HealthWeek Show No. 117
Funding for HealthWeek is provided by the Howard Heinz Endowment and
the Teresa and H. John Heinz III Foundation.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Today on
HealthWeek... Zapping away the wrinkles. How lasers are putting a
new face on cosmetic surgery. The needless tragedy of childhood bike
accidents. Why isn't more being done? And an herb expert who's
showing others how to open nature's medicine chest.
LANNY KAUFER, HERBOLOGIST:
These leaves are actually kind of dry.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Hello,
I'm Sharyl Attkisson. Welcome to HealthWeek.
Today, we begin with news
about the role of fat in our diets. You think you're doing
everything right. You always drink skim milk, buy lean cuts of meat
and use oil-free salad dressings. That blanket approach to low-fat
eating will earn you high marks from many health experts. But others
say not so fast, there may be much more to it than that.
HealthWeek's Andrew Holtz has details from Portland, Oregon.
ANDREW HOLTZ: Low fat
here, low fat there. It's a message we keep hearing: follow the
low-fat road to better health.
WILLIAM CONNOR, MD, OREGON HEALTH
SCIENCES UNIVERSITY: The big point is that we can prevent
certainly many of the chronic diseases that Americans are afflicted
with and are dying from, particularly coronary heart disease.
ANDREW HOLTZ: But in a
debate appearing in the current New England Journal of Medicine,
other experts say Dr. Connor's simple message against fat may be too
WALTER WILLET, MD, DrPH, HARVARD
SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: The American public has been led
to believe that all fat is bad, and that fat in a diet will make us
fat. Unfortunately, this just isn't true. There's good fats and bad
fats, and also it's excess calories, not fat, that makes us fat.
ANDREW HOLTZ: In his diet,
Dr. Willett uses lots of olive oil. It's full of fat, but it's
unsaturated fat. Studies indicate olive oil and other vegetable oils
may help lower levels of the so-called "bad" cholesterol without
reducing levels of "good" cholesterol. In contrast, cutting back on
all fat can lower both "good" and "bad" cholesterol.
Starting to sound complicated? Well, it is. So a key issue for
experts is: at what point does more detailed, and perhaps more
accurate, diet advice about fats, saturated, unsaturated and so on,
end up over-saturating our brains so we just tune it all out?
Indeed, this dietary fat debate has less to do with what
scientists have learned than it is about just what to tell the rest
of us to eat.
WILLIAM CONNOR, MD: The
public obviously needs to hear a clear voice of what people should
do, from the medical profession, and it has that clear voice from
all the health agencies which have considered this matter for a long
ANDREW HOLTZ: But clinging
to clarity may sell short the public, according to those on the
WALTER WILLET, MD:
Unfortunately, some people in the nutrition community have felt that
the public's just too dumb to understand the difference between good
fats and bad fats. But this is really the most important
distinction, because eliminating good fats can actually be harmful.
ANDREW HOLTZ: Meanwhile,
both sides say don't despair. Beyond their debate over fat strategy,
there's broad agreement that you should stay away from the sugary
seductions of most so-called "fat-free" treats. And instead, stick
to fruits and vegetables.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: So if
you'd like to try getting more "good" fats into your diet, how do
you go about it? Here with some guidance is Robyn Webb, an author
Your advice is not to load up on so-called good oil.
ROBYN WEBB, NUTRITIONIST:
That's right. If you're going to choose an oil for your diet, what I
would recommend is to concentrate on a particular type of oil,
monounsaturated fats. And that would include olive oil, peanut oil
or canola oil.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: When
you're looking for olive oil and you see all these different types,
there's virgin, extra virgin and so on, what does all that mean?
