FOR A HAPPY HEART

The Japanese have a word for it--karoshi, or "death by overwork." But can stress on the job really do you in? Finnish researchers decided to find out. The years 1991 to 1993 in Finland were as bad as it generally gets economically, with unemployment nearly tripling to 17 percent. Those who survived the downsizing had to assume greater work loads. During this period and for seven years afterward, Dr. Jussi Vahtera and psychologist Mika Kivimaki at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in...

SEARCH FOR THE SACRED

The 550 residents of Kibbutz Tzuba, a few miles down the road from Jerusalem toward Tel Aviv, mostly just want to be "left alone in their own little patch," Yael Kerem says apologetically. She ought to know, as marketing director for the guesthouse with which the kibbutz supplements its main businesses, a fruit and dairy farm and a small factory that makes bulletproof windshields. Yet even as she spoke last week, her cell phone was burbling as requests poured in for tours and interviews: a...

A DISEASE IN DISGUISE

What do you call a headache that lasts five years? Andy Eckl of Trumbull, Conn., came down with a skull-splitter in 1997, when he was 5 years old, and he got no relief until he was 10. He muscled through first and second grade on Advil, but by third grade the pain had spread to his joints, and by fifth grade it had taken over his life. "The other kids were all learning how to throw and catch," his mom, Nancy, recalls. "Andy could barely walk." Suspecting migraines, family doctors prescribed...

What You Don't Know About Fat

FAT CELLS: THE AVERAGE PERSON HAS 40 BILLION OF THEM. THEY MULTIPLY, THEY'RE ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO KILL AND THEY'RE SENDING MESSAGES TO YOUR BODY THAT CAN RUIN YOUR HEALTH

MEDICINE | MORE THAN A STATIN

For those Americans battling cholesterol, new help is on the way. Think reductions of 50 to 60 percent in "bad cholesterol," or LDL. That's with a new pill called Vytorin, approved by the FDA two weeks ago and set to reach pharmacies by Labor Day. Studies have found it more effective than both Lipitor and Zocor, the top-selling statins. That's easy to explain. Vytorin basically is Zocor combined with a non-statin drug called Zetia. It's more powerful because the two work in distinct ways--Zocor...

HEALTH CARE: HOSPITAL HORRORS

In 1999 the Institute of Medicine announced that as many as 98,000 Americans die every year from medical errors. Shocking as that revelation was, now it seems the estimate may have been low. A new study due out this week finds that the number of preventable patient deaths in hospitals is actually twice as high. According to HealthGrades, the health-care-rating organization that conducted the study, needless deaths averaged 195,000 a year in 2000, 2001 and 2002. "That's the equivalent of 390...

SECOND ACTS

Hathaway Pendergrass, 20, knew from the age of 6 that he wanted to go to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. But as a local resident competing against a crush of other hometown applicants, he lost out, despite his 3.9 average. Not one to accept defeat, Pendergrass enrolled at another university, worked hard to build up a strong freshman record and began applying to Chapel Hill again, this time as a transfer student. In fall 2003 he entered his dream school as a sophomore. "I have...

WAS THE BARD A WOMAN?

For more than 150 years, literary sleuths have questioned whether William Shakespeare--a man with a grammar-school education, at best--could possibly have penned some of the greatest works in the English language. "You can be born with intelligence, but you can't be born with book learning," says Mark Rylance, Shakespearean actor and artistic director of the Globe Theatre in London. But if Shakespeare didn't write the plays, who did? Dozens of candidates have been proposed, most of them men....

WAS SHAKESPEARE A SHE?

For more than 150 years, literary sleuths have questioned whether William Shakespeare--a man with only a grammar-school education, at best--could possibly have penned the greatest works in the English language. But if he didn't, who did? Dozens of candidates have been proposed, most of them men. But next week at a conference of the Shakespearean Authorship Trust in London, American writer Robin Williams will argue that the true bard was actually a woman--Mary Sidney, the Countess of...

IN THE NEWS: KIDS AND DEPRESSION

Just 20 years ago, medical schools taught that children don't get clinical depression. Now the National Institute of Mental Health says about 4 percent of teens have it at any given time, and many of them are taking antidepressants like Prozac. Should they? In March, the FDA urged drug manufacturers to insert explicit warnings on their labels about possible risks of suicidal behavior associated with the pills.Now there's at least some good news for parents. Last week The New York Times reported...

