June 26th, 2016 by hillaryu
By Dr. Julia H. Becke, MD
In light of recent reports of nearly 14 people being treated or hospitalized at Harborview Medical Center since October for serious burns caused when e-cigarette batteries exploded – Seattle parents should get a slight sigh of relief thanks to recent federal regulation. Earlier this year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized regulations governing the sale and production of what it calls “electronic nicotine delivery systems” (ENDS), otherwise known as e-cigarettes or “vape” products. Until now, these products had been subject to very little oversight in terms of chemical content. Claims about the safety or potential benefit for smoking cessation went unchecked, and there was no limitation on how or where the products could be marketed – using advertising techniques known to appeal to minors.
Since coming to market in 2006, e-cigarettes have gained popularity – particularly among teens and young adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that use of e-cigarettes in teens between 2013 and 2014 rose nearly three times, from 4.5 to 13.4 percent.
Among the new regulations the FDA instituted on May 5 is one that should protect young people. This law prohibits retailers from selling e-cigarettes, hookah, cigars or any other tobacco products to people under age 18. Access by young people will now be restricted in these ways:
- No sale of ENDS – online or in person – to people younger than 18
- Thorough check of photo ID
- No sales in vending machines (except in adult-only facilities)
- No free samples
The new FDA regulations will also impact manufacturers, importers and retailers of ENDS. Products will need to undergo a thorough review before they can reach the market, these regulations include:
- Registering manufacturing establishments
- Reporting a complete list of ingredients including potentially harmful chemicals
- Including mandatory health warning statements on packages and advertisements for all ENDS products
- No selling of modified-risk tobacco products (including those described as “light” or “low”) unless authorized by the FDA
ENDS come in a variety of forms, making regulations challenging. Some looks like pipes, some like cigarettes and some like small batons. On a most basic level, all of the products consist of a cartridge containing a nicotine liquid, an atomizer with a heating element and a battery. The user pushes a button on the device, which releases some liquid from the cartridge; the liquid is heated and vaporized in the atomizer, and then inhaled. Some products are completely disposable. Others have refillable cartridges and rechargeable batteries.
Because these products do not use combustible materials, like the burning paper and tobacco of a cigarette, it has been proposed that they are less risky and “healthier” than cigarettes. The vapor does not have tar or carbon monoxide, for example, two products of cigarette smoking known to contribute to lung damage. However, when researchers look at the ingredients in the nicotine liquid, they have found chemicals like glycerol and propylene glycol, which can lead to dangerous byproducts. Cancer-causing compounds such as formaldehyde have been found in some used ENDS products after the combustion of the glycerol compounds. The flavorings are potentially problematic as well, even dangerous. A Harvard study found that a compound called diacetyl is found in 75% of flavored nicotine liquids. Diacetyl is known to cause “popcorn lung,” a destructive lung disease.
Studies on the long-term effects of cigarette smoking took many decades to confirm suspicions of their harm. With e-cigarettes, scientists and physicians have not yet had decades for research, and so there is no data about the long-term health effects of regular ENDS use. Additionally, there is no clear evidence that using a vape product or any other ENDS helps people to quit smoking. Some small studies have shown ENDS may help people reduce cravings. However, whether this marks progress to quitting is unknown.
Despite the many unknowns about ENDS, their popularity is still on the rise. Surveys show that the number of participants who report trying an e-cigarette nearly quadrupled between 2010 (1.8 – 3.5 percent) and 2013 ((8.5 and 13 percent). Those using e-cigarettes on a routine basis was lower, but still rose in that timeframe.
What’s alarming about such use is it could lead to or further nicotine dependence, particularly among teenagers and young adults. Connections have been made between teen e-cigarette use and use of conventional tobacco products such as cigarettes. Studies suggest that of teen tobacco users, three out of four will continue using tobacco into adulthood. Add in marketing tactics that appeal to adolescents plus the use of enticing flavorings, of which aren’t addressed in the new FDA regulations, and the statistics are cause for concern.
