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Friday, October 1, 2010

Photography by iStockphoto



Get fit for autumn with Olympic athlete Gillian O’Sullivan: 5

Down time

Can a hi-tech pair of runners get the same results as a gym? 8, 9


Breast cancer diagnosis just seven months after adopting baby: 11


Why it’s time to throw out the frying pan: 12



2 News front

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Jamie Oliver’s slip has highlighted the need to support a baby’s head properly, writes Arlene Harris Kate O’Reilly WHAT’S ON ■ BREASTFEEDING WEEK: To mark National Breastfeeding Week (October 1 to 8) there will be a coffee afternoon in CUMH on Wednesday next, at 2pm on the fifth floor in Classroom B. There will also be an information stand in the main foyer. Cuidiú-Irish Childbirth Trust ( will hold a coffee morning in Douglas Village Shopping Centre next Tuesday from 10.30am to 12.30pm. For more information, see or call the HSE Infoline on 1850 24 1850. ■ SENIOR WiiLIMPICS: All are welcome at Douglas Library in Cork today from 11.30am to 1pm for a fun and friendly Nintendo Wii tournament for seniors. The tournament is being hosted by Home Instead Senior Care to mark Positive Ageing Week, which ends tomorrow. For more information on other activities visit ■ FILM SCREENING: A screening of the locally produced documentary, Natural Traditions, will take place in Ballydehob Community Centre, tonight at 7.30pm. Focusing on west Cork, the film highlights the role and importance of the community midwife. The film has been produced by Frameworks Films in collaboration with the Community Midwives Association for Cork Community Television and will be broadcast on October 7. See ■ FREE PILATES: During October, Breast Cancer Month, The Pilates Studio in Penrose Wharf is offering free one-to-one sessions on mat and apparatus for people who are recovering from breast cancer. Call 021-450-9404 or 087-2533244. ■ CANCER SYMPOSIUM: The second Southern Symposium on Foregut Cancers is taking place at Brookfield Health Sciences Complex, UCC today and tomorrow. The focus of this year’s symposium is Gastro-Oesophageal Cancer. The event will include an open ‘Patient Forum’ tomorrow afternoon from 3 to 4pm where patients and their families can ask questions of a panel experts. All are welcome to this free information session. For details contact Anne Bedford on 086-3860754. ■ FACE MEETING: Fermoy Action Children’s Education (FACE) is a group of parents aiming to put the fun back into learning for children with specific learning difficulties, including Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD etc. The group meets on the first Wednesday of every month in Fermoy Community Resource Centre. For more information, ring 087-2278459 or email Items for inclusion in this column can be sent to


Hold on tight

ELEBRITY chef Jamie Oliver knows a thing or two about cooking and as a father of four, he probably knows quite a bit about parenting also. But the Cockney cook caused an outcry last week when he was pictured holding his new son, Buddy Bear, in the crook of his arm with his head dangling precariously over the side. Oblivious to the furore his dad was causing, the two-week-old infant slept soundly despite the less-than-perfect sleeping arrangements. But both parents and professionals in the Britain have spoken out about the dangers of not supporting a baby’s head properly. Community midwife, Margaret Hanahoe from the national maternity hospital in Dublin says keeping the baby’s head supported is vital during the first few months of their life. “Supporting the head of a newborn baby is a basic principle because until a child is six weeks old they have got virtually no control of their heads,” she explains. “Around that time they will start to develop some neck muscles but until they are a year old you have still got to hold the ba-

HEAD’S UP: Jamie Oliver leaving hospital with his son buddy. In other pictures, the celebrity chef was seen not supporting the baby’s head. Picture: Neil Mockford by correctly, by supporting the head to avoid neck injuries. “Cradling a baby is quite simple but it is

important to always hold the head and neck with one hand. Place their head in the crook of one of your arms and wrap your other arm around the baby or hold the original arm with the second arm. This is a great position for talking to baby or looking at them.” Psychologist Kate Byrne says this hold is not only a great way to keep your baby safe, it also helps to build a strong bond with them during the early days of their life. “New babies go from a cocoon of warmth and peace in the womb to suddenly being out in the big wide world, so keeping them close gives them a feeling that everything will be all right,” she says. “Cradling your infant or putting him in a sling next to your body creates an incredible bond and helps you both to get to know each other. It also helps to regulate body temperature, heart rate and breathing and allows you to see to your baby’s needs instantly and without too much fuss. “There have been many scientific and psychological studies which have proven that close contact between parents and their infants is hugely beneficial for both parties,” she adds.

HEALTH NOTES Down Syndrome Ireland launches it’s annual Boyne Valley Honey Days campaign today. Running throughout October, keep an eye out for mini Boyne Valley Honey pots on sale for F2 from volunteers nationwide. You can also support the campaign online by purchasing a virtual honey pot at All monies raised will enable Down Syndrome Ireland to continue to provide services to members including its helpline and information service. A cross-party group of TDs and senators have signed up to Weigh2Live, safefood’s free weight loss website, in an attempt to continue to shed some weight and improve their lifestyles. Ten politicians have signed up to the programme, including Senators David Norris and Jerry Buttimer and Deputies Fergus O’Dowd, Eamon Scanlon, Jimmy Devins and Aengus Ó Snodaigh. The group of TDs and senators will be encouraged to use the Weigh2Live website and participate on the Weigh2Live Facebook ( ) page and connect with others trying to lose weight. For more information on healthy weight loss and to receive a free information leaflet, visit or call the safefood helpline 1850 404 567.

Take the legwork out of shopping with a new Irish online health store. With more than 230 brands and thousands of products, is a one-stop shop for health conscious consumers. An easy to navigate site, you can search by aliment or product brand. There’s more good news: postage is free as part of an introductory offer.

SWEET CAUSE: Alex and Ross Brett from Bray at the launch of Boyne Valley Honey Days in aid of Down Syndrome Ireland. Picture: Noel Hillis Aviva Schools Cervical Cancer Vaccine Catch Up Programme will make the jab available to 150,000 girls in third to sixth year of secondary school. The scheme plans to bridge the gap in the government’s National HPV Vaccination Programme, which offers girls aged 12-14 years of age in first and second year of secondary school the vaccine for free. Aviva, with the support of Point of Care will charge F299 per student and applies to groups of 25 or more students. This includes the total cost of three injections of the vaccine plus medical administration over a six-month period. For details email or call

1890 304 305, or visit: National Choral Singing Week is a joint initiative of the Association of Irish Choirs, Mental Health Ireland and Wexford County Council Arts Office. For details of a choral event near you please see or

Patrick Holford is planning a speaking tour on the subject of cancer, immunity and allergies: October 5 at the RDS Dublin; October 6, Whites of Wexford; October 7 Clarion Hotel Cork; October 8, The Clayton Hotel Galway. See EDITORIAL: Irene Feighan 021-4802292 ADVERTISING: Lori Fraser 021-4802265





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In profile THE SHAPE I'M IN

Lesley Conroy



Conroy uses cop on


HEN it comes to Irish TV, Cork actress Lesley Conroy has a habit of being teamed up with interesting men. In RTÉ’s The Clinic, she was the wife of Keith Duffy’s character, Paul Dunne. Now, in the six-part comedy, Mattie, starring Pat Shortt and currently airing on RTÉ One on Sunday nights, she plays feisty female detective Sharon Kelly. “I’d have loved to be a detective myself but I’m too old now,” says the 36-year-old, who’s in a relationship and is mum to a son, aged five. Lesley’s experience of working with Pat Shortt and Keith Duffy isn’t worlds apart, she says. “Keith Duffy was very similar to Pat in that he has a very big presence but is very down to earth and up for a laugh. With Pat, of course, it never feels like work at all — he has this philosophy that he’s going to enjoy himself no matter what.” Mattie runs on RTÉ One on Sundays at 8.30pm. What shape are you in? I’m in fairly good shape as far as I can see. I like running and I do Pilates when I remember. Do you have any health concerns? No — I keep on top of things in terms of female health, breast checks and the like. What are your healthiest eating habits? I try to stick to three meals a day. I eat a lot of chicken and I don’t have too many sausages or burgers. I try to get my five-a-day of fruit and veg. It’s really about having them in the house. There might be a week when I wouldn’t do the shopping because I’d have been away at the weekend so then I miss out on the fruit and veg.

