The Life of Mammogram Inventor Stafford L Warren

Stafford L. Warren was one of the most significant contributors to radiology during his lifetime. He not only was the first doctor to perform a mammogram, but was also had a hand in turning UCLA into one of the most prestigious medical universities in the country, was a special assistant on mental disabilities to Presidents John F Kennedy and Lyndon B Johnson, and aided the U.S. government in testing of nuclear weapons before speaking out about the dangers of nuclear fallout from weapons testing, which were controversial at the time. However, his strong opinions would eventually be considered, leading up to the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963.

Born in New Mexico in 1896, Stafford L. Warren attended the University of California, Berkeley, and graduated with his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1918. Heading to the University of California, San Francisco, he graduated with his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1922 and later did post-doctoral work at John Hopkins School of Medicine and Harvard University.

Warren became an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine in 1926. Since the Department of Radiology was brand new at the time, Warren was one of the original group of medical professionals that Dean George Whipple chose to staff the school. By 1930, Warren was an Associate Professor of Medicine. He began to study the work of Albert Salomon, a sociologist from the University of Berlin who produced over 3,000 images of mastectomy specimens and extensively studied the many forms and stages of cancer in the breast. Since Salomon wasn’t keen to recognize the life saving aspects of his discoveries, Warren expanded on his research, using radiology to track changes in breast tissue and developing a stereoscopic technique in which the patient would lie on her side with one arm raised while being X-Rayed. This was a huge breakthrough for breast cancer detection, as it allowed diagnosis of breast cancer to be possible without surgery. Warren subsequently published “A Roentgenologic Study of the Breast” in 1930. Today Warren is cited as the inventor of the mammogram for his breast imaging technique. Each year mammograms are responsible to diagnosing millions of breast cancer cases, effectively saving the lives of women the world over.

Warren, having now tackled a major milestone in his career and developing a new life saving technique, then went on to take on a new project: overseeing the health and safety of thousands during the Manhattan Project. His new role meant being responsible for the safety aspects of the detonation of the Trinity nuclear test in Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945. He later handled radiological safety when he led a team of surveyors to Japan, and to the Bikini Atoll in 1946, where more nuclear testing was done. Warren was in charge of assessing the radioactive contamination of the environment and atmosphere, which he was appalled by.

In response to this, in a piece for LIFE magazine in 1947 he wrote, “The development of atomic bombs has presented the world with a variety of formidable scientific, moral and political problems, nearly all of them still unsolved.” He went on to write an in depth analysis of the effects of the bombs, people and environment affected, the time length in which the effects of the bomb lasted, safety measures used during the Bikini expedition in which “a month passed before men could stay on some of the ships for more than an hour”, and “300 men of the safety section lived and worked in the contaminated area to protect some 42,000 other members of the Bikini expedition. Every group which entered the target area was accompanied by a safety monitor who determined how long it could stay.” The men were then bathed carefully when they returned, and if their Geiger counters indicated radioactive contamination they had to be bathed again. “Occasionally when a man had taken off his protective gloves in the ‘hot’ area, the safety section had to dissolve the outer layer of skin from their hands with acid.” Clothes and other materials found too contaminated were sunk into the ocean a mile below the surface, because there was literally “no other way to keep them permanently away from human beings.”

In the article, Warren concluded that atomic weapons can never be prepared for by anyone involved, and that “no defense would have been effective. The only defense against atomic bombs still lies outside the scope of science. It is the prevention of atomic war.”

Warren left his position in 1946, becoming the Chief of the Medical Section of the Atomic Energy Commission, which is a civilian agency that succeeded the Manhattan Project; and later he was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit for his contributions to radioactive and atomic weapons safety.

In 1947, Warren was once again at the helm of a brand new medical university, this time UCLA, which had been voted on to establish a medical school for Southern California. He was appointed as the school’s first dean. In 1951 the first students, 28 in total, were enrolled, and there were 15 faculty members. By 1955, when the class graduated, there were 43 faculty members. The UCLA Medical Center officially opened in 1955, and Warren oversaw many milestones and achievements while there, including the addition of schools for Dentistry, Nursing, and Public Health.

Warren not only was responsible for the invention of the mammogram, but for a number of impressive achievements involving radiological safety and education. His invention and teachings continue to save lives every day, and for that he stands as one of the great medical innovators of our time.

