Anthrax Attack – I'll Put the Kettle On! And other news

by DavalosMcCormack on March 12, 2008

Whenever there is a problem at home my mum always responds in the same way, saying “I’ll put the kettle on”. There is no problem too great that it cannot be cured by a nice cup of tea. Now, I thought it was just my dear old Irish mother who was the only one who thought that way, but now a study in the journal Microbiologist shows she is not alone. Not only that, the study shows that a nice cup of tea could be just what you need to help counter an anthrax attack. That’s right, an anthrax attack. You remember anthrax, that nasty, deadly biological weapon favored by international terrorists. At least, that’s what we were told. But, now researchers from Cardiff University in Wales and the University of Maryland in the U.S. (now there’s an odd coupling) say a cup of black tea could be a useful weapon in countering this terrorist threat.

The researchers say tea, and it has to be black tea so hold the milk, have special compounds called polyphenols that can apparently counter the activity of anthrax. So in the event of a terrorist attack go and put the kettle on.

Oh, and the lead researcher from Wales, being a clever chap, couldn’t resist one little dig at his colleagues in the U.S. Professor Les Baillie is quoted in a news release on this study saying “Given the ability of tea to bring solace and steady the mind, and to inactivate anthrax and its toxin, perhaps the Boston tea party was not such a good idea after all.”

And you know, as a tea lover, I’d have to agree with him.

An Aspirin A Day Keeps the Asthma Away

Chalk up yet one more health benefit of taking a daily aspirin. It used to be you took it when you had a headache. Then it was shown that a daily aspirin could reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in older people. Now apparently it can help reduce your risk of asthma.

Researchers with the Women’s Health Study looked at 40,000 women (duh!) over the age of 45 who had no history of allergies or asthma at the start of the study. Some women took 100mg of aspirin every other day, some women were given a placebo. They were then followed over ten years.

By the end of the ten years the women who took the aspirin were 10% less likely to have asthma compared to the women who didn’t. Not a huge amount, but certainly enough to get your attention. The only group this didn’t apply to were women who were obese. They didn’t see any benefit.

Why it does this, the researchers couldn’t say. So, guess what? More study is needed.

Don’t Want a Brat, Then Stop Smoking

Here’s a weird one. If you want your child to be nice and polite and easy going, then don’t smoke during pregnancy.

A study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health looked at more than 18,000 babies born in the U.K. between 2000 and 2002. Their mothers were classified as either smokers during pregnancy, light smokers, quitters or non-smokers.

When the babies were 9 months old their temperaments were assessed using a method designed to show positive moods, receptivity to new things, and regular sleeping and eating patterns.

The researchers found that women who stopped smoking during pregnancy had the most easy going infants, compared to both non-smokers and smokers! Their children had the lowest incidence of displaying unpredictable behavior or of becoming upset with new situations.

Heavy smokers had the most difficult children.

But this still seems pretty rotten for non-smokers. I mean, those women were doing the right thing all along. So maybe they should start smoking the day they discover they are pregnant and then quit the next day? Hmm, maybe not.

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