Cut the fat:
Eating fatty foods not only increases your risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer, but it can also give you gallstones. Researchers at King Fahd Hospital in Saudi Arabia found this out after noting that a growing number of patients were having their gallbladders removed. (Gallstones are the most common reason gallbladders become inflamed and have to be removed.) When they surveyed 14 other hospitals, the researchers found that the number of gallbladder operations performed annually was almost times higher in 1986 than in 1977. Yet the local population had grown only 67 percent. What had changed was Saudi eating habits. In the old days, Saudis ate lots of high-fiber grains. These days the average Saudi eats 81 percent more calories, a whopping 197 percent more fat, and only one-quarter of the grain that he or she did in 1977.
Marlboro man faces death:
Cigarette companies are notorious for targeting specific groups with slick ads: Marlboros are for the rugged man, Virginia Slims for the "liberated" woman and Kool filters for the hip black. Maybe the American Cancer Society should use the same technique to convince smokers to stop. The suggestion comes from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. More than half of all smokers aged 17 to 24, for instance, said they like Marlboros. So, if the Cancer Society wants teen-agers to quit, it needs to counter the image of Marlboro smokers as strong, rugged and independent. At least one school group in California is giving it a try. They've developed a curriculum that uses a documentary film called "Death in the West." The film features six real cowboys who are dying of lung cancer or emphysema. That ought to help the sun set on some of those pretty cowboy images.
Low doses just as good:
Simple over-the-counter pain relievers are as effective in alleviating the aches and pains of arthritis of the knee as an often-prescribed anti-inflammation medication that has more side effects, a new study shows. Researchers say their findings "call into question the routine use" of prescription-strength ibuprofen when the same relief is achieved with low doses of the same drug, available on pharmacy shelves under such brand names as Motrin and Advil, and with over-the-counter acetaminophen, sold under such brand names as Tylenol and Anacin-3. The study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 4,000 milligrams a day of acetaminophen combined with 1,200 milligrams a day of ibuprofen provide as much relief as 2,400 milligrams of ibuprofen, a prescription-strength dosage that reduces swelling but that may also lead to ulcers. In over-the-counter terms, the acetaminophen dosage is equivalent to eight tablets of Extra-Strength Tylenol daily and the low dose of ibuprofen is equal to six tablets of regular strength Advil daily. The researchers, from Indiana University, say their study relates to short-term treatment and caution that some patients with inflammation and chronic arthritis may still benefit from the prescription-strength dose.