The Checkup

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Adapted from The Post's daily health blog.

Are 3-D movie glasses sanitary?

In its July issue, Good Housekeeping magazine tested seven pairs of 3-D glasses, three that were wrapped and four unwrapped, and found that none of them were bacteria-free. While most of the bacteria (collected via swabs that were sent to an independent lab) was deemed harmless, one set of glasses bore Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which can cause pinkeye and other infections.

The magazine, which doesn't say which theaters it visited, recommends cleaning 3-D glasses with alcohol wipes or even taking them to the restroom to wash them with soap and water. A dry tissue rubdown removed some, but far from all, of the bacteria.

Even if you don't think to take any such measures, though, your risk of getting sick from movie glasses is pretty low, according to this account.

Predicting the start of menopause

Suppose you knew from an early age how old you'd be when you started menopause: Would you adjust your life plans accordingly?

That's the tantalizing question raised by unpublished research presented last month at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Rome.

Scientists have found that a simple blood test conducted early in a woman's reproductive life can predict the age at which she will enter menopause.

According to a press release announcing the presentation, lead researcher Fahimeh Ramezani Tehrani and her team took blood samples from 266 women ages 20 to 49 and measured concentrations of anti-Mullerian hormone, or AMH, which is produced by cells in ovaries. They repeated the tests twice more, at three-year intervals, and used the data to devise a model that ended up accurately predicting, based on AMH levels, the age at which the 63 women in the study who actually went into menopause during the study reached that milestone.

The test missed the mark by an average of a third of a year, the release says, with a margin of error of three to four years. The average age of menopause among women in the study was 52 years.

While Tehrani notes that further, larger studies are needed to validate her findings, the press release quotes her as saying:

"We believe that our estimates of ages at menopause based on AMH levels are of sufficient validity to guide medical practitioners in their day-to-day practice, so that they can help women with their family planning."

The readers voted: In an online poll, 336 readers responded to the question, "Would knowing early on what age you would reach menopause make you plan your life accordingly?" 54 percent said yes, 41 percent said no and 5 percent chose "other."

-- Jennifer LaRue Huget

© 2010 The Washington Post Company