The Guardian

Updated: September 5, 2017 | 00:47

REFRESHED: September 21, 2017 | 06:12

Health & wellbeing | The Guardian

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

The singer’s debilitating disorder was the reason behind the cancellation of her European tour – but the mysterious condition is not easy to explain

On Monday it was announced that Lady Gaga has cancelled her European tour, due to begin next week, because of “severe physical pain that has impacted her ability to perform”. She has fibromyalgia, and has made a Netflix documentary, Gaga: Five Foot Two, to raise awareness about this long-term condition. A statement says: “She plans to spend the next seven weeks proactively working with her doctors to heal from this and past traumas that still affect her daily life and result in severe physical pain in her body. She wants to give her fans the best version of the show she built for them when the tour resumes.”

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The singer’s debilitating disorder was the reason behind the cancellation of her European tour – but the mysterious condition is not easy to explain

On Monday it was announced that Lady Gaga has cancelled her European tour, due to begin next week, because of “severe physical pain that has impacted her ability to perform”. She has fibromyalgia, and has made a Netflix documentary, Gaga: Five Foot Two, to raise awareness about this long-term condition. A statement says: “She plans to spend the next seven weeks proactively working with her doctors to heal from this and past traumas that still affect her daily life and result in severe physical pain in her body. She wants to give her fans the best version of the show she built for them when the tour resumes.”

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Author: Ann Robinson
Posted: 19-09-2017

Swimrunning – a race that alternates between swimming and running – began life in Sweden, invented by a handful of thrillseekers looking for a challenge. The most-recent ötillö saw 148 teams take part

From the sky, the Stockholm archipelago looks benign. More than 30,000 islands spread off the Swedish coastline in the Baltic Sea. In the Summer, they’re the islands of love, packed with holidaymakers. Today, it’s early September and the weather is a little rough: winds, swell and constant rain.

I’m on a safety boat, following the progress of one of the world’s toughest adventure races, the ÖtillÖ (“ö till ö”, or island to island), where participants racing as a team of two must run and swim across 26 of the islands, from Sandhamn to Utö. A total of 75km, if you manage to navigate the currents and rocks in a straight-ish line.

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Swimrunning – a race that alternates between swimming and running – began life in Sweden, invented by a handful of thrillseekers looking for a challenge. The most-recent ötillö saw 148 teams take part

From the sky, the Stockholm archipelago looks benign. More than 30,000 islands spread off the Swedish coastline in the Baltic Sea. In the Summer, they’re the islands of love, packed with holidaymakers. Today, it’s early September and the weather is a little rough: winds, swell and constant rain.

I’m on a safety boat, following the progress of one of the world’s toughest adventure races, the ÖtillÖ (“ö till ö”, or island to island), where participants racing as a team of two must run and swim across 26 of the islands, from Sandhamn to Utö. A total of 75km, if you manage to navigate the currents and rocks in a straight-ish line.

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Author: Tom Levitt
Posted: 19-09-2017
A link takes you to a fake web page where you are invited to input your bank details – don’t

Your readers should be aware of a convincing scam Netflix email that almost caught me out. An email from [email protected] arrived, warning that my Netflix account was on hold because of a problem with my last payment. A link in the email takes users to a fake Netflix page where you are invited to input your bank details. It is realistic and will no doubt catch out a few people whose bank card has just expired. CK, London

The warning has been duly delivered, and you are right – it was convincing. Consumers should be sceptical of any email with an embedded link. Rather than clicking through, always open a new browser and log into your account as if you’d never received the email.

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A link takes you to a fake web page where you are invited to input your bank details – don’t

Your readers should be aware of a convincing scam Netflix email that almost caught me out. An email from [email protected] arrived, warning that my Netflix account was on hold because of a problem with my last payment. A link in the email takes users to a fake Netflix page where you are invited to input your bank details. It is realistic and will no doubt catch out a few people whose bank card has just expired. CK, London

The warning has been duly delivered, and you are right – it was convincing. Consumers should be sceptical of any email with an embedded link. Rather than clicking through, always open a new browser and log into your account as if you’d never received the email.

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Author: Miles Brignall
Posted: 19-09-2017

O2 hit me for £10 owed at the end of a contract. Now I worry if I’ll be able to buy a house

Q My partner and I want to buy our first home. We started the process of looking into this last year, thinking that it would be relatively straightforward once we had our deposit saved.

We both have good jobs and assumed we had no debt. I then did a check of my credit file and realised O2 had slapped a default on it for £10 owed at the end of a contract. I have disputed this endlessly but it is unwilling to remove it, as it sent a text to my phone informing me of the debt – a phone which I no longer have. Anyway, I paid the debt collection company which O2 used.

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O2 hit me for £10 owed at the end of a contract. Now I worry if I’ll be able to buy a house

Q My partner and I want to buy our first home. We started the process of looking into this last year, thinking that it would be relatively straightforward once we had our deposit saved.

We both have good jobs and assumed we had no debt. I then did a check of my credit file and realised O2 had slapped a default on it for £10 owed at the end of a contract. I have disputed this endlessly but it is unwilling to remove it, as it sent a text to my phone informing me of the debt – a phone which I no longer have. Anyway, I paid the debt collection company which O2 used.

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Author: Virginia Wallis
Posted: 18-09-2017

I don’t want to take the easy way out and try to renegotiate monogamy so what should I do?

I am a 36-year-old man and have been in a very good relationship for three years. My partner has gradually become more interested in polyamory, and I find that exciting. When she has had sex with someone else, it often feels very special and affectionate when we are together again – and sometimes very arousing – but it can be difficult to have penetrative sex. I don’t want to take the easy way out and try to renegotiate monogamy. What is the way forward?

I doubt that “renegotiating monogamy” would be the “easy way out”. But you are allowed to change your mind, and if polyamory is not for you, it is important to say so and be clear about what you can and cannot handle. You are at a stage of exploration, and our society is focused on monogamy, so stepping outside those values can seem frightening. What will anchor you both is having a strong core relationship with a great deal of discussion, sharing your feelings and asking for what you truly need.

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I don’t want to take the easy way out and try to renegotiate monogamy so what should I do?

I am a 36-year-old man and have been in a very good relationship for three years. My partner has gradually become more interested in polyamory, and I find that exciting. When she has had sex with someone else, it often feels very special and affectionate when we are together again – and sometimes very arousing – but it can be difficult to have penetrative sex. I don’t want to take the easy way out and try to renegotiate monogamy. What is the way forward?

I doubt that “renegotiating monogamy” would be the “easy way out”. But you are allowed to change your mind, and if polyamory is not for you, it is important to say so and be clear about what you can and cannot handle. You are at a stage of exploration, and our society is focused on monogamy, so stepping outside those values can seem frightening. What will anchor you both is having a strong core relationship with a great deal of discussion, sharing your feelings and asking for what you truly need.

