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PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 September, 2007, 12:00am

Death-defying boost from Vitamin D

Taking vitamin D supplements may help you live longer, according to a review of studies involving more than 57,000 people in the US, Britain and Europe over almost six years - but no one seems to be sure why. Vitamin D is found in foods such as salmon and fortified dairy products and cereals and is made by the body when it's exposed to sunshine, WebMD reports. Based on the results of 18 studies, the French and Italian researchers found that those who took vitamin D daily (from 300 to 2,000 international units, and averaging 528) were 7 per cent less likely to have died.

Viagra reaches new heights

There may be more to Viagra than a rush of blood to the head - US researchers say it appears to boost levels of a hormone linked with feelings of love. Oxytocin is involved in nursing, childbirth, orgasm and feelings of sexual pleasure, Reuters reports. University of Wisconsin-Madison tests on rats found that Viagra not only boosts blood flow, but affects a part of the brain that raises oxytocin levels. 'Erectile dysfunction drugs could be doing more than just affecting erectile dysfunction,' says team leader Meyer Jackson.

Pill may reduce cancer risk

Taking contraceptive pills for up to eight years doesn't increase the risk of developing cancer and may even reduce it, say Aberdeen University researchers, who analysed the records of about 46,000 women over 36 years. The reduced risk lasted up to 15 years for some women, Reuters reports. However, the risks were greater for women who took the pill longer than eight years.

A liberal use of brain power

The brains of liberals and conservatives appear to handle conflict differently, according to a New York University study, with liberals showing more activity in an area of the brain involved in monitoring conflicting information. Participants simply had to press a computer key when a rapidly changing screen displayed a particular letter of the alphabet, WebMD reports. Liberals performed better, but 'conservatives would presumably perform better on tasks in which a more fixed response style is optimal', the researchers say.

Ambulances 'a health hazard'

Malaysian ambulances are a health hazard, according to an official audit, having been involved in 120 accidents between 2005 and September last year, from which two people died and 29 were injured. The Auditor-General's findings, reported in The Star newspaper, blamed dangerous driving and poor maintenance. Ambulances were also used to transport food and staff, and vital equipment didn't work, AFP reports.

Jason Sankey is a tennis professional