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REFRESHED: November 24, 2017 | 00:21

Health & wellbeing | The Guardian

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

Fewer midwives are attending to birth in the country, where insurance premiums are punitive and medical intervention is increasingly widespread. And it’s not only mothers who are missing their skills

Ten years ago, Dr Christiane Schwarz - a lecturer and researcher - decided that she could no longer continue working as a midwife in Germany. “It was not so much about how we were treated but how the labouring women were treated, she says. “Having worked in the UK and New Zealand, I knew it is possible to care for women and babies with much more respect”.

Related: European nurses and midwives leaving UK in droves since Brexit vote

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Author: Sohini Chattopadhyay
Posted: November 23, 2017, 2:56 pm

Stuart is looking for a high-spec laptop at a low price. There are some good options, and Black Friday may reveal a few more

If you were in the market for a new laptop, what would you buy if your absolute maximum budget was £500?

I’ve always liked 17in widescreen laptops but will switch to 15in, preferably with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard disk. Stuart

My first thought was that your best bet was a refurbished ThinkPad from Tier1Online, but it turns out that you really can buy new laptops with your preferred specification for less than £500, especially if they are older models at discounted prices. There may be even more examples around tomorrow, which is Black Friday, and over the weekend.

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Author: Jack Schofield
Posted: November 23, 2017, 11:43 am
I sent off for two pairs of shoes and only discovered when they didn’t arrive that the company was in Beijing

I ordered two pairs of Opening Ceremony Cici Classic shoes from, which sells “designer” shoes and clothing at drastically reduced prices. They usually cost around £200 a pair. I paid £122.38 on 29 September by Lloyds debit card. On 3 October the money was taken from my account by retailer DESIGNER ONLINESHOP in Beijing. Eventually, a pair of shoes – the wrong ones, Adidas Yeezy Boost 350 trainers – arrived from China with no delivery note. I’ve been advised they are from Kanye West’s expensive label, but are in fact counterfeits.

I complained by email asking if I needed to return them to China at my own expense, and received a reply saying I should keep them. Further emails requesting the supply of my original order have led to an offer of a measly 15% refund and them telling me that the trainers in my possession are “valuable”. Should I simply put this down to experience and warn others? PJ, Twickenham

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Author: Rebecca Smithers
Posted: November 21, 2017, 7:00 am

E-bikes are well-established in some EU countries, but how about the UK? Old-school cyclist Peter Kimpton tries a new model to see if he’d be tempted to swap

“E-bikes are fantastic. I use them all the time. You can take the kids up mountains. You can arrive in your good clothes at a meeting. It’s so easy.” Who said this?

Surprisingly, it was none other than Fabian Cancellara, perhaps the greatest ever road time-trial rider. He made similar remarks during a Q&A at the recent Rouleur Classic, an event for road bike and race purists, causing good-humoured outrage. But if even the great Cancellara can ride an e-bike, so will I.

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Author: Peter Kimpton
Posted: November 20, 2017, 2:06 pm

My parents-in-law might move nearer us, but one of them requires nursing home care and we don’t know the rules around paying for it

Q My parents-in-law live in a town about 50 minutes away from my husband and I. My father-in-law requires nursing care in a home, and as they have assets in excess of the £23,500 limit they will have to pay for his nursing home care.

I thought one way around the distance we would have to travel regularly to support them both, would be to have him admitted to a home near us, and for my mother-in-law to sell up and buy a property near to us as well.

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Author: Virginia Wallis
Posted: November 20, 2017, 11:30 am

Gulping down breakfast or lunch has long been thought unhealthy, but is there any evidence that eating your food too fast causes real harm?

Do you savour mealtimes or do you wolf your food down? Eating at your desk or on the run can mean you can gulp down your breakfast or lunch in less than five minutes. And this means you are more likely to get obese or develop metabolic syndrome, both of which increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke, says research presented at last week’s American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017.

The researchers from Hiroshima University in Japan followed up 642 men and 441 women over five years, identifying them as either slow, normal or fast eaters. They found that fast eaters were 11.6% more likely to have developed metabolic syndrome – defined as having any of three risk factors out of obesity (around the waistline), high blood pressure, high levels of bad fats (triglycerides) and high blood sugar after a period of fasting.

