Health & Fitness: Sickle-Cell Alert

About one out of twelve black Americans carries a single gene for sickle-cell anemia. That trait, doctors have long believed, is basically benign, since the blood disorder strikes only when two defective genes are present. But a report in last week's New England Journal of Medicine challenges this assumption. In a study of more than 2 million military recruits, doctors at Washington's Armed Forces Institute of Pathology found that sickle-cell carriers run 40 times the normal risk of sudden death when they undergo the rigors of basic training. The danger appears to increase with age.

According to Dr. John Kark, who...

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