I try to stick to three meals a day. I eat a lot of chicken and I don’t have too many sausages or burgers What would you change about your appearance? The great thing about my job is that it’s my business to change my appearance. I have to dye my hair brown for my next job. I love having to change my appearance, my hair and make-up. What’s the best book you’ve read recently? Frederick Forsyth’s The Odessa File. What trait do you least like in others? I hate fakeness — people pretending to be what they aren’t. What trait do you least like in yourself? Probably procrastination — I get there in the end but it takes a while. Do you pray? I pray under pressure.


What would cheer up your day? Random acts of kindness — somebody opening a door for me or someone with a jaunty step in their walk. Helen O’Callaghan

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What’s your guiltiest pleasure? You can’t beat a big bad old pizza. Are you a good sleeper? I’m a great sleeper — only a car or house alarm going off would keep me awake. How do you relax? You can’t beat bubble wrap. Give me that and all my worries are gone. The other day I had a lot on so I started popping bubble wrap and all my troubles left through my right hand. Otherwise, I go out for a walk or have a nice bath.

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Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? Marilyn Monroe — I’d love to know what she was like. When did you last cry? My other guilty pleasure is watching the likes of Britain’s Next Top Model — I always cry at the elimination. What’s your favourite smell? The onset of summer, when they start cutting the grass. I also like the smell of fresh clothes off the line.

PIZZA CAKE: Actress Lesley Conroy likes running to stay healthy but indulges in a ‘big bad old pizza’ now and again.

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Giving life


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Women are now offered a range of choices about how to deliver their baby, ranging from medical to natural. Lucy Taylor considers the options


AVING babies is a natural part of life, and a whopping 74,278 babies were born in Ireland in 2009 (CSO), giving us the highest birth rate in Europe. The ESRI Perinatal Statistics Report for 2007 (2008 figures are due out soon) reveals that the average age of first-time mums is 28.8 years. But what of the birthing stories behind the two-dimensional statistics? Most women go into labour at home, even though the majority will give birth in hospital. Unless your midwife has advised you to come in early, it’s generally best to stay in a relaxing home environment during early labour and use alternative methods of coping with the contractions, such as relaxation techniques, meditation, massage, moving around, labouring in water, using your voice and relaxed, controlled breathing which are taught in many antenatal classes. Women often report that squeezing stress balls and listening to relaxing music on their ipod can help. At the end of the day, if it works for you, use it. Many women use a TENS machine at home. Your birth partner puts it on and sets the pulses to the level that eases the pain for you. It can take up to an hour to get the full benefits. During the first stage of labour contractions of the uterus lead to dilation (or opening) of the cervix and the baby’s descent down into the pelvis. This long stage of labour lasts until

your cervix is dilated to 10cm. The early part of the first stage of labour is called the ‘latent’ stage and it lasts until you are 3-4cm dilated, at which point you are considered to be in ‘active labour’. Once you reach a stage where you think you should go into hospital — your waters break, you get a ‘show’, your contractions become stronger and much closer together — phone your midwife who will advise you of when to come in. When you arrive you will be examined and assessed to see how your labour is progressing. Your midwife may suggest monitoring your baby’s heartbeat with a cardiotocograph (CTG) and for this you will need to sit still for 20 minutes. If you would prefer to be moving around you could ask the midwife to use a hand-held fetal Doppler or Pinard stethoscope instead. Many midwives will encourage you to keep moving, and walking the hospital corridors allows gravity to aid your baby’s journey down the birth canal. If you arrive in hospital to find that you are still in the latent stage your midwife may monitor your baby, then send you home, or decide to admit you into a pre-labour ward which has a number of beds and may have birthing balls or other natural labour aids. You may discuss whether you want: ■ pain relief which is generally Pethidine, an injection in your hip that’s a synthetic version of morphine ■ ‘Gas and Air’ (the Entonox Mask) a 50/50 mix of oxygen and nitrous oxide ■ an epidural, the injection of anaesthetic between two vertebrae in the lower part of your spine. There are some disadvantages to having an epidural. Your labour is less likely to be active as you will be hooked up to various monitors and needles, and an epidural can make it harder for you to push because you can’t feel your body’s natural movements.

If you go into hospital and have progressed to active labour you may be moved straight into the labour ward which is a single room for you, your birth partner and midwife. Some hospitals limit what you can eat and drink during labour, and others don’t. Some hospitals practise Active Management of Labour where they have time limits for each stage of the process and may offer you a Syntocinon drip to speed things up. The second stage of labour is when you push and your baby is born — it can be extremely physical and demanding. In some cases forceps or ventouse are needed to aid baby’s birth. In about 25% of cases in Irish hospitals women have caesarean sections, a figure considered very high by many childbirth experts. The third stage is when your placenta is delivered, and most women barely notice it as you will be marvelling at the sight of your beautiful baby for the first time. Each pregnancy and labour is different and hospitals have different policies on breaking your waters, fetal monitoring, inserting drips, performing an induction, using forceps or ventouse and performing a caesarean section. You should be informed about the pros and cons of every procedure before you are asked to consent to it. Of course, if the procedure is an emergency, there may be less time for discussion. Some midwives and maternity units are more encouraging when it comes to taking your birth plan seriously than others. For a more detailed breakdown of your nearest hospital’s policies and figures check out the Cuidiú Consumer Guide to Maternity Services in Ireland on its website ( and click on ‘Consumer Guide’). ● Lucy Taylor is the author of The Mum’s Guide to having Your Baby in Ireland, published by Gill and Macmillan. F16.99 from bookshops, F13.59 on plus free P&P.


“The birth plan was so useful when I went into the hospital (I had attached it to my file) as the midwife had read it and knew exactly how I wanted things to go. She reminded me about it during labour too.” — Helen, Co Meath “On arriving at the hospital I was told that I wasn’t even in labour yet, not a fraction of dilation. I was moved to the pre-labour ward. My cubicle had a fit ball and a funny-shaped labour chair along with the bed. It was suggested that I walk the corridors, which I did. A radiator or windowsill was my crutch each time I had to cling onto something when the contractions hit me. My partner was great at pushing my lower back and making funny comments to make me laugh.” — Sinead, Dublin “The midwife came back and checked where I was — 4cm. She asked would she break my waters, I said yes. Afterwards, she was washing her hands when I got the shock of my life — the baby was on its way! The midwife came over to look and she could see the head. Two pushes later my baby was born. The epidural man arrived just as the baby was delivered.” — Clodagh, Co Mayo “With my first baby everything was going really well, but I was finding it tough and starting to lose concentration so I had Pethidine. It was enough to help me over the hump and give me time to refocus my mind. I sat on a birthing ball in the shower and my baby was born after pushing for 30 minutes kneeling on the floor.” — Aoife, Dublin

IF you’re overdue and keen to move things along you might try the following to bring on labour: ■ Raspberry leaf tea, available from health food stores, is thought to help the muscles in your uterus to prepare for labour, which is why women less than 32 weeks’ pregnant are advised not to drink it. ■ Caulophyllum is recommended for helping to start labour when you are overdue. Consult a qualified homeopath before taking it. ■ Gentle walking is good for a number of reasons; it keeps everything mobile and gravity will help your baby’s head to engage if it hasn’t already. Picture: iStock



■ Spicy food is thought to bring on childbirth, although there is no evidence that this is true.




