Thursday, May 18, 2006


Warning: Watching Finals May Be Bad For Health
(The Star, 18 May 2006)

PARIS: Health experts are sounding a cautionary note about the World Cup Finals, saying that some matches could be quite literally heart-stopping. Cardiac arrests, drunk-driving, fan violence, wife-beating, binge boozing, smoking, gorging on fatty snacks with no exercise, even suicide ā€“ all of these phenomena surge during the worldā€™s most-watched sporting contest.

In the 1998 World Cup, the number of heart attacks in Britain rose by 25% when England lost to Argentina in a penalty shootout, according to a study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). Compared with admissions for the same day in previous years, 55 more people were treated for a heart stoppage as a result of the match, say the University of Birmingham researchers. They suggest in all seriousness that it might be advisable ā€�on public health groundsā€¯ to scrap shootouts altogether.

Another study, carried out in Holland, found there were an extra 14 male deaths, an increase of 50%, on the day when the Dutch team were knocked out of the European Championships by France in 1996.

Depression, violence and self-harm are also well-known outcomes of football matches and they peak during World Cup, especially as the competition heads towards its climactic stages. Since the first post-World War II World Cup in 1950 ā€“ when several Brazilians killed themselves after their team suffered a shock defeat to Uruguay ā€“ every tournament has brought a sad harvest of suicides among over-wrought fans and now-familiar tales of punch-ups.

But one intriguing discovery is that the risk of violence is greater if a team has won the game, rather than lost it. Vas Sivarajasingam, a researcher into social violence at Cardiff University in Wales, found that the number of assault cases admitted to the cityā€™s hospital rose during national rugby and football matches. When Wales won its matches, the average number of assault injuries was 33 ā€“ but when it lost, the average dropped to 25. There was no difference in these remarkable figures whether the team played at home or away.

A win may boost assertiveness and a misguided sense of patriotism, a mix that could become explosive when added to booze, says Sivarajasingam. ā€�Winning is likely to be associated with the celebratory downing of alcohol, a factor that is well-known to increase the risk of violence,ā€¯ he suggests.

Even for those with sound hearts and who stay at home to watch the match, there could be a long-term risk. While the men on the pitch are cosseted with a fine diet and a rigorous exercise regime, many of the men watching them are addicts of artery-clogging snacks, whose concept of the Mediterranean diet is to order pizza with extra oregano.

In the last World Cup, Thailandā€™s Deputy Public Health Minister Surapong Suebwonglee raised widespread sniggers by urging couch potatoes to drink pure water and herbal tea and refrain from beer, crisps, sausages, dips and other salty or sugary snacks. ā€�People who consume liquor, beer and snacks tend to suffer high blood pressure and other illnesses in the future,ā€¯ he pleaded valiantly. ā€“ AFP

**Aku: Takat tak cukup tido, nangis bila kalah, release tension ngan memaki hamun sesuka hati, melantak junkfood @ cuci mata...bla..bla..Itu je la...Hehe...