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Posted - Jul. 23, 2003 at 10:22 a.m.



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Jul 23, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- DIET CHANGES AS EFFECTIVE AS CHOLESTEROL DRUGS

A team of researchers has shown that a specific type of vegetarian diet could lower cholesterol as much as drugs. Dietary changes in previous studies have been shown to reduce cholesterol by 4 to 13 percent compared to drugs called statins, which reduce cholesterol by 28 to 36 percent. In a new study, however, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a specific diet -- including plant sterols, found in most vegetables and fruits, and viscous fibers such as oats and barley -- reduced cholesterol by more than 28 percent. The researchers concluded such a regimen, plus protein sources such as soy and nuts, could reduce "bad" cholesterol as much as statins.

HYSTERECTOMY LETS MOST WOMEN SKIP PAPS

Most women can skip their yearly Pap smears if they have undergone a hysterectomy, a new study has revealed. The University of Michigan research team found under the best conditions, these regular screenings for cervical cancer added three weeks to women's lives. Meanwhile, the cost of pap smears per year can run up to $12 million. Screening women for cervical cancer who have had their uteruses removed does not make sense, said Dr. Michael Fetters, the lead author. Instead of blanket screening, women who have undergone the surgery should be tested if their risk factors for lower genital tract cancer change, if their hysterectomy was linked to cervical cancer or if they have a history of human papillomavirus infection. Women who have had one, long-term sexual partner can forgo Pap smears after hysterectomy, Fetters said.

CHEMICALS COULD INDUCE MALE REPRODUCTIVE DISORDERS

New research has found two common environmental agents caused deformities in the reproductive organs of male rats. Dr. Paul Foster, of the National Institutes of Environmental Sciences, and his colleagues examined the effects on rats of di-n-butyl phthalate, a nearly ubiquitous chemical that inhibits the production of a male sex hormone, and linuron, an herbicide used on crops that also affects androgens. The chemicals were administered to rat fetuses in the womb, and after they were born, they showed a shortage of testosterone and deformities in the epididymis -- tubes at the back of the testes. Researchers have noticed an increase in some human male reproductive disorders in the last 10 years, but Foster said his findings would not necessarily apply to humans. Dose levels in the experiments were relatively high and human birth defects are hard to trace to a source. However, the study could help understand how environmental chemicals affect human development.

TRAVEL GUIDE SUGGESTS HEALTHY ROAD STOPS

A new travel guide to be released next year lists more than 1,500 health-oriented stores and restaurants across the states. "Healthy highways: The road guide to healthy eating," by Nikki and David Goldbeck, lists eateries from drive-throughs to gourmet restaurants. The Goldbecks said, "Not only does 'Healthy highways' help people eat better on the road, it also gives travelers an opportunity to see parts of the country that often whiz by." The guide includes the address, phone number and hours of operation of its listings. It also links entries to state maps and gives local directions from the nearest highway or main road. The book is due for release Apr. 1, 2004.

(Editors: For more information on DIET, contact Leslie Greenberg at 212-821-0571 or leg2003@med.cornell.edu. For PAP, Nicole Fawcett at 734-764-2220 or nfawcett@umich.edu. For MALE, Donna Krupa at 703-527-7357 or djkrupa1@aol.com. For GUIDE, Scott Anderson at 845-679-5573 or cem620@aol.com)

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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