Health Tips ... from UPI

By LIDIA WASOWICZ, UPI Senior Science Writer


Eye experts caution parents to protect their babies' eyes from the ravaging effects of the sun. They say it's never too early to start wearing sunglasses that protect against ultraviolet rays that can wreak havoc with vision. Leo Semmes, optometrist at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, says damaging effects to the eyes from exposure to sunlight is cumulative, and most people have reached up to 50 percent of what is considered the maximum safe exposure by the time they are 18. By protecting eyes with sunglasses and brimmed hats, much of the damage can be mitigated, he says. "I have friends who send me pictures of their infants wearing sunglasses and hats," he says. "'See, we were listening to you,' they always tell me."



Researchers say a chemical produced when digesting such greens as broccoli and kale may stifle the growth of human prostate cancer cells. The findings by University of California, Berkeley, researchers found 3,3'-diindolylmethane, obtained from eating cruciferous vegetables in the Brassica genus, stops the proliferation of the cancer cells in laboratory tests. "As far as we know, this is the first plant-derived chemical discovered that acts as an anti-androgen," said Leonard Bjeldanes, professor and chair of nutritional sciences and toxicology and principal study investigator. "This is of considerable interest in the development of therapeutics and preventive agents for prostate cancer." He says vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflowers are rich sources of indole-3-carbino, which the body converts into DIM during digestion. The findings are reported in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.



Health officials offer some tips to keep food safe during the summer months. "Barbeques and picnics are lots of fun during the summer season," says New York City Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Thomas Frieden. "To stay healthy, following simple steps when preparing food, both indoors or outdoors, can prevent food-borne illness." These include: grill and cook meat and poultry until well done; keep raw meat away from other foods to avoid bacterial contamination; keep refrigerated raw meat or products containing raw eggs or mayonnaise; thoroughly wash surfaces, cutting boards and utensils after preparing raw meat; thoroughly wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds after handling raw meat.


Biologists are warning residents of the Midwest and Southeast to be on the lookout for snakes driven from their dens by recent torrential rains. They say be careful about killing snakes because not all of them are harmful. "Most are helpful and play an important role in the food chain and can rid property of other creatures brought in by flood waters," says Ken Marion of the University of Alabama, Birmingham. "Little brown snakes eat slugs that get into gardens and plants. King and rat snakes feed on rodents, and king snakes eat other snakes, including poisonous ones." He advises people to leave snakes alone in case they are not of the harmless variety.


(EDITORS: For more information about EYES, call 205-934-3884; about BROCCOLI, call 510-643-7741, about FOOD, call 212-788-5290; about SNAKES, call 205-934-3884.)

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