When it comes to safeguarding our community’s children, there’s nothing quite like the voice of a trusted adult. Parents, guardians, teachers and other adult role models can play a significant and complementary role to the FDA’s ongoing efforts to regulate tobacco products. We all need to educate our children about the potential harms of e-cigarette use. Seattle Children’s and the CDC have additional information for parents and teachers.
Dr. Julia H. Becke, MD, practices internal medicine at Pacific Medical Centers in its First Hill clinic. Pacific Medical Centers is a private, not-for-profit, multi-specialty health care network with 150 primary and specialty care providers. Its nine locations are in the Puget Sound neighborhoods of Beacon Hill, Canyon Park, Federal Way, First Hill, Lakewood, Lynnwood, Northgate, Puyallup, Renton and Totem Lake. To better serve its patients, PacMed plans to open a clinic in Lacey in 2016. Pacific Medical Centers serves patients with commercial insurance, retired military and their families, family members of active-duty personnel, as well as the underserved in our community. PacMed.org
June 25th, 2016 by hillaryu
The Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR) will host its 10th annual 5k Run/Walk, Walk with Us to Cure Lupus on Saturday, July 9, 2016 at Warren G. Magnuson Park in Seattle. This year the event will include a 5k Run option giving both runners and walkers the chance to lace-up in support of lupus research.
Led by this years’ Grand Marshals Steve & Sharon Raible, participants are encouraged to show off their purple pride. Each participant will receive a pair of commemorative purple shoe laces and will have the opportunity to take part in a Seahawks Meet & Greet, Kids Dash, food, music and kid’s activities.
The event will be held at Magnuson Park, 7400 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115. Registration begins at 7:30a.m. followed by the Run/Walk at 9:30a.m. and the Kids Dash at 10:45a.m. Event top sponsors include KIRO7, iHeart Media, Seattle Seahawks and Alaska Airlines.
“We are thrilled to offer up a 5K run component to our event this year for all the active Seattleites coming out to support lupus research,” states Kenneth M. Farber, ALR President.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect almost every major organ in the body, including the heart, kidneys, skin, lungs and brain. Lupus can cause chronic and overwhelming fatigue and pain, complications such as kidney failure, heart disease and stroke and in some cases can be fatal. Approximately 1.5 million people in the US are diagnosed with lupus–making lupus more common than leukemia, and cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and cystic fibrosis. There is no cure.
The mission of the Alliance for Lupus Research (ALR) is to find better treatments and ultimately prevent and cure systemic lupus by supporting medical research. 100% of all donations received go directly to support lupus research programs because the ALR Board of Directors funds all ALR administrative and fundraising costs. Founded in 1999, the ALR has become the largest private funder of lupus research in the world. To date the ALR has committed over $106 million to innovative and aggressive lupus research.
For more information or to sign up for the Walk please visit their website, contact 866-925-5257 x6107, or email.
June 15th, 2016 by hillaryu
Northwest Girlchoir is celebrating their 44th season and wants you to join them! For girls who love to sing, Northwest Girlchoir has openings for girls entering grades 1-12 to join in the fun and start singing this fall! Dazzling audiences since 1972, Northwest Girlchoir is comprised of six progressive choir levels and serves over 250 girls from all over the Greater Seattle region. Touching thousands of audience members each year with its critically-acclaimed choral sound and artistry, Northwest Girlchoir envisions a world where everyone is transformed by the beauty of choral music and the power of women’s voices.
Auditions are happening throughout the summer for girls entering grades 3-12 and registration is now open for our non-auditioned Prep Choir for girls entering grades 1-2. Girls from all musical backgrounds are invited to sign up or schedule an audition on the website (www.northwestgirlchoir.org). Generous scholarships are available at every choir level.
Choristers learn musicianship, vocal technique, and performance skills, and have the opportunity to perform in mainstage concerts, outreach events, collaborations, and local and international tours. All while building lasting friendships in a nurturing and supportive community.
