Media Spotlight

Too Much Time in the Sun? Skin Patch Might Tell

U.S. News & World Report, Chicago Tribune, New York Times

A new mint-sized, battery-free patch that alerts wearers to potentially harmful sunlight exposure in real time might become a powerful weapon in preventing skin cancer. Powered by the sun while designed to measure its rays, the patch automatically transmits sun readings to a user’s smartphone. It works wet or dry, is fully reusable and weighs next to nothing. “In the U.S., we’re in a skin cancer epidemic, which is driven by excessive UV exposure,” noted study author Steve Xu, MD, MSc, ’18 GME, instructor of Dermatology. He said the device weighs less than a single tic tac, is half the diameter of a dime and thinner than a credit card. What’s more, “the devices are virtually indestructible. We’ve washed them, dunked them in boiling water. They will last forever.” The findings were published in Science Translational Medicine.

For Cervical Cancer Patients, Less Invasive Surgery Is Worse for Survival


Minimally invasive surgery for early stage cervical cancer turns out to be worse than standard surgery, according to two studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Growing in popularity since 2006 and widely adopted, the treatment involves instruments threaded through small incisions that surgeons use to remove a diseased uterus. But it turns out that, for early stage cervical cancer, the technique has unexpected risks, including a greater likelihood of recurrence. Research headed by scientists at Northwestern looked at national cancer data and found that after four years, 9 percent of the women with minimally invasive surgery had died, versus 5 percent of the women with open surgery. “That is quite a big deal,” said study co-author Masha Kocherginsky, PhD, associate professor of Preventive Medicine and of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “These patients are early stage cancer patients, and the intent of surgical treatment is cure.”

New Guidelines for Treating High Cholesterol Take a Personal Approach

The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Los Angeles Times

A patient’s family history of cardiovascular disease and in some cases a heart scan are among the factors that physicians should consider before prescribing drugs to lower cholesterol, according to new clinical guidelines. Released at the American Heart Association’s annual scientific conference in November, the guidelines update a sweeping overhaul of the way doctors should determine a patient’s risk of cardiovascular disease. They urge physicians to do even more to personalize the decision as to whether a patient needs a cholesterol-lowering drug. “Risk is more of a process than a calculation,” said Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, chair of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern and a member of the panel that wrote the guidelines.

FDA Considers Making Food Labels Disclose Sesame to Help Allergy Sufferers

Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal

Sesame is the ninth most common food allergen for kids, and nearly one in three children with a sesame allergy is rushed to the emergency room each year, according to new research that comes as the federal government considers adding sesame to the list of allergens that food manufacturers must include on their labels. “This is an allergen that is causing a lot of reactions, and maybe that’s because it is harder to avoid,” said lead author Ruchi Gupta, MD, MPH, professor of Pediatrics and Medicine in the Division of Allergy and Immunology. “You can’t easily tell if it’s in the food.” The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.