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Not so confidential

A leading Scots GP claims the NHS is profiting from allowing pregnant women's details to be sold to commercial companies, often without their full knowledge or consent. Glasgow GP Dr Margaret McCartney also warns that the NHS and professional bodies such as the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) are guilty of a conflict of interest by collaborating in the advertising of thousands of products to pregnant women and new mothers.

She also criticises Bounty, a promotions company which supplies 2.6 million Bounty bags a year to new mothers, including 812,000 newborn packs distributed through NHS maternity wards. Many of the mothers who sign up to receive Bounty Bags while in hospital are not aware they are agreeing to their email address and telephone number being used by commercial companies, she argues. In some cases they do not even realise the person collecting the information is not an NHS employee, while …

Science for hire

Achieving headlines throughout the world , Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup improved men's fertility according to researchers after conducting tests involving six healthy male volunteers by the University of Portsmouth . The study found that a fortnight of tomato soup had some effect on semen.
Nigel Dickie, a spokesman for Heinz, said: "It's good to know that Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup could boost your mojo and give guys extra oomph. And for Heinz Ketchup lovers, the tomatoey goodness will put more ketchup in your bottle."

However , The Scotsman contacted fertility experts and the company admitted it had overstated the research, which it had partly funded. In fact, the Portsmouth study found that while lycopene levels rose in semen after a period of soup consumption, there was "no measurable increase" in the sperm's ability to combat damaging free radicals. The scientists said more research was needed to see if higher lycopene levels really would help boost f…