Categotry Archives: Medicine


Ancel Keys


Categories: Medicine, Military, Writers/Editors

Dr. Ancel Benjamin Keys, the educator and physiologist who invented K-rations, died on Nov. 20. Cause of death was not released. He was 100.
Born in Colorado Springs, Keys was the nephew of silent film star Lon Chaney. As a young man, he worked in a lumber camp, shoveled bat guano in Arizona, mined for gold and traveled to China as a sailor on an ocean liner. Keys graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in chemistry, then earned a doctorate in zoology and oceanography from the Scripps Institute. He received a second doctorate in physiology from Kings College in Cambridge, England, and worked at the Mayo Clinic for a short time before joining the faculty of the University of Minnesota in 1936. Four years later, he founded the school’s Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene. Keys remained at the university until his retirement in 1972.
At the start of America’s involvement in World War II, the U.S. Army commissioned Keys to design a lightweight, non-perishable and nutritional meal for paratroopers and soldiers heading into combat. Using items he found in a Minneapolis grocery store, Keys created a meal consisting of biscuits and/or crackers, dry sausage, hard candy and chocolate. The military added chewing gum, toilet paper and four cigarettes to the package, mass-produced the “K-rations” and gave them to thousands of GIs fighting overseas.
Keys next studied the physiology of starvation. He conducted hunger experiments on conscientious objectors, and provided the government with a record of the physiological, psychological and cognitive changes his test subjects experienced due to food deprivation.
Reading the obituary pages in the newspaper inspired Keys to investigate the causes of heart disease. Beginning in 1947, he studied 283 businessmen from Minneapolis and St. Paul — meat and potatoes country — and found that heart attacks were more likely to occur in men who smoked and had high blood pressure and elevated blood cholesterol levels. After further research, Keys discovered that saturated fat largely determined cholesterol levels. If the quantity of fat in a person’s diet was reduced, he concluded, then heart disease could be prevented.
In 1958, Keys began studying the diets of 12,763 middle-aged men living in Italy, the Greek islands, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, Finland, Japan and the United States. His landmark “Seven Countries Study” showed that a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, pasta, bread and olive oil would reduce the occurrence of heart disease. The results, which were chronicled in his bestselling book, “Eat Well and Stay Well,” earned him an appearance on the cover of Time magazine in 1961.
Today, the “Mediterranean diet,” which is heavy on fruits and vegetables and light on fat and meat, has gained popularity with Americans seeking to lose weight and live longer, healthier lives.


Harold H. Benjamin

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Categories: Extraordinary People, Law, Medicine

hbenjamin.jpgHarold H. Benjamin, the founder of a national network of wellness centers for cancer patients, died on Dec. 23 of complications from pulmonary fibrosis. He was 80.
The Philadelphia native served as a radarman in the U.S. Army during World War II, then earned a bachelor’s degree from Penn State. He married a classmate, Harriet Miller, who supported him through law school at Cornell. Benjamin was working as an attorney when Harriet was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy in 1972 and recovered from the disease.
The experience inspired Benjamin to give up his successful Beverly Hills practice and dedicate his life to helping others. He encouraged cancer patients to maintain a positive attitude and promoted his Patient Active Concept: “People with cancer who participate in their fight for recovery from cancer will improve the quality of their life and may enhance the possibility of their recovery.”
In 1982, Benjamin pooled together $250,000 and created the first Wellness Community in Santa Monica, Calif. The organization, which offered free psychological and social support to cancer victims and their families, was facilitated by licensed therapists. The Wellness Community now serves 30,000 people a year at 22 centers in the United States. A center in Tokyo and another in Tel Aviv provide free services to cancer patients overseas.
The Wellness Community received a $1 million donation from a local philanthropist after “Saturday Night Live” comedian Gilda Radner wrote about her experiences there in the book “It’s Always Something.” When Radner died of ovarian cancer in 1989, her Wellness Community psychotherapist Joanna Bull, her husband Gene Wilder and her friends launched a similar project called Gilda’s Club.
Benjamin chronicled his efforts and philosophies in the books “From Victim to Victor” and “The Wellness Community Guide to Fighting for Recovery From Cancer.” He was also interviewed on the CBS news program “60 Minutes.”


