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First Step To A Healthier You

Learn the Benefits of Walking - Join the BIDMC Walking Club


More Americans than ever are putting their car keys away and walking where they need to go. According to the just released National Household Travel Survey, 10.9 percent of all trips were taken on foot last year, compared with just 7.2 percent in 1990.

Walking is free, easy, and good for your health. A brisk stroll can raise your heart rate, lower blood pressure and increase blood circulation throughout your body. Plus it can increase your lungs' ability to take in oxygen and help reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Even if you don't have much time, experts say short bursts of activity can add up to a healthier you.

"It can lift your mood and give you more energy," says Loryn Feinberg, MD, a cardiologist at the  CardioVascular Institute (CVI) at BIDMC. "So getting into the habit of taking a brisk walk can help you live longer and healthier and feel better - that's a solid return on the investment of your time."

Summer is here - so enjoy the weather and take the first step to a healthier you - go for a walk!

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Benefits of Brown Rice

Choose This Side Dish To Lower Your Risk of Diabetes


When it comes to making healthy food choices, it's almost always better to choose the more colorful food. Blueberries, grapes, red peppers and green leafy lettuce all contain nutrients and anti-oxidants beneficial to good health and low on the glycemic index, which measures the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels.

Starchy, colorless foods like pasta and white rice are high on the glycemic index and should only be eaten in moderation - especially if you are diabetic. But new research supports a more colorful option for rice that may also help lower your risk of diabetes.

A study out of Harvard University finds Americans who eat two or more servings of brown rice each week reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by about 10 percent. Study participants who ate white rice on a regular basis - five or more times a week - were nearly 20 percent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. The study is the first to distinguish between brown and white rice consumption in the United States.

Brown rice is a whole grain and listed at 55 on the glycemic index, while white rice (72 on the glycemic index) has been refined, polished, and stripped of its nutrient-rich bran covering. Anything over 70 on the glycemic index is considered high. Because it has already been refined, white rice breaks down sugars faster, sending them into the bloodstream more rapidly.

Dr. George Blackburn, Director of the  Center for the Study of Nutrition Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, says while the glycemic index is a helpful guide, a healthy diet is more about common sense and portion size.

"In truth, you don't need a scoring system to tell you that whole grains, vegetable, beans and other high-fiber foods are great choices," advises Dr. Blackburn. "Processed and refined foods and sweets should be on the back burner."

Dr. Blackburn recommends home cooked meals along with daily physical activity and stress management to better control your diabetes risk.

Men: Be Careful Where You Put Your Cell Phone

Hands-Free Calls Linked to Male Infertility


Calling all men: Beware of the hands-free cell phone. New research finds if you're using a Bluetooth or other hands-free device and put your phone in your pocket or your lap - anywhere close to your testicles - you may affect the quality of your sperm.

Scientists at the Cleveland Clinic studied semen samples from 32 men - half were placed 2.5 centimeters away from an 850 MHz frequency cell phone in talk mode for 1 hour. The semen exposed to the electromagnetic waves emitted from the cell phone had higher levels of damaging free radicals, lower sperm motility (ability to move and swim) and sperm viability (percentage of live sperm) than the control group.

Dr. Abe Morgantaler, urologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, says the findings are interesting, but further study is needed.

"I think men can still use their cell phones, hands-free or not," notes Dr. Abe Morgantaler, who is also director of Men's Health Boston. "In general, radiation effects are greatly reduced with increased distance, as well as with many kinds of barriers like clothing, for example. It is totally unknown whether the effect would be the same with the testicles, which produce the sperm within solid tissues, as it is for a sample of semen, in which sperm float free in a fluid with very different characteristics."

Dr. Morgantaler recommends men keep the cell phone as far away from their reproductive organs as possible and even avoid putting a laptop computer on your lap because the heat from the battery may impact fertility.

"I would caution men not to keep the cell phone between their legs while they drive," advises Dr. Morgantaler. "But I'm more concerned about driving safety than radiation at this point."

