The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 21, 1998 · Page 13
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 13

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Salina, Kansas
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Thursday, May 21, 1998
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Page 13
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THURSDAY MAY 21, 1998 THE SALINA JOURNAL Health JANE BRODY / C2 HEALTH / C3 CLASSIFIED / C4 c BRIEFLY T MEDICINE Swimming leads to better sex, study finds 1 ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Regular swimmers report a more active sex life than non-swimmers even as they age, according to a study 'conducted by a former Harvard University researcher and author. "It doesn't matter if you are 20, 40, 60 or even older. If you want an active and rewarding sex life, start swimming," says Phillip Whitten, who has written "The Complete Book of Swimming" and is editor-in-chief of Swim and Swimming World magazines. ' In a study of 160 regular swim- ,mers, 40- to 60-years olds reported making love as often as those ages 26 to 33. Dedicated swimmers have sex more frequently and report higher.levels of enjoyment, through their sixties and beyond, Whitten said in a news release from the National Spa & Pool Institute. Muscular dystrophy camp needs counselors ~ WICHITA — The Wichita office of the Muscular Dystrophy Association is seeking volunteers to be counselors at the MDA summer camp in Perry. Volunteers would serve as companions to children and teenagers with neuromuscular diseases during the camp, June 21-27. Counselors must be at least 16 years old and able to lift a child. They will be called upon to push wheelchairs and help with grooming, dressing and feeding campers, > plus help them with activities like swimming, horseback riding, canoeing and arts and crafts. For more information or to volunteer, call the Wichita MDA office at (316) 838-8700. Study: Dialysis can be a disadvantage The longer patients with kidney disease remain on dialysis before receiving a transplant, the more likely they are to die prematurely, new research shows. In a study of 523 people, Ohio State University researchers 'Jound only 7 percent of those who had never been on dialysis died within seven years after receiving a kidney transplant. However, 23 percent of the patients who had been on dialysis for one to two years died, as did 44 percent of the patients who had been on dialysis three years or longer. The results suggest the ideal situation for a patient is an immediate transplant, said Fernando Cosio, professor of internal :me_dicine,at Ohio State. • Unfortunately, many patients waiting for a suitable transplant •spend an average of one to two 'years on dialysis. "Dialysis is clearly not an advantage," Cosio said. Nasal-spray flu vaccine appears promising BOSTON — An experimental flu vaccine that is sprayed up the nose has been found to be highly effective in children. Experts hope the spray, if it reaches the market, will make the flu vaccine more acceptable to both children and adults who don't like shots. Doctors tested the vaccine, •called FluMist,' on 1,602 children ages 15 months to 6 years. They received either the vaccine or a dummy spray in the summer of 1996. During the following flu season, 1 percent of the children getting the vaccine developed influenza, compared with 18 percent in the untreated group. Those getting the vaccine were also 30 percent less likely to suffer fever with otitis media, an earache children often get with flu. From Wire Service Reports T CHILDBIRTH Wine, beer, even grape juice are good for the heart DR. PAUL DONOHUE North America Syndicate Dear Dr. Donohue: I'm interested in reports that tout the benefits of a daily glass of wine for the heart and for preventing the eye disease macular degeneration. My husband and I are nondrinkers because his father was an alcoholic. We wouldn't mind starting to have one glass of wine with our evening meals if all this is true. — N.G. Dear N.G.: Some, as yet unidentified, substance in wine raises a person's high- density lipoproteins, the "good" kind of cholesterol that protects against heart attacks. The same substance discourages clot formation in arteries, another protection against heart attacks. The wine can be red or white. Beer or 80-proof whiskey offers similar protection. Two daily drinks for men and one for women suffice. One drink is considered to be 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof whiskey. If you prefer to remain non- alcohol users, a daily 12-ounce glass of purple grape juice for men and a 9-ounce glass for women also does the trick. For prevention of macular degeneration, the thief of sight for so many older people, a glass of wine every month suffices. Again, if you wish to steer clear of alcohol, dark-green leafy vegetables — spinach, collard greens, kale, mustard greens and turnip greens — give the same protection. Dear Dr. Donohue: I will not eat food with monosodium glutamate because "it is bad for you." My fiance asked me why, and I had a hard time answering. Can you supply some information? Dear Readers: Monosodium glutamate is an amino acid that enhances the flavor of foods. Most'people can eat MSG with impunity. