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Am Fam Physician. 2000;62(3):487-488

Now you can have your eggs and eat them too—even runny, sunny-side-up eggs. Pasteurized shell eggs began appearing on major supermarket shelves, in hospital kitchens and in major restaurant and hotel chains along the East Coast this spring. The eggs are processed in several clean, warm-water baths. That process destroys the salmonella bacteria inside the shell but does not cook the eggs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 76 million Americans become ill from food poisoning annually, and about 600 people die from salmonella infection. The new pasteurized eggs carry the Good Housekeeping seal and will continue to appear wherever eggs are sold across the country.

Thanks for nothing. A news release from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that, after being available for 40 years, the “pill” is now considered by more women than ever to be safe and effective. As a result, women are becoming comfortable with the idea of taking the pill for its noncontraceptive health benefits. The disappointing news is that many women find that insurance will not pay for oral contraceptives.

Fat isn't necessarily the dieter's enemy. U.S. News & World Report recently reported on a study that suggested that including a small quantity of fat in your diet might make the diet easier to adhere to. The study, conducted at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, included 101 overweight men and women who were placed on a diet consisting of 1,500 and 1,200 calories per day, respectively. Dieters were allowed to choose a plan that included a moderate amount of fat (35 percent of calories) or a plan with a low amount of fat (20 percent of calories). While both groups lost weight at about the same rate, the moderate-fat group kept the pounds off longer.

Be kind to a nurse. The British Medical Journal recently published an article that detailed a four-year study of 21,290 female nurses in the United States for whom job stress was a significant contributor to a decline in their physical and mental health. The study found that stressful job conditions, especially those in which the nurses felt they had low control in their jobs, high demands and low social support, were predictors of significant declines in health. The study showed that a sense of low job control increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and contributes to a lower quality of life for these women. The degree of loss in health status associated with job stress was at least as great as that associated with smoking and a sedentary lifestyle.

When you crawl into bed tonight, you might want to check to see who's there with you. Researchers collected dust samples from beds in 800 homes, and the American Lung Association found that American beds are crawling with dust mites—and their waste. The little “gifts” the mites leave behind exceed 2 mg per gram of dust. To rid your dreamland of mites and their droppings, keep bedroom humidity low, wash sheets often in warm water and enclose pillows and duvets in allergen-proof covers.

Out with jokes about doctors' handwriting, in with a prescription to cure it. According to a spokesman for Allscripts, a company that manufactures wireless, hand-held computers, a meaningful number of medical errors are caused by physicians' poor penmanship. Using their computer's touch screen, doctors can write prescriptions and send them electronically to the patient's pharmacy. The computer can also be used to check on drug interactions and to look up the patient's prescription insurance coverage.

You're never too old to bench-press a few pounds. According to the University of Florida Health Science Center, pumping iron can help patients who have had a stroke, been injured or are elderly to regain some independence. One of the findings of a study conducted at UF and the Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Gainesville shows promise for reversing muscle weakness among the elderly. The study, published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, involved 58 elderly residents of nursing homes or the VA hospital's geriatric ward. Few of the patients studied could perform aerobic exercises, but they could perform resistance training. At the end of the study, participants typically had doubled or tripled the amount of weight they could lift and, as a result, regained the ability to perform daily activities for which they had required assistance.

Ouch! Safety policies apparently need to be improved in middle-and high-school shop classes. According to a recent study published in Pediatrics, about 7 percent of all accidents that occur between seventh grade and senior year in high school happen in shop classes. The study, involving more than 14,000 Utah students, noted that nearly 89 percent of these accidents involved the use of equipment such as table saws, band saws and other saws.

Doggone good idea? Dog bites, especially among children, are a major cause of injury. Most guidelines on prevention of dog bites include such tips as avoiding high-risk breeds, keeping dogs contained, training dogs and educating dog owners. In an article recently published in the British Medical Journal, researchers randomly selected children at eight primary schools in Sydney, Australia. Altogether, 346 children aged seven to eight years took part in the study in which they were taught how to approach a dog and how to recognize and respond to certain canine behaviors. This intervention appreciably increased the precautionary behavior of these young children around strange dogs, at least in the short term. Further research is needed to determine if “booster” interventions might help sustain this behavior over a longer period of time.

Make a calcium-rich diet part of your weekend exercise regimen. Milk can help or hurt your game plan, according to a survey by the National Dairy Council. While many men use the weekend as a time to exercise, seven out of 10 men fail to get the calcium they need. Combining regular exercise with a calcium-rich diet can increase sports performance and reduce the risk of stress fractures. Three 8-oz glasses of milk each day build strong bones and provide the protein needed to repair strained muscles after a workout.

Try to think happy thoughts if you're in your first trimester of pregnancy. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, College of Medicine found that psychologic stress during the first trimester of pregnancy could lead to early births. Women who experience stress later in pregnancy are less likely to have early births. Early births are linked to retarded motor development, cognitive impairment and emotional and social problems.

Just because you're sitting in front of a computer in an office all day instead of romping on the beach, don't think you can skip sunscreen. Using sunscreen every day can protect you from the harmful effects of sun exposure and reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. Many cosmetic products now contain sunscreens that protect against ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. The sun protection factor on the label tells you how long you can be in the sun before burning. An SPF of 15 is okay for most people. Those who are exposed to intense rays or are fair-skinned may need to use products with a higher SPF.

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