Friday, June 26, 2015

UVU 'texting' lane photo goes viral

Photo of testing lane goes viral

OREM, UT — Pictures of stairwells at Utah Valley University have gone viral and are getting nationwide press coverage.

The one stairwell shows a lane for texting while walking.  The other gives calories used by walking the stairs.

The stairwells are part of the new Student Life and Wellness Center at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah.

The stairway is divided into three lanes: running, walking and texting. It was created because students glued to their smartphones are “bound to run into someone somewhere,” said Matt Bambrough, UVU’s creative director who came up with the idea of dividing the stairway into lanes.

“The design was meant for people to laugh at rather than a real attempt to direct traffic flow,” Bambrough said.

Before the recreation center opened last spring, UVU’s marketing and communications department was tasked with enhancing the center’s design through the use of art and graphics throughout the center.

“This graphic is obviously more aesthetic than functional, and though we’ve noticed that most texters aren’t actually following the posted lanes, they are enjoying walking to their workout space,” Bambrough said.

Public Relations Director Melinda Colton said the photo of the texting lane on the stairway has received lots of positive feedback.

“The viral photo began as a single social media post and from there was covered by numerous digital outlets,” Colton said. “Now the photo has appeared throughout the country and even internationally. What started out as a creative way to enhance a building has now caught the attention of people worldwide.”

UVU with over 34,000 students is Utah's largest public university.

Walking stairs at UVU burns calories

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Grocery group fighting Vermont GMO labelling law

MONTPELIER, Vt.— Claiming "enormous challenges" and fines of up to "$250,000 per day," the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has sent a letter to Vermont Gov. Shumlin, in which the multi-billion dollar Washington D.C.-based lobbying group suggested the burden on food manufacturers of complying with Vermont's GMO labeling law by July 1, 2016, might be so onerous as to prevent food companies from selling their food in Vermont.

This is the latest effort of the giant lobbying group to prevent the law going forward. The Grocery Manufacturers Association and several other trade organizations filed a lawsuit against the state one month after the labeling law passed in May 2014. The association contends, among other arguments, that the law violates the U.S. Constitution by compelling manufacturers to "convey messages they do not want to convey."

 But Vermont’s GMO Labeling Law still stands after U.S. District Court Judge Christina Reiss ruled against the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association (GMA) and other interested food groups’ request for a preliminary injunction that would stop the GMO labeling law from going into effect in Vermont next summer. The ruling brings Vermont one huge step closer to being the first state in the Union to mandate that foods containing genetically modified organisms disclose that information on product labels.

 The GMA was disappointed that the judge ruled against the preliminary injunction against Vermont’s GMO labeling law, according to U.S. News. “Manufacturers are being harmed, and they are being harmed now,” the GMA said. “Act 120 is unconstitutional and imposes burdensome new speech requirements on food manufacturers and retailers.”

 The GMA was joined in the lawsuit by the Snack Foods Association, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of Manufacturers, according to U.S. News. Together the plaintiffs allege that Vermont’s GMO labeling law is unconstitutional and violates the industry’s First Amendment rights. Because the judge partially granted some requests by the industry against the Vermont labeling law and Vermont’s Attorney General William Sorrel finalized rules regarding the GMO law this month, the case will likely go to trial, according to North Country Public Radio.

Though an automatic win would be preferred by many anti-GMO advocates, some are saying that a trial would bring a lot of facts about GMOs further into the public spotlight.

Connecticut and Maine have also passed GMO labeling laws, but these states’ laws require a neighboring state to go first. The GMA’s lawsuit was expected and planned for. GMO labeling supporters came together last year and raised funds to support “Vermont’s Food Fight,” and even big names in the industry like Ben & Jerry’s teamed up to raise funds to support the State of Vermont’s legal battle.

“The safety of food products, the protection of the environment, and the accommodation of religious beliefs and practices are all quintessential governmental interests, as is the State’s desire ‘to promote informed consumer decision-making,'” the judge wrote, dismissing the industry groups’ claims that Vermont’s GMO labeling law violates First Amendment rights and dismissing additional claims that Vermont’s law violated the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

"Indicative of increasing desperation, the GMA's recent letter takes hyperbole to a new height of ridiculousness, said Ronnie Cummins, international director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA).

