In a study published online in The BMJ, research at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet correlated with longer telomeres.
Telomeres are repetitive DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes that get shorter every time a cell divides. These shorter telomeres have been associated with decreases life expectancy and increases risk of aging related disease, while longer telomeres have been linked to longevity. Immaculata De Vivo, Associate professor in the Channing Division at BWH and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health was senior author on this study and Marta Crous Bou, post doctoral fellow in the Channing Division of Network Medicine was the first author.
New research by Alkes Price, Associate professor of Statistical Genetics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and colleagues focuses on new approaches to characterizing and identifying genetic factors in complex disease.The study outlines a new way of estimating how much variation in a particular trait is due to genetics. Examples looked at in the paper include height, body mass index, and prostate cancer. Geneticists tend to analyze traits like height and BMI because it’s very convenient to assemble huge amounts of data based on the amount that is readily available.
The long-term goal is to identify disease-related genetic associations and then to use that knowledge to understand which genes or pathways are biologically important so that experimental drug targets can be devised, evaluated, and test.
The Catalyst by Jocelyn Kaiser
Harvard University epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch has become a prominent voice in the debate over studies that create potentially dangerous new flu viruses that critics fear could escape from laboratories and cause a pandemic. This past July, Lipsitch organized 18 scientists who crafted a statement calling for governments to curtail these controversial studies until risks and benefits can be thoroughly weighed. It drew an online response a few days later from an opposing alliance of researchers who support the experiments. Still, to Lipsitch‘s surprise, they gave a little ground: They agreed that researchers needed to publicly air the issues. The turn of events highlights how Lipsitch, a one-time philosophy major turned biologist, has recently shown a knack for being in the right place at the right time, with a message and data that have helped shape the conversation.
In a poignant article written by Department of Epidemiology Chair, Michelle Williams, Dimitrios Trichopoulos, a passionate trailblazer in the field of public health epidemiology and former Department Chair, shares thoughtful insights on the future of the field along with lessons from the tremendous career and research collaborations he has been able to create over the past half-century.
“Vasectomy is associated with a small increased risk of prostate cancer, and a stronger risk for advanced or lethal prostate cancer, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). The researchers found that the association remained even among men who received regular prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening, suggesting the increased risk of lethal cancer cannot be explained by diagnostic bias. It is the largest and most comprehensive study to date to look at the link between vasectomy and prostate cancer.” Read the full Harvard Gazette article featuring this innovative research from members of the Department of Epidemiology.
A new study led by esteemed HSPH researchers Leah Cahill and Eric Rimm found that skipping breakfast led to a 27% increase in coronary heart disease in men. Listen to the podcast provided through the Harvard School of Public Health News website to learn about this important and incredibly fascinating discovery on the importance of beginning your day with a nutritious meal.
Prostate Cancer: Surgery vs. Watchful Waiting
“The latest results from the SPCG-4 trial indicate that surgery can not only improve survival, especially in men diagnosed at a younger age or with intermediate-risk disease, but also that surgery can reduce the burden of disease in terms of development of metastases and the need for palliative treatment,” said co-author Jennifer Rider, assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology
A study completed by a collaborative team of researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health pinpoints evidence that women who experience PTSD are more likely to battle obesity. The study was recently published in Jama Psychiatry and was lead by senior author Karestan Koenen. This study acknowledges PTSD as not only being a mental health issue by demonstrating the severe physical health effects it can have on those who suffer from it as well. “The good news from the study is that it appears that when PTSD symptoms abate, risk of becoming overweight or obese is also significantly reduced,” says first author Laura Kubzansky, professor of social and behavioral sciences at HSPH. Read the full HSPH news article for further information.
- Frank Hu and Walter Willet of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health were authors on a study suggesting that ‘a healthy overall diet can play a vital role in preventing type 2 diabetes, particularly in minority women who have elevated risks of the disease. The study appeared online January 15, 2015 in Diabetes Care. Click here to read the full article
- Immaculata De Vivo, Associate professor in Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health was senior Author on ‘Mediterranean diet has marked impact on aging’, the first study to link women, Mediterranean diet, and biomarkers of aging. Click here to read the full article.
- Walter Willett, Fredrick John Stare professor of epidemiology and nutrition and chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), has been selected to receive the 2013 Bloomberg Manulife Prize for the Promotion of Active Health.The $50,000 Bloomberg Manulife Prize is awarded annually to a researcher from anywhere in the world whose work promises to broaden understanding of how physical activity, nutrition, or psychosocial factors influence personal health and wellbeing. Read the full HSPH article or the official award announcement.
- Forced prostitution is finally being linked to higher risk of HIV and sexually transmitted disease infection in sex trafficking victims. “Involuntary sex work is not only a human rights crisis, but also exacts a devastating toll on health,” Kathleen Wirth, ScD ’11, wrote in a recent online opinion piece in the New York Times. Wirth is a research fellow in the Department of Epidemiology and the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership in Gaborone, Botswana.