Monday, July 21, 2014

Enjoy healthy summer grilling 

Forget hotdogs and hamburgers. Make healthy grilled food a hit at your summer cookout by incorporating fruits, veggies, lean meats and low-fat marinades.

“When we think of the grill, we automatically think of hamburgers,” said Patricia Salzer, a registered dietitian and health and wellness consultant with Univera Healthcare. “It’s easy to make grilling healthy, and healthy doesn’t have to mean ‘no flavor.’”

Salzer recommended switching up your grilling routine to incorporate more fresh produce and lean protein. Try the tips below, and check out the Univera Healthcare’s Pinterest page at for recipes.

Swap out fatty meats for lean meats, poultry and fish.
Try chicken and vegetable kabobs for easy party food.
Ditch starchy sides for vegetables such as eggplant, asparagus, avocadoes, corn, jalapenos and romaine halves.

·        Swap out fatty meats for lean meats, poultry and fish
·        Try chicken and vegetable kabobs for easy party food.
·        Ditch starchy sides for vegetables such as eggplant, asparagus, corn, avocados, jalapenos and romaine halves.
·        Instead of flavoring foods with high-fat dressings, choose herbs and spices, vinegar, and extra-virgin oils.
·        Grill whole-wheat pizzas or bread to make crostini.
·        For a sweet treat, try grilled fruit – plantains, peaches, nectarines, melons, figs, apples or pineapple.

In some instances, grilling fatty meats hurts more than your cholesterol. Salzer said that the fat from meat can drip down onto the coals, creating smoke flare-ups that contaminate your food with carcinogens—cancer-causing agents. She recommended following these other tips to ensure safe and healthy grilling:

·        Marinate your meat to reduce carcinogens by forming a protective barrier around the food.
·        Use different platters for raw and cooked meat to reduce exposure to bacteria.
·        Clean your grill by scrubbing with a brush before and after cooking.
·        Avoid charring food or remove burnt sections before eating. They contain more carcinogens than the rest of the food.
·        Flip meat frequently to optimally reduce E. coli bacteria, and use a meat thermometer to be sure to heat to the recommended temperature (165 for ground poultry, 160 for ground red meats or mixtures and fresh pork, and 145 for red meat steak or chops)
·        Don’t cook meat past its goal temperature to avoid charring.

August is ‘Kids Eat Right’ Month: Nutrition Tips for Families

(StatePoint) With childhood obesity on the rise, making sure kids eat right and get plenty of exercise is vital.

Parents and caregivers can play a big role in children’s nutrition and health, teaching kids about healthy foods, being a good role model and making sure physical activity is incorporated into each day.

August, which is Kids Eat Right Month, is a great time for families to focus on the importance of healthful eating and active lifestyles. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is encouraging families to take the following steps:

• Shop Smart. To encourage a healthy lifestyle, get your children involved in selecting the food that will appear at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.

• Cook Healthy. Involve your child in the cutting, mixing and preparation of meals. They will learn about food and may even be enticed to try new foods they helped prepare.

• Eat Right. Sit down together as a family to enjoy a wonderful meal and the opportunity to share the day’s experiences with one another. Research indicates that those families who eat together have a stronger bond, and children have higher self-confidence and perform better in school.

• Healthy Habits. You can help kids form great, healthy habits by setting a good example. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, choose lower-sodium options, and make at least half the grains your family eats whole grains. For beverages, choose water over sugary drinks, and opt for fat-free or low-fat milk.

• Get Moving. Aside from being a great way to spend time together, regular physical activity is vital to strengthen muscle and bones, promote a healthy body weight, support learning, develop social skills and build self-esteem. Kids are encouraged to be active for 60 minutes per day.

Getting kids to eat right can sometimes be a challenge, particularly if they are picky eaters. But experts say that a conversation can help.

“Talk to your children. Learn the foods they like. Teach them about the foods they need for their growing bodies. Find ways together to make sure they have the knowledge and ability to eat healthy and tasty foods at every meal,” says Angela Lemond, registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson.

It may help to consult a registered dietitian nutritionist in your area to ensure your family is getting the nutrients it needs with a meal plan tailored to your lifestyle and busy schedule.

For more healthful eating tips, recipes, videos and to learn more about Kids Eat Right Month, visit

This August, reevaluate your family’s eating and exercise habits, and take steps to make positive, healthful changes.

