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Race, Nation, and Ethnicity in the Afro-Asian Century, April 9 and 10 conference at the Photonics Center

Week of 2 April 2004 · Vol. VII, No. 26

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Boston Globe: Call now for arthritis-busting drugs

In an effort to reach consumers through a new venue, Pfizer, Inc., is advertising two of its arthritis pharmaceuticals through an infomercial — a direct-response TV ad that pushes such products as Ginsu knives, the Tempur-Pedic mattress, and George Foreman grills. The infomercial, which aired in January and February on cable stations, features arthritis sufferers enthusiastically promoting a drug that enables them to return to activities such as running and swimming, says the March 17 Boston Globe. Although the drug isn't mentioned by name, viewers who call a toll-free number learn about Pfizer's Celebrex and Bextra pills. Advertising specialists caution that the drug maker's push into infomercials could be misleading to consumers; because the drug is not mentioned by name in the infomercial, federal regulations do not require drug makers to disclose a prescription drug's potential risks and side effects. “Advertising like this provides only one side of the picture,” says Alan Sager, an SPH professor of health services. “Buying drugs is not like buying a toaster oven.”

Boston Globe: It ain't over till . . .

The controversy surrounding the contract buyout of Deborah Voigt, the prominent American soprano who was scheduled to perform her signature role of Ariadne in a June production of Ariadne auf Naxos at London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, is spotlighting the issue of weight discrimination against heavy female opera singers, says the Boston Globe's Richard Dyer in the March 28 issue. Voigt was told that she wasn't physically suitable for the updated production, which requires the heroine to wear a little black cocktail dress; Voight's current weight is estimated at over 200 pounds. The controversy begs the question, which should be more important on stage, the visual or the aural. Even though society has become more visually oriented, film and television do not accurately portray the real world, where people come in all sizes, says Dyer. Too, the grand voices that carry the vocal weight demanded by grueling operatic performances do not emerge from ballet-dancer bodies. “We are talking about bone structure, not about rolls of fat around the middle,” says soprano and opera veteran Sharon Daniels, a CFA associate professor in the school of music. “But you have to have a little meat on you to have the stamina for the big-sing roles with huge orchestras in large opera houses. And when I saw Deborah Voigt in Die Frau ohne Schatten at the Met, she looked completely proportionate to the huge theater, to the stage setting around her — the story and the setting are larger than life. But I tell my students, if you are going to sing Manon, you are going to have to watch what you eat and go to the gym.”

Heart Disease Weekly: Women can commit to heart-healthier lives

Results from the Framingham Nutrition Study show that women who eat a heart-healthy diet and have never smoked have the greatest opportunity to prevent heart disease, reports the April 4 Heart Disease Weekly. “We found that lower-fat diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods, in combination with the avoidance of smoking, significantly reduce a woman's likelihood of having early evidence of cardiovascular disease,” says Paula Quatromoni, a SAR assistant professor of health sciences and a coauthor of the study. Quatromoni and her colleagues followed 1,423 women who were free of heart disease at the beginning of the study. Those who ate heart-healthy diets and did not smoke had the lowest odds of having subclinical heart disease, measured as carotid artery “stiffness,” 12 years later. They were also 80 percent less likely to have early signs of heart disease than those who smoked and followed non-heart-healthy diets. “Positive lifestyle behaviors go hand-in-hand,” says Quatromoni, who hopes that her research will empower women to be proactive in reducing their risk of heart disease. “Healthy eating and tobacco control are essential to the primary prevention of heart disease in women. With the increased recognition that heart disease is a serious health concern for women, it is more important than ever to take an assertive role in its prevention.”


2 April 2004
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