Morning rays keep off pounds

A surprising new strategy for managing your weight? Bright morning light.A new Northwestern Medicine study reports the timing, intensity and duration of your light exposure during the day is linked to your weight — the first time this has been shown.People who had most of their daily exposure to even moderately bright light in the morning had a significantly lower body mass index (BMI) than those who had most of their light exposure later in the day, the study found. (BMI is a ratio calculated from a person’s weight and height.)”The earlier this light exposure occurred during the day, the lower individuals’ body mass index,” said co-lead author Kathryn Reid, research associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “The later the hour of moderately bright light exposure, the higher a person’s BMI.”The influence of morning light exposure on body weight was independent of an individual’s physical activity level, caloric intake, sleep timing, age or season. It accounted for about 20 percent of a person’s BMI.”Light is the most potent agent to synchronize your internal body clock that regulates circadian rhythms, which in turn also regulate energy balance,” said study senior author Phyllis C. Zee, M.D. “The message is that you should get more bright light between 8 a.m. and noon.” About 20 to 30 minutes of morning light is enough to affect BMI.Zee is the Benjamin and Virginia T. Boshes Professor of Neurology and director of the Northwestern Medicine Sleep and Circadian Rhythms Research Program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She also is a neurologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.”If a person doesn’t get sufficient light at the appropriate time of day, it could de-synchronize your internal body clock, which is known to alter metabolism and can lead to weight gain,” Zee said. …

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Y-90 provides new, safe treatment for metastatic breast cancer

A minimally invasive treatment that delivers cancer-killing radiation directly to tumors shows promise in treating breast cancer that has spread to the liver when no other treatment options remain, according to research being presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s 39th Annual Scientific Meeting. In the largest study of its kind to date, researchers reviewed treatment outcomes of 75 women (ages 26-82) with chemotherapy-resistant breast cancer liver metastases, which were too large or too numerous to treat with other therapies. The outpatient treatment, called yttrium-90 (Y-90) radioembolization, was safe and provided disease stabilization in 98.5 percent of the women’s treated liver tumors.”Although this is not a cure, Y-90 radioembolization can shrink liver tumors, relieve painful symptoms, improve the quality of life and potentially extend survival,” said Robert J. Lewandowski, M.D., FSIR, associate professor of radiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “While patient selection is important, the therapy is not limited by tumor size, shape, location or number, and it can ease the severity of disease in patients who cannot be treated effectively with other approaches,” he said.Approximately 235,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed each year. Of these, approximately half of patients who develop metastatic disease will have cancer spread (metastasize) to the liver, explained Lewandowski. While chemotherapy is the standard treatment for these women, many will either have progressive liver disease despite multiple different treatment regimens while others will not tolerate the side effects from toxic agents. Currently, patients are considered for Y-90 radioembolization when they have no other treatment options, he said.”The value of Y-90 radioembolization in treating patients with non-operative primary liver cancer and metastatic colon cancer has been demonstrated,” said Lewandowski. Given the low toxicity and high disease control rates, this therapy is expanding to other secondary hepatic malignancies, he said. “We’re looking to gain maximal tumor control while minimizing toxicity and preserving quality of life,” he added.Y-90 radioembolization is a minimally invasive, image-guided therapy where an interventional radiologist inserts a small tube, or catheter, through a tiny cut in the groin and guides it through the blood vessels and into the artery that supplies the liver. …

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Your memory is no video camera: It edits the past with present experiences

Your memory is a wily time traveler, plucking fragments of the present and inserting them into the past, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study. In terms of accuracy, it’s no video camera.Rather, the memory rewrites the past with current information, updating your recollections with new experiences.Love at first sight, for example, is more likely a trick of your memory than a Hollywood-worthy moment.”When you think back to when you met your current partner, you may recall this feeling of love and euphoria,” said lead author Donna Jo Bridge, a postdoctoral fellow in medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “But you may be projecting your current feelings back to the original encounter with this person.”The study will be published Feb. 5 in the Journal of Neuroscience.This the first study to show specifically how memory is faulty, and how it can insert things from the present into memories of the past when those memories are retrieved. The study shows the exact point in time when that incorrectly recalled information gets implanted into an existing memory.To help us survive, Bridge said, our memories adapt to an ever-changing environment and help us deal with what’s important now.”Our memory is not like a video camera,” Bridge said. “Your memory reframes and edits events to create a story to fit your current world. It’s built to be current.”All that editing happens in the hippocampus, the new study found. The hippocampus, in this function, is the memory’s equivalent of a film editor and special effects team.For the experiment, 17 men and women studied 168 object locations on a computer screen with varied backgrounds such as an underwater ocean scene or an aerial view of Midwest farmland. Next, researchers asked participants to try to place the object in the original location but on a new background screen. Participants would always place the objects in an incorrect location.For the final part of the study, participants were shown the object in three locations on the original screen and asked to choose the correct location. …

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