ROBYN WEBB: The terms can
be quite confusing. First of all, something called extra virgin
olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olives, virgin comes
from the second, and pure comes from the third, and extra virgin
olive oil is going to be your tastiest. Cold pressing, what that
means is when the olive oil is made, very little heat is applied to
the process. The oil is then filtered and bottled, and also that is
a very good tasting olive oil.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: For
people who don't care for the taste of olive oil but would like to
get some of that into their diet, they might like the pure then, it
ROBYN WEBB: They might
like the pure, or they might enjoy, which has been on the market in
recent years, something called extra light or light olive oil. This
does not mean it's lower in fat grams or lower in calories. What it
means is it's lighter in taste. And this is also good for baking
where you wouldn't want the very heavy taste of olive oil.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: You
brought two recipes here in which you've used olive oil. Can you
describe those for us?
ROBYN WEBB: Absolutely.
These are Mediterranean-based dishes. The first one that we have
here is a chicken dish. It could be served hot; it could be served
cold, with lots of vegetables. And the olive oil, how we used it in
here is to mix it in a dressing with a little bit of lemon juice and
a little bit of herbs. The second dish I that have here is a bean
dish. This is a wonderful vegetarian dish that could be used as a
main dish or as a side dish. This has navy beans, all kinds of
vegetables, and again the olive oil is used as a dressing. I would
prefer to use olive oil more in cold food preparation, as examples
with these two recipes, versus actually applying heat to the olive
SHARYL ATTKISSON: It's
just more difficult to cook with?
ROBYN WEBB: Well, it's a
little bit difficult to cook with because it has what is known as a
low smoking point. So, in other words, if you keep the pan on heat
for a prolonged period of time, your pan could burn. So it's better
to really do it in cold food preparation.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: In our
final seconds, olive oil on the shelf at the grocery store looks so
much more expensive, for example, for a tiny little jar than the
ROBYN WEBB: Right, that's
correct. Well, sometimes the olive oils are expensive, particularly
if they have herbs or spices added to them, so you can do that
SHARYL ATTKISSON: All
right. Robyn Webb, thank you so much.
If you would like more information, Robyn's recipes or anything
else you've seen on HealthWeek, you can call our toll-free number
shown at the end of the program.
Thank you so much.
ROBYN WEBB: You're very
Olive oil has a shelf
life of six months if stored in a cool, dark place.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Now, for
a story about the quest for eternal youth... or at least the
appearance of it. New laser techniques have made surgery an
appealing way for some people to erase years from their faces. But
critics warn that these "cut-free" procedures are not "risk-free."
HealthWeek's Cindy DiBiasi reports.
LASER COSMETIC SURGERY
CINDY DIBIASI: You see it
everywhere. Americans love affair with youth and beauty.
ELLEN BAKER, PATIENT: "I
couldn't stand looking in the mirror. Every time I looked in the
mirror, all I saw was terrible wrinkles."
CINDY DIBIASI: But for
thousands of women, the face they see in the mirror, and the one
they envision in their minds, don't match.
TINA ALSTER, MD, DERMATOLOGIST,
GEORGETOWN UNIV: "Women in particular will say I hate
these lines around my mouth. I look just like my mother and I really
don't want to look like that."
CINDY DIBIASI: And now
doctors say you don't have to. This is the sound of years being
erased from a woman's face. It is laser surgery, a procedure that
literally vaporizes wrinkles and does some minor tightening of the
skin without ever making a cut. And the buzz over cosmetic laser
surgery is just beginning.
ROBERT ADRIAN, MD, DERMATOLOGIST,
GEORGETOWN UNIV: "Carbon dioxide laser resurfacing will
most likely go down as one of the most significant advances in
cosmetic surgery in the last 30 years."
CINDY DIBIASI: The newest
lasers, ultrapulse carbon dioxide, or C02 lasers, emit a diffused
beam of light to the outer layer of the skin. While a traditional
face lift tightens a sagging face, it doesn't always work on fine
wrinkles. And that is Ellen Baker's problem, those tiny wrinkles
that come from a lifetime of bad habits like sun exposure and
smoking. She's turned to Dr. Tina Alster for help.
