Are you a shopaholic? Scientists prove it’s an illness!

People who shop excessively show signs of addiction, according to researchers at the University of Bergen.

Confessions of a Shopaholic

The researchers, at the Faculty of Psychology, have developed a new and unique method to measure shopping addiction: the Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale (BSAS) – based on coreaddiction elements recognized as diagnostic criteria for other addictions, according to a report published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Lead author Cecilie Schou Andreassen, Doctor of Psychology and Clinical Psychologist Specialist describes shopaholism as being “overly concerned about shopping, driven by an uncontrollable shopping motivation, and to investing so much time and effort into shopping that it impairs other important life areas.”

The Bergen study confirms that excessive shoppers display similar symptoms to those in drug addiction, alcoholism and other substance addictions. People with problematic shopping behavior experience craving, withdrawal, loss of control and tolerance. The research also provides evidence that younger females are most likely to shop excessively.Shopping addiction typically starts in late adolescence and emerging adulthood, and it appears to decrease with age.

Five key traits of a shopaholic
Dr. Andreassen’s team tested the BSAS and reviewed the roles of extroversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness and openness to experience in shopping addiction.

Extroverts tend to use shopping to uphold social status and sustain social attractiveness, such as by buying a new outfit for every occasion. The current study finds that extroverts need more stimulation than non-extroverts, and that they indulge in specific types of products as a way to express their individuality, enhance personal attractiveness, or as a way to belong to a certain privileged group, such as by purchasing high-end luxury goods.

People suffering from neuroticism, anxiety, depression and self-consciousness may shop to reduce negative emotional feelings. The Bergen researchers suggest that people scoring high on neuroticism engage excessively in different behaviors in order to escape from dysphoric feelings.

Conscientious and agreeable people may be less prone
People with low conscientiousness scores display low ability to be structured and responsible, leading to impulse buying. The current study adds that conscientious people have better planning ability, high self-control and the ability to resist temptations.

Agreeableness may deter shopping and other addictions, as addictive behavior can lead to conflict. However, agreeable people, being more trusting, may be more prone to exploitative marketing techniques.
Openness to experience may be negatively related, in that shopping addicts are less adventurous, less curious and put less emphasis on abstract thinking than their counterparts.
Intellectually curious people may avoid excessive shopping by having a better perception of reality that deters them from such activities. Some consider shopping too conventional an activity, at odds with central features of the openness/intellect trait, such as imagination, curiosity and unconventional values.

Low self-esteem and anxiety are factors
The current study shows that low self-esteem is common among shopping addicts, for whom irrational beliefs, such as “buying a product will make life better” and “shopping this item will enhance my self-image,” may trigger excessive shopping behavior.

Depression and psychological distress, such as anxiety, have been linked to shopping addiction, as people seek to escape or cope with negative feelings. The current study confirmed this, but at the same time, excessive shopping may cause anxiety and depression because of the consequences.

The Bergen Shopping Addiction Scale (BSAS)
The researchers set out to review the causes of shopping disorder and create an assessment tool that would take into consideration new awareness of the factors.
To construct the survey, seven addiction criteria were established, and four questions constructed for each, making a total of 28 items.
These were incorporated into a self-report questionnaire with additional questions about demographics, compulsive buying habits, personality, self-esteem, and symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The questions were distributed through the online edition of five nationwide newspapers in Norway in March, April and May 2014 to 23,537 participants, male and female, and covering a range of education levels and employment statuses.

Scoring “agree” or “completely agree” on at least four of the following seven questions may suggest addiction:

The items are scored on the following scale: (0) Completely disagree, (1) Disagree, (2) Neither disagree nor agree, (3) Agree and (4) Completely agree:

. You think about shopping/buying things all the time
. You shop/buy things in order to change your mood
. You shop/buy so much that it negatively affects your daily obligations (e.g., school and work)
. You feel you have to shop/buy more and more to obtain the same satisfaction as before
. You have decided to shop/buy less but have not been able to do so
. You feel bad if you, for some reason, are prevented from shopping/buying things
. You shop/buy so much that it has impaired your well-being

Alcohol link to dementia warning

Older people are to be given a government health warning about the increased risk of dementia as a result of drinking.

The stop drinking advice will be given to middle-aged patients during the regular ‘MOT’ visits to their GP.

The role played by alcohol in increasing the risk of dementia, frailty and disability in ageing has been highlighted by recent research.
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The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is proposing that lifestyle advice should be included in NHS health checks to all patients aged between 40 and 74.

There is increasing medical evidence to suggest that even moderate drinking, within the current health guidelines, may be harmful to health.

NHS guidelines recommend men drink no more than three to four units daily and women only two or three.

Alcohol causes weight gain and high blood pressure, with no benefit to heart, claims new study

Reducing consumption, even among light drinkers, can improve heart health, reduce body mass index, and bring down blood pressure.

According to a large new international study, even moderate drinking may not be good for the heart.
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The study defines light to moderate drinking as consuming 0.6 to 0.8 fluid ounces of alcohol a day, or 17 to 23 ml, which is roughly what a 175 ml glass of wine contains.

The 155 researchers – from the UK, continental Europe, North America, and Australia – analysed data about links between drinking habits and heart health from 56 epidemiological studies covering more than 260,000 people of European descent.

They found that people with a particular gene consumed 17% less alcohol per week, were less likely to binge drink, and were more likely to abstain from alcohol altogether, than non- carriers.

These lower alcohol consumers typically had a 10% average reduced risk of coronary heart disease, lower blood pressure and a lower body mass index (BMI).

The researchers conclude that reducing alcohol consumption across all levels of consumption – even light to moderate drinking – is beneficial for heart health.

Co-author Michael Holmes, a research assistant professor in the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine’s department of Transplant Surgery, says, “Contrary to what earlier reports have shown, it now appears that any exposure to alcohol has a negative impact upon heart health.”

He added that observational studies have suggested only heavy drinking is bad for the heart, and that light drinking might even provide some benefit, and this has led some people to believe moderate consumption is good for their health, even lowering their risk of heart disease.

