Your Health

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Good News
YAWN PATROL If you're an insomniac, you know the problem usually isn't falling asleep--it's staying asleep. Now a study shows that most insomniacs can cut in half the time they spend tossing and turning at night by using simple, basic behavioral techniques. Like what? 1) Getting to bed and waking up at the same times each day; 2) leaving the bedroom if you wake up and can't fall back to sleep; 3) using the bed only for sleep and sex.

Bad News
ORAL ALERT The same nasty human papillomavirus that scientists know causes cervical cancer may be linked to even more types of malignancies. Norwegian scientists report the best evidence yet that HPV-16, a strain of the virus, doubles the risk of larynx, pharynx and tonsil cancers. The explanation is not so farfetched: HPV-16 can transform normal cells in the mucous membranes--like those lining both the cervix and oral cavity--into cancerous squamous cells. How does HPV get to the mouth in the first place? The most likely pathway is oral sex.

DADDY DEAREST While older moms run a high risk of having babies with birth defects, it has long been assumed that men could have healthy kids at any age. Maybe not. A study finds that dads ages 45 to 49 may be twice as likely as those under 25 to have children who are schizophrenic; 50-plus dads may have triple the risk. Caution: the findings need confirmation. Many similarly unusual links have cropped up before, but none panned out.

SENIOR MOMENTS Doctors know Alzheimer's can shorten a patient's life. But now Canadian researchers report that once someone is found to have Alzheimer's or another form of dementia, the median survival may be only about three years--one-half to two-thirds less than previously thought.

Sources: Good News--Journal of the American Medical Association (4/11/01). Bad News--New England Journal of Medicine (4/12/01), Archives of General Psychiatry (4/01), NEJM (4/12/01)