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New Orleans Health News 

Autism-friendly Matinees

  AMC Entertainment's Palace 20 Elmwood movie theater (1299 Elwood Park Blvd., Harahan) holds special screenings of family movies every month for autistic children and their families. This month's feature, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, is scheduled at 10 a.m. July 11. Tickets are $4.75.

  The special screenings are part of a collaboration between AMC and the Autism Society to provide a setting where children with autism, a neurodevelopmental condition often accompanied by sensory challenges and problems communicating and interacting with people, can be themselves and enjoy a movie. During the special screenings, theater lights will be brought up, the sound will be turned down and no advertisements or previews will be shown before the featured movie. In a departure from normal theater etiquette, the audience will be allowed to walk around, dance, sing and talk while the film is shown. Families also can bring their own gluten-free and casein-free snacks.

  Visit for information about future special screenings.

Coping with Breast Cancer

  Touro Infirmary's Supportive Cancer Care Center (1401 Foucher St., Coliseum Room, second floor) is offering a series of free educational workshops to help women with breast cancer cope with the disease. The meetings are scheduled from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. July 7, Aug. 4, Sept. 1, Oct. 6, Nov. 3 and Dec. 1. Free parking will be provided. Call 897-8678 for reservations.

Party for a Cause

  Dance, visit with friends, see the latest fashions from SavingNola and support a great cause by attending the fifth annual GR4CF FizzyPop Fundraiser benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis (CF) Foundation.

  The event starts at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 9, at LePhare (523 Gravier St.) and will include music by DJ QuickieMart and DJ KGB. A $10 donation will be accepted at the door.

  Founded five years ago in honor of GraceRose Bauer, daughter of local entrepreneur Leah Bauer, GR4CF is an organization that seeks to educate people about cystic fibrosis as well as raise funds for research into a cure. Since she started GR4CF, Leah Bauer has raised $50,000 for the national group.

  This year's event is hosted by LRG and ThinkTank , and is sponsored by Vespa New Orleans, The French Quarter RV Resort and Hubig's Pies. For information or to make a donation, contact Kate at (323) 896-5616 or email

Focus on Wellness

  Xavier University has opened a new Health & Wellness Center (5110 Jefferson Hwy., Harahan, 733-1127; that will provide education, medication management and screening services to people in the New Orleans area with diabetes-related healthcare needs.

  The center offers free blood glucose, stress and diabetes monitoring, blood pressure and blood sugar checks as well as free weekly courses on diabetes, healthy eating and more. Healthy cooking classes are available for a fee.

  The Health & Wellness Center seeks to build partnerships with organizations dedicated to eliminating health disparities in the greater New Orleans area and will provide clinical education for students at Xavier's College of Pharmacy. The college's initiative on minority health disparities focuses on diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Darker, Thicker Eyelashes

  St. Charles Vision (locations citywide; now offers a prescription treatment to help eyelashes grow thicker, stronger and darker. Hypotrichosis, the medical term for weak eyelashes, can result in irritation and eye infections because the lashes don't adequately protect the eyes from dust and particles.

  Latisse, the only hypotrichosis treatment approved by the Food & Drug Administration, is applied at the base of the upper eyelashes and stimulates lash growth. You don't have to suffer from hypotrichosis to receive a prescription for Latisse, but you do have to take an eye examination.

No-cut Weight Loss

  Surgical Specialists of Louisiana (7015 Hwy. 190 E. Service Road, Suite 200, Covington, 985-234-3000; is one of only three sites in the United States to perform bariatric surgery for weight loss without making incisions. The Primary Obesity Surgery, Endolumenal (POSE) allows bariatric surgeons to reduce the capacity of the stomach by using USGI Medical Inc.'s Incisionless Operating Platform (IOP) and a flexible endoscope. Inserted through a patient's mouth, the scope allows surgeons to see the stomach and use the IOP tools to make folds in it and put in suture anchors to keep the folds in place.

  POSE reduces the risk of infections because no cuts are made. Patients experience less post-operative pain, no scarring and recover in a shorter time. Drs. Michael J. Thomas and Thomas Lavin, who perform the procedure, say their patients have been able to resume normal activities the same day as the surgery or the next day.

  Thomas and Lavin also can use the IOP to perform incisionless surgery to reduce the size of the stomach pouch and opening to the small intestine in gastric bypass patients who have regained weight.

Good Cancer News

  Researchers at the LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) have found that something as simple as Vitamin K can turn off a gene that allows certain virus-infected cancer cells to grow indiscriminately. Results of the study were published June 12 in the online medical journal PloS Pathogens.

  Led by LSU microbiology professor Ashok Aiyar, researchers found that cancers related to the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) — including several AIDS-related lymphomas, post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease and cancers of the nose, throat and stomach — grow very quickly when a certain EBV protein is triggered by excessive free radicals. Using in-vitro tests, the research team found that treating EBV-infected cancer cells with Vitamin K changed the levels of free radicals and blocked the tumor cells' ability to reproduce.

  The research was funded by grants from the National Cancer Institute, the Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium, the LSUHSC Stanley S. Scott Cancer Center and the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology at LSUHSC New Orleans School of Medicine.

Salamander to Man

  Inspired by a Mexican salamander's ability to regenerate severed limbs, Tulane University researchers will try to adapt that physiology to help injured humans. Tulane professor Ken Muneoka, the John L. and Mary Wright Ebaugh chair in science and engineering, won a $6.25 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. He will lead researchers from the University of California-Irvine and the University of Kentucky, who will seek to identify the genes that trigger regeneration in the salamander and see if they can duplicate the response in mice. The scientists then will try to develop therapies using regeneration-promoting cells or growth factors to elicit a similar response in humans.

  Muneoka says the team will establish a database of genes involved in the salamander's regenerative abilities and use them as a blueprint for coordinating the genetic events required for limb regeneration in humans.

Flip-flop Flap

  Flip-flops have become such a large part of American footwear fashion that the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) has published a tip sheet at about what to buy, what not to wear and when to avoid wearing them.

  Recommendations include buying flip-flops made of quality soft leather to minimize blisters and irritation; look for the APMA's Seal of Acceptance, given only to flip-flops that allow normal foot function; make sure the shoe bends at the ball of the foot; and wear a size large enough that your foot doesn't hang off the edge of the sandal. The APMA also suggests you discard old, worn flip-flops; treat irritations where the thong fits between the toes so you don't get infections; avoid walking long distances in flip-flops because they lack arch support and don't absorb shock well; and practice common sense by not wearing them while operating lawn-care equipment or playing sports.

Xavier educator named editor

  Leonard Jack Jr., director of Xavier University's Center for Minority Health, Health Disparities, Research and Education in the College of Pharmacy, has been named editor-in-chief of Health Promotion Practice, the Society for Public Health Education's peer-reviewed journal.

  Jack, whose five-year term as editor-in-chief begins in January 2010, has more than 20 years of experience in public health research as well as practical experience managing diabetes and other diseases, health disparities, men's health and community-based interventions.

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