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Friday, May 21, 2010


SIZZLER Latest update on why it’s vital to be sun smart: 8, 9







Picture: Getty Images





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While danger lurks in water, we need it for healthy living. Rosie Shelley says the answer may lie in a filter system Kate O’Reilly WHAT’S ON HEALTH DAY: There will be an Open Health Day in Clonakilty Community Hospital on Thursday next from 9.30am to 2pm. The day will include free blood pressure checks, glaucoma testing, shoe clinic and other health stands. Call Tess Chambers on 086-3818486. ALLERGY FAIR: The first Irish Allergy Fair will take place in the RDS Main Hall from May 28 to 30. This new event will deal with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a range of allergies and food intolerances, including asthma, eczema, anaphylaxis and gluten intolerance. There will be seminars from dieticians, nutritionists and other allergy specialists, cooking demonstrations, and tips on how to keep your home allergen free. Opening times are noon to 7pm on Friday and 11am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday and admission is F10. See for more details. BIODIVERSITY DAY: Sonairte, the National Ecology Centre, in Laytown Co Meath, is holding a family event tomorrow to celebrate Biodiversity Day. 2010 is the International Year for Biodiversity and Biodiversity Day is a United Nations event which aims to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues globally. Events at Sonairte include a guided tour of the organic gardens and nature trailwhere you can learn about native Irish plant species. At 2pm there is a workshop and tour on The Wild Larder, where you can learn how to forage for wild food. This costs F15 per person, all other events are free. Visit or call 041-982 7572. See for more details on events taking place nationwide to mark National Biodiversity Week (May 21 to 30.). HEART CLINIC: The Irish Heart Foundation will hold a free Blood Pressure and Cholesterol testing Clinic at the Parish Centre, Carrigaline on Wednesday next from 10am to 12pm. For details call their Cork office 021-4505822. If you have questions about stroke or heart disease you can also contact their helpline, 1890 432787 MINDING THE MIND: The last lecture in the St John of God Hospital free public lecture series will take place on Monday next. Dr Ahmed Errasoul will speak on the treatment of bipolar disorder at 8pm in the hospital campus on the Stillorgan Road, Dublin. Visit or contact the hospital on 01-2771400 for more details. ■ Items for inclusion in this column can be sent to




Liquid lifesaver


ATER is the very essence of life. It makes up more than 70% of our body and is vital for every one of its functions, from nutrition to excretion, and underpinning literally thousands of biochemical processes. “Water is the body’s most vital nutrient — and most people don’t get enough,” says nutrition guru Patrick Holford, who agrees with general medical opinion that we need between 1.5 to 2 litres a day (but no more, unless caffeine intake, exercise or summer heat are extreme). Adequate hydration is also a key tool for slimmers. Personal trainer Karl Henry says: “it aids fat loss, increases your energy levels and decreases hunger pangs”. So it’s worrying that experts are now warning that the very stuff that many of us dutifully guzzle every day could be harming our health — or even making us fat. Mineral water, for example, often comes in plastic bottles, which can leach their so-called gender-bending chemicals, such as xenoestrogens, into the contents, especially if left in warm temperatures. And in the view of Dr Marilyn Glenville, a leading women’s nutritionist: “Tap water is not ideal because in many areas it’s contaminated with arsenic, lead or copper. Other substances, such as pesticides and fertilisers, can also leach in through the ground.” Dr Adam Carey, professor of nutrition at Leeds Metropolitan University, says exces-

DRINK UP: Drinking water every day is essential for our health. Picture: iStock

sive amount of oestrogen compounds in our water supplies (from pesticides and herbicides, and also as waste from women taking the contraceptive pill) “not only drives certain cancers, such as specific types of breast cancer, but also affects the way we accumulate fat”. He is concerned, too, about the impact these chemicals could be having on our increasing rates of infertility. Another argument comes from thyroid specialist, Dr Barry Durrant-Peatfield, who believes that

chemicals in our water could be contributing to the obesity epidemic because “fluoride toxins can cause hypothyroidism, a disorder affecting the thyroid gland controlling weight”. In Dr Carey’s view, the answer is to use a reverse osmosis purification kit at home. Or to filter your water. “Filtering water helps,”, says Dr Glenville “But won’t eliminate every impurity. In my opinion the best option is to drink still mineral water in glass bottles.”

HEALTH NOTES GET ready to toddle in aid of Barnados. The children’s charity aims to raise to raise F350,000 from this year’s Big Toddle. It’s the biggest fundraising event for the charity, with all monies raised guaranteed to directly fund vital services offered by Barnardos for children and families. Since it started six years ago the event has seen more than 90,000 toddlers from crèches, montessoris and junior schools take part in the Danone Big Toddle for Barnardos. Sign up to the Big Toddle by logging onto or by phoning 1850 222 300. All entrants will get a free fun pack with everything they need to organise a Big Toddle.

from the Feel Good, Do Good Challenge will strut their stuff at a gala fashion show at Oriel House, Ballincollig, Co Cork, on Wednesday, May 26, at 8pm. Juliet Murphy owner of the Health and Fitness Club in Ballincollig, led the team of experts who mentored the participants over the 12-week challenge. Included in the team were former Cork hurling coach John Allen, camogie player Linda Mellerick, Irish rugby international Terry Kingston and footballer Valerie Mulcahy. Tickets for the fashion show cost F15. To book call 021-4810830.

KEEPING your pearlies in good condition is more than just cosmetic, it’s also the route to good health, say scientists at the University of Kentucky in America. In a recent study they put people aged between 75 and 90 through a simple memory test and found that those with fewer teeth scored lower than those with more teeth. There is growing scientific evidence linking bad teeth to overall health. Other studies have associated poor oral health to Alzheimer’s, strokes, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease and, in some cases, miscarriage and premature birth. So start flossing today.

Make a world of a difference today. Vodafone Ireland Foundation is asking you to vote for the final winner of World of Difference 2010. Three winners have already been selected from a pool of 300 entrants by judges Claire Byrne, Ray D’Arcy, Roisin Ingle, Gavin Duffy and VIF’s Carolan Lennon. Now the fourth winner is up to you. Voting on the World of Difference Facebook page closes at noon on Sunday, May 30. For profiles of the finalists log onto the Facebook page. The lucky winners will get their wages (up to F40,000) and expenses covered by Vodafone Ireland Foundation. Nice one. Irene Feighan

A group of 27 volunteers have lost a

BIG TODDLE: Celebrity Mum Gail Kaneswaran with her toddler Jackson Kaneswaran-Ryan who turned out for the Danone Big Toddle for Barnardos. Picture::

Kieran Harnett

ping 313lbs over the past 12 weeks in aid of ARC Cancer Support House. And they are not about to stop there. To show the results of their hard work, the determined crew

FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2010

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Billy Ocean


On a healthy note THE man who brought us Love Really Hurts Without You and When The Going Gets Tough is set to play Dublin’s Vicar Street on Sunday, May 30. Ocean says he has sold more than 30 million records and this January the Trinidad-born star celebrated his 60th birthday. “It was just a surprise turning 60. I remember my mother and father when they were 60 — and suddenly I’m that age. But I’m not afraid of ageing at all — it’s a lovely thing,” says Billy, who settled in London’s East End at the age of seven, and whose wife, Judy, is from Barbados. “We met in Britain as kids. When I first knew her, I was 13. She was a friend. We kept in touch. Later, things developed,” says the Ascot-based dad of three, whose eldest daughter, Cherie, 28, is one of his backing singers. ■ Tickets from Ticketmaster at or 0818-719300. What shape are you in? I’m in good shape. I try to exercise regularly. I run almost every other day and I swim occasionally. Things aren’t as good as they were when I was 20 but I’ve got no aches and pains. Do you have any health concerns? No — my mother was a very fit woman and I’ve inherited some of those good genes. If you look after your body, it tends to look after you. What are your healthiest eating habits? I’m a vegetarian. I don’t eat meat or eggs. I quite enjoy the taste of cheese. I drink soya milk and I get protein from plenty of pulses, beans and rice.

