The Guardian

This News Source Was Added: September 13, 2016
The Content Was Refreshed: 24 Feb 2018 | 03:50:02

Health & wellbeing | The Guardian

Latest Health & wellbeing news, comment and analysis from the Guardian, the world's leading liberal voice

From inappropriate air kisses to one-sided conversations, our awkward moments remind us how much we have in common

In the late 1960s, the anthropologist Edmund Carpenter arrived in New Guinea armed with mirrors, video and Polaroid cameras, and a mission: to blow the minds of members of the Biami tribe, who had never seen full reflections or images of themselves. “They were paralysed,” he wrote later. “After their first startled response – covering their mouths and ducking their heads – they stood transfixed, staring at their images.” Like any of us, the Biami carried an inner image of themselves, but unlike us, it was formed without mirrors or photos. Carpenter’s devices disrupted that inner image, triggering discomfort. But not for long. Within days, “they groomed themselves openly before mirrors… In an astonishingly short time, these villagers… were making movies [and] taking Polaroid shots of each other.” If they weren’t technically posing for selfies all day, as I’m told the young people do in 2018, it was only through lack of the right gadgets.

As Melissa Dahl points out in her brilliant new book Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness, just published in the US, it’s unclear if the Biami were really as unfamiliar with mirrors as Carpenter thought. But in any case, what’s striking isn’t how strange their reaction seems, but how relatable. You know how it feels when you make an amiable remark in a lift, but nobody responds? (I hope so. Otherwise it’s just me.) Or when two people greeting each other misjudge whether to go for a handshake, hug or social kiss? That’s the same awkwardness: “self-consciousness tinged with uncertainty,” as Dahl defines it. It’s “the feeling we get when someone’s presentation of themselves… is shown to be incompatible with reality in a way that can’t be smoothed over.”

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Author: Oliver Burkeman
Posted: February 23, 2018, 2:59 pm

I was expected to remain a virgin until I married a boy from church. At 23, I have rejected this lifestyle, but my attempts to meet a potential partner have failed

I am a 23-year-old woman who is having trouble navigating the secular dating world. I grew up in a religious family where the expectation was that I would marry a boy from church, in a no-sex-before-marriage setup. This was complicated by my not liking any of the few guys on offer – and by my occasional attraction to women. The upshot is that I have never been on a date, not even a Christian one. Since leaving religion recently, I have been attracted to and tried to show interest in some guys, but it has not been reciprocated. I am worried that my nerves are showing. My atheism has created conflict with my parents, which I know will worsen if I date a non-Christian. My mother is obsessed with me remaining a virgin. I think I have complexes about sex myself. I am starting to despair. Any advice?

•When leaving a message on this page, please be sensitive to the fact that you are responding to a real person in the grip of a real-life dilemma, who wrote to Private Lives asking for help, and may well view your comments here. Please consider especially how your words or the tone of your message could be perceived by someone in this situation, and be aware that comments that appear to be disruptive or disrespectful to the individual concerned will be removed.

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Author: Guardian Staff
Posted: February 23, 2018, 12:04 pm

The app offers to ‘gamify running’ by pairing runners to race each other wherever they are in the world. A self-confessed sceptic gives it a go

OK, I’m biased, I won’t lie. I really wasn’t expecting to like RaceRunner. It’s everything I’m not keen on: it’s smartphone-centric, it involves teaming up with unknown “buddies” and it treats the notion of solitude (“Never run alone again”) as some kind of malady.

Here’s the two-line pitch: “We have gamified running, and have made it more stimulating and engaging. How? We pair users up against each other, and through the app they run virtual races in real time, anywhere in the world.”

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Author: Oliver Balch
Posted: February 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

Participants who ate the most vegetables and consumed the fewest processed foods, sugary drinks and unhealthy fats shed the most kilograms

The amount and quality of food and not a person’s genetics will lead to weight loss, a US study has found.

It has been suggested that variations in genetic makeup make it easier for some people to lose weight than others on certain diets.

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Author: Australian Associated Press
Posted: February 21, 2018, 12:56 am

Few clubs cater for fans who choose to cycle to the ground, but simple changes could help reduce traffic jams and pollution on match days

I am a football fan and I am a cyclist. These identities do not need to be mutually exclusive – so why is it often such a challenge to go to the game by bike?

I support Norwich City and I live in Liverpool, which is the first hurdle. Liverpool is 238 miles away from Norwich, and the direct train takes more than five hours. Because of this, I have pretty much given up on home games.