KISSED BY A FROG

Think you know frogs? Think again. In its new crowd-pleaser of a show, "Frogs: A Chorus of Colors," the American Museum of Natural History in New York highlights a range of freaky amphibians, from the waxy monkey frog, which climbs trees, to the Vietnamese moss frog, which looks remarkably like a clump of moss. (Just try to find all 14 in the live display!) Can't make it to New York? You can watch the show's stars--75 live poison dart frogs, ranging in color from golden-orange to bright...

AN ASPIRIN A DAY?

An aspirin a day can help prevent heart attacks. It may also ward off breast cancer, according to a study last week in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers at Columbia University surveyed nearly 3,000 women and found that those who took seven or more aspirins a week had a 28 percent lower chance of developing the disease. The effect was seen mainly in hormone-sensitive tumors (the two thirds of breast cancers whose growth is fueled by estrogen or progesterone). That...

Fresh Weapons For An Old Battle

Anyone who has survived chemotherapy knows how brutal it can be. But thanks to an experimental procedure, Barbara Link, 55, of Cary, North Carolina, found that parts of the treatment were "actually pleasant." Her enthusiasm is all the more surprising because she was given two especially toxic drugs in high doses. The difference is that Link received her chemo in fat-coated droplets that release their contents when they're heated to 102 degrees--a higher temperature than the body normally...

HEALTH: FACE THE REALITY

TV's new makeover shows are modern fairy tales, turning ugly ducklings into radiant brides with such apparent ease that plastic surgeons, of all people, worry that audiences are being misled. "This is real surgery with real risks--and the more procedures you get at once, the greater the complications and recovery time," says Dr. Nikolas Chugay, a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, Calif. A reality check:FACE-LIFT. Expect 10 to 20 days' recovery, plus bruising, swelling and sutures on your face....

DOUGHNUTS IN THE DARK

Shelly's Snack Shop was the name that Brian Egemo of Badger, Iowa, applied to his wife's side of the bed. In 1994 Shelly, who had been a sleepwalker as a child, began sleepwalking again. But this time, her nightly rambles took her to the kitchen for cookies, candy and potato chips, which she would bring back to bed and devour while still asleep. "In the morning, there would be frosting in my hair and M&M's stuck to my husband's back," she says. Worse yet, she woke up feeling exhausted and sick...

SCARY LESSONS OF 1918

It was "only influenza," public-health officials said. But when a team of military doctors arrived at the U.S. Army's Camp Devens outside Boston in early September 1918, they saw immediately that this was no ordinary flu. The camp hospital, built to accommodate 1,200 soldiers, was overflowing with 6,000--their cots crammed into spare rooms, corridors and even porches. With 70 of 200 nurses ill themselves, no one was changing the linens, which reeked of human excrement. Sheets and gowns were...

STARVE YOUR WAY TO HEALTH

If the world is divided into people who live to eat and those who eat to live, perhaps there ought to be a third category for Brian Delaney. At nearly 1.8 meters and 63 kilograms, Delaney, 40, is really, really thin. Thin, and hungry. He limits his calories to 1,800 a day, in part by eating just two meals, except when he has a dinner date, in which case that's the only meal he eats. After 10 years on this regimen--actually, he started out at 1,400 calories a day, less than half of what the...

NOW, REDUCE YOUR RISK OF ALZHEIMER'S

Just days into 2004, are you already struggling with those New Year's resolutions to eat right, exercise and shed excess pounds? Here's added incentive to stick with the program. It turns out that the healthy measures most of us vow to take every New Year's could not only make us look better in bathing suits but also lower our risk of Alzheimer's disease.For generations, Alzheimer's has seemed as unpredictable as a game of chance--either you win or lose at dementia roulette. But that picture is...

STARVE YOUR WAY TO HEALTH

If the world is divided into people who live to eat and those who eat to live, perhaps there ought to be a third category for Brian Delaney. At 5 feet 11 inches and 139 pounds, Delaney, 40, is really, really thin. Thin, and hungry. He limits his calories to 1,800 a day, in part by eating just two meals, except when he has a dinner date, in which case that's the only meal he eats. After 10 years on this regimen--actually, he started out at 1,400 calories a day, less than half of what the average...