Insurance Rules Restricting Access to Addiction Treatment Medication

The medical profession has of late started accepting the need for medications pertaining to prescription drug addiction help bringing a ray of hope to people suffering with opioid use disorder (OUD). However, a recently conducted study by clinician scientists at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland, observed that insurance rules are restricting the usage of the prescription drug medicine, buprenorphine, among Medicare beneficiaries.

Buprenorphine is considered to be an effective and secure medication for treating heroin and other types of opioid addiction, thereby helping in decreasing deaths caused due to the same. According to the study co-author, Dr. Todd Korthuis, head of addiction medicine at OHSU, patients administered buprenorphine are seen to return to their pre-addiction healthy state.

Ironical move by Medicare insurance companies

In an OHSU news release, Dr. Korthuis said that ironically, while insurance companies offering Medicare policies are making it quite challenging for doctors to prescribe buprenorphine, they are making it relatively easier for them to prescribe opioid pain relievers which led to the current opioid epidemic.

For the purpose of this study, the clinician scientists carried out an analysis of data pertaining to Medicare Part D prescription drug plan and noticed that due to the increasing usage of certain pre-authorization conditions, the prescription of buprenorphine was increasingly restricted among insurance beneficiaries who signed up for Medicare plans between 2007 and 2018. Insurers commonly use pre-authorization conditions in order to restrict or manage access to certain medications to restrict costs.

The study findings revealed that around 90 percent of the insurance plans offered buprenorphine without any restrictions in 2007. However, the percentage dropped to nearly 35 percent by 2018. On the other hand, during the aforementioned time period, the percentage of plans covering prescription opioids like OxyContin sans any limitations, increased from 93 to 100 percent.

The researchers stated that the factors influencing buprenorphine restrictions may reflect inaccurately perceived drug associated risks like financial considerations or societal norms associated with addiction. The findings of this study were recently published in a research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Benefits of prescribing buprenorphine

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), buprenorphine is one of the three medications approved by the FDA for treating OUD and helps in easing withdrawal symptoms and the associated pain and discomfort. Daniel Hartung, an associate professor at the Oregon State University College of Pharmacy, stated that as Medicare does not and never did cover methadone, the other anti-opioid medication prescribed for treating patients battling OUD, it is important that it provides access to buprenorphine.

According to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), prescription medications such as buprenorphine are an effective means of treating opioid addiction. Unfortunately, said Dr. Korthuis, a lot of people still hold the opinion that treatment of addiction with medications is not really the road to recovery. But scientific evidence backs the fact that medicines such as buprenorphine present a higher success rate at recovery than merely resorting to approaches based only on abstinence.

Seeking prescription drug addiction help

Millions of people have lost their lives to the opioid crisis that is presently ravaging the United States, while millions of others are facing the same predicament. There is no doubt that it would take a mammoth effort to deal with the prescription drug crisis.

Struggling With Antibiotic Resistance

I never saw it coming. The process started with a small, but painful sensation right in the middle of my right butt-cheek. A very annoying problem because I am a writer squirming around as I try to fill up empty screens with words.

At first, I downplayed it as just some stupid little irritation that would go away as soon as it came. Being a diabetic for about 25 years now I am prone to inflammations and infections. This was just another in a long succession of intermittent, annoying, health problems.

At the onset, the thought never occurred that it might be an infection. I had not had any accident, no cuts, abrasions or scrapes so that did not pop up as the culprit. That is until it persisted and grew into an open sore. The pain level also rose dramatically.

I went to the doctor. He did not think it was serious. He wrote a prescription for a mild antibiotic and a cream. I left the office confident that the problem was in hand. Back home I took a pill, applied the cream and applied a bandage.

By that point sitting at my computer and performing my daily writing ritual was growing into a serious challenge. The pain was so intense that I had to force myself not to move at all. That worked for a while. I took the full antibiotic course and got into the habit of cleaning and dressing the open wound three times a day.

The process began last November. As I came to the end of the bottle of pills I was hit by a wave of disappointment and confusion. I had to face the fact that the infection had gotten worse, not better. Had the doctor misdiagnosed it? Had he given me the wrong antibiotic? Worse, did I have some rare new infection?

I went back to his office in a far more worried state than I was during my first visit. He admitted he was puzzled but brushed that aside. I got a new prescription for a stronger antibiotic that was going to require four consecutive injections.