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioned a study of MSG. The upshot was that it is safe at levels normally consumed. A few people are sensitive to it, however. They develop a burning sensation in their throat, a headache and a feel- ing of facial pressure after consuming foods laced with MSG. In some asthmatics, MSG might provoke an asthma attack. Three grams can cause trouble even in nonsensitive people. Typically the amount of MSG in food does not exceed half a gram. : Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him at P.O. Box 5539, Riverton, NJ 08077-5539. When illness and tragedy strike, the existence of God is often called into question. But, sometimes, misfortune can lead to a ... FAITH HEALING By TOM KISKEN Scripps Howard News Service VENTURA, Calif. — Because of Huntington's disease, Carol Lotker can't answer the question that pulls her husband closer to God but shoves others farther away. Ask why a powerful, all- knowing God allows evil, sickness and war. Her answer is neutered by the incurable disease that causes her body to tremble, erodes the mind and relegates her to a room decorated with family photos in a Ventura nursing home. The only response is barely audible, as if spoken to herself. "I wish I could be stronger," she said. "I want to be stronger." The existence of God in a world filled with tragedy is a theological paradox that haunts cancer centers, mortuaries and World War II death camps. It causes clergy to speak of free will and Christ's resurrection. Called theodicy, it motivates books such as "When Bad Things Happen To Good People." It helped turn Spike Tyson away from God. Raised as a Baptist in Michigan, Tyson was 18 when he enlisted in the Army and was sent to Vietnam. He won a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and a rack of awards as long as his arm. But the horrors he witnessed — like soldiers peeling away a man's skin to force him to reveal military secrets — convinced him to question the existence of a God. "War is probably the greatest illness in the world," said Tyson, director of the American Atheists organization in Austin, Texas. "No God would allow war." Some say the existence of war and Holocaust horrors reflect the free will of humans. God, they say, gave humans the power to make their own mistakes. Closer to home, that explanation does not satiate Lewis Smedes, a Californian who worries about innocent victims, specifically children who have been abandoned and abused. "I've wrestled with it for years," said the retired theology professor, who lives outside of Pasadena. "I once believed that God planned all things — de- Photo by ROB VARELA / Ventura County Star Mike and Carol Lotker relax In the garden at Victoria Care Center In Ventura, Calif., where Carol Is a resident. Carol's bout with Huntington's disease has helped strengthen her husband's Jewish faith to the point he wants to become a rabbi. creed all things. That to me is unpalatable." Smedes finds solace in the Easter story of Christ rising from the dead. Ask him about the horror of child abuse and terminal illness and he focuses on the day he believes Christ will return. "All that is ugly and vile and evil will be conquered," he said. "Only peace and justice and love will be present among God's family." Missing the point For Mike Lotker of Thousand Oaks, Calif., questions about why tragedy happens miss the point. He's a 49-year-old former physicist who once ran an alternative energy company that peppered Palm Springs with windmills. Years later, he helped navigate a friend's hair replacement business. Lotker was raised in a family where religion was a lesser priority. His wife, Carol, helped turn him to Judaism 15 years ago when they moved to the Conejo Valley. Now, < she's pushing him again. They've been married for 26 years. Several years after their union, they played Cupid with their single parents, sparking a relationship that resulted in his father marrying her mother. Huntington's disease is not a new obstacle. Carol Lotker's father died of the disease, meaning there was a 50-50 chance she would contract it. "Would you really want to live in a world