Lifelines

 

Today is World No Tobacco Day. Worldwide, one person dies every four seconds from a tobacco-related disease and in the Republic, smoking is responsible for 35 per cent of all cancers. Despite national anti-smoking campaigns, one in three people smokes, including 40 per cent of women aged 18 to 36. However, those who give up by their early 30s can enjoy a life expectancy of people who never smoked - and there is plenty of help available for those who want to give up the habit. Contact your local health board for details of Stop Smoking support groups.

Do shock tactics for health campaigns work? No - according to researchers at the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, who have found they have the opposite effect. The three unwanted effects are: warning fatigue (people pay no attention to health messages); risk factor phobia (people over-react to health warnings); and forbidden fruit effect (particularly common among teenagers, who defy authoritarian health warnings). Warning fatigue is illustrated by the failure of campaigns to encourage people to exercise more and give up smoking, while risk factor phobics over-reacted to reports of health risks linked to the contraceptive pill, and stopped taking the pill (resulting in a 9 per cent rise in the abortion rate in the UK). (BBC)

How much garlic do you have to eat to gain from its anti-cancer properties? New research suggests half a clove a day is sufficient - but it has to be raw. Previous research found you would have to eat your own body weight in garlic before getting any benefits. The study was carried out on rats and investigated the effect of garlic on the substance which causes bowel cancer. Garlic has also been found to help in the prevention of heart disease. (New Scientist)

Vitamin B6 may benefit women who experience pre-menstrual depression and other pre-menstrual symptoms, say UK researchers. In an analysis of previous studies, a dose of no more than 100mg a day, and in some cases only 50mg a day, was beneficial in the management of PMS. (British Medical Journal)

Restaurants, pubs and cafes will be offering a healthy meal option throughout June, as part of the Irish Heart Foundation's Happy Heart Eat Out campaign. Chefs around the country will be preparing low-fat meals - but why is this limited to one month only?