I can cry easily but I don’t like others to see me cry. At my mother’s funeral in 1989, I was trying to stop the tears but I couldn’t. They were like a flood What’s your guiltiest pleasure? I’ve never really had a sweet tooth or cravings for chocolate. I have a drop of red wine now and then and the odd Guinness but I’m not a regular drinker. What would keep you awake at night? Not very much, but sometimes, when I’m on the road I find being in a strange bed can keep me up. Lying on another pillow in a different country is one of the hardest things about touring — different bedrooms carry different vibes. How do you relax? I like reading and pottering around my garden. I strum my guitar, read my Bible. I relax mostly at home. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? My wife and kids — who better to share dinner with? When did you last cry? I can cry easily but I don’t like others to see me cry. At my mother’s funeral in 1989, I remember trying to run into a corner of the crematorium grounds. I was trying to stop the tears but I couldn’t. They were like a flood. What would you change about your appearance? I’d like to be taller and a bit bigger. But if I were taller, my wife would be too short and my clothes wouldn’t fit me — so maybe leave me as I am. What’s your favourite smell? The smell of good food cooking. What trait do you least like in others? I don’t like people who can’t behave themselves, people without discipline, who prefer to argue than listen. What trait do you least like in yourself? Sometimes I wish I was a harder person. I tend to be the person people walk over. You can be too kind — sometimes people play on that. Do you pray? Yes, I think it’s necessary to pray. Though you mightn’t see the benefits directly in front of you, you do get your rewards. What would cheer up your day? My kids aren’t at home anymore, so just getting a phone call from one of them. Hearing them say “Hi Dad, how’s Mum, I’m coming home on Friday” — that’s nicer than anything else. Helen O’Callaghan

MINDING HIMSELF: Billy Ocean thanks his mum for his healthy genes. He is also a vegetarian and exercises regularly, which also helps to keep him in good shape.


FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2010

A DIFFERENT VIEW ON LIFESTYLE Your guide to fitness, health, happiness and lifestyle. Great writers and mentors. Where you come first.

Every Friday.

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Stereotypical or real? Suzanne Harrington checks out the main male


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characters in Sex and the City and asks what makes them attractive — or not

A big menu to choose from A

LTHOUGH always secondary to the female characters, the men in Sex and the City were no mere on-trend accessory. Initially, they were arranged in subgroups of ‘modelisers’ and ‘toxic bachelors’, rather than developed as individual characters. Then, as Big, Steve, Aidan et al came into being, they each came to represent an element of masculinity — old style, reclaimed, post-feminist, insecure, romantic, devoted, commitment-phobic, even misogynist. They were all there, embodied by various boyfriends and lovers. American feminist academic Laura Brunner from the University of Maryland recently published a paper, How Big Is Big Enough? Steve, Big, and Phallic Masculinity in Sex and the City. “This is the first time women were central characters,” she says of the show’s unending success. “There was a feminist tendency in the original purpose of the show, and a range of men to look at the way women have always been looked at.” So which version of masculinity, portrayed by Big, Aidan, Berger, Steve, Aleksandr Petrovsky or Smith Jerrod, would do it for you? Or are they simply too stereotypical to be real? “We live in modern times where women have it all,” says relationship therapist Lisa O’Hara. “If a guy comes on all ‘masculine caveman’ we’d show him the door, but there may be another more primal part of us that quite likes a guy who’s not afraid to be a man. “Men will often say that they don’t know how to be. It’s confusing because we women want it all. When I look at each of the Sex and the City masculine stereotypes myself, I am attracted to a bit of all of them, even if they seem contradictory to the next type. Maybe it’s because it mirrors the complexity of ourselves.”



Insecure Masculinity


Old School European Masculinity

Old School American Masculinity Like the best chocolate, Big is rich, dark and not terribly good for you. He marries models and moves continents without telling Carrie, then ditches her at the altar. Yet he is her true love, and somewhat irresistible to even the most cynical bystander. His old-school attraction centres around pots of money and power, and little desire to psychoanalyse himself or any of his women. Even his taste in music — he leaves Carrie a record of Moon River after he has left her — harks back to a bygone era. “Big is irritable because of the cultural space he inhabits,” says Laura Brunner. “His character is reminiscent of old school masculinity from old movies — he is like Cary Grant in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, and the way he calls Carrie ‘kid’ harks back to Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca.” And then there’s all that cash. “Consumerism is a huge factor within the Manhattan landscape,” says Brunner. She remains doubtful about the credibility of Big no longer wishing to live the toxic bachelor/modeliser lifestyle and settle down with Carrie: “What doesn’t add up for me is how Big suddenly ‘gets it’ and realises he loves her and wants to commit.” “He was the man that was always just out of her reach,” says Lisa O’Hara. “He was a mystery to her — did she even know his name until the end of the series? If we are working with the scarcity principle based on that which is scarce is highly prized he became all the more attractive to her.”

Reclaimed Masculinity

Aidan – reclaimed masculinity WITH his huge frame, shaggy hair, shaggy dog and creativity — he makes bespoke furniture, which is manly without being soullessly mechanical — Aidan is the perfect boyfriend. He is kind, understanding, emotionally literate, and still very masculine. He is the one everyone thought Carrie should have stuck with, rather than returning to the unreliable Big — or were you one of those women who, like me, thought Aidan was a bit wet? “He is one of the nicest characters,” says Brunner. “He’s all about new masculinity.” Aidan has a cabin in the woods, he chops wood, he works with his hands, yet he is at home in Manhattan, and when he bumps into Carrie after their break-up he has a baby strapped to his broad manly chest,



like a noughties Athena poster. “What does it say about women who find the Aidan character ‘too nice’?” wonders Brunner. Hmmm. “Women can become very attracted to a man who exhibits his masculinity yet is also in touch with his softer, more feminine side,” says Lisa O’Hara. “It’s all about being him being comfortable with his own emotions and whether she can appreciate this side of him. Yet she may find it off-putting at times when she needs him to ‘act like a man’.”

FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2010

If a guy comes on all ‘masculine caveman’ we’d show him the door, but there may be another more primal part of us that quite likes a guy who’s not afraid to be a man

Jack Berger is a narcissist, neurotic and self-obsessed. Although his initial charm may have been in his humour, his constant self-consciousness made for a tiresome character. He may have perceived himself as a post-modern Kerouac, with his motorbike and literary talent, but he couldn’t see beyond himself. “He was the least able to handle Carrie’s career,” says Brunner. Berger was almost a caricature of insecure yet narcissistic masculinity: when she bought him a Prada shirt, he felt overwhelmed; when she had a moment of financial success, he became petulant; when he felt no longer able to continue their relationship, he dumped her by Post-It. Carrie’s female audience applauded — Berger was not only rubbish in bed, but needed a rainforest soundtrack in his bedroom to lure him off to sleep, like a neurotic and over-indulged toddler. “Narcissists are terribly insecure people who are highly manipulative and want all the praise — there’s no room for anyone else up on their stage,” says Lisa O’Hara. “Being in a relationship with a narcissist brings up all our own insecurities as they do not take any blame/responsibility when things go wrong. Instead the finger will be pointed firmly in your direction.”

Carrie gets carried away with the artistic success of the Russian. While Big gets his power from Wall Street, Petrovsky is an art world giant. She is seduced by not just by his creativity, but by the success of his creativity, and its glamorous international trappings. Yet Petrovsky has little interest in her other than as part of his collection of beautiful objects; he views her as an accessory, and has no interest in her needs, her creativity, or her success. He is entirely self-absorbed. She is very low down on his list. “Petrovsky is horrible,” agrees Brunner. “He is an old-style European representation of masculinity, in direct contrast to Big.” With his charm, culture, and European exoticism, he initially appears the consummate romantic, in pursuit of truth and beauty via art. The reality, as Carrie discovers in Paris, is more old school misogynist than old school gentleman. The relationship ends when he hits her. “He pulls out all the stops to win her over and once he has her he quickly loses interest, letting her down time and time again, eroding her self confidence,” says Lisa O’Hara. “Abusive relationships are not healthy ones.”



Genuine Masculinity

Post-Feminist Masculinity

Not rich, not handsome, not tall, Steve, the Irish-American bar man from Queens, is the one none of us fancy, but the one whose values we most identify with. He is masculine reality, unlike the fantasy figures of Big and Petrovsky. He reminds Miranda that her career is not her entire life, that it’s important to stop and smell the flowers, that being a parent is the most rewarding experience. He loves women as human beings rather than accessories, and unlike the rest of the cast, is not seduced by hyper-consumerism. He has a sense of community, measures happiness beyond acquisition and consumption, and is devoted to his partner, his son and his mother. So why don’t we fancy him? “The show can’t control which character its female audience are attracted to,” says Brunner. “Steve is not rich or powerful, but we still like him the best — and he is definitely the one we would most like to be married to.”