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: November 20, 2017, 8:00 am

My boyfriend and I are highly compatible sexually, but I feel awful for lying to him for so long. Should I risk losing his trust by being honest?

I am in a very happy relationship with my boyfriend of nine months. Sexually, we are highly compatible and we have explored my interest in fetish and being tied up. But, stupidly, I faked orgasms from the start, as I feel I take so long to climax and was too embarrassed to be honest with him. I feel awful for lying. Do I confess and risk our trust or take another approach?

The latter would be safer. Some partners feel very betrayed by such a confession, and the likely ensuing loss of confidence would not enhance your chances of having more orgasms with him. Relax – you’re far from being alone in faking and feeling guilty about it. And your fault is really your anxiety and desire to be accommodating. So instead of making a risky confession, move on and try positive reinforcement. This involves giving really clear rewards when he does anything that is likely to bring you to orgasm. Using your creativity, suggest mutually exciting sex play in which there is more of the exact type of direct clitoral stimulation that’s a faster track to climaxing for you. The fact that you are both open to experimentation should make this fairly easy. Many people appreciate and enjoy being gently guided by their partner, so be brave enough to try new techniques – and show him exactly what you want him to do.

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Author: Pamela Stephenson Connolly
Posted: November 20, 2017, 7:00 am
The Wayback project recreates coronation day in 1953 on 3D film using actors, period costumes and props, right down to fish-paste sandwiches. The effect is to bring back vivid memories for those struggling with the present

In a comfortable armchair, glass of sherry at her side, Elspeth Ford is getting to grips with her 3D goggles. “Maybe I’ll go another other way now,” she says, looking left, right, up, down. She breaks into a cheery rendition of the Lambeth Walk.

Elspeth, 79, is a resident at Langham Court, a dementia care home in Surrey, and today she is trialling a virtual reality project, Wayback, that has been designed especially for those living with dementia. Peering into her headset, Elspeth is temporarily transported to 2 June 1953, and a street party for the Queen’s coronation. She is enjoying a children’s fancy-dress competition. “I love that boy dressed as an Oxo cube,” she laughs.

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Author: Giulia Rhodes
Posted: November 20, 2017, 6:00 am

Thinktank says consumption of fruit and vegetables could be hit by exchange rates, tariffs and higher labour costs

Five-a-day eating targets for fruit and vegetables could become unaffordable for millions of low-income families as a result of Brexit-related food price rises, a report says.

The Food Foundation says that already-feeble consumption rates of healthy food in the UK could nosedive under Brexit because the triple impact of exchange rates, labour costs and tariffs could add up to £158 a year to the amount a family of four spends on fruit and vegetables.

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Author: Patrick Butler Social affairs editor
Posted: November 20, 2017, 12:01 am

Racing, pacing, mudlarking or recovering - as always, come and share your weekend stories below the line

Any race with a beer in the pre-race goody bag, and a bag of oranges presented as you cross the line, already has me in the palm of its hand. Add in sunshine, perfect temperatures for running, palm trees, wide, flat roads and you have an official contender for my favourite 10k ever. I’ve spent the weekend in Valencia, eating oranges, running that 10k and cheering on the marathoners on the same course (my race route was essentially the last 10k of the marathon). The start/finish area is one of the most picturesque I’ve ever seen, and I swear I have actually felt my Vitamin D levels rising in the Spanish November sun.

I confess I’ve been struggling recently with motivation - not so much with track or hill sessions. Broken into small reps, and too little breath or oxygen to the brain to really have any thoughts - negative or otherwise - I can always get those done. It’s more the so-called easy runs: I just haven’t found myself either looking forward to, or enjoying, one of those in ages.

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Author: Kate Carter
Posted: November 19, 2017, 4:24 pm

Reclining in order to talk to a therapist is a powerful experience, says Nathan Kravis. But the reasons remain unclear

In 1991, the New York City subway was plastered with enormous couch posters, part of an ad campaign by the Archdiocese of New York. They bore the caption (some in English, others in Spanish), “Some people find the same peace of mind sitting in a pew. Come home at Easter. The Catholic Archdiocese of New York.”