Niagara Falls Named Semifinalist in National “Way to Wellville” Competition

One of 16 Communities Selected by Esther Dyson-backed Nonprofit

Niagara Falls, New York has been selected as one of 16 semifinalists in The Way to Wellville, a national competition to find five communities to compete over five years for the greatest improvement in five measures of health. The initiative is sponsored by HICCup (, a nonprofit founded by angel investor Esther Dyson to encourage community-led innovation that results in healthier people and places.

HICCup’s six-person advisory board selected the 16 semifinalists from a highly competitive field of 42 community applications received from 24 states. Semifinalist communities will now submit full proposals by June 27 detailing their vision and plans for the next five years.

“It sounds trite, but it is extremely difficult to choose,” said Ms. Dyson. “The number and quality of applications is a testament to the exceptional places and dedicated leaders eager to make a difference in the health of their communities.”

Mayor Paul Dyster said, “I am so thrilled and grateful that the “Creating a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative” was selected as a semi-finalist in the HICCup Competition.  Our Task Group to Create a Healthier Niagara Falls has worked diligently to bring health awareness to our citizens, and Niagara Falls with its high poverty rate and health issues will really benefit from the effects of the HICCup initiative.  Anything that improves the health and health care system for our citizens will go miles in securing their strength, stability, and dignity—and we all appreciate this special designation from HICCup”.

 “Having the opportunity to apply and to become a semi-finalist in the HICCup competition has been a catalyst to mobilize the Mayor’s Task Group to a higher level. Speaking on behalf of the Mayor’s Task Group we are thrilled to have this opportunity to become a finalist.” stated Shelley Hirshberg, Chair of the Mayor’s Task Group.

After reviewing semifinalist proposals, the HICCup advisory board will select a smaller number of finalist communities for site visits in July and early August. The selection will culminate in mid-August with the announcement of five Wellville communities to compete in the five-year contest. The Wellville Five will attend the Next Step to Wellville conference, September 16-18, 2014, in Tampa, Florida, to kick off the five-year effort.

The five communities that earn a spot in the five-year contest will receive support from HICCup and a network of partners in the areas of health data/measurement, consumer- and community-based health solutions, and innovative health financing strategies. The effort will measure the impact of coordinated, community-wide initiatives, while creating new models and markets for the production of health.

“The idea behind The Way to Wellville is not just to make a measurable difference in five places, but to design and deliver a comprehensive approach to health that can be replicated broadly,” said Rick Brush, CEO of HICCup. “Together with our Wellville partners, five communities will point the way to better health and financial sustainability.”

The 16 semifinalists for The Way to Wellville contest are:
·      Athens County, OH
·      Clatsop County, OR
·      Clinton County, NY
·      Columbus, IN
·      Garden City, KS
·      Greater Muskegon, MI
·      Jackson, TN
·      Lake County, CA
·      Lynchburg, VA
·      Niagara Falls, NY
·      Oxford County, ME
·      Scranton, PA
·      Spartanburg, SC
·      Starkville, MS
·      Wilkes County, NC
·      Winona, MN

About HICCup
HICCup stands for Health Initiative Coordinating Council. It is a nonprofit supported since mid-2013 through charitable contributions from Esther Dyson, in-kind resources, and extensive field research and development among a growing group of guiding organizations, partners and communities. HICCup is fiscally sponsored by New Venture Fund ( Additional partners, funders and collaborators are encouraged to visit and contact

To learn more contact Shelley Hirshberg at

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Old Fort Niagara acquires lifesaving device

Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown, New York now has a semi-automated external defibrillator on site, thanks to an underwriting grant from Univera Healthcare. With the device, known as an AED, the fort is better equipped to respond to a sudden cardiac arrest. Each year more than 150,000 visitors explore the 22 acre site that’s listed as a National Historic Landmark.  
An AED is about the size of a child’s lunchbox, and is used in cases of life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias where the heart is electrically active, but in a dysfunctional pattern that doesn’t allow it to pump and circulate blood. This abrupt loss of function is known as cardiac arrest and, if not treated within minutes, quickly leads to death. 

An AED delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart that can stop an irregular rhythm and allow a normal rhythm to resume. The device also coaches the user in the proper administration of CPR, including providing a metronome beat to help the user count and time CPR chest compressions. Immediate use of an AED, in conjunction with CPR, offers a chance at survival. 

“In a cardiac emergency, it’s important to have an AED within reach since the likelihood of resuscitation decreases by about 10 percent with every minute that passes,” said Art Wingerter, Univera Healthcare president. “Old Fort Niagara is fairly isolated at the far end of the state park, which, at best, is about a four minute drive from the center of Youngstown.”

