SPRAY IT AWAY Do you get hay fever? Join the club. Some 36 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies--and usually end up dosing themselves with antihistamines. But there may be a better way. In a head-to-head study, nasal sprays containing steroids were more effective than prescription antihistamines in controlling sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes. They cost less too. Caution: steroids may have side effects, such as dry nose, nasal bleeding and, with long-term use, thinning bones.
MONTHLY ACCOUNTING Menstrual irregularities may be more than just a nuisance. Researchers say that women whose cycles are irregular or more than 40 days apart may face double the risk of diabetes. The connection? Irregular cycles may be linked to polycystic-ovary syndrome, a hormonal disorder that can disrupt the body's ability to metabolize sugar. If your periods are off, check with your doctor. Diabetes can often be prevented with a healthy diet and exercise, even if you're at risk.
E-GADS! Vitamin E is supposed to help heart patients, right? Doctors used to think so. But a new study suggests that loading up on E--and other so-called antioxidants, including vitamin C--does little or nothing to prevent future heart attacks or strokes in patients with coronary disease. In fact, there's evidence that the vitamins may actually blunt the effects of widely used cholesterol-lowering statin drugs and niacin. Can you still hope that vitamin E will prevent heart disease in the first place? Until research proves otherwise, yes.
Sources: Good News--Archives of Internal Medicine. Bad News--JAMA; New England Journal of Medicine