Medical Facts & Myths

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Men's sweat good for women

Don't laugh. This is true. Biologists at the University of Pennsylvania found that men's perspiration has beneficial effects on women's mood, reduces stress and induces relaxation. It even has an effect on a woman's menstruation. Blood test revealed a rise in the level of reproductive luteinizing hormone, which normally surges before ovulation. The study was done on men who were asked not to use deodorant during the research, and extracts of their sweat collected. The women subjects thought the substance they were testing (smelling) was a type of perfume. It is true then that when women say they love the scent of their man, it is genuine and scientifically founded. Guys, this does not mean we have to stop taking showers!

Violence of Television

Children, boys and girls alike, who watch violence on television have increased risk of aggression, including spousal abuse and criminal offenses as adults, reported psychologist L. Rowell Huesmann and his cohorts at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, in the March 2003 issue of the Journal for Developmental Psychology. The study was conducted in the late 1970s on 329 children 6 to 9 years of age and again in their early 20s, to discern the long term effects of televised violence. The study included interviews with these subjects in the 1990s together with their spouses and children. This significant study confirmed the hypothesis that violence on the television adversely affects children's lives by eroding into their inborn and natural aversion to violence, making aggression, violence, and in many cases, crime as acceptable social behaviors for them when dealing with their family and the public. Programs like "The Six Million Dollar Man", "Starsky and Hutch", and even "RoadRunner" were considered very violent, among the many of the 80 popular programs included in the study. Obviously, parents have to be vigilant and caring enough to protect their children from violence, sex and obscenity (verbal or physical).

Viagra for Women?

Since Viagra has worked most effectively for men with erectile dysfunction since it was introduced by Pfizer about 5 years ago, making this company 6 billion dollars richer, the quest for a similar drug for women has, so far, turned up nothing, but researches are ongoing. Forty three percent of women have sexual dysfunction compared to 31% of men, where cigarette smoking has been found to be a culprit of impotence. The most common complaint among these women (33%) is lack of desire for sex. But while men's problem is more physical (inability to have effective erection), women's is more psychological, more complex, since the more significant sexual organ of the females is in between their ears, and not in between the thighs like the males. There are some herbal companies claiming to have their version of "viagra for the women", but these are not scientifically based and are mostly marketing gimmicks. Apomorphine (available in Europe) seems to show promise for both sexes, but more studies are being conducted.

Filtered Water Scam?

A few weeks ago, in this column, we cautioned the public against unscrupulous entrepreneurs selling tap (faucet) water as "filtered water." This fraud is apparently practiced worldwide. Thus, everybody has to be forewarned. Last week, Fortune Magazine reported that the bottled water business "is a $7.6-billion industry in the United States alone", having tripled the bottled water consumption and revenues from $2.5 billion in 1991. Drinking at least 6-8 glasses of water per day is, in general, good for us. The current US statistics show the following "gallon per person" consumption: carbonated soft drinks, 54%; beer, 22.6%; milk, 22.6%; coffee, 21.9%; and, bottled water, 21.1%. So bottled water is in, and for a healthy reason. But be certain the bottled water is produced by a reputable company. And make sure you break the seal-lock on the cap of the bottle yourself, to preclude the possibility of tampering and contamination. It is prudent to instruct the waiters in restaurants NOT to open the bottle, NOT to break the seal.

Laughter is Good Medicine

A good belly laugh, several times a day, is a prescription for health. Studies have shown that laughter lessens stress, improves body immunity and resistance to disease, soothes and benefits the mind, and lengthens life. Let's take that old big barrel of laughs and partake of it daily, with our family and friends.

Food Warning

Some food may increase the risk for the development of colon cancer. New studies among women have shown that diets that favor red meat or processed meat, french fries, sweets, refined grains (like white bread, pasta) are associated with higher colon cancer rate. The recommended diet, as we have repeatedly "prescribed" in this column the past several years, should consist of fish, vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans), and whole-grain foods (hi-fiber items like wheat, bran, oat meal). This healthy diet reduces the risk of colon, and other, cancers. To make the equation complete, add: abstinence from tobacco, daily exercise, and if desired, a glass or two of red wine with dinner (with romantic soft music to further calm the nerves). And don't forget the loved one to do this with.

Good "Fats"

While the saturated fats and cholesterol from red meats and eggs are unhealthy for us, the good polyunsaturated non-hydrogenated fats from olive oil, canola oil and nuts are beneficial to our body. They can even protect us from developing Alzheimer's Disease. Fish oil (Omega 3 fatty acids) from fresh fish has been found to be good for the heart (cardio-protective) and possible also good for boosting immunity against common illnesses. Sushi (raw fish) is rich in Omega 3. All the studies have shown that a diet of consisting mainly of fish (as source of protein, plus vegetables, fruits and nuts) instead of red meats and eggs is, without any doubt, the healthier alternative, if we are to ward off cardiovascular diseases (like heart attack and stroke) and lower the risk of cancer.

The Myths about Pregnancy

The following are myths: A woman is guaranteed 100% not to get pregnant IF: (1) penetration is done only a few times without completion of intercourse; (2) withdrawal is done before ejaculation; (3) coitus is done during the "safe" period; (4) sex is done during menses; (5) the woman did not have orgasm during sex; (6) the lovers drink wine before sex; (7) aspirin is inserted into the vagina as contraceptive; (8) the woman is on top during the act; (9) the man uses any plastic wrap in the absence of, and in lieu of, a condom; (10) the man already had sex with another woman, or had masturbated, an hour or so earlier; (11) oral sex preceded normal intercourse; and (12) the woman douches immediately after sex. These are all myths and cannot be relied upon to prevent pregnancy. Only total abstinence or use of an intact condom, or use of prescribed birth control pills under medical supervision, can prevent pregnancy.

New Drug Breakthrough for AIDS

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has just approved on March 13, 2003 a new drug for AIDS, called Fuzeon, "which works when other drugs have failed." This could be used for adults and children 6 years and older, and about 100,000 of these patients in the United States alone could be benefited. The drug is given by injection, twice a day, and would cost about $20,000 for a year's treatment. This particular drug acts as fusion inhibitors, preventing the HIV virus from invading the white blood cells that are primary target of HIV. There are about 900,000 people with HIV in North America, and 40,000 new cases appear each year. Fuzeon, which is produced by Roche (Swiss) and Trimeris, Inc. (North Carolina), will be available in the United States by April or May 2003.

Inhalants are Deadly

Statistics in the United States reveal that 700 teenagers died as a result of inhalants between 1994 and 2001. The inhalants included glue, spray paint and markers. The report showed that age 12 is when most children start to experiment on chemicals and drugs. March 16-22 has been declared in the US as National Inhalant and Poison Awareness Week.

©2003Raoul R. Diez, M.A.O.D.