ELLEN BAKER: "I don't want
to look younger, I want to look better. I don't think it's going to
make me look younger, but perhaps a little healthier. And it's going
to take away a lot of the damage from sun and smoking."
CINDY DIBIASI: At first
glance, the surgery seems like a cinch. Patients are put under a
light anesthesia, and in about 45 minutes wrinkles are removed.
DOCTOR: "See, she really
doesn't look like she has any wrinkles around her eyes anymore."
CINDY DIBIASI: But is it
really that simple?
ROBERT ADRIAN, MD: "I've
had people come in to me and ask if I could remove their wrinkles
because they had a dinner party tonight. They really have no concept
of what's going on."
CINDY DIBIASI: The first
few days following surgery can be tough. The skin is raw and must be
repeatedly cleansed to prevent infection. Patients may need to sleep
sitting up, their faces packed in ice.
TINA ALSTER, MD: "Usually
at post operative day number two and three people are pretty
miserable and they require the use of pain medications."
CINDY DIBIASI: That was
the case for 48-year-old Carol Sullivan, who had the procedure done
five months ago.
CAROL SULLIVAN: "It just
felt like a real uncomfortable sunburn. It's kind of red and very
swollen and oozing; it's really yucky. Only about seven to ten days
where you're saying, 'I don't know what came over me, I wish I
hadn't done this.'"
CINDY DIBIASI: Healing
takes four to six weeks and skin redness may continue for as long as
6 to 12 months. During that first year, some of the wrinkles may
return, but usually not as deeply.
That's when the surgery works. But there can be complications if
doctors delve too deeply and scar the skin, for example. Another
possibility is infection. This woman, who wants to remain anonymous,
had laser resurfacing performed by a doctor who failed to give her
the proper medication to prevent infection.
WOMAN: "I felt like my
face was on fire. I had never felt that kind of excruciating pain in
CINDY DIBIASI: Her new
doctor has been able to control the infection and hopes to clear up
While most doctors are vigilant and properly trained, patients
need to be aware that this is a new procedure and there are no
regulations governing the use of lasers.
DOCTOR: "Watch this very
carefully. You'll see with this pulse the degree of collagen
RICHARD GREGORY, MD, AMER SOC FOR
LASER MEDICINE: "A person can buy a laser, and put it in
their office and declare themselves a laser surgeon simply by
hanging a shingle out that says that on it."
CINDY DIBIASI: In the last
few years, thousands of doctors have started to do laser facial
resurfacing, usually in their offices. Everyone from plastic
surgeons and dermatologists to dentists and ophthalmologists.
RICHARD GREGORY, MD: "I
think that the reason why laser surgery is so hot right now can be
summed up in one word: money."
CINDY DIBIASI: It's really
no surprise why so many doctors are jumping on the cosmetic laser
surgery bandwagon. Since this is an elective procedure, most
insurance companies won't cover it. The good news for doctors is
that they don't have HMO's or insurance companies telling them what
they can or cannot do. And most cosmetic patients pay cash -- up
And this beauty does not come cheaply. A full face resurfacing
can run up to $8,000. Touch-ups start at $1,500.
For Carol the expense and pain were well worth it. This was Carol
before resurfacing. And this is what she looks like after shedding a
SHARYL ATTKISSON: If you
like what you've seen and are considering laser facial resurfacing,
one of the most important decisions is your choice of a doctor. Be
sure to look beyond the ads: many good laser surgeons don't
advertise. It's usually smarter to choose a surgeon who's
recommended by your family doctor or by friends who've had the
procedure. Also, it's a good idea to talk to several surgeons before
making your final selection.
Here are some questions to ask them: What's your experience with
this procedure? How many have you done? Can I see before and after
photos of your patients? What are the risks of the procedure? What
are the costs, and will insurance cover it? And one more very
critical question: What will you do if the procedure doesn't work?