Hiltgunt Margret Zassenhaus


Categories: Extraordinary People, Medicine, Writers/Editors

Dr. Hiltgunt Margret Zassenhaus, a retired physician and author who was nominated for the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize, died on Nov. 20 of pneumonia. She was 88.
Born in Hamburg, Germany, Zassenhaus earned a bachelor’s degree in Scandinavian languages from the University of Hamburg. She was taking premed courses in 1940 when the Third Reich’s Department of Justice ordered her to read and censor the letters written by Jews that requested food from friends and relatives. Zassenhaus was told to either black out their pleas or destroy the correspondence. With the help of shipping agents, she smuggled the letters out of the country.
Unaware of her activities, the Gestapo then ordered Zassenhaus to utilize her specialized language skills to monitor the 1,200 Danish and Norwegian resistance fighters forced to live in German prison camps. Instead, she used her position to get past the SS officers and secretly deliver suitcases filled with food, books, medicine and other forbidden supplies.
Zassenhaus kept a card file that listed all of the Scandinavian prisoners she encountered at the 52 prisons and camps. She entrusted the list to a Danish sea captain who gave it to the Swedish Red Cross. In 1945, Zassenhaus’s list was used by the Red Cross to locate and rescue political prisoners before the Nazis could execute them.
After the war, Zassenhaus completed her medical degree at the University of Copenhagen. She immigrated to America and served her internship and residency at City Hospital in Baltimore. Zassenhaus ran her own medical office for many years, then became a best-selling author. Her memoir, “Walls: Resisting the Third Reich,” was named one of the 25 best books of 1974 for young adults by the American Library Association.
The Towson, Md., resident received numerous honors for her wartime efforts, including the Red Cross Medal, the Order of the Dannebro and the Cross of the Order of Merit. A 1974 nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, Zassenhaus was also inducted into the Hall of Fame of Maryland and knighted by the kings of Norway and Denmark.


Tracy Hogg


Categories: Education, Medicine, Writers/Editors

thogg.jpgTracy Hogg, a British-born nurse who cared for more than 5,000 children, was called the “baby whisperer.” Using a compassionate touch and a few kind words, Hogg could calm any cranky baby. Her years of training and positive attitude soothed the fears of anxious parents as well.
The bestselling author of the 2001 book “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect and Communicate With Your Baby,” Hogg often used acronyms to teach the basics of raising children. For example, she instructed parents on how to create a daily schedule with the word “EASY” (Eating, Activity and Sleeping for the baby; the Y stands for “time for You”). She encouraged families to communicate with their infants in adult language and to treat each child like a little person.
Hogg’s services were highly prized by Hollywood parents. Several celebrities, including Cindy Crawford, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael J. Fox, Calista Flockhart, Jodie Foster and Marilu Henner, paid $200/hour for a telephone consultation, and $1,000/day for live-in support.
Although she was born into a large Yorkshire family, Hogg was raised by her grandparents. Her grandfather, the head nurse at a mental institution, took Hogg to the children’s ward when she was only 7 years old. After seeing how well she related to the children, he encouraged her to pursue a career in nursing. At 18, Hogg followed his advice and became a registered nurse, nanny and midwife. She also trained in hypnotherapy and specialized in helping children with learning disabilities and physical handicaps.
When Hogg moved to California in 1992, she took some flak for leaving her two young daughters in England to be raised by their grandmother. She defended her actions by saying they deserved the special care her extended family provided. The girls eventually joined their mother and stepfather in America.
Hogg later opened Baby Technique, a baby equipment store in Encino, Calif., and co-wrote two more books with journalist Melinda Blau. “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers” was published in 2002; “The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems” will be released in January. She also hosted the TV program “The Baby Whisperer” on the Discovery Health channel.
Hogg died on Nov. 25 of melanoma. She was 44.
Secrets of the Baby Whisperer: How to Calm, Connect, and Communicate with Your Baby Download “Secrets of the Baby Whisperer”


Lennox Miller


Categories: Medicine, Sports

lmiller.jpgDr. Lennox “Billy” Miller, an Olympic sprinter and dentist, died on Nov. 8 of cancer. He was 58.
The Kingston native ran track in high school and won an athletic scholarship to the University of Southern California. While studying for his bachelor’s degree in psychology, he worked on the USC grounds crew to cover expenses. Miller also served as the anchor on the school’s sprint relay team. He and his teammates O.J. Simpson, Earl McCullouch and Fred Kuller set a world record in 1967 when they ran the 440-yard relay in 38.6 seconds.
At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Miller represented Jamaica and won the silver medal in the 100-meter dash. Four years later, he took home the bronze medal in the same event at the Munich Olympics.
Miller graduated from the USC School of Dentistry in 1973 and ran a successful practice in Pasadena, Calif., for 30 years. He is survived by his wife Avril, and their two daughters, Inger and Heather. Inger Miller captured a gold medal in the 400-meter relay at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. The Millers were the first father and daughter to win Olympic track and field medals.
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