I was flying in a chartered plane the other day in which the only
magazine rack on board was stocked with Playboy-type magazines. (I
surmised that the customary clientele on this plane was male
executives.) As I sorted through the stack looking for something to
read, a Penthouse with George Burns and Vanessa Williams on the cover
fell out, and I confess–I peeked at those now infamous pictures.
My reaction is that the medical profession needs to be doing a much
better job of educating our young people who experiment with deviant
methods of sexual gratification. Anything that involves oral-anal
contact is inviting exposure to the hepatitis virus. For example,
homosexual men have far more hepatitis than other groups in our society
and should certainly be vaccinated against hepatitis B if they have not
Do our young people, who are led to believe by the liberal press
that “anything goes’ in sexual practices, know that they are
inviting a host of health disasters? Are they made aware of the threats
to health posed by sex acts as portrayed by Vanessa Williams and her
female partner? Do most young people know about the risk of contracting
a whole catalog of sexually transmitted diseases including hepatitis B?
Do they know of the need to vaccinate against this disease should they
elect to follow these practices? And how about those who know about the
shots but cannot afford the $100 to get them?
Of the sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis B poses the most
serious health hazard to society. It is passed from victims to the
uninfected by deviant sexual relations, through needles shared by
illicit drug users and through blood donated by carriers. Thus,
hepatitis is spread beyond the homosexual and drug-user circles to
innocent members of society. Not only a personal but a community and a
world-wide health problem results. Hepatitis B is responsible for most
cases of liver cancer, which on a world-wide basis kills more people
then any other single form of cancer.
It appears that those getting hepatitis B may never fully recover.
Approximately 1 to 3 percent of those contracting acute hepatitis go on
to develop fulminant hepatitis and die. A more benign disease may go
into relative remission, but it often does not go away entirely. From 5
to 10 percent of hepatitis-B victims become chronic carriers and can
infect others for the rest of their lives.
A vaccine to prevent hepatitis B is available. It is rather
expensive, but it is strongly urged for members of those groups in
danger of developing the disease.
A whole generation is in need of an education program warning of
the dangers of the “new’ sexually transmitted diseases. Most
of these diseases are incurable, which makes them more insidious than
other venereal diseases. Perhaps it’s time for society to take a
stand against the portrayal of sexual practices that pose health threats
to the rest of society.
A growing number of persons, predominantly women, are developing
liver failure with no identifiable cause. These persons are diagnosed
as having primary biliary cirrhosis or PBC. (See page 58.) Since the
cause is not yet recognized, more research is urgently needed. Drugs
such as transquilizers and birth-control pills have been suspected.
Mild Myasthenia Gravis
Dear Dr. SerVaas:
This is in response to the letter from Lois Harvey. For now,
forget the cats! She is wondering if her daughter’s muscular
weakness could be an allergy to cats. I too am hypoglycemic. I, too,
had some benefit from the diet, but was still plagued with the muscular
weakness and fatigue until, mercifully, a doctor I went to about the
hypoglycemia spotted the real cause and sent me to a doctor who is a
specialist in myasthenia. (The Post published an excellent article on
the subject last month, except that the mild form was not mentioned.)
To make a long story short, after years of being branded as neurotic and
depressed, I was diagnosed correctly as having the mild form of
myasthenia gravis. She will very likely have a difficult time finding
someone who will take her seriously and do the Tensilon test, but she
should not stop until she does. One of my friends who suggested it to
her doctor was told she could not have that. She wasn’t rich
enough! Well, I’m nowhere nearly as rich as Onassis either, but I
have it. Although there is no connection between the two, my
specialist, who has studied the disease for around 45 years, says the
two diseases are often found in the same patient.
She should try to find a specialist in myasthenia, and will
probably have to go to a large clinic. Next to that, a neurologist
would probably be best.
I’ll gladly correspond with the ladies if I can be of help.
