Monday, May 25, 2009

User's Guide to the Male Body out now

My new book on men's health comes out this week. 'The User's Guide to the Male Body' is a short, sweet introduction to men's health. You can download the flyer here, find more information here and watch the ’no expense incurred’ promo video featuring the inside of my office and the book jacket in walk-on roles below.

Price £8.99 in paperback, the book is available from bookshops, or Or order direct from Marston Book Services on 0123 546 5500.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Don't get too excited over the latest male pill

The male pill appeared to move a step closer this week with the publication of results of a study in China of a hormone-based contraceptive that lowers sperm count. But as that trial moves to Manchester, we shouldn't get too excited too quickly.

The Chinese trial involved men having hormone injections in the backside. The high drop out rate - 312 out of 1045 volunteers (or nearly 30%) - will have women wondering once again whether men can really be trusted to handle any contraception requiring more forward-planning than the condom. Certainly, it's hard to see how monthly jabs in hubby's backside would work for more than a handful of couples as a long-term form of contraception.

Given the amount of booze, tobacco and crap food we shovel down our throats, doctors may find this hard to believe but men do worry about what they put in their bodies. Men will, rightly, be concerned about how long it takes for sperm counts to return to normal once the contraceptive is stopped. For most men it took around 200 days but 17 men still hadn't recovered their fertility after a year. Most men won't want to take that risk. Nor, indeed, will most couples - it's tough enough trying for a baby without having to wait six months for hubby to stop firing blanks.

Yes, despite the enthusiasm we're still a good way yet from an effective male contraceptive.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Quentin Willson and his pen*s extension

Much media interest in a device being tested in London which could regulate the speed of cars by automatically keeping them to the speed limits. No more boy racers at a stroke.

The motoring lobby, of course, will tell you that speed doesn't cause accidents. This is a heavily-pushed viewpoint - where do they get the money from? - but not one that stands up to any scrutiny. Even if you can show that speed per se is not the main cause of an accident, any accidents caused by driver error, driver fatigue, driver intoxication, or indeed, any mechanical cause, will be made worse - far, far worse - by the addition of speed. We're not just talking about minor injuries here either. Despite improvements in road safety, a person is killed every three hours on Britain's roads - nearly 3,000 deaths in 2007.

So what's the problem with speed limits? Former Top Gear presenter Quentin Willson gave the game away on the Today programme this morning talking about how the device would 'emasculate' drivers. In other words, for drivers like Quentin the car is simply an extension of the pen*s. How long are we going to let these chumps determine public health policy?

Friday, May 8, 2009

In what way are we responsible for our children drinking more?

Interesting research from JRF showing that young men are drinking less. Not what we've been led to believe.

Alcohol consumption in general is up. We average about nine litres of alcohol each a year - up from 4-5 in the 60s and 70s (but still less than the 10-11 we averaged at the start of the 20th century). So if the lads aren't drinking it, who is? The answer is women and older drinkers. It shouldn't be a surprise. We're reading how women are behaving more like men and how older people never grow up all the time.

There is a statistical point here. The Office for National Statistics changed the way it calculated units in drinks in 2007 to reflect the trend to stronger wines and larger glass sizes. This had the effect of increasing the number of women binge drinkers at a stroke.

But this research remains significant not least because of the curiouser - and more worrying finding - that fewer children are drinking but that those who do are drinking much more.

In 1997, about two 11-15 year olds in three had had a proper alcoholic drink. By 2006 barely half had. Quite a fall. Especially when you look at how consumption has rocketed: 11-15 year old boys were consuming an average of fewer than six units/week in 1997. Now it has more than doubled to more than 13. In other words, those youngsters who are drinking are really caning the stuff.

Why? Is it, as JRF suggest, mainly the influence of the home environment? In part, probably. But have we also somewhere along the line demonised drink among the young with the result that it is no longer seen as the everyday lubricant of adult life but as something abhorrent. Has it moved from being a soft drug to a hard one with fewer taking it but all of them addicted? And if so is there a lesson here for health campaigners about oversimplification of the message?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Swine flu: worried the media is telling you porkies?

Swine flu is all over the media right now but picking your way through it to the facts is a pig of a job. What you need to know is:

1. There are enough drugs to go round in the UK. The government says it has enough drugs to treat over half the population (23 million treatments of Tamiflu and 10.5 million of Relenza).
2. But tamiflu needs to be taken 24-48 hours of symptoms beginning. Any later and it's useless. So if you're concerned by cold or flu-like symptoms, don't fanny around. See your GP.
3. Meanwhile, take the standard cold prevention advice like washing your hands (especially before touching your face) and getting some sleep seriously.

It's about as simple as that really. More information and links on And, by the way, you can still eat bacon.