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Health tips ... from UPI

By ALEX CUKAN, United Press International   |   Sept. 16, 2004 at 9:00 AM   |   Comments

AIR POLLUTION CAN REDUCE LUNG FUNCTION

U.S. researchers say children in polluted communities are five times more likely to have clinically low lung function. Some children could have less than 80 percent of the lung function for their age. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests pollutants from vehicle emissions and fossil fuels hinder lung development and limit breathing capacity for a lifetime. "The potential long-term effects of reduced lung function are alarming. It's second only to smoking as a risk factor for mortality," says Dr. Kenneth Olden, director of National Institute of Environmental Health Science.


CHOOSING A PSYCHOLOGIST

Finding a psychologist often comes up when people are experiencing extreme stress, loss, or emotional turmoil, U.S. researchers say. Brenna L. Chirby, of Argosy University in Washington and director of counseling services at The Art Institute of Washington, recommends that if a patient is using insurance to pay for therapy, most companies will provide a list of preferred providers. Those seeking a psychologist should ask friends, family, or a medical doctor for referrals or check the state psychological associations. "Does the psychologist hold a current license to practice psychology, e.g. are they a licensed clinical psychologist? asks Chirby. "This is important because each state has a licensing board, which monitors ethical behavior."


INTIMACY AFTER BREAST CANCER

U.S. researchers say for some women, resuming sexual intimacy after a mastectomy or breast cancer surgery can be very difficult. Studies show up to a third of breast cancer patients feel their disease and treatment have a negative impact on their sexuality -- ranging from problems with self-image to physical dysfunction, such as pain or desensitization. The key is for breast cancer patients to accept their bodies, according to Dr. Susan Hoover of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. "It may take a while for a positive self-image to form, and during this time, it would be wise to take things gradually and make adjustments as needed."


SNORING RISK FACTORS DIFFER FOR BOYS AND GIRLS

One in 10 children snore regularly, but risk factors for snoring may be different in boys and girls, German and Austrian researchers find. The researchers questioned 1,144 third graders and found girls who frequently complained of sore throats were five times more likely to be at risk for habitual snoring than boys. For boys, lower maternal education was significantly linked with habitual snoring, as was household smoking of more than 10 cigarettes per day. The study, published in Chest, found obesity was significantly linked with habitual snoring, with nearly one in four obese children snoring, and children in the 90th percentile for body mass index are four times more likely to be at risk for habitual snoring than those with a body mass index below the 75th percentile.

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(EDITORS: For more information, on AIR POLLUTION, contact John Peterson (919) 541-7860 or peterso4@nih.gov. For PSYCHOLOGIST, Ivonne L. Couret at (703) 247-6864 or icouret@aii.edu. For BREAST CANCER, Scott Maier at (214) 648-3404. For SNORING, Jennifer Stawarz at (847) 498-8306 or jstawarz@chestnet.org)

© 2004 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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