We are pleased and proud to share the news that UCLA Gastroenterology and GI Surgery placed #3 in the nation for the 2023-24 annual U.S. News & World Report rankings.
We are equally proud that U.S. News & World Report recognized our hospitals as one of the nation's best in a broad assessment of excellence in hospital-based patient care.
Elaine Y. Hsiao, PhD, named among world’s most influential researchers
Dr. Hsiao, director of the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center, was one of 40 UCLA faculty members named among the world’s most influential researchers in the sciences and social sciences. The Highly Cited Researchers list, compiled annually by analytics firm Clarivate, identifies scholars whose work has most often been cited in papers published by other researchers in their fields over the past decade. Those named to the 2023 list have authored studies that rank in the top 1% worldwide in scholarly citations. UCLA faculty who made the list
Doctors break the silence on stress and diarrhea: What they want you to know
Andrea S. Shin, MD, MSCR, health sciences associate clinical professor of medicine, and other GI experts explain why stress is an under-the-radar trigger of GI upset. Plus, they reveal how to get speedy, natural relief from diarrhea and share their simple, stress-busting tricks to thwart future flare ups in this First for Women article.
Is “leaky gut” real? It’s more complicated than you think
Many websites have posted warnings about a condition called “leaky gut,” claiming it can cause depression, anxiety, autoimmune disorders — such as chronic fatigue, eczema, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, joint pain, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis — and other disorders. But is it real? Is it dangerous? And can you prevent it? Dr. Andrea Shin, health sciences associate clinical professor of medicine, provides expert commentary in this Good World News article.
Magnesium for constipation: How it works, the best type to take, and when to see a doctor
Doctors say magnesium can be a helpful constipation reliever. In fact, the mineral shows up in a slew of medications designed to ease constipation, as well as in some foods. Andrea S. Shin, MD, MSCR, health sciences associate clinical professor of medicine, provides expert commentary in Women’s Health about using magnesium for constipation, plus when to see your doctor if you’re struggling to go.
The Brain-Gut Connection with Emeran A. Mayer, MD, premieres on PBS stations beginning Friday, November 24
This documentary takes viewers on a journey of discovery, revealing how the interconnectivity between the brain, body and gut affects physical and mental well-being. Dr. Mayer brings his 40 years of clinical experience and cutting-edge research to this innovative health special presented by Detroit Public TV, premiering on PBS stations beginning Friday, November 24. Check local listings
Enrique Rozengurt, DVM, PhD, and Elaine Reed, PhD, awarded $3.6M NIAID grant to study how certain drugs slow or prevent the rejection of solid organ transplants
UCLA Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases Dr. Enrique Rozengurt and UCLA Distinguished Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Dr. Elaine Reed have received a $3.6 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) to examine how certain drugs slow or prevent the rejection of solid organ transplants in patients. Most current treatments to prevent transplant rejection rely on immunosuppressive drugs that are relatively unspecific. New therapeutic approaches are needed, and the identification of key targets will most likely arise from the elucidation of the molecular mechanism(s) underlying organ transplant rejection. Specifically, the new funds will support research identifying novel mechanisms by which the lipid-lowering drugs of the statin family prevent rejection of solid organ transplants. The results of this research could be important in other fields, including counteracting cancer.
