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Am Fam Physician. 2001;64(4):557

“Alpha-hydroxy-acid? What is that? And is it really good for skin?” A Web site on cosmetics produced by the Food and Drug Administration reports that many of the compounds found in skin care products can cause more problems than they cure. While alpha-hydroxy acids are added to skin creams to reduce the signs of aging, they can also increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun. Without adequate protection, a person using them is more likely to burn, even if the product hasn't been used for a day or two.

Borderline Pap test results may no longer be a “what next?” situation. A study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows that a second test for human papillomavirus (HPV) infection allows doctors to identify 96.3 percent of the women who do, and those who don't, need treatment. HPV, a sexually transmitted disease, causes most cases of cervical cancer.

While fruit juice is good for your health in small amounts, a case report in The Lancet shows that too much of a good thing can be bad. In this case, a patient was admitted to a hospital twice in a few weeks with hyperkalemia. Although he had mild renal failure and was being treated with lisinopril, it was unclear to doctors why his potassium level was high. His renal failure was stable, and he had been taking an ACE inhibitor for more than two years. It wasn't until the patient's daughter happened to mention that he recently had been drinking large quantities of apple juice with added potassium that the cause of the imbalance was discovered.

“Well, there goes that excuse for not working.” A study published in Neurology shows that using a computer at work doesn't increase your chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Employees who perform most of their work on a computer completed a questionnaire on the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. While 30 percent of those surveyed reported having experienced symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, further testing confirmed that only 3 percent had the syndrome.

Been flying a lot lately? You may be experiencing brain drain. A study at the University of Bristol in England shows that frequently jetting between multiple time zones may damage the brain's cognitive functioning. As reported on, researchers found that airline attendants given five days or fewer in their home time zone to recover performed worse on reaction time and vision tests. They also showed a decrease in the size of the right temporal lobe. Scientists believe the brain needs 10 days to recover from multiple time zone hopping.

Here's another weapon in the fight against cardiovascular disease: measure children's blood pressure annually to prevent future risk. According to an article in the American Journal of Hypertension, the rising trend in childhood obesity may indicate a cardiovascular disease epidemic in the future. The authors of the article suggest that annual blood pressure checks during childhood can show upward trends of blood pressure and may be indicative of future adult risk. They warn, however, that physicians should measure a child's blood pressure on several occasions before making a diagnosis of hypertension. This helps assure a correct diagnosis and the start of a treatment plan, if needed.

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Copyright © 2001 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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