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Health Highlights: Dec. 26 , 2002

Kmart Recalls Wooden Toy Vehicles A Book About the Real Weaker Sex Men Go Through Menopause, Too Israel Rules Out Smallpox Shots for All Millions of Americans With Severe Lung Problems Still Smoke Thousands of Christmas Candles Recalled

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of The HealthDay Service:

Kmart Recalls Wooden Toy Vehicles

The Kmart Corp. is voluntarily recalling about 50,000 wooden toy vehicles that are filled with candy. The wheels on the toys may break off into small parts, posing a choking hazard to young children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports.

The recalled toys include a red wagon, truck and train and were packaged with candy. The following UPC codes are located on the bottom of the vehicles: 694405900012 (wagon), 694405900029 (truck), and 694405900036 (train). The toys were made in China.

Kmart stores across the country sold the toys from November 2002 through December 2002 for about $5, the CPSC says.

Kmart has not received any reports of injuries. The company is asking customers to bring the toys back for a full refund. For more information, call Kmart at (800) 63KMART.

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A Book About the Real Weaker Sex

Jordan and Lindy Schweiger call their new book, "Everything Men Knew About Taking Care of Themselves Before Women Came Along.'' And predictably, the 96-page book is filled with nothing but blank pages.

The couple says proceeds from the sales will go to the Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Service in Salem, Ore., which offers assistance to women and children who suffer domestic violence, according to the Associated Press.

"We're making fun of men, but the reality is, there's a serious problem," said Lindy Schweiger, 20.

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Men Go Through Menopause, Too

Yes, Virginia, there is male menopause.

As many as one third of men experience symptoms that are consistent with menopause, say Swedish researchers.

The BBC reports a research team from Linkoping University found that symptoms such as sweating and hot flashes were relatively common in men over the age of 55.

The scientists believe the same protein -- called CGRP -- could be responsible for symptoms in both men and women. The protein acts to expand the blood vessels, which can lead to both sweating and hot flashes.

They asked more than 1,800 men over the age of 55 whether they had experienced menopausal symptoms. And they found the symptoms were more likely among men who also showed symptoms typically associated with low levels of the male sex hormone testosterone. These included reduced muscle strength, poor stamina and low spirits.

In a second study, the researchers studied the impact of acupuncture as a potential treatment for menopausal women and found that in some women it reduced discomfort by about 75 percent.

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Israel Rules Out Smallpox Shots for All

Israeli officials have decided against vaccinating the entire population against the smallpox virus. However, they said they were expanding the number of soldiers and health-care workers who would be vaccinated to 40,000 or more.

The New York Times reports the decision came after officials concluded the likelihood of a smallpox attack, by terrorists or another country, was slim. However, the officials also said they could probably vaccinate the entire population of 6 million in about four days if the need arose.

The Israeli smallpox program has been closely watched in the United States, where the Bush administration recently began a campaign to vaccinate as many as 10 million health-care and emergency workers and 500,000 soldiers. The U.S. program has prompted concerns that the vaccines will kill or harm a number of people, but Israel uses a less virulent strain and officials say they have kept the vaccine's side effects to a minimum, according to the newspaper report.

The Israeli government has already vaccinated about 17,000 people, and so far only two people have suffered ill effects from the vaccines. Both of them recovered, the officials said.

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Millions of Americans With Severe Lung Problems Still Smoke

Millions of Americans with the potentially fatal lung diseases asthma and emphysema continue to smoke.

Twenty-five percent of the estimated 16 million people with asthma still smoke, despite their doctor's warnings. And 38 percent of the nearly 3 million Americans with emphysema also smoke, the Associated Press says, quoting a report from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The study also found that 20 percent of those with high blood pressure and 19 percent of diabetics continue to smoke.

Doctors say the findings prove that nicotine is a highly addictive drug.

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Thousands of Christmas Candles Recalled

A Florida company is recalling about 60,000 Christmas tealight candles because of a possible fire hazard.

The wick doesn't properly burn down and can melt the candle's plastic holder, says an Associated Press story.

The wire service says the manufacturer, Atico International USA Inc., of Fort Lauderdale, received one report of a candle holder melting. The incident was reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which said there were no injuries.

The candles are red, white and green and come in packages with the words "Merry Christmas," "Christmas Morning," "Candy Cane" or "A Christmas Avenue."

According to the AP, the stores that carried the candles nationwide since last September were Eckerds, Kerr Drugs, Snyders Drug Store and Farmacias El Amal.

For more information, consumers can call the company at 1-800-645-3867, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.

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