Whether you're young
or old, it's hard to beat bicycling as a good way to exercise. But
if you're careless, it can be a dangerous form of exercise. In this
HealthWeek quiz, we test your bike safety I-Q. Our first question:
Head trauma is the most common serious injury from bike accidents.
True or false? And bicycle injury rates are highest among children
under 16. True or false?
If you answered "true" to both of those questions, you're
probably up to speed on bike safety. Unfortunately, all too many
people still don't know the value of wearing a bike helmet. Each
year, many children suffer tragic head injuries that could have been
prevented if they had simply worn bike helmets. HealthWeek's Marcia
Brazda has more.
MARCIA BRAZDA: For Katrina
Carter every day is a test of endurance, a tiny step forward in her
lifelong rehabilitation process. Katrina is recovering from a
bicycle accident in which she wasn't wearing a helmet.
SANDI CARTER, KATRINA'S
MOTHER: "She lost control of her bike and flipped head
first over her handlebars and landed on the blacktop."
MARCIA BRAZDA: Katrina was
an active four-year-old when the accident happened near her home in
Seattle, Washington. The blow to her head caused internal bleeding.
Pressure on her brain led to a series of strokes. She was in a coma
for five months.
SANDI CARTER: "If she did
come out of it, out of the coma, they told us, well, you can expect
her to be blind and she won't have any intelligence. She won't have
any academics, and she has far, far exceeded all of their
MARCIA BRAZDA: Eleven
years after the accident, Katrina is still struggling to regain her
speech and motor skills. She's an honor student with one burning
cause: to persuade others to wear bike helmets.
SANDI CARTER: "It scares
her because she's afraid what happened to her could happen to
anybody that doesn't wear a bike helmet."
MARCIA BRAZDA: Katrina's
neighborhood crusade is a small part of the most successful bike
helmet campaign in the country. In Seattle, 55 percent of children
and 85 percent of adults wear bike helmets compared to the national
average of 15 percent. Pediatrician Abraham Bergman helped create
the Seattle campaign a decade ago.
ABRAHAM BERGMAN, MD, HARBORVIEW
INJURY PREVENTION CTR: "When we started, three percent of
children in Seattle were wearing helmets. We did studies to find out
MARCIA BRAZDA: The studies
found that parents didn't know bike helmets could protect their
children from brain injury, that helmets were too expensive, and
that children wouldn't wear them if their peers didn't.
ABRAHAM BERGMAN, MD: "The
most important objectives are to acquaint parents with the need, the
danger of bicycle head trauma. The fact that brain injury is a long
lasting, serious disability and that it can be prevented."
MARCIA BRAZDA: Getting
that message out became a community-wide effort involving local
businesses, the health department, bike clubs, medical facilities
and the media.
ABRAHAM BERGMAN, MD: "We
have found that 85 percent of brain injuries can be prevented. We've
seen a concomitant decrease in the number of head injuries in
Seattle as a result of our campaign. I can't understand why this
isn't being done all over the United States."
MARCIA BRAZDA: Lack of
federal funding is the main reason say safety experts.
WILL HATCHER, NATL BRAIN INJURY
ASSOC: "We don't have legislation at a federal level that
would mandate the requirement of using bicycle helmets, and I think
once you have that in place then people will place a higher priority
on that, and then I believe funding will follow that legislation."
MARCIA BRAZDA: In the
meantime, fifteen states have taken matters into their own hands
passing laws requiring children to wear helmets.
C. EVERETT KOOP: "Only
half of all parents make sure that their children wear bike helmets
on every ride and that's not good enough."
MARCIA BRAZDA: In the
absence of a federal effort, celebrities like C. Everett Koop are
leading a private initiative called the National Safe Kids campaign.
The coalition of 240 groups lobbies for state laws, teaches bike
safety and gives away bike helmets in inner cities. They've also
developed a series of public service announcements aimed at
ANNOUNCEMENT: A fall from a bike can hurt your brain so
that you have a hard time seeing, smelling, walking or thinking.