As a young psychiatrist and candidate in psychoanalytic training in Manhattan, I was taking the subway four times a week to my analyst’s office to lie on just such a couch. These ads were obviously not aimed at psychoanalytic trainees like me. But who, I wondered, comprised the target audience? And why was the Church so confident that subway riders would easily decode the image, and understand the implied link between couch and pew?

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Author: Nathan Kravis
Posted: November 19, 2017, 6:00 am

A woman whose husband no longer compliments her says it’s getting her down. Mariella Frostrup suggests she initiates change herself

The dilemma My husband and I have been together for just over 10 years, and have a young child. He’s a kind, intelligent person and a loving father and husband. He used to compliment me quite often up until a few years ago, when we began fertility treatment in order to have our child. That was a stressful time and it involved some serious and painful medical issues for me. I also had to face an emergency c-section, which I found traumatic.

My husband and I have regular sex, which he usually instigates and I think in his mind this is all he needs to do to show he is still attracted to me. But I feel less and less like having sex because of this. He never says I look nice or compliments me any more. I’ve told him I would really appreciate it if he would, but it doesn’t sink in.

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Author: Mariella Frostrup
Posted: November 19, 2017, 6:00 am

Men are facing a fertility crisis, so why is most practical and emotional support offered to couples struggling to conceive aimed at women?

James and Davina D’Souza met and fell in love in their early 20s. They got married five years later, and three years afterwards had saved enough to buy a family home in a quiet cul-de-sac in London. Then, when Davina was 29 and James 33, they started trying for a baby.

“I knew that the moment we bought a home, we’d start a family,” Davina tells me in their living room, beside shelves crammed with framed photos of nieces, nephews, cousins and siblings. “My parents live down the road, and if I needed help to raise a child, my mum would be here.”

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Author: Jenny Kleeman
Posted: November 18, 2017, 10:00 am

‘Don’t fear the middle-aged men in Lycra,’ I’m told. ‘Most are retired.’ They don’t look very retired

‘A lot of women are intimidated by mixed rides because they think the men are going to go too fast.” I’m in Richmond Cycles, where Belinda, my ego-ideal from the Bella Velo club, has recently started working. Bella Velo still do a ton of women’s rides, but this is a mixed ride organised by the shop, and I am intimidated.

“But there’s nothing to be afraid of with these Mamils [middle-aged men in Lycra],” she says. “They’re free during the day, if you know what I mean.” Nope, not a clue. “Most of them are retired.” They don’t look very retired.

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Author: Zoe Williams
Posted: November 18, 2017, 7:00 am

My brother has grand plans that don’t stretch to him forking out

Every week a Guardian Money reader submits a question, and it’s up to you to help him or her out – a selection of the best answers will appear in next Saturday’s paper.

This week’s question:

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Author: Guardian Staff
Posted: November 18, 2017, 7:00 am

Night after night, elaborately crazy stories plant themselves in your mind through no choice of your own. Don’t tell me something intriguing isn’t going on

What are dreams for? It’s one of those bottomless questions where the answer tells you mainly about the person doing the answering. Those who pride themselves on being hard-headed and scientific will say they’re meaningless nonsense or, at best, some kind of boring but essential process for consolidating the memories of the day. Those who think of themselves as spiritual, meanwhile, will insist they’re messages from beyond. Yet the hard-headed answer isn’t much more plausible than the kooky one. If dreams are random brain-firings, how come they have coherent narratives? And if they’re just a dull retread of everyday events, how come they’re so often wildly inventive, haunting or surreal? (Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with any of my own, though the famous fact that “nothing is more boring than other people’s dreams” is, in itself, rather interesting.) As James Hollis, a Jungian psychotherapist for whom dreams are far from meaningless, writes: “Who would make this stuff up?” Night after night, you go to bed and elaborately crazy stories plant themselves in your mind through no choice of your own! Don’t tell me something intriguing isn’t going on.

Membership Event: Guardian Weekend Live

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Author: Oliver Burkeman
Posted: November 17, 2017, 3:00 pm
He has confessed to going to sex parties to meet other partners. Am I nuts to stay with him? Annalisa Barbieri advises a reader

My partner and I are in our 60s and got together after long-term marriages. Although we are not married, we live together, share children and grandchildren and have built a very nice life together. He has always travelled a lot for work and exuded a sense of mystery.