It’s easy to dismiss the Smith Jerrod character as two dimensional eye candy, but beyond the youthful masculine beauty he is perhaps the most radical male character. Unlike his peers, he doesn’t drink or do drugs; he happily embraces the reverse stereotype of older man/younger woman, by falling in love with the much older Samantha; he finances his art by waiting tables, rather than giving up his dreams of acting. The Smith character develops further when Samantha gets cancer, and he remains totally devoted. You never doubt his love for her. Even when he becomes successful, thanks to her smart marketing of him, he remains grounded. Brunner, however, is not convinced of the character’s credibility: “Wasn’t he a bit young?” Well, yes. Which was what made him so refreshing — unlike Big or Petrovsky, he saw beauty in all women, not just the younger ones.


■ Sex and the City 2, opens Friday, May 28.

FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2010




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The absence of unconditional love in the home is a factor in the onset of asthmatic attacks

An inner longing Tony Humphreys


AY 4 was Asthma Day. It reminded me of the high and increasing level of asthma in Ireland, which affects more than 440,000

individuals. Bronchial asthma refers to the type of suffocation-spasm typified by wheezing during expiration. It is preceded by a constriction of the small bronchi and bronchioles, which can be caused by a cramping (a prolonged holding) of the smooth musculature, an inflammatory itching of the airways and an allergic swelling and secretion of the mucous membranes. Individuals — children and adults alike — experience asthma as a life-threatening suffocation: sufferers claw for air and breathe in gasps with the out breath especially throttled. The causes of asthma are not known and the suggestion of a genetic link is too remote to be seriously considered. Certainly, environmental causes have been posited — dust mites, pollution, over-heated homes — but these don’t ring true because most people who are exposed to these same physical environmental threats do not develop asthma. The environmental threats that are far more prevalent for children are emotional and social. The home is the most dangerous place for children to be — the threats they may daily encounter are physical, sexual, emotional, intellectual, behavioural and social — the greatest of all being the absence of unconditional love. Many adults who suffer from asthmatic attacks have told me they experienced their first attack when they encountered their parents arguing or, in some instances, being violent towards each other. The feelings of abandonment, helplessness and fears of the future caused the child to inhale deeply, which is the first instinctual response to others. Shout at any child or, indeed, adult and you see them inhale deeply and freeze their breath. Unfortunately, the consequence is that the airways go into spasm and the breath can only be released as an asthmatic wheeze. Clearly, the frequency, intensity and endurance of the parental conflict or aggression towards the child himself or herself will have a telling effect on the severity of the condition. Whatever the cause, all treatments need to minimise the child’s or adult’s extreme physical discomfort. However, long-term use of inhalers — which have numerous side effects — while certainly ameliorating the symptoms, do not focus on the possible emotional causes and the creative intentions of the condition. What is often not appreciated is that when the child has an asthmatic attack, the parents stop fighting or being cross with the child or stop pressuring for high performance — academic, sports or otherwise — and give comfort to the child. This will be unconsciously remembered at a later date when emotional attention is required. Generally speaking, individuals who are asthmatic are people who are longing for love, fearful of asking for it and fearful of showing it. It is because they want to be loved that they do so much breathing in — as the breath is a substitute for the love they are not receiving and they are reluctant to let the breath go, because they would lose the feeling of fullness that holding the breath provides. This is


very similar to the person who is addicted to drugs, alcohol or food — they fill the void of feeling loveless with these substances and are reluctant to let go of imbibing them because of the dark emptiness they will experience without them. Until there is a possibility of receiving what is missing — the security of unconditional love — they will wisely hold onto their addictions. So it is for those who are asthmatic — the substitute of breath holding, the soothing effects of the inhaler and, most of all, the attention they receive from significant adults, will be held onto until what they are really craving for — unconditional love — is present. The resolution of asthma of an emotional origin that developed in childhood lies in the exploration of the nature of relationships that existed when the first attack took place and to what degree these conflicts have endured.

BREATH OF LIFE: The environmental threats that are far more prevalent for children who suffer from asthma are emotional and social. Picture:Getty Images Consciousness of the unmet emotional needs is critical to resolution, as is the emotional and social safety to dare to express (breathe out) these needs. The adult whose asthma originated in childhood needs to do a similar exploration. However, the difference is that the adult himself needs to find the safety — probably in a psychotherapeutic relationship — to express his experiences of abandonment and to breathe in love of self from himself, so that he is no longer dependent on others to feel ful-filled. Contrary to medical expectation, adults between the ages of their 30s to 60s are developing asthma and, as for children, the causes are not at all clear. For those adults it is often the case that the onset of asthma is a result of grief where the person puts on a brave face and masks his feelings of loss rather than expressing them and taking mature actions to resolve the loss. With the right support, those with asthma can begin to face the emotional processes that trigger their illness and reach the point of being able to express what has lain hidden — their worthiness of being loved. Finally, it is paramount to understand that no parent ever wants to threaten a child’s wellbeing, but the reality is that there is no adult who does not carry emotional baggage into their adult roles. What is required is compassion for such inner conflicts and the determination to seek resolution. Furthermore, whether the asthma is of a purely physical or an emotional origin, parents always do their best and it is important that they seek the relevant help and support — medical or psychological — when they are struggling. ■ Dr Tony Humphreys is a clinical psychologist and author of several books on practical psychology including The Compassionate Intentions of Illness which is co-authored with Helen Ruddle.

FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2010

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conscious about my hair and I started wearing a baseball cap whenever I was in company, my confidence was very low, especially around women, I felt they were looking at my hair.” It was at this point that Tomas started to research on the internet about various treatments to combat hairloss. “Both my father and grandfather were bald and I read that thinning

hair leading to baldness was heriditary so I knew I had to do something.” Tomas discovered, after hours of trawling through various websites, that hair transplant surgery only replaced hair follicles that had already died, it did not prevent further hairloss. “It was during this research that I read about a laser treatment pioneered in the US that has gained full

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With skin cancer rates doubling in the last ten years, Deirdre Reynolds says early detection is vital in effectively treating the growing disease in Ireland


Warning signs of changing moles: ■ Asymmetry — any change in symmetry, where one half of a mole is unlike the other. ■ Border — is it rough, unclear or irregular? Are there changes in the edge of a mole? ■ Colour variety — are there changes in the colour of a mole? Or colour difference be-


tween one area of a mole and another (shades of tan, brown or black and sometimes white, red or blue)? ■ Diameter — is there a change in size of a mole/is it getting bigger? Most melanomas are larger than 6mm, the size of a pencil top. Cover up ■ Use sunscreen with a factor

KIN cancer is back in the news after the Irish Cancer Society revealed there’s been a dramatic 92% increase in melanoma cases here in the last 10 years. Far more shocking than any statistics, though, are the seemingly perfectly healthy young people who become victims of the deadly disease. Young, bubbly and newly married, Sharon Rice O’Beirne had just embarked on the most exciting chapter of her life. After feathering a nest with new husband Darren, the beautiful blonde from Leixlip, Kildare, was ready for the challenges and rewards of family life — from mortgage to motherhood. Then a tiny mole on her left leg changed everything. Her heartbroken mum Bernie Rice is still trying to come to terms with the death of her eldest daughter at 33 from an entirely treatable illness. “If you look back at her wedding photos, Sharon was beaming,” says Bernie. “She certainly didn’t look sick. None of us really even knew what melanoma was at the time — and we definitely didn’t think it could be fatal.” The Rice family got a unexpected crash course in the disease when IT manager You can still be burnt Sharon was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in on a cloudy day. 2006, after the unassumDespite our grey ing mole on her leg beskies Ireland has the gan to change shape. “She was very positive highest skin cancer about the whole situarates in Europe tion,” says Bernie. “She had it removed and was moving on with her life. She even ran the mini marathon for the Irish Cancer Society that summer.” Two years and a battery of biopsies, operations and chemotherapy later, however, the cancer returned with a vengeance — spreading to her blood stream, liver and groin. In the end, in February 2008, the disease defeated Sharon in just two days, says mum Bernie. “On Thursday night Sharon was feeling unwell and went into hospital. We didn’t really take any notice — we figured it was just part of the ups and downs of recovery. By Saturday morning, the oncologist told us she was passing on.” Picture: Getty Images In the wake of her daughter’s untimely death, devastated Bernie set up the Sharon Rice higher than 15. Look for a prodO’Beirne Melanoma Trust to raise awareness of uct with UVA and UVB protecthe disease and the importance of early detection. tion. Apply thickly 20 minutes be“We could not justify such a young girl dying fore going into sun and re-apply from a preventable disease. Sharon was a bright every two hours. and intelligent girl, but when you think of her lack of knowledge about the mole that ultimately ■ Wear sunglasses to prevent killed her — we had to do something.” eye damage by UV rays. She adds: “There’s this attitude in Ireland ‘Sure we don’t get the sun’, or that skin cancer is an old ■ Sit in the shade between 11am person’s disease. But melanoma doesn’t discrimiand 3pm. nate — it’s a vicious disease.” While the latest study by the Irish Cancer Soci■ Wear a hat with a wide brim ety pinpoints the spike to people in their 60s and and a t-shirt with a collar. 70, experts acknowledge that melanoma — which develops in cells in the outer layers of the skin and

