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

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

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £550 - £650

£550 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Traded Credit Risk - Investmen...

Data Insight Manager - Marketing

£32000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based o...

Data Centre Engineer - Linux, Redhat, Solaris, SAN, Puppet

£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A financial software vendor at the forefro...

.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: .NET Developer C#, WPF,BLL, MSMQ, SQL, GIT, SQ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letters: The West flounders in the Middle East morass

Independent Voices
David Tennant as Hamlet  

To vote no or not to vote no, that is the question... Although do celebrities really have the answer?

David Lister
All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf