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Detailed Journey of Women's Health Offers Frank Answers

April 23, 2001|Jane E. Allen

RELAX, THIS WON'T HURT

Painless Answers to Women's Most Pressing Health Questions

By Dr. Judith Reichman

Quill, An Imprint

of HarperCollins Publishers

367 pages, $13

*

Dr. Judith Reichman, a Los Angeles gynecologist, has given women a health road map through every decade, from their teens through their 70s and beyond. This paperback version of her 2000 book works well as a reference, offering distilled medical literature along with the advice Reichman dispenses to her own patients. Each section includes a detailed and science-packed explanation of important physical changes in a woman's body, but most important, it pairs important questions about troubling issues with frank answers. For each decade, Reichman recommends various medical tests, warns what can go wrong medically with a woman's body and offers her "Top 10 Tips for Staying Healthy."

An author and former host of two public television series on menopause, Reichman begins with the teenage years, stressing decision-making about sex, pregnancy, the reality of binge drinking, smoking and contraceptive use. For that part of her audience in their 50s and above, she touches on such worries as skin problems, supplement use, cosmetic surgery, and cancer detection and treatment.

Reichman also includes a section of recent study findings, compiled after the hardback went to press. They include reports about cancer risks of hormone replacement therapy and the latest very-low-dose hormone replacement pills. For hot-flash-plagued women who can't or won't take hormones, she notes that at least two antidepressants, Paxil and Effexor, have been shown to help relieve symptoms. Despite her efforts to keep the book up-to-date, the section on contraceptive methods lists Norplant, a hormonal form of birth control taken off the U.S. market more than a year ago (although replacements are on the way).

Reichman, a physicist's daughter who has often shared her own experiences along with medical knowledge, ends the book by talking in a very personal way about her struggle with revealing her own diagnosis with a breast duct disorder that can lead to cancer and her subsequent surgery. She made the decision to undergo a double mastectomy with reconstruction and found that the pain and recuperation were more than she had been led to expect. Because she makes a point of giving women straight talk about their health, she says she felt compelled to discuss her own journey through serious illness, because, as she puts it in the last page, "I try to walk the walk I talk." Her candor about her own experience gives her even more credibility--and tremendous humanity.

*

PREVENTION'S BEST ANTI-AGING SECRETS

By the editors of Prevention Health Books

St. Martin's Paperbacks

278 pages, $5.99

If you're in your 30s to 50s and looking to pick up an easy-to-read paperback that might give you a few sound tips to help face the reality of middle age, this book could be for you. The "hundreds of secrets to staying young, feeling fabulous and looking your best" are really a compendium of sound advice on eating well, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, memory-enhancing exercises and sleep-promoting habits. The book also offers tips on caring for sagging skin, making the most of your looks with a good hairstyle, and giving yourself an attitude adjustment that values curiosity, adventure, humor, open-mindedness and faith.

All of which you might have gotten from your grandmother, plus your trainer, hairstylist and the makeup counter salesperson, but at least here, it's all in one place. The book is actually excerpted from a 1999 book titled "Growing Younger," but this little paperback puts it all, literally, in the palm of your hand.

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