Several current members live in the Wedgwood/View Ridge neighborhoods – great opportunity to meet new friends!
Learn more and sign up at www.northwestgirlchoir.org/choirprograms.
June 4th, 2016 by hillaryu
Submitted by Jeff L.
Join your fellow watershed supporters for a family-friendly celebration on June 11! This fun, free event, hosted by TCA and the Adopt-A-Stream Foundation in cooperation with Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle Parks and Recreation, has lots to whet your interest. Hear about recent work in the watershed; connect with others working on creek projects; learn from scientists, engineers, and nonprofit organizations; and tour restoration projects! All that, plus activities for kids, good music, and a bite to eat!
WHEN: Saturday, June 11, from 2:00 – 6:00 p.m.
WHERE: Meadowbrook Pond, across the street from the Meadowbrook Community Center, which is at 10517 35th Ave NE in Seattle. (Parking is available in the Meadowbrook Community Center lot, as well as near the tennis courts off 30th Ave NE just south of Nathan Hale High School. Metro bus route 65 runs along 35th Ave. NE as well).
There are a number of organizations participating, and it promises to be a superb way for everyone to connect with others who share our interest in healthy watersheds.
Learn more here.
June 3rd, 2016 by hillaryu
On May 21st The Master Builders Association, Sound Seismic & Jackson Remodeling and volunteers built a free ramp for 42-year-old Stephanie Gilb so that she could have more mobility at her Wedgwood home.
Stephanie was diagnosed with rapid Parkinson’s disease at a young age. She has walking balance issues and uses a wheelchair. Before Rampathon®, her home entrance was frightening to maneuver.
A total of 37 families throughout King and Snohomish counties received the gift of greater mobility through the addition of new ramps during this year’s event. 2016 represented the largest Rampathon® – 37 ramps – in the 23-year history of the event.
Since 1993, more than 370 ramps have been built and $1.7 million of in-kind donations provided.
To learn more about the Master Builders Association, visit their website.
June 2nd, 2016 by hillaryu
Submitted by Kerri K.
“Most people do not understand that I am not ‘cured.’ They don’t realize that I still live with a disease.”
– Kristy Larch, Wedgwood Resident
Forty-eight year-old Kristy Larch is passionate about finding cures for cancer. She has two young children and to her, cancer is personal. The Matthews Beach woman was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer, an advanced form of cancer, six years ago.
“For now my horrible cancer has been very amenable to treatments,” said Kristy. Her doctors tell her she’s cancer-free but Kristy lives with the constant fear it will return. “If that happens without my finding it first and having an effective treatment available, it might just win.”
This summer, Kristy plans to pedal 65 miles in Obliteride, an annual bike ride to raise money for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. She rode last August and says Obliteride was an amazing experience. “Obliteride is incredibly meaningful and a lot of fun. It’s a movement and a community, not just a typical fund raiser.”
“I ride because there is no cure for most cancers and the researchers at Fred Hutch are working tirelessly to find the answers,” said Kristy. “I don’t want anyone else to have to die of cancer, especially with unfinished living to do.”
Obliteride has raised nearly $7 million for life-saving cancer research in just three years. Every dollar riders fundraise goes directly to Fred Hutch.
“These funds are vital to our work toward cancer cures,” said Dr. Gary Gilliland, president and director of Fred Hutch. “There’s a very real urgency now as we are on the verge of breakthroughs. For example, our scientists have seen extraordinary success using a patient’s own immune cells to make cancer literally vanish, even in patients with the most advanced stages of disease. It’s unprecedented. Fundraising efforts like Obliteride help us cure cancer faster.”
The need for cures is urgent and the facts are scary. One out of three women and half of all men will be diagnosed with cancer. This year, nearly 70,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in the Northwest alone.
“If you are not currently touched personally by cancer you likely will be at some point,” warns Kristy.
