Simon Kelner: Health is a safe bet when it comes to the news

Kelner's view

Share
Related Topics

I may have shared with you previously the observation that just enough news happens every day to fill the pages of a newspaper. Over this summer (or what passes for it), the Jubilee, the Olympics and the Paralympics have occupied acres of newsprint, so it is reasonable to ask what would have filled the pages if those big events hadn't taken place. Were there hundreds of news stories out there that went unreported?

Perhaps only the really big stuff got a look-in, such as Geri Halliwell and Russell Brand becoming "a couple" or the sighting of a household cat on the loose in Essex. Or maybe news just stopped happening. Now it's September, and soon the world will be engaged in serious matters, but it is worth reflecting on some of the stories that you may have missed over the past weeks.

There is one genre of news report that, no matter what the season, can be guaranteed a place in the newspapers: the findings from a scientific or medical study that offers health advice. Every day, it seems, there is a new – often counter-intuitive, and sometimes contradictory – piece of lifestyle advocacy. I have collated the most significant developments in the world of health that you may have missed while you were watching the Queen, marvelling at Mo Farah, or listening to Stephen Hawking.

From bodies as august and diverse as the American Geriatrics Society and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, and reported over the past few weeks in Britain's national newspapers, comes a bewildering array of recommendations. Such as drinking several cups of coffee a day could help to protect you against bowel cancer. Or that brushing your teeth, as well as freshening your breath after all that coffee, helps to ward off dementia. (Another study reported that junk food can increase the danger of dementia, so my advice is plenty of brushing and no burger!)

Also, losing your temper increases your chances of a stroke, while a simple one-hour operation halves the risk of a heart attack for those with high blood pressure. A herbal tea made from extracts of a plant known as virgin's mantle may hold the key to fighting breast cancer, and pregnant women are advised to eat nuts as they reduce the chances of children developing allergies.

I kid you not: every one of these assertions is the product of a bona fide academic study. So what are we supposed to make of all this? I gave up coffee about 20 years ago in order to sleep better, but should I now take it up again because insomnia is certainly preferable to bowel cancer? Or should I wait for the next study which tells me that a cup of coffee a day increases your brain power and makes you more attractive?

Of all this guidance, the suggestion that it might be beneficial not to lose your temper seems the most sensible and practical. But to do that, you may have to avoid thinking of all the money, effort and expertise that is expended to bring us the next piece of health advice we can ignore.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: A widow’s tale with an unexpected twist

John Rentoul
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss