ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture Eases Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
Birds Don't Miss a Beat
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Almost Half of Adults Will Develop Knee Osteoarthritis by 85
Soccer's a Winner for Building Bone Health in Girls
Studies Struggle to Gauge Glucosamine's Worth
CANCER
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
CAREGIVING
Hospital Volume Imperfect Gauge of Cancer Surgery Outcomes
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Firefighters Have Narrower-Than-Normal Arteries, Study Finds
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
DIABETES
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Laughter May Lower Heart Attack Risk in Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Marinades Help Keep Grilled Meat Safe
Eat Light - Live Longer
Uncover Why Turmeric Helps You Heal
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Old-Growth Forests Dying Off in U.S. West
Is It Safe to Go in the Gulf Coast's Water?
Gene Mutation May Cause Some Cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder
EYE CARE, VISION
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
Half of U.S. Adults Lack 20/20 Vision
FITNESS
Mom and Baby Alike May Benefit From Exercise
Go To Work But Skip The Car
Occupational Therapy Plus Exercise Benefits Osteoarthritis
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
Heavy Alcohol Use Linked to Cancer
Afternoon Nap Might Make You Smarter
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
Vitamin B3 May Help Repair Brain After a Stroke
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
School Meals Need to Get Healthier
Babies Who Eat Fish Lower Eczema Risk
Safety Should Be Priority for Those Involved in Kids' Sports
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Countdown to Hair Loss
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
A Simple 'Thank You' Brings Rewards to All
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
SENIORS
Boost In Elderly Population Will Be Felt Worldwide
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
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The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help

(HealthDay News) -- People regularly turn to the Internet for games and gossip, news and entertainment, essential information and high weirdness.

And now, apparently, for their health as well.

A number of successful online medical interventions have been reported in recent months, helping folks quit smoking, lower their blood pressure and deal with any number of ailments.

New York City cardiologist Dr. Nieca Goldberg figures it's a great trend, as long as people are going to reliable and trusted sources for help.

"I think it is the wave of the future and, theoretically, it seems like a great idea," said Goldberg, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, a clinical associate professor of medicine and medical director of the Women's Heart Program at New York University Langone Medical Center and author of Dr. Nieca Goldberg's Complete Guide to Women's Health. "There could be multiple interactions with patients that are brief and effective."

Online interventions have spanned a variety of medical issues. One program, for instance, used Internet and telephone interactions with heart attack survivors and cardiac patients to help improve their heart health. A study found that participants' blood pressure and cholesterol levels fell, more of them quit smoking and they were one-third less likely to die than cardiac patients who did not receive the attention.

Several programs have popped up to help smokers quit. An analysis of 22 clinical trials found that Internet- and computer-based smoking cessation programs gave smokers nearly twice the chance of successfully quitting than if they had tried to quit without help.

Those successes have led the University of Illinois at Chicago to spearhead a $2.9 million federal effort to encourage young adults to use proven online smoking cessation programs.

Alcoholics also can find online support. A Dutch study found that one in five excessive drinkers who used an online self-help Web site to help them with their problem reported that they had lowered their alcohol intake to levels less likely to cause health problems.

And chronic conditions such as psoriasis also have been shown to be helped by online interventions. One study in Boston found that half of the users of online psoriasis support groups believed that the quality of their lives had improved, and two in five reported improvement in the severity of their psoriasis.

In some instances, the Internet also provides "nudges" to help push people into healthy habits. One worksite e-mail health program developed by Kaiser Permanente, for instance, provided participants with weekly e-mails and mid-week reminders that set personalized health goals for them based on an earlier survey they had filled out. They were encouraged to eat more fruits and vegetables, lower their intake of fats and sugars, and exercise more.

A study of the program found significant health improvements among people who received the e-mails. They were, in fact, eating better and exercising more.

Even those with advanced fitness goals can receive online assistance. The magazine Runner's World currently offers online training programs featuring personal advice from world-class runner Bart Yasso.

Dr. Robert Mallin, an associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, said such online programs could appeal to people who don't like going to doctors, therapists or support groups for help with their problems.

"There's certainly an advantage to having face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball contact, but I think also people who would never step into a doctor's office or a room with a support group will explore those things online," said Mallin, a spokesman for the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Online support groups, for example, allow people to gather information and communicate with others who have a similar problem while retaining their anonymity. "You don't have to participate," Mallin said. "People don't even have to know you're there."

However, both Goldberg and Mallin voiced concerns, too.

Goldberg wants to see large-scale studies of the effectiveness of these online programs before they are pursued to such an extent that they supplant regular modes of health care.

"When there's a concern about cost containment, we have to make sure the cost containment occurs within the context of quality care," she said. "This is a great idea, but I don't think we're 100 percent there yet."

Mallin worries about people getting bad information from Web sites.

"The biggest worry everyone has about health information on the Web is how accurate it is," he said. "I always ask my patients to run something by me they've read on the Internet or on one of those chat sites."

SOURCES: Nieca Goldberg, M.D., clinical associate professor of medicine and medical director, Women's Heart Program, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York City; Robert Mallin, M.D., professor, Department of Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, S.C.