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Get fit for autumn: Week 1

I want to be toned for my wedding


IKE every bride-to be, Edel O’Sullivan wants to look the part on her wedding day. But with a new HR job and four-year-old Matthew in tow, finding time to get fit can be difficult. Regardless, the 28-year-old has asked personal trainer and one-time Olympic athlete Gillian O’Sullivan to get her into shape for the big day on November 26. So what does Edel hope to achieve over the next couple of months? “I have been going to the gym but coming up to the wedding I wanted to step up my workout. I decided to go to Gillian. I’m not looking for weight loss, but I would love to be fitter and tone up my arms and get some guidance on floor exercises. I want my dress to look well on me. It’s a size 12, fitted but not tight. So, I will be focusing on a few areas like arms and my waist. This is not just for my wedding. I want to continue exercising. I don’t run, I walk fast. The hope is I will be able to run a distance non-stop at the end of eight weeks.” Gillian explains Edel’s training schedule: “We work at the Hayfield Manor Hotel in Cork one evening a week, and she exercises two other evenings herself. We start with two minutes walking, two minutes jogging, alternating five times, so we end up doing 20 minutes, which is about two miles. The second week is three minutes jogging and two minutes walking, and we do this four times. We will increase this each week, and by the end of week eight Edel should be able to run for 20 minutes solid. “We run outdoors and then go back into the gym to do weight training, squats and lunges for the legs, and dumbbell work for the arms.This will include floor work, press ups, tummy, core and back. About 10 exerl Edel’s vita cises altogether. We start off with three sets of 10 and : s after three weeks we move onto three sets of 12. statistic ne 8lbs o “I will monitor Edel’s progress and, if needed, I’ll make st 9 t: h Weig ” 5 the exercises harder as the weeks go on.” .2 0 3 Waist: Edel is fortunate to have a supportive partner, Brian ” Hips: 39.1 5” Kelleher, a golf professional at Fota Island Golf Club. In .7 0 2 : h Thig fact, she says the whole family is currently in keep-fit 5” Arm: 10.7 mode. “I’ve just spoken to Brian on the phone and he had gone swimming with Matthew. He trains for triathlons, so he is the one spurring me on. Last night I went out running with him. It can be challenging with a four-year-old, but you have to balance training and work — and with organising a wedding.”

HOW TO DO SQUATS To work the thighs and bum try this squat exercise — preserve and you’ll soon see the results. 1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Point feet and toes forward and bend the knees slightly. 2. Tilt the hips slightly forward so that the bum is leaning slightly behind the body. Keep the shoulders back and maintain good posture. 3. Bend the knees and lower bum towards the floor. 4. Place all your weight back on heels. The heels should always maintain contact with the floor. It helps to imagine you are sitting back into a chair. 5. Keep the knees in line with the feet. Do not allow the knees to come over the feet, see picture right. This will put too much strain on the knees. 6. Lower the bum as low as possible. Aim to have the thighs parallel with the knees. Keep shoulders back at all times. 7. Come back up to the start position and repeat for 10. 8. Take a 20-30 second break and complete two sets of 10 repeats. ■ Visit:

Therese O’Callaghan

Home fitness routine ■ 20-minute road run three times a week — broken down to a three-minute run and a two-minute walk. Amount of running time to be increased each week.

Pictures: Denis Scannell

■ 20-minute weights three times a week — squat and shoulder raise with 3kg weights, lateral raise 3kg weights, lunge and shoulder raise with 3kg weights. ■ Triceps dips — three sets of ten three sets of ten. ■ Step ups — three sets of ten.

BACK TO BACK: Bride-to-be Edel O’Sullivan and her personal trainer Gillian O’Sullivan. Picture:Cillian Kelly

■ For more exercises by Gillian, today and every Friday visit:


Feelgood’s top personal trainer Gillian O’Sullivan invites you to join her for a free six-week programme starting on Saturday October 2 in the Lee Fields, Cork. Session starts at 11am and finishes at 12pm. Places are limited - to pre-book your place please text the keyword RUN followed by your name and address to 51000

Terms and conditions apply. Standard text rates apply. Please note only the first 60 SMS will be accepted to register, confirmation will be sent. SP Phonovation Ltd. Helpline 0818217100





6 Psychology

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The reasons behind smoking go far deeper than just physical addiction

All fired up Tony Humphreys


ECENTLY a Greek friend enquired if I was writing a new book. I told him I had several in mind but what was really grabbing my attention was to write a book called “No Smoke Without Fire”. Apparently, and as I soon learned, that saying is also popular in the Greek language and so he got my drift immediately. I asked him did he smoke? Curiously, his reply pointed to a possible hidden fire when he said: “Yes, but never in front of my mother.” “And how old are you?”, I asked. “Thirty years,” he replied and paused and quickly cottoned on to the age question: “Oh, you psychologists always put everything down to mothers”. Of course, what was interesting was that his response brought up the issue of his relationship with his mother and that he had yet to establish an adult-adult relationship with her. I had noticed earlier how he had been somewhat panicky about having missed his daily routine time to ring his wife and his going for a cigarette immediately following the belated phone call. All the indications — and these were only a few passing observations — that smoking certainly appears to be a case for him of “no smoke without fire”. Many people struggle with giving up the fags and try all sorts of ways to forego the “demon weed” (another wonderful metaphor — what are the hidden demons that represent the fire that leads to the smoke?). It is the case that some people do manage to quit through sheer willpower or wearing the nicotine patch or being hypnotised. However, while this development is to be welcomed I would have concerns that the emotional issues that gave rise to the smoking would remain unresolved and there is a distinct possibility that a future emotional crisis may result in a return to smoking, which is not uncommon. The other possibility is that a substitute for the cigarettes will emerge and it is not unusual for individuals when they stop smoking to begin to over-eat or to rely on tranquillisers or alcohol. A common rationalisation given by those who smoke compulsively is that it is a habit and it is that which makes it very hard to quit smoking. However, my own clinical experience tells me there is no such thing as a habitual behaviour and that we are not victims of certain behaviours. On the contrary, we are very clever creators and it is ingenious to view smoking as a habit as it protects from having to look deeper and ask such questions as: “what is it that the smoking is doing for me that right now it is not safe for me to do for myself and what is it that the smoking stops me from doing?” Certainly, the smoking — the inhaling — may be stopping you from expressing what might be emotionally and socially threatening to do — for example, to admit to feeling nervous or fearful or angry or controlled. Smoking acts as a tranquilliser using nicotine as a substitute for finding calm through the realisation of an inner confidence and emotional independence — probably a bridge too far at that point in time. The substitute responses are not weaknesses but creative and protective ways of coping until there is the safety and support


Picture: Getty Images

BURNING ISSUE: There are emotional issues linked to smoking as well as physical addiction.

Smoking may be stopping you from expressing what might be emotionally and socially threatening to do — for example, to admit to feeling nervous or fearful or angry or controlled to affirm (inhale) your own unique worth and to express (exhale) your own truth and that you are here to live your own life and not that of another. The reasons for smoking lie in each person’s story but, inevitably, have got to do with conflicts in one’s earlier and ongoing important relationships that to date have not been resolved. The intentions of smoking are mainly threefold: ■ To alert to the fire down below. ■ To suppress what is too risky to say or do now. ■ To provide a substitute comfort until real comfort is possible. In attempting to understand any addictive response it is critical to appreciate that the reasons and intentions for it are unique to each individual and the challenge is to uncover what lies hidden — the fire down below — so that these issues can be brought into the light of day and resolved. In this way the substitute of the addictive substance will no longer be required and will quietly be replaced with real and authentic responses. ■ Dr Tony Humphreys is a clinical psychologist, author and national and international Speaker. His book Whose Life Are You Living is relevant to today’s column



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The Hair Clinic, Cork: 15 years of experience and expertise

Confidence restored!


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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 FDA

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8 Cover story

Fitness shoes

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Peta Bee is an all-year fan of toning trainers, but while the debate continues over their merits, she says they should not be seen as a replacement to regular workouts

