Marie Kolstad, 83, a widow who lives in Orange County, Calif., underwent a three-hour breast lift with implants.     Stephanie Diani for The New York Times




Everything About These Women Says Healthy…

. . . .Joyce Hays, Target Health Inc.


Mary Graham, a 77-year-old restaurant owner in Thomasville, Ga., got a face-lift and breast implants earlier this year.    Sarah Beth Glicksteen for The New York Times




The New York Times, August 10, 2011, by Abby Ellin  —  At age 83, Marie Kolstad has a rich life. She works full time as a property manager and keeps an active social calendar, busying herself with 12 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.


But one thing needed improvement, she decided: her figure. At her age, she said, “your breasts go in one direction and your brain goes in another.” So on July 22, Ms. Kolstad, a widow who lives in Orange County, Calif., underwent a three-hour breast lift with implants, which costs about $8,000.

“Physically, I’m in good health, and I just feel like, why not take advantage of it?” said Ms. Kolstad. “My mother lived a long time, and I’m just taking it for granted that that will happen to me. And I want my children to be proud of what I look like.”

Ms. Kolstad is one of many septuagenarians, octogenarians and even nonagenarians who are burnishing their golden years with help from the plastic surgeon. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, in 2010 there were 84,685 surgical procedures among patients age 65 and older. They included 26,635 face-lifts; 24,783 cosmetic eyelid operations; 6,469 liposuctions; 5,874 breast reductions; 3,875 forehead lifts; 3,339 breast lifts and 2,414 breast augmentations.

Except for a brief turndown during the recession, those numbers have been rising for years now, and experts say the trend seems likely to accelerate as baby boomers begin to pass age 65. But the increase also has raised concerns about safety and the propriety of performing invasive elective surgery on older patients, who may suffer unintended physical and psychological consequences.

There are as many reasons for getting plastic surgery as there are older patients, experts say. Some people are living longer and remaining healthier, and they want their physiques to align with their psyches. Some are preening for potential mates and want their feathers to look their freshest. Some are still working or looking for jobs and want to be seen as more youthful contenders.

And some are simply sick of slackened jowls, jiggly underarms and saggy eyelids. Gilbert Meyer, a retired film producer in Boynton Beach, Fla., who gave his age only as “over 75,” saw Dr. Jacob Steiger, a facial plastic surgeon in Boca Raton, Fla., for an eye and neck lift last year. He spent $8,000.

“I was looking at myself in the mirror and didn’t like what I was starting to see and did something about it,” Mr. Meyer said. “Why not look as good as you can when you can?”

Mary Graham, a 77-year-old restaurant owner in Thomasville, Ga., got a face-lift and breast implants earlier this year. “The only time I go to the doctor is for plastic surgery,” she said.

Ms. Graham plans to open another restaurant in Tallahassee, Fla., in the fall. “I work seven days a week,” she said. “I wanted to look as young as I feel.”

Her plastic surgeon, Dr. Daniel Man of Boca Raton, Fla., who said he is seeing increasing numbers of patients over age 70, said, “These people are healthy and want to be an active part of society.”

Any operation poses risks, but surprisingly few studies have focused on older patients and cosmetic enhancements. One report, published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in June, found that the hazards in people over age 65 are no greater than in the younger population.

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic reviewed the medical records of 216 face-lift patients over the course of three years. The researchers found no significant difference in the instances of minor or major complications between one group of patients whose average age was 70 and another group whose average age was 57.6.

“We’re saying it’s not chronologic age that’s so important, but it really is physiologic,” said Dr. James E. Zins, the senior author of the study and chairman of the department of plastic surgery at the Cleveland Clinic.

All patients in his study were screened for such health problems as lung and heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as use of medications, like anticoagulants, that could have complicated the operations. But not all older patients may be so thoroughly screened, , so his findings don’t necessarily mean the risks are minimal in an older population.

“Is there a theoretical age upon which complications do become more likely?” he mused. “Does that mean that patients 70 and 75 years and over can safely undergo a face-lift with the same complication rate as young patients? We didn’t have enough numbers to answer that question.”

While face-lifts can be performed under “conscious sedation,” other reconstructive procedures typically require general anesthesia, which may be risky for an elderly patient. Older patients may take longer to heal, and the results of plastic surgery may not last as long as in younger patients, said Dr. Michael Niccole, a plastic surgeon in Newport Beach, Calif.

