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Stairway to safe sex

Can patients with heart disease still have sex - which increases heart rate and blood pressure - safely?

Yes, says a report in the British Journal of Clinical Practice, provided the relationship is a stable one and the partner not too youthful. Sex with a long-standing partner does not stress the heart excessively, and if the patient can briskly climb up and down two flights of stairs without symptoms, sex will usually be symptom-free. But the report warns that 80 per cent of sudden deaths during sex are related to extramarital activity.

Alcoholic bone bonus

Red wine consumption has already been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Now US researchers say that three glasses of wine daily - of any colour - may reduce the risk of hip fracture in post-menopausal women.

In a two-year study of 1,154 older women and men, researchers found that women drinking either two measures of spirits, three beers or three glasses of wine increased their bone density by between 5 and 10 per cent more than non-drinkers.

Alcohol may improve bone mineral density by increasing oestrogen levels, the study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, concludes.

Just one jab

The painful vaccinations British babies endure could be replaced by a single vaccine that is just as safe and effective, say Spanish researchers. Their study of 626 infants given a combined DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), polio and hepatitis B vaccine showed all the babies developed antibody responses and suffered no more adverse effects than a control group. UK trials of single vaccines offering protection against up to six diseases began last week.

One breast at a time

Should a nursing mother switch breasts during a single feed? Researchers from Australia suggest not. Their study, published in Actua Paediatrica, found that prolonged feeding from one breast only was less likely to lead to breast engorgement or infant colic than equal emptying of both breasts at each feed.

Depression comes early

The end of the long hot summer means symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) are appearing earlier than normal, according to research reported in General Practitioner. Sufferers of SAD, a form of seasonal depression, normally start complaining about the disorder in October or November. A survey found that 6 per cent of the population could suffer from SAD, which can be prevented by treatment using simulated light.