You are what you eat: Diet may affect your mood and brain function
If you struggle with mood changes and other behavioral health issues, there’s a chance that your diet has something to do with it. Arpana Gupta, PhD, co-director of the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center, and Shelby Yaceczko, MS, RDN-AP, CNSC, CSSD, advanced practice dietitian, discuss what the gut-brain system is, and how diet can affect it. Read story in UCLA Health News & Insights
A mother mouse needs a diverse gut microbiome to form a healthy placenta
The bacteria found naturally in the digestive tract do a lot more than help digest food. Scientists have established that these microbial communities are also involved with the immune system and play a role in mental health. Now, helping to grow a healthy placenta during pregnancy can be added to the list of unexpected ways the gut microbiome influences health and well-being. New research led by UCLA scientists and published in the journal Science Advances shows that mice with depleted gut microbiomes had smaller placentas than normal mice and a less well-developed network of blood vessels between the placenta and the fetus. “The gut microbiome affects many aspects of host physiology, and more and more evidence suggests that it begins to exert its influence even during prenatal life,” said senior author Elaine Y. Hsiao, PhD, director of the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center. Read story in UCLA Newsroom
What probiotics can and can’t do
Probiotic supplements fill drug store shelves, claiming to promote digestive health, aid with weight loss or improve emotional well-being. Do probiotics deliver on these promises? Shahrad Hakimian, MD, health sciences clinical instructor of medicine, discusses the nature of probiotics and what physicians are still learning about them. Read story in UCLA Health News & Insights
Patients benefit when GI treatment team includes dietitians
Although many common digestive diseases and their corresponding outcomes are linked to dietary quality and are complicated by poor nutrition and/or obesity, nutrition often gets pushed to the wayside in GI education. In 1985, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine made recommendations to upgrade nutrition education programs in U.S. medical schools. Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN, lead GI dietitian, discusses the benefits of a multidisciplinary team that includes dietitians when treating GI conditions. Read Medscape article
Discrimination alters brain-gut ‘crosstalk,’ prompting poor food choices and increased health risks
People frequently exposed to racial or ethnic discrimination may be more susceptible to obesity and related health risks in part because of a stress response that changes biological processes and how we process food cues. Arpana Gupta, PhD, co-director of the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center, was interviewed on the study that directly examined the effects of discrimination on responses to different types of food as influenced by the brain-gut microbiome system.
V. Raman Muthusamy, MD, MAS, appointed Leon J. Tiber, MD, and David S. Alpert, MD, Chair in Medicine
The endowed position was established in 1982 with a gift from the Wilshire Foundation to support teaching and research of the chairholder. The chair was named for Dr. Leon Tiber, who headed the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at Cedars-Sinai; and Dr. David Alpert, who attended UCLA before finishing his undergraduate and medical degree at UC San Francisco and worked at LA County Hospital and Cedars-Sinai. Dr. Muthusamy, who joined the division faculty in 2011, is a professor of clinical medicine and the medical director of endoscopy at UCLA Health.
UCLA GI physicians make Super Doctors and Rising Stars Southern California 2024 list
Selection of Super Doctors is a rigorous multi-step process designed to identify health care providers who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Super Doctors is a selective yet diverse listing of outstanding doctors, representing consumer-oriented medical specialties. Rising Stars employs the same selection process as Super Doctors, recognizing physicians active and fully licensed to practice for approximately 10 years or fewer.
UCLA GI Super Doctors
Peter Anton, MD; Lin Chang, MD; Daniel Cole, MD, MPH; Lynn Shapiro Connolly, MD, MSCR; Eric Esrailian, MD, MPH; Terri Getzug, MD; Steven-Huy B. Han, MD; Wendy W. Ho, MD, MPH; Dennis M. Jensen, MD; Thomas O. Kovacs, MD; Emeran A. Mayer, MD; V. Raman Muthusamy, MD, MAS; Sammy Saab, MD, MPH; Jenny S. Sauk, MD; Kirsten Tillisch, MD; Tram T. Tran, MD
UCLA GI Rising Stars
Nirupama N. Bonthala, MD; Gina Choi, MD; Kevin Ghassemi, MD; Scott A. Hahm, MD; Danny Issa, MD; Ara Kardashian, MD; Stephen Kim, MD; Lisa D. Lin, MD, MS; Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil; Hamed Nayeb-Hashemi, MD; Mona Rezapour, MD, MHS; Alireza Sedarat, MD; Akshay Shetty, MD; Adarsh M. Thaker, MD
Research published on the association between disadvantaged neighborhoods and cortical microstructure and their relation to obesity
You are what you eat, according to the adage. But it’s not just the body that’s impacted. According to newly published research in Nature, living in a disadvantaged neighborhood can affect food choices, weight gain and even the microstructure of the brain. UCLA GI authors include Lisa A. Kilpatrick, PhD, associate researcher; Tien S. Dong, MD, PhD, assistant clinical professor of medicine; Jennifer S. Labus, PhD, adjunct professor of medicine; Bruce D. Naliboff, PhD, project scientist; Emeran A. Mayer, MD, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience; and Arpana Gupta, PhD, co-director of the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center. Read Living in a disadvantaged neighborhood affects food choices, weight gain and the microstructure of the brain
