In Brief

In Brief

Medicine & Science

August 23, 2004

Depo Provera raises risk for two STDs among women

The contraceptive Depo Provera appears to increase a woman's risk of contracting two sexually transmitted diseases, scientists announced today.

Women using the contraceptive, which is injected four times a year, had more than three times the risk of developing chlamydia and gonorrhea than women not using a hormonal contraceptive.

The study, funded bytwo federal agencies, involved 819 women recruited from two health clinics in Baltimore and Towson. Some were beginning Depo Provera injections, some were starting oral contraceptives and the rest were not using hormonal contraceptives.

While the risk of developing the two STDs didn't appear to increase among women using an oral estrogen-progestin contraceptive, it was 3 1/2 times higher among those using Depo Provera. The report, which appears in the September issue of the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, said they don't know why Depo Provera users were more vulnerable.

Pecans, sumac among dyes used by Native Americans

Native Americans displayed considerable ingenuity in finding plants to use as dyes as early as 2,000 years ago.

Chemical analysis of ancient textiles show the Hopewell and Mississippian cultures used bloodroot, sumac and bedstraw for reds, aong with pecan, red cedar and white birch for blacks and browns. Both cultures lived throughout the Midwest and the South thousands of years ago and are known for building ceremonial mounds.

Remnants of a headdress found at Etowah Mound in Georgia, included red feathers, an indication its owner enjoyed an elevated status in Mississippian society, said Kathryn Jakes, a consumer sciences professor at Ohio State University. She presented her findings yesterday to the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia.

As an anti-inflammatory, wine is better than gin

Even in a gin joint, order the Cabernet instead of a martini. Wine offers more protection against heart disease, but scientists aren't sure why.

To get a clearer view, researchers at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia gave 40 volunteers two drinks a day for 28 days. Half drank red wine and half had two drinks of gin. Two weeks later, wine and gin drinkers switched beverages.

Researchers measured blood samples for natural inflammatory substances thought to contribute to heart disease. Reporting in the journal Atherosclerosis, the scientists said both types of alcohol had anti-inflammatory effects, but wine was much better. The study was brief and only indirectly measured cardiovascular benefits, researchers say, so longer-term studies are necessary.

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