“However, what we’re seeing with this new study, which uses an investigative approach similar to a randomized clinical trial, is that reduced consumption of alcohol, even for light-to-moderate drinkers, may lead to improved cardiovascular health,” says Prof. Holmes.

The study, funded by the British Heart Foundation and the UK’s Medical Research Council, examined the heart health of people who carry a particular version of the gene “alcohol dehydrogenase 1B” which is a protein that helps to break down alcohol more quickly than in non-carriers.

The rapid breakdown causes nausea, facial flushing, and other symptoms, and is linked to lower levels of alcohol consumption over time.
The team used the gene as an indicator of lower alcohol consumption, and from there found the links between lower consumption and improved heart health.

Dieters inclined to ignore alcohol calories, says new medical research

Alcohol is almost as calorific as fat but many dieters tend to ignore it, according to research from the World Cancer Fund.
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A drinker may get nearly 10% of total calorie intake from alcohol but many regard it as ’empty’ calories. But having a large glass of wine at 178 calories is the same as eating two chocolate digestive biscuits. And to exercise if off you will need to go for a brisk 30 minute walk. Added to which there is no nutritional value in alcohol.
 Kate Mendoza, head of health information at WCRF, said: “Recent reports have shown that people are unaware of calories in drinks and don’t include them when calculating their daily consumption.”
She said that cutting down on drinking has a big effect of maintaining a healthy weight as well as reducing the risk of cancer.
Alcohol has been linked with breast, bowel, mouth and liver cancer.
If you don’t want to abstain entirely, there are ways that can help you cut down, including opting for smaller glass sizes, diluting alcohol with soda water or a low-calorie soft drink, alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and keeping a few nights each week booze-free.
Find out your calorie intake through alcohol: the WCRF has produced an Alcohol Calorie Calculator for different drinks that shows approximately how much exercise you would need to do to burn off the alcohol calories you consume.

Positive lifestyle changes in older age adds years to lifespan

Stockholm.  Making positive lifestyle changes in older age can years to your life, according to new research from Sweden.
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The study included 1,810 men and women who were at least 75 years old as part of the Kungsholmen Project, which examined dementia and aging. The researchers at the Karolinska Institutet interviewed participants about their smoking status, alcohol intake, leisure activities, social networks, chronic diseases and other factors. The group was followed for 18 years, during which 91.8 percent died.
They discovered the following:
  • Half of the participants survived longer than 90 years of age
  • Not surprisingly, women and nonsmokers lived longer than men and current smokers
  • Subjects who regularly engaged in physical activity lived a median of two years longer than those who did not
  • Those who consumed alcohol lived a median of 1.3 years more than those who were never drinkers. 

Men and women who had a low risk profile, characterised by healthy lifestyle behaviours; participation in one or more leisure activities and having a rich social network (defined as living with a spouse, being in regular contact with children, and having daily to weekly contact with relatives and friends) or a moderate social network (defined as having two of the three elements of a rich social network) lived a median of 5.4 years longer than those who had a high risk profile that included none of these factors. 

When the subjects were analysed according to gender, men with a low risk profile lived a median of six years longer and women five years longer in comparison with those who had a high risk profile. And in an analysis of those 85 years of age or more, a low risk profile still conferred a median age of death that was 4.7 years older than that of subjects with a high risk profile.
The researchers conclude: “To the best of our knowledge this is the first study that directly provides information about differences in longevity according to several modifiable factors,” the authors write. “Our results suggest that encouraging favourable lifestyle behaviours even at advanced ages may enhance life expectancy, probably by reducing morbidity.”
Dr Debora Rizzuto from the Institutet commentsL  “Studies have shown that lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, and body weight (both underweight and overweight), can predict mortality in elderly people. 
“However, it is uncertain whether these associations are applicable to the oldest old. Indeed, studies have indicated that the relation between certain lifestyle factors and mortality may differ among those aged 75 or older compared with younger adults.”
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The real detox

Yogatastic Don’t spend loads of money on detox packs or string yourself out on a disgusting syrup, juice and pepper concoction – commit to something which actually works…

Every year we say we will stop eating when we feel full, or have one or two fewer glasses of wine but it never works.Well now the forced excess is all over and it’s time for punishing ourselves with the latest detox and weight loss fad. Or is it?

Losing that bloated sinking feeling and getting yourself back on track for 2011 could be much simpler than you realise.

We know the celebrities all endorse various detox/weight loss plans and we understand why. They are under a great amount of pressure to look good and above all, be the slimmest they can be, which prompts drastic measures in even the least neurotic and anxious of people. For those of us living our mundane (cough) everyday lives, such drastic action is not required: a few little tweaks can make all the difference.

Here are six quick tips to banish that ‘jabba the hutt’ feeling:

1. Make sure you get enough sleep. When you are tired your body wants the high energy, quick fix food which is very bad news for your blood sugar level and waistline. Tired people are also less likely to have the energy to exercise. Tired people always look older: perhaps the most effective inducement to get enough shut-eye. Need any more reasons?!

2. As above, high energy/sugar food is very bad news for you (unless you are a super-duper fit athlete who burns a gazillion calories a day). Eating high sugar foods sends you up into the stratosphere for about 20 minutes until you crash back down to earth and into the biscuit cupboard. We don’t need to give it up completely, just reduce portion size and be careful not to eat your treat after dinner as those calories will be going nowhere fast.

3. Raise your heart rate for at least 15 minutes a day. We all have some lonely exercise equipment or one of the many computer console exercise programs to hand for a quick endorphin boost, so requires no extra spenditure.  It gives you a little extra energy to go about your business and you don’t have to trek to the gym to spend time with other sweaty people. Yuck.

4. Alcohol. We’re sorry to have to say this but if you want to feel better within a week, any delicious alcohol-based beverage is out. Alcohol is full of sugar. Wine is quite probably the healthiest of all the marketed beverages but still, as above, we know it is hard to restrict ourselves to just the one glass. So we advocate cutting it out for just a little while. Your liver will give thanks and you will very soon notice you are much less sluggish with better skin.