Join Obliteride – the movement to cure cancer faster
Obliteride has routes for everyone from rookies to road warriors. Riders are treated to a first-class event including fun parties, live entertainment and fantastic food from Tom Douglas Catering.
To be part of this exciting event on Aug. 14, 2016, sign up to ride 10-165 miles or volunteer at obliteride.org.
If you would like to donate to Kristy’s ride, go to her personal fundraising page.
May 21st, 2016 by hillaryu
By Lynne P. Taylor, MD, FAAN, FANA
Imagine being seemingly healthy one day and the next being diagnosed with a progressive, degenerative neurological disorder that will slowly interfere with your ability to move, speak, eat and even breathe. This disease, a tragic reality for thousands of Americans, is called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS.
ALS is incurable. For reasons not well understood, nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement gradually deteriorate. As a result, muscles atrophy, leading to paralysis and death, often in three to five years.
Messages from motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord are scrambled in ALS. These control functions like limb movement, swallowing and aspects of breathing. Senses and thinking processes remain normal in people living with ALS and, thankfully, pain is rare at any stage.
French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot discovered the disease in 1869. In the United States, ALS is often called Lou Gehrig’s disease after the beloved professional baseball player whose struggle with the disease and death in 1941 brought it to national attention.
A-myo-trophic comes from the Greek language. “A” means no. “Myo” refers to muscle and “Trophic” means nourishment – thus, “No muscle nourishment.” When a muscle has no nourishment, it “atrophies” or wastes away. “Lateral” identifies areas in a person’s spinal cord where portions of nerve cells that signal and control muscles are located. As this area degenerates, it causes scarring (“sclerosis”) in the region.
The motor nerves affected by ALS provide voluntary movement and muscle control in the arms and legs, which allow people to perform most daily activities.
Types of ALS
There are two kinds of Lou Gehrig’s disease, one is called “sporadic” and the other, “familial.” Sporadic, which makes up 90 to 95 percent of all cases in this country, may affect anyone, anywhere. Familial means the disease is inherited. It accounts for 5 to 10 percent of all cases in the United States. In those cases, there is a 50 percent chance each offspring will inherit the gene mutation and develop the disease.
A relatively rare disease
According to the ALS Association, more than 5,600 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year, which amounts to 15 new cases every day. It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any time. Although most people who develop ALS are between 40 and 70, with an average age of 55 when diagnosed, cases do occur among people in their 20s and 30s. However, ALS generally occurs in higher percentages among older men and women. Despite it being 20 percent more common among men, the incidence of ALS is more equal between men and women with increasing age. For unknown reasons, military veterans are about twice as likely to develop ALS. Half of all people affected with ALS live at least three or more years after diagnosis. Twenty percent live five years or more, and up to 10 percent live more than 10 years.
Symptoms usually develop after age 50. In its early stages, ALS symptoms include:
- Increasing weakness in one limb, especially in a hand
- Clumsiness of the hands
- Difficulty walking
- Subtle, light twitches under the skin
- Impaired speech
- Difficulty swallowing
Modern treatments have allowed people living with Lou Gehrig’s disease to continue communicating and moving. An important aspect of the disease is that involuntary muscles, such as those that control heartbeat, digestion, bladder and sexual function are not directly affected by ALS.
Fortunately, intellect, hearing, vision and touch generally function normally in people living with ALS. One behavioral effect, called involuntary emotional expression disorder, causes some people living with ALS to lose control over expressions, like laughing and crying. Some experts believe this is caused by lost neurons that control muscles involved in physical expressions of emotion.
ALS can be challenging to diagnose since symptoms can resemble other neurological disorders. A definitive diagnosis is based on a careful medical history, physical exam of the nervous system along with muscle- and nerve-function tests.
Currently, there is only one FDA-approved drug, riluzole, which can slow the progression of ALS in some people. Although there is not yet a cure or treatment that halts or reverses the disease, scientists have made significant progress in learning more about it over time.
There are numerous research studies – past and present – investigating possible risk factors that may be associated with ALS. However, more work is needed to determine what role genetic and environmental factors contribute to its development.