Continue reading...
Author: Pamela Stephenson Connolly
Posted: 18-09-2017

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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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.

Continue reading...
Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: 18-09-2017

Racing, claiming piles of medals or running in circles for half the weekend? As always, come and share your weekend experiences below the line

Well that was a busy weekend! Five races, five medals and only one lot of tears. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday in sunny south-west London, for the Richmond Runfest. Saturday morning was the Kew Gardens 10k, a wonderful opportunity to run on the quiet and beautiful paths of the gardens before they are open to the public (free entry to all your support crew too!). Having no goal but to run it reasonably hard, I really loved the experience. The route was necessarily a little twisty but as with the half marathon I did the next day, because the race sets off in separate waves, the course is never congested. It’s also superbly put together, combining the ‘feel’ of a smaller, local race with the organisation of a big one.

The afternoons races were slightly more fraught. Traffic meant we arrived, panting, a whopping nine minutes before my poor 8 year old’s race - and this was the first time she’s ever done one where children run without parents alongside. Her face wobbled but she held it together very bravely and was hopefully cheered up rather than mortified when I managed to run bits of the outside of her marked course with her, calling encouragement. The five year old was rather less stoic (cue total meltdown) but the lovely organisers let me run with her after the rest of the kids in her race were off, so at least she got her bling ..

Continue reading...

Racing, claiming piles of medals or running in circles for half the weekend? As always, come and share your weekend experiences below the line

Well that was a busy weekend! Five races, five medals and only one lot of tears. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday in sunny south-west London, for the Richmond Runfest. Saturday morning was the Kew Gardens 10k, a wonderful opportunity to run on the quiet and beautiful paths of the gardens before they are open to the public (free entry to all your support crew too!). Having no goal but to run it reasonably hard, I really loved the experience. The route was necessarily a little twisty but as with the half marathon I did the next day, because the race sets off in separate waves, the course is never congested. It’s also superbly put together, combining the ‘feel’ of a smaller, local race with the organisation of a big one.

The afternoons races were slightly more fraught. Traffic meant we arrived, panting, a whopping nine minutes before my poor 8 year old’s race - and this was the first time she’s ever done one where children run without parents alongside. Her face wobbled but she held it together very bravely and was hopefully cheered up rather than mortified when I managed to run bits of the outside of her marked course with her, calling encouragement. The five year old was rather less stoic (cue total meltdown) but the lovely organisers let me run with her after the rest of the kids in her race were off, so at least she got her bling ..

Continue reading...
Author: Kate Carter
Posted: 18-09-2017

Sepsis is responsible for more deaths in the UK than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined. So why is so little known about it?

At the end of May, the World Health Organization adopted a new resolution mandating all of its member states to have national action plans in place to tackle sepsis, a disease being called the “deadliest killer you’ve never heard of”. Even conservative estimates place the annual death toll at 6 million worldwide, a health burden equivalent to that of tobacco. In the UK alone, sepsis is responsible for 44,000 deaths every year, more than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined. Despite this, a recent survey found that 44% of people in the UK have never heard of sepsis and have little idea that it is a life-threatening emergency.

So, what exactly is sepsis and why does it continue to slip through the net of our collective consciousness? The new international definition of sepsis describes it as a condition that arises when the body’s response to infection causes organ dysfunction. “There’s a range of ways in which this can happen,” says Prof Anthony Gordon, chair in anaesthesia and critical care at Imperial College London, and an National Institute for Health Research professor investigating sepsis. “The body’s immune response can be simply overwhelmed by the infection, or there’s a dysfunctional response producing too much inflammation. The body may already be immunosuppressed due to a trauma or fighting an initial infection, so the immune response is too weak.”

Continue reading...

Sepsis is responsible for more deaths in the UK than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined. So why is so little known about it?

At the end of May, the World Health Organization adopted a new resolution mandating all of its member states to have national action plans in place to tackle sepsis, a disease being called the “deadliest killer you’ve never heard of”. Even conservative estimates place the annual death toll at 6 million worldwide, a health burden equivalent to that of tobacco. In the UK alone, sepsis is responsible for 44,000 deaths every year, more than bowel, breast and prostate cancer combined. Despite this, a recent survey found that 44% of people in the UK have never heard of sepsis and have little idea that it is a life-threatening emergency.

So, what exactly is sepsis and why does it continue to slip through the net of our collective consciousness? The new international definition of sepsis describes it as a condition that arises when the body’s response to infection causes organ dysfunction. “There’s a range of ways in which this can happen,” says Prof Anthony Gordon, chair in anaesthesia and critical care at Imperial College London, and an National Institute for Health Research professor investigating sepsis. “The body’s immune response can be simply overwhelmed by the infection, or there’s a dysfunctional response producing too much inflammation. The body may already be immunosuppressed due to a trauma or fighting an initial infection, so the immune response is too weak.”

Continue reading...
Author: David Cox
Posted: 18-09-2017
​It’s now arguably more of a lifestyle than a form of exercise in the west​. ​And rather than becoming more enlightened and compassionate, I felt I was just pouring energy into ​myself

It was 2010 and the newspaper I worked for in Sydney commissioned me to interview yoga entrepreneur Bikram Choudhury.

He was in town to open the first of a chain of hot yoga studios. Choudhury’s brand of yoga – which he had trademarked and franchised – involved 26 poses in a humid, heated room with mirrors and carpets. When I visited the studio and caught the stench and the robotic instructions from a mic’d-up teacher, I thought: “Yeah, this won’t take off.”

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​It’s now arguably more of a lifestyle than a form of exercise in the west​. ​And rather than becoming more enlightened and compassionate, I felt I was just pouring energy into ​myself

It was 2010 and the newspaper I worked for in Sydney commissioned me to interview yoga entrepreneur Bikram Choudhury.

He was in town to open the first of a chain of hot yoga studios. Choudhury’s brand of yoga – which he had trademarked and franchised – involved 26 poses in a humid, heated room with mirrors and carpets. When I visited the studio and caught the stench and the robotic instructions from a mic’d-up teacher, I thought: “Yeah, this won’t take off.”

Continue reading...
Author: Brigid Delaney
Posted: 17-09-2017

Cycling can make people healthy and live longer, and cut public health costs, so why can’t it be prescribed to the nation?

Imagine if a team of scientists devised a drug which massively reduced people’s chances of developing cancer or heart disease, cutting their overall likelihood of dying early by 40%. This would be front page news worldwide, a Nobel prize as good as in the post.

That drug is already here, albeit administered in a slightly different way: it’s called cycling to work. One of the more puzzling political questions is why it is so rarely prescribed on a population-wide level.

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Cycling can make people healthy and live longer, and cut public health costs, so why can’t it be prescribed to the nation?

Imagine if a team of scientists devised a drug which massively reduced people’s chances of developing cancer or heart disease, cutting their overall likelihood of dying early by 40%. This would be front page news worldwide, a Nobel prize as good as in the post.

That drug is already here, albeit administered in a slightly different way: it’s called cycling to work. One of the more puzzling political questions is why it is so rarely prescribed on a population-wide level.

Continue reading...
Author: Peter Walker
Posted: 17-09-2017

As Guardian writers pick their favourite bike routes, we’d like to hear about your own most enjoyable rides

Our writers have been sharing their favourite cycle routes and roads – at least, those they’re happy to tell other people about. We’d love to hear your own suggestions.

Related: 'Pure inspiration': our writers pick their favourite cycle rides

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As Guardian writers pick their favourite bike routes, we’d like to hear about your own most enjoyable rides

Our writers have been sharing their favourite cycle routes and roads – at least, those they’re happy to tell other people about. We’d love to hear your own suggestions.

Related: 'Pure inspiration': our writers pick their favourite cycle rides

Continue reading...
Author: Guardian readers
Posted: 17-09-2017

Your most innovative modifications, from a ‘bionic’ stand-up bike to an old chopper turned into a moped

Dan Lance, 35, Canberra, Australia

While browsing eBay I noticed a DIY kit to turn any bike into an 80cc moped. I spent a Friday night and Saturday morning mounting the motor in the frame, which took a lot of grinding and cutting. On Saturday afternoon I added all the ancillary equipment and on Sunday morning remounted the motor and tidied up a bunch of stuff. I didn’t want to upset the neighbours so I pedalled the machine down the street with the motor off. I got to the carpark of the nearby scout hall, fired it up and twisted the throttle! It was fantastic! It worked! It was a useful bike!

Continue reading...

Your most innovative modifications, from a ‘bionic’ stand-up bike to an old chopper turned into a moped

Dan Lance, 35, Canberra, Australia

While browsing eBay I noticed a DIY kit to turn any bike into an 80cc moped. I spent a Friday night and Saturday morning mounting the motor in the frame, which took a lot of grinding and cutting. On Saturday afternoon I added all the ancillary equipment and on Sunday morning remounted the motor and tidied up a bunch of stuff. I didn’t want to upset the neighbours so I pedalled the machine down the street with the motor off. I got to the carpark of the nearby scout hall, fired it up and twisted the throttle! It was fantastic! It worked! It was a useful bike!

Continue reading...
Author: Guardian readers
Posted: 17-09-2017

The truth used to be plain and simple. Just because it’s now complex doesn’t mean it’s false, argues Julian Baggini

The promise of the truth has always been alluring. The most-quoted Gospel verse on evangelical posters and literature is John 14:6, in which Jesus proclaims: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” It resonates because we all have a sense that truth is somehow essential to living well. If your life turns out to have been built on nothing but lies, it is as though it has not been real.

Paris is the capital of France, George Washington was the first president of the United States, water is H2O… There are innumerable truths like this, which only idiots or obtuse academics (often thought to be the same thing) would deny.

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The truth used to be plain and simple. Just because it’s now complex doesn’t mean it’s false, argues Julian Baggini

The promise of the truth has always been alluring. The most-quoted Gospel verse on evangelical posters and literature is John 14:6, in which Jesus proclaims: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” It resonates because we all have a sense that truth is somehow essential to living well. If your life turns out to have been built on nothing but lies, it is as though it has not been real.

Paris is the capital of France, George Washington was the first president of the United States, water is H2O… There are innumerable truths like this, which only idiots or obtuse academics (often thought to be the same thing) would deny.

Continue reading...
Author: Julian Baggini
Posted: 17-09-2017

Most parents are just trying to do their best, but laying down the law can be damaging

The dilemma My parents found out that I had this white boyfriend, from going through my phone. Now they are constantly putting me down and making me feel worthless. I have grown to love this boy more and more, to the point where I can’t be without him. When I turned 18, I spoke to my boyfriend’s parents, who agreed that I could move in, as my parents hated me leaving the house. I walked out after my dad and mum told me to fuck off. I now live with my boyfriend’s family, but I am wondering whether my parents will ever understand.

Mariella replies You are young. That’s not a criticism, but it does mean that these big life-altering decisions should be based on more than your immediate emotional impulses. It’s not that you shouldn’t be with this boy, but it’s premature for you to put all your hopes, dreams, ambitions and practicalities into one partnership. Indeed, I’d argue that that’s never a good idea, even in maturity. So many relationships turn sour when passion turns to responsibility. The more you and your boyfriend isolate yourselves the likelier you both are to feel what was once an instinctive union as a burden.

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Most parents are just trying to do their best, but laying down the law can be damaging

The dilemma My parents found out that I had this white boyfriend, from going through my phone. Now they are constantly putting me down and making me feel worthless. I have grown to love this boy more and more, to the point where I can’t be without him. When I turned 18, I spoke to my boyfriend’s parents, who agreed that I could move in, as my parents hated me leaving the house. I walked out after my dad and mum told me to fuck off. I now live with my boyfriend’s family, but I am wondering whether my parents will ever understand.

Mariella replies You are young. That’s not a criticism, but it does mean that these big life-altering decisions should be based on more than your immediate emotional impulses. It’s not that you shouldn’t be with this boy, but it’s premature for you to put all your hopes, dreams, ambitions and practicalities into one partnership. Indeed, I’d argue that that’s never a good idea, even in maturity. So many relationships turn sour when passion turns to responsibility. The more you and your boyfriend isolate yourselves the likelier you both are to feel what was once an instinctive union as a burden.

Continue reading...
Author: Mariella Frostrup
Posted: 17-09-2017

Whether you’re commuting, touring or competing we’ve sourced the perfect bikes, from entry-level through mid-range to high spec

6KU Detroit, £325

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Whether you’re commuting, touring or competing we’ve sourced the perfect bikes, from entry-level through mid-range to high spec

6KU Detroit, £325

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Author: Ian Tucker
Posted: 16-09-2017

New paths for recreational cycling are springing up in the UK and around the globe, offering everything from scenic countryside tours to relaxed city rides

The eight mile, family-friendly Brean Down Way in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, opened in July 2017 after 18 months of volunteer work and fundraising. It follows a newly-opened sluice-top road, crosses the River Axe, skirts a wetland nature reserve and mud flats, and takes in numerous cafes, before finishing at Brean Down Fort. Originally built to defend against Napoleonic invasions, the fort is now a National Trust site documenting life on the site since the Stone Age. There’s a screen to shield wild birds, including redshanks, from passing walkers and cyclists, and hides to peek through. The trail is part of the 72-mile NCN Route 33 from Bristol to Seaton.

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New paths for recreational cycling are springing up in the UK and around the globe, offering everything from scenic countryside tours to relaxed city rides

The eight mile, family-friendly Brean Down Way in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, opened in July 2017 after 18 months of volunteer work and fundraising. It follows a newly-opened sluice-top road, crosses the River Axe, skirts a wetland nature reserve and mud flats, and takes in numerous cafes, before finishing at Brean Down Fort. Originally built to defend against Napoleonic invasions, the fort is now a National Trust site documenting life on the site since the Stone Age. There’s a screen to shield wild birds, including redshanks, from passing walkers and cyclists, and hides to peek through. The trail is part of the 72-mile NCN Route 33 from Bristol to Seaton.

Continue reading...
Author: Laura Laker
Posted: 16-09-2017

The former cycling world champion and Manchester’s first walking and cycling commissioner on riding safely, favourite rides and why he won’t use Strava

So, you’re the first cycling and walking commissioner for Greater Manchester. How come?

Because Andy Burnham [the mayor of Greater Manchester] phoned and asked me. I was quite taken aback, because do I have any qualifications? No. But I was taken with his enthusiasm. From the first few seconds it was pretty scary because I have been on the other side of the fence campaigning and lobbying [as British Cycling’s policy advisor] and saying what should be done, and then someone else says “go on, then” – you’re in a difficult position if you don’t want to be a hypocrite.

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The former cycling world champion and Manchester’s first walking and cycling commissioner on riding safely, favourite rides and why he won’t use Strava

So, you’re the first cycling and walking commissioner for Greater Manchester. How come?

Because Andy Burnham [the mayor of Greater Manchester] phoned and asked me. I was quite taken aback, because do I have any qualifications? No. But I was taken with his enthusiasm. From the first few seconds it was pretty scary because I have been on the other side of the fence campaigning and lobbying [as British Cycling’s policy advisor] and saying what should be done, and then someone else says “go on, then” – you’re in a difficult position if you don’t want to be a hypocrite.

Continue reading...
Author: Helen Pidd North of England editor
Posted: 16-09-2017

Leaping gets you to the hold you can’t reach, so short people use it a lot, because they can’t reach anything

Last time I wrote about climbing, I said it was all about precision, placing your toe or grip in the most considered, accurate, foresighted way you possibly could. I forgot to mention another important thing, which is that you should also do the opposite of that. They call it “dynamic” climbing, the technical term for leaping, or hurling yourself. Either of those verbs will do, the ones that in normal life are used metaphorically for bravery, and only literally when telling a story about the time you broke your arm.

Leaping gets you to the hold you can’t reach however you’re positioned, so short people use it a lot, because they can’t reach anything. Strong people do it because they can – my sometime coach Louis Parkinson could swing himself along the ceiling like an orangutan – and show-offs use it to show off.

Continue reading...

Leaping gets you to the hold you can’t reach, so short people use it a lot, because they can’t reach anything

Last time I wrote about climbing, I said it was all about precision, placing your toe or grip in the most considered, accurate, foresighted way you possibly could. I forgot to mention another important thing, which is that you should also do the opposite of that. They call it “dynamic” climbing, the technical term for leaping, or hurling yourself. Either of those verbs will do, the ones that in normal life are used metaphorically for bravery, and only literally when telling a story about the time you broke your arm.

Leaping gets you to the hold you can’t reach however you’re positioned, so short people use it a lot, because they can’t reach anything. Strong people do it because they can – my sometime coach Louis Parkinson could swing himself along the ceiling like an orangutan – and show-offs use it to show off.

Continue reading...
Author: Zoe Williams
Posted: 16-09-2017

It will cost about £25,000 but my wife thinks it’s a waste of space and money

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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It will cost about £25,000 but my wife thinks it’s a waste of space and money

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:

Continue reading...
Author: Guardian Staff
Posted: 16-09-2017

Increasingly, cycle brands are speeding beyond traditional performance wear into clothes that look everyday but have technical tweaks for riding. Tops are sweat wicking, jeans have extra stretch and shorts are reinforced around the inner thigh, and they look good too

See our pick of men’s clothes and accessories

Continue reading...

Increasingly, cycle brands are speeding beyond traditional performance wear into clothes that look everyday but have technical tweaks for riding. Tops are sweat wicking, jeans have extra stretch and shorts are reinforced around the inner thigh, and they look good too

See our pick of men’s clothes and accessories

Continue reading...
Author: Melanie Wilkinson
Posted: 15-09-2017

A study this week concluded HRT does not shorten lives – but it still increases the risk of cancer, leaving those suffering symptoms with a tough choice to make

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), possibly the most controversial medicine ever invented, will not kill you. That was the conclusion this week of a big, respectable study in the United States that was one of the first to flag up the risk of breast cancer. Women who took the tablets to alleviate the hot flushes and night sweats that assail them, prevent them sleeping and can make life intolerable were no more likely to be dead 18 years later than women who did not.

That’s good news and it was loudly celebrated. Gynaecologists who have been frustrated and dismayed by the bad press HRT has had, leaving them groping in the dark for something else to give the distressed woman in the consulting room who doesn’t want hormones, said this is proof of its safety. The risks are low. Women must be told about them, but they should not be deterred by any thought that HRT could shorten their life.

Continue reading...

A study this week concluded HRT does not shorten lives – but it still increases the risk of cancer, leaving those suffering symptoms with a tough choice to make

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), possibly the most controversial medicine ever invented, will not kill you. That was the conclusion this week of a big, respectable study in the United States that was one of the first to flag up the risk of breast cancer. Women who took the tablets to alleviate the hot flushes and night sweats that assail them, prevent them sleeping and can make life intolerable were no more likely to be dead 18 years later than women who did not.

That’s good news and it was loudly celebrated. Gynaecologists who have been frustrated and dismayed by the bad press HRT has had, leaving them groping in the dark for something else to give the distressed woman in the consulting room who doesn’t want hormones, said this is proof of its safety. The risks are low. Women must be told about them, but they should not be deterred by any thought that HRT could shorten their life.

Continue reading...
Author: Sarah Boseley Health editor
Posted: 15-09-2017

The problems you’re experiencing today seem fraught and important, but that’s mainly because you’re so narrowly focused on the present

The next time you’re consumed by anxiety – which, given the headlines, is probably this minute – you might borrow a tip from the philosopher Massimo Pigliucci, author of the excellent new book How To Be A Stoic. In a recent podcast, Pigliucci described how he used Google Street View and Google Earth to create a slideshow that starts with an image of his own home, then zooms out, out and out, until it shows the whole planet. He consults it when feeling overwrought. You couldn’t hope for a more vivid illustration of the Stoic “dichotomy of control”, which urges us to restrict our attempts to change things to those actually in our power, instead of making ourselves miserable railing against those that aren’t. (See also the “serenity prayer”, popularised by Alcoholics Anonymous.) You are – not to be rude – a tiny part of the cosmos. That doesn’t make you powerless. But it does mean you’re almost certainly stressing about things that will, without doubt, remain majestically unaffected by your stress.

