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expert-perspectives

The Expert Is In: Liver damage from dietary supplements

Photo: Public Domain

Liver damage is a well-established risk of many prescription drugs. However, recent research out of the Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia reveals herbal and dietary supplements may be causing liver damage in some U.S. regions as well. Bodybuilding and non-bodybuilding herbal supplements alike were implicated in the find, which spotlighted a small slice of one of the world’s fastest growing industries.

The findings came as no surprise to Chengguo Xing, Ph.D., professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy and member of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota.

Xing is investigating how to reduce liver damage associated with a kava dietary supplement, which was found earlier this year to prevent tobacco-smoke induced lung cancer in a mouse model.

Here’s what Xing had to say:

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expert-perspectives

Health food movement stops short of vending machines

Photo courtesy Flickr user tkraska

Hungry and seeking a nutritious snack, vending consumers often find themselves struggling to locate a suitable selection. The lack of healthy options in vending machines has raised concerns among schools, public interest groups and public health researchers.

According to a recent article published in the Star Tribune, the health food movement stopped short of vending machines in public facilities. About 75 percent of items found in vending machines analyzed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest consisted of candy, cookies and chips. Similar trends are seen in beverage vending machines as 56 percent of the drinks are soda, and an additional 20 percent of drinks are energy or artificial fruit drinks.

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expert-perspectives

U of M expert: Vaccination rates are good but we can do better

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released the latest vaccination numbers for more than 4.2 million kindergarteners across 49 states and the District of Columbia. The vaccination rate remains relatively high, but there are still pockets across the U.S. where vaccination rates are lower than they should be, leaving young unvaccinated children vulnerable to preventable, dangerous and potentially deadly diseases.

In a statement, the CDC said vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks can still occur where unvaccinated persons cluster in schools and communities.

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expert-perspectives

What you need to know about Enterovirus D-68

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Help avoid spreading viruses by washing hands often, cleaning surfaces with antiseptic products, and properly covering coughs and sneezes.

The spread of respiratory illnesses in children across the Midwest, just as school began, has parents on edge. There’s concern over how contagious this illness might be, and whether it can be quite serious.

Enteroviruses are common viruses affecting people of all ages, but especially children. These viruses can cause a variety of illnesses, including the common cold and even hand-foot-and-mouth disease. There are more than 90 different strains and these viruses can cause a variety of illnesses, including the common cold and even hand-foot-and-mouth disease. The current strain causing concern is Enterovirus D-68, or EV-D68. The virus usually affects the respiratory system, causing inflammation of the small and medium airways resulting in an asthma attack-like response.

HealthTalk checked in with pediatric infectious disease physician Bazak Sharon M.D to get more on what parents need to know to help keep their families healthy.

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expert-perspectives

Are ”safer” playgrounds better?

Photo courtesy Flickr user Phalinn Ooi

Parents and experts are always looking for ways to keep kids safe, but many agree the movement may have gone too far when it comes to playgrounds.

According to the New York Times, critics of new safer playgrounds say they may stunt emotional development, leaving children with anxieties and fears.

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expert-perspectives

E. coli in our lakes: What does it really mean?

Image courtesy Death to the Stock Photo

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on the personal blog of University of Minnesota associate professor of biosciences Timothy Johnson, Ph.D.
Johnson’s research at the U of M College of Veterinary Medicine includes investigations into antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens, microbial communities in the animal gastrointestinal tract, and multidrug resistance of E. coli and Salmonella in both humans and animals.

If you follow the local news, or have children that love swimming, you have probably noticed an increasing number of beaches in Minnesota closed recently due to high E. coli levels. Just in Minneapolis, Lake Hiawatha Beach and Lake Calhoun’s Thomas and 32nd Street beaches were recently closed in response to high E. coli counts in the water. The simple phrase “E. coli” strikes fear into the hearts of anyone who has ever experienced gastrointestinal distress. However, it is important to understand what E. coli actually is and what “high E. coli levels” actually means to our lakes.

What is E. coliE. coli stands for Escherichia coli. This is the formal name for a species of bacteria in honor of the German-Austrian physician Theodor Escherich, who first identified the bacteria associated with digestion in infants. Here are the important take-home messages about E. coli:

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