The current national survival rate for sudden cardiac arrest is less than 5 percent. The American Heart Association estimates that 50,000 lives would be spared every year if AEDs were readily available to cardiac arrest victims. 

“For almost 300 years, Old Fort Niagara has maintained its post at the mouth of the Niagara River, protecting the Great Lakes and the American heartland for the nations of France, Great Britain and the United States,” said Robert L. Emerson, executive director of Old Fort Niagara. “With Univera Healthcare’s generous grant to fund the purchase of an AED, the fort is now better equipped to protect the people who visit, work and volunteer at the site.”  

Emerson said he was pleasantly surprised when Univera Healthcare approached him “out of the blue” with an offer of grant funding, since an AED had long been on the fort’s wish list. 

The AED underwritten by Univera Healthcare is manufactured by Philips. It is semi-automated and issues voice commands that instruct the user on how and where to connect sensor pads to the patient. The pads allow the AED to examine the electrical output from the heart and determine if the patient is in a shockable rhythm (either ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia). If the device determines a shock is warranted, it will provide instruction to the user on how to deliver the electrical charge. If the sensors don’t detect a shockable rhythm, the device will not allow a shock to be administered. 

Note:  For patients who present a “flat line” (the absence of any cardiac electrical activity), the AED will state that no shock is advised. For those patients, the only chance for survival is to try to establish a shockable rhythm through CPR, which is why it is imperative that CPR be carried out immediately, even prior to the arrival of an AED or medical professionals.  

Underwriting grants from Univera Healthcare and its parent health plan have placed more than 150 AEDs into service across upstate New York, including at the Albright Knox Art Gallery, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House Complex, and the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park. 

Univera Healthcare also has donated nearly three dozen AEDs to area law enforcement agencies, including the Erie, Wyoming and Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Departments. “In rural parts of our service area, a Sheriff is often the first responder to a medical emergency.” said Wingerter.     

Cancer Answers: Complementary Medicine & Cancer

When: Tuesday August 5, 2014 from 6-8pm
Where: American Red Cross (Rear Building)
           786 Delaware Ave. Buffalo, NY 14209

Complementary Medicine: “What’s quackery, what’s not?” A look at some proven complementary therapies, not meant to replace conventional treatment, but to help cancer patients thrive. What is Reiki? Tia Chi? How does acupuncture help with pain management? What is a Holistic Approach to treating cancer? Learn from experts how these and other ‘complementary’ therapies can help cancer survivors cope with treatment, and long term side effects of cancer treatment. Cancer Answers is a free series of programs, sponsored by the WNY Ovarian Cancer Project, but relative to all cancer survivors. The sessions feature experts from our community talking about issues pertinent to the daily lives of cancer patients & caregivers. For this session experts include: Suzanne Hess, PhD. from Roswell Park, Patricia Mahone, RN & Barbara Simpson, RN from the Gate of Life Acupuncture & Trish Nafkey, LMT, Reiki Master from Core Concepts Wellness.   Each session will allot time for Questions & Answers, are free and open to the public.
In 2009, the Society for Integrative Oncology issued evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for health care providers to consider when incorporating complementary health approaches in the care of cancer patients. The guidelines point out that, when used in addition to conventional therapies, some of these approaches help to control symptoms and enhance patients’ well-being. The guidelines warn, however, that unproven methods should not be used in place of conventional treatment because delayed treatment of cancer reduces the likelihood of a remission or cure. Studies show those who had been diagnosed with cancer were more likely than others to have used complementary approaches for general wellness, immune enhancement, and pain management.

Surveys have also shown that many people with cancer do not tell their health care providers about their use of complementary health approaches. It is essential that cancer patients be comfortable in telling their oncologist about their use of herbal and other supplements, as these may interfere or make their chemotherapy less effective. No complementary health product or practice has been proven to cure cancer. However, some complementary approaches may help people manage cancer symptoms or treatment side effects and improve their quality of life.

For more information:

Kathleen Maxian, President


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Good News Gospel Festival will cruise the intersection of faith and health

Popular gospel musicians from across Western New York will come together Saturday (July 19) to celebrate faith and good health at the eighth annual Good News Gospel Festival and Health Fair.

The afternoon will feature live gospel music along with health screenings, healthy living information and a classic car show.

Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center will present the free event from 1 to 7 p.m. at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center (NACC), 1201 Pine Ave. at Portage Road, Niagara Falls.

While attendees are enjoying live entertainment, the Niagara Falls OG Cruisers will display their famous collection of classic cars, thereby allowing spectators to cruise the intersection of faith and health.