“Any tanning or burning causes skin damage — can grow from a mole, freckle or regular skin — can which is permanent. It’s also cumulative, meaning lie dormant for decades before it finally attacks. And, scaremongering or not, getting sunburnt even damage done to your skin this summer is added to damage done in previous years, increasing your risk of once as a child increases your susceptibility to skin skin cancer.” cancer later in life. But for teenage girls who idolise perma-tanned “We believe the soaring increase in this older gencelebrities like Lady Gaga and Paris Hilton, the meseration shows the impact of the tanning behaviour of sage about melanoma may be wasted. men and women who were in their adolescent years Considered the ultimate symbol of a and early 20s when the explosion in the packjet-setting, champagne lifestyle, miage holiday industry began when sunburn ni-fashionistas as young as 11 are before suntan became a common ritual using sunbeds to cultivate a and sunbeds arrived in Ireland,” says Around 80% of sun year-round tan, according to Norma Cronin, health promotion damage happens the Irish Cancer Society. manager of the Irish Cancer Socibefore the age of And a report published last ety. year revealing that the risk of 20. it is also Whether staycationing or jetting skin cancer jumps by 75% to sunnier climes this summer, the cumulative, when sunbed use starts before society’s annual SunSmart camincreasing your the age of 30 is unlikely to paign urges Irish people to wise up risk of skin cancer convince tanorexic teens to go to the sun’s killer UV rays. cold turkey on tanning. But you don’t need to sunbake on a each year In Britain earlier this year, unblistering beach to fall prey to the counder-18s were banned from using sun try’s most common form of cancer. Despite beds. And at the launch of May Melanoma our grey skies, Ireland has among the highest skin Awareness Month in Dublin recently, Minister for cancer rates in Europe — with one in eight men and Health and Children Mary Harney vowed to follow one in 10 women here developing the disease by the suit. age of 74. “It’s a difficult message to convey to teens,” conSPF isn’t just for sun holidays, warns Julienne Curcedes Julienne Curran. “But the only safe tan is a fake ran, Vichy and La Roche Posay medical training tan.” manager, who is a trained oncology nurse. However, even fake-baking came under fire lately “You can still get burnt on a cloudy day,” says Curwhen Kelly Osbourne controversially boasted that ran. “Up to 85% of the sun’s harmful UV rays can pass through clouds all year round, so it’s important to wearing St Tropez self-tan made her feel “10lbs skinnier”. It won’t make you thinner, but self-tan may always wear sun protection.”. help stop women killing themselves for the sun-kissed “Around 80% of sun damage happens before the look, reckons Tan Organic founder Noelle O’Conage of 20, so it’s also vital to protect your children.” nor. Slapping on after sun lotion may soothe lobster “Irish women want a tan,” says O’Connor, whose skin, but it does nothing to ward off the much uglier sunless tanner became an overnight sensation after side effects of sun burn, she adds.

CRUEL DISEASE: Far left, Sharon Rice who died from skin cancer, and left, Ailsa Holland, who says checking is vital.

FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2010

featuring on RTÉ’s Dragons’ Den. “They don’t want to look pasty all summer.” “In the past, women used everything from baby oil to cooking oil to get a tan — so I think it’s a good thing that we’re using fake tan instead. “But it’s important for women to remember to use SPF too. Just because you looked bronzed already doesn’t mean you’re immune to burning. As a beauty therapist I always tell women to wear Factor 30 sunscreen on exposed areas like their face and hands 365 days a year. “Unfortunately, self-tan containing SPF doesn’t exist yet — so until then women should use both.” Prevention, as always, is better than cure. But unless you’re one of the Twilight vampires, most of us have already been exposed to sun damage. Vigilance is the next best weapon in the war on skin cancer, says survivor Ailsa Holland, from Passage West, Cork. “In my early 30s, a mole appeared on the side of my nose,” says Ailsa, now in her mid-forties. “It looked just like a freckle, except bigger. “I went to my GP and she referred me to a dermatologist who said it was nothing to worry about.” Almost 10 years later though, alarm bells sounded for Ailsa when the mole began to look bigger and darker. “I was in work when the doctor called to say it was malignant melanoma — the most aggressive type of skin cancer. I was floored. No-one can describe the shock of being told ‘It’s cancer’.” Nonetheless, the mum-of-two soldiered on with surgery to remove the disease. “Having plastic surgery on your face is traumatic,” she says. “After the mole was removed, skin from behind my ear was grafted over the wound. It looked hideous. I hid at home while it healed.” “But I’m very lucky that I spotted the change so early. The doctors told me that if I had ignored it, there would have been nothing they could have done for me.” “90% of melanoma can be cured,” says Dr Denis Lawlor, plastic surgeon and founder of the Eccles Clinic in Dublin. “But early detection is vital for survival. “Moles don’t suddenly change overnight. It’s a gradual thing, so you have to keep an eye on them. is an excellent website for anyone worried about a mole. If you’re still concerned, go to your GP and have it checked out. “The skin cancer curve is going up and we need to put a stop to it now.” Cancer-free for more than two years now, Ailsa hopes her story will help others beat cancer. “It’s so important to keep checking your skin — even if you’ve been given the all clear. I’ve never used a sunbed in my life, but I’m proof that it can Teenagers who happen to anyone.”

idolise perm-tanned celebs should know the risk of skin cancer jumps by 75% when sunbed use starts before the age of 30

■ For more information log onto:

Be sun smart for the kids


UILDING sandcastles, eating ice-cream cones and splashing about in the pool sitting in the sun can contribute towards many happy memories for your children. But with a lot of sun damage done by the age of 20, here’s how to make the most of all those precious sun-soaked summer holiday moments without putting your child in jeopardy. ■ Keep babies under six months out of the sun and keep children in the shade from 11-3pm when the sun rays are strongest. But remember they can still burn from reflected UV rays. Make sure the parasol — or whatever you use — casts a dark shadow and always use sunscreen as well. ■ Use a minimum of SPF 30 broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen. Apply liberally at least 20 minutes before they go outside and top up religiously every two hours. ■ Choose protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible, for example, a long-sleeved top in close weave fabric such as cotton, broad-rimmed hat and good quality wrap-around sun glasses. Lycra swimsuits stay protective when wet. ■ Make sure they drink plenty of fluids.



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My partner snores so much I have had to move into another room. He has no idea how bad his snoring is — sometimes he seems to stop breathing during the night. Is there anything he can do or take to stop this?

