Saturday, September 09, 2006


In the Woody Allen film Play It Again, Sam, the technique used was to think of the names of famous baseball stars, whereas some sexologists recommend the more mechanical “stop, start, squeeze” method. Now scientists may have come up with the first pharmaceutical means of tackling premature ejaculation — using a class of drug usually associated with treating depression. In trials involving 2,600 men, researchers in the US have shown that a new drug could prolong sexual intercourse by more than three times the duration previously experienced.

If approved after more tests, the drug will be the first designed to tackle the problem, which is experienced by 20-30 per cent of men. Participants in the trial typically concluded intercourse in less than a minute. Speed may be desirable in a racing pigeon or a sports car, but in sex the laurels tend to be won by the slow. A “normal” time between penetration and climax, the drug manufacturers Johnson & Johnson discovered, with the aid of obliging couples and a stopwatch, is 7.3 minutes.

Men on anti-depressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors — SSRIs, the class to which Prozac and Seroxat belong — typically complain of dulled sexual sensation and delayed orgasm. But what is a curse for them may be a benefit for others, so Johnson & Johnson set out to develop an SSRI specifically for delaying orgasms.

Today The Lancet publishes the results of trials carried out at 121 centres in the United States. Men were randomly given either placebos or different doses of dapoxetine. As is typical in sexual studies, the placebo proved pretty effective, prolonging intercourse from less than one minute to 1.75 minutes. But the drug did better. A 30mg dose produced 2.78 minutes and a 60mg dose 3.32 minutes. While hardly Don Juan standard, this was a significent result, marred only by some side-effects. Nausea, diarrhoea, headache and dizziness were reported.

Nevertheless, the team, led by Professor Jon Pryor, of the University of Minnesota, concluded that dapoxetine was “an effective and generally well- tolerated treatment for men with moderate-to-severe premature ejaculation”.

During the trial, which lasted twelve weeks, couples were asked to attempt intercourse six times or more per month. The tablets were to be taken between one and three hours before starting intercourse, and the time to ejaculation and any side-effects were to be noted in a logbook. “Dapoxetine also improved patients’ perception of control over ejaculation, satisfaction with sexual intercourse and overall impression of change in condition,” the team noted. “Partners benefited through improved satisfaction with sexual intercourse.” Dapoxetine, although an SSRI, is not designed to ease depression, though that may be a useful side-effect in some cases. It takes only an hour to achieve maximum concentration in the blood and is virtually eliminated from the body within 24 hours.

Dapoxetine is made by Alza Corp, of Mountain View, California, a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Given the prevalence of premature ejaculation, it could become a money-spinner. If so, it will eliminate an opportunity for perfect sexual manners of the kind exhibited by caring women. “It’s not that you’re too fast, but that I’m too slow,” may be a lie, but it has consoled many a despairing man.


Know-all British chef fails to convince the kids: "Eighteen months after successfully campaigning for healthier school meals, the celebrity chef finds in his new programme that the national take-up of school dinners has fallen by 2 per cent. Instead, children are eating more packed lunches — most bursting with crisps, biscuits and fizzy drinks. The answer, says Oliver, is clear. Parents must stop sending their children to school with junk food. Although many parents work, he also urges them to cook a Sunday roast or breakfast once a week. “I’ve spent two years being PC about parents, but now is the time to say, ‘If you’re giving your young children fizzy drinks you’re an a*******, you are a t*****. If you give them bags of crisps you’re an idiot,’ ” he tells viewers. Oliver says he would like there to be a ban on all packed lunches but does not expect to see that happen. While they exist, however, he says parents could make them healthier. “I have seen kids of the ages of 4 or 5, the same age as mine, open their lunchbox and inside is a cold, half-eaten Mc- Donald’s, multiple packets of crisps and a can of Red Bull. We laugh and then want to cry,” he said after the screening. He said that if a teacher told parents that their child was very tired at the end of the day, it was wrong for parents to think the solution was a can of Red Bull because “it gives you wings”. “You might as well give them a line of coke,” he argued. By the end of the documentary, Oliver has extracted a further 240 million pounds until 2011 from Tony Blair, a voluntary ban on junk food advertising for children, which he denounces as “a bit wet”, and a commitment for a kitchen- rebuilding fund."

Herbal fat-pills a con: "Herbal supplements designed to help shed weight are virtually ineffective because they cannot beat the body's efforts to conserve fat, an obesity expert claims. New Zealand academic and doctor Anne-Thea McGill has told the International Congress on Obesity in Sydney that the modern diet is lacking in nutrients... The University of Auckland researcher said this combination of too much processed food, excess energy and micronutrient deficiency produces a state of malnutrition. In the face of nutritional stress, the body predicts tough times and adapts by creating fat stores. "The body reacts to the famine stress by storing fat around the upper body,'' Dr McGill said. People who struggle with their weight are often enticed into buying over the counter vitamins and herbal remedies to help shed their kilograms. But Dr McGill said such concoctions had not been effectively tested in large-scale medical trials and were virtually ineffective in the face of the body's 'famine'. "Many over-the-counter remedies such as concentrated herbal preparations, food extracts, minerals and vitamins were promoted as helping to decrease body weight,'' Dr McGill said. "However, they do not redress the nutrient imbalance from poor diets that produce obesity.'' ... She said supplements, beyond being ineffective, could even produce serious adverse effects if taken in large doses. For example, large doses of beta carotene had been associated with an increased risk of lung cancer in smokers and studies giving vitamin E in people with cardiovascular disease had been shown to increase risk of heart failure, the doctor said."


Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike.

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.


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