Health Articles sent to Nature Care Wholistic and Medical Centre
Posted on Friday, April 27, 2012 at 12:06 AM



Sperm damage possible via Wi-Fi

Catherine Hanrahan

Radiation from the laptop connected to Wi-Fi was three times higher than without Wi-Fi, and at least seven times higher than control conditions.

USING a laptop connected to the internet via Wi-Fi could be decreasing men’s fertility by affecting their sperm quality, a new study suggests.

Researchers conducted a simple experiment comparing sperm samples from 29 healthy donors left under a Wi-Fi connected laptop computer for four hours with sperm samples kept away from any electronic device.

They found that progressive sperm motility was 80% in the control sperm compared with only 69% in the sperm sample exposed to the Wi-Fi laptop.

The drop in motile sperm corresponded to an increase in non-motile sperm of around 25% in the sperm exposed to the laptop, compared to 14% in the control sperm.

Similarly, more than twice the number of sperm, 8.6%, had fragmented DNA in the sample exposed to the laptop compared with only 3.3% of control sperm.

“Our findings suggest that prolonged use of portable computers sitting on the lap of a male user may decrease sperm fertility potential,” the authors from Argentina said.

Radiation from the laptop connected to Wi-Fi was three times higher than without Wi-Fi, and at least seven times higher than control conditions.

The authors speculated that the detrimental effect on sperm quality was due to radiofrequency electromagnetic waves, not a thermal effect, because temperature was controlled during the experiment.

Regulate junk food marketing, consumers say

SOUTH Australia's Health Minister John Hill says phone surveys show most consumers want the government to regulate the way junk food is marketed to children.

Fifteen years ago, one-tenth of four-year-old girls and boys in South Australia were overweight or obese, but that figure was now around one in five, Mr Hill said in a statement on Wednesday.

Research showed that between March 2010 and January 2011, the top nine food advertisers in SA were all fast food outlets, which spent $13 million on metropolitan TV advertising, nearly all in children's viewing time, he said.

"This is over six times the amount of money Quit campaigns used to drive down smoking rates," Mr Hill said.

He said the key problem was that voluntary self-regulation was restricted to children's and some general programs, when in reality children watched a much wider range of programs.

Mr Hill wants the food industry to work with the government to take action, including defining a common criteria to decide which foods are healthy and unhealthy.

He also wants them to extend voluntary initiatives to the times of day when large numbers of children actually watch TV, by extending restrictions into evening timeslots.


SA will be working with the Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA) and the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council (AHMAC) to host a national seminar next year to discuss action on unhealthy food advertising.

Canned soup linked with BPA spike in urine

AFP (Agence France-Presse)

PEOPLE who ate canned soup for five days straight saw their urinary levels of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) spike 1200 % compared to those who ate fresh soup, US researchers found.

"We've known for a while that drinking beverages that have been stored in certain hard plastics can increase the amount of BPA in your body," said lead author Jenny Carwile, a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health.

"This study suggests that canned foods may be an even greater concern, especially given their wide use."

The chemical BPA is an endocrine disruptor that has been shown to interfere with reproductive development in animal studies at levels of 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight and higher, though it remains uncertain if the same effects cross over to humans, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. 

This study did not measure BPA levels by micrograms per kilogram of body weight, but rather by micrograms per litre of urine, so a direct comparison to the EPA-cited danger level in animals was not possible.

However, previous studies have linked BPA at lower levels than those found in the Harvard study to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity in humans, the lead author said. BPA is found in the lining of canned foods, cash register receipts, dental fillings, some plastics and some polycarbonate bottles.

Seventy-five people took part in the study, eating a 12 ounce (340 g) serving of either fresh or canned soup for five days in a row and were told not to otherwise alter their regular eating habits.

A urine analysis showed the canned soup eaters had 1221% higher levels of BPA than those who ate the fresh soup.

BPA is typically eliminated in the urine so more studies were needed to examine how long elevated levels may remain in the body, the researchers said. JAMA 2011:306:2218-20


Can you think yourself well?


Professor Garry Egger

Learning to deal with negative thoughts in a positive way may help manage depression.

Far be it for me to paraphrase a great French philosopher, but I’m sure if Descartes was alive today he would agree that his famous dictum, “I think, therefore I am”, could be made more topical by adding “...depressed, anxious, self-conscious, happy, sad, disturbed... whatever!” 

Similarly, Brillat-Savarin, who first said you are what you eat, might be tempted to reposition this to ‘you are what you think’.

Thought is the basis of emotions. As such, it’s the driving force of much behaviour (and lack of it) associated with mental and physical health. It can influence fear, depression, stress and distress. Indeed, most modern psychological therapies, from CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) to RET (rational emotive therapy), are based around different ways of changing an individual’s way of thinking.

The importance of this is summed up by some of our greatest thinkers through the ages. 

Over 2000 years ago the philosopher Epictetus said: “People are disturbed not by things, but by the views they take of them.” This view was shared by Shakespeare, who had Hamlet muse that “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”, and Mark Twain, who personalised this concept in his self-deprecating expose that “I’ve suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened”.

Perhaps the most powerful influence of thought on mental health is exemplified through its effect on depression. At least in its milder forms, depression can start as a series of adverse experiences (reactive depression). Coupled with a non-resilient personality and genetic influences, a downward spiral can then develop, through depressive thought cycles, into biological changes in the brain from which escape becomes more difficult.

Where this is the case, early intervention is paramount. Simple lifestyle changes, like increased physical activity and dietary improvements can help slow, and even reverse, some of the central neural atrophy associated with being ‘bitten by the black dog’. 

More relevant however is a change in the processes of thinking. Thoughts, like behaviours, can be changed. But for someone who has had a lifetime of thinking in a certain way, this is not as simple as just telling him or her to think positively. 

A first stage in the process is to recognise that thoughts are not reality. They are a learned way of interpreting the world. Next is learning to differentiate between functional thoughts, or those required for daily living, and non-functional or emotion based thoughts that are generally egotistical and can be either irrationally positive or negative. 

This latter type can become ‘cemented’ into the mind through constant recurrence. If this was positive, all might be well. But usually it’s the negative and the ‘me-based’ thoughts that recur more often, and therefore stick hardest. 

Good treatment, whether psychotherapy, meditation or reality approaches, helps the individual differentiate functional from non-functional thought and reduces the potency of the latter, hence bringing learning into the cognitive process. In some instances this means reducing the opportunity for negative thought. 

A common prescription for the early stages of depression is, for example, to exercise in the morning after waking early, rather than lie in bed, ruminating. 

Problems can occur in a sound healthy body via various microbes and destructive lifestyles. Problems also get in the way of a sound mind through learned and ‘me-centred’ non-functional thinking. Negative thoughts are like the bad microbes of the mind, for which ‘psychological immunisation’ through learned thinking can be likened to a regular flu shot.

The body’s immune system is functional at birth and acts to restore physical health in the presence of invading pathogens. In a similar way, the inherent tendency of a sound mind towards maintaining good psychological health is like a psychological immune system that struggles to restore a natural core of good mental health in light of life experiences.

If negative, non-functional thoughts can be reduced, the natural core of good psychological health becomes the default mode, just as good physical health is the default mode when the body’s immune system fights off disease.

Perhaps the last word comes from the author and psychologist Dr Richard Carlson, who made the point in his book Stop Thinking and Start Living that “being upset by your own thoughts is similar to writing yourself a nasty letter – and then being offended by that letter”.

The trick is in learning how to stop writing such letters to oneself.

Professor Garry Egger

Director, Centre for Health Promotion and Research, Sydney; Professor of lifestyle medicine and applied health promotion, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.