Dr Niamh Houston



Dr Niamh Houston is a GP with a special interest in integrative medicine. If you have a question about your child’s health email it to or send a letter to Feelgood Irish Examiner City Quarter Lapps Quay Cork

A. Most people don’t think of snoring as a sign of something serious, but it may be sign of a potentially serious sleep disorder — obstructive sleep apnoea. This occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much to allow normal breathing. Your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in and normal breathing may be altered for 10-20 seconds. This can lower the level of oxygen in the blood, which your brain responds to and briefly rouses you from sleep so you can reopen your airway. One of the signs of obstructive sleep apnoea include loud snoring, episodes of pauses in the breathing while asleep (up to 10 seconds or more), abrupt awakenings, sometimes with a snorting, choking, or gasping sound. People with this condition may notice feeling drowsy during the day, even falling asleep while at work, driving, or when watching TV. They may not even be aware that their sleep was interrupted. Anyone can develop sleep apnoea, but more than half of those with obstructive type are overweight. Also a neck circumference greater than 17 inches (43cm) for men and 15 inches (38cm) for women is another risk factor. In general, men are twice as likely to have sleep apnoea, while a woman’s risk appears to increase after the menopause. About half of people with sleep apnoea include high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems. Sudden drops in blood oxygen levels increase blood pressure and strain the heart, and you are more likely to develop abnormal heart rhythms. Other risks include complications after major surgery as you’re prone to breathing problems especially when sedated and lying on your back. For these reasons, as well as to prevent further disruption to your relationship, your husband needs to speak to his doctor about his excessive snoring. A referral to a sleep specialist and specific tests will help confirm if he has this condition. For milder cases of obstructive sleep apnoea, lifestyle changes such as losing weight or quitting smoking are recommended first. If these measures don’t improve the symptoms, or if the apnoea is more severe, there are a number of treatments available. A machine that delivers air pressure through a mask placed over your nose while asleep (CPAP) prevents snoring and apnoea. Another option is wearing a mouthpiece designed to keep your throat open. Some are designed to open the throat by bringing the jaw forward, which can relieve snoring

SOUND BITES: If you are snoring excessively be sure to consult with your doctor, it may be a sign of something more serious. Picture: Getty Images and mild obstructive sleep apnoea. Mouthpieces aren’t as consistently effective as CPAP and follow-up is needed to make sure the sleep apnoea is successfully treated. Surgery removing tissue from the back of the mouth as well as tonsils and adenoids can be successful in stopping throat structures from vibrating and causing snoring. While waiting to see the sleep specialist, keep a sleep diary, recording sleep patterns, bedtime, number of hours slept, nighttime awakenings and awake time and well as your daily routine, and how you feel during the day. Lose weight — even a slight loss in excess weight can help relieve constriction of the airway. Avoid alcohol, sleep on your side or stomach rather than on your back. If you suffer with nasal congestion, use a saline nasal spray to keep the nasal passages open. Q. Can you tell me about Gerson therapy? I am receiving chemotherapy for end-stage cancer and have been told there is very little else my doctors can do for me. I read about it on the internet, and would like your opinion please? A. There is no evidence to show that Gerson therapy works as a cure for cancer. It involves a very specific diet with supplements and has been used to treat cancer. It aims to rid the body of toxins and strengthen the body’s immune system. The therapy is based on the belief that people with cancer have too much salt (sodium) in their bodies. By eating large quantities of fruit and vegetables this will restore the right balance and allow the liver to rid the body of cancer cells. There are three key part to the

therapy: a diet of organic fruits, vegetables and whole grains, supplements to help correct cell metabolism and detoxification to remove harmful substances from the body. The diet can help people feel better psychologically and may reduce the need for painkillers. But some Gerson therapists do not support the use of chemotherapy as they believe it damages immunity. I can understand you may want to try something if you think it might help treat or cure your cancer and it can be difficult to accept the news from your doctor that conventional cancer treatments have failed. But your cancer specialist can help relieve and control your symptoms. Diet may play an important role in helping to prevent cancer, but there is no proof that making drastic changes to your diet will help to kill cancer cells. The Gerson diet is a very strict low salt diet. Each day you will need to drink about 9kg of crushed fruit and vegetables (one glass of juice hourly), take potassium, pancreatic enzymes and thyroid supplements, as well as have three to four coffee or castor oil enemas. This can cause serious side effects Some elements of the Gerson diet are definitely healthy, but taking this to the extreme can be harmful for people who are already weak and ill. You will also need to think of the costs involved — Gerson therapy is very expensive. Talk your specialist about any alternative or complementary therapies that you want to try. Beware also of some treatments that are sold for a great deal of money on the internet as potential cures. They can target people who are already ill and very vulnerable.

NOTE: The information contained in Dr Houston’s column is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult a doctor first

Catherine Shanahan MUM’S WORLD Feelgood

GROWING up, my mother had a broad arsenal of advice, ranging from wise to cockeyed. “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” she would say 10 times a day, prompting me to ask why then did banks have branches. What she really meant was the chance of her parting with hard-earned cash to fund a fleeting craze was less likely than Moses taking a second stab at parting the Red Sea. One or two nuggets really riled me. “The best helping hand is at the end of your own arm,” is not the response you want when seeking assistance with the wash-up. Or the favourite line of refusal when pleading for permission to go somewhere with a friend: “If Mary jumped off the Empire State Building, would you want to do it too?” she would ask, knowing that while I might have said I would give my left eye for Mary’s

lifestyle, in reality, I was not about to risk life and limb. I hated the “little birdy” who kept her in the loop about all our shenanigans. Nothing went under the radar of that avian snoop. And anytime my mother went AWOL, it was to “meet a man about a dog”. We never met the man and we only ever had one dog, scarcely justifying the number of meetings she purported to attend. We wondered what my father thought of all the men she met to discuss their canine friends. Her favourite cop out was “I don’t have to explain myself. I said no”, or “I’m doing this for your own good”, a common conversational disaster and hardly a strategy to deflect or redirect negative behaviour. A teen may understand why a parent refuses to fund a tongue bifurcation, but not a straight-forward ear-piercing.

FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2010

Sometimes she would ask if she was talking to a brick wall, a question best left unanswered. I spent years in the slipstream of Momisms, with regular reminders to close the door, we didn’t live in a barn; to do as I was told as long as I lived under my parents’ roof, and that just because my last maid had died of overwork and underpay didn’t mean my mother intended to follow suit. I survived them all and even tried to take some on board, particularly: “Treat others as you would like them to treat you”. My poor mother, who endured years of abuse for unpopular decisions justified by “I just want what’s best for you”, has also had some payback. One of her Momism’s was “I hope someday you will have children just like you”. Her wish came true. I made my bed. Now I must lie on it.



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If I’m not on top of it, it’s on top of me


Maggie Carragher meets a brave Limerick woman who refuses to give in to MS


EGINA CAGNEY was just 22 when she first displayed symptoms of multiple sclerosis. “My first daughter was just 12 weeks old when out of the blue, I lost my speech and coordination. It was terrifying.” There followed a panicked visit to her then GP, who ordered blood tests and a lumbar puncture — but, amazingly, Regina had to wait three years to have her condition confirmed. “I still can’t figure out why the doctor didn’t tell me right away,” she says. “Maybe he was putting it off because I was so young, hoping I’d go into remission.” In the meantime, Regina was prescribed steroids, which slowly alleviated her symptoms, and painkillers. It was shortly after the birth of her second child in 1994 that she was referred to a neurologist who diagnosed MS. “My husband, Derry, was with me,” she recalls. “Afterwards he hugged me and I burst into tears. I remember thinking: ‘Thank God. Now that I know what’s wrong with me I’ll be able to fight it’.” And fight it she did, and continues to do, despite episodes that regularly leave her “wiped out”. “When it’s bad, it’s very bad,” she says, recounting an episode in 2008 which landed her in hospital for the entire summer. “The weight fell off me. I couldn’t wash, I could hardly walk, I could barely feed my-

DETERMINED LADY: Regina Cagney is living with multiple sclerosis for the past 20 years and Kieran Clancy / Picsure is determined to live life to the full. self,” she says. “But after 11 steroid drips — which play havoc with your veins — and a plasma exchange, I began to improve.” Despite such setbacks, Regina remains remarkably upbeat about her condition. “People ask me, where do you get such a fantastic attitude? I tell them I buy it in Dunnes for F2.99! But seriously, I have no choice but to fight MS. If I’m not on top of it, it’s on top of me,” says the 42-year-old Limerick woman. She also credits Tara, Limerick’s MS Resource Centre, for its support. “I drop in

there regularly,” she says, name-checking the staff. “Gretta Allen, Carol, Angela, Maria, Sinead. They’re all great.” And while she might have a wheelchair in the corner, Regina regards it as a last resort. “I know it’s there if I need it,” she says. “In the meantime, I can walk, I can swim, I can drive. I have a wonderful husband, two lovely daughters and a dog. I have a lot to be thankful for.” ■ World Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Day is on May 26