"That's why the OCA has called on consumers across the country to thank Gov. Shumlin for having the courage to stand up to Monsanto, and to challenge the junk food industry to go ahead, stop selling your toxic Twinkies in Vermont! We also call on lawmakers in other states, especially Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York, to stop stalling on GMO labeling laws, and to have the courage to stand in solidarity with Gov. Shumlin and Vermont lawmakers," Cummins said.

 The GMA's letter was signed by GMA President and CEO Pamela Bailey. So far, Vermont is the only state that has passed a strong, stand-alone GMO labeling law.

Maine and Connecticut have passed laws, but they are ineffective, as they require four or five additional (and in the case of Maine, contiguous) New England states to pass similar laws in order for theirs to take effect.

The OCA supported a bill (LD 991) in Maine this year that would have removed the "trigger" clause so that Maine's original bill (LD 718) could be enacted without waiting for other states.

Unfortunately, Maine lawmakers chickened out, claiming they need to "wait and see" what happens in Vermont.

 The GMA promptly sued the state of Vermont, a week after Gov. Shumlin signed the state's GMO labeling bill into law. District court judge Reiss's ruling rejected the GMA's request for an injunction in order to keep the law from taking effect on July 1, 2016. The judge's 84-page decision affirmed the constitutionality of Vermont's law.

Meanwhile, H.R. 1599, a federal bill introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo, is making its way through Congress. H.R. 1599, dubbed the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act would not only preempt Vermont's GMO labeling law, but would prevent any state or local government from passing GMO labeling laws or GMO crop bans. The bill would also weaken the system for approving new GMO crops.

 "Sixty-seven countries that represent 65 percent of the world's population have already embraced transparency through GMO labelling," said Cummins. This latest ploy by the GMA to intimidate Gov. Shumlin and Vermont lawmakers is, frankly, pathetic."

See DAVE GRAM.  (April 28, 2015). Industry seeks to block GMO food labeling. Burlington Free Press.

Fixing Health Care After King v. Burwell 

Six Reforms To Improve Obamacare for Patients and Taxpayers: NCPA

Dallas, TX  – In light of the Supreme Court's pending ruling on King v. Burwell, Congress must prepare reforms to the Affordable Care Act that will pass the president's desk, says NCPA Senior Fellow John R. Graham in a  new report.

"Victory in King v. Burwell will not allow Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare. Nevertheless, it opens the door to some reform. Congress will succeed if it proposes changes that win President Obama signature, and remove at least one of Obamacare's harmful effects," says Graham. "Falling for the defeatist notion that President Obama will veto any reform proposed by this Congress is unworthy of a Congress that has promised to fix health care."

Graham's report suggests six reforms that could remove some of the Affordable Care Act's most harmful features:

  • Reforming premium tax credits so that beneficiaries are not penalized if they work more hours and increase their incomes.
  • Combine Obamacare's tax credits and cost sharing subsidies so beneficiaries can decide themselves how much to pay directly for health goods and services versus how much to pay in premiums to health insurers.
  • Allow beneficiaries to buy health insurance from brokers or agents and claim tax credits without having to go through the broken government exchanges.
  • Remove federal mandates on health insurance, such as age bands and mandated benefits, which increase costs, especially for young adults.
  • Remove the mandates on individuals and employers to purchase government-compliant health insurance.

"Even if the Supreme Court rules in favor the government and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, these reforms would solve some of the problems created by the Affordable Care Act, while helping fulfill the goals of increasing health insurance coverage and reducing costs to consumers, employers and taxpayers," says Graham.

Reforming Obamacare: How Congress, and the President, Can Win after King v. Burwell: 

The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization, established in 1983. We bring together the best and brightest minds to tackle the country's most difficult public policy problems — in health care, taxes, retirement, education, energy and the environment. Visit our website today for more information.

Supporters of the Medical Device Tax Repeal Contributed 21 Times More Money Than Opponents

This week the House of Representatives passed H.R. 160, the Protect Medical Innovation Act, which would repeal a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices. Congress included the tax in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. The tax is expected to raise $26 billion over the next 10 years.