Improving quality of life
Research has shown that people living with ALS benefit from a better quality of life by participating in support groups and receiving care at an ALS Association-Certified Treatment Center.
These centers, like the ALS Clinic at Virginia Mason, provide a national standard of best-practice, multidisciplinary care. People living with ALS and their families work with a team of providers who specialize in neurology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, speech therapy, physical and occupational therapy, neuropsychology, respiratory therapy, nutrition and patient advocacy. The care team helps manage disease symptoms and assists people living with ALS to maintain as much independence as possible for as long as possible.
ALS Association-Certified Treatment Centers often provide services that are not readily available in some areas.
A local example is voice banking, which is offered through the ALS Clinic at Virginia Mason. It is a way to preserve the sound of a patient’s own voice to use after real speech is lost. The technique involves a patient recording a variety of phrases and sentences in their own voice. The recordings are then uploaded to a speech-generating device so they can be played back in the voice familiar to family and friends.
Services like voice banking support study results published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry that showed participation in a multidisciplinary ALS clinic prolongs survival and improves quality of life.
To find an ALS Association-Certified Treatment Center near you, visit ALSA.org/community/centers-clinics.
Perspective, inspiration from a Wedgwood-area resident living with ALS
Although 61-year-old Wedgwood-area resident Brian Pendleton has been living with ALS for more than two years, it hasn’t slowed him down much and for that he feels very lucky. Besides his family and his career as a computer programmer, one of Pendleton’s long-time focuses has been running. In fact, since his diagnosis in November 2013, Pendleton has run about 40 marathons and achieved his goal of running 200 marathons or ultras (30+ mile runs). Despite the fact that ALS causes muscles to atrophy, running has become a form of physical therapy for Pendleton and something he is very grateful to be able to still enjoy. He is also grateful for the support he has received through the ALS Clinic at Virginia Mason. “Despite the fact that I’ve been lucky enough to date not to need many of the comprehensive services that the clinic provides, knowing I will at some point, and knowing that the multidisciplinary team will be available to me as my ALS progresses, provides a level of assurance that is invaluable,” said Pendleton.
Lynne P. Taylor, MD, FAAN, FANA, is board certified in Neurology and Neuro-Oncology with subspecialties in Hospice Care and Palliative Medicine. She practices at Virginia Mason Hospital and Seattle Medical Center and is medical director of the health system’s ALS Clinic.
For more information, visit:
May 17th, 2016 by hillaryu
By Jennifer Riner, Trulia
Relocating to the Pacific Northwest isn’t the most troublesome decision. With vast mountains, vibrant city life, serene waters, organic eateries and a mild climate, you can’t go wrong with the upper left USA. But, choosing Seattle as your new locale isn’t the final step.
Picking the right neighborhood for you and your family takes more than a drive around the neighborhood. To start, consider both Wedgwood and View Ridge, two welcoming, yet budding neighborhoods located in the northeast part of Seattle.
Just seven miles northeast of Downtown, Wedgwood offers a dynamic vibe to a mix of residents, ranging from retired to young professionals. The median age in Wedgwood is 42 and 83 percent of the area’s residents are homeowners. For families, Dahl Playfield is a great place to take the kids during the summer, with playgrounds, an open field and even a skate park for kids to practice their tricks.
Although Wedgwood has a small-town vibe, the neighborhood isn’t lacking in grocery stores, a public library, buzzing cafes and an in-demand real estate market. Currently, the median sales price on homes for sale in Wedgwood sits at $682,000 based on 19 home sales between Jan 7 to April 6. While Wedgwood falls on the pricier side of the national scale, high home prices are fairly common for the more popular neighborhoods in ever-growing Seattle. Rents in Wedgwood are $2,350 per month (median), a slight month-over-month dip from $2,695 in March.
