STATIN DAMAGE? Twenty-nine people who have taken the cholesterol-lowering drug Crestor have developed kidney damage, the consumer group Public Citizen said last week. It called again for a ban on the medicine.

The rate of reported kidney problems is about 75 times higher with Crestor than with all other drugs in the same class, the group charged. According to its analysis, there have been 6.4 reports of acute kidney failure or kidney damage for every 1 million Crestor prescriptions filled.

"It becomes clearer by the day that this drug is uniquely toxic without offering any unique benefit, and that it must be removed from the market," Sidney Wolfe, head of Public Citizen's Health Research Group, wrote in a letter to the Food and Drug Administration.

AstraZeneca, maker of Crestor, says the drug, known generically as rosuvastatin, is as safe as other statins. Company spokeswoman Emily Denney said that the firm updates Crestor's reported health problems every week at www.rosuvastatininformation.com.

According to the site, "serious" kidney problems are "very rare," occurring at a rate of less than 1 in 10,000 users of the drug.

MAGNETS: POSITIVELY NEGATIVE If your child swallows a magnet, it might pass without incident. But if two or more magnets go down, urgent surgery should be considered, warns Alan E. Oestreich.

"It's simple physics," said Oestreich, a radiologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. "When more than one magnet is ingested and they're in different bowel loops, they can attract each other." The intestines could clamp together, causing serious tissue damage.

Oestreich recently treated a 12-year-old boy who had had several days of abdominal discomfort. An X-ray showed multiple metallic objects throughout the intestine.

"Until proved otherwise, this represented multiple small magnets," Oestreich wrote in a letter to the journal Radiology. Surgery revealed many small magnets that had come from a toy, and extensive intestinal damage.

Parents who think a kid has swallowed more than one magnet should call a doctor quickly, he said. There is special danger if a child is getting an MRI, which uses powerful magnetic fields.

SO NOTED "If you're going to buy Lay's Light, Ruffles Light or Doritos Light, you also might want to stock up on Cottonelle, Quilted Northern or Charmin -- and plan not to stray too far from the bathroom."

-- Center for Science in the Public Interest head Michael F. Jacobson, remarking on Frito-Lay's renaming of its WOW! products, which CSPI claims lead to digestive problems.

-- From News Services and Staff Reports