For once the Atkins diet was not in the news this week. Small wonder considering the devastating blow it received from Denmark. (See Newsletter no 96 for the Danish study showing that Atkins dieters do lose more weight than other dieters – but only for the first 6 months.

To be a REAL MAN, don’t smoke and drink

Unhealthy semen was in the medical news this week. Apparently if you both smoke and drink alcohol, the quality of your sperm and semen goes downhill. Now just listen to what the men in white coats from Argentina have found when they compared the semen of men who neither smoke or drink to those who do both. The drinkers and smokers’ semen had a lower volume, lower concentration of spermatozoa and less active sperm than those who abstained.

Interestingly this only applied to men who both smoke and drank alcohol. Those who only used one of the two vices were apparently fine. Dr. Marta Fiol de Cuneo, a medical researcher from Universidad Nacional de Cordoba (the first time this Argentinian institution has been mentioned in this column.) said that although the deterioration in semen quality were not bad enough to reduce fertility, ‘in conjunction with another deleterious factors they would diminish male fertility’. Diminish? Reduce? But to what extent? And what is an example of a ‘deliterious factor’? According to Reuters, the good doctor and her colleagues asked almost 4,000 men between the ages of 29 and 36 about their smoking and drinking habits, and tested their semen. Now for that I must take my hat off to Argentinian medicine. I wonder how they recruited 4000 volunteers to produce those samples. It’s not easy you know; just ask any male who has had to produce a sample on demand in some laboratory.

Anyway the study, published in the journal, Fertility and Sterility, concludes with the advice: ‘Men who wish to procreate should be specifically warned of this matter’ Yes, good advice doc! I can just see the different reactions of men to this piece of wonderful news.
1. Laugh it off: Result: Most of you will still be fine as far as fertility goes, although the cigarettes will still take you out.
2. Worry about it and stop drinking and smoking: Result: You should be fine as long as you can still produce a ‘sample’.
3. Worry about it and stop drinking but continue smoking: Result: Make an appointment to see a psychiatrist, now!
4. Quit smoking, drink between 2 and 4 units a night and thank Argentinian medicine for giving you yet another reason to give up tobacco. Result: Sanity and a longer life.

Homeopathic Tip of the Week

The Times ran an interesting story about homeopathy in France this week. More about it next week, but this is what really fascinated me. The Times had Van Gogh’s famous portrait of his doctor, the kind doctor who gave the penniless Vincent, a place to stay in France. Well guess what – he was a homeopathic doctor. Which just goes to show that homeopaths have good taste 😉