SIRC Media Watch Archive
Panics and Scares – February 2000

Deadly Dry Cleaning? What is that smell on clothes fresh from the dry cleaner? It's the lingering residue of perchloroethylene, a powerful solvent suspected of causing cancer and other health woes. Fox News

A consumer organization said yesterday that 3 percent of the candles it bought in a recent survey of large stores had wicks containing lead and consequently pose a threat to public health. Washington Post

Experts say it is important to remember that any dog, no matter what size or breed, can become aggressive. Dogs are the preferred pet for millions of Americans, valued for their loyalty, companionship and protection. But sometimes, that faithful friend can turn into a foe. Health officials say dogs bite or attack more than 4.5 million people each year, killing an average of 20 people. CNN

Hopelessness a risk for high blood pressure. Recent studies have reported that hopelessness is an important factor in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, including ischemic heart disease, acute myocardial infarction, and atherosclerotic progression. This study examined the relationship between hopelessness and incident hypertension in a population-based sample of 616 initially normotensive, middle-aged men from eastern Finland. Hypertension

Cell Phone Use While Driving Increases Crash Risk. In 1997, The New England Journal of Medicine reported that motorists who use cell phones are four times more likely to crash, and equated their use with drunk driving. In a three-year study of Oklahoma crash data, researchers linked cell phone use with a ninefold increase in fatalities. WebMD

Addicted to eating? "We need to view food as a potential drug" … Americans are the fattest they have ever been. Reuters.

The espresso route to heart disease. "Here's some bad news for people who can't get out of bed without a cup of coffee – it can raise levels of an amino acid linked to heart disease. The discovery has fanned the flames of the debate over coffee's safety." But the next line of the article in New Scientist tells us that "So far, epidemiologists have found no clear link between coffee and heart disease."

Fear of Farms. Farms are wholesome places where rosy-cheeked children breath in fresh air and cuddle sheep – right? Wrong, according to the E coli expert who said this week that under fives should stay away. Guardian.

 Heard the buzz? Flies are invading. Nature's equivalent of the Alien is coming your way. In a few weeks ceilings and carpets across the country will come alive as a seething black mass descends from nowhere. Horrified home owners will watch as their carpets seem to move in a frenzy and black clouds sweep across their ceilings. Express

More bad shoes news – The health hazards that plague fashion victims. 'Tummy-toning' tights may bloat those who wear them, and a fall from platform shoes could be fatal. Irish Times

NHS bugs 'kill 5,000 a year'. Up to 5,000 people die each year from infections picked up in hospitals in England, according to the national spending watchdog. The problem annually affects 100,000 people and costs the National Health Service £1bn, says the National Audit Office. BBC

Scientific Basis for Dry-Cleaning Chemical Concerns? A New York Times report raises questions about the health effects of the most widely used dry-cleaning chemical, perchloroethylene, commonly referred to as "perc." The article pointed out that there were substantial business efforts underway to develop safer alternatives to perc – namely a biodegradable soap that dissolves in carbon dioxide. DrKoop

Love is a compulsive, obsessive disorder. Love and romance addiction are the latest interpersonal problems being selected for therapy in Britain. Independent.

Littlest Babies Grow Biggest Problems. Babies who weigh less than two pounds at birth are much more likely to face nerve damage and academic trouble in adolescence than babies born at a normal weight, new research shows. The study by Canadian scientists adds to mounting evidence that extremely premature infants often suffer permanent physical and mental deficits. DrKoop

Warning: Pessimism hazardous to health. If you want to live a longer, healthier life, don't be a pessimist, a group of Minnesota researchers warn. "You don't need to be an optimist, but being a pessimist is bad" because it boosts your risk of dying sooner than you should, explained Dr. Toshihiko Maruta, a professor of psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Pioneer Planet

Don't Let Your Headache Cause You Heartache – How to Avoid Common Migraine Triggers this Valentine's Day. Candlelight, fine Cabernet, a strong French 'parfum.' For millions of women, these Valentine's Day must-have's can turn an amorous evening into "not tonight dear, I've got a migraine." PRNewswire

The salt wars. The UK's leading supermarkets are preparing to support an initiative to cut the amount of salt in processed foods. Consensus Action on Salt and Hypertension (CASH), a campaign group, has declared Thursday "Salt Awareness Day", and the major chains are vying with each other to respond to its call for less salt content in our food. BBC.

Snoring causes car crashes? Les dangers trop méconnus de la maladie des ronfleurs. Le Monde.

Vegetarian diet in pregnancy linked to birth defect. Mothers who ate a vegetarian diet during pregnancy had a five-time greater risk of delivering a boy with hypospadias, a birth defect of the penis, according to a report from British researchers. Reuters.