NOW, REDUCE YOUR RISK OF ALZHEIMER'S

Just days into 2004, are you already struggling with those New Year's resolutions to eat right, exercise and shed excess pounds? Here's added incentive to stick with the program. It turns out that the healthy measures most of us vow to take every New Year's could not only make us look better in bathing suits but also lower our risk of Alzheimer's disease.For generations, Alzheimer's has seemed as unpredictable as a game of chance--either you win or lose at dementia roulette. But that picture is...

Into The Darkness Of The Mind

When Wayne Huizenga of Blockbuster fame bought the Miami Dolphins football team in 1994, he asked a trusted colleague to write the $127 million check: Gillian Bristol of Florida. Bristol handled financial matters for Huizenga for 26 years, until in early 2000 the math started giving her trouble--not arcane accounting problems, mind you, but simple addition and subtraction. Within months, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and spiraled rapidly downward. Then in August 2001, her husband,...

In The News: A Kinder Scope

Been putting off that colonoscopy? Plenty of folks do, which helps explain why colon cancer claims 57,000 lives a year. Now there may be an alternative. Last week The New England Journal of Medicine published a major study on a new 3-D "virtual colonoscopy." Researchers at three Navy and Army hospitals gave 1,233 patients both traditional and virtual exams. Unlike the earlier 2-D colon scans, the 3-D version proved just as reliable at detecting polyps as the standard endoscope up the...

When The Body Attacks Itself

The immune system is a thing of beauty--subtle enough to distinguish dangerous invaders like viruses from benign interlopers such as food; clever enough to recognize when the body's supposedly friendly cells turn cancerous and should be eliminated. But the immune system can also go awry. When it begins mauling healthy tissues, the result can be any one of 80 autoimmune diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. "It's the price we pay for having such a dynamic, finely balanced system," says...

That's Why We Call It Junk Food

Few foods are more alluring than fine chocolate, with its seductive blend of complex sweetness and velvety texture--and few become the object of such ardent obsessions. "Chocolate is a drug of abuse in its own category," jokes Dr. Louis Aronne, director of the comprehensive weight-control program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. "It's almost as if people have chocolate receptors in their brains."That may not be too far off the mark. In a recent book called "Breaking the Food Seduction," Dr....

Into The Darkness Of The Mind

When Wayne Huizenga of Blockbuster fame bought the Miami Dolphins in 1994, he asked a trusted colleague to write the $127 million check: Gillian Bristol of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Bristol handled important financial matters for Huizenga for 26 years, until in early 2000 the math started giving her trouble--not arcane accounting problems, mind you, but simple addition and subtraction. Within months, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and spiraled rapidly downward. Then in August 2001, her...

When The Body Attacks Itself

The immune system is a thing of beauty--subtle enough to distinguish dangerous invaders like viruses from benign interlopers such as food; clever enough to recognize when the body's supposedly friendly cells turn cancerous and should be eliminated. But the immune system can also go seriously awry. When it begins mauling healthy tissues, the result can be any one of 80 autoimmune diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. "It's the price we pay for having such a dynamic, finely balanced...

Real Rhapsody In Blue

As a child, Julian Asher had a theory about the symphony concerts he attended with his parents. "I thought they turned down the lights so you could see the colors better," he says, describing the "Fantasia"-like scenes that danced before his eyes. Asher wasn't hallucinating. He's a synesthete--a rare person for whom one type of sensory input (such as hearing music) evokes an additional one (such as seeing colors). In Asher's ever-shifting vision, violins appear as a rich burgundy, pianos a deep...

Health: Popeye's New Peril?

If you like juicy, ripe peaches--and who doesn't?--the nonprofit Environmental Working Group in Washington has some bad news for you. This succulent fruit tops the list of foods most contaminated with pesticide residues. Last week the EWG released a report ranking pesticide levels in the 46 most common fruits and vegetables. The tally is based on more than 100,000 USDA and FDA studies conducted between 1992 and 2001, covering 192 different pesticides. Among the "dirty dozen" at the top of the...

The Magic Of Mushrooms

Holy shiitake! That--in short, unscientific terms--is the reaction of researchers hunting for potential new medicines in mushrooms. Tests in lab dishes indicate that fabulous fungi with names like lion's mane and turkey tail harbor novel antiviral and antibacterial compounds. Even the NIH is interested, funding the screening of mushrooms for agents to fight SARS and West Nile virus. "It's completely irrational that we haven't looked here before," says Dr. Andrew Weil, the nation's leading...

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