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DRINKERS GET A REAL WORKOUT: Regular drinkers are likely to do more than tone their biceps with 12-ounce beer can curls, according to a new study.

Those who imbibe - regardless of how much - get more exercise than teetotalers, researchers reported in the current issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Surprisingly, the effect was strongest with heavier drinkers, who "were more likely to exercise than light drinkers and exercised for more minutes," said lead researcher Michael French, a professor of health economics at the University of Miami.

French, who studies the consequences of addictive behavior, said some drinkers may use exercise to negate the calories from the alcohol. Others might have a thrill-seeking nature; those gunning for a runner's high may drink for a similar sensation. (The Hash House Harriers are "a drinking group with a running problem.") And soccer, softball and other team sports participants might hit a bar after a game.

Still, you can't jump-start an exercise program by pounding down more beers, said French, adding that the effects of heavy drinking don't outweigh the benefits of exercise.

And although you might think you golf better after you've had a few, French's team has yet to confirm it.

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CUTS LIKE A KNIFE: "Trust me, if you're watching TV or a movie and you see a pretty lady over the age of 17, she's had some (plastic surgery) done. (Not you, Miley, you've got at least six months before Daddy signs you up.) I would estimate that a lot more women and men in show business have had plastic surgery than not.''

- Comedian-reality TV star Kathy Griffin writing about her own adventures with liposuction, nose jobs and facelifts in her new memoir, Official Book Club Selection

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KUDOS FOR KUDZU? Next time you see kudzu blanketing the roadside, consider this: The wild vine that has overtaken almost 10 million acres in the Southeastern United States may be more nutrient than nuisance. Previous studies have suggested a chemical in the vine may help alcoholics curb their addiction. Now a new study, also in rats, shows kudzu can help regulate blood pressure, glucose metabolism and cholesterol levels. Kudzu root contains polyphenols, substances that are known to have a range of positive health effects. But studies in humans will be needed to evaluate the true worth of kudzu, researchers at the University of Alabama and Luther College in Iowa said. They also cautioned that kudzu supplements now sold in stores may be poorly absorbed and may also vary in concentration from bottle to bottle.

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PREVENTING BREAST CANCER: Nearly 40 percent of new breast cancer cases in the United States - some 70,000 each year - could be prevented if every woman did a few simple things, according to a new report by the American Institute for Cancer Research. Among the preventive steps: maintaining a healthy body weight, getting 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity a day, breast-feeding and having no more than one alcoholic drink a day. To reduce the risk of cancer generally, diets should be mostly plant-based, emphasizing fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains and limiting red meat.

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THE DISH ON PAIN:Can some foods ease arthritis pain?

In one of the largest analyses of diet and arthritis, researchers looked at data on more than 800 patients from 15 studies. They examined several diets popular among arthritis patients and found that the one that had the greatest effect was a Mediterranean-type diet emphasizing foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, fish and olive oil, while limiting red meat. In 12 weeks, people on the diet reported about 15 percent less pain, but no improvement in physical function or morning stiffness. A vegetarian diet that allowed eggs and dairy products had a similar effect.

In other studies, patients who were given daily capsules of fish oil to take along with their antirheumatic medications saw greater benefits for swollen and tender joints than patients given a placebo, apparently because of the oil's anti-inflammatory properties.

Meanwhile, vegetables in the nightshade family, like potatoes and tomatoes, have long been said to contribute to arthritis pain. But no solid studies have demonstrated this. Experts say a diet in which suspect foods are gradually removed should help patients identify any problematic foods.

The bottom line: Certain diets may help with arthritis symptoms.

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deal of the day: Save your marriage and get a $40 Publix or gas gift card. You&Me.We, a federally funded program of Family Resources Inc., is offering a free couples retreat on Sept. 26, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at DaySpring Conference Center in Parrish. You'll also get a free lunch and snacks as you learn how to prevent relationship bailout, communicate better with your partner, manage conflict and much more. For additional details, go to www.youandmewe.org or call (941) 708-5894.

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