where there are no problems? There would be nothing to do. We'd be decorations in a garden of Eden." Mike Lotker talking about how his wife's illness has Increased his faith Now, her three children — ages 17, 22 and 25 — face the same odds. Huntington's is a degenerative brain disorder that works somewhat similar to Alzheimer's, eating away at a person's mental and physical abilities. It usually hits victims between the ages of 30 and 50 and reduces their life expectancy by about 10 to 15 years. For Carol Lotker, it means she needs 24-hour nursing care. She still participates in Jewish services on Fridays and chats about her youngest daughter's high school graduation in June. But her memory is erratic, she's easily confused and at times she needs a wheelchair. Banking on faith When she started to show symptoms of the disease, Mike Lotker intensified his study of Judaism. "I felt I needed to make deposits in a spiritual self bank," he said. "I knew I was going to be making very heavy withdrawals." Now, he wants to be a rabbi. He already is the lay leader of Temple Ner Ami in Camarillo, Calif., and leads Friday services at his wife's nursing home. In September, he'll start rabbinical school. He'll spend nine months in Jerusalem and then four years in schools stateside, first in Los Angeles and then probably in New York. See BAD, Page C2 Reassuring hand at birth helps moms be more caring Doulas, ' women who help mothers giving birth, can instill caring nature, study finds By JANET McCONNAUGHEY The Associated Press NEW ORLEANS — The hand that rocks the cradle can benefit from a steadying influence — women who get a little TLC during childbirth seem to be more affectionate to their babies later. A study involving poor, uneducated women was one of a series on the effect of doulas — women trained to help other women through the physical and emotional battering of giving birth. Doula stems from a Greek word meaning slave. It found that women given a steadying hand and reassuring voice during labor and the hours af- ter birth were more affectionate to their babies two months later. "It's impressive to think that the presence of that woman can make that difference that much later," said Dr. John Kennell, the Case Western Reserve pediatrician who supervised the studies. Researchers studied a group of low-income women from the Houston area, said Susan Landry, the University of Texas-Houston Medical Center psychologist presenting the study Saturday at the Pediatric Academic Societies of America meeting in New Orleans. The women, all first-time mothers, were randomly assigned to one of three subgroups at Houston's Ben Taub Hospital, one of two public hospitals in Harris County. Thirty-three were coached, coaxed and encouraged through labor by a doula — a woman who had been taught how to do that, but didn't have medical training. Unlike a midwife, the doula did not deliver the baby but was there to support the mother. The doulas stayed with the women for several hours after delivery, showing them how to hold their babies, feed them and generally get comfortable with them, Landry said. Most of the women with doulas did not ask for anesthetic. Thirty-five women got the hospital's standard treatment, and if they complained of pain they were ini- tially offered a narcotic. Thirty-six were first offered an epidural anesthetic. "Many mothers were interested hi the study in part because at this big hospital, epidurals weren't usually given," Landry said. Some women got both a narcotic and an epidural. The doulas were paid by the researchers. They generally charge $250 to $400 to help a woman through labor and immediately afterward, researchers said. Six to eight weeks later, researchers went to the women's homes, saying they were giving the babies a series of tests but actually watching the mothers. The researchers scored the mothers at five different stages during the visit. The two groups who had no doula had statistically identical scores, but the doula-assisted group scored significantly higher at four of the five checkpoints, Landry said. She and Kennell said they don't know why the doulas had such a profound effect, or how long it may last. Kendall offered several possible causes: The doulas may have shown by example how to love and care for babies; the mothers might have felt so good about being nurtured and cared for that they did the same in turn; or the reduced stress during labor and delivery might have had a physiological effect that translated into more affection for their babies. SUGGESTIONS? CALI BECKY FITZGERALD, LIFE EDITOR, AT (785) 823-6363 OR 1-800-827-6363 OR E-MAIL AT sibfltzgerald@saljournal.com

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