Tomato concentrate in pill form can significantly reduce blood pressure, according to research by Prof. Esther Paran, head of the hypertension unit at Soroka University Medical Center and the Ben-Gurion University Health Sciences Faculty in Beersheba. The latest issue of the BGU newsletter Alef Bet Gimmel reports on her research, which should be a lifesaver to hypertension patients whose blood pressure has not dropped enough even while taking several medications. Excessively high blood pressure raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and other disorders. Hypertension is defined as having readings over 140/90, but doctors now recognize the condition pre-hypertension as anything over 120/80, which is the normal level. Those with pre-hypertension are at higher risk of these diseases and should be treated. Research has shown that antioxidants - which fight oxygen free radicals in the body - reduce high blood pressure. Carotenoids have been linked to oxidation-preventing mechanisms. Among the substances with the most antioxidants are carotenoids, which are organic pigments in foods, especially fruits and vegetables. But Paran has found that concentrated tomatoes (a major source of the prostate-cancer-fighter lycopene) is the most effective carotenoid of all. She conducted an eight-week study of hypertension patients who have high blood pressure despite taking two different medications. In the controlled experiment, those who took tomato-concentrate pills had a significant drop in blood pressure and didn't have to take a third medication. It has also brought pressure down in people who had not yet begun taking medication. As a result of this proof, BGU and Soroka screened faculty and other staff members for high blood pressure and gave tomato-concentrate pills to those who needed them. Several tomato-concentrate pill brands are sold in pharmacies and health food stores. A month's supply is NIS 80. HU SETTING UP ARMY MEDICAL SCHOOL The Defense Ministry recently chose the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to establish a special school of military medicine for the training of IDF physicians. The HU, which competed against Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's health sciences faculty, will launch the first class in October. The head of the school will be Prof. Shmuel Shapira, deputy director-general of the Hadassah Medical Organization, a full professor at the Hebrew University and a specialist in conventional trauma, terror medicine and non-conventional weapon threats who advises the Israel Defense Forces about prevention and response to potential biological, chemical and nuclear attacks. Shapira is also dean of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, but will leave when his first term expires in October. The ministry initiative resulted from a shortage of civilian doctors in some specialties and regions, and the forecast of a significant shortage of all types in the coming years. Although the IDF has an Atuda (academic officers') medical program, few 18-year-old high-school graduates have been attracted to it, and only Ben-Gurion University has been able to persuade even a small number to join every year. After graduates complete their IDF service, most will work in public hospitals and clinics. Students, who will be committed to serve in the IDF for a number of years after graduation, will study all the subjects on the regular HU-Hadassah Medical School curriculum, and take additional courses to help them deal with military service. These will include military physiology and ethics, crisis management, emergency medicine and leadership development. The university will also encourage students to enrich their medical studies with other areas of study, such as law, business administration and public health. In its bid, the HU said it would put more stress on leadership potential, interpersonal relationships and personality than regular admission criteria. HU Medical Faculty dean Prof. Ehud Razin commented: "We are happy and proud that we were chosen to carry out this important national project here in Jerusalem. This is recognition that [our] faculty of medicine is the leader in Israel." He noted that "military medicine is a growing field , and there is a need to enrich its academic aspects. We have obligated ourselves to make available the best of our lecturers and research infrastructure." LUCKLESS YAD SARAH BRANCH IN NETANYA Yad Sarah's Netanya branch was broken into recently - the fourth such attack within 10 days. The medical-equipment lending and social assistance organization said criminals destroyed a lot of equipment after breaking the windows and doors, but stold only a few hundred shekels from a cash box. The burglars were apparently in the branch for a long time and rampaged through the whole office. Although the alarm sounded and security men arrived quickly, the burglars apparently eluded them, and continued to wreak havoc after the security men left. One of the branch's volunteers said they apparently looked for more money and when they found only a few hundred shekels expressed their fury by destroying property. "It was not just a break in," said volunteer branch director Daniel Gisman. "It was vandalism. There is much to repair. One woman who receives services at the branch said she felt her own home had been broken into." Now the nationwide organization will have to invest significant amounts to fortify the branch, including an improved alarm system, locks and metal bars. The branch has more than 300 volunteers and has lent out more than 9,000 devices in the past year.