Repealing the tax has been a major legislative goal of the medical device industry. Supporters of the tax, including organizations like the National Physicians Alliance and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, have argued the tax does not hurt device manufacturers.

MapLight analysis of campaign contributions to members of the House of Representatives from the political action committees (PACs) and employees of industries supporting and opposing H.R. 160 from October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2014. Contributions data source:
ndustries supporting the medical device tax repeal gave 21 times more ($19.5M) to current members of the House of Representatives compared to industries opposing the bill ($942K).

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN), the sponsor of the medical device tax repeal, received $109,049 from the medical supplies manufacturing and sales industry, more than any other member of the House.

Top 10 Recipients of Contributions from the Medical Supplies Manufacturing & Sales Industry

In addition to campaign contributions, the medical device industry has spent millions of dollars lobbying Congress and federal agencies.

To see how much each company has spent on lobbying since 2008, please click here to view our comprehensive federal lobbying database. 

Fireworks safety tips for a safe July Fourth

Fireworks on the Fourth of July are as American as apple pie. Carol Cunningham, MD, Emergency Medicine Physician at Akron General Health System urges using common sense when it comes to handling fireworks to celebrate our country's birthday.

On average, about 200 people every day go to the emergency department with fireworks-related injuries around the 4th of July holiday, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). More than half the injuries were burns. For example, a sparkler can burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit - which is as hot as a blow torch.

Almost half (41 percent) of fireworks injuries are to a person's hands, fingers or arms. One-third (38 percent) of them are to a person's eyes, head, face and ears (CPSC).

Firecrackers on Chinese New Year  - Photo by Amythyst Lake

If fireworks are legal in your community, The American College of Emergency Physicians strongly suggests that you do not use fireworks at your home. If you do use them, however, these do's and don'ts will help make it a safer experience.

  • DO - Have knowledgeable supervision by an experienced adult if you choose to use fireworks.
  • DO - Buy fireworks from reputable dealers.
  • DO - Read warning labels and follow all instructions.
  • DO - Keep a bucket of water or fire extinguisher on hand.
  • DO - Light fireworks one at a time, then move back quickly.
  • DO - Dispose of all fireworks properly.
  • DON'T - Give any fireworks, including sparklers, to small children; older children should be supervised by a responsible adult.
  • DON'T - Light fireworks indoors or near other objects.
  • DON'T - Place your body over a fireworks device when trying to light the fuse and immediately back up to a safe distance after you light it.
  • DON'T - Point or throw fireworks at another person, ever.
  • DON'T - Try to re-light or pick up malfunctioning fireworks.
  • DON'T - Wear loose clothing while using any fireworks.
  • DON'T - Set off fireworks in glass or metal containers - the fragments can cause severe injury.
  • DON'T - Carry fireworks in a pocket.

"The safest and only thing you should do is watch a professional fireworks display managed by experts who have proper training and experience handling these explosives," says Dr. Cunningham.

Sydney Fireworks - Anthony Cramp Photo 2010

About Akron General Health System

Akron General Health System, an affiliate of Cleveland Clinic, is a not-for-profit health care organization that has been improving the health and lives of the people and communities it serves since 1914. Akron General Health System includes: Akron General Medical Center, a 532-bed teaching and research medical center, and Edwin Shaw Rehabilitation, the area's largest provider of rehabilitation services; Akron General Partners, which includes Partners Physician Group, the Akron General Health & Wellness Centers, Lodi Community Hospital, Community Health Centers and other companies; Akron General Visiting Nurse Service and Affiliates; and Akron General Foundation. Recently, U.S. News & World Report ranked Akron General Medical Center as the fifth best hospital in Ohio for the second year running. In 2013, the American Nurses Association bestowed the prestigious "Magnet" status on the more that 1,000 nurses from Akron General Medical Center, Edwin Shaw Rehabilitation and the Health System's Health & Wellness Centers. For more information about Akron General Health System, visit


"Vincent is an adept writer, both when it comes to engrossing storytelling and in delivering medical facts with significant weight… A quick, emotional, and educational memoir about Alzheimer's." – Kirkus Featured Review
"A highly candid and intimate memoir that chronicles the many challenges facing those touched by Alzheimer's disease. It is impossible not to be moved by Dr. Vincent's heartfelt account…" – Dr. Kirk Erikson, associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh and author of a key brain study

San Francisco, CA- Dr. Constance Vincent's Not Going Gently is more than just a poignant mother-daughter memoir of a loved one slowly slipping away. The book interweaves story and science into a unique first-person, very informed account of her mother's personal experience living with Alzheimer's, intertwined with her own determined and dogged professional research into the disease, to perhaps get a glimpse of what she might expect in her own future.