A second chance: Endoscopic suturing procedure after bariatric surgery helped Bren reach her weight loss goals
Many gastric bypass patients who regain weight are mystified, frustrated and plagued by feelings of failure. Bren, a UCLA Health patient, shares her journey, including how an endoscopic revision procedure (TORe) by Dr. Adarsh Thaker helped jump-start her weight loss to meet her goals. Watch video and learn more
Bruce Springsteen’s tour pause: Doctors comment on the severity of a peptic ulcer
Is a peptic ulcer serious enough to put a temporary halt on a high-grossing late-summer tour—or could something more serious be going on with the beloved Boss, who turns 74 later this month? Craig Gluckman, MD, associate director of community GI motility, discusses peptic ulcer symptoms. Read The Healthy article
'Budget Ozempic': Doctors warn about health risks of using laxatives for weight loss
Laxatives relieve constipation; they're not a weight-loss aid. But doctors worry some people are still not getting the message when it comes to using laxatives for losing pounds. Lin Chang, MD, professor of medicine, discusses the health risks of using laxatives for weight loss. Read TODAY article
Private practice or employment? What would physicians choose if they could do it again?
Eric Esrailian, MD, MPH, chief of the Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases, was one of six physicians interviewed by Becker’s and asked, “If you were just starting your career as a physician, would you choose employment or private practice? What factors would you consider in your decision?” Read Becker's Healthcare article
Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, named Cancer Health 25: Champions of Health Equity
Dr. May, director of the Melvin & Bren GI Quality Improvement Program, was named a Cancer Health 25: Champion of Health Equity. She is one of 25 individuals recognized by Cancer Health magazine for their work to ensure fair opportunities to prevent, treat and survive cancer. Full list of honorees
Decoding the mysteries of metabolic disease: Meet UCLA's Dr. Rajat Singh
UCLA Health highlights Dr. Singh's research on understanding how the body regulates lipid and energy metabolism — as well as the ways in which behaviors and medications could strengthen that process — which may offer a solution for combating liver disease, diabetes and even aging. Rajat Singh, MD, MBBS, is director of liver basic science research and professor of medicine.
Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center featured in U Magazine
The Spring 2023 issue of U Magazine, the alumni magazine for the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, features three stories on the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center researchers and donors.
- On page 17, spotlights research by Arpana Gupta, PhD, co-director of the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center, indicating that sex-specific brain signals that appear to confirm that different drivers lead men and women to develop obesity.
- On page 20, Elaine Hsiao, PhD, De Logi Professor of Biological Sciences and director of the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center, is interviewed about the new center and how it will advance microbiome research at UCLA.
- On page 46, Donald and Andrea Goodman and Renee and Meyer Luskin tell the story of the $20 million gift that established and endowed the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center.
UCLA study links fasting to mitochondrial splitting
UCLA researchers found that fasting increases the splitting of mitochondria, which may have implications for metabolic and aging-related diseases. In the study published in June, scientists examined the livers of mice that had been starved and identified the activated proteins, said Nuria Martinez-Lopez, PhD, adjunct assistant professor, the paper’s first author. They found that proteins in the mTORC2 cellular signaling pathway – known to be related to cell growth and metabolism – were activated by fasting, she added. These proteins increased the splitting of the mitochondria during fasting, which might allow cells to more efficiently burn fatty acids to cope with starvation, said Rajat Singh, MD, MBBS, professor of medicine, the paper’s corresponding author. Read the Bruin Daily article
People diagnosed with pancreatic cancer face added challenge of what they can and cannot eat
In an article featured in the UCLA Health Newsroom, Shelby Yaceczko, MS, RDN-AP, CNSC, CSSD, advanced practice registered dietitian, explains that the diet for a patient with pancreatic cancer likely will be adjusted according to their symptoms rather than the type of cancer they have. “From the start, we monitor for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, blood-glucose levels and malnutrition at all visits with patients,” Yaceczko said. “We check to see if our patients are experiencing certain symptoms related to food because then we’ll probably need to modify their diet as well as start pancreatic-enzyme-replacement therapy to replace the digestive enzymes the pancreas may not be producing enough of now. This helps ensure patients are able to break down and absorb the food they eat.”
Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, published in Capitol Weekly Opinion
Long plagued by racism and discrimination, communities of color lag on many health care measures. Eliminating disparities requires increasing access to care and improving outcomes. Unfortunately, some insurance companies are erecting extraordinary barriers that will actually delay necessary treatment for patients — and exacerbate inequities. Dr. May, director of the Melvin and Bren Simon GI Quality Improvement Program, authored Insurer tactics to delay care pushes health equity further away. Read Insurer tactics to delay care pushed health equity further away
Lin Chang, MD, Medscape inDiscussion podcast
Dr. Chang, professor of medicine, continues to interview irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) experts for the Medscape inDiscussion: Irritable Bowel Syndrome podcast series. Dr. Chang discusses treating IBS with overlapping disorders with Magnus Simrén, MD, PhD, professor of gastroenterology at the Department of Internal Medicine, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenske Academy at the University of Gothenburg. Listen to How do you treat IBS with overlapping disorders
11 ways to relieve bloating fast
A swollen, bloated abdomen can make your whole body feel heavy and weigh down your mood. While there are many smart strategies for preventing bloating, sometimes it happens, and you just want to feel better fast. Didi Mwengela, MD, health sciences assistant clinical professor of medicine, and Suzanne R. Smith, MSN, NP, CMT-P, integrative nurse practitioner, discuss causes of bloating and anti-bloat tips in this AARP article.
GI doctors reveal what they eat – and the foods they avoid
Taking care of your gut health should be a job that starts as soon as you wake up. Wendy Ho, MD, MPH, health sciences clinical professor of medicine, discusses choosing the right breakfast foods. Read Today article
Is IBS hereditary?
Gastrointestinal diseases may not be solely related to one’s diet. Emeran A. Mayer, MD, director of the G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, provides commentary on a new study that reveals genetics could significantly affect GI disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome. Read The Science Times article
The Robert G. Kardashian Center for Esophageal Disorders paves the way to advances in treatment of esophageal disorders
“Patients being able to see the necessary specialists in one location has not always been practical,” said Eric Esrailian, MD, MPH, chief of the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases. “At The UCLA Robert G. Kardashian Center for Esophageal Health, all of the practitioners work in one system. They meet regularly. There’s a clear leadership and support structure in place.” The center, which opened in 2019, brings together different medical specialties to develop new therapies to treat esophageal disorders. Kevin Ghassemi, MD, medical director of the center, and Jane Yanagawa, MD, surgical director of the center, discuss a collaborative approach that benefits patients, and V. Raman Muthusamy, MD, MAS, director of endoscopy at UCLA Health, discusses the importance of early detection for diseases such as Barrett’s esophagus. Read more
The Low-FODMAP diet, explained
The Low-FODMAP diet can relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but it isn’t right for everyone. “Candidates include IBS patients who regularly consume high-FODMAP foods and who notice that their symptoms worsen after meals,” says Dr. Lin Chang, professor of medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Read more in The Low-FODMAP diet, explained in The New York Times.
Could there be a link between meditation and gut health? It's complicated
Researchers recently flew the fecal samples of 37 Buddhists from monasteries high in the Tibetan mountains to a lab in Shanghai. The purpose for this high-altitude journey? To see how the composition of the monks’ samples — markers of their gut health — differed from that of their neighbors. The researchers wondered if the monks’ daily meditation practices might have an impact on the microbiome. “If relaxation and stress reduction and meditation decrease sympathetic nervous system tone and reactivity, then I think that will be the most possible explanation for changes in microbiome,” states Dr. Emeran A. Mayer, professor of medicine, physiology and psychiatry, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. Read Could there be a link between meditation and gut health? It’s complicated in Well + Good.
How often should you poop? The answer may not be what you think
Everyone poops, but it turns out we don’t all need to poop every day. Dr. Folasade P. May, associate professor of medicine, discusses what patterns are right for you, how to have a healthy poop, and what affects our bowel movements, in CNN Health How often should you poop? The answer may not be what you think.
