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 cancer.

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. 20892.


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 spouse first).

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 effective treatments.

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.)