Eleven-year-old Brian Longworth is a spokesperson for Safe Kids. He
was hit by a truck two years ago while riding his bike without a
Brian has gotten the attention of lawmakers, including his
Senator, Bob Graham, of Florida.
SENATOR GRAHAM: "You took
a real bad thing that happened to you and turned it into something
good for thousands of children."
BRIAN LONGWORTH: "Yeah, I
learned that lesson the hard way."
MARCIA BRAZDA: The
question is whether Brian's lesson and Katrina's and thousands of
children like them will ever reach the entire country.
ABRAHAM BERGMAN, MD: "A
brain injury is serious business, and the fact that we're not
preventing these injuries, not making every effort to prevent them
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Here to
show us the right way to buy and use bike helmets is Kathy Wood with
the National Safe Kids Campaign and Marcus Dorsey, who is going to
help in our demonstration.
First of all, show us how to pick the right helmet to buy for our
KATHY WOOD, NATIONAL SAFE KIDS
CAMPAIGN: The first thing you want to do is make sure
that the helmet meets safety standards. And inside the helmet there
is a sticker that will say ANSI Snell or ASTM, and this applies for
adults as well as for children.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: All
right, just because it has the sticker on this inside though does
not mean this is the helmet that will fit your child. So tell us
KATHY WOOD: That's
absolutely correct. So the fit is very important. This helmet is too
big for Marcus. And we can show you here. Marcus, shake your head.
Look how it falls back and forth. Another test to do, when I do
this, it exposes the forehead; when I do this, he can't see.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: And
that's not something that could be corrected just by tightening the
KATHY WOOD: Absolutely
not. It's too big inside.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: All
right. So then show us a helmet that we have fitted properly to
KATHY WOOD: This helmet
has got bigger pads in it. And when I push down on it, I can feel
some resistance, and that's very important.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: How does
that feel, Marcus?
MARCUS DORSEY: Much better
than the other one.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: It's
tighter, right? It's tighter on the inside.
MARCUS DORSEY: Yes.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Okay.
KATHY WOOD: And the straps
come down in a V over the ears, and the same is true, now if you
shake your head, we'll see it stays pretty much in place.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: And then
if you knock it, it doesn't fall the same way. Which part of the
head are we trying to protect? Because we see kids wearing these
helmets way back here on the back of their heads. They shouldn't be,
KATHY WOOD: No. It should
be over the forehead, no more than one or two finger breadths above,
and it is to protect the base of the skull. Because you want to
protect the brain.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Tell us
a little bit about the cost. In general, is a more expensive helmet
a better helmet?
KATHY WOOD: Absolutely
not, as long as it meets the safety standards, it's acceptable.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: And we
used to see bicycle helmets only for sale in specialty shops and
bicycle shops. Now you see them all over the place. It doesn't
matter where you buy them as long as they have the sticker on the
KATHY WOOD: That's true.
And you can get them as cheap as $15, $10 even, some places.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: The
final obstacle for some parents may be getting the child to want to
wear the bicycle helmet. In Marcus' case, his parents have told me
that you don't want to wear your bicycle helmet. In fact, you
haven't been wearing it, right?
MARCUS DORSEY: Yes.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Why not?
MARCUS DORSEY: Because
sometimes it doesn't feel comfortable.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: And so
they don't let you ride your bicycle anymore if you don't have your
MARCUS DORSEY: Yes, they
SHARYL ATTKISSON: So what
we're going to do, courtesy of the National Safe Kids Campaign, is
send Marcus home with this helmet that he likes. Will you wear this
one do you think?
MARCUS DORSEY: Yes, I
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Okay,
good. What do you think are some other tips about getting children
to want to wear that helmet? Because they are sort of oblivious
sometimes to the safety aspects.
KATHY WOOD: It's important
for them to be able to pick out the helmet that they like. It's also
important for parents to be consistent and set rules and set
examples, to be role models, because it's very important for parents
to wear helmets, and children will follow what their parents do.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: If
there's one final message that people can take away from this
interview regarding bicycle safety, what would it be?
