Cola Drinks Are Linked to

Women's High Blood Pressure

Women worried about high blood pressure should be more concerned about colas than coffee and tea, according to a study being published today.

Researchers at Boston's Brigham & Women's Hospital studied data collected over 29 years from 155,594 female nurses ages 26 to 71.

The data showed that drinking coffee or caffeinated tea did not increase their risk of developing chronic high blood pressure.

But the study did find a possible association between drinking diet and regular colas and higher risk of high blood pressure. If that link is confirmed by further studies, a substance in cola other than caffeine may be responsible, the researchers suggested.

"Women who enjoy their morning or afternoon coffee don't need to be concerned that coffee consumption may lead to high blood pressure," said Wolfgang Winkelmayer, the researcher who led the study, in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

It will take more research to know whether the findings apply to men also, Winkelmayer said. An earlier study of about 1,000 Johns Hopkins University alumni found that coffee increased men's risk of hypertension.

Sore-Throat Treatment for

Kids May Often Be Unneeded

Doctors often improperly prescribe antibiotics to children complaining of sore throats but could avoid that mistake by administering a simple test for strep throat, a study said Tuesday.

American physicians prescribe antibiotics for 53 percent of the estimated 7.3 million children with sore throats who visit a doctor each year, the eight-year study said.

But antibiotics are useful in only those cases where the source of the pain and inflammation is strep throat, or group A streptococcal pharyngitis, about 15 percent to 36 percent of the total.

"This over-prescribing of antibiotics could be easily remedied by following known guidelines, which include doing a simple, inexpensive strep test," said study author Jeffrey Linder of Harvard Medical School, who reported his findings in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Gonorrhea Rates Ebb,

But Other STDs Increasing

Gonorrhea has fallen to the lowest level on record in the United States, but the rates of other sexually transmitted diseases -- syphilis and chlamydia -- are increasing, federal health officials said yesterday.

The seemingly paradoxical findings can be explained by the cyclical nature of syphilis outbreaks and a rise in risky sexual behavior among gay men, researchers said.

Health officials saw increases in syphilis, which is far less common but has been increasing since 2000. The rate of reported early-stage syphilis was 2.7 cases per 100,000 in 2004, up 29 percent since 2000.

The chlamydia rate rose to 319.6 cases per 100,000 in 2004, up about 6 percent from the year before. It is not clear whether the rise represents a real increase or simply reflects better awareness and detection.

-- From News Reports