HAVE A HEART, STAY IN SCHOOL Add heart disease to the burdens faced by those who don't finish high school. Dropping out carries an increased risk of dying from coronary heart disease similar in magnitude to that of such traditional risk factors as smoking, gender, age and cholesterol levels, a study in the Annals of Family Medicine reports.

The authors suggest that an education level of less than 12 years be added as a risk factor for heart disease in treatment guidelines. The designation might help identify elevated disease risk in people who otherwise appear to be at lower risk, they said.

GENERAL ALERT General Mills, the agribusiness giant, will remake virtually its entire line of cold cereals to include whole grains, the company announced last week.

Yes: Trix, Lucky Charms, Golden Grahams and other brands long derided as low-nutrition sugar-bombs will pack at least some of the very same whole grain goodness now found in crunchy, wholesome, "natural" cereals many folks can't abide. Science shows a strong link between eating more whole grains and a lower risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity and some cancers.

The move will increase by more than 1.5 billion the number of servings of whole grains eaten by Americans each year, the company said. Reformulated and newly labeled products will begin to appear in coming weeks. Taste, officials said, will either stay the same or improve.

SEE MARY QUIT If you've managed to avoid the ubiquitous ads and therefore haven't visited the Web site www.maryquits.com, check it out now. It's a remarkably well done Web production that details the life of a Washington area woman pseudonymed Mary and her attempts to drop the cancer sticks for good.

Anyone wanting to quit may find courage, advice . . . and something to divert them from their cravings.

BLOW IT OUT The number of household fires blamed on candles tripled between 1990 and 2001, U.S. statistics show. In 2001, candles spurred fires in 18,000 homes, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This reverses a decline in candle-related fires during the 1980s.

At the core of the increase is the growing popularity of candles, as the majority of U.S. homes are now adorned with them, the NFPA says.

Of the 190 people killed in candle-related fires in 2001, nearly half were children or teenagers. The NFPA cautions against letting children and teens have candles in their bedrooms. About 40 percent of candle-ignited fires were started in bedrooms, the group reported.

-- From News Services and Staff Reports