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LIFELINE
NEWS IN BRIEF

Try ginger for knee pain

It's not just for holiday cookies: Prevention magazine reports that a study of 29 adults confirms that ginger -- Zingiber officinale -- soothes knee pain. Previous research has found that a substance in ginger called gingerol is as effective as aspirin in reducing inflammation. Dose: two 500-milligram tablets, twice daily. Be patient: It took three months for those in the study to feel the full effect. Since ginger can thin blood, get your doctor's OK if you're having surgery soon.

Holiday tip

This potentially useful advice for avoiding viral and bacterial transfer this season comes from Mark Mengel, chair of the department of community and family medicine at Saint Louis University School of Medicine: "Don't eat after double dippers at holiday buffets. The person who nabs a second and third dollop of ranch dressing on the same carrot stick may be passing the virus to those who eat after him."

We weren't doing that anyway, were we?

Tums for PMS

Relieving premenstrual syndrome (PMS) might be as easy as popping TUMS -- or drinking more milk. The connection? Calcium.

In one recent study, 497 women with PMS took either two TUMS E-X tablets twice a day for three months or a fake pill. Just one of these over-the-counter antacids contains 300 milligrams of calcium. The TUMS group experienced a 48 percent reduction in pain, water retention, grouchiness and food cravings.

Premenopausal women need 1,000 milligrams of bone-protecting calcium daily -- 1,200 milligrams if you're past menopause. TUMS, calcium supplements, or three servings of low-fat dairy should do the trick.

Blue clue for diabetes

Washed-out color vision might be a warning sign of type 2 diabetes -- especially if blues and yellows you see look grayish or white, report eye specialists from UCLA. Vision checks of 2,701 people with diabetic retinopathy -- a common vision problem for diabetics -- revealed that 32 percent had difficulty seeing blues and yellows. High blood sugar makes blood vessels in the retina leak, triggering blurry sight and color blindness. Early detection heads off big trouble.

Compiled from News and wire service reports.

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