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Catch breath, save life

One in eight adults under age 45 may be at risk for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a deadly collection of lung disorders -- including emphysema and chronic bronchitis -- that doctors rarely test for. Death rates from COPD among women now surpass those of men, reports the National Women's Health Resource Center.

When an international research team checked the health records of 18,000 adults ages 20 to 44, 12 percent already had a chronic cough and persistent phlegm -- COPD's earliest warning signs. If you have these, or if you're a smoker, an ex-smoker, or have a history of asthma:

Clear your air: Quit smoking; avoid secondhand smoke.

Get a lung check: A six-second spirometry test, which measures lung function, doubles the odds of catching this lung condition early, a new Belgian study finds. Early treatment can slow -- and even reverse -- COPD's progression.

Eat fruits and vegetables: In countries where people eat more antioxidant-rich produce, COPD rates are lower, even among smokers.

OJ for the heart

Did you know that one 8-ounce glass of non-concentrate orange juice provides all the vitamin C you need in a day? Did you also know that same glass might hold the key to your heart's good health?

Orange juice contains phytonutrients, also known as flavonoids, which some medical researchers believe helps protect cells. Flavonoids are natural antioxidants that may help support a healthy cardiovascular system. Moreover, regular belts of OJ offer a good source of potassium, folate, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and magnesium.

Orange juice has been shown to reduce two cardiovascular disease risk factors: high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Cholesterol. A recent study has shown that men and women with high blood cholesterol levels who drank one to three cups of non-concentrate orange juice daily for 12 weeks experienced a 21 percent increase in HDL (good) cholesterol with no changes to LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Blood pressure. Often called the "silent killer," high blood pressure can develop without warning. A diet that includes potassium-rich foods and drinks, including orange juice, may help. Adding one serving 100 percent orange juice a day has been shown to decrease the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

A hero for health

Army Col. Rhonda Scott Cornum, who grew up in East Aurora and is the first woman commander of the U.S. military's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, is one of five recipients of Good Housekeeping magazine's annual Heroes for Health Awards for women. She supervises 1,853 hospital staffers who treat soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

During the first Gulf War, Cornum, then a flight surgeon, suffered severe injuries when her helicopter was shot down. She was captured and sexually abused and has received a Purple Heart. Read about her in the magazine's December issue.

Fireplace smoke signals

Firing up a fireplace after it's been sitting idle all summer can cause all sorts of unwanted problems. They range from red eyes and coughing to air pollution and carbon monoxide poisoning. So before you hold a match to any logs, be they natural wood or natural gas, look for smoke signals.

The Chimney Safety Institute of America urges homeowners to check flues and dampers for tightness, blockage, debris and buildups. You can do it yourself or hire a chimney pro to make sure everything is free and clear. Otherwise you could be in for a military-quality smokescreen of your very own -- with explosive action and real live firemen.

Compiled from News and wire service reports.