A year ago, he lent me his phone and I bumped into risque naked photos of him and a woman taken when he was supposedly at a work do. I was devastated and confused. When I confronted him, he said he was tired of lying and wanted to come clean. He confessed to having led a secret life while we have been together: attending sex parties and finding partners, often couples, with whom he would have sexual relationships. Suddenly, so much made sense. I realised that my intuition had been warning me that something was amiss, yet I kept telling myself not to be paranoid, to trust him.

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Author: Annalisa Barbieri
Posted: November 17, 2017, 2:59 pm

He walked out on the family and I discovered he had slept with a woman 20 years his junior. He says it was a one-off, but I know it lasted longer. I still want to be with him but he has lied to me

Seven months ago, my husband of eight years told me he was leaving me and moving out the next day. We have two young children and I pleaded for him to stay, but he refused. He denied anyone else was involved. Three weeks later, I found out that a 19-year-old girl (20 years his junior) had visited his new home. He said she was just a friend and it was none of my business. The hurt was too much and I decided to file for a divorce. I guessed he had an affair with this girl – I could tell from his change of behaviour, constantly being on social media etc. He contacted me two months later and said he had slept with this girl once, it meant nothing and it ended a month after he left me. However, she messaged me via Facebook and told me they had been having an affair before we split up. I love him and want to be with him, but I feel he has still not told me the truth. Does our marriage have any hope of working out?

• 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: November 17, 2017, 12:00 pm

Only 12% meet the daily fruit recommendation and 9% the vegetable recommendation, and people living in poverty have especially low rates

Only a sliver of Americans eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Just 12% of Americans eat the minimum daily fruit recommendation of one and a half to two cups per day, and only 9% consume the minimum daily vegetable recommendation of two to three cups per day, according to the study, published on Thursday.

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Author: Jessica Glenza in New York
Posted: November 17, 2017, 12:00 pm

The BBC’s usual standards of impartiality and respect too often fall short when it comes to cyclists, as one show this week – where a pundit labelled them fanatics and even compared them to Nazis – sadly demonstrates

The scene is a BBC talk show. The subject is a particular niche pursuit enjoyed by a very disparate group of people who otherwise have nothing in common. And things aren’t going well.

The presenter – a man known for actively disliking this group – has assembled a seemingly balanced two-person panel, but repeatedly interjects to make it clear he finds the people being discussed annoying and weird.

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Author: Peter Walker
Posted: November 17, 2017, 11:59 am

I felt like a truck had hit me. I couldn’t move my arms. I could hardly talk. I was so tired

Fitness has always been a big part of my life. I live in Orlando, Florida, and I’ve played softball competitively since I was three. I got a sports scholarship to college, which meant strict diets, strength and conditioning coaching, and the weight room every day until I was 21.

After college, I started work as a fashion stylist, joined a gym and took fitness classes. By the time I was 27, I was working out three or four times a week. I worked long hours and coached high school softball, too. I was on a paleo diet and had a six-pack. I loved the results I got from workouts, and enjoyed the competition and camaraderie of group exercise.

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Author: Melanie Pace
Posted: November 17, 2017, 9:59 am

The share of trips taken by bike in Denmark’s capital has fallen. With ever more cars on the road and a new metro line about to open, can Copenhagen reach its target to have half of all journeys made by bike?

It’s 8am on a rainy weekday morning on Copenhagen’s Nørrebrogade street and the stream of cyclists making their way into city centre is already getting jammed.

Cyclists often have to wait through two or three rounds of green lights before they can get past. At Dronning Louise Bridge – one of the busiest cycle routes in the world, with 48,400 bikes crossing each day – newly installed information boards remind riders to pas på hinanden, or be aware of each other.

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Author: Athlyn Cathcart-Keays in Copenhagen
Posted: November 17, 2017, 7:30 am

A new assessment of cycling in UK cities shows people are far more supportive of bold plans than political decision makers often think

It may not be clear from the persistent bikelash in many sections of the media, but in fact there is huge public support for increased government investment in cycling and especially for building segregated bike routes.

Of 7,700 people surveyed in seven major UK cities for a new study published on Tuesday, 78% of people support the creation of more protected bike routes on roads, even when this could mean less space for other road traffic, with the majority of people saying this would encourage them to cycle more.

