giuseppe Martucci and Adrian Dancea at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. (on 4 patients, two teenagers ages 13 and 14, and two adults ages 22 and 60) avoiding or delaying open heart surgery and returning home within 48 hours.

The Hospital becomes the fifth centre in the world certified to perform the procedure, invented by Philippe Bonhoeffer, chief of cardiology and director of the catheterization laboratory at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

  • Dr. Giuseppe (Joe) Martucci, interventional cardiologist with McGill University Health Centre, based at Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal and assistant professor at McGill University Department of Medicine

May 13th
What are the health consequences of banning trans-fats? Will our food be more heart healthful for it? What will be substituted for trans-fats and will a ban mean to people that the food is now safer to eat? These are some questions that need to be answered when one considers the ban-the-trans-fats issue. To discuss the science and to answer some of these questions:

  • Dr. Robert Eckel, Professor, Department of Physiology and Biophysics at University of Colorado, Health Science Centre and American Heart Association immediate past president.

May 20th

Malaria infects as many as 300-500 million people a year most of these occurring in Africa and more than one to three million cases of malaria each year result in death. It is the leading cause of death for children under age five in sub-Saharan Africa, and a predominant killer of pregnant women and their unborn children. Malaria costs Africa an estimated $12 billion in lost productivity each year.

An innovative approach using an experimental vaccine to destroy the parasite that causes malaria was reported in a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in December 2006.

  • Dr. Owen Rennert, M.D., Scientific Director National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health

High level spinal cord injuries and neurodegenerative diseases can paralyze a patient’s ability to breathe. This ability is wholly dependent on an intact nervous system and the diaphragm, a specialized muscle that sits just under the base of our lungs. Paralysis of this muscle as a result of nerve damage requires can result in a lifelong attachment to a ventilator.

On January 8, at Vancouver General Hospital, the team implanted a unique electronic device into a quadriplegic man from Alberta. For the first time in nearly five years, he is now able to breathe on his own. This technology is a first for Canada, with Vancouver the second site in the world to become a trial centre. A critical research grant from the Rick Hansen Foundation and BC Rehab supported the procedure.

  • Dr. Jeremy Road, specialist in Respiratory medicine at Vancouver General Hospital, scientist at VCHRI (Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute) with the Respiratory & Critical Care research group, medical director of the Provincial Respiratory Outreach Program, and professor in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC.Dr. John Yee, surgeon in Division of Thoracic Surgery at UBC and VGH (Vancouver General Hospital) and surgical director of the Lung Transplant Program for the province of British Columbia.

July 8

How many people remember seeing a child with polio? The success of vaccination programs has created a situation that elegantly illustrates how we think about risk and danger. Because most people have no experience with the disease, many do not perceive it to be a danger anymore.

However other areas of the world unfortunately do have children infected by polio virus. Dr. Bruce Aylward, Coordinator of the Global Polio Eradication Program of the World Health Organization (WHO) for almost 10 years helped develop the model of polio vaccination provision that is now being adapted by health agencies to deliver other forms of preventative medicine to remote and disadvantaged areas around the globe.

He began work with the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1992 as a medical officer for the agency’s immunization program and went on to join the Polio Eradication Initiative, becoming the co-ordinator for the program in 1998. In this position he has done a great deal to ensure the achievement of WHO’s goal of global eradication of the disease, which has seen the number of cases drop from 360,000 in 125 countries in 1988, to 3,000 in 2000, to fewer than 700 in early 2003 and now just over 250 in 2007 so far.

The model of polio vaccination that he helped to develop is now being adapted by health agencies to deliver other forms of preventative medicine to remote and disadvantaged areas around the globe.

September 2

Health care reform especially as it applies to private and public provision is a topic that evokes strong sentiments, passionate discourse, arguments and unfortunately personal attacks, sometime quite vicious and malevolent.

No stranger to being on the receiving end of the vitriol, the new president of the CMA is clear, we must ensure that Canadians have universal access to our health care system and also reform the Canada Health Act.

  • Dr. Brian Day, President of the CMA, consulting orthopedic surgeon, founder of the Cambie Surgical Centre and founder of the Canadian Independent Medical Clinics Association

November 18

Food science is a major topic for discussion on Sunday House Call. To me, there was one seminal interview that beautifully encapsulated the exciting science and discovery of the biochemistry of foods and the role they play in fighting cancer.

The interview in June 2006 features Dr. Richard Beliveau, author of Foods That Fight Cancer: Preventing Cancer through Diet. To date, 200,000 copies of the book have sold in Canada, an incredible number given that 5,000 are considered a best-seller.

As we discussed in our last interview of June 25, 2006, phytochemicals in the foods we eat can play a significant role in cancer prevention and overall health; literally a non-toxic version of chemotherapy. Our current Western diets seem to have weakened our body’s ability to fend off certain types of cancer among other diseases. In short, our society’s food choices have become divorced from reality and from our biology and physiology.

It seems the next logical step was to expand on the science and, at the same time, produce a book on how to incorporate these foods into our diet. With that in mind sprung his next book, Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer

  • Dr. Richard Beliveau, author of Foods That Fight Cancer: Preventing Cancer Through Diet and Cooking with Foods that Fight Cancer, Biochemistry professor and Chair in the Prevention and Treatment of Cancer at the University of Quebec at Montreal and director of the Molecular Medicine Laboratory at Sainte Justine Hospital. He is also professor of Surgery at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Montreal.

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