Fertile vitamin

Vitamin E could be the solution to some types of male infertility, say researchers from the University of Sheffield. Sperm dysfunction is the cause of at least 40 per cent of cases of infertility, and in most cases it is not known why sperm are defective or low in quantity - which makes treatment difficult. But trials have shown that men given a three-month course of vitamin E had a significant improvement in sperm function compared to a placebo group. Although further tests are needed, they believe vitamin E could be a simple, cheap treatment likely to help up to 20 per cent of men with sperm abnormalities.

Spot the stretch marks

A common acne cream may help reduce stretch marks formed in the early stages of pregnancy, according to a small study from Michigan University published in the Archives of Dermatology. Researchers there found that after six months of treatment with tretinoin, 80 per cent of women showed a marked reduction in stretch marks, compared to 8 per cent of patients given a placebo.

Antibiotic resistance

Precribing antibiotics for the common cold is discouraged on the grounds that colds are caused by a virus. But in fact antibiotics can help a small number of patients with upper respiratory tract infections, says a Swiss study of 314 patients with colds, published in the Lancet. It found that 20 per cent had a bacterial infection that responded to treatment with an antibiotic. A Lancet report argues that using antibiotics for such a trivial disease worsens the problem of antibiotic resistance.

Home HIV detector

The first "home test" to detect HIV has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and is due to go on sale there next month. Called Confide, the kit can be bought from pharmacies and includes a counselling booklet and an anonymous test card with an ID number which is mailed to a lab for HIV testing. Results are available by phone seven days later.

Floored by fat

Feeling drowsy after a meal may be due to the fat content, say researchers at the Centre for Human Nutrition in Sheffield. They found that injecting lipids directly into the small intestine reduces alertness and affects the speed and accuracy of performing tasks that need sustained attention. They also found high-fat, low-carbohydrate meals induce more lethargy than low-fat, high-carbohydrate meals. Fatty meals eaten mid-morning make us feel even more feeble than those eaten at lunchtime.

Cup of cheer

Want to buy something for Father's Day (June 16) and help cancer research? The Imperial Cancer Research Fund is offering a tin of "Father's Tea" (above), together with a special mug, from Whittard of Chelsea, and card containing a personalised message which can be sent directly to dads living anywhere in the UK. Cost pounds 12.99, inc p&p. Orders should be placed on 0171- 269 3412 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm), by 11 June.