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Author: Robin Ireland
Posted: February 20, 2018, 7:00 am

Repetitive strain injury often starts gradually but can soon become severely debilitating. Bu there are ways to nip it in the bud – and alleviate the worst symptoms

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) causes pain, weakness, tingling and stiffness of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves or other soft tissues and joints in the upper limbs from neck to fingers. It is also called upper limb disorder, cumulative trauma disorder or occupational overuse syndrome. It often starts gradually and is worse when you’re at work, but it can take on a life of its own and become constant and debilitating. Nip it in the bud by taking short, frequent breaks from repetitive tasks such as typing. Check the ergonomics of your work station and try not to slouch at your desk.

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Author: Ann Robinson
Posted: February 19, 2018, 11:14 am

The joys of parkrun for me this weekend - and a big thank you to every single person who makes them possible. As always, share your own weekend triumphs and woes below the line

Well, having complained last week about how I can never really learn to love cross country running, I will counteract any negativity this week by writing some words I never through I’d string together: I really like 5ks.

On Saturday I did Fulham Palace parkrun - on smooth paved paths, three times around the park, it’s a fast course, good for a proper test. The thing about a 5k, if you really push it, is that it’s just so easy. No, no, wait, bear with me: your lungs might be screaming, your legs turning to jelly at the end, but there’s just no time for the mental battles that haunt your average marathoner. Over 26.2, even the elites have (just) over two hours in which to see-saw between good patches and bad patches, and the rest of us just have a whole lot more of it. If you do a 5k right, you don’t really have time to think much of anything.

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Author: Kate Carter
Posted: February 19, 2018, 9:26 am

He ejaculates by lying face down and rubbing himself against his bed. I think this is the cause of our problems, but I don’t know how to discuss it with him

I am 17, my boyfriend is 16 and we have been together for a year. We have been having regular sex for six months and he has never orgasmed or ejaculated during sex. He told me recently that he masturbates prone (lying face down and rubbing himself against his bed) and has done so since he was about eight. I think this is the cause of his problems. How should I broach the subject of him abstaining from masturbation and maybe changing his technique?

It is not uncommon for a person to develop a masturbation style that does not easily segue to satisfactory intercourse. Your partner’s style seems to fall into this category, although it is difficult to say whether this is due to the change in position or because he is accustomed to a higher degree of friction. If his challenge is due to the former reason, ask him to experiment with different positions. Do this with erotic playfulness, rather than as a chore to correct a problem. But if he needs more friction, it is important for you to know that. Try stimulating him manually with different degrees of intensity and ask him to guide you regarding what feels best.

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Author: Pamela Stephenson Connolly
Posted: February 19, 2018, 8:00 am

It all boils down to human emotion, says Sharmadean Reid

Ugh, navigating office politics is the worst. Every day millions of people are prevented from doing their jobs effectively because they have to be constantly on guard about what they do or say.

Getting on with colleagues all boils down to human emotion. I often think back to the scene in Clueless when Cher realises she’s getting bad grades because her teacher is lonely and miserable. Instead of trying to talk her teacher into giving her better grades, she hooks him up with another teacher; they get married and everyone gets good grades! It all comes back to people needing to feel appreciated and loved.

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Author: Sharmadean Reid
Posted: February 19, 2018, 7:00 am

The chemical BPA is widely added to food and drink packaging, and more than 80% of teenagers have it in their bodies. But how dangerous is it?

Can exposure to plastics harm your health? It’s a question currently being explored by researchers after a recent study suggested that traces of a synthetic chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA) can be found in more than 80% of teenagers. BPA is added to plastic to create a special form called polycarbonate plastic, used in making robust, impact-resistant materials for everything from food and drink packaging to DVD cases and medical devices. First created in 1891, it has been used commercially since the 1950s and is now one of the most commonly produced chemicals in the world, with 3.6bn tonnes of BPA generated every year.

The problem is that BPA can be ingested or absorbed through skin contact, meaning that humans are regularly exposed through the chemical leaching out of packaging into food and drink – and over the past 20 years various studies have linked BPA to a variety of adverse health effects. The biggest concerns have been the impact on foetuses and young children, who have underdeveloped systems for detoxifying chemicals – the consequences being that the younger you are, the higher the levels of BPA in your body.

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Author: David Cox
Posted: February 19, 2018, 6:00 am

The novelist, 56, on the health benefits of eating less and walking more

When I was a child and my parents separated, I went on walking holidays with my dad. My rubric’s always been to walk from home – I’m not a rambler. It’s about a sense of being and place and engagement with the environment around me.

I like wild swimming, particularly in the sea – I swim out, then float and look at the horizon. I think that’s extremely good for the imagination. I still cycle even though I was knocked off my bike a few years ago, but mostly in the summer – it’s too dangerous in the winter in London.

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Author: Interview by Chris Hall
Posted: February 18, 2018, 6:00 am

Mothers and sons is the greatest love story never told, says Mariella Frostrup. Stay patient but don’t stop seeing your new lover

The dilemma My husband died suddenly early last year. It has been tough for me and for my teen/20s children. We’ve worked hard to support our grief and have been close. They have lovely friends and special loves who have been wonderful and supportive – and they are OK, me too.

