SIRC Media Watch Archive
Panics and Scares – August 2002

Warning: Meditating may be hazardous to your health. Karen Long (a pseudonym), in her mid-20s, turned to meditation as a way to feel connected. "I wanted to experience that 'oneness with the universe,'" she says … "Then I began hearing voices," she says. "I heard profound messages. The other people thought it was a sign of enlightenment. Some people at the temple told me that I had 'contacted a spiritual guide.' During my normal awake hours, I found myself feeling spacey sometimes." SF Weekly.

Caffeine 'may cure skin cancer'. Caffeine could one day be used to cure skin cancer, scientists believe. Researchers in the United States have found that caffeine combined with an extract from green tea can kill the disease in mice. BBC.

Ginkgo 'does not improve memory'. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found no significant difference between the mental functions of elderly people taking ginkgo and those taking a dummy pill. BBC

Swimmers beware: a dip in the sea can make you seriously ill. Bathing in the sea - including off British beaches - causes more disease worldwide than scourges such as leprosy and diphtheria, according to a United Nations report. One in every 20 people who bathe in them, it says, will become ill after just one dip. Independent.

Beer Bottle Health Risk Trendy bottled bar drinks may be putting people at risk from a deadly disease caused by rats. Leptospirosis, also known as Weil's Disease, is caused by a bacteria spread by rat's urine. Health experts are warning the trend of swigging from bottles is exposing pubgoers to the danger as pubs often store bottles in cellars where rats may roam. Daily Record

Now golf gets a health warning. Teeing off will never be the same again. Golfers who believe the sport offers relaxation, fresh air and a nice afternoon stroll are in for a shock: a new study has blamed the game for turning players into physical wrecks. Observer.

School playgrounds are far too dangerous for playing in. Schools are now so terrified of being sued in the case of accidents that they are forbidding any games that could possibly lead to one. Time-honoured favourites such as tag, expressions of exuberance such as handstands and even innocuous pastimes such as making daisy chains are forbidden in an increasing number of schools. Telegraph.

Staying out of the sun has downside. An Australian campaign to reduce skin cancer by persuading people to stay out of the sun may have led to some people developing a vitamin D deficiency…A study found that nearly one in four women is deficient in vitamin D. This can result in skeletal deformities in children, and muscular weakness and frail bones in adults. BBC

GPs 'cause' high blood pressure. Thousands of patients may be being treated unnecessarily because their blood pressure shoots up as soon as they see a doctor. The "white coat" effect means that blood pressures recorded by doctors tend to be higher than those measured by nurses, at home, or using devices that take a continuous recording during the day - so-called ambulatory monitoring. A new study published in the British Medical Journal shows that the effect is large. Times