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Am Fam Physician. 2004;70(8):1442

Sometimes diagnosis can be as easy as cherry pie. An article in the American Journal of Surgery describes an 80-year-old man who was admitted to the hospital with abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. A computed tomographic scan showed a foreign body in the colon, and a left-sided colectomy and transverse colostomy were performed. A resection of the specimen revealed an annular ulcerative carcinoma of the descending colon, and two cherry pits, which were tucked inside the encircling tumor. While swallowed fruit pits are more common than was once thought, they rarely cause symptoms and intestinal obstruction. It just goes to show that even when life is a bowl of cherries, the pits may not be far away.

The season and day of the week may be significant in stroke risk. In a study presented at the World Stroke Conference in Vancouver and reported in The New York Times, researchers examined the medical records of more than 13,000 patients with a first stroke in southwestern Japan. Stroke occurred more often during the winter months in patients older than 60 years, and more often on Monday in patients younger than 60 years. When data from both age groups were combined, the researchers found that stroke was more likely to occur in women during the winter and in men during the spring. Men under age 60 were the only patients to have a higher rate of stroke during the summer months.

In India, there has been a wide-spread misconception that tobacco is good for the teeth, and dental products containing tobacco commonly have been used in daily oral hygiene. In 1992, the government of India passed a law prohibiting the use of tobacco products as dentifrice. Ten years later, the Global Youth Tobacco Survey was administered to students aged 13 to 15 years in India, and the results were published recently in BMJ. The use of tobacco products as dentifrice among students in 14 Indian states ranged from 6 percent in one state to 68 percent in another. Some forms of tobacco dentifrice include roasted and powdered tobacco, a paste made of tobacco and molasses, and a rinse of tobacco water (made by passing tobacco smoke through water). What a way to begin the day!

Nutritionists have for years been pushing the importance of eating your daily fruits and vegetables—preferably fresh. On a cost-per-serving basis, fresh fruits and vegetables are as affordable as ever, according to study results from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as reported on Researchers focused on the cost per serving because per-pound prices vary widely with different produce (e.g., corn on the cob vs. spinach leaves). Fresh vegetables averaged 12 cents per serving, and fresh fruits averaged 18 cents. The average American can get one day’s worth of fruits and vegetables for as little as 64 cents. At that price, the average household still has 88 percent of its daily food budget left to spend on meat, diet soda, or anything else. However, ready-to-eat options, such as cut carrots and bagged salad greens, can cost as much as three times more per serving than unprepared produce.

Close encounters on the road can be dangerous for all creatures. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, animals caused about 6 million vehicle crashes in 2000. Drivers were injured and even killed when they crashed into deer, elk, horses, or cattle, or when they swerved off the road to avoid a collision. Animals tend to move across roadways in the early morning and again at dusk, and the fall hunting and mating season is prime time for violent encounters. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to keep animals off the roads, but drivers can give themselves time to react safely if they stay under speed limits, keep awake and alert, and use safety restraint systems.

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Copyright © 2004 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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