More than 50 per cent of people diagnosed with cancer go on to lead normal lives and many find joining a support group is very helpful. In the last year, the Bray Cancer Support and Information Centre has helped more than 4,000 people from all over the Republic. For details of groups and classes, or to obtain the booklet, Breast Cancer, A Survivor's Guide, contact the centre at 36b Main Street, Bray, Co Wicklow (tel/fax 01-286 6966). A free public lecture entitled The Current Status of Cancer Treatment and Outcome by Dr Des Carney, consultant oncologist at the Mater Hospital in Dublin will take place this Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Little Flower Hall, Herbert Road, Bray.

It's not just the number but the shape of the sperm which counts in fertility matters, according to a new Danish study. Researchers found men with low-to-normal sperm counts (20 million sperm per millilitre) may have normal fertility if they have a high-proportion of normally-shaped sperm, while men with a high proportion of abnormally-shaped sperm may have impaired fertility. (The Lancet)

More than 90 per cent of the Irish population suffers some form of gum disease, and one in 10 people loses teeth prematurely, according to the president of the Irish Dental Association (IDA), Dr Barry Harrington. Using an antiseptic mouthwash, in addition to brushing and flossing, could change all that. Clinical trials on Listerine Antiseptic Mouthwash found it reduces the development of plaque and gingivitis by more than 50 per cent, and the mouthwash has recently been approved by the IDA. Listerine is the first dental health product to be accredited by the IDA.

Hearing aids "turn up the volume" but often fail to solve other hearing problems, such as hearing a speaker above a background noise or following voices coming from different directions (for example, at a meeting). For adults with acquired hearing loss, classes in hearing help and lip-reading are now available in Dublin, Dunshaughlin, Tullamore, Longford and Kilkenny. Contact Brigid MacSweeney, National Association of Deaf People, 35 North Frederick Street, Dublin 1. Tel 01-872 3800, fax 01-872 3816.

HRT (hormone replacement therapy) protects women from cardiovascular disease, according to a Finnish study quoted in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. In the average postmenopausal woman, HRT was shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by almost 50 per cent. It has been found to ease blood flow within arteries, which may lead to reduced risks for arterial damage, heart attack or stroke. There will be a free public lecture on Osteoporosis, the Menopause and HRT on Thursday, October 29th, 7-8.30 p.m. in the Walton Theatre, Arts Block, Trinity College, Dublin.