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ORAL HISTORY: You may soon be able to combine a quick mouthwash with a thorough oral check-up - a new American product, OraScan, uses a stain called toluidine blue to detect oral cancer long before tell-tale symptoms (discolouration and lesions) appear. The dye is able to stain abnormal cells blue; a three-step programme then follows, using the toluidine solution and two cleansing rinses. If the spots reappear after two weeks, a biopsy can be prepared to determine whether the cells are malignant. The OraScan may reach British dentists and doctors by the end of the year.

TUNING UP: The Journal of Physical Therapy reports that women spend an average of 25 per cent longer on exercise bikes if they listen to their favourite music. Unless it was an old Mike Oldfield album, in which case they simply nodded off ...

SUPPLEMENTARY BENEFIT: A better sex life and a cure for depression are just a supplement away - at least according to the grandiose claims made by two of the latest arrivals. Ostrin Plus GTZ 611 contains "concentrated Japanese oyster extract" equivalent to eating "75 fresh oysters" - so, between bouts of gagging, you should be transformed into a l-u-r-v-e machine of Barry White proportions. A snip at pounds 24.95 for 30 capsules, with a recommended daily intake of one capsule, rising to 2 or 3 at times of, ahem, "increased exertion". Meanwhile, Kira, launched at the end of September, promises to banish "mild depression" within two weeks, with a heady combination of exotic flower extracts. The first guinea pigs will get a questionnaire to monitor their progress, with statements like "I frequently feel totally miserable" hopefully becoming less applicable as you get through the 16- day course (50 tablets, pounds 9.95).

FLAKES OF THE WEEK: The Metamorphic Association practises a form of "creative growth", which they call "the Metamorphic Technique", in which a trained "catalyst" acts on "the power of life" within the "recipient" by applying "a massage to the spinal reflexes in the feet, hands and head which correspond to the time before birth when we established our characteristics." The "recipient" soars free of "old patterns of physical and psychological illness," and becomes a well-rounded, conflict-free member of society. The Association stresses that the technique "can even be performed while watching TV!" However, they add a word of warning to those expecting miracles: "A caterpillar may change into a butterfly, but there's a part of him that will always remain a caterpillar". How true ...

! The Metamorphic Association, London SW17 (0181 672 5951)

SURVEY, SO GOOD: University of California boffins claim that a regular stretching routine reduces "sadness, guilt and fear". Meanwhile, Jan Hargrave, author of the new book, Let Me See Your Body Talk, reports that men who hug and kiss their wives every morning before leaving for work live five years longer, have fewer car accidents, and earn up to 30 per cent more than those who don't.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT? A recent impromptu vox pop among personal trainers confirmed something most people have suspected all along - that women who work out tend to ogle the bodies of men, while male gym junkies can't take their eyes off the bodies of

FAD SPORT: Shaun Baker is an extreme kayaker, a masochist who chooses to ride his canoe over waterfalls. Not surprisingly, he is only one of a few in Britain. "You need a `no limits' outlook," he says. His most recent near-death experience was in Italy. "I hit a 10ft-deep whirlpool, I knew I was heading for `the green room' - that's what we call it when you're in a whirlpool and you look up and see the light gradually getting greener and greener as it sucks you down."

! Today, extreme kayakers meet in St David's, Wales for the Wild Water Challenge (0171 379 5220)

COMPILED BY STUART HUSBAND

YOGA BARED: We've had road rage, bike rage, even roller rage, but are you ready for meditation rage? Power Yoga, a new discipline taught at the Life Centre in London, encourages devotees to develop "dynamic yoga breath", which generates "deep heat in the body". The power thus unleashed, warns the Centre, could create "headaches, aching, nausea, anger, grief and tiredness". No wonder PY's being plugged as "accessible for people living a hectic 20th century lifestyle".

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