Some critics questions whether the benefits are worth the risks, which may be underestimated.

“You know there are biases because of the underreporting of negative findings,” said James Hughes, executive director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, a nonprofit research group in Hartford. “The doctors have more or less financial incentives to do these procedures, and that often leads them to understate alternative kinds of treatments or medical advice.”

Harriet A. Washington, author of two books about medical ethics issues, asks how older patients can give informed consent to plastic surgery when so little is known of its risks to them, especially to those with chronic conditions like diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease.

“It’s one of those things that has crept up on us, and I think, as usual, we’ve embraced the technology before we’ve really embraced the ethical questions and dimensions,” she said.

And while most research indicates that people benefit psychologically from cosmetic procedures, reporting improvements in their appearance and in body image, a minority experience some kind of emotional “turbulence,” said David Sarwer, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

“There are truly psychological repercussions to these procedures, which often aren’t covered in the informed consent process,” he said.

And yet: Assuming a patient is healthy, meets all of the presurgical criteria and understands that there are risks, why is it people often are squeamish about seniors going under the knife?

Nancy Etcoff, an assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School who studies biology and social beliefs about beauty, believes the double takes arise from our culture’s mixed feelings about old people actively on the prowl. “Part of our stereotype of old people is that they are social, warm and likeable, but powerless and sexless,” she said. “Here we are in the age of Viagra, which is very well accepted, but suddenly the idea of older people, mostly women, wanting to be sexually attractive at that age makes us uncomfortable.

“If an older woman wants to regain eyelids or wants a breast that she doesn’t have to tuck into a waistband, then why not?”

Ms. Kolstad asked herself much the same question. “In my day, no one ever thought about breast enhancement or anything,” she said. “But nowadays women go out and they would never get a second look if they show their age. I find that you have to keep up your appearance physically, even if you just want a companion or someone to ask you to dinner.

“That’s not going to happen if you don’t have a figure that these geezers are looking for.”

Curcumin Blocks Inflammatory Process That Contributes to Tendinitis



By Moira Dower
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Keith Barnard, MD


Aug. 9, 2011 — Curcumin, which gives the curry spice turmeric its bright yellow color, could be helpful in treating painful inflammatory conditions, such as tendinitis and arthritis, according to researchers at the University of Nottingham in the U.K. and Ludwig-Maxmillians University in Munich, Germany. Their studies show that curcumin can be used to suppress inflammation in tendon diseases.

Not a Cure

Ali Mobasheri, DPhil, of the University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, who co-led the research, says, “Our research is not suggesting that curry, turmeric, or curcumin are cures for inflammatory conditions such as tendinitis and arthritis. However, we believe that it could offer scientists an important new lead in the treatment of these painful conditions through nutrition.”

Turmeric has been used for centuries in traditional Indian, or ayurvedic, medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent and remedy for symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome and other disorders. Based on its potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, researchers in several countries are investigating curcumin for use in a variety of diseases, including some types of cancer and cirrhosis of the liver.

Blocking Inflammation

The Nottingham-Munich study, due to be published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, used a culture model of human tendon inflammation to study the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin on tendon cells. The main objective of the study was to observe the effects that curcumin had on the inflammatory and degenerative properties induced by molecules called interleukins. The results showed that curcumin prevents interleukins from promoting inflammation.

Tendons, the tough cords of fibrous connective tissue that join muscles to bones, are essential for movement because they transfer the force of muscle contraction to bones. However, they are prone to injury, particularly in athletes who overstretch themselves and overuse their joints.

Tendinitis is a form of tendon inflammation that causes pain and tenderness close to the joints, and it is particularly common in the shoulders, elbows, knees, hips, heels, and wrists. Examples of common tendon disease include tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, and Achilles tendon injury.

The global incidence of tendinitis is on the increase in line with the rise in aging and inflammatory diseases. It is also linked to other arthritic and rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or metabolic diseases such as diabetes.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as aspirin or ibuprofen, are used to relieve the pain and inflammation of tendinitis. In more serious cases of tendon injury, steroid injections can be given directly into the tendon sheath to control pain and enable physiotherapy to start. However, NSAIDS and steroids are associated with side effects, such as stomach ulcers, nausea, vomiting, and other problems affecting the digestive system, as well as headaches, drowsiness, and fatigue.



