Sunday, November 25, 2012

Is flossing your teeth a waste of time?

Visits to the dentist are never pleasant. Not only do we have our pearly whites scraped, prodded and drilled, we then have to endure a telling-off for not having flossed.

Dentists insist it will keep our teeth sparkling and free from decay, as well as keeping our gums healthy. Regular flossing has even been said to protect us from heart disease.

Yet, for most of us who try wrestling with the tape, it only results in a cricked neck and bleeding gums.

And now, according to a provocative new book, Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye, it seems that dedicated followers of flossing could actually be wasting their time.

The book is causing waves because it’s written by U.S.-based Dr Ellie Phillips, who was among the first women dentists to train at Guy’s Hospital in London.

She says that flossing — and that goes for whichever gizmo, gadget or bit of tape you choose to use — will do nothing to reduce your risk of tooth decay.

The science, she says, is on her side. Only one study has shown a benefit, and that involved a group of schoolchildren who did not floss themselves, but instead had their teeth flossed by a hygienist five days a week for two years.

And a study published in the British Dental Journal in 2006 found no difference in the number of cavities suffered by adults who flossed and those who did not.

‘In all fairness, there is no evidence that flossing is effective in preventing tooth decay in the long run,’ says Dr Graham Barnby, a dentist from Marlow, Bucks, who is also a member of the Simply Health Advisory Research Panel, which analyses the latest research and medical thinking.


A diet high in phytoestrogens improves sex life

If you are a red colobus monkey in Uganda, eating the leaves of Millettia dura

They are often considered a more spindly counterpart to their meat-eating friends.  But it seems vegetarians might have the last laugh when it comes to matters in the bedroom.

For a new study has found that people who consume tofu and other plant-based foods might enjoy a better sex life than meat-eaters.

It’s thought that certain plant products can influence hormone levels and heighten sexual activity.

The research, published in the journal Hormones and Behavior, is the first to observe the connection between the so called sex hormones phytoestrogens, found in plants, and behavior in wild primates.

In this case, it was a group of red colobus monkeys in Uganda, but as primates, experts say we humans would likely experience similar effects from the compounds.

The research was carried out by Michael Wasserman, while he was a graduate student at UC Berkeley's Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management.

Over 11 months, Wasserman and his team followed a group of red colobus monkeys in Uganda's Kibale National Park and recorded what the primates ate.

The researchers focused on aggression, which they measured by the number of chases and fights, the frequency of mating and time spent grooming, and the scientists also collected fecal samples to assess changes in hormone levels.

The researchers found that the more male red colobus monkeys dined on the leaves of Millettia dura, a tropical tree containing estrogen-like compounds, and closely linked to soy, the higher their levels of estradiol, the 'sex hormone' and cortisol the 'stress hormone'.

They found that with the altered hormone levels the monkeys spent more time having sex, and less time grooming.

Wasserman told Sciencelive: 'By altering hormone levels and social behaviors important to reproduction and health, plants may have played a large role in the evolution of primate, including human, biology in ways that have been underappreciated.'

The research comes after the animal rights charity PETA has also insisted that fruit and veg are the key to virility.

A bizarre video, featuring various men gyrating with an assortment of phallic-shaped fruit and vegetables as their manhood, became a viral sensation on YouTube to back up the point.


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