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Am Fam Physician. 2000;62(2):299

Insomnia may be a warning sign of more significant and dangerous mental illnesses, reports Psychology Today. In a recent study of two million U.S. adults who visited doctors between 1995 and 1996 because of trouble sleeping, over 57 percent were diagnosed with non-sleep-related disorders such as depression or schizophrenia. Although researchers have identified this connection between insomnia and mental disorders, they are uncertain as to which is the cause and which is the effect.

Drop the legumes! Now there's something better, at least for protecting your patients against ischemic stroke, reports Family Practice News. Recent results of studies conducted at Harvard School of Public Health found that five to six daily servings of vegetables and fruits reduced the risk of ischemic stroke in women by 3 percent and in men by 5 percent. The reduction did not occur with potatoes and legumes, and was highest with cruciferous vegetables, citrus fruits and leafy green vegetables.

More women are saying “ugh” than “ahhh” with regard to health care today. According to the 1999 Health Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 61 percent of women surveyed think that the health care system needs to be reconstructed; 83 percent of women think that the cost of health care has grown too high; and 64 percent are not confident about the quality of medical care they receive in hospitals. In addition, both men and women surveyed would like to see the national budget surplus pay a portion of Medicare's costs.

Not enough people are taking heart from the benefits of taking a daily aspirin. According to a recent study conducted at Harvard Medical School, only a small percentage of patients with heart disease take aspirin every day. Only 26 percent of the 10,942 surveyed patients with heart disease were taking aspirin, although this number did reflect a 5 percent increase from 20 years ago. The use of aspirin varied depending on the age and gender of the patients studied. Patients over the age of 80 are less likely to take aspirin than the younger generations, and 29 percent of women take aspirin daily compared with only 21 percent of men.

Here's another reason to quit smoking: to save your teeth. According to a study in the Journal of Periodontology, about half of the periodontal disease in adults may be caused by smoking. Current smokers are four times more likely to have advanced periodontal disease than folks who have never lit up. Using tobacco reduces the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the gums, causing smokers to be less responsive to periodontal treatment and to lose teeth. And because smoking impairs the body's defense mechanisms, smokers are more susceptible to infections. Quitting smoking can gradually diminish these ill effects.

School daze? Recent reports show that high school seniors are applying for early admission to colleges in record numbers. U.S. News & World Report recently noted that applications have increased by 65 percent at Brown, 15 percent at Columbia and 32 percent at Harvard, just to name a few. So for those of you who have future medical students in the family who plan to start college next year, you might advise them to apply by early fall or risk finding out that the freshman class of their choice is already filled.

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