Round-Up of Global News In Health and Complementary Medicine
Week Beginning 16 September 2002
Office worker fertility threat
Research indicates that men whose jobs involve sitting down for long periods may have a reduced chance of having children. The higher scrotal temperatures produced by sitting down lead to a reduction in sperm quality. The experts say there is no obvious solution to the problem but suggest that men who are trying to father a child be temporarily moved by their employers from desk jobs to duties with more physical activity. Alternatively, men should get up and walk around every 30 minutes to help reduce their testicular temperature.
Truckers advised on diet
Lorry drivers are being urged to ditch the fry-ups and opt for healthier food. Overweight truckers have been advised to go on sponsored diets and give the money to charity. The health advice comes in a new drivers’ handbook produced by the Freight Transport Association. It advises truckers to avoid cheese on burgers and pizzas, choose thick-cut chips rather than thin ones and to snack on fruit.
The Daily Mirror
Scientists weigh up risks and benefits of eating fish
Health advice to eat oily fish is in question due to evidence that a lowering of the risk of heart disease is offset by eating contaminants in the fish. However, government advisors fear the impression that fish is both 'good' and 'bad' for health could torpedo attempts to raise consumption of fish. Official advice is that the benefits of fish in a balanced diet far outweigh the risks.
Asthma rates rise and fall with age
Italian researchers have said that the incidence of asthma appears to rise and fall in different age groups and that males and females are more prone to the condition at different points in their lives. Based on analyses of overall asthma rates across generations, the researchers from the University of Verona say that the findings also show that asthma which develops later in life is more likely to persist than early cases. The research is reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Dietary potassium may reduce stroke danger
US researchers say eating bananas could help correct a nutritional deficiency that may increase the risk of stroke. In a study of more than 5,000 people aged over 65 the scientists found that those with the lowest levels of potassium – of which bananas are a good source – were 50 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke. The use of diuretic drugs is thought to hamper potassium uptake, and Dr Deborah Green, of the Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, suggests that patients who have to take the drugs may benefit from extra potassium in their diets.
Benefits of sleep
Researchers from the University of Lubeck, Germany, suggest that a good night’s sleep will help cement practical skills, such as performing on a musical instrument or playing a sport, in the memory. The researchers taught 52 people a specific pattern of finger taps. The subjects practised the sequence for 15 minutes before being allowed to sleep for eight hours, or remaining awake. It was found that those who slept performed the task around 33 per cent faster and made 30 per cent fewer mistakes than those who did not. The effects persisted into the following day when both groups had slept. The research is reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
The Daily mail
Doctors warned over low-carbohydrate diets
US doctors are being warned of the potential legal risk of prescribing high-protein and low-carbohydrate diets. Diets that encourage people to eat fewer carbohydrates, such as the Atkins diet, are said to be behind the weight loss of several celebrities. A campaign has now been started by a group of physicians and dieticians concerned that the promotion of meat-heavy diets is damaging people’s long-term health. The campaign is backed by the US-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which is warning that doctors promoting low-carbohydrate diets could face damages claims from patients. An advert targeting doctors is to appear this week on The Journal of Family Practice’s website.
Call for withdrawal of meat substitute
A US pressure group has demanded that the meat substitute Quorn be withdrawn from sale. The Center for Science in the Public Interest says it has received reports from 33 people who had suffered vomiting, diarrhoea and other ailments after eating the product. Quorn is the trade name for mycoprotein, which the manufacturers say is derived from a fungus. Critics say the Food and Drug Administration should have studied the product more closely before clearing it for sale in the US in January 2002.
The Daily Mirror
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