"For baby boomers – or anyone else – concerned about memory loss, the big fear is always "What if I'm getting Alzheimer's?" And if you have dementia in your family, you have even more reason to worry," says Dr. Vincent, a retired psychologist based in Northern California. "But here's the Catch 22. The disease has a 'head start' of twenty or more years ravaging your brain before you recognize the damage, and then it's too late for help. You have to take preventive measures to stop it now, before symptoms appear."

While much of what information exists about Alzheimer's tends to focus on only one aspect of the disease from either a scientific or personal perspective, Not Going Gently melds the two in an all-inclusive portrait of the disease. The book respectfully and honestly addresses this devastating illness that affects millions of people and their loved ones, while also offering hope through groundbreaking prevention plans.

Not Going Gently is an easy-to-read, warmly emotional memoir on love, aging and loss that contrasts Dr. Vincent's mother Madeline's touching and dramatic story with her own normal age-related memory changes and research into the disease.

About The Author:
Constance is a psychologist and former university professor who studies the individual's innate capacity to realize his or her full potential – mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Inspired by the quotation attributed to Socrates, "An unexamined life may not be worth living," she is also aware of the warning from Dr. Schweitzer and others that "an unlived life" may not be worth examining. Seeking to both live fully and examine deeply, Constance's widely varied interests, circumstances, and experiences reflect her philosophy. She lives in Northern California.

Disney | ABC Television Group Supports 125 Youth-Led Service Projects with $500 Grants

Washington, D.C. – As school lets out for the summer, Youth Service America (YSA) is calling on kids to make this a Summer of Creativity. YSA, through support from Disney | ABC Television Group will award Summer of Creativity Grants to young change-makers who have ideas and projects that positively impact their community. 

Youth ages 5-18 in the U.S. are eligible to apply for Summer of Creativity Grants by submitting service project ideas that will make a difference in their local communities. One hundred and twenty five winners will be awarded individual $500 grants to implement their projects. Select grantees will have a chance to be recognized on Good Morning America or their local ABC affiliate. Applications will be accepted through August 10, 2015, at
2014 grant-awarded projects included:
  • Warm Winters, a program run by a 14-year-old to collect coats, hats, and gloves left at ski resorts to help keep the homeless warm.
  • Shred Kids Cancer, a campaign organized by a 14-year-old to fundraise for research to help find cures for pediatric cancer.
  • Braeden's Brown Bags, a foundation founded by a 10-year-old to provide healthy meals to kids in need.

"With half the world's population under the age of 25, our future depends on helping young people to find their voice, take action, and make a positive impact in their communities. We know that young people are uniquely suited to help solve problems - if given the opportunity," said Steven A. Culbertson, President and CEO of YSA. "We need youth to be leaders and problem solvers today, not just the leaders of a distant tomorrow. Disney ABC Television Group's Summer of Creativity is about shining a bright light on the incredible power of youth to use their ingenuity to change the world."
For more information and to apply, visit

YSA (Youth Service America) helps young people find their voice, take action, and make an impact on vital community issues. YSA activates, funds, trains, and recognizes young people ages 5-25 and their adult partners. For more information, visit

Disney ABC Television Group's Summer of Creativity recognizes young people who are harnessing the power of creativity and service to positively impact people, communities and the planet. YSA, supported by Disney | ABC Television Group and Disney Friends for Change, will award $500 Summer of Creativity Grants to young change-makers who are taking action and caring for the world we share. Youth ages 5-18 are encouraged to apply before August 10 by visiting or