5. Fruit and veg. You may have heard the news, you may not have done, but here it is; we do not have to eat 5 portions of fruit or veg a day. Of course it is advisable to eat as much as you can without stressing or obsessing if for no other reason that by eating something green, you are not eating a big cake or pork pie. Fruit is nice as well. You may have forgotten how nice it is with all those sugar laden treats out there but if you manage to cut back your sugar intake you will rediscover just how naturally beautiful many fruits are. Try to eat the actual fruits instead of getting juice – the fibre helps slow the flow of sugar into your bloodstream.

6. Supplements. The most important are fish oil/omega 3 capsules which come with a side helping of Vitamin D – perfect for sharpening the old brain functions and making us feel less depressed about being mid-winter. There is no Vitamin D RDA and although we probably get enough help from the sun during summer, we need to supplement like crazy in winter. If you are over 50 you should be taking a Vitamin D supplement all year round. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to all the old life threatening bad pennies of heart disease, diabetes and cancer and more research needs to be done to see exactly what deficient people are missing out on. As far as other vitamins are concerned: if you can manage a small daily dose of vitamin C, this will also help to reduce your chances of getting a bad cold.

See, not a massive change, but will help you start to feel loads better and you might be inspired to effect a bigger change in your lifestyle. It doesn’t take much to get your body back on track – our organs, especially our main detox organ – the marvellous liver – are very resilient and do their very best job with just a little help from us.

 

Don’t save your alcohol units until the weekend

wineA study comparing patterns of alcohol consumption in Northern Ireland and France found that the binge drinkers of Belfast were at a much greater risk of heart disease.  The choice of beer or wine may also be important.

The volume of alcohol consumed by middle aged men in Northern Ireland and France is almost identical. However, in Belfast, the alcohol is all consumed within one or two days at the weekend. Drinkers in France tend to consume the same amount over a whole week.

The researchers, led by Dr Jean-Bernard Ruidavets from Toulouse University, investigated whether drinking patterns in Northern Ireland and France were linked to the known disparity in heart disease between these two culturally diverse countries.

In the study, binge drinking was defined as drinking more than 4- 5 drinks over a short period, where a drink equates to a 125ml glass of wine or half pint of beer.

Over a ten year period, Ruidavets and colleagues assessed the alcohol consumption of 9,758 men from three centres in France (Lille, Strasbourg and Toulouse) and Belfast. The participants were free from heart disease when the research started in 1991 and were between the ages of 50 to 59.

The participants were divided into never drinkers, former drinkers, regular drinkers and binge drinkers. The ‘drinkers’ were asked via interviews and questionnaires about the volume of alcohol they consumed on a weekly and daily basis and also about the type of beverage.

The results show that the men who “binge” drink had nearly twice the risk of heart attack or death from heart disease compared to regular drinkers over the 10 years of follow up.

The researchers write: “the prevalence of binge drinking, which doubled the risk of ischaemic heart disease compared with regular drinking, was almost 20 times higher in Belfast than in the French centres.”

The drink of choice in both countries may also play a role; beer and spirits are most commonly consumed in Northern Ireland, with wine being France’s preferred tipple. Established research has concluded that drinking a moderate about of wine can protect against heart disease.

Ruidavets and colleagues conclude that the research has important public health implications, especially given that binge drinking is on the rise amongst younger people in Mediterranean countries.

They say: “The alcohol industry takes every opportunity to imbue alcohol consumption with the positive image, emphasising its beneficial effects on ischaemic heart disease risk, but people also need to be informed about the health consequences of heavy drinking.”

Read the full paper below;
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/doi/10.1136/bmj.c6077

Positive Drinking by Kevin Laye

Positive Drinking: Control the Alcohol Before it Controls You

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Over 27% of men and 14% of women drink over the recommended number of weekly units and women’s intake is on the rise. We also know how binge drinking with youngsters has become an epidemic in the UK and that the Government and NHS are constantly looking for ways to reduce our drinking habits.
In a new book by Harley Street therapist Kevin Laye who has worked closely with Paul McKenna, he provides us with the tools to cut down on our drinking. His message is not about not having a drink ever again, but instead to look at drinking in a positive way and enjoy it but be in control.
Most people wonder at some point if their relationship with alcohol is a positive one and feel guilty that “just the one more” often turns into “just four or five.” There is nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy yourself, but if you do worry about drinking too much then you should read this book.
Its full of useful techniques that are easy to follow and with realistic stories of drinking scenarios and how to deal with them.
Costs £7.99 Buy here Positive Drinking: Control the Alcohol Before it Controls You

Increase in alcohol abuse among over 60s – new research

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London: Alcohol misuse in people aged over 60 in the UK is on the increase, new research suggests.

A survey carried out by the charity Foundation66 found over one in eight (13%) admitted to drinking more following retirement.

Of these, one in five (19%) uses alcohol because of depression, and one in eight (13%) drinks to deal with bereavement.

The survey of 857 people aged 60 and over also found that one in eight (12%) older drinkers is most likely to drink alone at home.

A separate poll carried out for the charity revealed widespread concern over the issue, with one in 10 adults worried about the amount of alcohol consumed by a friend or family member aged 60 or over.

The dangers of alcohol are increased among older drinkers, particularly because of medication, frailty, and other health problems.

Heavy drinking is associated with a raised risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and dementia.

And drinking too much can also lead to falls – which are more likely to seriously injure an older person.

Pensioners accounted for 357,300 alcohol-related hospital admissions in England in 2007/8 – a 75% rise in five years.

Sally Scriminger, chief executive of the UK charity Foundation66, said: “The older people we see with drink problems come from all walks of life.”

Last year Foundation66 piloted a project to provide help to older drinkers in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Demand was so heavy that the scheme is now being rolled out in a neighbouring area.

Why a daily coffee can keep cancer at bay

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London: The UK’s leading mouth cancer campaigners have urged the population to wake up to a pot of coffee and boost chances of keeping clear of cancer.

The British Dental Health Foundation has welcomed news of coffee’s potential after Japanese scientists found a cup of coffee a day made drinkers half as likely to develop oral cancer.

