Tired of Bill and Monica and now Monica's mother? Wary of the Iraqi predicament? Frazzled by lexicon-deprived TV analysts grunting over minuscule mistakes by Olympic skaters and skiers?

During periods such as this, I turn my attention to the carousel of medical news, both in newspapers and on television. If it were not so serious, I would call it entertainment.Regardless, medical news is a great diversion for times when the other news unfolding around you has become heavy, cumbersome, mean-ing-less.

What I usually look for are new studies that refute earlier studies. Those are fun. One day shrimp is good for you, the next day it isn't. That's the kind of stuff I like.

This week's medical marvel, however, is the news that secondhand smoke contributes to inner ear infections of children younger than 3. I kept looking at this discovery and wondering its significance since we already have been told secondhand smoke can absolutely kill you - regardless of age.

Then there's that deed of taking two baby aspirin a day. This was supposed to help ward off stroke or heart disease. I am one who takes two a day faithfully.

Now, however, a study says taking just one adult aspirin once every two weeks will do a better job. Based on the incidence of stress headaches, I had been taking at least one aspirin every two weeks for 30 years before I went to the baby aspirin. The carousel makes a full rotation.

What interests me most in this week's medical/science news is that the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed legislation to require the nation's water suppliers to actually tell us what is in the water.

This carries with it frightening prospects. I don't think I want to know what is in the water, particularly since there probably are more chemicals in it than Saddam has in all of Iraq.

I am perfectly satisfied to allow the government to keep monitoring the suppliers as to their adherence to safety standards.

Reading a detailed description of what's in the water might cause in me the same reaction I had after reading the label on a loaf of white bread.

Ever since, I have shied away from white bread - not because of the taste of the bread, but because of what was in it that I could not understand. If the label said the bread contained flour, water and even some fly wings, I would understand.

But how do you deal with sodium stearoyl lactylate, guar gum and calcium propionate? This kind of stuff will drive you to the dictionary and, even then, you really don't comprehend it. Take the guar gum, for example. My dictionary says guar is a leguminous plant native to India and grown in the U.S. Southwest. So? And stearoyl didn't make it into my dictionary.

Therefore, eat white bread at your own risk. (Can I say that, Oprah?) It's probably quite good, as long as you don't know what's in it.

And surely someone will testify that there's absolutely nothing wrong with white bread; it's what you spread atop it that may cause problems.

That brings me back to shrimp, crab and lobster which used to be on the cholesterol taboo list until some study - bless it - revealed there was nothing wrong with the shellfish, it was what you dipped it into that got to your innards.

And, probably, there is nothing wrong with your water either, it's what you pour into it - such as Scotch and coffee - that might mess things up for you. So why alarm us with enigmatic labeling? We've got enough to antagonize us with, like Bill and Monica and now Monica's mom.