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Am Fam Physician. 2005;71(1):28

Women who use tattooing and other permanent forms of makeup to replace mascara or lipstick may risk health problems. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is alerting consumers to the possibility of adverse events caused by permanent makeup. As reported in FDA Consumer, there have been reports of swelling, cracking, peeling, blistering, and scarring, and the formation of granulomas in the areas of the eyes and lips. A form of tattooing called micropigmentation is used to apply color to lip edges, eyelids, or eyebrows. Although the FDA considers the pigments used in the inks to be color additives, which require premarket approval, they have allowed the practice of tattooing to be governed by state and local regulations. The FDA encourages consumers to report adverse reactions from regular tattoos and permanent makeup to state and local health authorities or to the FDA’s Emergency Operations Center at 1–301–443–1240.

The kind of hormones you take and the stage of life at which you take them may control whether they are beneficial or harmful to your health. A study of 162,000 women undertaken by the Women’s Health Initiative found that patients who have taken oral contraceptives have a 7 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Reported on and at a conference of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the study also found that patients who have taken oral contraceptives have an 8 percent reduced risk of developing any form of cancer. This benefit increases with the length of oral contraceptive use, as long as the hormones are taken before menopause, after which time their use carries an increased risk for heart disease and some forms of cancer.

Even holiday spirit can’t make people invincible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that during the holiday season, two to three persons every hour are treated for fall-related injuries sustained while decorating (a total of 5,800 each year from 2000 to 2002). Fifty-eight percent of those injured are male, and 62 percent are 20 to 49 years old, an age group that accounts for only 30 percent of total annual fall-related injuries. To prevent these injuries, the CDC recommends the use of ladders and step stools rather than furniture when putting up decorations—advice we’ve already heard from our mothers.

Every step counts when it comes to improving your health. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, several studies have found inaccuracies between the number of steps that pedometers count and the actual number of steps taken by the wearer. Some devices counted every step twice, and others missed one out of every four steps. The problem may not be with the pedometer itself, though. A University of Colorado study found that pedometers missed more than one out of three steps when the pace was slower than two miles per hour. Accuracy increased to 96 percent when the pace increased to three miles per hour. Research by Consumer Reports and others has shown that some pedometers aren’t sensitive to slow movements. Patients who use pedometers are advised to check them for accuracy by walking 50 to 100 steps, counting as they go, then comparing this number with the number the pedometer counted.

What is an advanced degree in video games called? Surgeons who regularly play video games make more than a third fewer mistakes performing laparoscopic surgery, shows a study published in Physician’s Money Digest. The study, conducted at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, also found that the same surgeons take 27 percent less time to perform the procedures. Many of the skills required for video game proficiency correlate with those used for laparoscopic procedures, which involve the use of joysticks to control tiny cameras and surgical instruments.

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Copyright © 2005 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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