Helping to manage MS OVER 7,000 people and families live with multiple sclerosis across Ireland. Symptoms The presence, severity and duration of all symptoms of MS vary considerably from person to person. However, some of the symptoms are immediately obvious, such as reduced mobility, fatigue, changes in sensation, and memory and concentration problems. Treating and managing MS Medical treatments concentrate on managing symptoms, reducing inflammation


during relapses, or changing the course of the disease with drug treatment. Non-medical interventions, such as physiotherapy, play a significant role in maintaining muscle strength and mobility. Speech and language therapy helps with speech and swallowing, and an occupational therapist can advise on techniques aids and appliances that can increase independence. Some people with MS use complementary and alternative therapies, such as reflexology and massage as part of their management programme. ■ Source

No boundaries ■ ALAN OSMOND of the Osmond Brothers, was 37 when he was diagnosed with progressive MS. This form of the illness differs from the more common relapsing-remitting MS in that progressive MS does not typically improve, but rather worsens steadily. Once diagnosed, Osmond felt he could deal with the challenge more effectively. He attributes his positive attitude to humour, prayer and nurturing a healthy spirit by helping others. In a cruel twist of fate, Alan’s son David, was also diagnosed with MS. A professional musician, David was forced to put his career on hold while he battled the condition. However, recent improvements in his health have allowed him to refocus on music and he featured in last year’s hit TV show American Idol. ■ In 1991, the award-winning Hollywood actor and hell raiser Richard Pryor announced that he had been suffering from MS since 1986. He subsequently ditched his long-term drug habit, declaring: “God gave me this MS sh*t to save my life.” He died in 2005.

HELPING OUT: Some MS sufferers find complementary therapies like reflexology helpful. Picture: Getty Images

FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2010

■ Widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest cellists, Oxford born Jacqueline du Pre’s glittering musical career was cut tragically short at the age of 28 by the onset on MS. She died, aged 42, in 1987.




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Cheddar please Roz Crowley


HE most popular cheese in the world, cheddar goes back at least as far as 12th century —it’s named after the village of Cheddar in Somerset. Farmhouse cheeses differ from dairy factory cheddars in how they are matured. Farmhouse cheeses are matured in cylindrical shapes of weights of between 4 and 7 kilo called truckles (cheddlets weigh about a kilo). They are often wrapped in linen or other natural fabrics while maturing. Some are matured in wax. Dairy cheeses, often made in factories in huge quantities from milk from co-ops, are

Bandon Vale Vintage Cheddar F15/kg This mature-style cheddar has a distinctive black wax covering. It packs a flavour punch and from a slightly dry start ends up a creamy mouthtful. Delicious. Fair value. Score: 8

usually matured in plastic covering and are sometimes coloured orange by the use of annatto which is also a flavour enhancer. It is nothing to worry about and in some cases can have medicinal benefits. Dairy cheeses may be kept for up to two years and, like farmhouse varieties, change taste as they mature. As with many other hard cheeses, they can develop an attractive, crystalline and dry texture and some cracks, as well as a deep flavour with a slight tang. Health wise cheese has its pluses and minuses. High in saturated fats, cheddar delivers about 30g of fat per 30g (1oz). It also contains salt, but at an average of 2% it’s not enough to worry about. On the plus side, cheddar is packed with calcium (100g supplies all our daily needs), protein (100g supplies half our daily needs) and vitamins D (which helps absorb the calcium), B (for healthy nervous system), A (for healthy skin) and a good sprinkling of minerals such as folate, iodine and zinc. As usual, to be healthy, we need balance and the benefits outweigh the disadvantages as long as we are modest in our consumption. Hard cheeses have more fat than soft cheeses so think about your consumption of other fats during the day and see how much you can afford to eat in one sitting. A finger of cheese weighs about 15g, so even allowing ourselves 30g we get a decent lunch or snack without overdoing it.

Baylough Cheddar F18/kg Made in Clogheen, Co Tipperary, it has a bright yellow wax skin and the inside is a soft yellow. The texture is a little rubbery and the taste mild with a little kick. This one appeals to children more than many vintage cheese samples. A good all rounder. Fair price. Score: 7

Hegarty’s farmhouse cheddar, F20/kg

Kilmeaden Mature Red Cheddar (400g F5.75) F14.37/kg

Made in Whitechurch, Co Cork, this is available as wedges cut freshly, as well as packed in plastic. Matured for at least a year, which shows in the deep flavour. Richly creamy, it is well-balanced and what we expect from a mature cheddar, with the slightest sweetness and a little zing. Excellent. Score: 9.25

Made by Glanbia, the aroma is of the first sliced cheeses we remember and the rubbery texture is similar. However, the flavour has a maturity and quite a long aftertaste. The label says it’s suitable for vegetarians, but not why, with annatto — used for colouring and as a flavour enchancer — the only additive listed. There is no mention of vegetarian rennet which is likely. Not special enough for the money. Score: 4


Charleville Mature White Cheddar (200g F2.89) F14.45/kg A mild cheese, it has a disappointing rubbery texture. It is not stated on the packaging how long it has been matured, but it appears to be for a short time as it is quite bland for a mature cheese. The texture is not crumbly as stated on the pack. Poor value compared to other samples. Score: 3

Mount Callan Cheddar F27/kg Made from raw milk and matured for enough time for any unfavourable bacteria to kill each other, some of this cheddar has blue veining — though not all the way through. The outside is covered in cheesecloth until mature and we see the pattern of the cloth on the grey, dusty skin. Inside, the non-veined part of the cheese has a typically cheddar flavour with a hazlenut tone and some delicate sweetness. The open, cracked texture is creamy and the acidic flavours linger in the mouth. Made in North Clare, ideal for those who like a good bite in their cheddar. Score: 9

FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2010

Cornish Cruncher Extra Mature Cheddar Marks & Spencer (300g F4.99) F16.63/kg With a nice, slightly crystalline, crumbly texture, this packs quite a punch with a distinctive nutty and almost alcohol flavour. The packaging rates this as 7 in strength, which is not explained, but perhaps it is on a scale of one to ten. A beautifully well balanced cheese which has an unusual, zingy lightness. Fair price. Score: 8

Valley Spire Farmhouse Mature Cheddar Cheese (350g F3.28) F9.37/kg Matured for at least nine months and made at selected farms for Adams Foods in Staffordshire. Vegetarian rennet is used to curdle the milk (rennet usually has an animal source), so the cheese is suitable for vegetarians. A less rubbery sample than many of the dairy cheeses, the taste is quite tangy but not in a deep, naturally rich way. Fair value. Score 4.5




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Who? Me? Obese? Y

OU might think obesity is something that affects other people, but you’d be surprised. “If you’re carrying more than 10% of the recommended weight for your height, you’re obese,” says Dr Anna Clarke, health promotion and research manager with the Diabetes Federation of Ireland. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), ‘overweight’ and ‘obesity’ are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A crude population measure of obesity is the body mass index (BMI), a person’s weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of his or her height (in metres). A person with a BMI of 30 or more is obese. A person with a BMI equal to, or more than, 25 is overweight. “Obesity is a medical condition that leaves you with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers,” says Dr Clarke, who was speaking to highlight European Obesity Day, tomorrow. This is an initiative by the Diabetes Federation, the Irish Pharmacy Union, and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare to raise awareness of the impact of obesity on health and on people’s quality of life, as well as to identify solutions and help people address their own health and lifestyle challenges. The cause of obesity and being overweight is an energy imbalance between calories con-

Deirdre O'Flynn MOSTLY MEN

sumed and calories expended, according to the WHO. Globally, increases in obesity are attributable to a shift in diet towards increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and sugars, but low in vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. There is also a trend towards decreased physical activity, due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanisation. “We want people to get their BMI measured by their pharmacist, so that they can understand obesity,” says Dr Clarke. “Then, the pharmacist can direct them as to whether they need to lose a few pounds for cosmetic reasons or lose weight for health reasons.” Obesity has reached epidemic proportion in Ireland. Data from the Department of Health and Children on self-reported BMI shows an increase in obesity of more than 30% for men and women, between 1998 and 2007. At least 2,000 premature deaths a year in Ireland are attributed to obesity. ■ For more information, log on to