If you ask me, such perspective shifts are even more powerful when applied to time. The problems you’re experiencing today seem uniquely fraught and important, but that’s mainly because you’re so narrowly focused on the present. This is, of course, the reasoning behind the old suggestion to ask yourself if your worries will matter on your deathbed, or in a decade, or even next week: they probably won’t. But you can do better than “probably”, as the psychology blogger David Cain points out, by turning your gaze backwards rather than forwards. Because it’s an undeniable fact that every single problem you’ve ever had is currently solved, with the exception of today’s small handful. “Every heart-twisting crisis, every fearsome responsibility, every breakdown of confidence or hope, everything I ever thought I couldn’t handle” – all sorted. “Every single disaster has inevitably given up its emotional hold, except that thin leading edge of the two or three things that are really bothering you right now.”

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The problems you’re experiencing today seem fraught and important, but that’s mainly because you’re so narrowly focused on the present

The next time you’re consumed by anxiety – which, given the headlines, is probably this minute – you might borrow a tip from the philosopher Massimo Pigliucci, author of the excellent new book How To Be A Stoic. In a recent podcast, Pigliucci described how he used Google Street View and Google Earth to create a slideshow that starts with an image of his own home, then zooms out, out and out, until it shows the whole planet. He consults it when feeling overwrought. You couldn’t hope for a more vivid illustration of the Stoic “dichotomy of control”, which urges us to restrict our attempts to change things to those actually in our power, instead of making ourselves miserable railing against those that aren’t. (See also the “serenity prayer”, popularised by Alcoholics Anonymous.) You are – not to be rude – a tiny part of the cosmos. That doesn’t make you powerless. But it does mean you’re almost certainly stressing about things that will, without doubt, remain majestically unaffected by your stress.

If you ask me, such perspective shifts are even more powerful when applied to time. The problems you’re experiencing today seem uniquely fraught and important, but that’s mainly because you’re so narrowly focused on the present. This is, of course, the reasoning behind the old suggestion to ask yourself if your worries will matter on your deathbed, or in a decade, or even next week: they probably won’t. But you can do better than “probably”, as the psychology blogger David Cain points out, by turning your gaze backwards rather than forwards. Because it’s an undeniable fact that every single problem you’ve ever had is currently solved, with the exception of today’s small handful. “Every heart-twisting crisis, every fearsome responsibility, every breakdown of confidence or hope, everything I ever thought I couldn’t handle” – all sorted. “Every single disaster has inevitably given up its emotional hold, except that thin leading edge of the two or three things that are really bothering you right now.”

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Author: Oliver Burkeman
Posted: 15-09-2017
I want to be honest with her, but I don’t want to ruin our relationship. And I don’t know whether her father is my ex-husband or a friend of his. Annalisa Barbieri advises a reader

I am not sure who the father of my daughter is. And I am not sure whether to tell her. She is in her 30s, and mother to a young boy. I was glad she had a boy, as it broke the rather toxic mother-daughter thread in my family. All the women seem to have hated their mothers, as far back as I know about. 

My first husband was serially unfaithful, and it was at this time that I had sex with a friend of his (I’m not proud of this). When I got home, my husband forced me to have sex with him. That was the night my daughter was conceived. I divorced my first husband when she was a toddler, so she didn’t grow up with him.

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I want to be honest with her, but I don’t want to ruin our relationship. And I don’t know whether her father is my ex-husband or a friend of his. Annalisa Barbieri advises a reader

I am not sure who the father of my daughter is. And I am not sure whether to tell her. She is in her 30s, and mother to a young boy. I was glad she had a boy, as it broke the rather toxic mother-daughter thread in my family. All the women seem to have hated their mothers, as far back as I know about. 

My first husband was serially unfaithful, and it was at this time that I had sex with a friend of his (I’m not proud of this). When I got home, my husband forced me to have sex with him. That was the night my daughter was conceived. I divorced my first husband when she was a toddler, so she didn’t grow up with him.

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Author: Annalisa Barbieri
Posted: 15-09-2017

I find the idea of sex with men my own age almost repulsive. I fear I’m destined to have a string of flawed relationships and will end up lonely

I am a woman of 30 who is attracted to older men. I find men of my own age unattractive and the idea of sex with them almost repulsive. It feels like a fetish, and stops me from having “normal” relationships. I don’t think I have daddy issues – my relationship with my parents is stable and loving. I have been in a relationship with a 60-year-old for a year and his children (who aren’t much younger than me) refuse to meet me. The reactions of others are, at best, bemused, but sometimes judgmental or rude. I’ve never wanted children so I’m not worried now, but what of the future? I feel I’m destined to have nothing but a string of inevitably flawed relationships and will end up sad and lonely.

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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I find the idea of sex with men my own age almost repulsive. I fear I’m destined to have a string of flawed relationships and will end up lonely

I am a woman of 30 who is attracted to older men. I find men of my own age unattractive and the idea of sex with them almost repulsive. It feels like a fetish, and stops me from having “normal” relationships. I don’t think I have daddy issues – my relationship with my parents is stable and loving. I have been in a relationship with a 60-year-old for a year and his children (who aren’t much younger than me) refuse to meet me. The reactions of others are, at best, bemused, but sometimes judgmental or rude. I’ve never wanted children so I’m not worried now, but what of the future? I feel I’m destined to have nothing but a string of inevitably flawed relationships and will end up sad and lonely.

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.

Continue reading...
Author: Guardian Staff
Posted: 15-09-2017

Study compiling data from every country finds people are living longer but millions are eating wrong foods for their health

Poor diet is a factor in one in five deaths around the world, according to the most comprehensive study ever carried out on the subject.

Millions of people are eating the wrong sorts of food for good health. Eating a diet that is low in whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds and fish oils and high in salt raises the risk of an early death, according to the huge and ongoing study Global Burden of Disease.

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Study compiling data from every country finds people are living longer but millions are eating wrong foods for their health

Poor diet is a factor in one in five deaths around the world, according to the most comprehensive study ever carried out on the subject.

Millions of people are eating the wrong sorts of food for good health. Eating a diet that is low in whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds and fish oils and high in salt raises the risk of an early death, according to the huge and ongoing study Global Burden of Disease.

Continue reading...
Author: Sarah Boseley Health editor
Posted: 14-09-2017

British athlete Mark Beaumont is expected to complete his world tour on Monday after 79 days in the saddle, smashing the previous record of 123 days

Endurance cyclist Mark Beaumont is expected to arrive in Paris on Monday 18 September, 79 days after setting off on his attempt to cycle around the world in 80 days.

The Guardian joined Beaumont in Lisbon on Wednesday, where he arrived on an overnight flight from Halifax in Canada to start the final leg of his record-breaking challenge. Despite cycling an average of 240 miles over 16 hours every day since 2 July, he looked fresh and sounded upbeat as we ticked off more miles on our way to the Spanish border. Yet he admitted the ride has taken its toll on him, both mentally and physically.

