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Volume 60
Number 8
October 2009



Voyage to Better Health
For the 15th straight year, A Woman’s Journey will unite hundreds of women in pursuit of medical knowledge and a healthier lifestyle.


Better Health
One of the speakers, Gerard Mullins, had an early introduction to eating nutritiously: In the 1970s, his mother opened Northern New Jersey’s first health food store.

Annette Houston is a blueberry aficionado—not so much because she enjoys their taste but because of something she learned two years ago at A Woman’s Journey, the Hopkins-sponsored conference focused on women’s health. Houston, medical training coordinator for the Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging, found out that blueberries top the list of antioxidant-rich, low-calorie foods and started incorporating them and other healthful choices into her diet.

Since then, Houston has lost 30 pounds, thanks in part to the new knowledge, and continues to seek information about smart food choices. The four-year AWJ veteran couldn’t attend the event in 2008 but plans to make it this year. “As I get older,” says Houston, “I’m more interested in learning how food can improve my energy level.” Houston won’t be disappointed, says Leslie Waldman, director of consumer and physician outreach and the force behind the annual event since it debuted in 1995. Every year Waldman works closely with cancer survivor co-chairs Mollye Block and Harriet Legum, Assistant Dean Christine White and an army of staff and volunteers to identify health topics of great import to women. “Nutrition has always been a big draw,” says Waldman, of the conference that attracts more than 1,100 people from Baltimore and well beyond.

AWJ represents Hopkins’ clinical departments by offering plenty of other timely topics too—from keeping your memory sharp, to why women ignore their risk for heart disease, to the latest cancer treatments. A dozen new sessions join the lineup this year, including “Top Ten Infections” with tips on how to prevent them.

At the full-day health conference, there are 32 sessions presented by Hopkins experts, and at least five will focus on nutrition and eating habits. Here’s a taste: “Preventing Cancer: You Are What You Eat,” “Food Busters” and “Antioxidants, Vitamins and Supplements.”

Johns Hopkins gastroenterologist Gerard Mullin, whose talk is titled “Inside Tract,” by his account is the only U.S. physician certified by three nutritional boards. Passionate about the interplay between our brain, the food we eat, the medicine we take and our gut, Mullin says his goal is to clarify the role of nutrition in intestinal health using a holistic approach.

More than 90 million Americans—mostly women, says Mullin—have a chronic digestive disorder, like irritable bowel syndrome. Though genes play a part, to a large extent these conditions can be prevented, he says. “We have total control over what we eat, but it’s not enough to keep our diets pure. We need to eat in a relaxed state. So a low-fat blueberry muffin might be a great breakfast choice, but eating it while you drive invites stress, which can trigger digestive problems.” And, he adds, hormonal factors complicate matters.

As for Annette Houston, the only down side to the conference is deciding which sessions to sign up for. “So this year,” she says, “I’m going to invest in a couple of taped sessions after the conference.” Meanwhile, she hopes to catch up with the AWJ friends she’s made over the years who might share highlights of the sessions she almost chose to attend.

– Judy F. Minkove

Johns Hopkins Hospital, Health System and University employees: Share your reflections on how you’ve changed your behaviors to improve your health. Submit a 400-word essay titled “Journey to Good Health” online from Oct. 8-23.
More info:

A Woman’s Journey
Nov. 14, 2009
8:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Hilton Baltimore
401 W. Pratt St.
Plenary speaker: Pamela Paulk, vice president, Human Resources, Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, on her recent experience as a kidney donor. Lunch speaker: Azar Nafisi, English professor, Johns Hopkins University, and author of Reading Lolita in Tehran.
Cost: $85.50 for Hopkins employees; $95 for non-Hopkins employees; $75 for full-time students. Includes breakfast, lunch, snacks and materials. Continuing education credits available. Info: 410-955-8660 or www.hopkins



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