Don’t give the gym the boot yet W

a viable alternative to the gym. Among the HO can have failed to notice most significant is a recent study commisthe advertising campaign for sioned by the American Council on Exercise, Reebok Easytone trainers an independent consumer watchdog on the which features celebrities like Helena Chrisfitness industry, and conducted by movement tiansen and Kelly Brook wearing nothing but experts at the University Of Wisconsin. Proa pair of the newly launched sneakers? fessor John Pocari, an exercise scientist, and Or the lean and lengthy legs featured in the advertisement for the summer’s other footwear his team put the top-selling brands of toning revelation, the Fitflop. shoes through rigorous evaluation, comparing It seems that we can’t get enough of trainers their benefits with regular fitness shoes and trainers. The outcome? According to Pocari that promise to tone and shape without going near the aerobics studio. According to FitFlop, “there is simply no evidence to support the sales of their shoe “with the built-in gym”, are claims that these shoes will help wearers exercise more intensely, burn more calories or imhigher per capita in Ireland than anywhere prove muscle strength and tone”. else in the world and MBT Ireland says that Other researchers have produced mixed more than a quarter of a million people now findings. Among the most rigorously evaluated wear their shoe with its distinctive rounded, toning trainers are MBTs (probably because rocking sole. they have been around the longest) with studWhat these and other functional shoes have ies at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, Sheffield in common is that they are said to contain Hallam and Calgary Universities showing that an in-built workout programme to get you regular wear can be beneficial for people with: fitter as soon as you put them on and start ■ back pain walking. Most brands feature a degree of instability in ■ bad posture ■ bunions and the sole of the shoe that encourages a rolling ■ osteoarthritis. front-to-back action. Trials at Salford In theory, the body’s University have shown muscles, particularly Ftflops extend the those in the legs and amount of time that buttocks, must work the slow twitch musharder just to maintain cles (the kind used in balance and each step aerobic activity) are will simulate a mini engaged during each workout. step by around It is a theory first put 10-12%. to the test by the Swiss Reebok cite “indeengineer Karl Müller pendent university lab who, in 1990, studied tests” to prove that the walking style of the wearing Easytone genMasai tribe in East erates 28% more “butt Africa and found them muscle activation”. to have good posture, Howlittle joint pain and the ever, appealing side effect of critics no cellulite. Müller used argue his findings to develop that the MBTs (Masai Barefoot scientific Technology), the shoe evidence is that first rocked the usually based functional footwear on small trials world and were quickly and is often fundspotted on the feet of ed celebrities. by the companies Where MBT first involved. trod, though, others Nigel Roberts, a have followed. Reebok lecturer in the School says a pair of Easytone of Podiatry at NUI trainers can work bottom muscles almost one LEG UP: FitFlop (above) says sales here are Galway, thinks it is higher, per capita, than anywhere else in unlikely that the third harder than bogthe world. booming sales of such standard fitness shoes, footwear will leave us while the scientists beall with legs like the women in the advertisehind FitFlops, developed in the biomechanics ments for the shoes. “To advocate that ‘toning laboratories of the South Bank University in trainers’ are any better than other commercialEngland, says they too will help achieve leanly available footwear or that there are ener, firmer muscles, hanced benefits from wearing ‘toning trainers’ better circulation posture and the eradication is unsound given the current evidence,” he of cellulite. says. They sound like the solution to all our fitWith most of these shoes, the theory is that ness woes. But are we wasting our time walkyou have to fire muscles in the foot and legs ing this way or can we really expect the dramatic improvements the various manufacturers just to stand up on their unstable surfaces. Manufacturers claim you use far more assert? intrinsic muscles of the foot and lower leg to Several independent trials have cast doubt on the manufacturers claims that the shoes are do this and that they burn more calories as a


Getting a leg into running market Nigel Roberts, a lecturer in the School of Podiatry at the University of Galway thinks it is unlikely that the booming sales of such footwear will leave us all with legs like the women in the advertisements for the shoes result. But the reality is that these effects are minimal and, of course, you need to exercise in them to see any significant changes. When it comes to cellulite and leg tone the

effects are also likely to be minimal. Muscle activation is likely to be localised in the lower leg where the muscles are working hardest to keep the foot stable and diminishes up towards the buttocks, Roberts says. Nicki de Leon, an Australian sports physiotherapist who has worked with leading Olympic and Paralympic athletes from around the world says some people can experience problems after wearing footwear with a curved sole. “The shoes alter the mechanics of walking style, but not necessarily in a good way,” de Leon says. “They work the leg

GO FIGURE: Kelly Brook is one of the celebrities helping to advertise Reebok’s Easytone range of trainers.


and calf muscles more without engaging those in the abdominal area and that can lead to stiffness and rigidity in the back in some people.” Chiropodists and podiatrists say that many of the shoes are great news for people with bunions or toe pain as the rocking action means they don’t have to push off from the front of their feet, thereby reducing pressure. Aside from that, though, are they worth the money? As someone who was skeptical about the merits of an unstable shoe sole, I was astounded to feel that I was standing up taller and straighter when I was first fitted with a pair of MBTs, although I found them tricky to walk in. Having since tried and tested every brand of toning footwear in the name of research, I confess that I am now a firm addict of EasyTone (in the winter months) and Fitflops (in the summer), not because they have made a jot of difference to the dimples on my thighs, but because they feel like pillows under my feet. I wear them to walk and am more inclined to walk further and faster when I am wearing them. And that, says Roberts, is the crucial factor. “If someone chooses to wear a pair of toning trainers and exercises more as a result,” says Roberts “Then I would wholeheartedly support them investing in a pair.”

MOST manufacturers do not advise running in regular versions of toning footwear as they lack the cushioning and support for the high impact activity. However Reebok has launched the RunTone trainer, below, specifically for those who want to break into a jog, while MBT has an ‘athletic range’ for those keen to do more vigorous activity (although not all shoes in the range are suitable for running). Manufacturers of FitFlop say its regular thong-design is not to be worn for lengthy treks. But a sure-fire hit for autumn and winter is the FitFlop Supertone lace-up shoe with super shock-absorbing properties. Worth a sprint to the front of the queue.

Work out the right walk How to get more form your walking workout (without wearing toning trainers).

work harder without realising it, improving upper body strength by 40%.

1. If you really want to burn more calories when you walk, then wear a weighted vest. Dr Cedric Bryant, chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, recommends one of up to 10% of your total body weight, starting with light weights of up to 3lbs and gradually adding more.

4. Adding hills or challenging terrain will speed up the rate at which you use up calories. Walking on softer surfaces, such as mud, sand or grass, automatically means you use more energy than you would walking on concrete or Tarmac — every time your foot hits the ground it creates a small depression so that the leg muscles must work harder to push upwards and forwards for the next step.

2. Studies show that wearing a pedometer prompts people to walk an average 2,000 steps further each day. 3. Carrying walking poles (the ski-like sticks used by Nordic Walkers) can also help you get more out of walking. Professor Pocari of the University of Wisconsin found adding poles forced walkers to pick up their pace and

5. Walk at the right pace — researchers at San Diego State University showed 100 steps per minute on level terrain to be the right speed. Newcomers should aim WALK WAY: Studies show that wearing for 1,000 steps in 10 a pedometer prompts people to walk minutes, before building up to 3,000 steps in an average 2,000 steps further each 30 minutes. day.


10 Medical matters

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I HAVE been trying for nearly a year to get pregnant. I was thinking of trying some fertility herbs that I’ve seen advertised. Would they help? I’ve been under a lot of stress in the last year. Would this affect my fertility?

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. Many couples look to herbs or supplements to help them conceive as conventional treatment to help fertility can be a long and expensive process. However, it is best to proceed with caution. Even for a healthy, fertile couple, the “per month” success rate is around 15-20%, so it is not uncommon for it to take some months to conceive. Overall, around 85% of couples will be pregnant after a year of trying. Before you explore alternative treatments, it’s best to talk to your doctor. This will give you both a good opportunity to explore if there are any underlying problems. Before any testing is carried out it is important your doctor takes a detailed history and examination. He/she can check certain hormone levels, such as LH/FSH, on day two of your cycle. LH and FSH are hormones that stimulate egg development and release. Progesterone levels are checked seven days before a period is due. Rubella antibody levels are also routinely checked to see that immunity is present. If there is a history of irregular or infrequent periods then thyroid disease needs to be excluded. Depending on age and other factors you and your partner can be referred to a fertility specialist for more specific tests. There are many fertility tests available to use at home. Most involve a urine test which can measure LH levels. LH levels surge 24-36 hours before ovulation. This is the peak fertility time of your cycle. Conception is most likely one to three days after this surge. But this test is not as reliable for women with an irregular menstrual cycle. You may need to test for several days to detect a surge in LH. It’s advised not to drink large amounts of water before doing the test. Some medications, such as Danazol or Clomid, may interfere with the test results. Women who have recently stopped taking the pill should wait for two to three menstrual cycles before using these test. LH urine tests are not the same as at home fertility monitors. These are digital handheld devices that predict ovulation based on electrolyte levels in saliva, LH levels in urine, or your basal body temperature. Though a direct link between stress and infertility has not yet been proven, it is always better to keep your mind and body relaxed if you want to conceive. Women being treated or investigated for infertility can have as much stress as women who have cancer or heart disease. To reduce your stress talk to your partner, join a support

TAKING ACTION: It’s always better to keep your mind and body relaxed if you want to conceive. Picture: iStock group and realise you’re not alone. Learn stress reduction techniques, such as meditation or yoga. There is growing evidence that acupuncture can help women with fertility problems to conceive. Regular exercise will help release physical and emotional tension. Commonly used herbs for fertility are red clover and chaste berry. If you decide to pursue this route consult a qualified medical herbalist first. Remember, some herbs may interact with prescribed medication and their long-term effects are unknown.