Teaming Up For Cancer Care

Welcome Commonwealth Hem-Onc to Our BIDMC Family


Commonwealth Hematology-Oncology, PC, (CHO) and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have joined forces to create a new model for cancer care in eastern Massachusetts that combines community-based practices with the advanced cancer care resources of an academic medical center.

The affiliation combines CHO, the largest community-based private cancer practice in New England, with BIDMC Cancer Center's renowned hematology/oncology, radiation oncology, surgical and research programs in Boston.

"This affiliation delivers the best of both worlds, and delivers it immediately," said Michael J. Anderson, MD, CHO's president and chief executive officer. "Patients - especially cancer patients - want to receive top-quality care near their home where it is comfortable, convenient and delivered by familiar faces. When advanced care is needed, they have seamless access to leading-edge treatment from a world class Harvard teaching hospital in Boston."

Underlying the affiliation is the two organizations' commitment to economic responsibility and their belief that the highest-quality cancer care can be delivered efficiently.

Importantly, Anderson noted, this care can be provided without any new construction of expensive, duplicative facilities. "We are ready today," he said. "This is a smart use of resources. We are putting all our efforts into delivering top quality, compassionate and efficient care, without the need for new infrastructure."

The CHO-BIDMC cancer program will have more than 75 physicians in 15 locations, offering a vast array of cancer-fighting resources including advanced imaging systems, infusion centers with 150 chemotherapy chairs, radiation oncology suites, innovative technology, cutting-edge clinical trials and novel treatments. The agreement takes effect immediately.

CHO Chair Jack Evjy, MD, former president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, added that his organization sought a partner very carefully to make sure the fit was right. "We went through months of discussions, and we ended up choosing the exact right partner for us because CHO and BIDMC share the same values. We are very excited about what CHO and BIDMC can build together for patients and families in Massachusetts."

The affiliation model is unusual in that CHO will retain its independence, autonomy and extensive network of physician offices.

Lowell E. Schnipper, MD, chief of hematology and oncology at BIDMC, noted the relationship between the two organizations began two years ago when physicians began collaborating around patient care at the Commonwealth Atrius Cancer Center in Weymouth.

"Our clinicians know each other and have worked together very productively," said Schnipper. "This new larger affiliation builds on an already successful relationship and a mutual focus on patient-centered care. Our philosophy is the right care in the right place at the right time."

"We are delighted to be building relationships with CHO's oncologists to be able to take better care for our patients today and be there for them tomorrow," said Stuart Rosenberg, MD, president of Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the Beth Israel Deaconess Physicians Organization.

"All over the country, health care advocates are seeking new ways of delivering the highest quality care in the most efficient way," said Paul Levy, BIDMC's president and CEO. "In this rapidly changing health care environment, we need to be working together to make smart use of existing facilities and other scarce resources. Our affiliation with CHO accomplishes this."

As affiliated organizations, CHO and BIDMC will share a common electronic medical record system allowing seamless access to information and sparing patients from duplicative tests and imaging. Physicians will share educational opportunities as well as contracting services provided by the Beth Israel Deaconess Physician Organization.

CHO, founded in Quincy and Weymouth in 1996, is the largest community-based, private cancer practice in New England, with 24 physicians and offices in Concord, Dorchester, Haverhill, Lawrence, Leominster, Milton, Newburyport, Plymouth, Quincy, Stoneham, Weymouth and Worcester. Its Weymouth and Newburyport locations are comprehensive cancer centers with radiation oncology facilities as well as consultation rooms and infusion bays for chemotherapy. CHO recently was awarded The Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) certification from the American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO), one of only 23 oncology practices nationwide and the only recipient within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The  Cancer Center at BIDMC is a comprehensive cancer center and research affiliate of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), a member of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG), and an active participant in many of the National Cancer Institute's Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE). It is the only program in Massachusetts, and one of only 34 in the country, to receive the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. The Cancer Center provides patient care in Boston, Waltham and Needham.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and consistently ranks among the top four in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted July 2010