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Shirley Jones to discuss menopause at seminar

Kellie Teeter, 23, of St. Petersburg poses for judges during finals competition of the 12th annual Suncoast Bodybuilding Championships held Feb. 10 at Pinellas Park High. Teeter finished fourth in the women's heavyweight division. The winners by division: Over 30 _ Angela Mihaltian, Largo; Mr. Over 35 _ Paul Pelliccia, Seminole; Teen Miss _ Kristin Moore, Leesburg; Teen Mister _ Brandon Keefer, Pinellas Park; Open Miss Suncoast overall winner _ Darlene Lowery, Largo; Open Mr. Suncoast overall winner _ Jeff Hamilton, Fort Myers. Some 1,000 fans saw 64 competitors in the finals.Actress/singer Shirley Jones will be featured at a free health seminar titled "Menopause .


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in control" on Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the University of South Florida at Sarasota, Sudakoff Center, 5700 North Tamiani Trail. Jones, who has become a spokeswoman for the midlife changes, will be joined by Drs. Carolyn Dixon and Peter Hickox, both attending physicians at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota. Dixon will discuss "Staying healthy during midlife"; Hickox's topic is "Replacing lost hormones." For information, contact Maureen Theroux at the hospital, at 366-1411, ext. 138, in Sarasota.

Drug may fight osteoporosis

The most effective measure against osteoporosis in menopausal women has been estrogen-

replacement treatments. But recent studies linking the hormone therapy to an increase in endometrial and breast cancer has women and doctors questioning whether it is worth the risk. There may be hope in a drug called calcitonin, an alternative to estrogen that not only prevents further degeneration of skeletal tissue but also replaces lost bone mass and improves calcium absorption. The drug has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in injectable form, but because of difficulties many people have in administering shots, clinical trials currently are taking place to examine the benefits of calcitonin as a nasal spray, which is still at least four years away from FDA approval. "The biggest target market, of course, is menopausal women, but this may be something that can be given earlier _ to younger women _ as their estrogen levels start dropping in the mid-30s," said Dr. Stuart Silverman, an adjunct associate professor of clinical medicine at UCLA who is directing research on the drug. The prescription spray is used once a day from the onset of menopause to replace the estrogen the woman's body no longer produces.

Gum for dessert?

Instead of an after-dinner mint, try some post-meal chewing gum, one of the tastiest ways to fight cavities. University of Iowa researchers have found that chewing sugared or sugarless gum for 10 to 20 minutes after a meal neutralizes decay-causing acids that can lead to cavities. Consider the following evidence from Better Homes and Gardens magazine to support the claim: Gum chewing stimulates saliva production, which lubricates the mouth, washes away food and helps restore acid levels. Besides that, researchers found that gum-chewing can be especially beneficial for people who suffer from dry mouth or who are taking medications with side effects that reduce saliva production. Dry mouth can cause tooth decay. The benefits of chewing gum to combat acids outweigh any harm that may be caused by the sugar in the gum, researchers say, as long as the gum is chewed for 10 to 20 minutes.

Cysts linked to arthritis

Mucoid cysts, which commonly appear near the fingertips of people with arthritis, may be more than a skin-deep problem. Last fall, the condition received national attention when President Bush underwent surgery to have a mucoid cyst removed. "Mucoid cysts are associated with osteoarthritis of the hand and nearly always occur on the joint of the finger or thumb nearest the nail," said Dr. Joel Grad, a hand surgeon at New York University Medical Center. They are caused by the formation of bony spurs, which irritate the lining of the joint. In response to this irritation, fluid or mucus accumulates and forms a small cyst beneath the skin. Although the cysts do not pose a threat to health, they may be quite painful. Treatment is based on the type and severity of symptoms. If the cyst is painful or has eroded the skin, it can be treated by an injection of cortisone into the joint and application of a splint. Because of the potential for infection, multiple injections are not advised.

No wheat could allay allergy

An allergy to wheat is a rare and easily diagnosed condition. The average person has no need to curtail intake of wheat products. Dr. Michael J. Faust, a gastroenterologist at New York University Medical Center, says intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat and many other grains, affects only a tiny percentage of the population. "There is no real benefit in limiting gluten in the diet," Faust observed. "The average person gains nothing, while those few people who are gluten-intolerant need to eliminate that protein completely." He added that a restrictive diet may needlessly deprive a person of important nutrients. The intestinal manifestation of gluten intolerance, called celiac sprue, can be readily diagnosed and treated. Treatment for celiac sprue is the complete elimination of gluten from the diet. Wheat, rye, oats and barley are excluded, while gluten-free flour is used for baked goods. Rice and corn are allowed.