ABORTION OPTION Last year when the FDA approved RU-486, it said the abortion pill should be taken with a second drug, misoprostol, to help expel the fetus. That didn't stop misoprostol's controversy-shy manufacturer, Searle, from warning doctors that the drug could harm pregnant women. Well, it doesn't seem to, according to a review of 200 studies that found misoprostol safe for a number of obstetrical uses, including labor induction and medical abortion.
DIET BACKLASH With holiday gorging finally over, you'd think Americans would focus on improving their eating habits. Don't bet on it. A study finds that Americans are fed up with worrying about what to eat. More than 40% report they're tired of hearing about which foods are good for them and which aren't, and 70% say the government has no business doling out nutrition advice. The folks most likely to eat as they please? Those over 60 and men ages 18 to 35.
HAIR TODAY Each year a quarter of a million Americans shell out up to $70 a pop for a hair analysis, but a report shows that the test--which is supposed to diagnose nutritional problems--is, at best, unreliable. Six popular labs were asked to test hair samples, all from the same head, for 30 minerals and metals, including selenium, aluminum and lead. Result? Reported concentrations for the same hair differed wildly from lab to lab, often varying 10-fold. If that's not enough to make your hair curl, most of the labs also sell supplements to remedy the ills they purportedly find.
TRANSMISSION TROUBLE The sexually transmitted infection called chlamydia has been linked to infertility. Now Finnish scientists say it may also increase a woman's risk of cervical cancer. What's more, chlamydia may make women more vulnerable to the human papilloma virus, the other STD linked to cervical cancer. Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics. If you suspect you have it, get to your doctor.
--By Janice M. Horowitz
SOURCES: Good News--Journal of the American Dietetic Association (01/01). Bad News--New England Journal of Medicine (01/04/01); 3 & 4, JAMA (01/03/01)