Mildred N. McAnally Bourbonnais, Illinois
“Fry Now, Pay Later’ is the headline for a slick ad with
a glamorous bathing beauty sunning herself to a warm bronze in the
tropical sun. The ad, commissioned by the American Cancer Society, is
great but it probably won’t discourage sun lovers. If you
can’t resist the sun spots in the wintertime, be informed about
cover-up protection. Sun tan screens, dry-skin lotions and even make-up
help protect the skin against the ravages of the sun’s rays. Wear
Dear Dr. SerVaas:
My husband, while under the care of a physician for adult-onset
diabetes (age 62), became ill in February 1984, was operated on and was
found to have an abdomen full of metastasized cancer. After
chemotherapy and a brave, sweet struggle, he died July 30, 1984.
Throught the trauma and agony of those five short months, we asked
ourselves over and over–where were the warning signs of cancer? Where
has research come up with answers? This is a man who in 72 years never
smoked anything–could never afford anything alcoholic other than an
occasional beer or highball! Never did anything to excess.
I would be interested to see The Saturday Evening Post do an
occasional article on the rate of success of chemotherapy or cobalt or
any method on the different types of cancer. Paul’s cancer was
adenocarcinoma. Are all seniors doomed to succumb to some type of
God help us all! Thank you for your excellent program and
Mrs. Norman Paul Johnson Sequim, Washington
Dear Mrs. Johnson:
It is true that our chances of getting cancer increase with each
year as we grow older. The warning signs could be in the stool in the
form of hidden blood and I’m sure you will want to do this test
Eating a high-fiber diet protects against colon cancer. This has
been established with good research and is now backed up by the National
Cancer Institute. Concer of the colon and the rectum is the
nation’s No. 2 killer cancer. We’re so sorry to learn that
it struck your husband so unexpectedly.
Dear Dr. SerVaas:
I have a few problems which I hope you can assist me in solving. I
have been trying to increase my intake of fiber and have tried many of
the various bean recipes in your publication. The trouble is the
excessive flatulence which these products cause. Is there any natural
remedy or method of preparation which can eliminate this problem?
I hope to hear from you in the near future and hope you can offer
some solution. Thank you for disseminating the information which
otherwise would not be available.
Edward J. Beck Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Dear Mr. Beck:
If you will drink at least eight cups of warm water daily you will
have less gas. While we don’t understand why, cold water
doesn’t relieve flatus as well. Try drinking citrus tea which is
nothing more than a quarter of lime in hot water with some prune juice
to sweeten. Don’t drink tea or coffee to increase your water
intake because they contain caffeine and xanthine. More exercise will
help too. Don’t add baking soda to your beans as you don’t
need the extra sodium.
Passing gas from the colon is not harmful to your health, it’s
just embarrassing for some. Better to ignore the flatus and eat the
beans than suffer the real problem of a slightly smelly colostomy bag
brought on by nice polite refined fiber-depleted wind-free bland diet.
Easier Home Testing For Hidden Blood
Unlike other tests for hidden blood, Helena Laboratories’ new
ColoScreen Self-Test (CS-T) eliminates the need for unpleasant handling
of stool specimens. CS-T uses a chemical detector pad sandwiched
between two sheets of biodegradable paper. To perform the test, the pad
is floated in the toilet bowl following a bowel movement. If there is
blood present, the test areas of the pad turn red. ColoScreen
Self-Test’s one-step testing makes messy sample and chemical
handling obsolete. Test pad can be flushed in the toilet.
Doctors throughout the country have been receiving recall notices
on the Dalkon Shield intrauterine contraceptive devices. The Dalkon
Shield was marketed between 1970 and 1974. In 1980 A.H. Robins, the
manufacturer, recommended that the Dalkon Shield be removed from women
who continued to use it; the Food and Drug Administration and other
government agencies followed suit in 1983.
Substantial medical opinion holds that the continued use of the
Dalkon Shield may pose a serious personal health hazard to users.