Lisa Marie Presley died of complications from prior weight-loss surgery, autopsy report shows
A report by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner states Lisa Marie Presley’s death in January was caused by a “sequelae of a small bowel obstruction.” Dr. Folasade P. May, associate professor of medicine, provided commentary along with Dr. Michael Camilleri at the Mayo Clinic. Read Lisa Marie Presley died of complications from prior weight-loss surgery, autopsy report shows in CNN Entertainment
Rates of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are soaring, study finds
Dr. Saab, medical director of the Pfleger Liver Institute and medical director of the Adult Liver Transplant Program, commented in a NBC News story on a recently published analysis of data on 32,726 adults who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The analysis showed that overall, NAFLD rose from 16% in 1988 to 37% in 2018. Among Mexican Americans, the rate of NAFLD rose from 36% in 1988 to 58% in 2018, an increase of 61%. Among African Americans, it rose from 11% in 1988 to 25% in 2018, a 127% increase. Among white Americans, the rate rose from 15% in 1988 to 35% in 2018, for a 133% increase. The new study was co-authored by Dr. Theodore Friedman, an endocrinologist and professor of medicine at both the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science and the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.
UCLA GI physicians make L.A.'s Top Doctors 2023
Each year, Los Angeles magazine publishes a roundup of recommended doctors in a variety of specialties. The list is compiled and vetted by Professional Research Services, a firm that conducts peer-review surveys of professionals to determine the best doctors, dentists, lawyers and real estate agents within a specific geographical area. Practicing physicians were asked to nominate doctors they deem worthy of consideration. The following UCLA GI faculty made the 2023 list
- Lynn Shapiro Connolly, MD, MSCR
- Scott A. Hahm, MD
- Wendy W. Ho, MD, MPH
- Vikas K. Pabby, MD, MPH
Jennifer M. Kolb, MD, MS, participated in AGC EBGI podcast
Dr. Kolb, health sciences assistant professor of medicine and staff physician at the VA Greater Los Angeles Health Care, discussed how over-the-scope clips can decrease non-variceal upper GI bleeding in selected patients in the recent Evidence-Based GI: An ACG Publication (EBGI) podcast. Listen here
Lin Chang, MD, Medscape inDiscussion podcast
Dr. Chang, professor of medicine, continues to interview irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) experts for the Medscape inDiscussion: Irritable Bowel Syndrome podcast series. In episode four, Dr. Chang discusses effective pharmacotherapy for IBS-C, IBS-D and IBS-mixed with Anthony Lembo, MD, vice chair of research for Cleveland Clinic's Digestive Disease and Surgery Institute.
Is ulcerative colitis taking a toll on your self-esteem? Take the quiz
Patients suffering from ulcerative colitis often feel frustrated with their bodies — especially when experiencing stomach pain or fatigue or when in the middle of a flare. Other complications of ulcerative colitis, such as the potential side effects of medication and body-altering surgeries, can also make life with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) difficult. Stigma and misconceptions of it being a “bathroom disease” can make things even worse. Dr. Limketkai, director of clinical research for the Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, provides expert commentary in this Everyday Health article
Janelle Smith, MS, RDN, CEDRD, seeks to help patients with overlapping eating disorder and GI illnesses
Eating disorders are behavioral issues that can have serious physical consequences, including harm to one’s gastrointestinal health. To help patients with both disordered eating behaviors and GI illnesses, Janelle, a registered GI dietitian, is working to establish a multidisciplinary team for a specialized program to address these issues. UCLA Health is one of just a few centers in the nation providing specialized care for both issues simultaneously. Read UCLA Health seeks to help patients with overlapping eating disorders and GI illnesses.
UCLA GI dietitians prompt multidisciplinary task force to offer comprehensive treatment for dysautomia
UCLA Health’s newly assembled dysautonomia task force makes UCLA one of just a few places on the West Coast that offers comprehensive treatment for the illness. Nancee Jaffe, MS, RDN, lead GI dietitian, and her colleagues noticed they were getting many referrals for patients diagnosed with dysautonomia. “We kept ending up with patients who were either coming straight to us or they were going to a gastroenterologist, getting diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, and ended up with us,” Jaffe says. “However, we knew there were other things going on when they would talk about their blood pressure dropping or having trouble breathing. We reached out to cardiology and neurology and that’s how we ended up building this task force,” Jaffe explains. “Now, we have a team of over 20 doctors, dietitians and nurses at UCLA. Before, these patients didn’t have a referral network. Now we are that referral network.” Read UCLA Health addresses post-pandemic emergence of illnesses affecting the autonomic nervous system.
