Connections - April 2012
Having a friend group that mirrors your characteristics--body mass, age, fitness level and diet preferences may be helpful when working to improve health habits. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created an online social network site to promote health and fitness for 710 participants who were divided into small groups called Health Buddies. The participants were urged to use the online diet diary and health "dashboard," which displayed the number of daily exercise minutes, health behaviors and personal characteristics of the other Health Buddies in the group. Participants were more likely to participate in the health improvement activities if they were assigned to a group based on homophily, the tendency to have similar friends, than if they were randomly assigned.
"Changing health behaviors is challenging," says Martin Mahoney, MD, PhD, Department of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences. "Sharing that process with a group, whether it is just one other person, or a larger group, helps with affecting that change. Individuals in the group provide support, encouragement and motivation, as well as helpful hints and validation of commonly experienced cravings, thoughts and emotions." Try these online tools to help you make positive health changes.
While discussion about vitamin D's role in breast cancer continues, new research by RPCI researchers, led by Song Yao, PhD, Assistant Member/Assistant Professor of Oncology and Christine Ambrosone, PhD, Professor of Oncology and Chair of the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control, and four other institutions points to a possible genetic component that affects vitamin D levels. Researchers first found that severe vitamin D deficiency was six times more common among black women than white women. Then they looked at genetic variations of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and enzymes responsible for breaking down vitamin D in the body. They found that black women with the highest vitamin D levels, had a specific variation in VDR. Although white women also had this variation, it did not appear to affect their vitamin D levels. What's more, black women with variations associated with higher Vitamin D levels, had only half the risk for breast cancer compared to women without it.
"While it is difficult to determine the effect of low levels of vitamin D on the risk of developing breast cancer," says Dr. Yao. "Our results show that these genetic variations, which contribute to the function of vitamin D, are strongly associated with ER-negative breast cancer and may contribute to the more aggressive breast cancer features seen in African American women."
Recognizing RPCI's Volunteers
The Impact of Goin' Bald for Bucks
New ICU Unites State-of-the-Art Technology, Patient-Centered Design
Don't Miss The Ride Opening Ceremony!
Carly"s Crossing Registration is Open!
Tuxedo Juntion and Bridesworld
Thanks to a new partnership, Tuxedo Junction is helping bring The Paint Box Project"s all new Wedding Line to brides and grooms across the region!
Thank you to Tuxedo Junction and Bridesworld for their ongoing commitment and support!