PMS cure doesn't workOil extracted from the evening...

Healthwatch

December 03, 1991

PMS cure doesn't work

Oil extracted from the evening primrose is probably the most popular "natural" cure for premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It's said to reduce monthly bloating and mood swings by lowering hormone levels, and some women swear by it. The first to ever really test this claim is a group of researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia. Every day for three months, they gave 38 women with PMS either a capsule containing evening primrose oil or a placebo. They then switched the capsules for three additional months. The primrose oil, which is rich in gammalinoleic acid, is thought to lower the level of prostaglandin, a hormonelike substance. The results suggest otherwise. Although many of the women did feel some improvement, the primrose oil wasn't any better than the placebo at relieving their symptoms.

Bleeding hearts at risk:

Emotional men, beware. The latest research has found that those of you who are heart attack patients and experience strong feelings of excitement, anger, fear or even joy are twice as likely as less emotional men to have a fatal second heart attack. In videotaped interviews with 1,000 heart attack patients, Yale researchers pegged the highly emotional ones as those who twitched, blinked rapidly, interrupted often or otherwise became aroused during the interview. An eight-year follow-up found the "emotional" ones suffered twice as many heart attacks. The nature of the emotion, say the researchers, wasn't as important as its abrupt onset and intensity. Under stress, the nervous system automatically sends a surge of adrenalin into the bloodstream. A surge could be strong enough to make some hearts skip a beat and stop, say researchers. Other risk factors: If highly emotional patients also had cholesterol levels above 250, their risk of death tripled. And if, on top of that, they drank more than one alcoholic drink a day, it quadrupled.

'Abnormal' blood tests may be fine:

Have you ever wondered how doctors decide what's normal? In blood chemistry, normal values are derived from studies of hospital patients or medical students. Do these groups typify the rest of us? Not at all, contend researchers at Pacific-Presbyterian Medical Center in San Francisco. "Normal" values as they stand now don't take into consideration all the changes an individual's blood chemistry goes through in one lifetime. After tracking 2,000 healthy men and women for 20 years, researchers concluded that blood chemistry constantly shifts with age. "Normal" values hold that it changes only during childhood, at menopause and very late in life. There were also unexpected sex differences with age: In men, white blood cell counts rise and red blood cell and platelet levels fall; in women, platelets also fall, but red blood cell counts go up. Doctors rarely take your age into account when interpreting blood test results. An "abnormal" finding may mean more expensive tests and drugs you don't need. Always insist that your doctor repeat borderline blood tests for accuracy's sake.

Foods that fight cavities:

Most people know that sticky sweets promote tooth decay, but they may not be aware that some foods actually prevent tooth decay. These foods counteract the acids in the mouth that wear down tooth enamel. Tooth-saving foods include: cheese, peanut butter, nuts and seeds, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, olives and dill pickles.

The truth about toothbrushes:

The best type of toothbrush to use is one with soft bristles. Hard-bristled brushes can cause gum abrasions, which in turn ++ can produce bleeding and gum recession. They can also wear down tooth enamel. For best results when brushing, use a small, circular, vibrating motion.

Fit and unfit mothers:

The good news? A new study says most women are adopting healthy nutritional practices and getting exercise during their pregnancies. The bad news? After their babies are born, most mothers revert to their bad old ways, University of Louisville researcher Suzanne Brouse tells Working Mother magazine.

Cutting remarks:

Your doctor can remove increasingly larger defective organs and perform ever more complicated operations without cutting you open, thanks to advances in video and surgical technology. Laparoscopy -- in which surgery is performed through tubes inserted into the patient -- is poised to revolutionize operations ranging from hernia repair to cancer removal to bowel reconstruction, said attendees at the American College of Surgeons' 77th Clinical Congress.

Silver anniversaries: In case you're wondering whether it's time to have your dental fillings replaced, we'll fill you in on some statistics. Silver-amalgam fillings last from three years to 30 years, with 15 years being about average, Prevention magazine reports. Rather than try to guess whether a filling's time is up, get regular dental checkups.

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