Your Health: Sep. 25, 2000

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SURVIVORS An experimental bone-marrow transplant may help treat kidney cancer, a disease so virulent that once it spreads, it kills half its victims within a year. Stem cells--the primordial cells that give rise to new cell lines--are collected from bone marrow. Once transplanted, they generate a new immune system, one that's capable of fighting off the cancer. The technique has been tried on only 19 patients, all terminally ill, but the results are promising. Although 10 died, two from the treatment itself, the others saw their malignancy shrink or completely disappear.

EDIBLE SPREADABLES Here's a finding from the Netherlands that may make it easier to swallow cholesterol-busting margarines like Benecol and Take Control. Researchers report that using the plant-derived spreads once a day at lunch seems to drive down bad-cholesterol levels as effectively as consuming them three times a day. The catch: you still have to eat the spreads every day for the rest of your life.


DOG DAYS So much for man's best friend. Over the two years 1997 and 1998, dogs bit some 9 million Americans--27 of them fatally. The breeds to blame in more than half the fatalities: pit bulls and Rottweilers. So what should you do if approached by an angry-looking canine? Stand still, don't scream, avoid eye contact--and don't smile. A dog interprets smiling as teeth baring, a signal that you're about to launch an attack of your own.

DOUBLE WHAMMY Thought that knee injury was bad? Just wait. A major study that tracked more than 1,200 doctors for nearly 40 years found that sustaining a knee injury early in life can lead to a whopping fivefold increase in the risk of developing arthritis by age 65. Any way to avoid that fate? The researchers suggest using a knee brace--and totally giving up the injurious activity. --By Janice M. Horowitz

Sources: Good News--New England Journal of Medicine (9/14/00); European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (9/00). Bad News--Journal of the Amer. Veterinary Med. Assoc. (9/15/00); Annals of Internal Medicine (9/12/00)