Dr Tom Smith answers your questions

What are the health hazards of hanging baskets? Our local council has banned them.

They do apparently pose some problems. It's not just that the baskets can fall on your head. The water and soil dripping from them may contain Legionella, and if you inhale the droplets you may catch Legionnaire's disease from them. I've never seen a case report of it in a journal, but someone says there's a risk. I love hanging baskets, and think the enhancement they add to our quality of life far outweighs any such risk.

We hear a lot about whether tea or coffee can be good or bad for you. What is the medical consensus?

The balance of studies suggest they are beneficial rather than harmful. Tea and coffee in themselves are not nutritious, in that they don't give you calories you can use for energy. But they do contain plenty of chemicals that, if you were given them in a pill, you would classify as drugs. Tea, for example, contains flavonoids that, in theory, protect the heart and brain against free radicals. The initial Dutch studies of 'frequent', 'seldom' and 'never' tea drinkers found that men who had consumed the most flavonoids (in apples, tea and onions) had the least heart disease. Other studies agreed that people who drink at least three cups of tea a day have around 10% fewer heart attacks than non-tea drinkers. Cancer prevention studies haven't been consistent, perhaps because drinking very hot fluids may lead to cancers of the oesophagus.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.


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