Epi in the News

Featured Articles

Vasectomy and Prostate Cancer Risk

?????????????????????????????“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.

 Prostate Cancer: Surgery vs. Watchful Waiting

jennifer-rider-photo“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

PTSD leads to greater risk for obesity in women

Karestan Koenen

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.

Spring 2014

  • “Sugar, Salt, and Supplements: Sorting the Science” - Epi faculty members discuss the public health implications of food-product label changes recently announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at a HSPH Forum panel discussion.
  • Several members of the department co-authored one of the American Journal of Epidemiology 2013 Articles of the Year, “Incidence of Adult-onset Asthma After Hypothetical Interventions on Body Mass Index and Physical Activity: An Application of the Parametric G-Formula”.  The paper’s first author is Judith Garcia-Aymerich, who was a visiting scientist in the department when this paper was written.  Co-authors include Raphaëlle VarrasoGoodarz DanaeiCarlos A. Camargo, Jr. and Miguel A. Hernan.
  • Epi in Space- An exciting new study led by NASA’s Human Research Program and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute will fund several investigations into the molecular, physiological and psychological effects of spaceflight in an effort to better understand the health impacts of human space exploration.  Identical twins Scott and Mark Kelly, both veteran astronauts, will be the focus of this study.  Scott Kelly will live aboard the International Space Station for one year while his twin brother, Mark Kelly, remains on Earth as a control.   PI Immaculata De Vivo and lab manager Pati Soule are collaborating with researchers at Colorado State University to analyze the effect of spaceflight on telomeres.  Telomeres are stretches of DNA found at the end of chromosomes; they shorten over time as cells divide and are associated with aging, cancer, and a higher risk of death.  The project, “Differential effects on telomeres and telomerase in twin astronauts associated with spaceflight” will study astronaut Scott Kelly’s telomeres during his year in space and compare them to his twin.  The researchers are excited to be a part of this first-of-its-kind investigation.
  • Anger can break your heart” – People who have angry outbursts appear to be at increased risk of heart attack or stroke, especially within the first two hours of an outburst, according to a study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and New York-Presbyterian Hospital researchers including lead author Elizabeth Mostofsky as well as Epi professor, Murray Mittleman . Those with cardiovascular disease (CVD) are at particular risk.
  • New school meal standards significantly improve fruit and vegetable consumption- New federal standards launched in 2012 that require schools to offer healthier meals have led to increased fruit and vegetable consumption, according to a new study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers. The study, the first to examine school food consumption both before and after the standards went into effect, contradicts criticisms that the new standards have increased food waste.  HSPH authors included Eric Rimm, senior author and associate professor in the departments of Epidemiology and Nutrition, and Paul Catalano, senior lecturer on biostatistics.
  • Nathan Eagle, adjunct assistant professor in Epi, works on engineering computational tools to explore how data can be used for positive social impact.  Read the article “Why Big Data is a Big Deal” for the full news story.
  • Battling drug-resistant “superbugs”: Watch the FORUM at HSPH from Wednesday, February 5th .  The fascinating discussion included Professor of Epidemiology and Director of the CCDD, Marc Lipsitch.

Winter 2014

  • 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 activitynutrition, or psychosocial factors influence personal health and wellbeing.  Read the full HSPH article or the official award announcement.

Fall 2013

  • 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.
  • The healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day than the least healthy diets, according to new research from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).  The study was published online in BMJ (British Medical Journal) Open. “While healthier diets did cost more, the difference was smaller than many people might have expected. Over the course of a year, $1.50/day more for eating a healthy diet would increase food costs for one person by about $550 per year. This would represent a real burden for some families, and we need policies to help offset these costs. On the other hand, this price difference is very small in comparison to the economic costs of diet-related chronic diseases, which would be dramatically reduced by healthy diets.”  said Dariush Mozaffarian, the study’s senior author and associate professor at HSPH and Harvard Medical School.  Other HSPH authors included research fellows Ashkan Afshin (Department of Epidemiology) and Gitanjali Singh (Department of Nutrition).
  • In a bold move to support Movember’s Team BelissiMoMeir Stampfer shaved off his distinguished mustache to raise funds and awareness for men’s health research. Read the Harvard Crimson article or watch Meir shave his mustache here & be sure to watch team Belissimo’s “Let It Be” music video!
  • A new article by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers including  David Hunter and  Srinath Reddy outlines the global burden of chronic, or noncommunicable, diseases and proposes ways in which national leaders and heads of international organizations can develop systems to cope with these long-term conditions that the authors call the “dominant global public health challenge of the 21st century”.  Read the full article in the New England Journal of Medicine.
  • Nutrition expert and Department of Epidemiology professor Dariush Mozaffarian has challenged the stereotypical “anti-fat” mentality by championing the wonderful benefits that healthy fats, such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, play in a well-balanced diet resulting in long term health benefits.  Read the article from Livestrong.com to learn more.
  • Professor and director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, Marc Lipsitch, discusses differences between various types of the flu and what to look out for this coming flu season. Learn more from the Harvard Gazette.
  • In a recent study, findings have shown that individuals who consistently improved their healthy eating habits after a heart attack greatly reduced their risk of a heart disease related death later on. The study was completed by Shanshan Li, research fellow in the Department of Epidemiology, and other HSPH colleagues including senior author, Dr. Eric Rimm.  It was published online September 2, 2013 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
  • Paige Williams and George Seage have been heavily involved in a study that recently found that newer combination antiretroviral (ARV) drug therapies for HIV appear to protect against puberty delays among children born with HIV.  The study is believed to be the first to evaluate the impact of combination HIV treatments on puberty onset in youth.  Read the full HSPH news article to learn more.
  • African Americans in the US may be at a higher risk for health problems due to insufficient sleep- “Short sleep” has been linked with increased risk of health problems including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and death. According to a recent study from HSPH, researchers found that black professionals had the highest prevalence of short sleep and white professionals had the lowest prevalence.

Summer 2013

  • Department of Epidemiology Chair, Michelle Williams, presented detailed information on gestational diabetes that has been on the rise in recent years, in step with the worldwide rise in obesity. According to current estimates, 5%-7% of pregnant women in the U.S.—nearly a quarter of a million each year—develop gestational diabetes. Read the HSPH news article written by Karen Feldscher.
  • Skipping breakfast may increase coronary heart disease risk -HSPH researchers found that men who regularly skipped breakfast had a 27% higher risk of heart attack or death from coronary heart disease than those who did eat a morning meal.  The study was published July 22, 2013 in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Circulation.
  • Prostate cancer: To screen or not to screen? -Dr. Lorelei Mucci outlines the latest research, debates and recommendations on Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) screening during a lecture at the School on July 30, 2013, part of the annual summer Hot Topics series.
  • A tireless advocate for the science of healthy eating- The Boston Globe Magazine profiled Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) nutrition expert Walter Willett in the cover story of its July 28, 2013 issue. Read Boston Globe article.
  • Three cups of milk a day? That may be too many - coverage of HSPH’s Walt Willett’s work with Vitamin D in the Boston Globe on July 18, 2013


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