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Am Fam Physician. 1998;58(1):27-28

What do you get when you cross broccoli and Chinese kale? Broccolini, the newest vegetable on the market. Broccolini looks like broccoli except for its longer, asparagus-like stem. The taste is described as sweeter than broccoli—a combination of broccoli and asparagus, with a hint of celery. And since broccolini tastes good from the flower to the stem, parents should have no problem getting kids to eat their five daily servings of veggies. With proper refrigeration, raw broccolini has a shelf life of 16 days. This popular new veggie should hit supermarkets nationwide in the fall, says USA Today.

What are the top 10 killers of women? According to the National Center for Health Statistics, as cited in Physicians Financial News, the leading causes of death in women are heart disease, cancer, cerebrovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, pneumonia and influenza, diabetes, accidents and adverse effects, Alzheimer's disease, nephritis and septicemia.

Could a tattoo be the gift that keeps on giving? According to Internal Medicine News, tattooing has been linked to transmission of syphilis, tuberculosis, leprosy and other diseases. Recently, researchers at the University of New Mexico studied 58 “sporadic” cases of hepatitis C infection where the patient had no previous contact with intravenous drug use or blood transfusion. However, 25 of the 58 had tattoos. The results suggested that more than one-third of sporadic hepatitis C cases in New Mexico may be linked to tattooing.

Going back to work within a year of giving birth is more common today than it was 20 years ago. According to the Census Bureau, in 1995, 55 percent of women 15 to 44 years of age were back in the labor force within a year of having a baby; in 1976, only 31 percent were back at work that soon, says American Demographics.

Who wants a vaccine for polio when you can have drive-in movies? According to a balloting sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service, respondents believed that the most significant development of the 1950s was the polio vaccine, with 111,337 votes. But, coming in just behind that was the drive-in movie, with 106,926 votes, cars with chrome and tail fins, with 102,562 votes, and rock music, with 96,772 votes. Developments in surgery, the only other medical event ranked, captured a mere 62,149 votes.

The phenomenon known as “phantom limb pain” may no longer be quite as mysterious. A study in Nature has shown that the thalamus is the region in the brain responsible for this phantom feeling. The neuronal representation of the amputated limb in the thalamus continues to function in amputees. Electrical stimulation of the thalamus produces sensations that seem to come from the phantom limb. This finding is consistent with the observation that electrical stimulation of the thalamus can help relieve phantom limb pain.

Religious people are more likely than nonreligious people to be overweight, according to results of a Purdue University study, published in Review of Religious Research. Why do more worshipers tend to be overweight? The researchers speculate that while most religions stress moderation in all things, they may overlook eating as something to be done in moderation. Also, it might be that religious groups are more accepting of overweight people than our fitness-crazed society is.

Is there a shoe revolt taking place in the workplace? A recent survey by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society shows that there is. Only one in four women wears a heel higher than one inch to work, and fewer than 3 percent of women wear a heel higher than two and one-quarter inches. Women 20 to 30 years of age are leading this trend, with only 16 percent wearing a heel higher than one inch, compared with 28 percent of women 40 to 50 years of age.

Heart monitors in a Dallas hospital recently went on the blink when a local television station began broadcasting high-definition television. The television signals operated on the same radio spectrum as some of the older heart monitors in the hospital. No one was hurt as a result of this incident, but a variety of other such problems may occur in the future, according to Business Week. Emissions from microwave ovens and cell phone signals have interfered with cable television equipment, and cell phone signals have also interrupted anti-lock brakes and other electronic systems in automobiles.

Can working the night shift be unhealthy? Almost 3.2 million persons work full time on the “graveyard” shift, according to the Wall Street Journal. More and more white collar workers under the age of 25 are now working these hours. Studies have shown an increased number of divorces among nighttime workers and, in California, nearly one half of all fatal highway accidents involve sleepy drivers. Nighttime workers get an average of 4.5 hours of sleep per day, compared with 7.0 hours of sleep each day for daytime workers.

Television watching is now the top leisure activity for people seeking relaxation, cited by 68 percent of people polled by Yankelovich Partners in 1997, compared with only 55 percent of those polled in 1993. According to American Demographics, listening to music came in second in 1997, cited by 67 percent of those polled (63 percent in 1993), followed by sleeping, 54 percent (50 percent in 1993), and drinking alcohol, 24 percent (18 percent in 1993).

Shocking stalking statistics: more than 10 million persons in the United States have been victims of stalkers. As cited in American Demographics, the National Institute of Justice reports that 8 percent of women and 2 percent of men have been stalked at least once in their lives. The majority (87 percent) of stalkers are men. Women are usually targeted by lone male stalkers they know, while men are more often victimized by strangers and, sometimes, more than one person. Of stalking victims, 75 percent had been watched or followed, 45 percent received overt threats, 30 percent had property vandalized, and 10 percent say their stalkers had either threatened to kill or killed the victim's pets.

Slow, controlled exercise such as t'ai chi works almost as well as moderate aerobic exercise in lowering blood pressure. Johns Hopkins researchers compared blood pressure results of 31 adults who participated in t'ai chi work-outs for 12 weeks to results of 31 adults who participated in moderate aerobic exercise. The systolic pressures of the t'ai chi subjects fell 7 mm Hg, while the systolic pressures of the aerobic exercisers fell 8.4 mm Hg. Physician's Weekly reports that the subjects were all over the age of 60, primarily sedentary and had not taken antihypertension drugs.

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