Beware the Ozempic burp - Craig Gluckman, MD, interviewed by The Atlantic
Sulfer burps appear to be a somewhat rare side effect of semaglutide, tirzepatide, and other GLP-1 receptor agonists. Over the past several years, these medications have become more popular under the brand names Ozempic, Wegovy and Mounjaro as diabetes treatments and weight-loss drugs. Craig Gluckman, MD, health sciences assistant clinical professor of medicine, is quoted recommending antacids and anti-gas medications, while cautioning against fad cures being promoted on social media
Adarsh M. Thaker, MD, AGA Inside Scope podcast
Dr. Thaker, health sciences assistant clinical professor of medicine, co-hosted the debut episode of the American Gastroenterological Association’s (AGA) new Inside Scope podcast series: Innovation in Duodeoscope Design. He joined Shani Haugen, PhD, USFDA, for a conversation on how the FDA is addressing duodenoscope-related infection issues, what FDA’s safety communications mean for gastroenterologists, what has been learned from 522 studies and what we still have to learn. Listen to podcast
Lin Chang, MD, Medscape inDiscussion podcast
Dr. Chang, professor of medicine, continues to interview irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) experts for the Medscape inDiscussion: Irritable Bowel Syndrome podcast series. Listen to Treating postinfection and Post-COVID irritable bowel syndrome with Madhu Grover, MBBS, associate professor of medicine and physiology and consultant in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
These "GutTok" health trends could actually harm you, according to experts
Social media is awash with dubious medical content, including celebrities and influencers extolling everything from the virtues of parasite cleanses to combat gut exposure to mold to a steady diet of bone broth and intermittent fasting, to taking apple cider vinegar supplements to kickstart your metabolism. A big part of the problem from Dr. May’s vantage is that the content that rises to the top is based on algorithms that prioritize outrage, shock and awe. Read Don’t let TikTok scare you about your gut health by Scary Mommy. Dr. May is associate professor of medicine.
You need to know these signs of colon cancer in younger adults
Colon cancer is a scourge, and as you know, early detection is a subject very close to Katie’s (Katie Couric Media) heart. Increasingly, younger patients are being diagnosed. While some cases can be explained due to genetics and family history, NBC News notes that an incredible 75% of cases of colon cancer in younger people are categorized as having an “unknown cause.” According to Dr. Folasade P. May, an associate professor of medicine at the University of California who spoke to NBC News, this indicates that environmental factors shared by this age group are driving the increase — what’s known as the “birth cohort effect.” These could include anything from stress to exposure to pollutants, but the jury’s still out on what they are. Read article
'Stunning' change to United's colonoscopy coverage roils physicians and patients
When gastroenterologists learned in March that UnitedHealthcare plans to barricade many colonoscopies behind a controversial and complicated process known as prior authorization, their emotions cycled rapidly between fear, shock, and outrage. The change, which the health insurer will implement on June 1, means that any United member seeking surveillance and diagnostic colonoscopies to detect cancer will first need approval from United — or else have to pay out of pocket. “People with concerning symptoms for cancer, suddenly they may have to wait potentially weeks or months or longer for this to get approved,” said Dr. Folasade P. May, a gastroenterologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “It may not even get approved.” Read full STAT article
Shifting trends in CRC demographics, severity prove you are 'not too young to have cancer'
Despite a decline in the overall incidence of colorectal cancer in the U.S., recent population-based data from the American Cancer Society show an alarming shift to younger age and more advanced disease at diagnosis. While the answer is largely unknown to the question of why trends in incidence rates, disease severity and tumor location have shifted over time, Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, associate professor of medicine and director of the Melvin and Bren Simon Gastroenterology Quality Improvement Program at the University of California, Los Angeles, hypothesized that environmental factors may play the largest role. “We know it is environmental and not genetic because it happened too fast,” she said. “We [the research community] think it is probably a combination of what we are putting in our bodies and potentially the way we live our life in high-income countries. There are also data to support the role of diet, obesity and diabetes as well as environmental toxins and plastics.” Read full Helio article
Cancer patients face grave financial barriers to care: 'There is this dramatic loss of income'
For many cancer patients, access to quality care and education is out of reach. The financial barriers—and fear of seeking help because of them—can keep people away from the care they need. One study found even after treatment, nearly 50% of cancer survivors faced medical debt associated with their care, with the vast majority unsure how they will afford future care. In addition, There is also a need to address psychological barriers delaying screenings and, therefore, cancer treatments owing to stigma. Colon cancer is one prime example, said Dr. Folasade P. May, associate professor of medicine at UCLA Health. Read full Fortune Well article
