Lifelines

 

Do you worry about your child's health? Can you recognise illness? Do you know when to call the doctor? Or how to cope in an emergency? Medical practitioners will cover these topics in an information evening, "Understanding Your Child's Health". There will also be information on child development and a practical demonstration of child resuscitation. On Thursday, 7 9 p.m. at the Ardilaun Hotel, Galway. Admission is free.

Eczema can be a seriously debilitating condition and conventional treatment is often not successful. The National Eczema Society is holding a public talk, by Dr Brendan Fitzpatrick, on complementary medicine and its role in the treatment of eczema. Tomorrow at 8 p.m. in the Mont Clare Hotel, Dublin.

Chocolate might be good for you, according to researchers at the Associates for Research into the Science of Enjoyment. Two studies found physical and emotional enjoyment can enhance our immune system. Scientists tested the theory by subjecting people to the smell of chocolate (and rotting meat) and found that the secretion of SigA (an antibody in saliva which protects against respiratory infections) increases with happy experiences and decreases with unpleasant ones. According to one scientist: "this direct link proves that happiness could make you healthier". (BBC)

Garlic's anti-cancer activity is diminished or destroyed by cooking, US research has found. One minute of microwaving or 45 minutes of oven-roasting can completely block garlic's ability to retard the action of a known cancer-causing agent in rats. Garlic's anti-cancer properties are retained, however, by chopping and allowing the garlic to stand for 10 minutes before cooking. (Ivanhoe)

Drug or alcohol addiction could be in the genes, according to three US studies of the family members of substance abusers. A study at the Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, found the brothers and sisters of marijuana or cocaine users had a 70-80 per cent higher risk of becoming dependent on these drugs than people from drug-free families. They do, however, concede it might be more complex: "familial transmission of substance abuse may result from genetic and/or environmental factors".

Using a keyboard can lead to repetitive strain injury or carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). A vein transplant which may end chronic pain in the wrist or arm caused by CTS has been developed in the UK. CTS, which affects 10 per cent of the UK population who type or do other repetitive actions, was previously treated with steroids or by wearing a splint. The new technique involves taking a vein from the leg and wrapping it around the nerve - like insulation around electric wires. (BBC)

A high intake of vitamin A may lead to increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures, suggests a Swedish study. Northern Europe, where diets tend to be high in vitamin A (partly as a result of taking cod liver oil), has the highest incidence of osteoporotic bone fracture in the world. According to researchers, for every 1 mg increase in daily intake of vitamin A, risk for hip fracture increased by 68 per cent. (Annals of Internal Medicine)