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British athlete Mark Beaumont is expected to complete his world tour on Monday after 79 days in the saddle, smashing the previous record of 123 days

Endurance cyclist Mark Beaumont is expected to arrive in Paris on Monday 18 September, 79 days after setting off on his attempt to cycle around the world in 80 days.

The Guardian joined Beaumont in Lisbon on Wednesday, where he arrived on an overnight flight from Halifax in Canada to start the final leg of his record-breaking challenge. Despite cycling an average of 240 miles over 16 hours every day since 2 July, he looked fresh and sounded upbeat as we ticked off more miles on our way to the Spanish border. Yet he admitted the ride has taken its toll on him, both mentally and physically.

Continue reading...
Author: Trevor Ward
Posted: 14-09-2017

Steve has only been getting 1Mbps when he has paid for 70Mbps. An engineer said there is nothing wrong with his wifi router – is there another way to check?

Recently, I have only been getting 1Mbps from my wifi when it is supposed to be up to 70Mbps. An engineer came round and said there was nothing wrong with the router. His speed checker – unlike mine – showed that it was getting the required speed. He said this test was more reliable as it only used his company’s network. Can you recommend a speed checker that is reliable, and not connected to any particular company? Steve

The engineer should have made it clear that you cannot check the speed of your broadband using wifi. When you buy a broadband service from an ISP (Internet Service Provider), they are only responsible for the service delivered to your premises or, at best, to the router.

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Steve has only been getting 1Mbps when he has paid for 70Mbps. An engineer said there is nothing wrong with his wifi router – is there another way to check?

Recently, I have only been getting 1Mbps from my wifi when it is supposed to be up to 70Mbps. An engineer came round and said there was nothing wrong with the router. His speed checker – unlike mine – showed that it was getting the required speed. He said this test was more reliable as it only used his company’s network. Can you recommend a speed checker that is reliable, and not connected to any particular company? Steve

The engineer should have made it clear that you cannot check the speed of your broadband using wifi. When you buy a broadband service from an ISP (Internet Service Provider), they are only responsible for the service delivered to your premises or, at best, to the router.

Continue reading...
Author: Jack Schofield
Posted: 14-09-2017

Follow-up to alarming reports issued at turn of century says women on therapy do not die sooner than those on placebos

Women will be able to take hormone replacement pills without worrying that the therapy will shorten their lifespans, according to the longest follow-up yet of research that raised fears about the risks of a once-popular treatment.

That earlier research was stopped early when unexpected harm was found to be caused by the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – oestrogen alone or in combination with progestin, a synthetic hormone.

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Follow-up to alarming reports issued at turn of century says women on therapy do not die sooner than those on placebos

Women will be able to take hormone replacement pills without worrying that the therapy will shorten their lifespans, according to the longest follow-up yet of research that raised fears about the risks of a once-popular treatment.

That earlier research was stopped early when unexpected harm was found to be caused by the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – oestrogen alone or in combination with progestin, a synthetic hormone.

Continue reading...
Author: Associated Press in Chicago
Posted: 13-09-2017

Led by Dr Tom Frieden, the Resolve initiative hopes to save millions with interventions such as epidemic preparedness, salt reduction and a trans fats ban

A new initiative to save 100 million lives globally through simple interventions such as cutting down on salt and banning trans fats, as well as getting countries prepared for epidemics like Ebola, is being launched with $225m of philanthropic funding.

At the helm is Dr Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States and in charge of health in New York City before that. Frieden, with then-mayor Mike Bloomberg, pushed through a public smoking ban and other tobacco control measures which slashed smoking rates in the city and increased life spans. At CDC, he tackled tuberculosis, swine flu and Ebola.

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Led by Dr Tom Frieden, the Resolve initiative hopes to save millions with interventions such as epidemic preparedness, salt reduction and a trans fats ban

A new initiative to save 100 million lives globally through simple interventions such as cutting down on salt and banning trans fats, as well as getting countries prepared for epidemics like Ebola, is being launched with $225m of philanthropic funding.

At the helm is Dr Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States and in charge of health in New York City before that. Frieden, with then-mayor Mike Bloomberg, pushed through a public smoking ban and other tobacco control measures which slashed smoking rates in the city and increased life spans. At CDC, he tackled tuberculosis, swine flu and Ebola.

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Author: Sarah Boseley Health editor
Posted: 12-09-2017

Women worried by guidance advising abstinence should be told there is little evidence that the odd glass of wine causes harm to the baby, says study

Mothers who are consumed by anxiety and guilt for having drunk the odd glass of wine when they are pregnant should be reassured by a new study showing there is very little evidence that it harms the baby, say experts.

Drinking in pregnancy is a fraught issue and causes much anxiety. Last year new guidance to the NHS in England urged women to try not to drink at all, but in the real world, say the new study’s authors, up to 80% in the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia drink some alcohol while they are pregnant. Since half of all pregnancies are unplanned, many women drink before the test shows positive.

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Women worried by guidance advising abstinence should be told there is little evidence that the odd glass of wine causes harm to the baby, says study

Mothers who are consumed by anxiety and guilt for having drunk the odd glass of wine when they are pregnant should be reassured by a new study showing there is very little evidence that it harms the baby, say experts.

Drinking in pregnancy is a fraught issue and causes much anxiety. Last year new guidance to the NHS in England urged women to try not to drink at all, but in the real world, say the new study’s authors, up to 80% in the UK, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia drink some alcohol while they are pregnant. Since half of all pregnancies are unplanned, many women drink before the test shows positive.

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Author: Sarah Boseley Health editor
Posted: 11-09-2017

Racing dinosaurs, breaking PBs or rehabbing - come and share your weekend tales and triumphs below the line as always

I managed to miss all the TV coverage of the Great North Run by going out for a 20 mile long run yesterday morning, but I did at least contribute to it - in a way. Strava’s latest challenge was part of a global attempt to set the record for the most half marathons completed in one day. As it stands, with no doubt some more watches to be synched and miles uploaded, over 75,000 people ticked off a half. Not bad going, though I’m not sure I ever want to be on the startline of a race with that many people ...

I’ve never done the Great North Run, though it’s clearly one of those bucket list races for a lot of people. Is it terrible to confess I’ve never quite understood why? Admittedly I did, as I say, miss the TV coverage, but it’s never struck me as a very pretty course. Is it all in the atmosphere? What am I missing? Set me right, by all means ...

Continue reading...

Racing dinosaurs, breaking PBs or rehabbing - come and share your weekend tales and triumphs below the line as always

I managed to miss all the TV coverage of the Great North Run by going out for a 20 mile long run yesterday morning, but I did at least contribute to it - in a way. Strava’s latest challenge was part of a global attempt to set the record for the most half marathons completed in one day. As it stands, with no doubt some more watches to be synched and miles uploaded, over 75,000 people ticked off a half. Not bad going, though I’m not sure I ever want to be on the startline of a race with that many people ...