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Author: Xavier Brice
Posted: November 14, 2017, 7:15 am

Study examining the impact of breastfeeding support programmes shows 54% reduction in eczema for children involved

Breastfeeding could reduce the risk of eczema in children, according to new research into the impact of programmes designed to support new mothers in feeding their babies.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that babies should be fed just breast milk for six months to help protect them from infection, prevent allergies and provide nutrients and energy.

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Author: Nicola Davis
Posted: November 13, 2017, 4:00 pm
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

Mud, mud, inglorious mud. Cross country season is upon us, and may it pass quickly. As always, come and share your weekend stories below the line as usual. Just make sure you clean your spikes before you come in, ok?

There are people who love cross country racing. They revel in the changes of gradient and pace, in the freezing weather and gallop around, quite probably singing “Mud, mud, glorious mud” to themselves while merrily hurdling tree trunks and dodging brambles.

These people need help.

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Author: Kate Carter
Posted: November 13, 2017, 6:57 am

Bici Palermo Tuning – a group of teenagers from the Sicilian capital – spend anything up to €1,300 customising their bikes with car batteries and multiple speakers to develop thunderous sound systems. The police are not impressed

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Posted: November 10, 2017, 7:26 am

Waltham Forest’s new zero-emissions delivery service aims to replace polluting trucks for local deliveries of food, online purchases and more

Each morning Oscar Godoy unlocks a door in a railway arch in north London, organises the day’s deliveries, and assigns jobs to his cargo bike riders. They manoeuvre the hefty bikes from the narrow lane out on to the road, past assorted vehicles from the MOT garage, the car wash and vehicle repair outfits at either end.

In the afternoons Godoy does the deliveries himself. Two weeks after the scheme’s launch he heads out, on an electric trike with a large white metal box across its rear axle, filled with the day’s first consignment from a local organic vegetable box scheme.

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Author: Laura Laker
Posted: November 10, 2017, 7:20 am

UK exhibition tells story of Paira Mall, an Indian doctor dispatched by a millionaire in 1911 to send back Ayurvedic materials

In 1911 a young Indian doctor was kitted out by the patent medicines millionaire and obsessive collector Henry Wellcome, to go back to India and collect material relating to the ancient practice of Ayurvedic medicine.

Related: V&A acquires segment of Robin Hood Gardens council estate

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Author: Maev Kennedy
Posted: November 9, 2017, 3:36 pm

New test more accurate than current screening in detecting Down’s, Edwards and Patau syndromes and could simplify screening process, say researchers

Doctors have developed a more accurate test for Down’s syndrome and two rarer genetic disorders that are so serious the children often die soon after birth.

UK hospitals that adopted the test as part of a medical project found that it picked up nearly all affected pregnancies and slashed the number of women who wrongly tested positive, sparing them the anxiety of needless follow-up tests.

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Author: Ian Sample Science editor
Posted: November 9, 2017, 6:30 am

Analysis shows chance of death from blood loss is 70% less likely if cheap, widely used tranexamic acid is administered promptly

Immediate treatment with a cheap and widely available clot-stabilising drug could save the lives of thousands of people each year, including women with severe bleeding after childbirth, a study has found.

A meta-analysis of more than 40,000 patients found that the likelihood of death due to blood loss was reduced by more than 70% if tranexamic acid was administered straight after injury or birth.

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Author: Haroon Siddique
Posted: November 7, 2017, 11:30 pm

Plans to pedestrianise one of the capital’s busiest cycling roads send the troubling message that cyclists and pedestrians can’t co-exist in an 80ft-wide street

Sadiq Khan’s proposal to ban cyclists from Oxford Street, published on Monday, is an unqualified disaster for cycling in London, perhaps the single biggest blow it has suffered in years. And he’s sending an even more dangerous signal to the rest of the country.

More than 2,000 cyclists a day, according to Department for Transport figures, use the first section proposed for pedestrianisation next year, between Selfridges and Oxford Circus. More than 5,000 a day use the section between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road, which is proposed to be pedestrianised in 2019.