Drinking habits could prove a real boost in the fight to curb deaths from mouth cancer – which kills one person every five hours in the UK.

Cutting down on alcohol is another positive lifestyle choice. Alcohol and tobacco are linked to 80 per cent of cases, while people both drinking and smoking are 30 times more likely to develop mouth cancer.

Foundation chief executive Dr Nigel Carter said: “Though quitting smoking and alcohol are the two most positive lifestyle resolutions this New Year, research has shown a coffee a day could help against mouth cancer.

“Our Mouth Cancer Action Week campaign each year also points out the need to visit the dentist regularly for oral cancer screenings, and if in doubt, get checked out.”

Around 5,000 people are diagnosed with mouth cancer reach year in the UK.
Regular dental visits are vital as symptoms often occur pain free, so expert check-ups are necessary.

Self-examination for warning signs – including non-healing ulcers, red and white patches in the mouth or unusual lumps or changes in the mouth – is also an effective way of staying safe.

The recent coffee research was carried out by a team at Japan’s Tohoku University School of Medicine, and tracked 40,000 people aged 40-64 over a 13 year period.

Studies showed people drinking at least a coffee a day were 49 per cent less likely to develop cancers of the mouth or oesophagus. In their report, published by the American Journal of Epidemiology, scientists noted an inverse association between drinking coffee and those at most risk of mouth cancer.

For nore information visit the website www.mouthcancer.org

Facts and Figures

* In the UK over 4,750 are diagnosed each year
* Around 1,700 people die of mouth cancer every year
* Mouth cancer is more common in men than women, but the gap is closing
* Mouth cancer is more likely to affect people over 40 years of age, though an increasing number of young people are developing the condition
* Tobacco and alcohol are thought to contribute to 80 per cent of mouth cancer cases
* Smoking is the number one cause for mouth cancer. Cigarette smoke converts saliva into a deadly cell-damaging cocktail
* Switching to low-tar cigarettes will not help, as smokers of ‘lights’ tend to inhale more smoke than smokers of ‘regular’ cigarettes
*Although some people believe that chewing tobacco is safer than smoking, the reality is that it is even more dangerous. Chewing tobacco, paan, areca nut and gutkha are habits favoured by some ethnic groups
* Alcohol aids absorption of smoke into the mouth – people who smoke and drink alcohol to excess are 30 times more likely to develop mouth cancer
* Poor diet is linked to a third of all cancer cases. Evidence shows an increase in fruit and vegetables lowers the risk, as can fish and eggs
* It is recommended that people enjoy a healthy, balanced diet, including food from each of the major food groups and including fruit and vegetables of all different colours as each colour contains different vitamins
* Research now suggests the human papilloma virus (HPV) – transmitted by oral sex – could soon rival smoking and drinking as a main cause of mouth cancer.
* Early detection and treatment considerably increases survival chances, allows for simpler treatment and results in a better quality of life for sufferers

About The Charity

The British Dental Health Foundation is the UK’s leading oral health charity, with a 30-year track record of providing public information and influencing government policy. It maintains a free consumer advice service, an impartial and objective product accreditation scheme, publishes and distributes a wide range of literature for the profession and consumers.
National Smile Month runs each May, to promote greater awareness of the benefits of better oral health, with Mouth Cancer Action Week each November.

The Dental Helpline, which offers free impartial dental advice to consumers, can be contacted on 0845 063 1188 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday or by e- mailing helpline@dentalhealth.org.uk

World’s oldest man reaches 113

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Tokyo: The world’s oldest man, Tomoji Tanabe, turned 113 today and declared that he wanted to live for at least another five years.

Mr Tanabe, who was born September 18, 1895, celebrated his milestone in his hometown of Miyakonojo, on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu.

He wants to live for “another five years or so”, and cited healthy diet, an abstinence of alcohol, and a drink of milk every afternoon as the major factors behind his longevity.

“I am happy,” he said. “I eat a lot,” he said, but added that he strictly avoided alcohol, cigarettes and snacks.

Mr Tanabe received birthday gifts, flowers and US$1,000 cash from the mayor of Miyakonojo – a present awarded to the oldest man in the village, let alone the world.

Mr Tanabe lives with one of his sons and daughter-in-law, and has over 100 descendants including eight children, 25 grandchildren, 52 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.

The world’s oldest person is 115-year-old American Edna Parker, who was born on April 20, 1893, and lives in a nursing home in Indiana.

Japan has one of the world’s longest life expectancies, nearly 86 years for women and 79 years for men, which is often attributed to the country’s healthy diet rich in fish and rice.

The number of Japanese living past 100 has more than doubled in the last six years, reaching a record high of 36,000 people this year. Japan’s centenarian population is expected to reach nearly 1 million — the world’s largest — by 2050, according to UN projections.

Brits overtake Russians in binge drinking league

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London: Alcohol consumption in Britain continues to grow with the Brits now drinking more than Russians, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organisation. In addition teenage drinkers in the UK are the drunks of Europe.

WHO figures show that the average Brit drinks 9.29 litres of alcohol each year, compared with 8.87 in Russia.

Luxembourg is in No1 place, followed by the Czech Republic, Estonia and Germany, with the UK 17 and Russia 18 in the league table of drinkers.

The data reveal that in 2003, the latest year for which figures are available, England came top of a European table for drunkenness among 11- and 13-year olds, with twice the levels in Russia.

The increase in drinking is linked the decrease in people setting down to traditional adult responsibilities, such as marriage, say the authors pf a report due to be published in May from the International Center for Alcohol Policies, a Washington-based group.

The study, Swimming with Crocodiles: The Culture of Extreme Drinking, also cites World Health Organisation figures showing that almost twice as many English 15-year-olds as Russians claim to have been drunk more than twice.

In the UK, for example, the number of adults still living with their parents has risen by a fifth among men and almost a third among women in 15 years. About 60% of men and 40% of women aged 20-24 live with their parents.

Healthy diet, including moderate alcohol intake cuts prostate disease risk

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Seattle: A heart-healthy diet, and even moderate alcohol intake, may help decrease the risk of prostate problems, new US research has found.

