SIRC Media Watch Archive
Scares and Miracles – August 2000

Herb cure is No1 to lift spirits. Herbal remedy St John's Wort has been given the thumbs up as an effective anti-depressant. Mirror.

'Anti-age' drug found. For the first time, scientists have succeeded in boosting an animal's life span with drugs…The researchers say the experiments are the first real indication that ageing can be treated. They believe the drugs might be useful for combating human diseases that strike in later life. Clinical trials for disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's could take place in the near future. BBC.

Don't Touch This Heirloom. Next time you feel like letting your daughter play with your old Barbie dolls – don't. Scientists say that old vinyl toys made with certain plasticizers can disrupt the body's delicate endocrine system, causing damage to the ovaries and testes and interference with sperm production. Yahoo Health News.

Hidden killer at the dentist. Dentists using mouth-cleaning water sprays could be putting the lives of vulnerable patients at risk, scientists warned yesterday. Mirror.

Many medicines 'can cause lung damage'. More than 300 prescribed medicines, from betablockers to anti-depressants and painkillers, can damage the lungs and cause a variety of symptoms from coughs to pleurisy and breathing difficulties, it was claimed at an international conference yesterday. Guardian.

The tropical disease you can catch in Britain. Visiting, or living near international airports can damage your health, according to a new report published by the World Health Organisation. The hazard does not come from the noise of jets alone; nor purely from aircraft falling out of the sky. There is also a risk of catching tropical diseases - especially malaria - from mosquitoes which have stowed away on intercontinental flights. Independent.

Bagpipe bugs 'can bite'. An American lung disease expert has sounded a warning over bagpipes. Robert Sataloff says people who take up the instrument are more prone to infections and developing large stomachs.BBC.

Breakthrough on immune disease. Scientists have made a breakthrough in the treatment of a severe disease of the immune system. Research suggests that systemic lupus disease could be successfully treated by a combination of high-dose chemotherapy and cell transplantation. [SIRC note: This BBC News Online article does not inform the reader until the last few paragraphs that the treatment in question is unproven and in any case only suitable for a minority of patients. The SIRC/RI Guidelines recommend that, in order to avoid cruelly raising false hopes, such caveats should be mentioned as early as possible in a report.] BBC.

Scientists 'stop' cancer tumours. Scientists have discovered a protein that can stop the growth of cancerous tumours. Research carried out by scientists in Canada has found that the protein p110g suppresses colorectal cancer – cancers of the bowel and rectum. BBC.

Cot death risk for single mothers. Babies born to single mothers are five times more likely to die of cot death than those born to parents who are married, according to official figures. BBC.

Junk food link to asthma. Scientists believe junk food may be partly responsible for an increase in rates of childhood asthma in developed countries. BBC.

Eating fat can help you to lose weight. 'Wonder cure'- A fat found in red meat, cheese and dairy products can help people to lose weight, scientists have found. Times.

Dirty swimmers urged to shower. British swimmers aren't as hygienic as our European neighbours, say experts, increasing the risk of picking up a nasty infection. BBC.

Diseased pigs 'may run wild'. Farmers could abandon their holdings, leaving thousands of pigs to roam as the swine fever crisis continues, the Government was warned yesterday. Times.

Hospital hygiene 'risks patients' lives'. The lives of thousands of NHS patients are being put at risk because hospital staff are compromising hygiene standards, according to a Patients' Association report. BBC.

Cell phones may damage nerves in the scalp. As cellular phones become ubiquitous, their status as a possible health threat – either as a distraction to drivers or a potential cause of brain tumors – is gaining more attention. Now, investigators say there is evidence that cell phones may damage nerves in the scalp. Reuters.

Workplace stress harms like cigarettes. The phrase "working yourself to death" could be the conclusion of Harvard researchers who found that overworked nurses with little say in their routine report more aches, pains, sickness, discontent, and social isolation. INNX.

Abortion link to breast cancer. Women who have an abortion are more at risk of getting breast cancer, research has claimed. Express.

Soya 'could cause brain damage'. Warnings that soya contains toxins which can cause breast cancer and brain damage are to be investigated by the Department of Health. Express.

Last month a SIRC Comment piece was titled: Homocysteine will be 'the new Cholesterol'? Well, in the Independent on Sunday we now read: "Scientists have identified a deadly new rival to cholesterol, implicated in hundreds of thousands of deaths. They want the Government take action over homocysteine, a substance which occurs naturally in the blood after eating red or white meat. At high levels, it may cause serious damage to arteries."

Breakthrough in obesity study. A molecular switch that controls the formation of fat cells has been discovered in mice. The breakthrough could pave the way for future development of drugs to control obesity. BUT "Obesity is a complicated problem and it's largely controlled by centres in the brain that control our appetite and also control whole body energy metabolism." BBC.

Royal swan keeper attacks junk diet. The Queen's Swan Marker wants people who feed the Royal swans a diet of junk food to be prosecuted. David Barber, the official responsible for counting and marking swans which belong to the Queen, says he has already asked the Environment Agency whether it can prosecute people for pollution if they toss sandwiches into the river Thames. Times.

Internet 'encourages false illness'. The internet may be encouraging people to pretend they are ill in order to get attention, according to US research. A study by the University of Alabama suggests that the web could be providing an alternative medium for people with Munchausen by proxy. BBC.

McDonald's to be sued over 'too hot' drinks. McDonald's is to be sued by 20 customers who claim their drinks are too hot in a mass claim for damages against the burger chain after some of the claimants alleged that they suffered severe scalding. They claim in a High Court action that coffee and tea is sometimes served at temperatures so hot that the drinker is at risk of scalding and any spillage is likely to cause injury, particularly to children. Telegraph.

CJD warning to dentists. Dentists were last night warned to be extra vigilant in a new scare over the deadly human form of mad cow disease. Government experts yesterday admitted that they could not measure the risk of variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease being passed on from patient to patient in dental surgeries. Express. But there has not been a single case in the UK of a case of the disease being transmitted by surgical instrument in the UK. BBC.