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Author: Andrew Gilligan
Posted: November 7, 2017, 11:37 am

Bike theft is the scourge of cyclists around the world, with riders, manufacturers and the law struggling to coordinate a response. That was until city cop Rob Brunt and Xbox pioneer J Allard devised Project 529

The bicycle was nothing impressive – an ageing mountain bike worth only a couple of hundred dollars – but Vancouver police officer Rob Brunt remembers it clearly. The owner, clad head-to-toe in cheap green waterproofs, on her way to work at the market on Granville Island, stopped Brunt to express worry about her bike. It was locked to a nearby rack, behind a car park and out of sight of passersby – a perfect place for thieves. It was her primary mode of transport and she couldn’t afford to lose it.

The next time Brunt saw the woman, she was crestfallen. The bike had indeed been stolen, forcing her to miss a few days of work and get around on a borrowed ride. She was scraping together the money for a new lock.

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Author: Tom Babin in Vancouver
Posted: November 7, 2017, 7:30 am

Experts call for more work to be done to develop vaccine for infection commonly carried by pregnant women, which can cause stillbirth and death

More than 100,000 stillbirths and baby deaths worldwide could be prevented by the development of a vaccine against an infection commonly carried by pregnant women, according to a groundbreaking report.

The impact of disease caused by group B streptococcus (GBS) has not been properly chronicled before and only in relatively recent years has anyone taken seriously its role in the deaths of babies in the womb as well as in the early days of life.

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Author: Sarah Boseley Health editor
Posted: November 6, 2017, 5:00 am

Health group criticises retailers including WH Smith, Tesco and Morrisons for mix and match deals containing calorific snacks

Some high street lunch meal deals contain the equivalent of up to 30 teaspoons of sugar, according to a survey by a health group which criticises retailers for including super-sized fizzy drinks and calorific snacks such as chocolate and sweets.

Consumers could be putting their health at serious risk by eating and drinking such high sugar combinations on a daily or regular basis, said Action on Sugar.

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Author: Rebecca Smithers Consumer affairs correspondent
Posted: October 31, 2017, 12:01 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

Prof Lesley Regan says taking misoprostol at home allows for safer care than making women travel to clinics

One of the UK’s top gynaecologists has said the decision to allow women in Scotland to take abortion pills at home is “admirable” and she hopes there will be support for the move in England.

Prof Lesley Regan, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said it was another step in making it easier for women to access safe care.

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Author: Press Association
Posted: October 27, 2017, 4:02 pm

ONS survey reveals men take an average of 40 minutes more than women, with mass media people’s main indulgence

Men take more leisure time than women in the UK, a study of the nation’s work-life balance has shown.

Men spend six hours and nine minutes a day on leisure pursuits, compared with five hours and 29 minutes for women, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found.

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Author: Jamie Grierson
Posted: October 24, 2017, 1:20 pm

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

Studies show that being a spectator certainly increases the blood pressure, but it can also double the risk of a heart attack. So is there any health benefit?

I haven’t been to the gym for two weeks, but it’s fine: I just need to watch sport on television. A study from the University of Montreal has found that watching ice hockey substantially increases your heart rate. For television-watchers, the increase was an average 75%, while for those watching live it rose by 110%. This is equivalent, say the researchers, to moderate and vigorous exercise respectively. Heart rates were highest during overtime and if there were scoring chances.

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: October 16, 2017, 7:10 am

New research argues that just a small glass of wine a day increases the risk and that ‘responsible drinking’ targets are misleading

Alcohol may be a social lubricant but WHO and Public Health England say it can cause cancer. Last week the alcohol industry was accused of downplaying the link between alcohol and the increased risk of seven cancers: mouth, throat, oesophagus, liver, breast, rectum and colon. A research paper in Drug and Alcohol Review found that “responsible drinking” information funded by the alcohol industry tends to push the message that only heavy drinking increases the risk of these cancers. But the paper says the risk starts with low levels of drinking, even though the risk itself is low. So is the recommended number of alcohol units a week – 14 – too high?

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: October 2, 2017, 7:10 am

Most doctors only address the symptoms, but the disease can be beaten into remission. However, it requires losing a lot of weight – and keeping it off

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition that can lead to heart disease, nerve damage, kidney disease and blindness. However, it is possible to beat it into remission. The pancreas can begin again making insulin, the hormone that regulates levels of glucose in the blood. The liver can reassert itself as the body’s reservoir for glucose and stop pumping out unwanted sugar. And many people who have been taking tablets to control their type 2 diabetes can potentially throw them away. This is good for the NHS, because 5% to 10% of people have type 2 diabetes. However, to beat it, you would need to lose about 10% of your body weight – and keep it off.