TURMERIC PLANT (curcuma longa)

The rhizomes are boiled for several hours and then dried in hot ovens, after which they are ground into a deep orange-yellow powder commonly used as a spice in curries and other South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, for dyeing, and to impart color to mustard condiments. Its active ingredient is curcumin and it has an earthy, bitter, peppery flavor and a mustardy smell. into the Chinese medicine stimulate blood circulation and solves blood clot



Yellow fever

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae which is native to tropical South Asia. It needs temperatures between 20 and 30 deg. C. and a considerable amount of annual rainfall to thrive. Plants are gathered annually for their rhizomes, and re-seeded from some of those rhizomes in the following season.

It is also often misspelled (or pronounced) as tumeric. It is also known as kunyit (Indonesian and Malay) or haldi in some Asian countries.

Its rhizomes are boiled for several hours and then dried in hot ovens, after which they are ground into a deep orange-yellow powder commonly used as a spice in curries and other South Asian cuisine, for dyeing, and to impart color to mustard condiments. Its active ingredient is curcumin and it has an earthy, bitter, peppery flavor and has a mustardy smell.





Traditional cultures around the world have relied for centuries on local plants, herbs, roots and spices not only as part of their culinary traditions, but also for medical purposes. Turmeric is an herbal product that has been used in medicine and the culinary traditions of Asia for centuries. Curcumin is the active ingredient found in turmeric. Modern scientific research is looking at traditional treatments such as tumeric and curcumin to verify their healing potential. Always talk to your physician or a licensed health care practitioner before using these substances for treating any disease or disorder.


Medicine from the kitchen

Turmeric rhizome, or Curcumae longae rhizoma, is widely used as a spice in the culinary traditions of the Indian subcontinent and China. It is a common ingredient in Indian cooking, and is often used as a spice in curries and stews. Turmeric is bright yellow, and has a characteristically earthy, yet pungent flavor. It is from the same plant family as ginger, or zingiberaceae. In addition to being widely used in the kitchen, turmeric has many powerful medical properties, and has been used as a medicinal herb and spice in China and India for many centuries. Curcumin is the primary active chemical constituent in turmeric. For medical uses it is extracted and concentrated from turmeric, because its natural concentration is relatively low, around 3 percent to 5 percent. Modern medical research on curcumin has shown promise for its effectiveness in the treatment of a wide variety of diseases.

Ancient medicinal and spice: Turmeric

Long before it became the subject of modern medical research, turmeric was used in traditional medicine and cooking throughout China and India. As a spice, it is used not only for flavor, but also to help regulate digestion. As a medicinal substance, turmeric is thought to have a powerful ability to move the blood in the body and reduce pain. According to traditional oriental medicine, one way that pain may arise in the body is through sluggish movement of blood. Herbal products such as turmeric are thought to move blood more effectively and are often used to treat disorders where pain is sharp, fixed, and distending. It is often included in herbal prescriptions for abdominal pain, menstrual disorders, amenorrhea, uterine fibroid tumors, postpartum pain, chest pain and arthritic pain, including aching shoulders and joints. According to Chinese Herbal Materia Medica, turmeric should be used with caution by pregnant women because it strongly activates the movement of blood in the body.

In addition to its ability to move blood and treat pain, relatively recent studies have found that turmeric is very effective as an anti-inflammatory. Turmeric is also beneficial as a topical medicine to treat a wide variety of skin conditions. Special caution should be used when applying turmeric topically, however, because it can stain clothing and skin with its vibrant yellow color.


Where to find turmeric

You can find turmeric in the spice aisle of most major grocery chains, as well as at specialty Asian food stores. Practitioners of Ayurvedic and Chinese traditional medicine may include turmeric in a higher dose in their herbal prescriptions. If you are considering using turmeric for medicinal benefits, and you have any serious health concerns, it would be advisable to first consult a health care practitioner to ensure proper dosage and to avoid any drug interactions.


