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Posted - Apr. 1, 2004 at 7:40 a.m.



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Apr 01, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- WALNUT LABELS CAN CLAIM HEALTHY HEART

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says walnut labels may state the nut may lower risk of heart disease. The agency issued a qualified health claim, which means there is credible scientific evidence supporting it. After reviewing available research, the FDA decided to allow the following label for whole and chopped walnuts: "Supportive but not conclusive research shows eating 1.5 oz of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. See nutrition information for fat (and calorie) content." The phrase "and calorie" is optional, however.

TAX PROCRASTINATION MAY BE PSYCHOLOGICAL

When a person's taxes get filed may depend on how much that person expects to receive -- or owe, a U.S. psychiatry clinician says. Dr. Steven Krebaum, assistant professor of University of Texas Southwestern's psychiatry department, said economics can take a back seat to expectations when tax time nears. "Those with higher incomes tend to file later, particularly if they anticipate large tax payments, while those who expect refunds file earlier, especially if they think they will be getting large refunds," he said. Other psychological issues may cause even those who expect refunds to delay funding. Those reasons may include being upset by a dip in stocks, not wanting to face personal finances, anger toward government bureaucracy or not wanting to be reminded of distressing personal issues, such as a recent divorce.

POLLUTED RAINWATER RISKY FOR SURFERS

Surfers and other people living in coastal areas could be at risk from polluted rainwater coming off building roofs and streets. A study in the American Journal of Public Health finds the more time spent in the surf, the higher the risk of fever, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, skin infection and eye redness. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, interviewed 1,873 surfers in 1998 and 1999 at two California beaches -- one in North Orange County that had highly polluted runoff water and the other in rural Santa Cruz County, which was less polluted. The coastal water was a key factor affecting surfer health -- symptom risk increased by about 10 percent for every additional 2.5 hours the surfers spent in the water per week.

LAUGHTER STILL STRONG MEDICINE

A survey of physicians -- done by Polaroid to promote its product -- finds laughter really is good medicine. The survey found 75 percent of the doctors who responded said they would prescribe laughter as therapy and 95 percent have seen its benefits in patients. Robert R. Provine, professor of psychology and assistant director of the neuroscience program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, said in a statement, "One of the best things about laughter is that it provides welcome distractions from life's hassles and relief from aches and pains."

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(EDITORS: For WALNUT, contact the FDA at (301) 436-2335. For TAX, Donna Steph Hansard at (214) 648-3404 or news@utsouthwestern.edu. For SURF, contact Dean B. Baker at (949) 824-8641 or dbaker@uci.edu. For LAUGHTER, Tanya Kovilaritch at (212) 613-4910 or tkovilaritch@painepr.com)

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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