Dr Tom Smith: Cold cure

Is it true that if you go to really cold countries you won't get as many throat infections and colds? Are germs killed off by the cold?

Viruses and bacteria are killed off by low temperatures, but people who live in the Arctic spread them from mouth to mouth and nose to nose in just the same way as we do. The proof of that is in a study of sore throats in Oulu, in the frozen north of Finland. The Oulu team studied 298 people with recurrent tonsillitis. If you want to avoid colds, you will have to live by yourself on an iceberg - and avoid human contact altogether.

I have been taking multivitamins for years as part of a physical fitness programme. Now I hear that I'm increasing my risk of prostate cancer. What is the extra risk, and should I be worried? My mother's brother had prostate cancer.

Without the uncle, you would have had 1.32 times the normal risk (that of someone not taking supplements) of developing prostate cancer. More worrying, if you do develop it, it is twice as likely to spread fatally than the usual prostate cancer (many men survive with it). With the uncle's disease, the risk may be higher, but it's difficult to calculate it. If we eat normally, we have more than enough vitamins and minerals for good health. Mounting trial results show that supplements tend to shorten rather than prolong life. That goes especially for betacarotene, vitamin A and vitamin E. In high doses, vitamin C has been shown to damage DNA.

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


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