Medical notes

Doctors have issued their strongest warning yet against using sunbeds. The British Medical Association (BMA) is calling on the government to regulate sunbed use after research showed that some people have more than 100 sessions in a year. The British Photodermatology Group recommends that sunbeds are not used at all - but, if they are, usage should be limited to no more than two courses a year, of no more than 10 sessions each.

The BMA is concerned that there is no training or regulation linked with sunbed use. Dr Vivienne Nathanson, its head of science and ethics, says: "We really need a public health campaign to educate people about the dangers of sunbeds and also the myths about tanning. A suntan is not a sign of good health - a tan even when there is no burning always means that the skin has been damaged. It is ironic - people use sunbeds because they think they will look better and yet they will probably end up looking old prematurely and possibly getting skin cancer."

There is also increasing evidence that sunbeds can suppress the immune system.

· Supermarkets are misleading health conscious shoppers by capitalising on the nation's appetite for "healthy" eating options, according to the Consumer's Association. Many of the so-called "healthy" options do little to reduce levels of fat, sugar and salt compared to the standard product, it warns. In fact the slick packaging often hides products containing even more fat, salt and sugar than standard items - and they are often more expensive.

Health Which?, published by the Consumer's Association, compared contents in a range of products from the healthy choice ranges with their standard products and found that many reduced fat products actually had more sugar or salt, and higher calorie contents. In many cases the healthy option offered no real benefits but were twice the price.

· Laughter could reduce pain, according to Scottish psychologists who found that people listening to Billy Connolly showed pain tolerances up to three times higher than normal. The researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University, who were looking into alternatives to anaesthetics, think that laughter therapies could help post-operative recovery. Listening to your favourite music could have a similar affect, they say.

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