Your Health

  • Good News
    PASS THE BUTTER? Eating lots of dietary fat, while unhealthy for the heart, probably won't increase a woman's risk of breast cancer. The purported link between fat intake and breast cancer has been controversial for years. But last week a new study on 90,000 women concluded that even long-term indulgence in fatty foods will not harm the breast. All types of fat, including saturated, are off the hook.

    IS HE SPONGE-WORTHY? If Seinfeld were still in production, Elaine would be dancing in the drugstore aisles. That's where she hunted down and hoarded the scarce Today Sponge, once one of America's most popular contraceptives. Pulled from the market in 1995 because of costly production problems, the long-lasting, high-dose spermicide will be back in stores this fall.

    Bad News
    LIBIDO LETDOWN The male sex drug Viagra may not work for women, according to preliminary data out this month. Among 30 postmenopausal women who took Viagra before having sex, 21% reported improved sexual function, such as enhanced desire and more easily achieved orgasms. Sounds impressive, but about the same percentage of men who took a placebo in Viagra trials overcame impotence too.

    PLAYING CHICKEN It's bad enough that chickens harbor harmful campylobacter bacteria that can sicken humans. Now a soon-to-be-released study shows that the bug is increasingly resistant to quinolines, the main class of antibiotics used to treat the infection. One reason may be the routine use of quinolines in chicken feed. The percentage of quinoline-resistant campylobacter infections has risen to 10.3% today from 5% in 1995--the year quinolines were approved for use in chicken chow. For antibiotic-free birds, try organic.

    Sources--Good News: Journal of the American Medical Association (3/10/99); Allendale Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Bad News: Urology; New England Journal of Medicine (unspecified upcoming issue)