Drinking water from groundwater sources such as springs, wells, and boreholes usually have much higher concentration of radon than surface water from rivers, lakes and streams. Fruit and vegetables grown in areas affected by radon don’t seem to pose any danger. The main health concern from exposure to high doses of radon is that it is the second most important cause of lung cancer after smoking. When radon starts to decay, very tiny radioactive particles are released. If you inhale these they enter the lungs and may cause cancerous changes in nearby cells. Q. Can you tell me what radon is and If your breathe in radon you have a greater why it is dangerous to our health? I read chance of getting lung cancer. Exposure to that many Irish homes have high radon radon does nor cause immediate ill-health or levels. Can I get this checked in my own symptoms. You may not realise that you are home? being exposed to dangerous levels of radon until you or someone in your family is diagA. Radon is naturally occurring radioacnosed with lung cancer. tive gas. It has no smell, colour or taste and 600 homes out of nearly 4,300 tested in is produced from the natural radioactive de- Ireland were found to have high levels of cay of uranium which is found in rocks and radon. Radon concentrations can vary besoil. It can also be found in water. For most tween homes in close proximity, and can alpeople the greatest exposure to radon comes so vary within a home from day-to-day and from the home. hour-to hour. They are generally higher at The concentration of radon in your home night and during the winter. Because of depends on the amount of uranium in the these fluctuations, measurements are best soil and rocks underneath, the rate of extaken over three months using two detectors change between indoor and outdoor air, (in a bedroom and living room). which depends on the how the house is Most countries have adopted an indoor built, and the ventilation present, for exam- radon concentration of 200 Bq/m3 as an acple, the sealing of windows. Radon can en- ceptable level. The only way to find out if ter homes through gaps in the floor, cracks your house has a high radon level is to have at concrete wall-floor junctions, drains and it tested. small pores in hollow-block walls. Radon For more information contact the Radiolevels are usually higher in basements or cel- logical Protection Society of Ireland, lars in contact with soil.

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

H Catherine Shanahan MUM’S WORLD


ANDLING a hair-trigger temper is like manoeuvring your way around a minefield — one false move and everything you strove for is blown to smithereens. I regularly risk life and limb when taking on my two-year-old who resents any suggestion I make simply because it was I who made it. The power struggle begins from the moment I lean in to lift her out of the cot. “GO AWAY” she roars, and as soon as I do I am summonsed back with a yell. I am Spartacus to her Lucretia, ordered about on a whim and the game goes on until either her demands become too outrageous to obey or the frantic hurry I am in compels me to use brute force and remove her from behind bars. As divas go she’s up there with Mariah Carey, and as screeching goes she too

can screech past the top note on a piano, putting her on track for a spot in the Guinness Book of Records for the highest note hit by a human child. The royalty routine spills over into the playground. She refuses to board her buggy when I’m rushing with her brother to school. “I WANT TO WALK” she squeals like a strangled cat as startled passersby scroll through their phones for social services. I made the fatal mistake of letting her out of her buggy inside the playschool. I had to drag her kicking and screaming from the classroom before she started a siege. “I WANT TO STAY, MAMMY”, she shouted through her sobs, sinking onto the stairs in preparation for a sit-in. I convinced her to move only by offering a straight cash bribe. Everyone has their price and a child with a chance to buy ice cream is no exception.


In this war of independence the rules of engagement are anyone’s guess and what appears to be a successful approach can quickly go down the Suwannee. Gentle persuasion backfired spectacularly in a recent attempt to get her to go for a nap. “SHUT UP!” she roared at my soothing tones, and dumbstruck, I did. “SHUT UP!”, she shouted again lest there be any mistake what she meant. If she was an animal, she’d be a honey badger: relatively small and harmless-looking, but with formidable killing ability and no compunction at all about eating venomous snakes. As a little girl she fits the profile of the child who can reduce its father to a high class hostage, unable to say “no” to the apple of his eye. It may be time to remind him of the wise advice that the man who plants a crab apple has no guarantee that he will harvest a Golden Delicious.



Real-life story

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An early diagnosis is vital, a breast cancer survivor tells Helen O’Callaghan

Just in time W

HEN Colette Magnone realised in August 2008 that she had breast cancer, she could only think of her daughter, Minh Hoa, the little girl she’d adopted from Vietnam just seven months earlier. “My first thought was, ‘I hope I’ve caught it in time. After getting Minh Hoa, I wanted to be the one rearing her’. I didn’t want someone else doing it,” says the 45-year-old, who adopted Minh Hoa as a single applicant. A nurse based in Enfield, Co Meath, Colette knew as soon as she found the lump on her right breast that it was cancerous. “I was getting dressed for bed one night and I felt the lump. Size-wise, it was a little smaller than an egg. Because of my background I knew it was cancerous. If you can’t move it and it’s not sore, it’s more than likely cancer.” While her GP reassured her that much of the time, breast lumps are benign, Colette sensed her doctor’s feeling that the lump needed urgent investigation. “I was referred to the breast clinic in Beaumont Hospital. I actually rang them for an appointment. I didn’t want any delays.” A mammogram and a needle biopsy showed a rapid-growing cancer. “At my age, breast tissue can be dense, so they also did an ultrasound to check that the other breast was okay and it was.” The consultant said a lumpectomy would be enough to remove the threat to Colette’s life — on condition that a bone scan came back clear. “The bone scan was to check that the cancer hadn’t gone into my spine. When the radiographer told me it was clear, I felt I was out of the woods, that everything I would do now would be a precaution.” What Colette found most heart-breaking was the thought of being away from Minh Hoa. “I knew I was looking at surgery and that I was going to be away from her. Thinking of that was the most upsetting thing — having to leave her with someone overnight. We’d never had a night apart since I brought her home. “We’re very attached. She’d always been very clingy with me. Even when I went back to work a few months after she came, I’d drive from Swords — where I lived — to my sister Tricia in Celbridge and back to my work-place in Gormanstown, just so Tricia could mind her and she wouldn’t have to go into a crèche. “Even though Minh Hoa was only one year old when I was diagnosed, she very quickly knew something was going on. She became more clingy — she wouldn’t go to any member of my family, apart from Tricia.” Colette had two bouts of surgery. The first, which removed the lump and some lymph nodes, hadn’t taken enough of the cancerous tissue so a second operation was necessary. Thankfully, Colette was apart from Minh Hoa just three nights during her surgery phase. “I had eight sessions of chemotherapy, one every three weeks. On the day I’d be having chemo, I’d drop Minh Hoa to Tricia and she’d keep her that night. Next day, Minh Hoa would come back to me. I don’t know how I’d have managed without Tricia. “Minh Hoa always played with my hair when she was going to sleep. Even when I lost my hair during chemo, she’d rub my


MOTHER’S LOVE: Colette Magnone and her adopted daughter Minh Hoa. “Even when I lost my hair during chemo, she’d rub my head and laugh.”

Picture: Iain White, McInnes Photography

Some facts ■ LATEST data from National Cancer Registry of Ireland shows there were 2,837 new cases of breast cancer in 2008 (22 of these were in men). ■ Breast cancer survival rates for women living in Ireland increased by 10.6% between 2002 and 2006 — more than 80% of all women diagnosed with the disease here survive for five years or longer. ■ Survival rates are highest for women across all age groups presenting with stage I breast cancer (93.8%). Lowest rates are in those presenting with stage IV breast cancer — just less than one in four survive for five years or longer. ■ Just 30 minutes a day of physical activity over a five day period can improve breast cancer survival by up to 50% and reduce the risk of recurrence. “Recent studies show that exercise can reduce a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer,” says Irish Cancer Society spokesperson Naomi Fitzgibbon. “In women already diagnosed, physical activity can reduce the chance of a breast cancer recurrence and reduce symptoms as well as improve overall quality of life.”

