• Date: 21 March 2011

FURTIVE FAGS Life offers Diary so few opportunities to feel smug so thank heaven for the public smoking ban. Seeing all those nicotine heads huddled about wind-swept dual purpose rubbish bins warms the heart – the heavier the snow and rain, the better. Imagine our outrage then at reports that “smoking shelters” are being re-introduced outside UK hospitals for “health reasons”. Not the health of smokers but the rest of us. It seems patients are increasingly sneaking fags in all sorts of unsafe places, stairwells, toilets, closets, oxygen stores. Makes for a quicker end than passive smoking.

SNEEZE TIMEBOMB Just the news GPs have been waiting for to cheer them up. Scientists have discovered it takes just a single sneeze from a flu sufferer to spread germs around an entire room. And the tiny infected droplets can hang around spreading contamination all day. Breathing in these microscopic specks can infect a person within an hour. US researchers at Virginia Tech reported the discovery and their findings will surely make the prospect of sharing your consulting room with all that coughing and spluttering all the more appealing. So long as you don’t breathe, everything should be fine.

MORE ANTIBIOTICS… AND A QUARTER POUND FOUGERUS Sainsbury’s recently announced that it has increased the number of its new in-store GP practices with four more doctors. RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada has advised the supermarket chain rather unkindly to “stick to selling fruit and vegetables”. Diary asks is there any possible connection here to a contest run recently by the publisher Elsevier in which students had to distinguish medical terms from certain cheese varieties? Consider the terms Charbon, raclette, lenègre or fougerus. Would you have guessed, respectively: an old name for anthrax; a hard cheese with a subtle flavour; acquired complete heart block due to primary degeneration of the conduction system; a type of Brie. One can see the potential for confusion.

OMG! Joining the list of modern techno ailments, from keypad elbow to Blackberry thumb, is a new threat – smart phone wrinkles. Dr Jean-Louis Sebagh – cosmetic surgeon to the stars – says peering at a small screen causes your face to scrunch up, creating tension lines around and between the brows. Not to worry. Dr Sebagh suggests a quick jab of Botox will sort you out in no time. Just pop into Sainsbury’s...

REMEMBER LAST SUMMER? Something sure to give you smart phone wrinkles – an Australian website now allows patients with chlamydia to send both personal and anonymous notification texts and emails to former sexual partners. Researchers have reported in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases that traffic on the site rose substantially over a period of 11 months showing the value of emerging technologies in both encouraging and facilitating partner notification in battling the spread of STDs.

MORE CLOWNING AROUND A recent study of 219 women undergoing IVF conducted by an Israeli team has found that the odds of treatment success were greater among women who were entertained by a professional "medical clown" just after embryos were transferred to their wombs. Diary offers no comment – just an involuntary shudder.

ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD Seeing the scale of insanity that went into the collapse of the global economy one might be excused for wondering if some senior banking executives were simply drunk. Maybe so. The 2009 Health Survey for England found that people in the highest income households are more likely to consume twice the daily recommended alcohol intake and 23 per cent of top earners drink on five days or more per week compared to 14 per cent living in the lowest earning homes. No doubt that includes doctors. Source: BMJ

HEAD RUSH The next time you need to give yourself a boost under pressure, think twice before reaching for the coffee. A new study has concluded that while a cup of Joe can boost the brainpower of women, it has the opposite effect on men. Researchers from Bristol University studied 64 men and women and found the men’s performance in set tasks was “greatly impaired” if they drank caffeinated coffee. It impaired their memories and slowed their decision-making. Women were able to complete tasks 100 seconds faster if they had been given caffeine. Source: The Journal of Applied Psychology.

SAY WHAT? Things are different in Britain when it comes to sexual behaviour – and especially up North where NHS Doncaster recently published a Glossary of Yorkshire Medical Terms to help European (and probably many UK doctors) interpret the local dialect and common phrases. Diary’s favourite among many is “my husband is good to me” – the translation being he doesn’t expect sex. There is also a startlingly vast array of slang words for penis, including widgy, winkle, Uncle Sam, thingy, sparrow, old man, Percy, chip and tail. Other entries include a mind-boggling variety of euphemisms for menstruation. These include phrases such as: Barnsley’s at home, Got me friend, Had a show, I’ve got a visitor, as well as the baffling On my Honda.


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