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Diesel fumes no longer just ‘probably’ dangerous, why we should forget fish oil pills and a rethink on lifestyle factors affecting male fertility

The biggest health story in the headlines today is the reclassification by the World Health Organisation of the dangers of diesel fumes.

A decision to move it from a ‘probably caricinogen’ to ‘carcinogen’ was based on a review of the evidence plus a consideration of how many people are exposed to diesel fumes. ‘It’s on the same order of magnitude as passive smoking,’ said Kurt Straif, director of the IARC department that evaluates cancer risks in the Guardian. ‘This could be another big push for countries to clean up exhaust from diesel engines.’ However, experts pointed out the risk for most people remains small with the exception of those working around high levels such as truck drivers, mechanics, or miners.

Fish oil capsules are marketed as being good for the brain but the Daily Telegraph and others report that the supplements offer no protection against dementia, at least in the short term. A UK review of data from 3,500 over 60s found that those taking omega-3 fish oil capsules performed no better in mental tests than those on placebo. Co-author Alan Dangour from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said: ‘However, these were relatively short-term studies, so we saw very little deterioration in cognitive function in either the intervention groups or the control groups. It may take much longer to see any effect of these supplements.’

And finally men trying for a baby may feel they can relax a little after a reports that their lifestyle may not have the impact on sperm that has been previously suggested.

The Daily Mail says that drinking alcohol, smoking and being overweight probably do not harm the chances of fertility. In a study of 2,249 men UK researchers found that smoking, alcohol and recreational drugs did not affect swimming sperm numbers.

“This potentially overturns much of the current advice given to men about how they might improve their fertility,” said Dr Andrew Povey from Manchester University.