5-point check head and laugh. But when I had to wear a wig, she’d never play with that. She was with me at most of my medical appointments, where I didn’t have to get any procedure done. “I had radiation over six weeks. Mostly I’d take her with me and I’d bring someone else along to sit with her while I was having treatment. Now she’s three and fascinated by medical stuff. She’ll take out her stethoscope and listen to you cough. “It was a difficult journey. The chemo in particular was quite hard. In hindsight, I feel I dragged myself through it. I was doing stuff but sometimes I wanted to lie down and die. Minh Hoa certainly kept me going. All I

could think when I found the lump was, ‘Thank God I didn’t find this before I adopted Minh Hoa’. If I had, I’d never have got her — you have to be five years cancer-free before you’re considered for adoption. “Today, I feel great. I moved house so I live near my two sisters and I’m working fulltime. I just had my last six-monthly check-up — the next is in a year’s time. I really want to emphasise that the outcome for breast cancer is so much better if it’s caught early.” ■ For more information on breast awareness/breast cancer, call the National Cancer Helpline (1800-200700), Monday-Thursday, 9am-7pm; Friday 9am-5pm.


ALL women should learn the Five Point Breast Awareness Code; 1. Know what’s normal for you 2. Know what changes to look for 3. Look and feel 4. Discuss any changes with your GP without delay 5. Attend for routine breast screening if you’re aged between 50 and 64



12 Healthy food

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Kudos for him Time to throw away the frying pan

says the top ‘oil man’ Roz Crowley

ON YER BIKE: Dr Udo Erasmus believes good qualities oils added to a low-carb wholefood diet can turn your health around.


WHAT to Cook and How to Cook It by Jane Hornby is a chunky hardback packed with good illustrative photographs of basic dishes, such as stir-fries, pasta dishes and treats, such as Lemon & Poppy Seed Drizzle Cake. Easy to follow, it would make a great gift for beginner cooks and students who want to cook well for themselves. Published by Phaidon, F30. (£24.95)

Wellness date


RE there any pleasures left in life now we’re being told to throw away our frying pans? Canadian Dr Udo Erasmus says the best thing we can do is hit ourselves on the head with them and remember the pain the next time we are tempted to have a fry up. We know Udo from his blend of oils which provide a range of omega oils and health benefits. His concern about frying is the result of research which shows we create toxins when we heat oil of any kind. He says we cannot even enjoy the simple pleasures of crisp skin on chicken or duck. “Skin is a good way of helping meat to steam underneath, but we must throw away the skin which gets burned, just as we have to resist bread which has a burnt crust or praline which is burnt sugar. We must not burn starchy foods,” he says, warning of the dangers of water retention, tissue stagnation, acidity, inflammation and tissue degeneration as the basis of many diseases. To drive home his message, Erasmus has some memorable soundbites: ■ Fats are vindictive — fry them and you fry your health. ■ Eat carbs, get fat. ■ Burn them or wear them, he says of the need to exercise off calories. Erasmus says that green vegetables have enough carbohydrates for our needs. And he dares to add that we need to eat fewer potatoes in Ireland. “If we ate 70% of what we wanted to eat, we would reduce our illnesses by 50%. We need to get into systematic under-eating.” We talk on the phone while he is in Iceland where he is negotiating ways of processing cod liver oil so the nutrients are not destroyed while the toxins are filtered. “It’s not as easy as it sounds,” he says. “I had to work on technology to make sure my plant oils retained as many nutrients as possible while being processed. Now I am trying to have technology developed that will do much the same thing with fish oils which are rich is much needed vitamin D.” Like a car, our bodies need a change of oil. He advocates changing from cooking in oils to adding oils to food while retaining their benefits, without heating them. If we get a handle on the correct healthy approach to the food we eat, then we can get benefits 17 times greater than from supplements, Erasmus advises. Approving of extra virgin olive oil as long

Cover story

THE next three-day wellness programme with author and cancer survivor Bernadette Bohan, right, takes place on September 17-19 at Grove Health Spa, Shanballymore. Enquiries 086-8135805 or

Field study THE ninth annual Longueville Mushroom Hunts take place on October 10 and 24. To learn how to forage successfully: ring 022-47156 or see

Chef’s delight WOULD-BE chefs have an opportunity to win a Ballymaloe cookery course in Chef Factor, a new web-based venture by Cully and Sully, right, to find a budding chef worthy of the course. Details:

as it’s cold pressed, he suggests adding it to soups and stews after cooking to flavour them. He does, however, point out that olive oil does not have any Omega 3s and is low in Omega 6 healthy fatty acids. “First of all we have to avoid bad fat from which we get disease. These bad fats are found in processed foods and anything that is fried.” After that we need to replace them with oils that are good for us. His Ultimate Oil Blend, a product combining flax, sunflower seed, sesame seed, coconut, evening primrose, rice bran and oat germ oils, delivers a good quantity of healthy oils. But what about the bitter taste? Erasmus

says it should not be used for flavouring, but as a base for other more appetising flavours. Erasmus suggests that those suffering from conditions such as arthritis should take a hint that something in their lives needs to be changed. They may need purely organic food to avoid toxins and he believes any extra cost is well worth it. He stresses that supplements don’t deliver health on their own and we need good food too. Our food culture may be killing us — along with an unhealthy lifestyle, says Erasmus. On his tour, he talks about the need for us all to slow down and get connected with ourselves.


“People often like to blame others for how they feel and look for distraction. They get angry and disconnected from the world. We have to acknowledge the thirst to make change, make a deliberate choice and find a way to feel fulfilled and content. “A deficiency of the heart is worse than a deficiency of vitamin D and can lead to illnesses both physical and psychological.” ■ Omega 3 Cuisine, by Udo Erasmus and chef Alan Roettinger has plenty of salad and soup recipes, without the use of a frying pan. Published in paperback by Books Alive, it costs F14.95.



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Male health

ME findings offer hope F

OR Michael Stephenson the recession came early. A plasterer by trade, he was laid low by a recurring flu in 2004/2005 with very little time between bouts of flu, despite taking up to three antibiotics each time to kill it off. “I went to a lot of health shops and did allergy tests to try to figure out how to improve my health,” says Michael, who lives near Avondale, Co Wicklow. “A friend suggested I might have ME (chronic fatigue syndrome) but I paid no attention. It wasn’t until the fatigue set in and then the pains hit, that I took it seriously then. The pain was indescribable, going down my arms, legs and chest in stripes.” Michael is just one of an estimated 12,000 Irish people to live with ME or chronic fatigue, many of whom remain undiagnosed. Some hope has been offered by the discovery by US researchers who found murine leukemia viruses (MLV)-related gene sequences in blood samples collected from patients diagnosed with CFS and some healthy blood donors. The study demonstrates a strong association

ON REFLECTION: Michael Stephenson put his early symptoms of ME down to a persistent flu. Picture: Garry O’Neill

Deirdre O'Flynn MOSTLY MEN

between a diagnosis of CFS and the presence of MLV-like virus gene sequences in the blood. However, several other studies from the US, Britain and the Netherlands have found no evidence of MLV-like viruses in the blood of people with CFS. Though the US results have yet to be replicated, a spokesperson for the Irish ME/CFS Association, Tom Kindlon, said they are very excited by the latest findings. “This could be the breakthrough we have been waiting for,” he says. “There are currently no FDA-approved drugs for the condition, which means patients have to rely on non-curative management strategies and symptomatic relief.

“Researchers in Ireland have generally ignored the condition — we are not aware of any biomedical research that has taken place here in the last 15 years, despite an estimated 12,000 people being affected. Thankfully, researchers in some other countries have pursued various angles, with progress increasing in recent years.” In the meantime, Michael continues to live with exhaustion and manageable pain. “I’m still running on empty, but I’ve learned to

Aware founder to give lecture on depression

A few places left for Dublin City Marathon

THE free monthly lecture series by Aware continues, and for October the organisation’s founder Dr Pat McKeon will speak on the topic of depression research, outlining some recent approaches and findings. Anyone who attended Dr McKeon’s last Aware lecture in July, or any of his talks in previous

THIS year the Dublin City Marathon takes place on Bank Holiday Monday, October 25, and already thousands of people have signed up to take part. If you are interested in joining, you should sign up now before places fill up. By participating in the Lifestyle Sports-adidas Dublin Marathon, you are taking on a big challenge. Why not make it even more meaningful by running it for a lo-

years, knows this is bound to be an interesting evening. Taking place on Wednesday, October 13, the start time will be 7.30pm. The talk will be in the Swift Lecture Theatre, St Patrick’s Hospital, James’ St, Dublin. No booking is required, and all are welcome. Please arrive in good time (15 minutes or so) to guarantee a seat.