Friday, June 19, 2015

Tips for consumers to take control of their health and wellness

Are You in the Driver's Seat When it Comes to Your Health?
By Dr. Chad Larson

Dr. Chad Larson
Now more than ever people are taking charge of their own health because of easy access to the Internet that allows more people to be armed with knowledge about their health. For medical professionals this is both good and bad. It's good in that people feel more empowered than ever about their health, but bad in that access to all of that information can lead to self-diagnosis of their own ailments, which is potentially problematic. That said, taking control of one's own health by working in conjunction with a healthcare provider is the first step to improve a person's overall health.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself and tips to make sure you are in the driver's seat when it comes to your health:

1)      Are you getting an unclear diagnosis from your healthcare professional? 
If you aren't feeling well and your doctor doesn't know why, no one is in the driver's seat to your health. Due to scheduling demands, most medical professionals have a limited amount of time to spend during a patient's visit. If there isn't a clear way to diagnose your health concern with a blood test or other procedure, sometimes a process of elimination is used as a way to identify what's wrong. With all of this guesswork, it's no wonder patients often feel uncertain and uneasy with their diagnosis. In order to take charge in this situation, I suggest partnering with your healthcare provider to search for what types of tests would assist in pinpointing a clear diagnosis. There are several websites that are patient-friendly and that give consumer information about why a patient may feel unwell. Ask your healthcare provider for some options. Or, depending on your symptoms, start by searching for possible dietary and environmental triggers (often overlooked by your doctor) or use search terms such as "immunology" and "sensitivities." 

2)      Are you researching your family health history?
Do you know if your mother or father suffered from any autoimmune disorders? Do you know if they were allergic to or had food sensitivities? Write down and keep handy your health history as it pertains to your relatives. According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, 54 million people have autoimmune diseases, many of which go undiagnosed. If you have a history of autoimmune disease in your family, you are more likely to develop one yourself, according to the national institutes of health. Tracing your family health history is important and highly recommended when you want to be more in control of your health and your risk factors to disease.

3)      Are you tracking what you eat?
With genetically modified foods, increased use of pesticides, and glue or gum additives in food, food reactivity is becoming more commonly tied to feelings of overall unhealthiness. Gluten and other foods can have a huge impact on health. Ask your healthcare provider if what you are experiencing is possibly a reaction to what you are eating. This is one easy way to identify the cause of some common health issues such as brain fog, bloating, tiredness and joint pain. 

4)      Do you follow a successful exercise routine?
Exercise is a great way to get on the road to being a healthier version of yourself. Exercise has a positive effect on many chronic health concerns, including body weight issues. Conversely, remaining overweight or obese can lead to major problems like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Talk to your healthcare provider about your health and about beginning an exercise routine.

With so much information about health at your fingertips, it is easy to get overwhelmed and frustrated by not knowing why you are feeling unhealthy. Remember that partnering with your healthcare provider and being an advocate for yourself is the first step on the road to wellness. The questions to consider and tips above can help empower you to a healthier and happier lifestyle while putting you in control of one—if not the most—important things in your life – your health. 

Dr. Larson, advisor and consultant to Cyrex Laboratories, holds a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Southern California University of Health Sciences. He is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He particularly pursues advanced developments in the fields of endocrinology, orthopedics, sports medicine, and environmentally-induced chronic disease. Cyrex is a clinical immunology laboratory specializing in functional immunology and autoimmunity. Cyrex offers multi-tissue antibody testing for the early detection and monitoring of today's complex autoimmune conditions. Cyrex develops innovative testing arrays through continuous collaboration with leading experts in medical research and clinical practice. Cyrex differs from other labs by offering four pillars of excellence, including antigen purity, optimized antigen concentration, antigen-specific validation and parallel testing technology. Cyrex is based in Phoenix, Arizona and is a CLIA licensed laboratory. For more information please visit

News Briefs from the Endocrine Society

Journal of Clinical Endodcrinology
& Metabolism (JCEM)
1. Prenatal DDT Exposure Tied to Nearly Four-fold Increase in Breast Cancer RiskFifty year-long study first to directly connect breast cancer risk to in utero chemical exposure
Women who were exposed to higher levels of the pesticide DDT in utero were nearly four times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer as adults than women who were exposed to lower levels before birth, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM)A more estrogenic form of DDT that is found in commercial DDT, o,p'-DDT, was largely responsible for this finding.

Despite being banned by many countries in the 1970s, DDT remains widespread in the environment and continues to be used in Africa and Asia. Many women who were exposed in utero in the 1960s, when the pesticide was used widely in the United States, are now reaching the age of heightened breast cancer risk.