The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found a high-fat diet increased the risk of benign enlargement of the prostate or symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia, known as BPH, by 31 percent and daily consumption of red meat increased the risk of BPH by 38 percent.

Study author Alan Kristal of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle said: “We don’t really know how it’s working but it’s pretty clear that eating a high amount of fat and it doesn’t appear to matter what kind fat, increases the risk of BPH.”

As well as consuming low-fat foods, risk was also reduced 32 percent by eating four or more servings of vegetables daily and 15 percent by making 20 percent of the daily calorie intake lean protein.

The study assessed diets, supplement use and alcohol consumption of 4,770 BPH symptom-free men for seven years during which time 876 developed BPH symptoms. The study also found moderate alcohol intake reduced the risk of BPH by 38 percent.

Alcohol abuse higher in intelligent people

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London: Intelligent men and women are far more likely to drink heavily, a new study by the UK’s Medical Research Council has discovered.

The stress of working in a pressurised environment is a factor, particularly for businesswomen in male-dominated professions, says the report which is published in the American Journal of Public Health.

They now suspect, however, that the stressful jobs of high- flying professionals drive them to drink. Intelligent women may be particularly susceptible if they are struggling to do well in male-dominated professions.

The research, led by David Batty of the MRC’s social and public health sciences unit at Glasgow University, says: “An explanation might be that success in the workplace requires, in some circumstances, a willingness to drink frequently and to excess in social situations.”

A group of 8,170 men and women born in Britain during one week in 1970 were studied. Their mental ability at age 10 was compared with information about their alcohol consumption and drink problems at age 30.

The academics found that men and women with higher childhood mental ability scores had higher rates of problem drinking in adulthood. The increased risk of drink problems was higher for intelligent women than men.

The study found that men and women who confessed to drinking most days had the highest childhood mental ability scores, whereas those who reported that they never had alcohol had the lowest mental ability scores.

The proportion of women with a history of alcohol problems was highest among women with professional and managerial jobs. The study found that 47% of men and 22% of women were drinking in excess of the recommended limits of 21 units a week for men and 14 units a week for women.

The government is investigating how to deal with Britain’s heavy drinking culture, including the possibility of restricting shops’ cut-price promotions of alcohol. Another problem is middle-class adults drinking at home.

Alcohol-related deaths continue to rise in Britain. In 2006, the figure increased to 12.9 deaths per 100,000 in 2005 to 13.4 in 2006 (Office for National Statistics) with a doubling in the period from 1991 and 2006.

Worrying increase in alcohol-related deaths in older women – new UK figures reveal

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London: Insreasing numbers of females are dying of alcohol-related diseases, official UK Government statistics have revealed.

The number of deaths from both men and women have also doubled in the last 15 years, with a huge rise in middle-aged women.

The figures come as Britain faces and epidemic of binge-drinking among youngsters who they warn are likely to carry on damaging their bodies for the rest of their lives.

The UK’s office for National Statistics, figures show that there were 12.9 deaths per 100,000 people in 2005 but this increased to 13.4 in 2006.

In 1991 there were 6.9 deaths per 100,000. The figures also show a rise in the number of alcohol-related deaths mainly as a result of liver disease from 4,144 in 1991 to 8,758 in 2006.

There has also been a huge increase s in deaths among middle-aged women. The death rate for women aged 35 to 54 doubled between 1991 and 2006, from 7.2 to 14.8 per 100,000 population.

Although the figures for women are increasingly worrying, men are still more likely to die from drink than women.

Two thirds of all alcohol-related deaths are among men, and there were 18.3 deaths per 100,000 population among men and 8.8 among women.

For men, the death rates in all age groups increased between 1991 and 2006. The biggest increase in deaths from alcohol consumption was seen among the 35 to 54 age group, with rates doubling since 1991 to 31.1 per 100,000.

Moderate exercise and alcohol may prolong life, says new Danish study

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Copenhagen: Moderate exercise combined with a little alcohol may be the key to living a longer life, according to a new study published in the European Heart Journal.

The study found people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol and are physically active have a lower risk of death from heart disease and other causes compared to people who don’t drink at all.

Danish researchers found people who neither drink nor exercise have up to a 49 percent increased risk of heart disease than people who either drank, exercised or did both.

The research looks at the combined influence of leisure-time physical activity and weekly alcohol intake on the risk of fatal ischaemic heart disease (a form of heart disease characterized by a reduced blood supply to the heart) and deaths from all causes.

From 1981 to 1983 the researchers obtained information on various health-related issues (including exercise and alcohol intake) from nearly 12,000 Danish men and women.

During approximately 20 years of follow-up, there were more than 1,200 cases of fatal ischaemic heart disease (IHD) and nearly 6,000 deaths from all causes among the study participants.

Professor Morten Gronbaek, director of research at the National Institute of Public Health at the University of Southern Denmark said: “Our study shows that being both physically active and drinking a moderate amount of alcohol is important for lowering the risk of both fatal IHD and death from all causes.

“For both men and women, being physically active was associated with a significantly lower risk for both fatal IHD and all-cause mortality than being physically inactive; and drinking alcohol was associated with a lower risk of fatal IHD than abstaining. A weekly moderate alcohol intake reduced the risk of all-cause mortality among both men and women, whereas the risk among heavy drinkers was similar to non-drinkers.

“The lowest risk of death from all causes was observed among the physically active moderate drinkers and the highest risk among the physically inactive non-drinkers and heavy drinkers,” said Jane Ostergaard Pedersen, lead author of the study, in a news release.

“Neither physical activity alone nor alcohol intake can completely reverse the increased risk associated with alcohol abstention and lack of physical activity. Thus, both moderate to high levels of physical activity and a moderate alcohol intake are important for lowering the risk of fatal IHD and deaths from all causes,” she concluded.

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UK Government reviews health guidelines for alcohol

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London: ONE in four women in the UK is drinking more than is recommended following a Government revision of the alcohol unit system.

The new guidelines have been issued because many drinks and particularly wine are higher now in alcohol than at the time the unit rules were created.

