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Your health
By Anna Madrzyk | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/25/2008 12:03 AM

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Bugged

A new study explains why DEET-based insect repellents are so good at keeping mosquitoes away: They stink.

It turns out that mosquitoes don't like the way the stuff smells any better than we do. "We found that mosquitoes can smell DEET and they stay away from it," said Walter Leal, professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis.

Previously, scientists thought DEET worked by masking the smell of the mosquito's warm-blooded targets or by jamming the insect's senses. Neither appears to be the case, according to the new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

DEET-based insect repellents are effective at preventing mosquito bites that transmit West Nile virus.

A bad mix

Doctors have known for 20 years that drinking grapefruit juice with some medications can cause drug concentrations in the blood to reach toxic levels. Now, a new study shows grapefruit juice has the opposite effect on other drugs, including a popular antihistamine.

Canadian researchers found that study participants who took fexofenadine - the generic form of Allegra - with grapefruit juice absorbed only half the drug compared to those who took the pill with water.

So far, grapefruit juice - along with orange and apple juice - has also been shown to lower absorption of some beta blockers, antibiotics, anti-cancer and anti-rejection drugs. "This is just the tip of the iceberg," said study leader David G. Bailey, a professor of clinical pharmacology at the University of Western Ontario. "I'm sure we'll find more and more drugs that are affected this way."

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medication with any juices or fruits, Bailey said. And unless you're been given other instructions, it's best to chase your pills with water.

Hear this

Are you diabetic? Consider getting your hearing checked.

Most people with diabetes are aware of the need for regular eye exams, but may not realize diabetes also threatens hearing. A new study shows that diabetics are twice as likely as those without the disease to experience hearing loss.

The National Institutes of Health studied hearing test results from more than 5,000 people, and found more than 40 percent of those with diabetes had lost some hearing. The Better Hearing Institute offers an online questionnaire to help you determine whether you need a comprehensive hearing test. Find it at www.hearingcheck org.