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Health Tips #7 ~ [Issue 0200-2]  Wellness Weekly
 Feb 08, 2000 14:10 PST 

A recent study of 500 women led by researchers at St. Lukes-Roosevelt
Hospital in New York, found calcium supplements of 1200 milligrams
daily for two to three months can reduce PMS symptoms by more than
half. The lead investigator, Dr. Susan Thys-Jacobs, an
endocrinologist at St. Lukes-Roosevelt, called the study a "major
breakthrough," noting "the remedy is simple to take and highly
effective." The study appears in the American Journal of Obstetrics
and Gynecology.


Ultraviolet rays, linked to cancer, also trigger production of
vitamin D, needed for our bones. When we avoid sunlight to reduce our
risk of cancer, are we cheating our body of "D-livery"? "No," says
Dr. Kenneth Kraemer, M.D., researcher in dermatology at the National
Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. Over a six-year period, he and
other researchers studied a group of people who, because of a rare
skin disease, had to avoid sunlight at all costs. Although their
lifestyle was near sunless, their vitamin D levels were normal,
thanks to a diet rich in vitamin D, with milk and certain breakfast
cereals as major sources.


To keep bones healthy and diminish bone loss: eat plenty of
calcium-rich foods, including vegetables like broccoli, tofu
(calcium-processed only), low-fat dairy products and canned fish with
bones, like salmon. Avoid smoking, caffeine and alcohol, which may
interfere with bone maintenance. Supplement your diet with vitamin D,
as it helps your body to absorb the calcium.


A recent study reports that extract from the saw palmetto plant
appears to safely ease the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia,
commonly known as BPH, which is characterized by swelling of the
prostate gland in men. The extract is as effective as a popular drug
commonly prescribed for BPH, but causes fewer side effects, according
to Dr. Timothy J. Wilt of the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical
Center in Minnesota. He and his colleagues reported their findings in
the Journal of the American Medical Association. Up to 40% of men age
70 or older have experienced BPH, including a frequent urge to
urinate both during the day and at night. They also have difficulty
in completely emptying the bladder. If the condition continues, it
can lead to bladder infections and kidney damage. We know that Native
Americans used extract from the saw palmetto plant, or Serenoa
repens, as far back as 200 years ago. Although it is still not clear
how the plant extract works, it is now one of the leading products in
Germany and Austria, and is available in the United States and many
other countries as a dietary supplement.


According to the World Health Organization, there was a total of 52.2
million deaths around the world in 1997. Of them, 17.3 million were
due to infectious and parasitic diseases. The following data
summarizes the other reasons in millions: circulatory disease 15.3,
cancer 6.2, respiratory disease 2.9 with perinatal conditions
responsible for 3.6 million. In descending order in millions, the
causes from infectious diseases were acute lower respiratory
infections 3.7, tuberculosis 2.9, diarrhea 2.5, HIV/AIDS 2.3 and
malaria 1.5-2.7. From circulatory diseases: coronary heart disease
7.2, cerebrovascular disease 4.6 and other heart diseases 3 million.
From cancers: lung 1.1, stomach 0.77, colon and rectum 0.53, liver
0.51 and breast 0.39. In the last few decades spectacular progress
has been made in reducing mortality. There were about 10 million such
deaths in 1997, compared to 21 million in 1955. The infant mortality
rate per 1,000 live births was 148 in 1955; 59 in 1995; and is
projected to be 29 in 2025. One of the biggest 21st-century hazards
to children will be the continuing spread of HIV/AIDS. In 1997,
590,000 children under age 15 became infected with HIV. The disease
could reverse some of the major gains in child health in the last 50 years.
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