HEAVY GOING: if you weigh 10% more than the recommended figure for your height you are obese, according to WHO criteria. Picture: Getty Images

Your head and neck need ME expert Weir to talk sun protection, too in Dublin and Galway ALMOST three out of four men and women do not use sun protection on their hair, with 65% saying their hair gets dry and coarse in the sun. That’s according to Viviscal, the hair nourishment programme from leading Irish natural healthcare company, Lifes2good. Generally, when people are protecting themselves from the sun, the head and neck do not receive the same attention as the rest of the body. Viviscal has just introduced a new fragrance-free, water-resistant scalp guard to its range. Specifically for-



AY fever, an allergic reaction to pollen, makes the summer a misery for about one in five Irish people. Histamine is released in response to exposure to the allergen, which irritates and inflames the body’s tissues, resulting in symptoms such as itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing. The worst time for hay fever sufferers is usually from mid-May for six weeks. Some natural remedies which might help are:



mulated to protect the scalp and face from the sun, the Viviscal scalp guard SPF25 is particularly suitable for people with fine, thinning or close-cut hair. This coincides with national thinning hair awareness month, which runs until the end of May and is also supported by a free consumer guide, entitled ‘Heads Up’. The guide is in pharmacies and health stores nationwide, and online at; lo-call 1890-601801, or email


AS part of ME awareness month, in May, a leading British expert, Dr William Weir, will give two talks on ME. On Saturday, May 29, Dr Weir will speak at Mount Herbert Hotel, Herbert Road, Dublin 4, at 1pm. And on Sunday, May 30, he will speak at the Courtyard Mariott Hotel, Headford Point, Headford Road, Galway, at 2pm, in conjunction with the Galway ME/CFS Support Group. Admission for each talk is F5. Dr Weir will discuss “25 years of experience with ME: past reflections, present difficulties and future possibilities.” Around 12,000 people in Ireland suffer from ME, now often diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Symptoms include overwhelming, flu-like exhaustion, muscle and joint pains, sore throats, swollen glands, disturbed sleep, impaired concentration. ■ Details on ME awareness month events and a free information pack can be obtained from the Irish ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Association, PO Box 3075, Freepost F4439, Dublin 2.; 01-2350965.

with Kate O’Reilly

NATURAL ANTIHISTAMINE: Higher Nature’s Quercetin & Bromelain formula, F17.40 for 60 tablets combined with vitamin C, which is a natural antihistamine, offers immune support for the summer season. Quercetin is a flavonoid known to inhibit the release of histamine. Bromelain, a natural proteolytic (protein digesting) enzyme found in pineapple, works synergistically with quercetin, helping support a healthy immune response.


HERBAL BLEND: Irish company Naturalife Health has developed a herbal blend for hayfever Sinu Hay, F15.22 for 100ml, which includes echinacea and other herbs which help to build immunity and are antiinflammatory. They are effective in drying out the mucous membranes, reducing coughing, sneezing and a runny nose. Naturalife say it is the combined action in this formula which makes it more effective than the action of any one single herb alone, to prevent and treat hay fever symptoms. It is advisable to

DId you know...

Men who cheat once are more likely to cheat twice Source: dating agency survey of 5000 men and women based in Ireland, Britain and Western Europe

Hay fever natural remedies begin taking the remedy before the season starts. However, Naturalife says good relief is still obtained if the formula is started after the symptoms appear. There is a special offer on a range of Naturalife tinctures twin packs: pack of 50ml F9.49 and 100ml F14.99, available in pharmacies and health stores or visit

FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2010


SALT THERAPY: A dose of salty sea air has always been considered beneficial for people with breathing problems, helping to clear out the respiratory system. New from Higher Nature is The Saltpipe, F37.50, a handy inhaler which is 100% natural and offers the benefits of portable salt therapy. Higher Nature say it has no side effects, is very easy to use and could be useful in the treatment of asthma, hay fever, etc.


GENTLE RELIEF: A commonly used tropical plant for hayfever and other allergies is Luffa (sponge cucumber) which acts as a natural anti-histamine. A.Vogel Luffa Complex comes in tincture, tablets and nasal spray. The nasal spray, F11.50 for 20ml, is designed to offer gentle quick relief from blocked, runny and itchy noses. It is available as a tincture (F10.50, 50ml) or tablets (F9.30, 120 tablets). See for more information.




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The news on ... NAIL KITS HOT pink? Nude? Mandarin? It’s pretty difficult deciding what you’re going to go for in terms of nail colour this summer. Not only that, but with very trend-driven shades, you can often go off the polish before you’re even half finished the bottle, which is where mini-sized versions come in very handy. Urban Decay’s Summer of Love Nail Kit, from F20.11, has seven little bottles — excellent for travelling and excellent for the indecisive.

Emily O’Sullivan

Now the sun has come out to play it’s time to get rid of the rough stuff — your skin will thank you for it


SEEM to spend a lot of time thinking about exercising, but I never actually get to the gym. The same goes with exfoliating. The mere thought makes me yawn. But, look, it’s May, and there’s no getting away from it: if you’re planning on revealing anything more than an ankle this summer, you’re probably going to have to get to grips with how to buff. And soon. Rough skin has a really unpleasant texture. And it tends to group around bottoms and thighs and upper arms — not the kind of places you worry about in the depths of winter or early spring, but in the height of summer on a beach, there is nowhere to hide (although we do find the kaftan cover-up quite handy indeed). There are two great things about exfoliation: it doesn’t cost much, and it really does work. Spend a little time sloughing off the rough stuff and you’ll find that the tone of your skin, and the smoothness of it improves dramatically. According to Elemis skincare expert Noella Gabriel: “The skin works on a 21-day cycle and so three weeks before a holiday is the perfect timing to start conditioning your body for summer. Daily body brushing, and twice-weekly body exfoliating leaves the skin super soft and moisturised.”


BUFF ’n’ READY And while they are quite similar, body brushing and body exfoliating do have slight differences. Gabriel explains. “Body brushing will aid the appearance and toning of skin by stimulating circulation around the area while shedding dry skin cells. Use daily before showering to improve skin tone and body firmness. “Exfoliating, meanwhile, tackles dead skin cells and dehydration and should include a form of moisturisation, which leaves the skin super soft. Together they promote a smoother appearance, good skin tone, and stimulate circulation, along with lymphatic drainage to speed up the elimination of toxins.” I love products that have a DIY element, and while you can buy a whole range of excellent exfoliators, you can also knock a great one together with stuff you already have

lurking in the cupboard. Sugar and salt both make great bases for exfoliators (and are used as a base by some of the most effective products on the market). Add a little olive oil, and maybe a little essential oil to give it all a good scent and you’re ready to go. Olive oil is great for adding an element of hydration to the skin. Slough on a little sea salt and olive oil mixture before jumping in the shower and you’ll soon notice a difference. If you like the luxury element, you’ll be spoiled for choice with really excellent products from REN, Clinique, Elemis, Origins and The Body Shop. Remember, if you’re applying fake tan, then an exfoliating session is essential. And give your often-neglected knees, elbows and ankles a good scrub — otherwise you’ll be paying for it. Big time.

kukui, camellia and jojoba oils. Lovely texture, great smell and excellent result.

rice granules and crushed walnut so it’s good for getting rid of those rough bits.

Moroccan Rose Otto Sugar Body Polish, F50. Mmm, the Rolls Royce of body exfoliators and an indulgent must-have for lovers of the rose, REN’s gentle body polish is made with fairtrade rose extract from Southern Morocco. It’s a really lovely, indulgent product that makes you almost feel like you’re in a spa.

Origins Incredible Spreadable Scrub, F31. Love this one — it’s effective and it smells absolutely great, thanks to a lovely scent of ginger. There’s white and brown sugars mixed with Dead Sea Salts.

