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Am Fam Physician. 2006;74(12):2015

Forget the lemonade stand—bring on the orange juice! Research published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology suggests that orange juice helps prevent the formation of kidney stones better than other citrus fruit juices such as lemonade. Four patients with a history of kidney stones and nine healthy control patients were given orange juice, lemonade, or distilled water while on a low-calcium, low-oxalate diet. After analyzing the participants’ urine samples, researchers found that orange juice had greater alkalinizing and citraturic effects than lemonade, despite comparable citrate content. Orange juice also raised the levels of citrate in the urine and reduced the crystallization of calcium oxalate and uric acid. (J Am Soc Nephrol, October 26, 2006)

You may have a few uninvited guests in your room the next time you stay in a hotel, says a news release from Reuters Health. Researchers from the University of Virginia asked 15 patients with colds who tested positive for rhinovirus to stay in a hotel for one night. The volunteers had to stay awake for five hours before going to bed and they had to remain in the room for two hours before checking out the next day. They also made an inventory of all the objects they touched in the room. Of the 150 surfaces tested, 35 percent had detectable traces of rhinovirus. Contamination was found on light switches, door handles, telephones, faucets, and television remote controls. The researchers note that the virus can be transmitted via dry mucus for one day or longer. (Reuters Health news release, October 2, 2006)

Celebrities are narcissistic? No, say it isn’t so! A study in the Journal of Research in Personality, which was conducted in part by television and radio personality Dr. Drew Pinksy, suggests that M.B.A. students and the “average” American are significantly less narcissistic than celebrities. Before the beginning of Pinsky’s radio show, “Loveline,” randomly selected guests answered questions from the Narcissistic Personality Inventory test, which evaluates feelings such as superiority, exhibitionism, entitlement, vanity, and authority. The data showed that female celebrities were significantly more narcissistic than male celebrities, but reality television celebrities were the most narcissistic of the 200 study participants. There was no association between time spent in the entertainment industry and narcissism, which may mean that being a celebrity doesn’t cause narcissism, but rather people are drawn to the industry because they exhibit features of narcissism. (J Res Pers, October 2006)

Let them eat carrots? According to the Chicago Tribune, some California schools have limited unhealthy classroom treats, such as cupcakes on birthdays and holidays, to only three times a year out of concern about childhood obesity. Some school districts have banned celebratory snacks altogether. Texas, however, passed the “Safe Cupcake” amendment, which guarantees parents the right to bring in non-nutritious treats on special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Halloween, or their child’s birthday. Other schools have opted for nonfood items such as special clothing or seat covers to help celebrate birthdays. Experts warn, however, that moderation—not elimination—is key, because the more these sugary sweets are restricted, the more desirable they become to children. (Chicago Tribune, October 1, 2006)

Put down that “compulsive buy” and step away from the counter! A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry describes compulsive shopping as the frequent, uncontrollable urge to buy, leading to the accumulation of large quantities of unnecessary, unwanted items. These shopping binges can result in significant adverse consequences, including depression, bankruptcy, divorce, and even suicide attempts. The researchers found that 6 percent of women and 5.5 percent of men are compulsive spenders. Persons 40 years or younger and with incomes of less than $50,000 a year are more likely than older persons to be compulsive buyers. Also, compulsive shoppers are four times less likely to pay off their credit card balances. Compulsive buying is likely to be an emotional problem, so the authors recommend treatment and social interventions for those who are compulsive shoppers. Although compulsive buying is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed., criteria have been proposed. (Am J Psych, October 2006)

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Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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