Modern research: Curcumin

Curcumin is a chemical constituent that naturally occurs in turmeric, and is extracted and concentrated as a potent biochemical substance. It has been the subject of considerable medical research, and seems to have positive therapeutic effects on a variety of disorders, according to Curcumin has been proven to be a natural anti-inflammatory and reduces histamine levels in the body. There is modern research showing its effectiveness in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis due to its ability to reduce inflammation and swelling, as noted by Paul Pitchford in “Healing with Whole Foods.”

Curcumin is a powerful anti-oxidant, which means that it protects the body from free radical damage. In addition, it has been shown to have positive effects on liver function and in lowering cholesterol levels. Curcumin may also be beneficial in treating Alzheimer’s disease and improving brain function. Finally, there is evidence that suggests that curcumin may produce positive results in the treatment of some types of cancer, and this has sparked a great deal of interest within the medical research community.



Curry leaves



Potential Benefits of Curry
Many human trials are needed before we can know with any certainty how we can best use curry powder in medicine. But one thing is certain: most doctors are not, at this time, aware of the potential benefits of curry and many Americans are not aware of delicious curry dishes or curry recipes.


Curry as a supplement
The actual yellow color of curry is mostly from curcumin and other curcuminoids, which have been getting much attention by the press regarding positive research on their various health benefits.


Curry and Cognitive Function
Curry consumption and cognitive function in the elderly.
Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Nov 1;164(9):898-906. Epub 2006 Jul 26.Department of Psychological Medicine, National University of Singapore, Republic of Singapore.
Curcumin, from the curry spice turmeric, has been shown to possess potent antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties and to reduce beta-amyloid and plaque burden in experimental studies, but epidemiologic evidence is lacking. The authors investigated the association between usual curry consumption level and cognitive function in elderly Asians. In a population-based cohort (n = 1,010) of nondemented elderly Asian subjects aged 60-93 years in 2003, the authors compared Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores for three categories of regular curry consumption, taking into account known sociodemographic, health, and behavioral correlates of MMSE performance. Those who consumed curry “occasionally” and “often or very often” had significantly better MMSE scores than did subjects who “never or rarely” consumed curry. The authors reported tentative evidence of better cognitive performance from curry consumption in nondemented elderly Asians, which should be confirmed in future studies.


Curry Powder Research update
Curcumin ( from curry powder ) inhibits formation of Abeta oligomers and fibrils and binds plaques and reduces amyloid in vivo.
J Biol Chem. Yang F, et al. University of California Los Angeles, North Hills, CA
Alzheimer’s disease involves amyloid (Abeta) accumulation, oxidative damage and inflammation, and risk is reduced with increased antioxidant and anti-inflammatory consumption. The phenolic yellow curry pigment curcumin has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities and can suppress oxidative damage, inflammation, cognitive deficits, and amyloid accumulation. These data suggest that low dose curcumin effectively disaggregates Ass as well as prevents fibril and oligomer formation, supporting the rationale for curry powder use in clinical trials preventing or treating Alzheimer’s disease.


Curry ingredient fights skin cancer
The compound that makes curry yellow could help fight skin cancer. Curcumin, found in the spice turmeric, interferes with melanoma cells. Tests in laboratory dishes show that curcumin made melanoma skin cancer cells more likely to self-destruct in a process known as apoptosis. The same research team has found that curcumin helped stop the spread of breast cancer tumor cells to the lungs of mice. The curcumin suppressed two proteins that tumor cells use to keep themselves immortal. People who eat plenty of turmeric have lower rates of some cancers.


Curry for Brain Health
Curry may help protect the aging brain. It’s known that long-term users of anti-inflammatory drugs have a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, although these agents can have harmful effects in the stomach, liver and kidney, limiting their use in the elderly. In a study, Dr. Tze-Pin Ng from National University of Singapore and colleagues compared scores on the Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) for three categories of regular curry consumption in 1,010 nondemented Asians who were between 60 and 93 years old. Most of the study subjects consumed curry at least occasionally (once every 6 months), 43 percent ate curry at least often or very often (between monthly and daily) while 16 percent said they never or rarely ate curry. People who consumed curry “occasionally” and “often or very often” had significantly better MMSE scores than did those who “never or rarely” consumed curry. “Even with the low and moderate levels of curry consumption reported by the respondents, better cognitive performance was observed,” Ng and colleagues report. These results, they note, provide “the first epidemiologic evidence supporting a link between curry consumption and cognitive performance that has been suggested by a large volume of earlier experimental evidence.”American Journal of Epidemiology, November 1, 2006.


