HEALTH BEAT 12-1-2000

Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts December 2000 Current Issue
December 2000
drug test Short Cuts:

Home medical test kits are simple to use, convenient and a fraction of the cost of a doctor’s visit. Time-strapped consumers, tired of juggling appointments for routine tests, have parlayed the kits into a billion-dollar industry.

Squash is high in beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Best known for its role in promoting eye health, this vitamin is also credited with boosting the immune system, aiding tissue growth and repair, and maintaining healthy skin and mucous membranes, according to the American Society for Nutritional Sciences ( The best beta carotene-rich food sources are orange, red and yellow fruits and vegetables. In fact, a half-cup of butternut squash provides 128 percent of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin A.

Available over-the-counter at pharmacies and through online services like and, kits can be purchased to monitor cholesterol and blood-sugar levels, diagnose pregnancy and urinary-tract infections, and screen for signs of hepatitis C, colon cancer and HIV. The At Home Drug Test, which promises results in 10 minutes, lets anxious parents screen their teens for amphetamine, cocaine and marijuana use. The kit comes with a box in which to send the sample to a lab for further testing, should initial results prove positive. Some words of caution: Read all of the instructions in advance, use a stopwatch if exact timing is required, check the expiration date and avoid exposing kits to extreme temperatures. And before making a purchase, make sure the kit has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (


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