SIRC Media Watch Archive
Scares and Miracles – June 2001

Don't live – or the Big C might kill you. Planning to use your cellphone or hair removal products, eat a variety of foods or even breathe today? Well, look out – you might be in danger of cancer. The soy sauce cancer scare is not the first and will not be the last. And a look through the past 13 years of Herald files found it is not the most unusual by any means. N.Z.Herald.

It's enough to make you want to hit the sauce. I've just checked in our kitchen cupboard and discovered that we possess no fewer than nine bottles of soy sauce. All come from China or Japan and range in size from a jeroboam of Pearl River Bridge brand to a tiny phial of Mitsukan Citrus-Seasoned soy sauce. In consistency, they vary from light soy sauce - the elixir that transforms a fragment of sushi into the food of the gods - to miso, a sludge-like compound that is a vital accompaniment for Peking Duck. The labels bear lists of ingredients - one starts "water, soy sauce", which is less than informative - and "best before" dates of varying degrees of antiquity. What none of the bottles carries is a health warning. Independent.

Toilet habits 'could cause stroke'. The way some people go to the toilet could be a matter of life or death. Squatting may increase the risk of stroke, particularly if a person is defecating, researchers suggest. BBC.

Teen health risk of gas cookers. Being exposed to a gas cooker can harm teenagers' lungs, a study has suggested. BBC.

Drug 'munchies' are a health risk. Attacks of 'the munchies' – the phenomenon associated with smoking cannabis which results in late-night trips to the corner shop to stock up on crisps, peanuts, cakes, chocolate, fizzy drinks and several packs of extra large Rizlas – may have serious long-term health consequences for frequent users, a new study has found. Observer.

Candles now blamed for Earth's pollution. Burning candles can lead to high levels of pollutants, called particulates, released into the atmosphere. Research by the US Environmental Protection Agency shows the pollution from a burning candle can exceed standards the agency sets for outdoor air quality. Ananova.

Vitamin C 'may harm as well as heal'. Vitamin C may be capable of actually causing damage to cells that could potentially lead to cancer as well as protecting them, laboratory tests suggest. BBC.

Conker trees to be given the chop. Twenty roadside horse chestnut trees are to be felled because a council has decided that conkers are a great risk to life and limb. Telegraph.

'Low-fat spreads can be more harmful than butter'. Many of the artificial margarines and spreads that have become popular with health-conscious consumers can contain higher levels of "dangerous" fats than butter, a study claimed yesterday. Independent.

Restaurants consider 'doggy bag' ban over poisoning fears. Restaurants in Australia are considering banning 'doggy bags' because of fears they pose a health risk. The Food Safety Council has highlighted the risk posed by incorrect storage or reheating. Ananova.

Liquorice eaters have babies earlier. Pregnant women who eat large amounts of liquorice could be at greater risk of having their babies prematurely, warn scientists. BBC.

'Health risks' of mowing the lawn. Gardeners who use a petrol-driven lawnmower could be breathing in cancer-causing chemicals along with the smell of freshly-mown grass. A Swedish-based scientist has found that just one-hour's mowing could produce the same amount of carcinogens as an average car does in a 150km drive. But lawnmower manufacturers said most mowers sold in the UK were electric. BBC.

Livestock may be vaccinated against farting. A new anti-farting vaccine for sheep and cattle might cut down on Australia's greenhouse gas emissions…Methane currently accounts for around 14% of Australia's greenhouse gases. Much of it has been put down to livestock. Ananova.

Home hazards injure thousands. Thousands of people each year are badly injured by simple household items like tea cosies, place mats and bath sponges. The Department of Trade and Industry's (DTI) annual Home Surveillance System found an alarming number of serious accidents caused by seemingly harmless items. BBC. Reading this story is more likely to damage your health than using a chainsaw. Printed publications injured far more people than chainsaws – 4,371 compared with 1,207. Telegraph. Danger! don't get too cosy with that teapot. Tea cosies are posing a growing threat to human health. Thirty-seven people were injured so seriously by a tea cosy in 1999 that they were admitted to hospital. Times.

Vibrators withdrawn over cancer danger. Danish sex shops have been ordered to take many vibrators off their shelves over a cancer risk. Ananova.

Thinking 'drains the brain'. Scientists have come up with proof that too much thinking can be exhausting. BBC.

Too much variety 'makes you fat'. A variety of foods may not be the spice of life when it comes to diet. American scientists have found that eating too varied a diet could actually make you fat. They suggest that eating the same foods meal after meal may dull the palate and encourage people to eat less. BBC.

Occupational hazard. Sports injuries don't just affect athletes – furry-costumed mascots are also highly susceptible. American football players are not the only ones who risk serious injury on the pitch – furry-costumed mascots are susceptible to severe heat-related illness and other injuries caused by falls, say US scientists. New Scientist.