• U.S.

Your Health: Nov. 8, 1999

2 minute read
Janice M. Horowitz


SHOO, FLU With the flu season just a sniffle away, the public has plenty to fight it with. The FDA last week approved Tamiflu, the second major flu drug to be endorsed in months. The flu-fighting inhalant Relenza got the agency’s nod this summer. Unlike Relenza, Tamiflu comes in capsule form. Taken within a couple of days of getting sick, Tamiflu can cut the duration of flu symptoms by about 1 1/2 days and slice in half the risk of complications such as bronchitis and sinusitis. What’s more, a new study finds that taken for six weeks before any symptoms, Tamiflu may help prevent flu in the first place. Still, the best first line of defense is a flu shot.

START SWEATIN’! Walking for the cure may help raise money to fight breast cancer, but walking–briskly–can also help reduce your odds of developing the disease. The largest study yet on the subject shows that an hour or more a day of moderate to vigorous exercise may cut the risk of breast cancer by 20%. Too much for you? Try two to four hours a week, which should lower the risk by 10%.


GIRTH OF A NATION Just look around: Americans are getting fatter. And now a government report confirms not only that more than half of us are overweight but also that the number who are obese–at least 30% heavier than the ideal weight–has skyrocketed from 12% of the population in 1991 to 18% today. Who is likeliest to put on pounds? Surprisingly, 18- to 29-year-olds and folks in the South, where the hot climate easily wilts enthusiasm for exercise.

INTERNET COME-ONS While some men may be thrilled, doctors are alarmed. During a two-week period, more than 75 Internet sites were selling Viagra directly to consumers without a prescription. And more than a third of them didn’t provide any online medical evaluation. The big problem: Viagra can pose serious risks for men with heart conditions and those on hypertension drugs.

–By Janice M. Horowitz

Sources–Good News: FDA and New England Journal of Medicine (10/28/99); Archives of Internal Medicine (10/25/99). Bad News: JAMA (10/26/99); New England Journal of Medicine (10/28/99)

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