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Health Tips ... from UPI

By LIDIA WASOWICZ, UPI Senior Science Writer   |   Oct. 1, 2002 at 4:45 AM   |   Comments

DOUCHING MAY BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH

A study in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology has linked douching to vaginal infections. Women who douche at least once a month have higher rates of bacterial vaginosis infections than do women who don't douche, the researchers found in a study of 1,200 women. Two of five women who reported douching regularly suffered vaginal infections. These women were more likely to lack a specific kind of naturally occurring bacterium necessary to fight off BV-causing microbes than were women without the infections. The researchers suggest douching may disrupt the normal vaginal microbiology leading to vulnerability to infection, said Dr. Roberta Ness at the University of Pittsburgh.


HOME MAY BE FATALLY DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH

A study shows home accidents account for thousands of deaths each year. The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, study shows more than 20 million visits to emergency rooms, doctors' offices and clinics annually are made due to mishaps there every year. Some 20,000 people were killed unintentionally in their homes in 1998, and at least 7 million suffered disabling injuries, according to the State of Home Safety in America report. The death toll does not take into account poisonings, which represent a significant number of fatalities, the researchers said. "Falls are by far the major problem, followed by poisonings," said study leader Dr. Carol Runyan. "We were surprised to find that poisonings occur not just in little children, but also in large numbers of adults -- even middle-aged adults -- who appear to die from mixtures of prescription drugs and in some cases illicit drugs as well." Runyan is director of UNC's Injury Prevention Research Center and professor of health behavior and health education at the School of Public Health. After falls and poisonings, the leading causes of such deaths were fires, inhalations and suffocation and drowning, she said. States with the lowest home injury death rates included Massachusetts, Utah, Maryland, Minnesota and New York. Those with the highest were New Mexico, the District of Columbia, Arizona, Mississippi and Wisconsin, followed by the Dakotas, Florida, Pennsylvania and Washington.


DRUG PUMP SHOWN TO EASE CANCER PAIN

Doctors have found delivering pain medication to cancer patients through an implantable pump can offer such benefits as greater relief with smaller doses and fewer side effects than experienced with standard treatments alone. The delivery method of delivering powerful painkillers has a major bearing in how well cancer patients do, the investigators reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study, sponsored by Medtronic, Inc., showed opioids delivered through an implantable infusion system provided better relief from moderate to severe cancer pain with smaller doses and fewer side effects than such standard treatments as pills, patches and shots alone, scientists said. "As an oncologist, I've seen firsthand how a patient's pain can hamper our efforts to treat the cancer itself and adversely affect the entire family," said lead author Dr. Thomas Smith, chairman of hematology and oncology at Virginia Commonwealth University's Massey Cancer Center in Richmond. "By using the pump, we can deliver medication directly into the patient's spinal fluid, where small doses can have a big impact on pain. Put simply, less medication means fewer side effects, which makes life better not only for the patient but for the patient's family, too. And with the pain under control, we can focus on treating the cancer." About one-third of people with cancer and two-thirds of people with advanced disease experience pain, according to the American Cancer Society. But up to 15 percent of patients fail to get relief from oral opioids.


HIGH CHOLESTEROL SUFFERERS FAIL TO KEEP TO DIET

A study reveals people with high cholesterol have a difficult time sticking to a heart-happy diet. The national cholesterol study shows 70 percent admit it's a real struggle for them to eat what they should. Nearly 40 percent said the hardest part of making dietary changes is giving up some of their favorite foods. Men have an even harder time than women -- 45 percent versus 31 percent -- sacrificing at the dinner table. "Even small changes in the diet can have a profound effect on heart disease risk," said study author Ruth Carey. "Many people get discouraged because they feel dietary change is only about deprivation. People should focus more on substitution, not subtraction when it comes to their diet." The survey also found that older people are more likely to know about the new government issued cholesterol guidelines, but are less likely to follow them and be concerned about the foods they eat.


(EDITORS: For more information about DOUCHING, contact Alice Kirkman at 202-484-3321 or communications@acog.org; about HOME, call 919-962-8596; about PAIN, contact Joe McGrath at 763-505-2634 or joseph.mcgrath@medtronic.com; about CHOLESTEROL, contact Amy Briskin at 212-481-7000 or amyb@mbooth.com.)

Topics: Carol Runyan
© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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