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EYES Tired of glasses or contact lenses but too nearsighted for laser surgery? You might--if you dare--consider implanting a contact lens directly in your eye. Doctors can now surgically place an artificial lens in front of the eye's natural one. The lens is approved only for nearsighted people and works best if you're under 40 and don't need reading glasses. What's more, while 95% of subjects enjoyed improved vision, the sample group was small--not the best data when you're making decisions about your eyesight.
The biological clock may tick louder for men than anyone thought. Researchers at Columbia University found that pregnant woman are as much as three times as likely to miscarry when the father is over 35 as when he's 25 or younger. And a very large study of fathers in Israel found that the risk of autism among children is up to six times as great when the father is 40 or older, as opposed to when he is 29 or younger. In both studies, the mother's age was not relevant. The cause of the problem, researchers say, probably is changes in sperm that occur as men grow older.
People seeking the heart-protective powers of omega-3 fatty acids in fish have been warned about the mercury, dioxins and PCBs that they might be consuming with their meal. But a study from the Harvard School of Public Health showed that while those contaminants pose a danger, particularly for women of childbearing age, for most people the benefits of fish outweigh the risks. Eat modest servings of fish each week--particularly salmon and bluefish--and you may reduce your risk of coronary heart disease 36%. Elsewhere, researchers at Louisiana State University reported that omega-3s can help protect cells in the retina, slowing the damage caused by such blinding diseases as retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration.
Want to get out of the hospital quicker? Chew gum. People who undergo abdominal surgery often suffer from post-op ileus, essentially an intestinal shutdown, leading to pain, vomiting and other problems. The sooner the digestive engine gets up and running, the sooner patients can go home. Researchers at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital in California found that chewing sugarless gum can help things along, probably by stimulating nerves and hormones associated with eating. No word on whether any flavor works better than others.
News from the frontiers of heart research was mixed. Researchers discovered two genes that appear to contribute to early heart attacks, in part by causing blood to clot abnormally. A small emergency-room study found that drugs used to break up clots may help revive cardiac-arrest patients when such methods as CPR and electrical shock have failed. There were murkier findings regarding people with high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid linked to heart disease. Folic acid and B vitamins help bring homocysteine down, but one study cast doubt on whether this actually improves heart health.