DDT was among the first recognized endocrine disruptors, according to the introductory guide to endocrine-disrupting chemicals published by the Endocrine Society and IPEN. DDT and related pesticides can mimic and interfere with the function of the hormone estrogen. Past studies have found DDT exposure is linked to birth defects, reduced fertility and increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

"This 54-year study is the first to provide direct evidence that chemical exposures for pregnant women may have lifelong consequences for their daughters' breast cancer risk," said one of the study's authors, Barbara A. Cohn, PhD, of the Public Health Institute in Berkeley, CA. "Environmental chemicals have long been suspected causes of breast cancer, but until now, there have been few human studies to support this idea."

The case-control study is prospective, having tracked the daughters of women who participated in the Child Health and Development Studies (CHDS) for 54 years beginning in utero. CHDS studied 20,754 pregnancies among women who were members of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan from1959 through 1967. CHDS participants gave birth to 9,300 daughters during that period.

For the analysis published in JCEM, researchers used state records and a survey of CHDS participants' grown daughters to determine how many were diagnosed with breast cancer by age 52. To determine levels of DDT exposure in utero, the researchers analyzed stored blood samples from CHDS to measure DDT levels in the mothers' blood during pregnancy or in the days immediately after delivery. The researchers measured DDT levels in mothers of 118 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer. The scientists identified 354 daughters who did not develop cancer to use as controls and tested their mothers' blood for comparison.

The researchers found that independent of the mother's history of breast cancer, elevated levels of o,p'-DDT in the mother's blood were associated with a nearly four-fold increase in the daughter's risk of breast cancer. Among the women who were diagnosed with breast cancer, 83 percent had estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer, a form of cancer that may receive signals from the hormone estrogen to promote tumor growth.

Researchers also determined that exposure to higher levels of o,p'-DDT was associated with women being diagnosed with a more advanced stage of cancer. In addition, the scientists found women with greater exposure to o,p'-DDT were more likely to develop HER2-positive breast cancer, where the cancer cells have a gene mutation that produces an excess of a specific protein. Basic research studies where breast cancer cells were exposed to DDT have found the pesticide activated the HER2 protein.

"This study calls for a new emphasis on finding and controlling environmental causes of breast cancer that operate in the womb," Cohn said. "Our findings should prompt additional clinical and laboratory studies that can lead to prevention, early detection and treatment of DDT-associated breast cancer in the many generations of women who were exposed in the womb. We also are continuing to research other chemicals to see which may impact breast cancer risk among our study participants."

Other authors of the study include: Michele La Merrill of the University of California, Davis, in Davis, CA; Nickilou Y. Krigbaum, Lauren Zimmermann and Piera M. Cirillo of the Public Health Institute in Berkeley, CA; and Gregory Yeh and June-Soo Park of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control in Berkeley, CA.

The research was supported with funding from the California Breast Cancer Research Program, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the California Public Health Department, the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Program of Cancer Registries.

The study, "DDT Exposure in Utero and Breast Cancer," will be published online at, ahead of print.
2. Maternal Stress Alters Offspring Gut and Brain through Vaginal Microbiome
Stress may have negative immunologic, nutritional and metabolic effects
Changes in the vaginal microbiome are associated with effects on offspring gut microbiota and on the developing brain, according to a new study published in Endocrinology, a journal of the Endocrine Society.The neonate is exposed to the maternal vaginal microbiota during birth, providing the primary source for normal gut colonization, host immune maturation, and metabolism. These early interactions between the host and microbiota occur during a critical window of neurodevelopment, suggesting early life as an important period of cross talk between the developing gut and brain.

"Mom's stress during pregnancy can impact her offspring's development, including the brain, through changes in the vaginal microbiome that are passed on during vaginal birth," said one of the study's authors, Tracy Bale, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania. "As the neonate's gut is initially populated by the maternal vaginal microbiome, changes produced by maternal stress can alter this initial microbe population as well as determine many aspects of the host's immune system that are also established during this early period."