I have become close to someone I have known vaguely for 10 years. He is lovely and we seem to have embarked on something special. In our 50s neither of us want to fanny about and he seems willing to accept the baggage I carry (and he has some, too). I feel the same.

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Author: Mariella Frostrup
Posted: February 18, 2018, 6:00 am

Jewish and Muslim leaders condemn first European country to propose ban

Iceland is poised to become the first European country to outlaw male circumcision amid signs that the ritual common to both Judaism and Islam may be a new battleground over religious freedom.

A bill currently before the Icelandic parliament proposes a penalty of up to six years in prison for anyone carrying out a circumcision other than for medical reasons. Critics say the move, which has sparked alarm among religious leaders across Europe, would make life for Jews and Muslims in Iceland unsustainable.

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Author: Harriet Sherwood
Posted: February 18, 2018, 12:03 am

I have been through something similar, says Annalisa Barbieri. Try joking it off – or face the problem head on

I am being constantly body-shamed by my family, and it hurts.

I moved to the UK years ago and built up a good career. I am finishing my master’s degree part-time while working full-time; I have also recently started my first managerial role. Juggling my studies and a full-time job, means I go back to my country only once a year.

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Author: Annalisa Barbieri
Posted: February 17, 2018, 9:00 am

New research refutes the theory that pressure from saddles can cause erectile dysfunction, and says cycling could actually improve performance in older men

Few doubt that cycling helps you get healthy. One study last year found cyclists are less likely to develop heart disease or cancer, and a 2011 review showed it improves fitness and leads to longer lives. But there’s an area of men’s health that has been the subject of a persistent question: does time spent in the saddle lead to problems in the sack?

In recent years, scientists have linked cycling with several male health problems, including erectile dysfunction, which they speculate is caused by the saddle decreasing blood flow to the penis. In one study, Norwegian researchers gathered data from 160 men after they took part in a long-distance bike tour. They found that one in five suffered with numbness to the penis that lasted up to a week after the tour, and 13% developed erectile dysfunction that lasted more than a week in most cases.

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Author: Jessica Brown
Posted: February 16, 2018, 7:30 am

Women in labour are increasingly being subjected to unnecessary and unwelcome interventions such as caesarean sections, warns WHO

Medical staff and midwives should not intervene to speed up a woman’s labour unless there are real risks of complications, says the World Health Organisation (WHO), warning that too many are not having the experience of natural childbirth that they want.

New guidance from the WHO overturns decades of previous advice, which said that labour which progressed at a slower rate than 1cm of cervical dilation per hour in the first stage was risky. Women are often given the drug oxytocin to speed up labour and end up with epidurals because of the pain, followed by forceps or vacuum deliveries and in some cases a caesarean section.

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Author: Sarah Boseley Health editor
Posted: February 15, 2018, 4:09 pm

Prediction calculators still give a rose-tinted view for most runners, says Fetcheveryone’s Ian Williams. He takes another look at the stats

It was a real pleasure to see my marathon time predictor featured in the Guardian a few months back. My algorithm uses data from more than a thousand runners of varying abilities who have logged their training here on Fetcheveryone, to come up with a better prediction of marathon time. You can try it here.

It’s based on my view that the usefulness of the popular formula devised by Peter Riegel in 1977 starts to break down at marathon distance. This may well be because runners are often under-prepared for the rigours of the marathon, but it’s arguably better for morale to smash a realistic goal than to burn out chasing an elusive one.

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Author: Ian Williams
Posted: February 15, 2018, 2:41 pm

Costs of the disorder in adults who are unable to work or hold down a full-time job are high, says thinktank

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, could be costing the UK billions of pounds a year, according to a new report that says awareness of the condition in adults in particular is very poor and many people go undiagnosed and untreated.

According to the thinktank Demos, ADHD is a major socio-economic burden. The costs to the nation of the disorder in adults who are unable to work or hold down a full-time job are high.

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Author: Sarah Boseley Health editor
Posted: February 15, 2018, 6:01 am

Findings suggest increased consumption of ultra-processed foods tied to rise in cancers, but scientists say more research is needed

“Ultra-processed” foods, made in factories with ingredients unknown to the domestic kitchen, may be linked to cancer, according to a large and groundbreaking study.

Ultra-processed foods include pot noodles, shelf-stable ready meals, cakes and confectionery which contain long lists of additives, preservatives, flavourings and colourings – as well as often high levels of sugar, fat and salt. They now account for half of all the food bought by families eating at home in the UK, as the Guardian recently revealed.

