Q: I AM from New Zealand and my family is used to eating a lot of lamb. I'd like to know if lamb is nutritious and how it compares with other red meats. Dr Rose writes: Lamb, like other red meats such as beef and pork, contains a higher fat content than poultry. A three-ounce portion of red meat (beef, lamb, pork and veal) contains about 70 to 75 milligrams of cholesterol. In contrast, the same amount of poultry contains about 60 milligrams of cholesterol. Depending on the cut, lamb and pork tend to be fattier than beef. The leaner cuts of lamb are the leg and loin. If you are concerned about the fat content of lamb try to buy lean cuts and remove the fat before cooking. Broiling is an ideal way to minimise the amount of fat when cooking lamb. Lamb is nutritious provided you consume it as part of a diet that is low in cholesterol and fats and includes plenty of grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. You can decrease the amount of cholesterol and fats in your diet by replacing red meat dishes with other protein sources such as fish, poultry and soya-based products. Q: MY sister was recently diagnosed with a thyroid deficiency. The doctor says that she has Hashimoto's disease and will have to take thyroid pills for the rest of her life. He says that the pills will not have any negative side-effects. Could you tell mewhat the symptoms of the disease are and why the pills will not have any negative side-effects? Dr Rose writes: The most common symptoms of Hashimoto's (named after the Japanese physician who discovered the disorder) are tiredness, weak muscles, pain and tenderness in the neck region and weight gain. Sometimes the thyroid gland or goitre is enlarged. The disease is the result of an auto-immune disorder in which the body's immune system develops antibodies against its own thyroid gland cells. It is more common in women than men. Individuals with Hashimoto's disease are deficient in the production of thyroid hormone. The pills prescribed for your sister will replace the hormones that are not being reproduced by her own body and help to restore the thyroid to its normal level. Because the medication mimics the normal production of thyroid in the body it does not add anything new that could cause negative side-effects. Your sister's blood level will be monitored by her physician to ensure that the medication does not cause problems. Q: MY aunt has recently become bedridden and my husband and I are caring for her at home. She is in her 60s and although her condition is deteriorating, she is expected to remain at home with us for a number of years. Could you please advise me on what I can do to prevent her from getting bedsores? Dr Rose writes: You have shown great foresight to try to prevent bedsores from developing in your aunt. Without proper care and preventative measures these painful ulcers can develop on bedridden or immobile patients, as well as stroke or spinal cord injury victims, due to stagnant blood flow. Starting as red, painful areas they usually turn purple and develop into open sores. When the skin breaks down, the sores become infected and can take a long time to heal. The sores appear most commonly on the back and buttocks, but can occur on the shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, heels and ankles as well. To prevent bedsores you should change your aunt's position every couple of hours and carefully wash and dry the pressure areas. You can also use barrier creams for added protection. If she is incontinent you will need to put down a plastic liner to absorb the moisture and replace it as soon as it becomes wet. You may want to consider an air-filled mattress for her as well. One version, the ripple bed mattress, provides support for the patient's entire body and stimulates circulation by using a small motor to pump air in and out of the mattress. Pillows placedbetween the knees and under the shoulders are also effective in reducing pressure. Sheepskin booties can also help relieve pressure on the heels and ankles. Dr Rose Ong is a certified family physician licensed in the United States. She welcomes enquiries but cannot answer them individually. Specific questions should be addressed to your own physician. Additional enquiries: Peak Corporate Health Management, 525-6600, fax 525-8100.