Atkins Diet Company Files

For Bankruptcy Protection

NEW YORK -- Atkins Nutritionals Inc., the company that promoted low-carb eating into a national diet craze, filed for bankruptcy court protection Sunday, a company spokesman said.

Atkins has been hurt by waning popularity of its namesake diet, which focuses on eliminating carbohydrates such as bread and pasta as a way to lose weight. The diet quickly became one of the most popular in U.S. history, spawning numerous derivatives and a virtual cottage industry of low-carb regimens -- but it also drew criticism from many experts for its focus on fatty foods and low fruit and vegetable consumption.

A hearing on the prearranged, Chapter 11 filing was scheduled for Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, spokesman Richard Rothstein said. The privately held company, founded in 1989 by Robert C. Atkins, said it had reached an agreement with the majority of its lenders to give them equity in exchange for lowered debt.

After it leaves bankruptcy, the Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based company will focus on its nutrition bars and shakes, President and CEO Mark S. Rodriguez said in a statement.

Study Doubts Need for Ovary

Removal With Hysterectomy

Most women having a hysterectomy should keep their ovaries because the common extra step of removing them seems to do no good and might decrease their long-term survival, researchers wrote in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

About 615,000 hysterectomies -- the surgical removal of all or part of the uterus -- are performed every year. Ninety percent are for noncancerous reasons. More than half of those women also have their ovaries removed not because the ovaries are diseased but as a way to avoid ovarian cancer.

William H. Parker of the University of California at Los Angeles, said there is no evidence that ovary removal helps women whose relatives have not had ovarian cancer. He also said that for women whose ovaries were removed before age 65, his statistical models suggest an increased risk of dying of heart disease.

Report Links Brain Cancer,

Chemical-Weapons Removal

DALLAS -- Veterans who demolished chemical weapons in the Persian Gulf War appear to have an increased likelihood of dying of brain cancer, a new study finds.

Soldiers who were studied destroyed two caches of chemical munitions -- later found to contain the toxic nerve gas sarin -- in March 1991 at Khamisiyah, Iraq. The explosions left an invisible cloud of chemicals in the air. Although sarin is known to have pronounced short-term health effects, there is no evidence that it causes cancer.

Researchers from the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of Veterans Affairs analyzed death records of Army veterans who were exposed to the plume, comparing them with soldiers not exposed. After almost 10 years, one cause of death seemed out of the ordinary: Veterans of Khamisiyah had twice the risk of dying of brain cancer.

The study in July's American Journal of Public Health said a twofold increased risk meant that about 12 to 13 more soldiers among 100,000 exposed died of brain cancer than should have occurred naturally over the 10 years. "This is an intriguing finding," said William Page of the national academy. "It's not definitive evidence."

* DODDRIDGE, Ark. -- A pickup truck crossed the center line and hit a tour bus head on Saturday, injuring 31 people, police said. The bus was carrying members of a church youth group returning to Baton Rouge, La., from Tulsa.

* TRIMONT, Minn. -- The blood-alcohol level at which a Minnesota driver is considered intoxicated drops to 0.08 percent Monday, giving the United States a uniform measurement for drunken driving.

* Ilyssa Manufacturing Corp. of Brooklyn, N.Y., expanded a recall of ready-to-eat "Chef Pronto" chicken products by 90,000 pounds because of possible listeria contamination, the Agriculture Department said. The chicken was distributed to retailers in Virginia, the District and elsewhere.

-- From News Services