Academic Health Center
Stay Connected

Drop the vitamin C: The truth about colds

Photo: CC, Traci Lawson,

Dripping noses and choruses of coughs can be heard in hallways and homes as fall settles in, a season often considered ripe for colds.

The truth is colds hit year round. In fact, adults probably come down with two or three infections per year. Children, especially those hitting the classroom or settling in at day care, often see up to six colds a year.

“It’s considered one of the most common infectious diseases in humans,” said Mark Schleiss, M.D., co-director of the Center for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Translational Research at the University of Minnesota. “Colds are generally caused by a virus called rhinovirus, and there are about 100 unique types of rhinoviruses. You can build immunity to them, but there are a lot of different strains so it’s hard to beat it completely.”

Schleiss is a practicing pediatrician and sees plenty of colds, so we checked in for the inside scoop on how to treat – and avoid – the common cold.

Read more

UMN expert: Expanding access to health care coverage critical to reducing a state’s uninsurance rate

Photo: New York Times/

According to a recent New York Times article, the majority of people who remain uninsured after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented in the United States live in the South and Southwest and they tend to be poor.

But why is this the case?

Health Talk spoke with Brett Fried, a senior research fellow at the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), to learn more about why there are such glaring differences in uninsurance rates across the United States.

Read more

The ethical debate over doctor-assisted dying

Photo: CC, Borya,

Sixty-eight percent of Americans support doctor-assisted death. But in a field dedicated to the mantra ‘do no harm,’ it can be tricky to define ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in the debate.

“Doctor-assisted death is a gray area that’s defined by personal values,” said John Song, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor in the Center for Bioethics and in the department of internal medicine at the Medical School.

Read more

Boo! How the body reacts to fear

Photo: CC, d.loop,

“Fear initiates our fight-or-flight response,” says William Engeland, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Neuroscience in the University of Minnesota Medical School. “When you’re exposed to a new and potentially frightening situation, our brain perceives it as a threat, and activates an automatic physical response.”

So what is the response? How does the body react to fear?

Read more

Mammograms: Cutting through the mixed messages

The American Cancer Society (ACS) announced this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association that it revised long-standing breast cancer screening guidelines. But other medical groups, including the American College of Radiology and the Society for Breast Imaging, are not adopting the new guidelines. So, who’s right?

Read more

UMN expert: China will see epidemic of tobacco related disease over the next few decades

Photo: Ernie/cc 2.0/

According to a new study recently published in The Lancet, Chinese men smoke one-third of the word’s cigarettes. An astonishing two-thirds of all men in China smoke, and one in three young Chinese men will die from smoking.

The study concluded that many of these smokers started at a young age, possibly in their teenage years, which adds risk, according to a New York Times article. The article goes on to say efforts to curtail smoking in China are often met with political resistance because the “central government has a monopoly through the Chinese National Tobacco Corporation, and more than 7 percent of government revenue comes from it.”

Health Talk spoke with Harry Lando, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology and community health in the School of Public Health, and member of the Masonic Cancer Center, to discuss what these alarming smoking rates mean for China and what it might mean for the U.S.

Read more