According to the UK Government’s Office of National Statistics, a glass of wine which is officially classified as one unit should now be counted as two.

The Government has highlighted the problem with wine because it forms, on average, 40% of a women’s intake of alcohol. This compares to less than 20 percent for a man.

It is estimated that about 14 percent of women, aged between 14 and retirement age, are drinking too many units because they are calculating using the old method. Using the new method this dramatically increased to 25 per cent.

Manyof those drinking too much as high income earners and professionals. An average senior female manager in a large company is now drinking 15.2 units of alcohol a week.

Among men, a third over the age of 25 are now thought to be drinking more than Health Department recommended safe levels of 21 units a week.

The new rules replace those created in 1978 which have been outdated by bars serving ever larger glasses of wine with ever higher alcohol levels.

Pub wine glasses used to hold 125 millilitres, but now many serve 175 or 250 are common. In addition, thirty years ago many wines only had nine per cent alcohol. Today’s many wines are 14 per cent and even higher. Many beers and lagers have also increased in strength in recent years.

Free guide to identifying alcohol abuse

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London: A valuable guide, designed to help identify substance abuse in loved ones, is now available. ‘Beginning Recovery’ is the title of the new guide, published by Winthrop Hall – the UK’s only purpose built drug and alcohol treatment centre.

Coping with the stresses and strains of modern living can be a test for the toughest of resolves. Some find themselves unable to cope with work pressures, financial problems or family difficulties, and find themselves pushed over the edge, forced to seek solace in alcohol and other substances. You can get the leaflet free from Winthrop Hall

Research carried out by the Greater London Alcohol and Drug Alliance* found that 21% of adult Londoners are harmful users of alcohol, and 1% of London’s 7.5 million population are problematic drug users. According to Alcohol Concern*, between 58-60% of 11-15 year olds drink alcohol, with the mean consumption for those who drink doubling from 5 units a week in the early 1990s to 10 units in 2004. By the age of 13, the proportion of those who drink exceeds the proportion of teenagers who do not drink.

This year’s Statistics on Drug Misuse* reports that men are more likely to take illicit drugs than women – 13.7% took drugs in the last year compared with 7.4% of women. Alarmingly, during 2005/06 181,390 people were in contact with structured drug treatment services. This is a 13% increase on figures during 2004/05, where the number was 160,453 and more than twice the number in 1998/99.

For many, the problem is not obvious. However, there may be a number of noticeable changes that are out-of-character.

Symptoms to look out for:
1. Changes in behaviour or routine – missing appointments, coming home late, going out at odd times
2. Evasiveness and vagueness
3. Mood swings – irritability, aggression, depression or euphoria
4. Taking less pride in appearance, poor skin or a weight loss problem
5. Hand tremors and regular sweats
6. Increased secretiveness or lack of openness, even lying
7. Changes in finances, running out of money or money going missing

All of these symptoms can point to a crisis. It’s not always easy for the user to admit they have a problem, and trying to help can often lead to confrontation. People sometimes think they can resolve the problem themselves without proper treatment, but if self-help with the support of friends and family has not worked, then professional help is the answer.

It’s important to remember that help is always at hand – but it’s getting the right help that counts. A copy of the ‘Beginning Recovery’ guide, offering practical advice on recognising symptoms plus information for getting treatment for substance abuse, is available by calling Winthrop Hall on + 44 (0)1580 894334.

Other support organisations include:
The National Alcohol Helpline: 0800 917 8282
Alcoholics Anonymous: 0845 769 7555
FRANK: The National Drug Helpline: 0800 776600

* source:
Greater London Alcohol and Drug Alliance – London: The Highs and the Lows 2 (January 2007)
Alcohol Concern – Young People’s Drinking, Factsheet
Statistics on Drug Misuse, England 2007 – The Information Centre www.ic.nhs.uk

For more details on Winthrop Hall, call 01580 894334.

Drinking culture leads to increase in alcohol deaths

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London: The growing drinking culture is leading to the number of women dying from alcohol abuse.

Drink-related deaths among women aged between 35 and 54 have soared to almost twice the level they were in the early 1990s, according to new research.

Around 14 women per 100,000 in this age group now die from alcohol-induced conditions, such as liver failure according to figures from the Office of National Statistics.

Alcohol is to blame for the deaths of more than 8,000 men and women a year, compared with just over 4,000 in 1991.

Thirty years ago, the death rate for men and women of any age from alcohol abuse stood as just two per 100,000, the lowest in Europe.

The drinking culture also appears to have children in its grip.

A recent Government- commissioned study found that one in five 15-year-olds drinks the equivalent of almost a bottle of wine a week. In some parts of the country, one in eight 12-year-olds is drinking as much. Binge drinking plays a part in more than 4,300 teenage pregnancies and 5.5million lost days of schooling each year.

The nation’s addiction to alcohol takes an average of seven months off the life of every man and woman and is responsible for more than half a million hospital admissions a year, the report by the Centre of Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University found.

Drunkenness is to also blame for more than half a million crimes each year, from violent brawls to robberies and sexual assaults. More than a million men down more than 50 units of alcohol a week.

Previous studies have shown that every day, 15 boys and girls under 16 drink themselves into hospital accident and emergency departments.

Doctors have said that 12-year-olds are being diagnosed as alcoholics and that cirrhosis of the liver – an alcohol-induced problem – is being found in teenagers.

Moderate alcohol increases breast cancer risk

New York: Drinking just two glasses of wine a day raises a woman’s risk of breast cancer, say researchers at the University of Mississippi Medical Centre.

In an animal experiment, female mice given the human equivalent of two alcoholic drinks a day, developed breast tumours twice the size of those given none.

The six-week old mice were fed moderate amounts of alcohol over a four week period.

Lead researcher Jian-Wei Gu said alcohol consumption is the most important avoidable risk factor for women in contracting breast cancer.

The conclusion is based on the fact that studies in mice mimic the results in humans. It is thought that the increase in tumour size is a result of an increase in blood flow through vessels caused by the alcohol.

