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CU Anschutz Top Stories of 2023

Obesity and fructose, homelessness and camp sweeps, methamphetamine and public health round out list

minute read

Written by Staff on December 18, 2023
What You Need To Know

A look back at the top 10 stories for 2023 focuses on top health concerns, such as obesity, Alzheimer's disease and substance use disorder.

In 2023, top health scientists at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus produced life-changing discoveries that buoyed understanding of some of the most complex questions in medicine today.

From what drives obesity and cognitive decline with aging, to how homeless and methamphetamine policies affect public health, campus researchers spend their lives seeking the answers to the questions that matter.

Along with sharing their world-class expertise on everything from relationship health to the adverse effects of substance use disorders, the reach of the researchers and educators on the region’s top academic medical campus grows broader every day.

The CU Anschutz Newsroom, one small player in the campus dissemination of information, generated nearly 250,000 views from readers from its top five stories alone in 2023. Those five articles, along with the five other pieces that round out the top 10, are highlighted below.

Top 10 Couples

What Makes a Couple Successful? Relationship Therapist Tells All

Love is in the air, which must mean it’s Valentine’s Day. People around the world contemplate the grandest gestures of affection possible to show their significant other they care or write off the 14th as just a day invented by Hallmark. Polarizing as it may be, Valentine’s Day is a time to reflect on the root of love itself. What happens to us when we fall in love? What makes a couple successful? How can we ensure our relationships last?

Scott Cypers, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, is a Gottman-trained therapist who helps couples use the lessons of experts such as Gottman to help couples live their best relationships.



Forced Displacement Linked With Spikes in Overdoses and Deaths

Involuntary displacement of people experiencing homelessness will likely lead to a substantial increase in morbidity and mortality over a 10-year period.

In a study, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers say practices such as encampment sweeps, bans, move-along-orders and cleanups that forcibly relocate individuals away from essential services will lead to substantial increases in overdose deaths, life threatening infections and hospitalizations.


Top 10 Fructose

Study Suggests Fructose Could Drive Alzheimer's Disease

An ancient human foraging instinct, fueled by fructose production in the brain, may hold clues to the development and possible treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

The study, published today in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, offers a new way of looking at a disease characterized by abnormal accumulations of proteins in the brain that slowly erode memory and cognition.


Top 10 Obesity

Researcher: Lots of Things Cause Obesity. Fructose Is at the Center

Nutrition experts have recognized for many years that Western diets rich in fats and sugar may be behind the cause of obesity, but debate has reigned over the primary culprit - intake of too many calories? Specific foods such as carbohydrates or fat? This has led to some groups recommending reducing sugar, some reducing carb intake, while others believe the key is reducing high fat-foods. 

A paper published today in the research journal Obesity suggests these theories are not incompatible with each other, and that they can all be brought together in one unified pathway that centers around one true driver: fructose.


Top 10 Cognitive

Scientists May Have Found Mechanism Behind Cognitive Decline in Aging

Scientists at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have discovered what they believe to be the central mechanism behind cognitive decline associated with normal aging.

“The mechanism involves the mis-regulation of a brain protein known as CaMKII which is crucial for memory and learning,” said the study’s co-senior author Ulli Bayer, PhD, professor of pharmacology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “This study directly suggests specific pharmacological treatment strategies.”


Top 10 Diabetes

New Therapy First to Target Type 1 Diabetes Disease Process

Not long after recovering from a frightening episode that culminated in their daughter’s type 1 diabetes (T1D) diagnosis at age 7, Doug and Laura Aeling turned their attention to their son.

While soaking in all the information offered them for their daughter at the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes (BDC), the parents learned Erik Aeling’s T1D risk was 15 times higher than average because of the genetic link. So they had him screened.


Top 10 Benzos

Benzodiazepine Use Associated With Brain Injury, Job Loss and Suicide

Benzodiazepine use and discontinuation is associated with nervous system injury and negative life effects that continue after discontinuation, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

The study was published today in the journal PLOS ONE.


Top 10 Oxygen

Does Oxygen in a Can Deliver on Its Altitude and Energy Claims?

In a three-year span, canned oxygen has become almost as available as the real thing. Buoyed by COVID-19, a “Shark Tank” deal, and a scene on “The Simpsons,” increased demand has resulted in a burst of the small aluminum cans on store shelves, from pharmacies to gas stations.

Boost Oxygen makers, responsible for over 90% of the canned oxygen market, have reported steady sales increases since a 2019 win on the business reality TV show “Shark Tank.”


Top 10 Cannabis

Can Cannabis Cause Heart Attacks?

Not long after Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2012, Lori Walker’s daughter came home shaken from a party.

“Mom, what does pot do to the heart?” she asked Walker, PhD, an associate professor of cardiology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.


Top 10 Meth

What is the Health Risk of Meth Contamination?

Abrupt closures at public libraries in Boulder, Littleton, Englewood and Arvada due to methamphetamine contamination are a cause for concern, if not alarm.

But the initial shock of the local and national headlines needs to be put in the proper context, said Mike Van Dyke, PhD, industrial hygienist and associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and the Center for Work, Health & Environment at the Colorado School of Public Health.