DEAR DR. DONOHUE: We often hear that drinking tea is good for you for many reasons. Is a glass of iced tea as good as a cup of hot tea? Does heating activate ingredients in the tea leaves so that iced tea isn’t as good for you?

I drink many glasses of green tea most days. Might I as well be drinking black tea?

I have never heard anyone discuss cold green tea. — D.J.

ANSWER: All the varieties of tea come from the same plant. The different varieties depend on the way tea leaves are processed. All varieties have antioxidants, substances that afford protection from the harmful byproducts coming from cell metabolism. Catechin is an important tea component that appears to reduce the risks of some cancers and of diabetes.

Green tea is best for lowering LDL cholesterol, bad cholesterol, and for preventing colon cancer. It contains the greatest amount of catechin.

Frankly, it’s difficult to say that one variety of tea is better than another. Studies done on teas focus on the tea most widely used in the region of the study. In Asia, for example, green tea is the most prevalent kind of tea. Asian studies, therefore, report good results from green tea. In the United States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, black tea is the most popular variety. Results of studies from these countries are based on drinking that kind of tea.

I have looked long and hard for information regarding iced tea. I can’t find definite statements. It seems to me that icing plays no role in the benefits that come from tea. I say you can drink either. If I’m wrong, I’ll run a retraction especially for you.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Should a 67-year-old man with a 3-centimeter popliteal aneurysm behind his left knee have it repaired with a Gore graft or a venous bypass graft? Which would minimize post-surgical swelling and fluid retention? — M.M.

ANSWER: An aneurysm is a bulge on an artery. It represents a weak spot, one subject to breaking. The aorta — the body’s largest artery — is the artery most often afflicted with aneurysms, but any artery can develop one or more. The popliteal artery is the artery arising at knee level and providing circulation to the lower-leg muscles.

Aneurysms of leg arteries do burst, but more often they form clots, which cut off the blood supply to the lower leg and foot. A popliteal aneurysm larger than 2 cm, about an inch, should be repaired.

Which kind of graft is superior? That’s a hard call. The operating surgeon is the one who should make a choice based on the circumstances peculiar to each patient.

TO READERS: Peripheral artery disease, PAD, is the obstruction of a leg artery with a buildup of cholesterol and other material. It causes pain on walking. It is more common than an aneurysm. The booklet on PAD explains it and its treatment. To order a copy, write: Dr. Donohue — No. 109, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My 53-year-old daughter has granuloma annulare all over her body in varying sizes. Her job entails contact with the general public, who eye her warily, thinking she might be contagious. Is there anything that could cover this up? — B.H.

ANSWER: Granuloma annulare consists of firm, red, round skin patches. The central part of the patch pales, so the patch looks like a red ring. It can be limited to a few skin areas, or it can be generalized, like your daughter’s outbreak. Protopic ointment sometimes can cause fading. So can treatment with ultraviolet A light, along with oral drugs called psoralens. Usually, both the limited and generalized forms leave on their own.

However, camouflaging the patch is a great idea. The best help is at the cosmetics section of a department store, where a variety of materials can be tested.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.


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