I’ve never done the Great North Run, though it’s clearly one of those bucket list races for a lot of people. Is it terrible to confess I’ve never quite understood why? Admittedly I did, as I say, miss the TV coverage, but it’s never struck me as a very pretty course. Is it all in the atmosphere? What am I missing? Set me right, by all means ...

Continue reading...
Author: Kate Carter
Posted: 11-09-2017

Medical professionals told they will not face prosecution if they refer women to clinics in England and Wales for abortions

Medical staff in Northern Ireland have been told they will not face prosecution if they refer women to clinics in England and Wales for abortions, a development that campaigners say will ease the climate of fear under which many have been operating.

In a significant clarification of the law, the director of public prosecutions for Northern Ireland, Barra McGrory, has said he does “not see the issue of criminal liability arising in the context of NHS staff advising or informing patients of the availability of abortion services in England and Wales”.

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Medical professionals told they will not face prosecution if they refer women to clinics in England and Wales for abortions

Medical staff in Northern Ireland have been told they will not face prosecution if they refer women to clinics in England and Wales for abortions, a development that campaigners say will ease the climate of fear under which many have been operating.

In a significant clarification of the law, the director of public prosecutions for Northern Ireland, Barra McGrory, has said he does “not see the issue of criminal liability arising in the context of NHS staff advising or informing patients of the availability of abortion services in England and Wales”.

Continue reading...
Author: Amelia Gentleman
Posted: 07-09-2017

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.

Continue reading...

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.

Continue reading...
Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: 04-09-2017

EndoActive interviewed 15 women about their experiences of sex, intimacy and living with endometriosis. Sex for women with endometriosis will be discussed at EndoActive’s Endometriosis Conference on 9 September in Sydney

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EndoActive interviewed 15 women about their experiences of sex, intimacy and living with endometriosis. Sex for women with endometriosis will be discussed at EndoActive’s Endometriosis Conference on 9 September in Sydney

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Author: Guardian Staff
Posted: 04-09-2017
Research links disruption of body clock to number of chronic conditions

Struggling to concentrate, having too much energy and being unable to control behaviour – the main manifestations of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – have been linked to disruptions in sleep, researchers will reveal on Sunday.

The findings underline a growing awareness among doctors that disturbed sleep is associated with many major health hazards. Other ailments linked to the problem include obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The work opens up the possibility of developing treatments for ADHD without drugs, the researchers say.

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Research links disruption of body clock to number of chronic conditions

Struggling to concentrate, having too much energy and being unable to control behaviour – the main manifestations of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – have been linked to disruptions in sleep, researchers will reveal on Sunday.

The findings underline a growing awareness among doctors that disturbed sleep is associated with many major health hazards. Other ailments linked to the problem include obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The work opens up the possibility of developing treatments for ADHD without drugs, the researchers say.

Continue reading...
Author: Robin McKie Observer science editor
Posted: 02-09-2017

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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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.

Continue reading...
Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: 28-08-2017

At a clinic in Shanghai, China – where practitioners say acupuncture has been used on animals for thousands of years – owners take their pets to treat aches and pains and other ailments

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At a clinic in Shanghai, China – where practitioners say acupuncture has been used on animals for thousands of years – owners take their pets to treat aches and pains and other ailments

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Author: Aly Song/Reuters
Posted: 25-08-2017

Actor describes ‘traumatic’ experience in Morocco when Hollywood producers flew out a personal trainer and filmed her at the gym to prove she was exercising

Gemma Arterton has revealed that she was once forced to lose weight for a role by Hollywood producers, who flew out a personal trainer to work with her on location and filmed her at the gym to prove that she was exercising.

Speaking to the Guilty Feminist podcast in June, the British actor described the experience, which occurred while she was filming in Morocco, as “traumatic”.

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Actor describes ‘traumatic’ experience in Morocco when Hollywood producers flew out a personal trainer and filmed her at the gym to prove she was exercising

Gemma Arterton has revealed that she was once forced to lose weight for a role by Hollywood producers, who flew out a personal trainer to work with her on location and filmed her at the gym to prove that she was exercising.

Speaking to the Guilty Feminist podcast in June, the British actor described the experience, which occurred while she was filming in Morocco, as “traumatic”.

Continue reading...
Author: Gwilym Mumford
Posted: 22-08-2017

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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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: 14-08-2017

Research shows that splashing the cash can boost feelings of pleasure – but it depends who you spend it on

According to a growing body of evidence, it seems that it can. But what makes us really happy is not buying ourselves the latest iPhone, but splashing our cash on other people. In a study published last week looking at the link between generosity and happiness, researchers from Zurich University divided 50 participants into two groups and asked them to publicly pledge how they would spend a monthly endowment. One group was asked to spend 25 Swiss francs a week on gifts or outings for other people, and the second group was asked to spend it on themselves. Levels of happiness were measured on a subjective scale before and after the pledges. Those in the first group who pledged generously boosted their happiness more than the group who planned to buy themselves treats.

Participants then underwent an MRI scan to see which bits of the brain were most active during generous acts. During the scan, participants were asked to work out how they would like to spend money on a person of their choice. Some of the choices involved participants having to pay extra out of their own pocket to give a gift. For example, they were told they would have to pay 20 francs in order for the recipient of their generosity to get 15 francs. There is a part of the brain – the temporo-parietal junction – that neuroscientists say is associated with generosity, as well as one linked with happiness – the ventral striatum. When people made generous decisions in this study, both areas of the brain showed increased activity. The researchers conclude that their findings have important implications for us all.

Continue reading...

Research shows that splashing the cash can boost feelings of pleasure – but it depends who you spend it on

According to a growing body of evidence, it seems that it can. But what makes us really happy is not buying ourselves the latest iPhone, but splashing our cash on other people. In a study published last week looking at the link between generosity and happiness, researchers from Zurich University divided 50 participants into two groups and asked them to publicly pledge how they would spend a monthly endowment. One group was asked to spend 25 Swiss francs a week on gifts or outings for other people, and the second group was asked to spend it on themselves. Levels of happiness were measured on a subjective scale before and after the pledges. Those in the first group who pledged generously boosted their happiness more than the group who planned to buy themselves treats.

Participants then underwent an MRI scan to see which bits of the brain were most active during generous acts. During the scan, participants were asked to work out how they would like to spend money on a person of their choice. Some of the choices involved participants having to pay extra out of their own pocket to give a gift. For example, they were told they would have to pay 20 francs in order for the recipient of their generosity to get 15 francs. There is a part of the brain – the temporo-parietal junction – that neuroscientists say is associated with generosity, as well as one linked with happiness – the ventral striatum. When people made generous decisions in this study, both areas of the brain showed increased activity. The researchers conclude that their findings have important implications for us all.