Because of its location on the coastline, many View Ridge abodes offer impressive Lake Washington sights. Outside of the sprawling water views, View Ridge playfield offers a playground, ball field, picnic tables and pathways for walking or running. As far as the resident make up, more View Ridge residents tend to be homeowners compared to Wedgwood with a 94 percent share, and the median age is slightly higher at 44 years old.
Although View Ridge is just east of Wedgwood and many Seattleites can speak to the two communities’ similarities, homes in View Ridge are currently bidding at a lower price point. The median sales price in View Ridge is $450,000 based on 13 home sales from January to April. The median rent, on the other hand, is $3,295 per month, significantly higher than in Wedgwood. Keep in mind, private listings and slow rental months can skew the median.
Both neighborhoods share similar attributes and amenities, and even the exact borders can be argued by locals, although many Seattle neighborhoods are loosely defined in terms of exact boundaries. Nonetheless, Wedgwood and View Ridge differ in terms of the current real estate market, so choosing based on your budget may the smart financial decision at first.
May 5th, 2016 by hillaryu
By Natalie B.
Wedgwood residents may have seen lately that Seattle is becoming one of the worst cities in the U.S. for congestion and time spent in traffic. As our city gets bigger and more and more cars enter the roadways, picking up your children from school or practice can be a task all its own. An estimated 17.5 million rides happen in Seattle each year to get kids to their afterschool activities, which can be a headache during rush hour traffic.
A new app launching this month aims to help parents save time, money and gas while transporting kids around the city. Pogo is a Seattle-based app that will help parents simplify existing carpools and discover new carpool connections to get children to the same place, safely. Unlike Uber, Lyft or other ride-hailing apps, Pogo aims to take cars off the road and provide peace of mind to parents by using existing, trusted carpool groups.
After months of beta testing and winning a national startup contest from Verizon Wireless with a $1 million prize, the app will launch for iOS users in late May and Android users following within weeks.
May 2nd, 2016 by hillaryu
Are You a Tree Lover? Become a Tree Ambassador!
The City of Seattle’s reLeaf program is excited to announce its spring training dates for its Tree Ambassador project! Tree Ambassadors are volunteers who help care for Seattle’s trees and make a positive difference in Seattle’s urban forest. Tree Ambassadors are trained to lead projects that inspire residents to appreciate and care for Seattle’s urban forest.
We’re looking for Tree Ambassadors to lead two types of projects:
- Tree Walks: Explore Seattle’s awe-inspiring trees with your friends and neighbors. Tree Walks are fun, positive community events that engage communities with the trees surrounding them. Tree Ambassadors develop tours to highlight interesting or significant trees in their neighborhoods and lead their walk as a public event.
Tree Walk volunteer training includes tree identification, map making, and organizing community events. Seattle reLeaf staff help volunteers identify good routes, map trees on that route, write text, and put together a public event.
- Tree Stewardship: Help care for trees in public landscapes. Tree Stewardship projects engage volunteers in caring for neighborhood street trees and public landscapes. Tree Ambassadors adopt sites and organize work parties to weed, mulch, and care for the trees that make our neighborhoods greener and healthier.
Tree Stewardship volunteers are taught how to care for trees, identify and remove invasive species, properly mulch, and organize fun and safe community events. Seattle reLeaf staff help volunteers develop site plans, organize community work parties, and secure tools, mulch, and other equipment. Find a site to love!
Join Us! We only hold trainings for new volunteers once a year, so don’t miss your chance! No previous tree experience is necessary, just a love of trees. All Tree Ambassadors must attend an orientation training and at least one project training:
- Orientation Training (Required): Thursday, May 26th from 6pm – 8pm at Seattle City Hall
- Tree Walk Training: Saturday, June 4th 10:30 am – 2:30 pm in Rainier Beach
- Tree Stewardship Training: Saturday, June 11th 10am - 3-pm in Wallingford
Apply today at our website: http://www.seattle.gov/trees/treeambassador.htm. Applications are due by May 18th. Contact us with questions at TreeAmbassador@Seattle.gov or (206) 615-1668.