TALKING OUT: Depression is the theme of a free lecture to be given by Dr Pat McKeon in Dublin. Picture: iStock



BABY BOWL: Simple, quick and easy to attach, the Unbelievabowl from Vital Baby is designed to stick securely to your baby’s highchair or tabletop. The two-part set consisting of a the suction base and twist-on bowl is suitable for babies from nine months onwards and costs F6.99; packs of two spare bowls, 5.49, are available in blue, pink and orange. Other popular products in the range in pharmacies and Superquinn, include the Three Stage Toddler Trainer Cup, 9mths +, F5.49 and Weaning Sets, 6mths +, F4.99. Vital Baby will be among the exhibitors at the Pregnancy and Baby Fair and RDS on October 9, 10.



live with it,” he says. “I look after myself in the mornings, go visit someone, or go to the shops in the afternoon and then potter about the house. I have to watch my stress levels and deal with what we call ‘brain fog’, where I can just zone out of conversations or forget what I’ve gone to the shop to buy.” ■ For more information on ME/CFS, contact the Irish ME/CFS Association on 01 235 0965 or email

DId you know... Unfit men who work long hours are more than twice as likely to die of heart disease as unfit men who work shorter hours

cal or national charity and help raise funds for organisations doing good works. Register for the Lifestyle Sports-adidas Dublin City Marathon on Nominate your chosen charity and you will receive a runner’s pack with information and tips on preparing for the challenge of running a marathon. Time to start collecting your sponsorship.

Source: National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Denmark

with Kate O’Reilly


DISCREET NURSING: Emer McInerney who runs Irish online Breastfeeding, Maternity and Baby shop has launched a new product in time for National Breastfeeding Week (October 1-8). Two years ago Emer started selling nursing covers that she sourced from the US where they are very popular. She has now designed the Bubí Bainne, F22.95, a 100% cotton cover which allows mums to breastfeed discreetly. Available in a range of colours, the cover folds up neatly into a changing bag or pocket and can be used for anywhere a new mum might feel self-conscious. See for more details.


NEW LOOK: Pharmaton Kiddi Health, which has been a popular children’s multivitamin for many years, has recently been relaunched with a new pack design. The orange-flavoured liquid contains vitamins B, D and E, the amino acid, lysine for protein building and calcium and is suitable for the over 5s. It costs F7.98 for 200ml in pharmacies, and to coincide with the new pack launch there’s a t-shirt design competition with four bikes as top prizes.


Baby stuff


PURE LOVE: Little Ones in Ennis stocks traditional wooden toys and distinctive baby and christening gifts, including the new Pure Love baby gift collection from Nature’s Purest. Created from soft organic cotton and pure silk, all are beautifully presented in manilla keepsake boxes. The Pure Love collection includes soft toys, clothing, soft shoes and co-ordinated bedding, from F15. Little Ones is offering a 10% discount on all orders placed by Tuesday October 5. Just enter the coupon code ‘birthday’ at the online checkout. Call into Little Ones at 57 Parnell St, Ennis, Co Clare; 065-6849728 or



14 Beauty Celebrities are not the only ones looking for perfect teeth, but is it worth all the expense?

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Brighten up


AM suspicious of people with bright white teeth. Or at least, I was. My apprehension has been allayed somewhat since I joined the ranks of the dentally bleached. This has been a long time coming. I don’t think I’m particularly vain, but I had been peering into the mirror for a while with the creeping sense that my teeth were looking a little Dickensian-yellow. Like I had Oliver Twist teeth. Or Fagan teeth. And nobody wants Fagan teeth. Not even Fagan. Part of the problem is clearly the telly. The minute I turn it on these days, I’m practically blinded with super-white rows of dental tombstones. And it’s not just Simon Cowell. It’s everyone — newsreaders, presenters, soap stars, even the odd historian or two. This excessively perfect smile has clearly been imported from the States, where having bad teeth is practically a criminal offence. And I don’t like it much, it’s too artificial and distracting. But I have to admit that a nicely cleaned up smile does look good. Furthermore, according to research conducted by Beall Reseach & Training of Chicago, good teeth can make you appear more intelligent. I already wear glasses — is it vain to want clever teeth, too? After much humming and hawing, I decided to give it a go. The dentist wasn’t too pushy, but even I could see that all those curries (yes, curries stain your teeth — it’s the turmeric), coffees and ciggies (in the past, but still evident) had given me a smile that was the colour of cold tea. Milky tea, admittedly, but tea nonetheless. Teeth whitening is an expensive business. Choosing to opt for home bleaching, which my dentist had advised, I summoned up the courage to hand over F300 and was fitted with plates. The process is simple enough: you wear the plates for at least three hours a day (my dentist advised against wearing them overnight as it can increase sensitivity) and after 10 days or so, you look like someone out of The Bold and The Beautiful. Kind of. So off I went. The first day I was eager to get started, and was a little over enthusiastic with the gel. You quickly learn not to put too much into the plates because if you do, it oozes out the top

The news on ... PERFECT SKIN FLAWLESS skin is big news this season, which is not great for those of us that look like we’ve had our complexion rubbed with a scouring pad. But ask any make-up artist worth their salt and they’ll tell you that foundation primers is akin to a magic formula for making the skin look flawless. New from L’Oreal is Studio Secrets, F19.99, a smoothing, resurfacing primer designed to smooth pores and lines thanks to an invisible base that evens it all out. A handy number.

TAKE THREE QUICK-FIX POWDERS PRESSED powders are a great way of “setting” your make-up and getting this season’s flawless, semi-matte look. You only need a light dusting on areas of shine, so don’t be tempted to lash it on with a sponge. Use a large powder brush and go sparingly. Clarins Barocco Face Palette, F55. The Christmas collection for Clarins is out already and is inspired by Baroque. Enter the Face Palette in a substantial silver and black casing with swirly patterns. Inside, a beigey-gold powder is mixed with pink swirls — sounds crazy, looks pretty.

Picture: istock

Emily O’Sullivan and fills your mouth. And while it doesn’t taste bad, it’s certainly isn’t something you’d welcome swilling around your gob. Determined to get a result, I stuck it out for the recommended three hours, watching TV as a distraction. When I took the plates out there was a little sensitivity, but nothing too major.

And so it went on. Plates in, telly on… Until I got a little braver and wore them in work one day, and then graduated to wearing them to the supermarket, and then to the park with the kids. The biggest complaint people have about bleaching is the sensitivity. And I only felt it once, thankfully. But, boy, did I feel it. It came like a lightning bolt of agony in the middle of the night, lasted about five seconds, then disappeared. What of my teeth? Well they are white. Whiter than my dentist expected, but not platinum, and not so white that anyone has really noticed. Do I look younger or better? No, I don’t think so, but at least I can smile without wondering if that third tooth from the front is making anyone feel nauseous. It’s unlikely that that’s worth F300, but then I’m vain, aren’t I?

Lancôme Poudre Majeur, F39. This gentle, translucent powder is good for dry skin types and leaves the skin looking pretty and radiant without any chalkiness. Clinique Redness Solutions Instant Relief Mineral Pressed Powder, F38. If your face is looking or feeling ruddy, then it can be difficult to conceal. A lot of us simply load on our usual make-up which only makes things worse. Try this pale buttercup coloured powder from Clinique — it blends invisibly into the skin, making it look smooth while hiding red bits. Available from October 15.