TODAY Show, NBC.com and AirTalk highlight UCLA research on how the brain influences weight gain differently in men and women
Advanced brain scans are revealing the differences in how men and women gain weight, which has significant implications for treatment. Emotion regulation techniques, mood and vulnerability are far more relevant in treating obesity in women than in men. Watch TODAY Show segment | Read NBC article Brain scans show how different factors can influence obesity in men and women | Listen to AirTalk with Larry Mantle (1:10:10) an interview with Arpana Gupta, PhD, co-director of the Goodman-Luskin Microbiome Center
Lin Chang, MD, IBS World Day 2023 podcasts
April 21 was IBS World Day. Dr. Chang, professor of medicine, interviewed IBS experts for the Medscape inDiscussion: Irritable Bowel Syndrome podcast series. There will be a total of six interviews and the first two were (1) How to Provide Biopsychosocial IBS Care in Your Clinic with Dr. Doug Drossman and (2) It's Complicated: Food & IBS with Dr. William B. Chey. Listen to podcasts here
The Roth Net at 40 years: Celebrating the spirit of innovation
Bennett E. Roth, MD, MASGE, professor emeritus, was interviewed as the distinguished guest for the Historical Considerations section of iGIE. Dr. Roth is arguably one of the original endoscopists and innovators in our field. In addition to the eponymous retrieval net, the Roth Net, which he invented in 1983, Dr. Roth is celebrated as a consummate gastroenterologist. Over a long career in both academic and private practice (and then back to academic practice), Dr. Roth has embodied a spirit of lifelong learning as a passionate gastroenterologist who is simultaneously a master generalist, specialist, and endoscopist. Dr. Roth has served in numerous high-profile administrative roles, including clinical chief of the Division of Digestive Diseases at UCLA, and president of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) from 1994 to 1995. Even in retirement, he has continued to mentor junior faculty while keeping up with developments and advances in the field that he so deeply loved and profoundly impacted. Read the interview
Americans are waiting too late to screen for colorectal cancer
In an interview with The Healthy, Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, said Americans are waiting too late to screen for colorectal cancer – here’s when you should start. “The tragic news is that only about one in three cases are caught in the early stage, and it doesn’t have to be that way,” says Dr. May, director of the Melvin and Bren Simon Gastroenterology Quality Improvement Program. "The screenings are highly accurate—but they can’t work if you don’t get them.”
7 Foods that cause belly bloating
Bloating, a sensation of fullness in your abdomen, is a tricky topic, says Lin Chang, MD, vice-chief of the Division of Digestive Diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “Bloating is such a common symptom that can be associated with multiple different diseases or disorders,” she explains, that it is often not used in diagnostic criteria, as it doesn’t help distinguish one condition from another. Read the AARP article 7 foods that cause belly bloating
Shelby Yaceczko, MS, RDN-AP, CNSC, CSSD, develops Nutrition for Safer Surgeries initiative
The days leading up to a surgery can be unnerving, and many patients don’t know how to properly prepare, either mentally or physically. A new initiative at UCLA Health called Nutrition for Safer Surgeries aims to change that. “The goal is to allow patients to be optimized prior to their surgeries and enable them to have a safer surgery,” said Yaceczko, an advanced-practice dietitian at the UCLA Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases. Learn more on the UCLA Health blog
Dorian Mendoza, MD, interviewed by Univision
Hispanic people in the U.S. have low colorectal cancer screening rates. UCLA Health partnered with Univision for National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month to address these disparities. Dr. Mendoza and UCLA Health patient Lazaro Barajas discuss screening and survivorship. Watch interview
Eating right can dramatically reduce the risk of colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer is among the most common forms of cancer, accounting for nearly two million new cases each year in the United States. That number could be significantly reduced, however, if people adopted better lifestyle habits, said Yaceczko, an advanced-practice dietitian at the UCLA Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases. Learn more on the UCLA Health blog
Colorectal cancer screening guidelines have changed to address rise in cases among younger adults
As rates of colorectal cancer rise among younger adults, updated guidelines calling for screenings to start at age 45 instead of 50 are expected to lead to earlier detection and improved outcomes. Chanthel Kokoy-Mondragon, MD, UCLA Health gastroenterologist, said low-risk people can choose among a range of options, from an at-home stool test to a colonoscopy. Learn more on the UCLA Health blog
More young people are being diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. Why?
