Federal agencies have free health info
By Matthew Lesko and Mary Ann Martello
Maturity News Service
Want to know the latest research on angioplasty? What about how to lower
your high blood pressure? Or general information on exercise, menopause or how to get a
good night's sleep?
You can get information straight from top researchers in the field if
you know who to call -- your own government.
Here's a sampling of topics and sources of information:
AGING. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) researches all kinds of
subjects on aging, as well as the diseases and special problems of older people. It can
answer your questions and provide you with all kinds of free publications on a wide
variety of topics. For a publications list, contact the NIA Information Center, P.O. Box
8057, Gaithersburg, Md. 20898, or call (800) 222-2225.
ARTHRITIS. More than half of people over 65 suffer from some form of
arthritis, whether it is a mild stiffness in the joints on rainy days or full-blown
osteoarthritis. But for many, a simple change in diet and exercise could result in an
improvement in their condition.
For free publications, contact the National Arthritis and
Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Information Clearinghouse, P.O. Box AMS, 9000 Rockville
Pike, Bethesda, Md. 20892; telephone (301) 495-4484.
CANCER. No one likes to think about the "C" word. But
think about this: The earlier cancer is found, the better your chances of beating it.
Simple tests can help find cancer early, long before any symptoms appear, and research is
showing that this has helped increase the survival rate dramatically for certain types of
For accurate, up-to-date information about cancer and cancer-related
resources near you, contact the Cancer Information Service, Building 31, Room 10A16, 9000
Rockville Pike, Bethesda, Md. 20892, or call (800) 4-CANCER.
DIABETES. With the proper diet and exercise program many of the 11
million Americans with diabetes, can actually reverse or reduce insulin resistance, which
is one of the underlying causes of diabetes.
For a list of free publications that can answer many of your questions,
contact National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, 1 Information Way, Bethesda, Md.
EYESIGHT. For free publications on eye problems, you may write to
the National Eye Institute, Information Office, Building 31, Room 6A32, Bethesda, Md.
20892. Tips include: having regular health checkups to detect diseases that cause eye
problems; having a complete eye exam every two to three years and seeking eye health care
more often if you have a family history of eye problems.
HEALTH FRAUD. There are all kinds of scams aimed at older people who
are vulnerable to their unrealistic claims. But you should ignore those seductive ads in
the supermarket tabloids. No amount of rubbing, wrapping, massaging or scrubbing will cure
your arthritis. And no over-the-counter cream, lotion or device can prevent baldness, or
induce new hair to grow.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has several pamphlets to help educate
you about health fraud. Some of the free titles include "Health Claims: Separating
Fact From Fiction" and "Healthy Questions (To Ask Health Care
Specialists)." To receive your copies, contact Public Reference, Room 130, FTC,
Washington,D.C. 20580; or call (202) 326-2222.
HEARING LOSS. If you are currently shopping around for a hearing
aid, you know that the choices you have are as varied as their price tags. To learn about
the causes of hearing loss, hearing aid information and the latest research on the topic
or to request publications that explain common problems, contact the National Institute on
Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Information Clearinghouse, I Communication Way,
Bethesda, Md. 20892-3456; phone (800) 241-1044; (800) 241-1055 TTY.
HEARTBURN. No need to spend the rest of your life chugging antacids
for that upset stomach. There are some simple home remedies you can try to control
heartburn for example, avoiding some foods, such as peppermint, orange juice and
chocolate. You can even try elevating the head of your bed six inches (although ask your
For more information on heartburn or ulcers, contact the National
Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, 2 Information Way, Bethesda, Md. 20892-3570;
phone (301) 654- 3810.
HEART DISEASE. With help from the National Heart, Lung and Blood
Institute, you can learn how to control high blood pressure or cholesterol. For
publications or more information, contact the institute's Information Center, P.O. Box
30105, Bethesda, Md. 20824; phone (800) 575-WELL.
PROSTATE. If a man lives long enough, he's almost certain to have
some kind of noncancerous problem with his prostate. Fortunately, there are also many
To learn more about prostate problems and treatment options, write for a
free information packet to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information
Clearinghouse, 3 Information Way, Bethesda, Md. 20892.
(Matthew Lesko and Mary Ann Martello are the authors of "Free Stuff
For Seniors" To learn about the book, call (800) UNCLE-SAM.)