SEEDY SOLUTION Flaxseed, a staple of the preindustrial diet, may help prevent a scourge of modern man: prostate cancer. Three rounded tablespoons of the ground grain a day, combined with a low-fat diet, reduced expected tumor growth and lowered levels of hormones and other markers associated with a problem prostate. Flaxseed is high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which have been shown to protect against cancer.
HERBS IN THE O.R. Taking garlic pills? St. John's wort? Ginseng? Stop if you're scheduled to have surgery next week. A new study urges that six common herbal preparations, used by up to one-third of surgical patients, be halted well before surgery to reduce the risk of complication, including stroke and bleeding.
BUTT OUT All smokers are not created equal. One in four has a common gene abnormality that nearly triples the risk of coronary heart disease. The gene is associated with reduced antioxidant protection, which may allow tobacco to do more damage.
CHEMO BONES Breast-cancer patients receiving chemotherapy lose bone density up to four times as fast as expected, a study has found. Women whose ovaries stopped working, a common side effect of chemo, suffered rapid and dramatic bone loss in the hip and spine. Women who undergo chemo-induced early menopause should take calcium and vitamin D and get a bone-density test.
--By Amanda Bower
Sources--Good News: Urology (7/01). Bad News: Journal of the AMA (7/11/01), Lancet (7/14/01), Journal of Clinical Oncology (7/15/01)