Health Tips ... from UPI

By LIDIA WASOWICZ, UPI Senior Science Writer  |  Sept. 6, 2004 at 9:00 AM
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Nighttime leg pains that continue in the day may not be just "growing pains" but arthritis or another rheumatic disease that may need a doctor's attention. Nearly 300,000 U.S. children suffer from juvenile arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, systemic lupus erythematosus, scleroderma, Kawasaki disease or other rheumatic disorders, says Dr. Thomas Lehman, chief of pediatric rheumatology at the Hospital of Special Surgery in New York City. He offers tips for distinguishing common growing pains from something more serious: Growing pains never occur during the day; no matter how severe the pain at night, children with growing pains are always fine the next morning; any child who wakes up in the morning with pain or experiences pain during the day requires a careful medical evaluation. Lehman says growing pains typically occur in children 3 to 8 years old. Often the child will point to the front or back of the knee or the muscles just above the knee. The pain will usually disappear with 10 minutes to 15 minutes of gentle massage and be completely gone in the morning.


In selecting before- and after-school child care, parents should evaluate the program and the people. "Cost and quality vary greatly with these programs, so it helps to know what to look for," says Susan Walker, assistant professor of family studies at the University of Maryland. She suggests considering: features such as recreational activities and academic enrichment based on solid principles of youth development; daily schedules; staff's education and training in youth development and education; the setting, including space for play, quiet areas for reading, homework or being alone; playground equipment; safety, health and food, including quality of snacks and meals; immunization requirements; equipment safety and cleanliness; supervision, attitude, engagement of other children in the program; involvement of other families; personal needs, such as hours of operation, transportation and cost; program operation, including check-in, check-out; objectives; and, other procedures and policies.


While a single full-body computed tomography scan carries little risk of developing cancer, the risks from annual screenings are much higher, researchers say. They write in the journal Radiology the increasing popularity of elective or self-referred scans for identifying colon and lung cancer, coronary artery disease and other disorders raise concerns about the potential fallout of radiation exposure from the screenings. "Our research provides definitive evidence that radiation risk is associated with full-body CT scans," said lead study author David Brenner, professor of radiation oncology and public health at Columbia University in New York City. "The radiation dose from a full-body CT scan is comparable to the doses received by some of the atomic-bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where there is clear evidence of increased cancer risk." The study found a 45-year-old person who underwent one full-body CT screening would have an estimated lifetime cancer mortality risk of approximately 0.08 percent, which would produce cancer in one in 1,200 people. A 45-year-old who has annual full-body CT scans for 30 years would accrue an estimated lifetime cancer mortality risk of about 1.9 percent or almost one in 50, the scientists found.


Scientists say eating grapefruit can help promote weight loss. Researchers at Scripps Clinic in San Diego said at a national meeting of the American Chemical Society grapefruit may work by lowering insulin levels, an excess of which is linked to weight gain. In studies of 100 men and women, researchers found those who ate half a grapefruit with each meal lost 3.6 pounds, while those who drank the juice three times a day lost 3.3 pounds. Some of the participants lost more than 10 pounds, the researchers said.

(Editors: For more information about ARTHRITIS, contact Chris Godek at (212) 606-1197 or For CHILD, Dave Ottalini at (301) 405-4076 or For CT, Maureen Morley at (630) 590-7762 or For GRAPEFRUIT, Ken Fujioka, (858) 794-1220)

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