Featured entertainment will be provided by popular Rochester recording artist Joe James and the Voices of Clouds.  The event also will feature local gospel entertainers the Shekinah Dancers and Zamar of Potter’s House, the Mount Erie Baptist Church Male Chorus, Christopher and Crystal Gandy, the Mount Sinai Baptist Church Gospel Choir and gospel rapper Xavier Change Mustcome.

Buffalo area performers will include recording artist Anetta Williams, Lady Kathy Bowman, the Men of Praise Band, Truly Committed and others still to be announced.

Pastor Raymond and the Rev. Lora Allen from Bethany Missionary Baptist Church will help host the event.  Health screenings will be offered from 1 to 3 p.m. Giveaways and food vendors will be available throughout the event.

Good News Gospel Festival and Health Fair is sponsored by Memorial Medical Center, the City of Niagara Falls, OSC Charitable Foundation, United Healthcare Community Plan and Cricket Wireless of Pine Avenue.
In case of rain the event will be moved indoors at the NACC.

For more information, contact Memorial’s Community Outreach Department at (716) 285-2382.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

South Buffalo Alive Garden Tour set for July 20

South Buffalo Alive’s 14th annual Garden Tour, showcasing more than 40 beautiful properties throughout South Buffalo and the Old First Ward neighborhood, will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, July 20. 

The Garden Tour includes a wide variety of homes and businesses showcasing amazing gardens, landscaping and other outdoor features. Tours begin at Tim Russert’s Children’s Garden located at 2002 South Park Ave., between Choate and Whitfield avenues and next to the Dudley Library. Participants are encouraged to make this their first stop, where they will receive a tour brochure and information to make the tour very simple to follow. 

Volunteers will be on location from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. While the self-guided walking, biking or driving tour is free of charge, donations to South Buffalo Alive would be greatly appreciated.

South Buffalo Alive is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in the South Buffalo area. The organization is involved in the preservation and beautification of neighborhoods, promoting special events, and recognizing people who have made a difference in the community.

For more information, please follow South Buffalo Alive on Facebook at for frequent updates.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Cognitive Assessment Provides Window into Proficiency Level of Robot-Assisted Surgeons

Collaborative Roswell Park-UB study highlights value of incorporating approach into surgical training

BUFFALO, N.Y. — What clues might brain metrics hold about the skill levels of surgeons who perform robot-assisted surgeries? Looking for better ways to assess the proficiency of surgeons performing these complex procedures, researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) and theUniversity at Buffalo (UB) determined whether cognitive assessment can effectively measure the expertise of robotic surgeons with varying levels of experience. They found that assessment of robotic surgeons’ cognitive processes during surgery gives a fuller, more reliable picture than other measurable indicators, and may be a valuable element to incorporate into robotic surgery training.
The study, published online ahead of print in the journal BJUI, is the first published report to evaluate surgeons’ cognition during robot-assisted surgery.

The research team evaluated novice, competent and expert robotic surgeons using both tool-based measures available through the daVinci Surgical System and continuous wireless electroencephalography (EEG) recording. Most of the 10 surgeons enrolled — two residents, three fellows and five practicing surgeons — were assessed on basic, intermediate and advanced surgical tasks. Those assigned to the novice group were assessed only on basic and intermediate skills. Each participant completed a pre-recording session to establish baseline responses.

For the cognitive testing, the participants’ cognitive engagement, mental workload and mental state were calculated from the measured EEG during each task. When they compared the results of both testing approaches among the three groups, the researchers found that cognitive assessment detected significant differences that were not identified by the tool-based metrics available through the surgical robot.

“The real distinctions emerged when we looked at the cognitive differences between our intermediate and expert groups,” notes the study’s first author,Khurshid Guru, MD, Director of Robotic Surgery and the Robert P. Huben Endowed Professor of Oncology at RPCI.

“We saw that the middle group, those considered competent but not expert, demonstrated greater high-level engagement, higher mental state and more cognitive load to complete each task when performing intermediate and advanced tasks — in other words, they had to work harder and devote more mental resources than the expert group,” added co-author Ehsan T. Esfahani, PhD, an Assistant Professor in UB’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Director of the UB Brain Computer Interface Laboratory.

The researchers concluded that cognitive assessment is an effective complement to traditional methods of assessing the skill level of robotic surgeons at various stages of development and can be used to help tailor training programs to their individual needs. The authors acknowledge that further testing will be needed to validate the findings of this small study.