In this study, researchers utilized an established mouse model of early maternal stress, which included intervals of exposure to a predator odor, restraint, and novel noise as stressors. Two days after birth, tissue was collected from the moms using vaginal lavages and maternal fecal pellets and offspring distal gut were analyzed. Offspring brains were examined to measure transport of amino acids. Researchers found stress during pregnancy was associated with disruption of maternal vaginal and offspring gut microbiota composition.

These findings demonstrate the important link between the maternal vaginal microbiome in populating her offspring's gut at birth, and the profound effect of maternal stress experience on this microbial population and in early gut and brain development, especially in male offspring.

"These studies have enormous translational potential, as many countries are already administering oral application of vaginal lavages to c-section delivered babies to ensure appropriate microbial exposure occurs," Bale said. "Knowledge of how maternal experiences such as stress during pregnancy can alter the vaginal microbiome is critical in determination of at-risk populations."

Other authors of the study include: Eldin Jašarević, Christopher Howerton and Christopher Howard of the University of Pennsylvania.

The study, "Alterations in the vaginal microbiome by maternal stress are associated with metabolic reprogramming of the offspring gut and brain," will be published online at, ahead of print. 

3. Hormone Fluctuations Disrupt Sleep of Perimenopausal WomenStudy finds sleep interruptions worsen during certain phases of menstrual cycle
Women in the early phases of menopause are more likely to have trouble sleeping during certain points in the menstrual cycle, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.During perimenopause – the earliest stage of the menopausal transition – women may have irregular menstrual cycles due to the body's fluctuating hormone levels. Symptoms such as sleep disturbances and hot flashes typically begin three to five years prior to the onset of menopause, when a woman is in her 40s, according to the Hormone Health Network.

The study examined how hormone fluctuations affected sleep during the luteal and follicular phases of the menstrual cycle. The luteal phase occurs prior to menstruation. The follicular phase refers to the two weeks after menstruation.

"We found that perimenopausal women experience more sleep disturbances prior to menstruation during the luteal phase than they did during the phase after menstruation," said one of the study's authors, Fiona C. Baker, PhD, of the Center for Health Sciences at SRI International in Menlo Park, CA, and the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. "Measures of electrical brain activity found that the hormone progesterone influences sleep, even at this late reproductive stage in perimenopausal women."

The laboratory study examined sleep patterns in 20 perimenopausal women. Eleven of the participants experienced difficulty sleeping at least three times a week for at least a month, beginning with the onset of the menopausal transition.

The women each slept in a sleep laboratory twice – once in the days leading up to the start of the menstrual period and the other time several days after the menstrual period. Researchers used an electroencephalogram (EEG) to assess the women's sleep and brain activity. Each participant also completed a survey regarding their sleep quality in the month prior to the laboratory testing and underwent a blood test to measure changes in hormone levels.

Researchers found women had a lower percentage of deep, or slow-wave, sleep in the days before the onset of their menstrual periods, when their progesterone levels were higher. The women also woke up more often and had more arousals – brief interruptions in sleep lasting 3 to 15 seconds – than they did in the days after their menstrual periods. In contrast, sleep tends to be stable throughout the menstrual cycle in younger women.

"Menstrual cycle variation in hormones is one piece in the overall picture of sleep quality in midlife women," Baker said. "This research can lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms behind sleep disturbances during the approach to menopause and can inform the development of better symptom management strategies."

Other authors of the study include: Massimiliano de Zambotti, Adrian R. Willoughby, Stephanie A. Sassoon and Ian M. Colrain of the Center for Health Sciences at SRI International.

The study, "Menstrual-cycle Related Variation in Physiological Sleep in Women in the Early Menopause Transition," will be published online at, ahead of print.

4. New from the Hormone Health Network: Exercise Anytime, Anywhere
Work out at work! The Hormone Health Network's newest infographic, "Exercises: Anytime, Anywhere" provides examples of simple physical activities that you can do no matter where you are, and how exercise can help those with diabetes. Go online to see the entire Infographics series. 
# # #
Founded in 1916, the Endocrine Society is the world's oldest, largest and most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology. Today, the Endocrine Society's membership consists of over 18,000 scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. Society members represent all basic, applied and clinical interests in endocrinology. The Endocrine Society is based in Washington, DC. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at Follow us on Twitter at!/EndoMedia.