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QUESTION: Is there any evidence to support the story that eating garlic and onions is healthful and may keep you from having cancer and heart disease?

ANSWER: An article in the American Institute for Cancer Research Newsletter (Fall 1989) suggested such a relationship with regards to cancer of the stomach. A study that compared the diets of stomach cancer patients in Linqu, China, with healthy individuals (published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute) found that healthy people consumed more garlic and onions each year than did the cancer patients. Another similar study looked at about 1,700 people and found that those without cancer ate between 25 to 50 pounds of "allium" vegetables each year, while the cancer patients were found to have consumed less than 25 pounds annually. Allium vegetables are a group of herbs in the lily family that include garlic, onions, chives, leeks and shallots. Stomach cancer appeared to decrease as consumption of these vegetables increased.Whether you wish to add garlic and onions to your diet on the basis of these reports probably depends on how much you like these vegetables. While many people enjoy the zest garlic and onions can add to any food, you may not want to carry the aroma with you to an important business meeting or social gathering. This article suggested trying some of nature's own breath neutralizers, lemon slices or parsley, to tone down the lingering smell.

QUESTION: I have a real problem with blisters and wondered if you could give me some suggestions about how to prevent them. I enjoy running, but blisters occur too often to really get into it. Thank you.

ANSWER: According to an article in the October Running and FitNews, blisters are caused by friction, and improperly fitted shoes or socks could be a major cause of friction for some people. A tight fit creates excessive pressure (and therefore friction) on some specific area of the foot, whereas a loose fit allows excessive movement, which can also cause friction.

Some people are prone to blisters because of the anatomical structure of their feet. In chronic cases like yours, the foot may need to be controlled with an orthotic device or pads and tape to relieve the mechanical problems that cause the friction.

The problem with friction is that it produces both heat and inflammation and the outer layer of skin separates and forms a fluid-filled sac. Since wet skin has a higher friction potential than dry, running in rain or excessive sweating can increase your chances of getting a blister.

Since prevention is better than treatment, be sure to buy shoes that fit comfortably. Also, don't let your socks get wrinkled inside your shoe, and use natural fiber socks to absorb excess moisture. You can also put a layer of petroleum jelly over troublesome spots to reduce friction. If none of these suggestions help, see a sports podiatrist. You may need orthotic inserts to correct some mechanical problem.