When it comes to health information, the same few stories jump from medical journal to newspaper to television. The past week's biggest stories were about phenylpropanolamine, early puberty, cellular telephones, penicillin and that old favorite--heart attack and exercise. Get a brief synopsis of each in this short article.
FDA warning: The Food and Drug Administration warned consumers not to buy over-the-counter products containing phenylpropanolamine, or PPA. Researchers found that the ingredient, in many cold and diet drugs, increased the risk of hemorrhagic stroke in young women. Health experts advised consumers to purchase products with the safer active ingredient pseudoephedrine.
Early puberty in girls: The onset of early puberty in girls may be linked to low birthweight, Spanish researchers reported in the November issue of Pediatrics. In a small study of 54 girls who showed breast development around age 8, scientists found those who weighed 5.5 pounds on average at birth started menstruation almost two years earlier than those of normal birthweight.
Don't light up, dial up: Cellphones may be becoming a more significant teenage status symbol than cigarette smoking, a new study in the British Medical Journal suggests. The study found that between 1997 and 2000, teenage smoking declined as cellphone use rose. Researchers said it might be because cellphones give teenagers "adult style, individuality, sociability, rebellion, peer group bonding and adult aspiration."
Second chance for penicillin: Even if patients have had reactions to penicillin in the past, they may be able to take it again, safely, according to an article that calls for more widespread use of a skin test for the allergy. Although it is appropriate for doctors to rule out penicillin for people who have had severe reactions in the past, researchers writing in the journal Chest said, it is unnecessary in others.
Cardiac arrest and exercise: A study in the New England Journal of Medicine finds if you want to avoid a heart attack during vigorous exercise, work out more often. The 12-year study, conducted by researchers at three Boston hospitals, showed that men who exercised at least five times a week had a much lower risk of sudden death during exercise --- about sevenfold less --- than those who worked out only once a week. Doctors say any activity that works up a sweat, even brisk walking or gardening, can count as exercise.