Category Archives: Health and Medicine

Wildfires and Smoke

The 2020 California wildfires are among the worst in history and the wildfire season is just starting. Wildfires have been a feature of the mountain west for eons but the fires of the last few years have been catastrophic in loss of property, life and health. With increased fires at the wildfire urban interface the effects of the fires and the smoke they cause are impacting front-line firefighters and Californians all over the state, even when the fire activity is hundreds of miles away.

The duration of the wildfire season is longer, now stretching from summer into early winter, and catastrophic wildfires are increasing in size and frequency due to climate change. The fires are also having an impact on air quality with clear evidence of an association between wildfire smoke and respiratory health. Smoke also likely causes other negative health outcomes such as adverse birth outcomes.

Dr. John Balmes, UCSF Professor of Medicine, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, ZSFG/UCSF, explains the impacts of smoke on health and discusses studies underway to improve our knowledge as we continue to deal with devastating wildfires that are projected to get worse.

Watch Where There’s Wildfire, There’s Smoke.

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Climate Change Making Allergies Worse

People with allergies know that daily weather determines symptoms and that symptoms vary by season. Dr. Katherine Gundling, an allergy and immunology specialist at UCSF, looks at how the warming of our planet might affect allergic respiratory disease. What is emerging from data collected at pollen counting stations around the world is that the length of pollen season is increasing, starting earlier and ending later, especially in higher latitude and higher elevations. As temperatures increase pollen concentrations rise. And increasing temperature may also cause pollen to be more potent.

There are similar indicators that climate change is increasing mold growth. Of particular concern are indoor molds that propagate in wet environments. As sea levels rise and flooding and humidity increase, so too does mold exposure which can cause severe asthma reactions, especially in children who are more vulnerable.

The good news is that we know what to do. Climate change solutions are also solutions to improving health disparities and allergic respiratory disease.

Watch Impacts of Our Changing Climate on Allergic Respiratory Disease.

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Privacy, Practicality, and Potential: The Use of Technology for Healthy Aging

That wearable fitness device on your wrist is measuring so much more than your exercise levels. Digital tools offer unprecedented opportunities in health research and healthcare but it can come at the cost of privacy. Six days of step counts are enough to identify you among a million other people – and the type of inferences that can be made from other everyday behaviors is growing rapidly.

Camille Nebeker, EdD, MS is Associate Professor of Behavioral Medicine in the Department of Family Medicine & Public Health at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. She discusses the ethical considerations of informed consent and potential harms and benefits of these technologies. She also shares ideas on how we can work together to create systems that define and encourage safe digital health research and practice.

Watch — The Digital Revolution: Ethical Implications for Research on Healthy Aging

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Medicine of the Future

UCSF has a long history of pioneering biomedical research and a bold vision for advancing science and seeking new ways to improve health care delivery nationwide. But, what does that actually mean in the near future and beyond?

This new series, part of the popular Mini Medical School for the Public, takes you inside the work of UCSF scientists to learn what the next decade may bring to the world of medicine. Hailing from a wide spectrum of disciplines, each explores a different topic that has the potential to impact the future of healthcare.

UCSF was the only medical school to be ranked in the top five in the nation in both research and primary care by US News and World Report, ranking fifth in biomedical research and third in primary care education. UCSF was also the only medical school ranked in the top five in all eight of the specialty areas covered by the survey in 2019.

Browse more programs in Next: UCSF Scientists Outline What’s To Come .

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Wisdom Combats Loneliness

Loneliness and social isolation have become silent killers and studies have shown that they’re as dangerous to our health as smoking and obesity. But what can be done? “Behavioral epidemics need behavioral medicines,” says Dilip Jeste, MD, a geriatric neuropsychiatrist who specializes in successful aging.

Jeste suggests harnessing wisdom as a vaccine – a trait that can be honed over the lifespan. Jeste’s research demonstrates a strong correlation between creating a balance of self-reflection, compassion, emotional regulation, accepting diversity, and spirituality with lowered feelings of loneliness and isolation. Hear more about the science of wisdom during this insightful talk from the Stein Institute for Research on Aging.

Please visit https://www.uctv.tv/stein for more programs on healthy aging.

Watch — The Modern Epidemic of Loneliness: Using Wisdom as Behavioral Vaccine with Dilip Jeste – Research on Aging

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