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Sprinkling Charcoal On Food. 'Reabsorbing Sperm.' Oh, Those Celeb Health Tips...

This article is more than 12 years old.
Singer Sarah Harding (center, platinum hair) is quoted as saying she sprinkles charcoal on her food
Singer Sarah Harding (center, platinum hair) is quoted as saying she sprinkles charcoal on her food

Mea culpa for missing this amid the end-of-year roundups, but it's too good not to share. A praiseworthy London-based group called Sense About Science shares here its roundup of the odd, and often astoundingly ignorant, health claims made last year by various celebrities. The two that made me laugh out loud when I read them in this Reuters account:

Pop star Sarah Harding told Now magazine in April that she crumbles charcoal over her food, saying: "It doesn't taste of anything and apparently absorbs all the bad damaging stuff in the body."

Dr John Elmsley, a chemical scientist and writer asked by SAS to comment on this idea, said charcoal is known to absorb toxic molecules when used in gas masks and sewage treatment, but is "unnecessary when it comes to diet become the body is already quite capable of removing any 'bad damaging stuff'."

One of the highlights for SAS was a tip from cage fighter Alex Reid, who told The Sun tabloid newspaper in April that he "reabsorbs" his sperm to prepare for a big fight.

"It's actually very good for a man to have unprotected sex as long as he doesn't ejaculate. Because I believe that all that semen has a lot of nutrition. A tablespoon of semen has your equivalent of steak, eggs, lemons and oranges. I am reabsorbing it into my body and it makes me go raaaaahh," he said.

John Aplin, a reproductive research scientist at the University of Manchester, said sperm cannot be reabsorbed once they have formed in the testes. "In fact sperm die after a few days, and the nutritional content of the ejaculate is really rather small," he said in a comment on the SAS list.

At last! The equivalent of a group of scientists answering those silly celebrity claims with a great science-backed protest of "But that makes no sense!" The group also offers these handy rules of thumb:

Nothing is chemical free: everything is made of chemicals, it’s just a case of which ones.
Detox is a marketing myth: our body does it without pricey potions and detox diets.

Two new lessons from 2010:

There’s no need to boost: bodily functions occur without ‘boosting’.
Energy and fitness come from… food and exercise: there are no shortcuts.

This program aired on January 5, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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