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Wed, 13th May 2015

Alcohol is still the most widely used "medication" in history. It is the universal drug of good cheer. It is claimed to maintain good health and improve mental relaxation, even though doctors know one gram permanently kills a given number of neurones. The scriptures constantly refer to it in a positive way and it has been used in vast amounts both before and since.

Every culture has its own particular brand but the end product is much the same - "ethanol", to use the euphemism. It is even recommended as an alternative power for vehicles to replace petrol. Nineteenth century Europe almost sank in a deluge of alcohol related drinks. Charles Dickens, who ruled the era, was a very sparse drinker, but his characters were all massive partakers. The health conscious western world in the past twenty years has de-socialised cigarette smoking (although one in five still smoke, worse in women), in early Australia, it was a form of currency.

So how good and how bad is alcohol. As the law makers are the law breakers, there is absolutely no chance of it being removed from the social or economic menu in the foreseeable future. In today's medicalised society, most are fully aware that alcohol is responsible for the majority of accidents, it ranks high in marital disputes, fights, killings. Its indirect costs to society runs into billions annually. However, there is such a thing as balance and common sense.

Modest amounts are claimed to significantly reduce risks of heart attack and diseased arteries. However, nearly all published studies are financed by the distilleries! Larger amounts have the reverse effect. Non-drinkers are advised not to start simply for this reason. As a nerve drug, it offers consolation in modest amounts, but this can quickly get out of hand as larger amounts have a stimulating and often negative outcome. Emotional levels are often blunted. Aggression is stimulated. Over moderate amounts reduce sensitivity, sexual enjoyment and sensations. Large regular intake gradually destroys most organs, the liver being hit first, and others inevitably follow. It encourages onset of diabetes, reduced vision, and cataracts. "Sensible drinking" is often promoted as OK - the unlucky few to do this can lead into addiction, which is also bad news. Like smoking it is an absolute No No in pregnancy, as can interfere with early foetal development, specially the brain. On final analysis: Modest drinking is probably OK. Excessive alcohol will produce a negative and adverse outcome. Drinker beware.



I seem to have a little lump like a ball bearing at the back entrance. It is not tender, but occasionally bleeds a bit


This sounds like a "sentinel pile", a dilated blood vessel which is not uncommon in this spot. See the doctor. Often small incision under local aesthesia allows a lump of blood clot to be removed, and it all settles down, and may almost vanish. Recurrences may occur. An internal check is also advised, for cancer may be lurking inside somewhere. This is more probable in anyone over the age of 45 or 50. Never neglect unusual lumps or bleeding.

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My little girl occasionally refuses certain foods usually the same ones. She firmly closes her lips and becomes upset if I try and force her. Is this ill will, bad temper, blatant disobedience or simply stubbornness?


It may be all four. But more probably, specially if she eats most foods, she is intolerant to certain ones. The body is saying "No No" when you are trying to say "Yes Yes". Little ones are pretty co-operative when all is well, and this is the only way she has of telling you something is wrong. In time, the intolerance may vanish, although it may remain. Try and read between the lines with your growing family. Infants are pretty honest with parents.

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In the last year or two if I have more than one cup of flat white coffee I seem to feel bloated and uncomfortable and "full".


Some develop a reaction to milk and this may cause a bloated sensation which is very unpleasant. Maybe switching to black coffee is worth a try. If not, give it a miss for a few days and note the outcome. Then you can manage future directions. Also, various foods may cause a similar effect. One by one, check them out until you find a menu that suits you and your intestinal system. Do not continue with any routine which causes discomfort. If symptoms persist see the doctor. An endoscopic examination of the stomach and duodenum may be advisable.

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My partner is pregnant and I would like to know if it's a boy or girl. She says she would prefer to wait until it is born, for that's a bigger "buzz". Who should win?


Why not toss a coin or have a few bonding conversations. Maybe talk to the doctor and request you yourself be told. I am sure there is a "middle line". I can assure you, whatever the answer, nature will finally let you know and from the moment of birth, you will have so little time to yourself and your thoughts that it will no longer be relevant! By the way, from then on you'll have to support a family of three. That too is quite mind boggling when the time arrives. Believe me.

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My baby had lots of black hair when he was born, but now a few months later, it seems to have almost vanished.


Constant moving on the pillow will gradually shear hairs off at scalp level. Do not worry, they will most assuredly grow again. The millions of tiny hair follicles (the roots) are very active and new hairs will rapidly regrow. Normally hair grows at the rate of one cm a month, so it may be sometime before much difference is noted, and these also may similarly vanish.

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This health advice is general in nature. You are advised to seek medical attention from your doctor or health care provider for your own specific symptoms and circumstances.



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