Medi watch

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 March, 2008, 12:00am

Circumcised men still at risk of STDs

Although there is 'compelling evidence' that circumcision protects men from contracting the human immunodeficiency virus through sex with women, it doesn't seem to prevent other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), say New Zealand researchers who examined three decades' worth of data from almost 500 men. There was no statistically significant difference between those who'd been circumcised and those who hadn't for a range of STDs such as genital warts, chlamydia and herpes, Reuters reports.

Honouring the roots of a little blue pill

Viagra, the first oral treatment for impotence, which was accidentally discovered during research into blood pressure, is 10 years old. The researchers knew they were onto something when they found people involved in the study 'didn't want to give the medication back because of the side effect of having erections that were harder, firmer and lasted longer', says Brian Klee, senior medical director at Pfizer Laboratories. An estimated 35 million men have used the drug since it was approved for sale on March 27, 1998, AFP reports.

Milestone in diagnostic tests

US researchers have now mapped all 1,116 unique proteins in human saliva, which they say may lead to saliva-based diagnostic tests replacing the need for blood samples. The University of Rochester researchers hope saliva-based tests may eventually be used to diagnose the likes of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, Reuters reports. There are already saliva-based tests for HIV and hepatitis.

Sex determines eating preferences

Meat is from Mars and vegetables are from Venus, say US researchers, based on a year-long study of the eating habits of more than 14,000 men and women. Men generally prefer meat, poultry and shellfish such as shrimp and oysters, whereas women prefer fruit and vegetables, particularly carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and apples. The researchers, from the Foodborne Disease Active Surveillance Network, offered no explanation for the preferences, AFP reports.

High blood pressure runs in families

A 54-year study of 1,160 men by Johns Hopkins University researchers has confirmed that as much as 65 per cent of high blood pressure is hereditary, with those whose parents had hypertension at an early age being at significantly higher risk. The age at which parents develop high blood pressure - a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease - is important, says team leader Nae-Yuh Wang. The risk for children whose parents had hypertension by 55 is seven-fold higher than normal, reports.

Low hypertension in good marriages

Being happily married is good for blood pressure, say Brigham Young University researchers, but a bad marriage is worse than being single. Other factors such as diet, exercise, smoking and stress affect blood pressure, regardless of marital status, says researcher Julianne Holt-Lunstad. And a healthy social network benefits single people's blood pressure. But it doesn't equal the advantage of being happily married, WebMD reports. However, of the three groups in the study of more than 300 people, those who rated their marriages as bad typically had the worst blood pressure.