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In Elderly Women, Hip Fractures Often Follow Arm Breaks
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Studies Struggle to Gauge Glucosamine's Worth
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Antioxidants Pose No Melanoma Threat
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Papaya Could Be a Cancer Fighter
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Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome as Deadly as Ever
Organ Donation Policies Vary Among Children's Hospitals
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
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Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
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Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
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Herb Shows Potential for Rheumatoid Arthriti
Coffee Beans May Be Newest Stress-Buster
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
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Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
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Air Pollution Exposure May Slow Fetal Growth
Are Medical Meetings Environmentally Unfriendly?
Golf Course Insecticides Pose Little Danger to Players
EYE CARE, VISION
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Diabetic Hispanics Missing Out on Eye Exams
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
FITNESS
Exercise Guards White Blood Cells Against Aging
Antioxidants Blunt Exercise Benefit, Study Shows
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
GENERAL HEALTH
What you need to know about swine flu.
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Spread of Swine Flu in Japan Could Raise WHO Alert to Highest Level
HEAD & NECK
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Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
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HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
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The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
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HEARING
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Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
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Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
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Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
INFERTILITY
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KID'S HEALTH
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Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
Coconut Oil May Help Fight Childhood Pneumonia
MEN'S HEALTH
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MENTAL HEALTH
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The Unmedicated Mind
PAIN
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Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
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Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Acupuncture May Ease Depression During Pregnancy
SENIORS
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Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
Any Old Cane Won't Do
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Frankincense Provides Relief for Osteoarthritis
Iodine in Prenatal Vitamins Varies Widely
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Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil

Most French fries served in U.S. restaurants are immersed in corn-based oil -- usually considered the worst oil for human health -- before they're fried, according to the authors of a new study.

Corn oil contains copious amounts of saturated fat, known to contribute to heart disease.

This type of oil is also low in monounsaturated fat, which most Americans need more of, and high in polyunsaturated fat, which, in too-large quantities, can lower HDL ("good") cholesterol along with LDL ("bad") cholesterol, said Karen Congro, a registered dietician and director of the Wellness for Life Program at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City.

Congro was not involved with the new study, published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The same research group that performed this study reported in November that corn, which has been linked to obesity, is a prime ingredient in almost all fast-food sold in the United States, either directly or through animal feed.

Chain restaurants are not required to provide "specific" information on ingredients in the food they offer, while small businesses do not have to provide any information at all.

"Restaurants don't tell you what they're using and, even if you ask them, they will be very cagey," Congro said. "It will be a blend, but the blend is never a blend of anything you want to use."

French fries are particularly worthy of study, said the authors, from the University of Hawaii-Manoa, because they contribute 20 percent of the calories from a fast-food meal via the fat in the frying vat.

And Americans get about one-third of their total calories from restaurants.

The authors focused their attention on the saturated fat content of corn oil, which is higher than in canola, sunflower or safflower oils.

The researchers bought French fries from 68 of the 101 national fast-food restaurants represented on the island of Oahu, including McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King and others, as well as from 66 small businesses. Then they measured carbon isotope composition of the oil used to fry the food.

Almost seven out of 10 of the national chains but only 20 percent of the small businesses sold fries dipped in corn oil. Eleven percent of small businesses and 7 percent of chains used blends containing more than 50 percent corn oil, the researchers found.

The authors speculated that larger conglomerates are able to negotiate economical deals to purchase large quantities of oil from suppliers.

Corn oil content ranged from 16 percent on the low end for McDonald's, to 36 percent and even 50 percent and up in other eating establishments.

Danya Proud, a spokeswoman for McDonald's USA stated that, in May 2008, the corporation "completed the transition to a new canola-blend cooking oil in our 14,000 U.S. restaurants. This blend of canola, corn and soybean oil allows us to serve fried menu items with reduced levels of trans fat and saturated fat, while delivering the same great taste our customers expect from McDonald's."

Even if dipped in relatively healthy oils, though, French fries aren't high on any nutritionist's list of preferred foods.

"French fries aren't exactly the most healthy food ... and we all know that eating too much of anything is not a good thing," said Marianne Grant, a registered dietician and certified diabetes health educator at Texas A&M Health Science Center Coastal Bend Health Education Center in Corpus Christi.

"We try to steer people away from foods like this," Congro added.

SOURCES: Karen Congro, R.D., CDN, director, Wellness for Life Program, The Brooklyn Hospital Center, New York City; Danya Proud, spokeswoman, McDonald's USA; Marianne Grant, R.D., registered dietician and certified diabetes health educator, Texas A&M Health Science Center Coastal Bend Health Education Center, Corpus Christi, Texas; Jan. 18-22, 2010, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online Published on: January 18, 2010