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STUDY: SALT ISN'T WORTH ITS, WELL, SALT

Scientists in Texas have found that 53 percent of iodized salt samples they tested contained less than the Food and Drug Administration's recommended level of iodine, a key nutrient. It is especially important for brain development in newborns and children. Iodized table salt is the main source of iodine for most people, but iodine intake has been decreasing in the United States for decades. Reasons include reduced use of iodine-based additives in livestock feed and in bread, and warnings about salt's role in high blood pressure.

Free dental care offered for children

Florida dentists will offer free dental care to patients who cannot afford it during the annual Give Kids a Smile events this month. The program is sponsored by the Florida Dental Health Foundation and DenTek Oral Care Inc. Most bay area children have already been selected for the treatments, but from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 15 and 16, at least 50 Pinellas County dentists will be offering the services in six locations. For information and office locations, call (727) 393-6024 or (727) 797-8800.

By the numbers

1 hour - spent by patients researching a scheduled surgical procedure or their surgeon, beforehand.

10 hours - spent by the same people researching a potential job change.

8 hours - researching/negotiating purchase or lease of a car.

5 hours - researching purchase of a furniture or home entertainment unit costing at least $1,000.

Source: American College of Surgeons, to publicize a free book, I Need an Operation . . . Now What? (available at www.facs.org/public_info/patientguidebook.html)

Challenging myth of metabolism

The myth, says Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom, is that only exercise can increase our metabolic rate (how many calories our bodies need for optimal function). The truth, she says on iVillage.com, is that a huge factor in altering that rate is our age. After each decade, starting about age 30, our rate drops about 5 percent. This means that every 10 years, just to maintain current weight, we have to eat about 100 to 150 fewer calories a day.

Retreat scheduled for cancer victims

Registration is open for the third annual "Women of Color" Cancer Retreat, Feb. 29 to March 2, at Rotary Camp Florida in Brandon. Survivors, as well as women in treatment, can take part in dancing and spa treatments, hear motivational speakers and more. The retreat is free, sponsored by the Faces of Courage Foundation. To register, call (813) 877-2267.

Vet's work may help humans

In coming years, if you have knee surgery and don't develop arthritis, you may owe thanks to a veterinarian. Dr. James Cook and researchers at the University of Missouri at Columbia performed surgery on 25 dogs with tears in the meniscus cartilage in the knee. The surgeons used a device to repair the tears; previously surgeons had to remove the damaged portion of the meniscus, which in some patients may lead to debilitating arthritis. The device has now been approved for humans.

One more look at resolutions

"Human beings have a need for self-examination, for renewal, and . . . for ritualistic examination of their lives and things they might like to change. In that sense, New Year's resolutions can be a useful ritual."

Nancy Stockton, director of counseling and psychological services at Indiana University Health Center

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