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Something fishy

Eating lots of fish or taking fish-oil supplements offers no greater protection against heart disease than consuming moderate amounts, say researchers from Harvard University. In a six-year study of almost 45,000 men, they found those who ate fish were 26 per cent less likely to die from a heart attack than non-fish eaters. But those who ate several portions a week were at the same risk as men who ate fish about once a month.

Buzz word

Beekeepers are stung an average of 2,000 times annually, yet they are healthier and take fewer sick days than other workers, say researchers from Bridgeport Hospital, Connecticut. They found beekeepers suffer less from arthritis and allergies than the general population, possibly because of an active ingredient in bee venom.

Lethal needle

An acupuncture needle inserted into the chest can cause fatal heart injury, doctors from Trondheim University Hospital, in Norway, have warned. They describe in the Lancet the case of a 40-year-old woman treated with acupuncture for fibromyalgia. She died when a needle, inserted on a commonly used acupuncture point went through a sternal foramen, or natural hole in the breastbone, and pierced the heart.

Size surprise

The average erect penis measures 12.8cm or just over 5in - smaller than most men assume, according to a study from the University of California, San Francisco. In a report in New Scientist, researchers say they investigated the norm for penis size because too many men are seeking penis augmentation, which often has complications.

Shun shoes

Children who do not wear shoes rarely develop flat feet, according to research from India, reported in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. It showed that children who go barefoot until the age of six seem to have healthy feet for the rest of their lives - until, presumably, they start to wear Western high heels.

K question

The doses of oral vitamin K recommended in Britain for newborn babies may not be enough to prevent serious bleeding, says a study from Germany published in the British Medical Journal.

The research, carried out in 100 obstetric units, using double the dose of vitamin K usually given orally in Britain, found that 18 cases of haemorrhagic disease were in babies given the oral treatment. Oral vitamin K has been used in many hospitals since a study pubished in 1992 found a link between vitamin K injections and childhood cancer.

Folic flour

Flour should be fortified with folic acid to prevent neural tube defects in pregnancy, argues an editorial in the British Medical Journal. It points out that a woman who is planning to become pregnant would have to consume more than eight glasses of orange juice, 10 servings of broccoli or three servings of brussel sprouts daily to receive the extra 0.4mg of folic acid recommended by the Department of Health.

Grape is great

Grape juice may be easier on infant stomachs than apple juice, researchers from New York have reported in the journal Pediatrics. A small study of young children found that the sugars in white grape juice are more easily absorbed than those in apple juice.

Aspirin advice

A leaflet explaining how aspirin can lower the threat of strokes has been produced by the Stroke Association. "Aspirin and Stroke" says that taking aspirin under a doctor's guidance can lower the risk of stroke by as much as a third among high risk people. Copies are available from the Stroke Association, CHSA House, Whitecross Street, London EC1Y 8JJ.

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