Once again I returned home feeling a bit numb but optimistic that this stronger injectible antibiotic would do the trick. I got the injections and waited for the medication to build up in my system and wipe out the infection. I waited and waited. The situation did not get better it got even worse.

By then I could not sit and also had a hard time walking. The pain was constant even when I was trying to write while lying down. This time when I returned to the doctor’s office he told me to go to the emergency room. He would not try another antibiotic. In fact, he seemed at a loss.

Instead, I went to a clinic. The doctor there did prescribe another antibiotic, took a culture for the lab and had nurses scrub the wound. It just kept growing as if the antibiotic cream was a placebo and the injections had been nothing but water.

At that point, I had added symptoms including chronic fatigue and the first signs of depression. These two are features of a diabetic’s life and I knew what they were as soon as they arose. My immune system was beaten down and using whatever energy it could get from whatever source was available.

I did not get my hopes up during the third two-week course of the latest antibiotic. In fact, I was on pins and needles the whole time. When I finished I was not surprised that it too had failed at its job. Still, it never occurred to me that I might be antibiotic resistant.

By that point, I began to consider the possibility that my 71-year old body was running out of gas. My energy level was so low, and pain level so high that I could not write. I could only walk the short distance to the corner store to ship and my mood was buried in the pits.

When I returned to the doctor’s office he did not seem too surprised by the fact his prescription had failed. He put the lab report up on the lightbox and pointed to it. “I am afraid the results show you are resistant to every type of antibiotic we have.”

I simply could not wrap my mind around his statement. I had never thought that I had overused antibiotics to the point my immune system built up a total tolerance. Then again, nobody ever tells you where that line is.

In fact, I had taken at least one course each of the 3 previous years to cure sinus infections. I left the office completely confused and with no idea of what to do next. The doctor suggested that I schedule an operation to remove the infected area. My thought was that hospitals are great places to contract infections. I was not eager to take that option especially when it would mean I could not sit at the computer and work for a much longer period of time.

Believe it or not, that whole process went on for four months and I still had the infection. I decided to tough it out and see if my body would mobilize and get rid of it. Then I had an impulse to try one more doctor, a female who I had seen before and was impressed by.

She gave me a spray that the other doctors never mentioned, Microdacyn. This spray is a biologically active treatment for the treatment of acute and chronic wounds that are difficult to heal. I applied and applied it every day and started seeing improvement much to my relief.

My status now is guarded and uncertain. I do now I cannot afford one more sinus infection. I did discover one effective treatment, Phage Therapy. However, that is only available in Eastern Europe. I advise a very conservative approach when it comes to taking antibiotics, only do so when it is truly necessary.

You And Your Healthy Heart

Keeping your heart healthy is everything, and did you know that a full 80% of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented? It’s true and with odds like that, wouldn’t you like to know what you can do to decrease your risk? While we all think that we know what to do to maintain a healthy heart, do we actually all do those things? Changing just a few of the things we do each day can have a great benefit to our heart, and keeping that healthy and happy goes a long way to our well being. Who’s in?

If you’ve ever been to an ER with chest pain, you know one of the first questions they ask you is if you smoke. Not only does it smell bad, cost a lot of money and make you sick, smoking is one of the top risk factors for both heart attack and stroke. Not surprisingly then, one of the top things to do to increase your heart health is to ditch the cigarettes!

Other things on that list are proper weight management, limiting calories, exercise, maintaining a healthy blood pressure, reducing stress, monitor your cholesterol levels and of course, know the risks.

Simply, the risk factors for having a stroke, in addition to smoking is high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, age, family history, taking birth control pills, a prior heart attack, heart failure and excessive drinking of alcohol.

Similarly, the risk factors for a heart attack are again, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, diabetes, hormone replacement therapy, smoking and not getting enough exercise.

Imagine how much ‘heart’ healthier we would be if we exercised more, watched what we ate, kept a close check on our blood pressure and cholesterol levels and tried to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Sometimes, even when we try really hard, heart attacks and strokes happen. If you experience sudden weakness or numbness in face or limbs, if you have a sudden severe headache, difficulty talking or understanding speech, sudden dimness in one eye or unexplained dizziness you may be having a stroke.

If you have chest discomfort, pressure, pain, squeezing or a discomfort in your arms, back, neck, jaw, stomach, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness or you break out into a cold sweat you may be having a heart attack. In both instances seek medical attention right away, it just may save your life!