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Holocaust scholar to discuss medical legacy of the Nazis, political rhetoric

Celebrated bioethicist Arthur Caplan, author of a landmark book, `When Medicine Went Mad: Bioethics and The Holocaust,’ will visit Denver and Aurora next month to discuss the medical legacy of the Nazis and how today’s overheated political rhetoric often features comparisons to Hitler’s Germany.

Caplan will deliver two lectures on Monday, May 2, one on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora and the other at the Wolf Theater in Denver.

The visit is sponsored by the CU Anschutz Center for Bioethics and Humanities as part of its Holocaust Genocide and Contemporary Bioethics (HGCB) program.

Dr. Matthew Wynia, director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at CU Anschutz.

Caplan, a well-known commentator on health care ethics, writes a regular column for NBC.com and, according to The Hollywood Reporter, is the inspiration for a CBS TV pilot called `Austen’s Razor,’ about a “brilliant bioethicist who is called in at crisis moments to solve the most complicated, dynamic and confounding medical issues imaginable.”

His Denver lecture entitled, `The Use and Misuse of the Nazi Analogy in American Politics,’ will focus on the intended and unintended consequences of the increasingly common comparison of today’s politicians and political ideas to the Nazis. Is this ever appropriate? And when do such analogies simply shut down dialogue? Caplan is expected to address these and other questions during the lecture on Monday, May 2 at 7:00 p.m. at the Wolf Theater at 350 Dahlia St. in Denver.

He will also give a talk on Monday, May 2 at 12 noon at the CU Anschutz Fulginiti Pavilion for Bioethics and Humanities at 13080 E 19th Avenue in Aurora.

The Anschutz Campus lecture will focus on the legacy of the Holocaust and its impact on medical research ethics. It will include a panel discussion on why this legacy is not part of the curriculum at most health professional schools.

“Health professionals have special responsibilities to remember and to remain vigilant, because of the roles our respective disciplines played in creating and carrying out the Holocaust,” said Matthew Wynia, MD, director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at CU Anschutz.

This program builds on Wynia’s work with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum when he headed the Institute for Ethics at the American Medical Association in Chicago.

“While working with some incredibly knowledgeable museum staff, I learned how important the legacy of health professional involvement in the Holocaust is to modern medicine, and why remembrance must be a shared responsibility of all health professionals,” he said.

This year’s HGCB program also includes a gallery exhibit of `The Holocaust Series’ paintings by Geoffrey Laurence, entitled `ISWASWILLBE. The exhibit, co-sponsored by Denver’s Mizel Museum, opened April 3 and will run through August 4. The gallery is inside the CU Anschutz Fulginiti Pavilion at 13080 E 19th Avenue in Aurora.

The HGCB program began with a gift from Dr. William S. Silvers.

“The tragic fact of health professional involvement in the Holocaust has affected every aspect of modern bioethics,” he said. “Our program aims to build bridges and create collaborations to ensure these lessons are never forgotten.”

Both the CU Anschutz and Wolf Theater lectures are free and open to the public, though pre-registration is requested on the Center for Bioethics website at www.ColoradoBioethics.org.

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Study finds association between indoor tanning and substance abuse

Researchers from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have shown an association between indoor tanning and substance abuse among Colorado high school students.

“A growing national body of evidence links indoor tanning with other risky health-related behavior among adolescents,” said study author Robert Dellavalle, MD, associate professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

The study, which appears online today in JAMA Dermatology, says the motivation behind indoor tanning offers clues to why it is also tied to other risky behaviors.

Dr. Robert Dellavalle, associate professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Dellavalle, who also practices at the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center, said people tan for both psychological and physiological reasons.

“For example, indoor tanning and use of steroids may both stem from the motivation to enhance one’s appearance,” he said. “Data also implicate addictive physiological pathways in indoor tanning that may be similar to those of substance abuse.”

Research has shown that indoor tanning can release endorphins in users that can be addictive.

The study used the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey of health data from Colorado public schools. A total of 12,144 students answered the question, “During the last 12 months, how many times did you use an indoor tanning device such as a sunlamp, sunbed or tanning booth?”

The analysis showed females were almost twice as likely to engage in indoor tanning as males. Researchers also found that any lifetime use of steroids was the variable most strongly associated with indoor tanning, especially among males.

“Any alcohol consumption within the prior 30 days and marijuana use were also associated with indoor tanning, as was lifetime use of select illicit drugs,” the study said.

Dellavalle said indoor tanning is potentially dangerous. The World Health Organization has deemed UV radiation as a group 1 carcinogen putting users at a higher risk of melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

“Risky behaviors tend to go together,” Dellavalle said. “So someone who does indoor tanning may more easily move on to other risky behaviors like illicit drug use.”

The researchers urged physicians treating those who use indoor tanning to consider assessing them for steroid use, especially if the patient is an adolescent male. They also said parents should get involved.

“If you are a parent and your child is tanning,” Dellavalle said, “you should also check for drug abuse.”

The study co-authors include Myra Sendelweck, ME, of CU Anschutz, Eric Bell, PhD, Amy Marie Anderson, MPH, Kurt Ashack, BA, Talia Pindyck, MD, Cate Townley, MURP, MUD.

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