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  • Lawrence Bailey

No arguments: screening can save lives



One of my several shortcomings is that I'm a sucker for a quiz.


I’m told that I can be quite competitive (and loud) in some instances – although I prefer to think of it as a healthy outlet for the accumulated stuff retained in the old grey matter.


Quiz questions can also be a handy way of imparting information.


Here’s one: every year the human heart pumps out the volume of an Olympic size swimming pool. True or false? Keep going.


There’s endless fun facts about the human body.


For instance, wisdom teeth serve no purpose. They’re an evolutionary leftover from a time when head capacity was geared more to our eating ability than brain size. (I bet you’re playing ‘spot the throwback’ as you read).


Humans are the only animals with chins and, apparently, our fingernails don’t actually grow after we’re dead.


My absolute favourite though is that if all of the blood vessels in the human body were laid end-to-end, they would encircle the Earth four times.


Strange how it’s only as we get older or when things go wrong do we appreciate the complexity of what goes on under our skins.


We hear a lot about treatment targets within the NHS and it’s undoubtedly important that we focus on these issues.


Yet you can argue that just as much emphasis should go on regular checks that ensure we get early intervention and thereby make treatment is more effective.


This involves screening by the NHS - and it’s all free.


All pregnant women in Wales are eligible for free blood test and ultrasound while new born babies have the heel prick test after five days and a hearing test within 4 weeks.


Women are entitled to cervical smear tests and breast x-rays and diabetics over 12 years old qualify for free eye imaging to detect problems.


Men over 65 are provided with checks to look for abdominal aortic aneurysm and free bowel screening is available for men and women aged 60-74.


Although uptake is on the increase, according to Public Heath Wales, it could stand improvement. I’d suggest checking out your eligibility by clicking www.screeningforlife.wales.nhs.uk


And, by the way, the human heart pumps out 2,500,000 litres per year – and that’s equivalent to an Olympic sized swimming pool.


Two points if you got that one.


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Saving the planet shouldn’t be a fashion statement


On the other hand, it’s possible to take the whole prevention thing a little too far. I’m referring to an emerging trend among firms who ‘encourage’ less or no meat consumption among employees.


It may sound odd but that's what is happening at one property developer where all corporate entertaining, workshop catering and even staff expenses must now be vegetarian if staff wish to be reimbursed.


Speaking as an omnivore, I’m a little bemused by this approach, especially when the benefits of vegetarianism rely just as much on a balanced diet as the meat variety.


But it’s as a trade unionist that I’m appalled that anyone should be out of pocket because of dietary preferences.


The rationale from the firm is that emissions from livestock are harmful – although that’s a debate yet to be resolved.


I don’t have a problem with employers doing their bit to save the planet, provided that they’re equally vigilant about travel, heat conservation and procurement.


Otherwise it could be seen as no more than fashionable affectation linked to marketing.

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