UBC Reports | Vol. 53 | No. 8 | Aug 9, 2007
In the News
Highlights of UBC Media Coverage in July 2007
Compiled by Basil Waugh & Han Nah Kim
‘Polar madness’ Grips People
in Remote Areas
The Boston Globe, Reuters, MSNBC, Scientific American and Canada.com reported on a study on “polar madness” by UBC Psychology Prof. Emeritus Peter Suedfeld.
Half of the people working in the North and South poles may experience depression, anger, sleep disruption, weakened cognition and irritability, according to Suedfeld and a U.S. colleague.
Five per cent endure psychological disturbances severe enough to merit treatment with medication or therapy.
“People on polar expeditions generally undergo psychological changes resulting from exposure to the extreme environment,” said Suedfield. Other causes include isolation and confinement, gossip and the frequent absence of privacy.
New Drugs Improve Breast Cancer Survival
A UBC study has found that newer chemotherapy drugs increase the survival of women with metastatic breast cancer, cancer that has spread from the breast to other areas of the body.
Reuters, United Press International, Scientific American, MSNBC and The Denver Post reported on the study, led by Dr. Stephen Chia of UBC’s Medical Onctology Dept. Chia’s research will appear in the September edition of the journal Cancer.
“To our knowledge, this is the first study that demonstrates a significant improvement in survival over time,” said Chia, “[which] appears to be caused by the availability and use of newer, more effective systemic agents for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.”
Is Obesity Contagious?
Dr. Laird Birmingham, a UBC medicine professor, featured prominently in media coverage of a U.S. study that suggests obesity is “socially contagious.”
According to the study -- published in the New England Journal of Medicine -- a person’s chances of gaining weight are higher if they have overweight friends and family.
Birmingham called the study’s conclusions oversimplified and “incredibly dangerous,” noting that obesity is a disease with many causes, from rare illnesses to medications, and can be treated clinically.
Birmingham’s comments appeared in The National Post, Montreal Gazette, Vancouver Sun and Canada.com.
In a Globe and Mail preview of the final Harry Potter novel, UBC English Prof. Kevin McNeilly comments on the publishing and cinematic juggernaut.
McNeilly, who uses Harry Potter in classes on pop culture, believes that, at its core, the series is about literacy.
“Students tend to discover it’s about reading, why people have to have books,” McNeilly says, citing books as the characters’ main source of knowledge about magic. “The kids in Harry Potter don’t have mass media, the telephone, the Internet.”