Therefore, Robins is launching a national public-information program to
alert women still using the devices to call their physicians or clinics
for an appointment to have them removed.
The early IUDs were frequently expelled by the uterus. To counter
this, the Dalkon Shield was designed. This device was not expelled so
readily as other designs because of small barbs along the sides. These
barbs, however, were the undoing of the device. Occasionally, they
penetrated the uterine wall with a dire consequence–bacteria from the
uterus entered the abdominal cavity. Peritonitis resulted and a few
related deaths have been reported.
Robins is sponsoring television, newspaper and magazine advertising
asking women who believe they may still be using the Dalkon Shield to
call their physicians or clinics for an appointment. Robins will pay
the customary fees charged for examination and removal of the device.
The Dalkon Shield, “crablike’ in shape with fins on
either side, has a single tail string attached to enable the inserter
and user to determine proper placement and to provide a means of
removal. The tail string, thicker than that used with other IUDs, is
black in appearance and has a knot approximately three centimeters from
its end. Other makes of IUDs have two strings on them. If you can feel
two strings, you do not have a Dalkon Shield and no examination is
If you had an IUD inserted in the 1970s, and it has a single string
attached, chances are it is a Dalkon Shield. The Robins Company will
pay for your examination and for the removal of the device. For this
service, you may go to your own doctor.
Dear Dr. SerVaas:
This letter is in response to a letter to the editor in your
November 1984 issue of The Saturday Evening Post by Lois Harvey,
Merriam, Kansas, titled “A Weakness for Cats.’
Ms. Harvey erroneously referred to the muscle weakness Martina
Navratilova experienced several years ago as an allergy to cats. In
fact, she had contracted a disease from her cat called toxoplasmosis, a
protozoan disease that is widespread in both the human and animal
population. Fortunately, it generally does not cause severe illness in
most cases but has the potential for causing abortion, birth defects and
even death in rare cases.
Because the cat is the primary host for this disease, it is usually
considered to be the main source of infection. Toxoplasmosis can also
be contracted by eating rare meat that has not been heated to more than
151|F., by drinking unpasteurized milk or by handling soil contaminated
with the organism.
Not all human ailments associated with animals are allergies, so
tell your doctor if persistent symptoms occur.
John S. Baker, D.V.M. West Lafayette, Indiana
Dear Dr. SerVaas:
I would be interested in donating any or all of my organs at my
death, even skin, bone, etc., for transplanting.
I have a granddaughter who is now awaiting a heart-lung transplant
in northern California or Palo Alto. She has been accepted and now
awaits a donor.
M. Hollingsworth Rowland Heights, California
Dear Mrs. Hollingsworth:
Your name has been entered on the computer at the SatEvePost
Society. We have also entered the need for a heart-lung transplant for
your granddaughter. All those willing to donate organs at the time of
their death are encouraged to register at our exchange for Society
members. Members needing organs are invited to register as well.
The promise of cyclosporin to prevent or retard rejection of
transplants has created a great demand for organs. The lack of organs
is the greatest problem for victims and for physicians waiting to do
transplants. The Saturday Evening Post Society has a clearing house and
computer space allotted so that all those willing to donate their organs
at death can register with the Post. All those who now need an organ or
expect to need an organ in the future should also register their needs
as potential recipients. Availabilities and needs will be matched on the
Photo: Hepatitis viruses are shed in stools. They are also found
in semen and other body fluids. These viruses enter the body through
blood transfusions and through the mouth from eating food and drink
contaminated by feces or by deviant oral sexual contact. Illicit drug
users are infected by sharing syringe needles. The cause of another
liver disease, primary biliary cirrhosis, is unknown. (See page 58.)
Photo: We tried the ColoScreen Self-Test and found it did indeed
detect the small amount of blood we had added to the water in the
laboratory dish on the right. Dish on left contained clear water.
Photo: Anyone still using one of these Dalkon Shields should
contact her physician immediately to have it removed.