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WHAT'S UP, DOC? HAD TOO MUCH CARROT JUICE?

Q. I bought a juicer a little while ago. I use about a pound of carrots and add an apple for flavor. Sometimes I also add celery or half a beet. I drink 12 to 14 ounces of this juice every day.

I recently heard that too much juice can affect blood sugar since fruits and vegetables are high in sugar. Is there any danger in drinking this juice over a long period of time? I bought the juicer to get healthier and don't want to cause problems.

A. Vegetables such as carrots and fruits like apples contain natural sugars, but there is no reason to worry about your blood sugar unless you are diabetic. That much carrot juice may turn your skin orange. This is not dangerous, though it may amuse your friends.

Hormone side effects

Q. I do not understand why everyone thinks estrogen is so wonderful. My doctor prescribed hormone replacement therapy a year ago and it almost ruined my life.

At first the symptoms were subtle. My hair started thinning and my libido gradually disappeared. After a few months I developed headaches and problems with my vision. My condition grew worse and I experienced dizziness and numbness in my hands and legs.

When I finally stopped the hormones I gradually got better, though my vision is not back to normal yet.

Is there any way to get the benefits of estrogen from an herbal medicine? How much tofu do you need to eat to eliminate hot flashes?

A. Estrogen and progesterone are not for everyone. Some women experience side effects such as nausea, breast tenderness, fluid retention, headache and depression. Blood clots are a serious complication and could account for numbness or pain in an arm or leg. The biggest question about estrogen is how much it increases a woman's risk of breast cancer.

Some women experience relief from hot flashes with black cohosh, ginseng, vitamin E or dong quai.

We are sending you our Guide to Estrogen: Benefits, Risks & Interactions, which discusses plant-based estrogen as well as the pros and cons of HRT. Anyone else who would like a copy may send $2 with a long (No. 10) stamped, self-addressed envelope to Graedons' People's Pharmacy, No. W-601, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, N.C. 27717-2027.

Researchers at Wake Forest University have found that 20 grams (less than an ounce) of soy protein daily can reduce night sweats and hot flashes. Tofu is not a very good source of plant estrogen, but soy milk, texturized vegetable protein, miso and rye bread provide significant phytoestrogens.

A fine-print caution

Q. I've seen an ad for a heartburn medicine called Prilosec. It caught my eye because they asked a good question -- "If your heartburn medicine works so well, why do you keep getting heartburn?"

I read the fine print and found a precaution about carcinogenesis. What does this mean?

A. The cancer-causing potential of Prilosec (omeprazole) remains controversial. The animal studies referred to in the ad showed the drug can cause cancer in rats. Whether it poses a risk to humans is not yet clear.

What's in Doan's Pills?

Q. What is it about Doan's Pills that makes them special for backaches? How does the medicine go to your back and not other places?

A. Doan's Pills contain magnesium salicylate, a chemical related to aspirin. Like all pain relievers, it affects the entire body, not just the back.

Write to Joe and Teresa Graedon in care of The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y. 14240.

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