Exercise benefits run outA commitment to regular exercise...

Healthwatch 66HC OxB

August 06, 1991|By Universal Press Syndicate

Exercise benefits run out

A commitment to regular exercise now doesn't mean you can rest on your laurels later. Once you stop, you're quick to lose whatever edge you had. Two Swiss researchers who followed 33 runners and bobsledders from the Swiss national team for 15 years confirmed this sad truth. They found that those who had quit their daily workout were no more fit than a group of 23 men who had never exercised at all. Let's face it -- exercise is a lifetime proposition.

Test for drunkenness:

Skin patches that can signal whether you're drunk may save lives or they may provide dangerously false reassurance, depending on how you look at them. The patch, developed at the University of Chicago, looks like a Band-Aid and contains a dye that turns from white to green when exposed to alcohol. As you drink, the alcohol in your blood moves out through your skin and, in this case, into the patch. The more you drink, the darker the patch becomes. Researchers tested the patch against a Breathalyzer and it passed; that is, the legal limit as established by the Breathalyzer corresponded with the same dark green color on the patch consistently. But some skeptics worry that if the experimental patch is made available to the general public, it will invite irresponsible behavior. They say someone who's had a few drinks can look at the patch and decide that the color is light enough to mean driving is safe. Studies show your driving ability can be impaired even when you're not legally drunk. Also, a recent test found that the breath test used to calibrate this patch can underestimate blood alcohol levels by as much as 12 percent. In short, you could be drunker -- and more impaired -- than you think and it won't show up on your skin patch or on a Breathalyzer.

Leave your fillings alone:

Ever since the CBS-TV show "60 Minutes" ran its report on mercury amalgam fillings last winter, people have been wondering whether they should have theirs removed. A new study from the University of Nebraska Medical Center concludes that the chances that your fillings are poisoning you are very small indeed. Over the course of a year, researchers tested the blood and urine of 24 dental patients for mercury after each had received as many as eight new amalgam fillings. No mercury was ever detected, even though the analyzer used was sensitive enough to pick out as little as one part per billion. Mercury blood levels of up to 2.5 parts per billion are considered safe. If you're still worried and insist on replacing your amalgam fillings, here's what you need to know about the alternatives. Composite resin is slightly more expensive than amalgam, but lasts only half as long. Porcelain is even more expensive and a relatively unproven material for filling teeth. Gold lasts three times as long as amalgam -- about 20 years -- but is also three times more costly.

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