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Fitness Notes

Policy Gives Insured Chance to Collect

June 18, 1988|KIM UPTON | Kim Upton is editor of the Health & Fitness News Service.

The problem with life insurance is that the insured never gets to enjoy the benefits. But one insurance company has created a policy that allows the insured to collect 25% of death benefits before dying, according to Money magazine. The catch is that you must be seriously ill to collect.

Among the health problems considered acceptable reasons for early collection: heart attack or bypass surgery, cancer, a stroke or kidney failure. Early withdrawal can be claimed by presenting a note from the doctor. And the only penalty is that the eventual insurance settlement is reduced by 25%.

The benefit of Lifeline Ultimate, the name of the policy by Jackson National Life in Lansing, Mich., is that the frequently high cost of serious illness can be offset by early insurance collection.

The Tops--In an effort to protect us from ourselves, representatives of four major drug manufacturers and the American Academy of Ophthalmology have worked out a plan to begin color coding the tops of topical eye drop containers. This has been done in an effort to prevent us from mistaking the drops for look-alike vials containing substances that could prove harmful to our eyes.

The idea for color coding originated several years ago when ophthalmologists observed that patients were confusing eye drop containers with those of other substances that injured their eyes. Since many bottles are of similar size and shape, the mistakes are understandable.

"It is quite easy for patients who use eye drops--especially those with glaucoma who must use up to three or four different types of drops multiple times each day--to confuse their eye drops with other bottles because of similarity of packaging," Frederick T. Fraunfelder, M.D., chairman of ophthalmology at the University of Oregon, told American Medical News.

The four companies involved are: Alcon Pharmaceuticals of Ft. Worth; Allergan Pharmaceuticals of Irvine; IOLab Pharmaceuticals of Claremont, and Merck Sharpe & Dohme of West Point, Pa.

A program such as this would take an estimated two to three years to implement.

Even Briefer Briefs--The latest in fascinating facts from the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter:

About 80% of people who survive a heart attack are now able to return to work within three months, according to the American Heart Assn.

Glass windows block most of the rays that cause sunburn, but not the radiation that can hurt your eyes. Thus, you should wear sunglasses while driving.

Most packaged microwave popcorn contains a hefty dose of sodium and as much fat (partially hydrogenated soybean, cottonseed or coconut oil) per ounce as most cookies, along with more than twice as many calories as conventional popcorn.

Boys get more colds than girls, but women get more than men, probably because they spend more time with children.

Eating eight ounces of potato chips is like adding 12 to 20 teaspoons of vegetable oil (usually hydrogenated) and a teaspoon of salt to an 8-ounce potato. This is as much fat and sodium as most people should eat in an entire day.

Wearing a helmet is the single most important safety factor in cycling, yet less than 2% of all schoolchildren wear helmets while cycling.

HIV Protection?--Researchers in Denver have found evidence that condoms and the spermicide nonoxynol 9 can provide effective barriers against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

For the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., researchers at the Denver Disease Control Service tested 20 latex condoms containing nonoxynol 9 and 10 condoms without the spermicide. HIV and HIV-free mediums were placed on opposite sides of the condoms, which were deliberately ruptured. Cultures then were taken. After rupture, HIV was detected outside 7 of 10 condoms without the spermicide. But no HIV was detected outside the 20 condoms containing the spermicide, even after the condoms were ruptured.

The researchers conclude that although condoms, even in combination with nonoxynol 9, probably won't provide absolute HIV protection, "undamaged condoms provide an effective physical barrier against HIV, and nonoxynol 9 may provide an effective chemical barrier as well."

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