SIRC Media Watch Archive
Panics and Scares – May 2003

Pet obesity on rise as cities rated on care. Obesity in pets is on the rise, according to a report out today that ranks the healthiest U.S. cities for cats and dogs based on 30 criteria, including weight, preventative care, air quality and pet-friendly legislation. USA Today

Alcohol helps with rational decisions. It will come as no surprise to licensees who listen to intelligent and well-thought-out debates across their bar every day, but a new study suggests that alcohol actually increases people’s capacity to make rational decisions. Researchers in Canada discovered that students who had been given alcoholic drinks showed better judgement than those on soft drinks. Publican.

Video games 'good for you'. Keen video gamers now have one more excuse to keep on playing. US scientists have found that regular players of shoot-em-ups, such as Half-Life and Medal of Honour, have much better visual skills than most of the population. BBC

Orthodox Christianity lowers your cholesterol. Following the fasting regimes laid down by the Greek Orthodox Church could reduce your chances of suffering from heart disease. So says a recent article in BMC Public Health.

Asthma rise 'link' to pool chemicals. Chemicals used to keep swimming pools clean may be behind the rise in asthma in children, a study suggests. Researchers in Belgium have found that chlorine in pools can react with sweat or urine to create harmful fumes which can damage lungs … But other experts have criticised the study and have dismissed the claims. BBC.

Russians suffering after drinking vodka to ward off Sars. Six Russian men suffered alcoholic poisoning after going on a week-long vodka binge to ward off Sars. The men, from Blagoveschensk, thought the vodka would protect them from Chinese workers on a nearby building site. Ananova

Coffee Shop Workers Have High Blood Pressure Risk. Workers in campus coffee shops are more likely to have high blood pressure than other people their age, possibly because they dine on the same salty and high fat foods that they serve to students, according to Venezuelan researchers…[that] measured the blood pressures of 64 workers at six different coffee shops on the school campus. Reuters

US guidelines say blood pressure of 120/80 mm Hg is not "normal". New US guidelines on hypertension take a stronger approach, reclassifying "high normal" blood pressure as "pre-hypertension" and calling for aggressive treatment, firstly by changing lifestyle and then with drugs…At the New York meeting doctors questioned the new guidelines. One physician said he used to tell patients their blood pressure was normal at 120/80 mm Hg and send them home happy. Now, was he supposed to tell them they had pre-hypertension, which they would interpret as a disease? BMJ

Snoring Kids at Risk for Learning Problems. Children who snore are at heightened risk for a host of learning and psychological problems, including poor verbal skills, anxiety and depression, Kentucky researchers report. Reuters

Graduation may be hazardous to your health. A new report from The Commonwealth Fund reveals that nearly two of five college graduates and half of high school graduates who don't go on to college will have a time without health insurance in the first year after graduation. Young adults are often dropped from their parents' policies or public insurance programs at age 19, or when they graduate from college, and then struggle to find jobs with health benefits. Commmonwealth Fund.

UK children 'not couch potatoes'. British children may not be the couch potatoes many health experts have warned about, a survey has suggested. The study commissioned by the Heritage Lottery Fund found many children liked to be active during their leisure time. BBC

Scientists say vodka will ward off Sars. Russian scientists claim to have come up with a novel way of warding off Sars – a double shot of vodka. Experts from the Medical Academy, in Moscow, believe the worldwide commotion over the virus is over-exaggerated. Leading scientist Anatoli Vorobijev, from the department of microbiology and immunology, says the daily consumption of 10 centilitres of vodka should be enough to ward off the life-threatening epidemic. Ananova

Herbal tea 'damages teeth'. Drinking herbal tea may damage teeth, dentists have warned. Researchers at the University of Bristol Dental School have found these teas erode the enamel or protective layer on teeth. BBC