Continue reading...
Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: 31-07-2017

‘Period brain’ may be one of the mainstays of internet banter – but a new study doesn’t find any scientific evidence for it

Is there such a thing as period brain? There are teams of researchers asking exactly what having a period does to your memory, ability to pay attention and your judgment. So far, the weight of studies has been firmly tilted towards fluctuating levels of hormones during the menstrual cycle having both physical and mental impacts. The authors of a review in the Archives of Gynaecology and Obstetrics state: “The effects of the menstrual cycle on emotional state and cognitive function have been long recognised,” and cite internet humour as confirmatory.

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‘Period brain’ may be one of the mainstays of internet banter – but a new study doesn’t find any scientific evidence for it

Is there such a thing as period brain? There are teams of researchers asking exactly what having a period does to your memory, ability to pay attention and your judgment. So far, the weight of studies has been firmly tilted towards fluctuating levels of hormones during the menstrual cycle having both physical and mental impacts. The authors of a review in the Archives of Gynaecology and Obstetrics state: “The effects of the menstrual cycle on emotional state and cognitive function have been long recognised,” and cite internet humour as confirmatory.

Continue reading...
Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: 24-07-2017

Pedalling to work came out top in a recent study. But how do the risks and benefits stack up when you allow for injuries and pollution?

According to recent research, cycling to work can reduce your risk of early death by 40%. But if avoiding an early demise isn’t enough to get you on a bike, there’s also a more immediate benefit – if you commute by bike, you will feel less stressed and be more productive at work. A study last week in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that, for the first 45 minutes of work, employees who cycled in had less stress than those who travelled by car. And how stressed you feel early in the morning is apparently a strong predictor for how you will feel throughout the day. The authors say it “can shape how subsequent events are perceived, interpreted and acted upon”.

Continue reading...

Pedalling to work came out top in a recent study. But how do the risks and benefits stack up when you allow for injuries and pollution?

According to recent research, cycling to work can reduce your risk of early death by 40%. But if avoiding an early demise isn’t enough to get you on a bike, there’s also a more immediate benefit – if you commute by bike, you will feel less stressed and be more productive at work. A study last week in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management found that, for the first 45 minutes of work, employees who cycled in had less stress than those who travelled by car. And how stressed you feel early in the morning is apparently a strong predictor for how you will feel throughout the day. The authors say it “can shape how subsequent events are perceived, interpreted and acted upon”.

Continue reading...
Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: 17-07-2017

Sex doesn’t stop when you hit 50, and it has been shown to have many health benefits for older people. But could it also stave off cognitive decline?

The over-50-year-olds who make up the Saga Populus panel are surveyed about everything from holidaying with grandchildren to their views on a tax on chewing-gum. In 2014, they were asked something more interesting: how often they had sex. Out of the sample of more than 9,000, 60% were sexually active, with just over 20% having sex once a week, and 26% having sex between once a fortnight and once a month.

The solution

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Sex doesn’t stop when you hit 50, and it has been shown to have many health benefits for older people. But could it also stave off cognitive decline?

The over-50-year-olds who make up the Saga Populus panel are surveyed about everything from holidaying with grandchildren to their views on a tax on chewing-gum. In 2014, they were asked something more interesting: how often they had sex. Out of the sample of more than 9,000, 60% were sexually active, with just over 20% having sex once a week, and 26% having sex between once a fortnight and once a month.

The solution

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: 10-07-2017

A new study has found a link between lengthy exposure to low traffic noise or its equivalent and male fertility problems. But how worried should we be?

You don’t have to live under a flight path or next to a nightclub to be bothered by noise. Surprisingly low levels of noise – above 55 decibels (the equivalent of light traffic or an air conditioner) – especially at night is not only annoying but detrimental to health. Noise pollution is, warns the World Health Organization, a growing hazard, second only to air pollution in its ill effects. It is obviously linked to sleep disturbance but also to heart attacks, tinnitus, strokes and even obesity.

Noise has also been associated with increases in premature births and miscarriages, and this week its ill effects were extended to reducing male fertility. A study, in the international journal Environmental Pollution, of 206,492 men in South Korea found that being exposed to noise levels of more than 55 decibels for four years, especially at night, was associated with an increase in fertility problems. When the authors of the study compared postcodes and the noise associated with them to fertility (as measured by the quality of semen samples) they found an increase in infertility for each 10 decibels of noise above 55 decibels. The researchers tried to factor in other things that affect fertility, such as age, exercise, smoking, drinking, blood sugar, weight and medical history. But the design of the study meant they couldn’t collect information on genetic factors or exposure to other things, such as chemicals that could also reduce fertility.

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A new study has found a link between lengthy exposure to low traffic noise or its equivalent and male fertility problems. But how worried should we be?

You don’t have to live under a flight path or next to a nightclub to be bothered by noise. Surprisingly low levels of noise – above 55 decibels (the equivalent of light traffic or an air conditioner) – especially at night is not only annoying but detrimental to health. Noise pollution is, warns the World Health Organization, a growing hazard, second only to air pollution in its ill effects. It is obviously linked to sleep disturbance but also to heart attacks, tinnitus, strokes and even obesity.

Noise has also been associated with increases in premature births and miscarriages, and this week its ill effects were extended to reducing male fertility. A study, in the international journal Environmental Pollution, of 206,492 men in South Korea found that being exposed to noise levels of more than 55 decibels for four years, especially at night, was associated with an increase in fertility problems. When the authors of the study compared postcodes and the noise associated with them to fertility (as measured by the quality of semen samples) they found an increase in infertility for each 10 decibels of noise above 55 decibels. The researchers tried to factor in other things that affect fertility, such as age, exercise, smoking, drinking, blood sugar, weight and medical history. But the design of the study meant they couldn’t collect information on genetic factors or exposure to other things, such as chemicals that could also reduce fertility.

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: 03-07-2017
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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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: 01-07-2017

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 melcourt.co.uk for a list of stockists.

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

Continue reading...

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 melcourt.co.uk 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: 24-06-2017

There are reports cannabis will be approved by New York legislators to treat period pain. The evidence is unclear, but that doesn’t mean the drug can be ruled out

According to reports this week, marijuana is about to be approved to treat period pains by legislators in New York. Cannabis is already allowed for medicinal use in 29 American states for a variety of conditions such as cancer, HIV or Aids, severe nausea, seizures and persistent muscle spasms (for example with people who have multiple sclerosis). Could period pains really be joining that list, and is there any evidence that it works?

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There are reports cannabis will be approved by New York legislators to treat period pain. The evidence is unclear, but that doesn’t mean the drug can be ruled out

According to reports this week, marijuana is about to be approved to treat period pains by legislators in New York. Cannabis is already allowed for medicinal use in 29 American states for a variety of conditions such as cancer, HIV or Aids, severe nausea, seizures and persistent muscle spasms (for example with people who have multiple sclerosis). Could period pains really be joining that list, and is there any evidence that it works?

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Author: Luisa Dillner
Posted: 19-06-2017

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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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.

Continue reading...
Author: Stuart Heritage
Posted: 04-06-2016