Less educated women binge drink when they are older

London: Well-educated young women are more likely to binge drink, says a new study from the UK’s Institute of Child Health.

It also found that women who have children early and have fewer qualifications tend to take up drinking heavily in their 40s.

They concluded that the difference in drinking habits was down to having children. Older women without qualifications were twice as likely to binge drink – that it consume ten or more units of alcohol at any one time – than their better educated counterparts.

The habits of 11,500 British men and women born during one week in March 1958 were monitored on how much they drank. They were monitored and surveyed about how much and how often they drank at the ages of 23, 33 and 42.

Two drinks a day helps reduce blood pressure in men

Amsterdam: Two alcoholic drinks a day can help men reduce high blood pressure, according to scientists.

As well as the traditional methods of getting healthier body markets such as taking more exercise and cutting amounts of saturated fats and sat, a drink is also recommended following research carried out by Joline Beulens of Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

This latest discovery adds to the mounting evidence that moderate amounts of alcohol are good for health. Wine, for example, contents anti-oxidants, that may have protective qualities and lead to a longer life.

Miss Beulens examined data on 11,711 men with high blood pressure and their incidence of heart attacks, heart disease and stroke between 1986 and 2002. During this period there were 653 heart attacks of which 279 were fatal. Every four years participants filled out a questionnaire including details of how often they drank beer, red wine, white wine and spirits.

The scientists found that the chances of suffering a heart attack were lower among men who consumed one or two drinks a day – one drink was defined as a single glass of wine or a single shot of spirits.

Men, however, are urged not to drink more as this increases blood pressure and heart attack incidence.
However she urged men not to have three drinks a day, as this increases their blood pressure and risk of an attack. ‘Our findings are not a licence to overindulge.’

Han’s hangover prevention tips!

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Chartered physiotherapist, acupuncturist and naturopath, Hans van de Braak, pictured right, gives his advice on how to beat the festive season hangover:

“As a physiotherapist, naturopath and acupuncturist, I am often asked by friends and family for medical advice. However, around Christmas and New Year I find people seeking my professional expertise on the best way of dealing with the after effects of a celebratory tipple or two. Of course, the best way to avoid a hangover is not to drink too much, but human nature being what it is, the best advice is rarely taken, ” says Han who practices at the Integrated Medicine Practice in Leicestershire.

“And unless you are one of those strong willed souls who manage to resist the lure of the grape or the grain, you may well find yourself in need of some advice during the festive season.

What’s your poison?

When you drink too much alcohol you are, in effect, poisoning your body. Your liver is working overtime to break down the ethanol whilst the dehydrating effect of alcohol forces your body to take water from wherever it can find it – including your brain. This causes the cells, now depleted of moisture, to shrink, inducing the pain commonly known as a headache. Drinking too much also drains the body of vital vitamins and minerals especially vitamins A, B and C. This means that any basic hangover treatment should include restoring as much lost moisture as possible whilst replacing the nutrients that your body has lost. So, before you reach for the aspirin, consider some alternative remedies that may be more effective, more natural and more easily available.

Han’s Top Five Hangover Treatments

1. Probably the most well known and effective advice, but still so often ignored – drink plenty of water before, during after and taking in alcohol. It’s got a lot going for it: in plentiful supply and absolutely free if drunk straight from the tap. The more water you can drink, the more quickly it flushes out the liver and rehydrates your poor, aching body. Be sure to avoid drinks containing caffeine as these will only dehydrate you more.
2. Also avoid aspirin and ibuprofen if possible as these tend to irritate the stomach. Instead, try a more natural remedy such as aloe vera. In a concentrated form, such as Aloeride®, aloe vera is the perfect ingredient for an upset stomach as it placates the stomach lining, and settles that horrible queasy feeling. Try taking a couple before you go out, and then a couple the morning after. See www.aloeride.eu for more information.
3. Fruit: another natural and easily available remedy. Bananas are good source of fructose and potassium – both of which are lost when you drink too much alcohol. They are also a natural antacid, rich in magnesium to help ease a throbbing head. Fruit juice is another effective treatment, although it can be a little acid on a delicate stomach. This works well because the fructose in the juice burns up the residual alcohol in the stomach speeding up recovery. If it is too acidic for a sensitive tum, try watering it down.
4. Sweat it out! Head to your nearest sauna or steam room if you can face it (and you’re not still over the limit). Alternatively, walk there as a blast of fresh air will certainly do you good. If that is simply too much exertion, run a hot bath and bask in the steam, sweating out all those nasty toxins.
5. Eat! Make sure that you eat properly before you go out: whilst food doesn’t actually absorb alcohol, it does increase your metabolism and speeds up the body’s processes enabling it to deal with the effects of overindulgence more quickly. The traditional fry up – even if you can face it – is best avoided. Choose foods that will release sugar slowly and provide you with a much needed shot of protein to build up those amino acids. Baked beans, scrambled eggs and porridge tick all the right boxes – porridge also works well to neutralise acid.

Whilst following these golden rules won’t necessarily prevent you having a hangover, they will certainly reduce its effects and speed up your recovery time. With any luck, within a matter of hours you’ll be up and about and in fine fettle – ready to go out and do it all over again – although I really wouldn’t recommend it!

1 in 5 thinks their partner drinks too much

London: One in five of those in relationships in the UK (1) thinks their partner drinks too much, according to new research exploring whether alcohol has more of an impact on relationships than couples might think.

The ICM survey of 1000 people (2) was commissioned for the Government’s new Know Your Limits campaign, which launched in October to encourage responsible drinking.

Sadly alcohol and arguments do seem to mix, with one in four (25%) admitting to having rows when they drink. This is particularly the case with 18 to 24 year olds: half of them (49%) admitted that they row with their partner after drinking alcohol. This is also true for one third (37%) of 35 to 44 year olds.

What are the arguments about?

1. ‘Anything and everything’- 35%
2. The behaviour of either partner – 31%
3. Money – 14%
4. The children – 12%
5. Domestic chores – 11%
6. The fact that your partner is drinking – 10%
7. The in-laws – 5%

More than a third of 18 to 24 year olds (37%) say that their partners’ behaviour is the biggest cause for their arguments when drinking. This is also true for 35 to 44 year olds (29%). However, amongst the older age groups the likes of children and domestic chores rise up the agenda.

