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Painkiller safety needs further probe

Scientists at the University of Nottingham have called for more research into the safety of painkillers after unearthing more evidence that some of these pills increase the risk of heart attacks in many patients. A study published in the British Medical Journal looked into more than 9,000 patients and found that even relatively safe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as paracetamol or ibuprofen) can raise the danger of heart attacks. Although questions have been raised on the side effects of painkillers belonging to a particular group, itís time drug regulators issue warnings on the so-called safe drugs. The researchers who conducted the study suggest doctors to desist from prescribing these drugs to people with poorer health.

Rat poison may aid terrorists

A type of rat poison has the potential to be used in an intentional mass poisoning or as a terrorist weapon, according to a report in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. The lead author of the study, Dr K. Scott Whitlow, who heads the VA Poison Center in Richmond, Virginia, believes the pesticides are potential public health risk because the chemical tetramethylenedisulfotetramine is routinely used by immigrants in the US. The chemical is a lethal, neurotoxic poison that has been used many times in mass poisonings in China, as recently as 2004. The one documented case in the US of accidental poisoning with this agent was in 2002, reports Reuters.

Fungus fights malaria

Mould in your house may keep malaria at bay by killing off the mosquitoes which carry the contagion. Researchers at the Imperial College in London found that an oil-based live spore (found in mould) spray could be a viable alternative to the insecticides to which mosquitoes have grown resistant. The fungi have already been successfully used to keep agricultural pests at bay. The oil-based spray of the Beauveria bassiana fungus either kills or maims the mosquitoes so that they canít spread malaria. A field study in Tanzania showed that the fungal spray slashed the lifespan of the pests and significantly cut down malaria in the endemic zone. The biggest advantage of the fungal insecticide is its low cost.

Contest yields better sperm

Pornography depicting images of two men with a woman produces higher-quality sperm in male viewers than the images which feature only women. According to researchers at the University of Western Australia, the observation goes against perceptions about male sexual preferences, but supports the theory that men produce better sperms under competition.

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