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: September 25, 2017, 5:59 am

Paltrow makes great claims for it on her site Goop and others agree. But the medical evidence shows it does more harm than good

Do you believe that washing out your colon gives you energy and may improve headaches, allergies and acne? Colonic therapy is encouraged by celebrity endorsements and their websites. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop claims “For the uninitiated, a colonic is essentially a way to hydrate and irrigate your colon – a section of your intestines that’s approximately five feet long – by filling it with warm water and then flushing it out repeatedly.” Goop acknowledges the efficacy of colonics is “often debated”, but offers Dr Alejandro Junger to guide us. The clue in the direction he is leaning is the 20 “Dr Junger’s Gut Cleanses” the site is giving away.

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: September 18, 2017, 7:00 am

Given the choice, lab rats favour sugar over cocaine. Does that mean we are all hopelessly hooked – and what is eating too much sugar doing to our bodies?

It comes in a white, crystalline form and gives us a pleasurable high – but refined sugar is as habit-forming as cocaine or nicotine, according to a review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Animal studies show that sugar is the drug of choice for lab rats which, when given a choice of levers to pull, will switch from cocaine to sucrose in the twitch of a tail.

In evolutionary terms, we worked for our sugar fix by eating honey and ripe fruit. We then stored any surplus energy as fat for the lean times when bison were scarce. Now that sugar is available as highly concentrated sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup – both stripped of nutritional value (minerals and vitamins are lost in the refining process) – we’re hooked.

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: September 4, 2017, 6:00 am

Researchers last week warned that nomophobia – a phobia of being without your smartphone – is affecting everyone

You know the feeling – you have left your phone at home and feel anxious, as if you have lost your connection to the world. “Nomophobia” (short for no-mobile phobia) affects teenagers and adults alike. You can even do an online test to see if you have it. Last week, researchers from Hong Kong warned that nomophobia is infecting everyone. Their study found that people who use their phones to store, share and access personal memories suffer most. When users were asked to describe how they felt about their phones, words such as “hurt’” (neck pain was often reported) and “alone” predicted higher levels of nomophobia.

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: August 28, 2017, 6:00 am

New research has looked into how different exercises affect appetite – but it’s a tricky area to study

After an hour in the gym you’re feeling pretty good about yourself. Less so two hours later, when you’ve demolished half the fridge. But the relationship between exercise and weight loss is complicated: not all exercise stimulates appetite to the same extent. And individuals vary in how much weight they lose from exercise.

The solution

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: August 14, 2017, 6:00 am
Our careers expert – and you the readers – help someone thinking of a career change, and Jeremy bids goodbye after 12 years

Since being made redundant some years ago I have freelanced, but work has all but dried up and it is time to get a full-time job. However, I also intend to retrain and do a lot of volunteering to that end, as without voluntary experience I cannot get on the necessary postgraduate training programme. I also intend to do a distance learning course.

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Author: Jeremy Bulllmore
Posted: July 1, 2017, 5:59 am

Our gardening expert has the answer

I grow fruit and vegetables organically in my front garden in boarded raised beds. I would love to grow blueberries, but I know they need an acidic soil. How can I create a bed for them without using any peat-based products?
Peat-free soil for acid-loving plants does exist, but you might not be able to get it from every garden centre you visit. The best one I’ve tried is made by Melcourt and is called SylvaGrow ericaceous compost – this is the bee’s knees, although I’d say that about all of this company’s composts. You can get hold of it online and it’s also available from a number of good garden centres: visit for a list of stockists.

Related: Ask Alys: what edibles can I plant by a west-facing wall?

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Author: Alys Fowler
Posted: June 24, 2017, 10:00 am

The hit of fresh air in your nostrils? The beauty of the countryside? Hiking is amazing

What is it? Just a nice long walk.

How much does it cost? Probably an initial outlay of about £50 for some decent gear, and then free for ever.

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Author: Stuart Heritage
Posted: June 4, 2016, 4:59 am
REFRESHED: November 24, 2017 | 00:21