KATHY WOOD: That it's
important to wear bike helmets, but also the rules of the road and
other bicycle safety information is also very important.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: Kathy
Wood, thank you so much for giving us the safety tips, and Marcus,
thank you for the demonstration. Good luck to you.
DR. BRUCE DAN: I'm Dr. Bruce Dan. There are
more than 25,000 medical journals. Some of what's published makes
the news, but most of it doesn't get much further than your doctor's
For example, did you know that chewing gum can act as a laxative?
The British medical journal Lancet reports the case of a
32-year-old flight attendant who had up to 10 episodes of diarrhea a
day for seven years. Laboratory tests and x-rays failed to find
Her doctors were stumped until they found out more about her
personal habits. It turns out she chewed lots of sugarless gum, 60
pieces a day, to be exact.
Sugarless gum contains the artificial sweetener Sorbitol, which
acts as a laxative. As few as eight pieces can have an effect. So
when she stopped chewing the gum, her problem went away.
The medical mystery was solved. But what's still unknown: Why
would anyone chew that much gum?
With Doctor's Corner, I'm Dr. Bruce Dan.
SHARYL ATTKISSON: To most of us, they're just
weeds: scruffy plants we pass without a second glance. But to
others, they're a marvelous, free pharmacy. HealthWeek's Pat Anson
takes us on a walk through the mountains of California for a look at
the herbs that heal.
PAT ANSON: Matilija
Canyon, a wildlife preserve in Ventura County that's long been a
favorite of hikers and nature lovers.
This group of hikers is about to learn more about nature's power
PAT ANSON: When
four-year-old Zachariah skins his knee, hike leader Lanny Kaufer is
quickly there with first aid -- not with a Band-Aid, but a leaf.
LANNY KAUFER: "See how it
sticks right on there?"
PAT ANSON: The leaves are
from a plant called pearly everlasting, once used by Native
Americans to heal open wounds.
Zachariah is not badly hurt, and the hike continues.
The first aid lesson helps Kaufer make an important point. Plants
most of us consider weeds, he sees as medicine.
LANNY KAUFER, HERBOLOGIST:
"Discovering herbs as medicine, as food, that's part of that whole
trend towards living a life, a less polluted, less tainted life
closer to nature."
"These are saponins. These are a naturally occurring detergent."
PAT ANSON: Kaufer has
studied herbs for thirty years, and is eager to share what he's
On herb walks, he encourages hikers to use all their senses,
touching, smelling, even tasting.
WOMAN HIKER: "Very
PAT ANSON: Herbologists
believe that the same natural oils and resins that protect these
plants from drought and disease can also be used to protect humans,
giving a boost to our immune systems to fight disease and infection.
The fact that some doctors take a dim view of this doesn't stop
Kaufer from spreading the word about herbs.
LANNY KAUFER: "Pretty easy
to identify this. There are not too many flowers that look like a
PAT ANSON: He says poppy
leaves can be used to fight athletes' foot, white sage makes a good
antiseptic, and bark from a willow tree can reduce fever and
But it takes a trained eye to know the difference between a
beneficial plant like blackberry and a dangerous one like poison
HIKER: "I've been in and
out of this canyon a million times and I never knew what I was
PAT ANSON: Helping others
rediscover herbs is just one of Kaufer's goals.
He wants people to reconnect with nature and to a healthier, more
natural way of living.
Remember, it's not a good idea to set out on an herb walk without an
expert. Many wild herbs are hard to identify; some even have
That's all for this week. Next time on HealthWeek, we'll show you
some new alternatives to hysterectomies, and give you a heads-up on
the hidden dangers of lead in the home. And if it's a major battle
to get your kids to take their medicine, you'll want to see how one
father-son team is tackling that problem.
Until next time, thank you for joining us. I'm Sharyl Attkisson.
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Program No. 117.