Colorectal cancer rates in younger people have surged in recent years. More troubling, most cases diagnosed are at an advanced stage and researchers aren’t sure what’s causing the cancers. According to new statistics from the American Cancer Society, the proportion of colorectal cancer that occurred in people under age 55 doubled between 1995 and 2019, from 11% to 20%. That means that, of the roughly 1.3 million people in the U.S. living with colorectal cancer in the United States in 2019, about 273,800 were younger than age 55. “This cancer type is particularly asymptomatic and can remain that way for a long time," said Dr. Folasade P. May, an associate professor of medicine in the University of California, Los Angeles Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases. "So the tumor can grow and grow and even spread before there are symptoms that prompt someone to seek medical attention.” Read NBC News article
UCLA Health promotes colorectal cancer screening at inflatable colon event - March 2023
March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and UCLA Health is pulling out all the stops to convince people to get screened. KCBS/KCAL interviews Dr. Folasade P. May, at the UCLA Health inflatable colon event to promote screening for colorectal cancer.
At-home stool tests for colorectal cancer screening are rising in popularity, but are they right for you?
At-home stool tests can be an easier way to screen for colorectal cancer than a dreaded colonoscopy. As the rates of the cancer continue to rise in younger people, home tests might help improve detection and get people treated sooner.
March marks the beginning of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed and third most common cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. Diagnosis of the disease is on the rise among younger people under age 55, according to a new study from the ACS, and it’s being diagnosed at more advanced stages. Dr. Folasade P. May, a gastroenterologist, health equity expert, and health services researcher at the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity and the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, was interviewed by ABC News on how to know if this is a good option for you.
Establishing and implementing comprehensive at-home stool-based colorectal cancer screenings in medically underserved communities around the country, including Los Angeles
Dr. Folasade P. May is an associate professor of medicine and a researcher in the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. May is also a co-leader of Stand Up To Cancer’s Colorectal Cancer Health Equity Dream Team, which is establishing and implementing comprehensive at-home stool-based colorectal cancer screenings in medically underserved communities around the country, including Los Angeles. Listen to KOST 103.5FM podcast and read interview
UCLA Health walks community through risks, symptoms of colorectal cancer
UCLA Health assembled a giant inflatable colon March 3 to engage and inform patients, Bruins and the local Westwood community on colon cancer in recognition of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Read more in the Daily Bruin
Health issues that are sometimes mistaken for gluten sensitivity
People frequently blame gluten for symptoms they’re experiencing when their condition may not by related to gluten at all. Guy Weiss, MD, director of the Celiac Disease Program, provides expert commentary on non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) in this U.S. News & World Report article.
Early detection is essential to surviving the "silent killer"
Actress Kirstie Alley died this month at age 71, reportedly after a short battle with colon cancer. Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, director of the Melvin and Bren Simon GI Quality Improvement Program, was interviewed by Jim Moret on Inside Edition and discussed the warning signs of colorectal cancer, rising rates in young adults and the importance of screening. Watch interview
Five reasons you're pooping more than usual
Was it that big holiday meal, or something else? Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil, director of the Melvin and Bren Simon GI Quality Improvement Program, provides expert commentary in The Healthy on why you're experiencing frequent bowel movements and when to seek medical help.