Hurry for Curry – and Curcumin
I really like Indian cuisine and visit local Indian restaurants in Marina Del Rey quite frequently. So, I was glad to see a study evaluating the benefits of curcumin. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a plant native to south India and Indonesia. It has been used since antiquity as a condiment, as a textile dye, and as a medicine. Curcumin is the substance that gives the spice turmeric its yellow color. Curry powder which is extensively used in Indian cuisine, such as curry chicken, is largely made of turmeric.
It now appears that curcumin may be able to break up the “plaques” that mark the brains of Alzheimer’s disease patients. Scientists found that curcumin was able to reduce deposits of beta-amyloid proteins in the brains of elderly lab mice that ate curcumin as part of their diets. Furthermore, when the researchers added low doses of curcumin to human beta-amyloid proteins in a test tube, the compound kept the proteins from aggregating and blocked the formation of the amyloid fibers that make up Alzheimer’s plaques. Accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease that leads to damage to nerve cells and the resulting loss in memory and cognitive function. Long used as part of traditional Indian medicine, curcumin is known to have some anti-cancer properties, and animal research suggests it might serve as a treatment for multiple sclerosis and cystic fibrosis. Interest in curcumin as an Alzheimer’s therapy grew after studies found low rates of the disease among elderly adults in India, where curry spice is a dietary staple. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. And since oxidative damage and inflammation mark a number of diseases of aging – such as arthritis and the buildup of plaques in the heart’s arteries – curcumin eventually may prove to be useful for a range of age-related conditions.


Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

TESTING Reports of granite emitting high levels of radon and radiation are increasing.




Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

DETECTION Using devices like the Geiger counter and the radiation detection instrument Stanley Liebert measures the radiation and radon emanating from granite like that in Lynn Sugarman’s kitchen counters.




The New York Times, by Kate Murphy  —  SHORTLY before Lynn Sugarman of Teaneck, N.J., bought her summer home in Lake George, N.Y., two years ago, a routine inspection revealed it had elevated levels of radon, a radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer. So she called a radon measurement and mitigation technician to find the source.



“He went from room to room,” said Dr. Sugarman, a pediatrician. But he stopped in his tracks in the kitchen, which had richly grained cream, brown and burgundy granite countertops. His Geiger counter indicated that the granite was emitting radiation at levels 10 times higher than those he had measured elsewhere in the house.

“My first thought was, my pregnant daughter was coming for the weekend,” Dr. Sugarman said. When the technician told her to keep her daughter several feet from the countertops just to be safe, she said, “I had them ripped out that very day,” and sent to the state Department of Health for analysis. The granite, it turned out, contained high levels of uranium, which is not only radioactive but releases radon gas as it decays. “The health risk to me and my family was probably small,” Dr. Sugarman said, “but I felt it was an unnecessary risk.”

As the popularity of granite countertops has grown in the last decade — demand for them has increased tenfold, according to the Marble Institute of America, a trade group representing granite fabricators — so have the types of granite available. For example, one source, Graniteland ( offers more than 900 kinds of granite from 63 countries. And with increased sales volume and variety, there have been more reports of “hot” or potentially hazardous countertops, particularly among the more exotic and striated varieties from Brazil and Namibia.

“It’s not that all granite is dangerous,” said Stanley Liebert, the quality assurance director at CMT Laboratories in Clifton Park, N.Y., who took radiation measurements at Dr. Sugarman’s house. “But I’ve seen a few that might heat up your Cheerios a little.”

Allegations that granite countertops may emit dangerous levels of radon and radiation have been raised periodically over the past decade, mostly by makers and distributors of competing countertop materials. The Marble Institute of America has said such claims are “ludicrous” because although granite is known to contain uranium and other radioactive materials like thorium and potassium, the amounts in countertops are not enough to pose a health threat.

Indeed, health physicists and radiation experts agree that most granite countertops emit radiation and radon at extremely low levels. They say these emissions are insignificant compared with so-called background radiation that is constantly raining down from outer space or seeping up from the earth’s crust, not to mention emanating from manmade sources like X-rays, luminous watches and smoke detectors.

