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Am Fam Physician. 2002;66(1):35

With their intense study habits and long work hours, medical students aren't known for eating healthfully. However, students at 21 medical schools in the United States are part of a program entitled “Whole Heartedly: Cooking Classes for Healthy Living.” The goal of the classes is to integrate healthy eating practices with prevention and treatment of nutrition-related diseases, reports a feature in The Lancet. In a survey conducted by RoperASW of more than 2,000 persons with diabetes, about 50 percent said their health care provider had never discussed ways to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Medical students who took the classes found them useful in their own lives and in the professional sphere.

Too much of a good thing… A man who presented with muscle cramps volunteered that he had been drinking up to 4 liters of black tea daily for the past 25 years. Previously, he had preferred pure black tea but had switched to Earl Grey because of gastric pain. The muscle cramps started in his right foot one week after he switched to Earl Grey and became more intense as he continued to drink Earl Grey. On neurologic examination, he was found to have reduced visual acuity and fasciculations in the right tibialis anterior and adductor pollicis. Assuming there was a relationship between the symptoms and his tea consumption, he reverted to pure black tea. His symptoms disappeared within one week and did not recur as long as he consumed no more than 1 liter of Earl Grey (which contains oil of bergamot) daily.

“Does milk make you sour?” Researchers have found the DNA variant responsible for the cramps, nausea, and diarrhea 30 to 50 million Americans experience when they consume lactose, reports a study cited in U.S. News & World Report and published in Nature Genetics. Before a genetic mutation thousands of years ago, humans were unable to digest lactose after they were weaned. The discovery of this variant could lead to a genetic test for lactose intolerance. Some doctors, however, point out that having the lactose intolerance gene does not mean a person cannot drink milk at all; bacteria in the colon sometimes adapt to tolerate some lactose.

What does the weather have to do with your chances of having a stroke? A lot, according to a study of 3,289 first-time patients with stroke presented at the American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting. Researchers recorded weather conditions on the day of and five days before the stroke. They then compared these meteorologic factors with the different kinds of strokes in patients enrolled in the study. During the warmer seasons, there was a decline in the number of strokes resulting from atheroma. However, there was a greater number of overall strokes and strokes caused by blockage of the larger arteries when the temperature had dropped five days earlier.

Look both ways before crossing the street and keep your parka hood down. A study published in BMJ finds that parkas could be dangerous to your health because the hood of this outer garment limits the wearer's field of vision. According to results of studies conducted in England by ophthalmologists, danger arises when a parka-clad pedestrian attempts to cross a road. One hooded garment may not be safer than another, either. Participants in the study wore four different styles of hooded jackets, and all experienced reduced vision.

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