3 hospitals recognized for treatment of LGBT patients

Rush University Medical Center (Perkins+Will)

Three area hospitals were recognized in a new nationwide survey for their treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients.

The Human Rights Campaign's Healthcare Equality Index 2011, released last week, cited Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Rush University Medical Center and NorthShore Evanston Hospital in such areas as training of staff on LGBT issues, extending "family" visitation rights to same-sex partners, and patient and employee nondiscrimination policies.

Advocate and Rush were named as "Leaders" for achievement on all seven criteria in the voluntary survey of hospitals.

"Our policies really are a reflection of what we do," said Marc Senesac, vice president of human resources at Advocate. "As an organization, we actually do live out the values we espouse."

Last year, President Barack Obama issued a memorandum addressing some LGBT issues. Many LGBT people decline medical attention because they fear discrimination or unfair treatment, or are denied visitation by loved ones.

But Advocate, located in the gay-friendly Lakeview community, "has opened the doors and made a more comfortable place for people who need to be here," Senesac said.

Advocate, Rush and NorthShore Evanston are poised to bring widespread attention to LGBT health care issues and help initiate policy changes that improve access, the survey notes.

The Illinois civil union law went into effect this month, drawing even more attention to state businesses and the need for inclusive practices.

— Kelly April, Tribune reporter

Study says cellphone-brain tumor link unlikely

Despite a recent move to classify mobile phones as possibly carcinogenic, the scientific evidence increasingly points away from a link between their use and brain tumors, according to a study.

A major review of previously published research by a committee of experts from Britain, the United States and Sweden concluded there was no convincing evidence of any cancer connection.

It also found a lack of established biological mechanisms by which radio signals from mobile phones might trigger tumors.

"Although there remains some uncertainty, the trend in the accumulating evidence is increasingly against the hypothesis that mobile phone use can cause brain tumors in adults," the experts wrote in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The latest paper comes two months after the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer decided cellphone use should be classified as "possibly carcinogenic to humans."

Diet cola-related weight gain may be in your head

Diet soda may be associated with weight gain, as a study suggests, but the fault may lie in your head.

In a study that has sparked headlines along the lines of "Diet soda makes you fat," researchers found that people who drank diet soda for nearly a decade gained more stomach pudge than diet-drink abstainers.

The study wasn't huge or broad, assessing only 474 elderly participants, but it concluded that those who drank two or more diet soft drinks a day had the largest waistline increases — about five times more than that of abstainers. The results, which haven't been published or peer-reviewed, were announced at a meeting of the American Diabetes Association in San Diego.