But with increasing regularity in recent months, the Environmental Protection Agency has been receiving calls from radon inspectors as well as from concerned homeowners about granite countertops with radiation measurements several times above background levels. “We’ve been hearing from people all over the country concerned about high readings,” said Lou Witt, a program analyst with the agency’s Indoor Environments Division.

Last month, Suzanne Zick, who lives in Magnolia, Tex., a small town northwest of Houston, called the E.P.A. and her state’s health department to find out what she should do about the salmon-colored granite she had installed in her foyer a year and a half ago. A geology instructor at a community college, she realized belatedly that it could contain radioactive material and had it tested. The technician sent her a report indicating that the granite was emitting low to moderately high levels of both radon and radiation, depending on where along the stone the measurement was taken.

“I don’t really know what the numbers are telling me about my risk,” Ms. Zick said. “I don’t want to tear it out, but I don’t want cancer either.”

The E.P.A. recommends taking action if radon gas levels in the home exceeds 4 picocuries per liter of air (a measure of radioactive emission); about the same risk for cancer as smoking a half a pack of cigarettes per day. In Dr. Sugarman’s kitchen, the readings were 100 picocuries per liter. In her basement, where radon readings are expected to be higher because the gas usually seeps into homes from decaying uranium underground, the readings were 6 picocuries per liter.

The average person is subjected to radiation from natural and manmade sources at an annual level of 360 millirem (a measure of energy absorbed by the body), according to government agencies like the E.P.A. and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The limit of additional exposure set by the commission for people living near nuclear reactors is 100 millirem per year. To put this in perspective, passengers get 3 millirem of cosmic radiation on a flight from New York to Los Angeles.

A “hot” granite countertop like Dr. Sugarman’s might add a fraction of a millirem per hour and that is if you were a few inches from it or touching it the entire time.

Nevertheless, Mr. Witt said, “There is no known safe level of radon or radiation.” Moreover, he said, scientists agree that “any exposure increases your health risk.” A granite countertop that emits an extremely high level of radiation, as a small number of commercially available samples have in recent tests, could conceivably expose body parts that were in close proximity to it for two hours a day to a localized dose of 100 millirem over just a few months.


Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

A radiation detection instrument.




Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

A Geiger counter.



David J. Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University in New York, said the cancer risk from granite countertops, even those emitting radiation above background levels, is “on the order of one in a million.” Being struck by lightning is more likely. Nonetheless, Dr. Brenner said, “It makes sense. If you can choose another counter that doesn’t elevate your risk, however slightly, why wouldn’t you?”

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking and is considered especially dangerous to smokers, whose lungs are already compromised. Children and developing fetuses are vulnerable to radiation, which can cause other forms of cancer. Mr. Witt said the E.P.A. is not studying health risks associated with granite countertops because of a “lack of resources.”

The Marble Institute of America plans to develop a testing protocol for granite. “We want to reassure the public that their granite countertops are safe,” Jim Hogan, the group’s president, said earlier this month “We know the vast majority of granites are safe, but there are some new exotic varieties coming in now that we’ve never seen before, and we need to use sound science to evaluate them.”

Research scientists at Rice University in Houston and at the New York State Department of Health are currently conducting studies of granite widely used in kitchen counters. William J. Llope, a professor of physics at Rice, said his preliminary results show that of the 55 samples he has collected from nearby fabricators and wholesalers, all of which emit radiation at higher-than-background levels, a handful have tested at levels 100 times or more above background.

Personal injury lawyers are already advertising on the Web for clients who think they may have been injured by countertops. “I think it will be like the mold litigation a few years back, where some cases were legitimate and a whole lot were not,” said Ernest P. Chiodo, a physician and lawyer in Detroit who specializes in toxic tort law. His kitchen counters are granite, he said, “but I don’t spend much time in the kitchen.”

As for Dr. Sugarman, the contractor of the house she bought in Lake George paid for the removal of her “hot” countertops. She replaced them with another type of granite. “But I had them tested first,” she said.

Where to Find Tests and Testers

TO find a certified technician to determine whether radiation or radon is emanating from a granite countertop, homeowners can contact the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists ( Testing costs between $100 and $300.

Information on certified technicians and do-it-yourself radon testing kits is available from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site at, as well as from state or regional indoor air environment offices, which can be found at Kits test for radon, not radiation, and cost $20 to $30. They are sold at hardware stores and online.