Many men with prostate cancer can avoid early surgery

Gerald Andriole, MD, chief of urologic surgery at the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, is a co-author of new research showing that many men with prostate cancer do not need immediate treatment, especially if they have low PSA scores or low-risk tumors that are unlikely to grow and spread.

Study looks at discrimination’s impact on smoking

Smoking, the leading preventable cause of mortality in the United States, continues to disproportionately impact lower income members of racial and ethnic minority groups. In a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health, Jason Q. Purnell, PhD, assistant professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, looked at how perceived discrimination influences smoking rates among these groups. “We found that regardless of race or ethnicity, the odds of current smoking were higher among individuals who perceived that they were treated differently because of their race, though racial and ethnic minority groups were more likely to report discrimination,” he says. 

Longer Life Foundation grants announced

The Longer Life Foundation has awarded grants to six research projects on issues related to aging at Washington University School of Medicine. Over the last 10 years, the foundation has awarded more than $2 million to the university to fund independent research into improving methods for predicting long-term mortality.

Carl Phillips’ ‘Speak Low’ named National Book Award finalist

Poet Carl Phillips, professor of English and of African and African American Studies, both in Arts & Sciences, at Washington University in St. Louis, has been selected — for the third time — as a finalist for the 2009 National Book Award in poetry. Phillips was nominated for his 10th collection of poetry, “Speak Low,” published in April by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Does enrolling in medicare HMOs affect mortality?

People who are enrolled in Medicare Choice HMO plans with drug coverage die at about the same rate as those in traditional fee-for-service Medicare plans, but mortality rates for those in Medicare HMO plans without drug coverage are substantially higher. That’s the conclusion of a recent study done by Gautam Gowrisankaran, Ph.D., an assistant professor of economics at the Olin School of Business of Washington University in St. Louis, with University of Minnesota colleague Robert J. Town. The researchers’ estimates imply that a 10-percentage point shift in coverage from fee-for-service to HMO plans without drug coverage could result in 51,000 additional deaths per year among the elderly.

Holidays and special events have no proven effect on the timing of death

WUSTL researchers have found no convincing evidence that people can delay or hasten their own deaths through sheer will.Many of us know stories about terminally ill friends or relatives who were able to battle their illnesses in order to survive until a birthday or other important occasion. In much of medicine, it’s an accepted “truth” that people can hang on or give up and somehow influence the timing of their own deaths. But in reviewing every study on the subject of delaying death, Washington University behavioral medicine researchers have found that there’s no evidence to support the idea that terminally ill people can have an effect on when they die.