Making up

Most couples resolve arguments and move on – at least until another one brews the next time they start drinking. However, 10% said that they never resolve the arguments; and 11% let the argument escalate and just ignore each other – but eventually make up.

For those that did resolve them quickly, there were two popular options:

Take a step back, calm down and look for a compromise

Agree that alcohol is blurring the issue and drop it until the next day

Commenting on the results, Srabani Sen of Alcohol Concern said:

“Too much alcohol can affect people who might otherwise think things were fine, with either their or their partner’s drinking. We’re beginning to realise though that alcohol misuse not only causes physical harm, but can also blight relationships. People need to be able to recognise the negative impact alcohol might be having on their lives and try to cut down to safer levels.”

Relate counsellor Denise Knowles said:

“Couples should be able to openly discuss their feelings about their partners’ drinking habits if they feel it’s ever a cause for concern. Learning how to discuss issues effectively is a key element of a healthy relationship.”

Know Your Limits is a joint Department of Health and Home Office campaign which encourages people to drink responsibly and get to know their limits. Men should not regularly drink more than 3 to 4 units a day, and women should not regularly drink more than 2 to 3 units a day. Consistently drinking 4 or more units for men (and 3 or more for women) is not advised because of the progressive health risk it carries.

In addition, women who are trying to conceive, or who are at any stage of pregnancy, should not drink more than 1 to 2 units once or twice a week and should avoid getting drunk. Know Your Limits recognises that drinking can be enjoyable, but also emphasises the undesirable consequences of drinking too much, such as arguments with loved ones, getting into fights or being in a vulnerable situation on a night out.

The research backs up the popular perception that men drink more alcohol than women. More than half of the women (56%) drink less than their partner, and half of the men (51%) admitted they drink more than their partner. In fact, 28% of the men confessed that their partner tells them as much. However, 9% of couples feel their partner’s drinking is a subject they couldn’t easily talk about.

1 Taken from the survey base where people were both in a relationship, and their partner drinks alcohol

2 ICM interviewed a random sample of 1000 adults aged 18 plus by telephone across the UK between 17th–19th November 2006. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.icmresearch.co.uk

Alcohol facts

Alcohol is a major cause of disease and injury: it accounts for 9.2% of years of life lost/lived with disabilities.

Alcohol misuse costs the NHS around £1.6 billion every year, mainly in the acute sector.

The estimated annual NHS spend on specialist alcohol treatment is £217 million with 65,000 people receiving treatment.

17% of victims of sexual assault surveyed in the British Crime Survey Interpersonal Violence Module 2001 said that the offence took place when they were incapable of consent due to alcohol.

Regular visitors to pubs and bars are twice as likely to be victims of assault
Half of all violent crimes are linked to alcohol

An agreement was made in June 2006 between the Government, Drinks Industry and health stakeholders to set up the Drinkaware Trust. This new charitable Trust will be funded by the drinks industry and is aimed at positively changing the UK’s drinking culture and tackling alcohol-related harm.

For further information see www.knowyourlimits.gov.uk

About Relate

Relate is working to promote health, respect and justice in couple and family relationships

Relate’s services extend beyond couple counselling to family counselling, counselling for young people, online counselling, sex therapy and relationship skills workshops

Relate works in schools, primary care settings, prisons, and with local authorities on homelessness prevention services
Relate supports 150,000 people each year in over 600 locations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

This year Couple Counselling Scotland changed its name to Relate Scotland which remains a separate charity yet operates with shared standards and in close partnership with Relate

For more information and advice visit: www.relate.org.uk

British business guide to drink and drugs in workplace

London: In England 17 million working days are lost every year through alcohol-related sickness while 35 percent of people of working age have used an illicit drug.

Now the most comprehensive guide ever compiled to tackle the booze and drugs culture in the British workplace has been published to help ease the pressure on both employers and employees.

Issued by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine in London, the ‘Guidance on alcohol and drug misuse in the workplace’ report has been written by the country’s leading experts and draws on all the most up-to-date information and advice.

In fact the guide has been considered such an important aid in dealing with the problem, that it has also been recognised by the medical research charity, the BUPA Foundation, by winning its annual Health at Work award.

One of the author’s of the report, Dr Steve Deacon, said: “Managing the misuse of drugs and alcohol in the workplace, is a real minefield for business. We found that what they needed was a clear, simple breakdown of the best, most up-to-date and relevant advice.

“This guide not only assists in prevention but also offers support to those seeking treatment and rehabilitation. It is a one-stop shop for handling all issues relating to alcohol and drug misuse.”

The vice-chairman of the BUPA Foundation, Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen said: “All the evidence shows that the misuse of drugs and alcohol in the workplace is on the increase. The price to pay is high – absenteeism, accidents at work, poor performance, errors, lost productivity and long-term ill health.

“The guidance will be a vital tool to occupational physicians as well as those people who work in human resources and safety management, in tackling these issues.”

Dr Steve Deacon and his team received their BUPA Foundation award at a ceremony at Lincoln’s Inn in London yesterday.

· The BUPA Foundation is an independent charitable organisation that funds medical research into the prevention, relief and cure of sickness and ill health. Since 1979 The BUPA Foundation has awarded grants in excess of £19 million to medical research and healthcare initiatives across a range of disciplines from surgery to occupational health. Further information on the BUPA Foundation is available at < a href="http://www.bupafoundation.co.uk">www.bupafoundation.co.uk

· The vast majority of grants go to medical research teams in NHS hospitals.

· The BUPA Foundation Awards are made annually to recognise excellence in medical research and healthcare. The six categories are – care of the elderly, clinical excellence, communication, epidemiology, medical research and health at work.

· Award winners receive a cheque for £10,000.

· This year BUPA donated £2.5 million to the BUPA Foundation.

· Dr Steve Deacon works at the Faculty of Occupational Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians in London.