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Author: Sarah Boseley Health editor
Posted: February 14, 2018, 11:30 pm

Uganda’s first ever Critical Mass is missing the air of protest normally found in Europe or the US. This may be for the best in a country where dissent is often quashed with rubber bullets and tear gas

“Do you know what is going on here today?” I ask Annette, the banana seller I’m buying a quick breakfast from. She doesn’t, so I explain that people are gathering here to ride bicycles together. We’re standing on Luwum street in central Kampala, looking out at a completely alien scene. With the usual sea of cars, minibus taxis and boda bodas (the city’s famous motorbike taxis) absent, the whole road is visible and looks 10 times more spacious than usual. It has been adorned with colourful paintings – including green cycle lanes – and we can see people walking, talking and cycling, while children run around playing.

It is a playground in the middle of a city where people rarely stop to play; there is too much work to be done. “I don’t know how to ride a bicycle, but I’d like to learn,” says Annette as she observes the scene, sighing: “But how can I learn? Are you going to teach me?”

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Author: Alice McCool in Kampala
Posted: February 7, 2018, 7:30 am

There are many diets you can follow if you want to live more healthily, but it’s hard to know which has the best long-term effects? Luckily, a team of experts has done the research

Losing weight is a common new year’s resolution. Even when dressed up as a pledge to eat more healthily, it can be tinged with self-loathing. Those pigs in blankets, mince pies and Baileys. Why, oh why? But at least anyone who wants to improve their diet has a fantastic resource to help them. With perfect timing, a US panel of experts in diet, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and food psychology has scrutinised and ranked 40 diets. Its listings, which are produced annually, show which diets are best for short- and long-term weight loss, which are easiest to follow, which you are most likely to stick with – and which are unsafe because they don’t supply enough nutrients.

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: January 5, 2018, 4:18 pm

A new study suggests canine-lovers could be 23% less likely to die from heart disease – or it could just be that healthier people prefer dogs

Dogs really are our best friends, according to a Swedish study that says canine ownership could reduce heart disease. A study of 3.4 million people between the ages of 40 and 80 found that having a dog was associated with a 23% reduction in death from heart disease and a 20% lower risk of dying from any cause over the 12 years of the study. Previous studies have suggested dogs relieve social isolation and depression – both linked to an increased risk of heart disease and early death.

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: December 4, 2017, 7:00 am
More than a quarter of new fathers in a new study showed significant levels of depression – what are the causes, and what can they do about it?

Men don’t go through pregnancy or childbirth. Their hormone levels don’t nosedive. They don’t get sore nipples. What exactly have they got to be depressed about? Quite a lot, according to research from Sweden showing that, over the past 10 years, a significant number of men have struggled with the transition to fatherhood.

This latest research tries to quantify just how many men get postnatal depression. Previous studies have found between 4% and 10% of men, while, in this smallish sample of 447 Swedish fathers who volunteered (and may therefore not represent your average dad), a surprising 28% of men had symptoms that scored above mild levels of depression. Overall, 4% had moderate depression. Fewer than one in five fathers who were depressed sought help, even though a third of those had thought about harming themselves. While women in the UK are often asked a series of questions that screen for postnatal depression (which affects up to 13% of women), the mental health of fathers is rarely assessed.

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: November 13, 2017, 8:00 am
If you have sensitive skin, doctors recommend moisturisers without fragrance or allergic ingredients, but terms such as ‘hypoallergenic’ and ‘dermatologist-recommended’ are often just marketing tools

What do you look for in a body moisturiser? Is it the smell, how smooth it leaves your skin feeling, or how much it costs? If you are attracted by terms such as “dermatologist recommended” or “hypoallergenic”, you may be disappointed. A study of the top 100 best-selling whole body moisturisers found that not only did prices vary by 9,400% but that 95% of the products claiming to be dermatologist-recommended had at least one ingredient that could cause an allergy. Of the hypoallergenic moisturisers, 83% contained a substance on the allergen list of the North American Contact Dermatitis Group (NACDG). The most common potential allergy-causing ingredients were fragrance mix and paraben mix (a preservative).

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: October 30, 2017, 7:00 am

A new report suggests that young people are aware of their parents’ drinking – and it may well have an impact on their relationship with alcohol. So should you keep booze out of the family home?

When you’re drinking wine at home, don’t look as if you’re enjoying it – at least not if you have kids. How much you drink, how often you say: ‘Ah, that’s nice,’ while imbibing and whether you use alcohol as a reward or coping mechanism can all encourage adolescents to drink, according to a report last week from the Institute of Alcohol Studies.

In case you think it’s OK for teenagers to drink, the Department of Health advises children have an alcohol-free life until the age of 15 and only one drink a week until they are 18. In 2009, Prof Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer at the time, warned that “exposing children to drink-fuelled events” was one of the root causes of the UK’s drinking problem.

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: October 23, 2017, 6:00 am
This News Source Was Added: September 13, 2016
The Content Was Refreshed: 24 Feb 2018 | 03:50:02