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Am Fam Physician. 2001;64(12):1935

“Yummy.” Results of a study published in the Journal of Urology show that taking a daily supplement of bacteria could prevent kidney stones from forming. The bacteria break down and lower high levels of oxalate, a byproduct of digestion that is the major cause of kidney stones. Researchers are seeking approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin testing in humans.

Some people with small heads may be at risk for Alzheimer's disease. A study published in Neurology shows that people with a small head circumference who also carry the gene variant apolipoprotein E e4 (ApoE e4) are 14 times more likely to develop Alzheimer's. Researchers theorize that the symptoms of Alzheimer's appear when the loss of brain cells reaches a critical threshold. They speculate that a large brain cell reserve protects against Alzheimer's and that head circumference is one way to measure this reserve. Having a small head alone does not increase the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

“Got soy?” Results of a study presented at the 4th International Symposium on the Role of Soy in Preventing and Treating Chronic Disease show that soy protein can reduce inflamed breast tissue. Among the 25 women who followed a 20-g daily regimen of soy protein containing 160 mg of soy isoflavones, maximal count activity (MCA) fell from 235 to 212. MCA is a measure of inflammatory breast tissue.

Father knows best. A study presented at a meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity shows that fathers who exercise tend to have daughters who also exercise. The fathers in the study were asked if they used their activities as examples for the children to follow and if they also provided logistical support. The children were asked how they preferred to spend their free time. Fathers who were active, who used their own behavior to encourage their daughter's behavior, and who also provided logistical support had daughters who were more active.

“You've got (lots of) mail.” Results of a survey published in American Demographics show that business leaders spend an average of two hours a day on e-mail. Of the 1,400 senior and midlevel executives polled in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific, 41 percent said they preferred e-mail as their main source of communication at work. Six years ago, employees sent a daily average of three e-mail messages from work and received five. Today they send 20 per day and receive 30. But only 68 percent of the e-mail messages received at work are directly job-related.

“Size does matter.” A study reported in The New York Times shows that the size of certain regions of the brain is under tight genetic control and the larger these areas, the higher the intelligence. The study involved twins in Finland and focused on gray matter in the frontal lobes and Wernicke's area. The frontal lobes control planning and risk assessment, while Wernicke's area, located in the left hemisphere, controls language.

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