STUFF WE LIKE Oral B Professional Care SmartSeries with SmartGuide, from F88.60 at and other stockists nationwide. Oral B’s most technologically advanced electric toothbrush has a deep clean mode that removes 99.7% of plaque. Ultimately, good dental health is not about how white your teeth are — and this is a great toothbrush if you’re looking to gives your teeth the best brushing daily. Vani-T Pure White Tooth Whitening Gloss, F34. A very handy little gadget, this little brightener looks like a concealer, with its slim pen and brush tip. It’s designed


to be brushed on to dry teeth every 15 minutes for two to three hours, or two to three times daily for one week. It claims to lighten up to four to six shades and contains carbamide peroxide and peppermint oil. PolarWhitePro Professional Teeth Whitening Glaze, F35. Very similar to the product above in terms of how it’s used, what it contains and

how effective it claims to be. It’s not unpleasant to use, although trying to make sure your teeth are “dry” before you start can be tricky, but as with the above product we didn’t really notice any difference. Sensodyne Rapid Relief, F2.69. If you’re opting for teeth bleaching, then this toothpaste is going to be your new best friend. Even if you don’t


have sensitive teeth, after a few hours with plates in, you might well develop them. It’s clinically proven to work after 60 seconds, too, when directly applied with a fingertip for one minute. Clinique Lipsticks, F19. Don’t fancy going through the hassle of whitening your teeth, but want a brighter smile? Well, Clinique has come up with the answer: a range of shades that has received high marks (from a dentist) for making your teeth look whiter. And they cover the whole colour spectrum, too, from pale pink to raspberry. Give ‘em a go.



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Natural health


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

Q. I fell and had to have a hip replacement in 1997. I fell again in 2004 and had the second hip replacement followed by a knee replacement in 2008. At present I have a lot of backache and pain down the side of my right leg. I attend my GP and I’m taking anti-inflammatory and blood pressure tablets. I have started to attend an osteopath and have some relief from the treatment. He has suggested I take glucosamine. My GP has referred me to an orthopaedic specialist for my right hip. I am 70 years old, active and good diet. I would also like to discontinue taking anti-inflammatory medication.

I WAS recently diagnosed with low ferritin levels, a year after the birth of my baby. I had been suffering from palpitations, dizziness and fatigue but kept attributing it to the exhaustion of being a new mum. My haemoglobin, thyroid and B12 levels were fine. I was prescribed Galfer for three months and told that the condition could have been caused by the extremely heavy periods I had since giving birth. However, I became pregnant within a week of starting the iron and was told to stop taking it in case it made me constipated which wouldn’t be recommended in early pregnancy. So I am now nearly 11 weeks pregnant and suffering from normal early pregnancy tiredness coupled with low ferritin. My last visit was to a locum doctor, who checked my bloods, said there was no need to test for ferritin again. I have also suffered occasionally from bacterial vaginosis since my baby was born. I was wondering what supplements I can take after my first trimester of my pregnancy and after my baby is born. I am currently taking a multi-vitamin and generally eat red meat, spinach, dried fruits, wheatgerm and foods I know are iron-rich. However morning sickness has meant my diet has been higher in carbohydrates and low in fruit and vegetables. Any advice would be much appreciated.

A. You have certainly done most of the hard work already by eating a healthy diet and keeping active. To help relieve the pain in your back and leg, glucosamine is a great start. I would suggest you take this a few steps further and choose a supplement which utilises other ingredients synergistically formulated to treat musculoskeletal conditions and support the healing process. Combining glucosamine with chondroitin and Methyl Sulphonyl Methane (MSM) is a great place to start since these three ingredients work so well together to optimise the overall effectiveness of the supplement. Glucosamine provides elements which will help to repair joint damage while chondroitin attracts nutrients and fluids into the area, helping to provide shock absorption and lubrication. MSM is a naturally occurring organic sulphur which A. It is certainly difficult to make the increases tissue pliability by enabling fluid healthiest food choices when you are sufto pass through more easily. fering from morning sickness. While it Other effective joint nutrients include pays to be cautious about supplements and Evening Primrose Oil (EPO), vitamin E herbs during pregnancy, there is a wonand vitamin C. EPO contains gamma derful remedy which will help with your WILL OF IRON: Iron levels can become low in linolenic acid (GLA), a building block in ferritin levels and support your immune pregnancy and mothers-to-be may need to take a the production of anti-inflammatory system while being safe to use during supplement which is safe to use. Picture: iStock prostaglandins, vitamin E improves circulapregnancy. tion and tissue repair, and vitamin C is an The first remedy you should consider is important factor in collagen formation and is Floravital, the yeast, and gluten-free herbal well known for its immune boosting properiron tonic. Floravital has all the same benefits ties. as the classic iron tonic Floradix, but it’s free er iron supplements. The Floradix range is Fortunately, there is one supplement that of the brewer’s yeast, gluten and honey, mak- formulated to include enough vitamin C and combines all of these nutrients plus some ing it a safe alternative for people who suffer the B vitamins so that the iron is effectively added minerals for bone health. Holland & from allergies, sensitivities and liver condiutilised by the body, and digestion is not Barrett’s Joint Care Glucosamine Chontions. compromised. It is also suitable for anyone Made using African mallow blossoms, aged four and upwards since it is a nutrition- droitin Complex with Omega 3, 6 & 9 includes glucosamine sulphate, chondroitin, chamomile flowers, fennel, spinach, juice al supplement and does not contain alcohol. MSM, vitamin C, vitamin E, boron, manconcentrates (grape, pear, blackcurrant, cherTake 15mls of Floravital twice daily until ganese and an omega oil blend which conry, blackberry, carrot), and rosehip extract, your ferritin levels are at least 25ug/L. Then tains evening primrose oil, flaxseed oil and this formula has an iron absorption rate of reduce intake to 10mls daily until you feel 25%, compared to the average absorption that you are no longer needing it (this is usu- fish oils. 60 capsules cost F18.99. Do liaise with your doctor regarding disrate of iron tablets at 2-10%. ally quite evident in your energy and mood continuing your anti-inflammatory medicaThe other key reason I recommend this levels), and have your blood tested to check tion, while it works to reduce your pain it supplement to pregnant women is because it your progress. Floravital is available from may hinder the bone repair process. will not cause constipation, unlike most oth- health stores (250ml costs F13.99).

Megan puts the spotlight on:

Remedies taken as prevention against illness also causes division within the ranks of homeopaths



THE use of homeopathic remedies as a prophylactic approach for infectious diseases has recently caused quite a bit of controversy in Britain. This is always a sensitive area since people continue to die as a result of infectious diseases and epidemics despite mass vaccination campaigns and vaccines. Homeopathic remedies taken as prevention against illness (homeoprophylaxis) also causes division within the ranks of homeopaths and followers of this modality, since homeopathy is traditionally used to address existing conditions and to treat individuals on a constitutional basis. Aside from the fact that homeopathic vaccination (homeopathic remedies used as a preventative treatment against outbreaks and epidemics) is inexpensive, safe, and easily prepared and distributed, there are also remedies which exist for all known diseases.

Preventative Homeopathy Vaccines are expensive, can have serious side-effects, take a long time to produce, and are relatively difficult to distribute and administer effectively. There are a number of known diseases for which there is no vaccine. Homeoprophylaxis was developed by Samuel Hahnemann, the father of homeopathy, in 1799 during an epidemic of Scarlet Fever in Germany. Hahnemann discovered that the homeopathic remedy Belladonna could prevent infection during an epidemic of Scarlet Fever if given to people before exposure. This method of administering homeopathic remedies as a preventative treatment was also used effectively against smallpox during the 1800s and in 1902, cholera from 1831-1849, poliomyelitis in 1850, 1956-57, and 1975, diphtheria from 1942-1947, in-


fluenza from 1968-1970, meningococcal disease in 1974 and again in 1998, hepatitis in 1991, Japanese encephalitis in 2000, malaria from 2003-2005, leptospirosis from 2007-2008. One of the most commonly used homeoprophylactic remedies is Oscillococcinum. Shown to be effective in a large-scale, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, this homeopathic remedy accounts for more than 60% of the over-the-counter cold and flu market in France. The trial resulted in 68% of patients showing a complete recovery within 48 hours, and the remedy was proven to be safe for all ages with no side effects. ■ Note: It’s best to consult your doctor before taking homeopathic remedies as a vaccine or treatment for a serious illness.




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Feelgood 01-10-2010  

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

Feelgood 01-10-2010  

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