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Am Fam Physician. 2000;62(12):2582

Women who snore may not only annoy their husbands, they may also be at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CHD). A study published in Women's Health in Primary Care found that snoring almost doubles a woman's risk of CVD. Questions regarding frequency, sleep position and total sleep time were answered by 71,779 women in the Nurses' Health Study cohort between the ages of 40 and 65. After an eight-year follow-up period, snoring women had twice the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke.

“Clear!” Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have found that automated external defibrillators (AEDs) can save the lives of sudden cardiac victims, especially when an AED unit is carried aboard aircraft. The study, conducted from June 1997 to July 1999, showed a 40 percent rate of survival after defibrillation. When connected to a patient, the simplified AED determines if ventricular fibrillation is present, requiring shock. Unlike the larger defibrillators used in hospitals, the automated 4-lb unit requires less training to use safely and effectively.

Warning: calcium supplements might contain lead. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, small, yet detectable levels of lead were found in some calcium supplements. Twenty-one over-the-counter calcium carbonate supplements were tested, and eight were found to have up to 3 mg of lead for dosages of up to 1,500 mg. However, this level of lead contamination is only dangerous in the long run for those who take more than the recommended daily dosage of calcium.

Massage may be more than a soothing relaxer for the stressed or tired athlete. A University of Florida study showed that massage, combined with relaxation therapy, may safely and effectively reduce pain in people with sickle cell anemia. Doctors would find this a much “kneaded” adjunct to the potent sedating medicines they currently prescribe to their patients to manage the pain of sickle cell anemia.

Use it or lose it? People who work in jobs that are mentally demanding when they are in their 30s, 40s and 50s may reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease later in life. According to a case-control study of 552 subjects recently cited in Family Practice News, patients with Alzheimer's disease were more likely to have held jobs earlier in their lives that were not mentally demanding. In addition, their career paths showed that they moved into less mentally challenging jobs as they aged.

Your predecessors had an interesting outlet for conflict resolution—they settled disputes by dueling. An article in the Southern Medical Journal describes some of the more famous physician duels in history. Fortunately, a sense of reason overcame the dueling docs, and the practice came to an end. As one surgeon who had killed a man in a duel put it, “killing a fellow man does not become me, set apart as I am to take care of the sick and wounded…”

Garlic may ward off more than “evil spirits” and friends. According to a recent meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who consume raw or cooked garlic on a regular basis have a significantly lower risk of stomach and colorectal cancers than people who eat little or no garlic. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill could not show similar benefits from taking garlic supplements, however.

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