Q. I just read that smoking pot makes men’s breasts grow, and I’m skeptical. How was this effect discovered? Does it happen to users of Marinol, the drug derived from marijuana?
I’ve worked in the music industry for ten years and have probably met thousands of people who are daily users, but no men with boobs. I’m sure that if this were a real issue, the users themselves would be talking about it.
Once in grade school a teacher told me that I’d grow boobs and wouldn’t go through puberty well if I smoked pot. It didn’t stop me at all and I’ve managed to get this far in life with better than average health and no boobs.
A. Few researchers have examined the link between marijuana and hormone levels, and the results of their studies are inconsistent. The idea that smoking marijuana could be linked to breast enlargement in boys apparently originated with several anecdotes reported in the medical literature.
A number of prescription drugs can trigger breast enlargement in men, but Marinol does not appear to produce this side effect (called gynecomastia). Marinol is prescribed to control nausea associated with chemotherapy or to stimulate appetite in AIDS patients.
Q. My husband has slightly elevated cholesterol but high triglycerides. His doctor recommended he eat fish two or three times a week for his heart. He hates fish, so this is a struggle. No matter how hard I try to disguise the flavor, he complains.
I would like him to take omega-3 fatty acids to get the benefits of fish without the hassle. Would fish oil capsules be as good as fish?
A. We haven’t seen research comparing fish oil capsules to meals containing fish, so we don’t know if they are equivalent. The American Heart Association recently published research demonstrating that fish oil helps heart cells maintain a healthy rhythm. The accompanying editorial recommends fish, just as your husband’s doctor did.
For someone like your husband, though, fish oil capsules might be a reasonable option. Fish oil should lower his elevated triglycerides, which are a risk factor for heart disease. To help you sort through this, we are sending you our Guide to Heart Health, which discusses fish oil and various cholesterol-lowering approaches. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. C-8, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
Q. My mother-in-law has experienced chronic diarrhea for the last several years. She has undergone surgery on her digestive tract, and her doctors say there is nothing more they can do. She refuses to leave her house because of this problem.
I told her I had read about coconut macaroons for diarrhea in your column, but she said it’s crazy. I feel if the medical profession says they can’t help, why not try something else? She is missing out on her grandchildren’s youth as well as social events.
A. We agree that eating two Archway Coconut Macaroon cookies daily to control chronic diarrhea seems strange. Yet we have heard from many readers that this approach is helpful: “My son was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam. For more than 20 years he has had to run to the bathroom after eating. Thanks to coconut macaroon cookies this problem has been solved.”

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