Health Tips ... from UPI

By LIDIA WASOWICZ, UPI Senior Science Writer  |  April 12, 2005 at 9:00 AM
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Football coaching legend Lou Holtz, whose wife Beth survived throat cancer, urges at-risk Americans to be screened for oral, head and neck cancer. Free screenings are being offered during Oral and Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week April 11-17. Locations are listed at Nearly 65,000 Americans will be diagnosed with the cancers this year and more than 12,500 will die. The Yul Brynner Foundation, sponsor of the screening, says survey results show 62 percent of children whose parents have used tobacco worry their parents may become ill. Of these, 70 percent say it is extremely or very important their parents be checked by a doctor. "Early detection of oral, head and neck cancers saves lives, so parents do right -- get screened for your kids," says Holtz, a three-time National Coach of the Year winner.


Research shows omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily, dark-fleshed fish, offer heart health benefits, says the Harvard Men's Health Watch. The specialists say eating fish regularly can help ward off heart rhythm disturbances associated with sudden cardiac death and may help reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, mental decline in old age and prostate cancer. Fish oil is one way to get omega-3 fats, specialists say. They say eating fish provides such nutrients as selenium, antioxidants and protein.


Fish labeling laws that went into effect April 4 can help consumers determine the safety of fish, specialists say. "The new regulations present an opportunity to remind and educate Americans about the impact a fish's origin and its mode of production has on its nutritional value and health benefits," says Sherry Marts of the Society for Women's Health Research, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group. Fish are a good source of protein, generally have fewer calories, saturated fat and cholesterol per serving than chicken or beef. Fat-rich fish, such as salmon, rainbow trout, mackerel and sardines, are rich in healthful omega-3 fatty acids. However, women of childbearing age and young children are cautioned to avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, which are high in potentially harmful mercury, specialists say. They should also eat no more than 6 ounces a week of albacore tuna, which tends to have more mercury than canned light tuna. Wild fish tend to have lower levels of toxins and be lower in total fat and calories than farm-raised fish, which are less expensive and more readily available.


A once-a-month injection of the drug naltrexone has been shown effective in helping decrease heavy drinking. Scientists report in the Journal of the American Medical Association that because many alcohol-dependent drinkers have problems adhering to a regimen of a daily oral dose of naltrexone, the monthly injection could improve long-term treatment outcomes. Alcohol dependence, which affects some 4 percent of the U.S. adult population, is the fourth leading cause of disability worldwide, the scientists say. "In addition to their utility for alcohol dependence, long-acting formulations may prove to be an important treatment strategy for a variety of addictive disorders," says study co-author Dr. James Garbutt of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


(Editors: For more information about CANCER, contact Sara Kassabian at 800-477-9626 or For FISH, Don Gibbons at 617-432-0440. For RISKS, Kristal DeKleer at 202-496-5001 or For INJECTION, Stephanie Crayton at 919-966-2860.)

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