“Our results truly provided a window into how novice robotic surgeons develop into expert robotic surgeons, how they evolve to a point where they’re using their intuition, pre-planning their actions and demonstrating high comfort and competence in interacting with the machine,” adds Dr. Guru, who is also Director of the Institute’s ATLAS Project, or Applied Technology Laboratory for Advanced Surgery. “The implications for patient safety are striking. I think in the future we’re going to see cognitive assessment widely incorporated into surgeon training programs, and the model our team developed is a good foundation for subsequent investigations.”

The testing was performed at RPCI in collaboration with UB’s Brain Computer Interface Laboratory. Assessments were conducted using training modules and surgeries performed on synthetic organ models; no live surgeries were involved.

The study is “Cognitive Skills Assessment During Robot-Assisted Surgery: Separating Wheat from Chaff,” and the research was funded in part by the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation and the John R. Oishei Foundation. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Wellness Institute Partners with Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market to host Wellness Lane

BUFFALO, NY – The nonprofit Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo has partnered with the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market and will host “Wellness Lane”—on Saturday July 19th from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Wellness Lane will consist of different partner groups all related to the community’s health and wellbeing including the Catholic Health System, Wellness Institute, Erie County Department of Health, massage therapist Eric Bamberg offering free massages, a chiropractor, and Swing Buffalo. Free BMI (Body mass Index), Blood pressure checks and nutrition information are among the health enhancing resources for participants.

Wellness Institute Director Phil Haberstro said, “We are excited to partner with the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market. One of the most widely known and respected markets in Western New York, we feel the Elmwood community will embrace the opportunity to speak with health professionals.”

To find out further information about the vendors at the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market go to or to learn more about Wellness Lane, visit

Roswell Park-Led Team Identifies Mechanism of Chemotherapy Resistance in Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Specific cancer stem cells need to be treated in a different manner than the whole tumor, researchers conclude

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) have identified a mechanism of breast cancer cells that leads to chemotherapy resistance in inflammatory breast cancer. These preclinical findings, published online ahead of print in the International Journal of Oncology, provide evidence for a potential therapeutic approach that will restore sensitivity to chemotherapy and improve treatment of inflammatory breast cancer tumors.

“This study forms the basis for future research in patients with breast cancer and offers hope for targeted therapy for patients with aggressive triple-negative inflammatory breast cancer,” said lead researcher Mateusz Opyrchal, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Oncology at RPCI.

Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive type of advanced breast cancer and is characterized by rapid development, resistance to chemotherapy, early metastases and a poor prognosis. Inflammatory breast cancer cells display a triple-negative breast cancer phenotype that lacks the receptors needed to promote tumor growth. Therefore, common treatments such as endocrine therapy and molecular targeting of the HER-2 receptor are not effective for this breast cancer subtype. No targeted therapy has been approved for noninflammatory and inflammatory triple-negative breast cancer tumors, and the standard of therapy for these tumors is a combination of conventional cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agents.

In the laboratory, Dr. Opyrchal and colleagues used breast cancer cell lines to determine the extent to which chromosomal instability and resistance to chemotherapy — characteristics of inflammatory breast cancer — are linked to the CD44+/CD24–/Low stem-like phenotype. They found that CD44+/CD24–/Low cancer stem cells (CSCs) were resistant to conventional chemotherapy but were sensitive to SU9516, which is a specific cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (Cdk2) inhibitor. The researchers concluded from these findings that aberrant activation of cyclin E/Cdk2 oncogenic signaling is essential for maintaining and expanding the CD44+/CD24–/Low subpopulation in inflammatory breast cancer. Therefore, a novel therapeutic approach in inflammatory breast cancer could involve a combination of conventional chemotherapy with small-molecule inhibitors of the Cdk2 cell cycle kinase.

“Cdk2 cell cycle kinase seems to play a role in the ability of cancer cells to be more aggressive and resistant to standard chemotherapy,” Dr. Opyrchal said. “Blocking its function resulted in the improved ability of the chemotherapy drugs to kill cancer cells. Cancer stem cells will need to be identified and treated in a different manner than the bulk tumor.”

Dr. Opyrchal noted that these results will have to be confirmed before human trials can be planned. His laboratory continues to work on identifying the cancer stem cells and signaling pathways that play a role in growth, metastatic potential and resistance to standard therapies.

The study, “Inhibition of Cdk2 kinase activity selectively targets the CD44+/CD24-/Low stem-like subpopulation and restores chemosensitivity of SUM149PT triple-negative breast cancer cells,” was supported in part by National Cancer Institute (NCI) grants R01CA072836 and P50CA116201.