WATERPROOF MASCARAS SUMMER is the season of the waterproof mascara. There’s no point really wearing waterproof formulations at any other time of year — unless you do a lot of weeping at mawkish movies, but in summer, we’re in and out of the pool and getting sweaty and frolicking in the sea and all that, so we need something that will stay where it should. Here’s three goodies to choose from: Max Factor Masterpiece Waterproof Mascara, F12.29. Max Factor’s Masterpiece is an all-time mascara classic, and this waterproof version is set to be an essential in our holiday beauty make-up bag. It’s got a great thin brush, which is excellent for creating long, well separated lashes, and lasts well no matter how much water you throw at it. Clarins Wonder Mascara in Wonder Violet, F21. We love violet mascaras. They’re super hot right now, but are hard enough to find in regular formulations, let alone waterproof. Clinique’s new mascara gives the lashes good curl and definition, without having that hard, dried-out effect that some waterproofs can result in. Bad Gal Waterproof Mascara, F21.50. We’ve been a fan of this one ever since it was launched a couple of years ago. It has a lovely slim applicator that fits neatly into back pockets. The brush is slimline, too, and is great at really coating the lashes from root to tip.

STUFF WE LIKE The Sanctuary Kyphi Nourishing Hot Sugar Scrub, from F14.93. This one is inspired by the beauty regimes of the ancient Egyptians, and it does certainly have an air of the exotic about it. The main base is sugar, but it’s also packed with argan oil to hydrate, smoothing lotus oil, fragrant sandalwood and vanilla. Elemis Exotic Lime and Ginger Salt Glow, F41.65 at An award-winning body scrub, this is a real joy, with invigorating ginger as well as lime peal. The base is sea salt blended with


The Body Shop Olive Body Scrub, F16.95. The Body Shop’s scrubs aren’t the best on the market, but this olive one is definitely our favourite from their collection. It’s cream based and contains ground olive stones,

Clinique Sparkle Skin Body Exfoliator, F20.50. This has quite a chemical scent to it and not one for lovers of a more natural scrub. But boy is it effective. It does have a cooling, almost menthol feel to it, though, so it’s quite a refreshing little number for the summer months.

FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2010

SCRUB UP: Clinique Sparkle Skin Body Exfoliator has a cooling effect , while The Body Shop Olive Body Scrub, below, is one of the best on the market.




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Megan Sheppard Do you have a question for Megan Sheppard? Email it to or send a letter to Feelgood Irish Examiner City Quarter Lapps Quay Cork

I suffer from lower back pain and a friend suggested that yoga may help. I am ready to try almost anything, but have concerns that this type of movement may cause more pain rather than help. I would appreciate your thoughts on this matter. A. Yoga is a wonderful method for addressing lower back pain. In fact, the scientific community has recently acknowledged that some of these techniques can be proven as effective in stabilising the spine and bringing relief where back pain is concerned. Bandhas, or energy locks, have long been used in traditional yoga practice to contain the flow of prana (energy) in the body. Mula bandha brings attention to the pelvic floor, where the muscles deep within the pelvis are activated and gently lifted. This helps to stabilise the sacroiliac joints at the base of the spine. Uddiyana bandha activates the transversus abdominis muscle which acts as a support for the lumbar spine. The transversus abdominis is a thick band which wraps around the front of the torso and connects to the stabilising connective tissue at the back. While it is best to find an experienced yoga instructor, particularly one who has experience of working with injuries, you can work on these two muscle locks quite easily during the day (or at night while relaxing). Uddiyana bandha is achieved by drawing the belly button inwards and upwards, whilst flattening the lower abdomen. Mula bandha requires focus on the muscle group used to stop the flow of urine and gently contract these muscles, lifting them deep within the pelvis. Maintain this contraction while breathing slowly and deeply. Slow, deep, and steady breaths are an important part of yoga practice and especially beneficial during core strengthening exercises. Q. I like the idea of meditation, but have trouble with a young family finding any time to myself, let alone quiet time. Do you have any advice as to how I can meditate around my busy daily life? A. As a home-educating mother of children between the ages of two and 11 years I completely understand your dilemma. Silence is both coveted and rare in our home, but I have discovered some useful methods of compromise which are as close as I can get to quiet meditation. Background noise is not just the work of children — we have so many appliances and electrical goods all contributing to the hum and drone in the average household. Take the kids on a tiptoe tour around the

you are not only fostering an awareness of the dependency on modern electrical devices, you are also likely encouraging an environmental consciousness. Take advantage of this in your quieter atmosphere and initiate a picnic lunch either outdoors, or a candlelit dinner enjoyed by the whole family. Candlelight alone can bring about a sense of calm and wonder in people of all ages. Encourage your children to create a special quiet space of their own — somewhere they can go alone or with a friend to just take some time out. Find your own special quiet space and ensure that your children know where this is, making it clear that when each member of the family is in their chosen space, the rules of quiet apply: whispering only. Take nature walks together — the perfect opportunity to reconnect with our senses. Often children will investigate with varying levels of excitement and wonder, but any noise in the outdoors is far less stressful than indoor sounds — and happy, curious children are certainly a delight to the senses.

GENTLE ENERGY: Yoga can be very useful in relieving back pain. Picture: Stock Exchange house and consciously listen for the noise produced by your electric goods and work out which ones you can unplug (obviously the fridge and freezer will need to keep buzzing, but the television, computer and oven can all be safely unplugged). My children love finding things to unplug or switch off — usually everything but the fridge/freezer. Feel your jaw unclench and neck tension begin to melt as you all stop and enjoy the relative silence. While you are busy unplugging appliances,

Megan puts the spotlight on: Fruit and vegetables contain all of the amino acids we need. They are also abundant in protein-rich foods



MINO acids are the building blocks of protein, and are essential for maintaining health and vitality. Since protein is crucial for the development of muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs, glands, nails, hair, and are essential for the growth and repair of skin, bones, and cells — it follows that amino acids are incredibly important to our general wellbeing. When protein is broken down, we find 10 essential amino acids (essential refers to the fact that these must be sourced through the diet as they are not manufactured by the body), and 12 non-essential amino acids (we can manufacture these ones, provided we eat a balanced diet). Insufficient levels of amino acids can have quite significant consequences — if our levels of tryptophan are low, we feel anxious and have trouble sleeping. If we are deficient in phenylalanine then depression and neurological issues are likely.

Q. There appears to be a lot of confusion among professionals regarding sun exposure. I know that seasonal affective disorder is a very real problem, and would appreciate if you could enlighten me as to just how much sun exposure is recommended. A. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is thought to affect up to a quarter of the adult population, with the main symptom being depression. It is widely accepted that we need natural light in order to function effectively on emotional, mental and physical levels, and experts have realised we are able to store vitamin D from sunlight in order to ward off SAD. Since our bodies are designed to make vitamin D through sun exposure, a little time outdoors is needed each day. We only need a total of around two hours of sunshine each week (around 17 minutes each day) to get all the vitamin D necessary. Vitamin D is essential for maintaining strong, healthy bones and also plays an important role in the regulation of skin cell growth. Individuals with darker skin have a higher level of built-in sun protection, so more sun exposure is needed — around three hours weekly (25 minutes each day). Long-term hospital and nursing home patients are a high-risk category for vitamin D deficiency, since they often are unable to get outdoors each day, so oily fish is an essential addition to the diet. Just 100g of tuna, sardines, mackerel, or herring will provide around 20-25mcg of vitamin D (the recommended minimum is 15mcg for people over the age of 70 years).

Amazing amino acids Isoleucine: energy, blood sugar, haemoglobin formulation.

Fruit and vegetables contain all of the amino acids we need. They are also abundant in protein-rich foods, although the body has to work a bit harder for these ones since they need to be broken down before they can be utilised. A balanced wholefood diet will ensure that you are getting the building blocks your body needs. If you are vegetarian or vegan then nuts, seeds, beans, grains, leafy greens and fruits will provide all of the amino acids without the health issues associated with the consumption of manufactured and processed vegetarian/vegan protein products.

Lysine: tissue growth and repair, antibody production.

The 10 essential amino acids:

Threonine: liver health, immune functioning.

Arginine: pituitary gland functioning, healthy heart. Histidine: tissue growth, maintenance, repair; anti-inflammatory response.

FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2010

Leucine: muscle health, bone repair, skin healing.

Methionine: fat break-down, antioxidant. Phenylalanine: mood regulation, mental alertness, memory.

Tryptophan: vitamin B3 production, antidepressant. Valine: tissue repair, nitrogen balance.




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Feelgood 21-05-2010  
Feelgood 21-05-2010  

Feelgood is a health and wellbeing supplement published by the Irish Examiner every Friday.