Episode 4 Food: Truth or Scare


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Episode 4

Gloria Hunniford and Chris Bavin settle the argument over whether tea and coffee are good or bad for us - and if the same is true for both.


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Transcript


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If you've settled down to watch this with a nice cuppa,

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you'll be particularly interested in one of the stories we're investigating today.

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You will, because we're going to get to the bottom of some overboiled,

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and in some cases rather frightening, stories that

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the papers just love to repeat, even though not all of them are true.

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Every day we're bombarded

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with conflicting information

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about our favourite foods.

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One minute we're told something's good for us, the next it's not,

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and we're left feeling guilty about what we're eating.

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Well, we've been wading through the confusion

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to separate the scare stories from the truth,

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so you can choose your food with confidence.

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Hello. We're very glad you've been able to join us

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for Food: Truth Or Scare.

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Now, this is a programme

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that scrutinises some of the more terrifying headlines

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that might just prompt you

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into giving up things that you love to eat.

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All too often, you know, they don't give you the full story,

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-but we're here to set the record straight.

-And just as well,

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because if you believed all the headlines we'll be looking at today,

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you could be making big changes to your diet

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for all the wrong reasons.

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Because while we do still tend to be influenced by what we read in

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the papers, some reports do get the latest research a bit muddled

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and end up giving us the totally wrong message.

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Which is not good.

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So as we unpick all of that,

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you might welcome the news to come out of today's programme,

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and in one case it's no exaggeration to say it could save lives.

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Coming up...

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We drink millions of cups of tea and coffee every single day,

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but which of the two is better for us?

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And for those who just can't get enough,

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could it be doing more harm than good?

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It's a pick-me-up. It keeps me going through the day

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and especially winter, you can't do without tea.

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And we reveal the food often touted as a cure for cancer,

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when in fact it's a lot more dangerous.

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It will also kill your normal cells as well as your cancer cells

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and people have died of cyanide poisoning taking these,

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so they're extremely dangerous.

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Right, Gloria, I'm going to interrupt your cup of tea with

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a quick question for you. How much tea and coffee do you drink?

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Now, you're sitting there asking

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an Irishwoman how many cups of tea that she drinks every day!

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You have watched me drinking tea right throughout this programme.

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-I never drink coffee.

-OK.

-I don't like it.

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It gives me a headache. So I only drink tea, and lots of it.

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Right, OK, well, I must admit I do rely on caffeine

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to get me through those early mornings and long days,

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and while I don't think I could live without my cup of coffee,

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I have felt a bit worried after seeing those headlines

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that say caffeine is addictive

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or even that too much of it can lead to cancer,

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so I wanted to find out if I really need to be concerned, and if I do,

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whether I'd be better off switching to a different brew.

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We've long been considered a nation of tea drinkers

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and whether we go for Earl Grey or builder's,

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we're each said to get through hundreds of mugs of it every year.

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But these days it's actually coffee we drink the most,

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and that's usually the only brew you'll find in my mug.

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This is the first of about five or six cups of coffee

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I'll drink most days,

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but you don't have to look too far to find some headlines

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telling us that caffeine is bad for us, or worse still,

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even addictive, and it's not just coffee - tea's in the frame too.

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The headlines are pretty confusing.

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Some say our daily drinking habit

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could be really bad for us and even cause cancer,

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but the same papers also report the exact opposite -

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that tea and coffee can actually fight cancer

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as well as slash the risk of heart disease and protect your liver.

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So after reading those headlines,

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I now have no idea if I drink too much coffee

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or even if I should be drinking more,

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and the shoppers I spoke to couldn't help me make up my mind.

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-So I see you've both got a cup of tea.

-Caffeine free.

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Is that what made you choose that?

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I tend to be caffeine free.

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It gives me sort of the jitters, even a small amount in tea.

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Do you drink much tea and coffee?

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I tend to have between 15 and 20 cups a day.

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15 to 20 cups a day?

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Do you think that level of tea drinking is safe

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or healthy or unhealthy?

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I haven't had a day off in 20 plus years so that must say something.

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Do you drink much tea?

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Yeah, I've got into fruit teas a lot recently

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-because I've given up caffeine.

-You've given up caffeine?

-Yeah.

-Why?

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Because I found it was giving me quite bad heart palpitations.

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What is too much tea and coffee, or is there such a thing?

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Coffee, I don't know, two a day... Two caffeinated coffees, like,

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you know, because it's stronger. Tea's not as caffeinated, right?

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-Or I assume it's not.

-I don't know.

-I feel like it's not.

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You can have a tea before bed and you'd still be able to sleep,

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whereas I think if I had a coffee before bed, I'd be like...

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Our tea drinkers are right.

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A mug of ordinary tea has about three quarters of the caffeine

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that's in the same sized mug of instant coffee.

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I drink about five cups of coffee a day but I worry that might be

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too much. I've arranged to meet GP Dr Aisha Sharif...

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-Hello.

-How are you?

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Very well, thank you.

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'..who's quick to tell me

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'there's no need to be quite so cautious about caffeine.'

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For most normal, healthy adults,

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we don't specify a limit to the caffeine.

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Obviously, for pregnant ladies,

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there is some guidance and we say 200 milligrams is safe.

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With too much caffeine linked to low birth weight and an increased

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risk of miscarriage, pregnant women are advised to drink no more than a

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couple of cups of instant coffee or just under three cups of tea a day.

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For the rest of us, though, there's no official limit,

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and because our bodies all react differently to caffeine,

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there's no hard and fast rule for how much it will take

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for any side effects to kick in.

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There are problems with drinking large volumes of caffeine.

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You may be having a bit too much stimulation, so you may be finding

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that your heart races and a huge problem for me as a GP is insomnia.

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So lack of sleep, what does that do to people?

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Well, I think it starts to... If you have got some anxiety problems,

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it can heighten your anxiety.

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If you are susceptible to having certain heart conditions,

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for example, we have quite a rare condition called SVT,

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which is where the heart starts to race faster than it should,

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which can be potentially dangerous for certain people.

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Experts say our bodies and brains

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naturally regulate the amount of caffeine we drink,

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and we're actually very good at stopping when we've had enough,

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and while some people say that caffeine gives them the shakes,

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Aisha says that that's just a short-term effect

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and there's no long-term harm.

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So she finds all those scaremongering headlines laughable.

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"Are you addicted to coffee?

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-"Doctors are now treating caffeine use disorders with therapy."

-Yes!

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I've yet to meet a doctor who's actually doing that.

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I don't find that that's a huge problem, certainly where I work.

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"Are you a secret caffeine addict?

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"The health dangers of drinking too much tea and coffee."

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-I think that's overplaying a very safe drink.

-Is it addictive, though?

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Is caffeine an addictive substance?

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Most common-sense feeling on that is yes, you do desire a cup

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when you've been used to drinking a cup in the morning

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and people do notice they get headaches and feel sluggish

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when they stop drinking coffee.

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But that's a reasonably short-term...

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Exactly, one or two days and it's out of your system.

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So my five or six cups, you're telling me that

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that's perfectly safe and I'm absolutely fine to continue with it.

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Absolutely safe, yeah.

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So if we're safe to ignore those terrifying headlines, what about

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the ones that tell us that tea and coffee can do us all manner of good?

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I want to find out if there's any truth to those too.

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So I'm going to stage my very own battle of the brews.

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I'll fight the corner for coffee,

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but I need someone to head up Team Tea.

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-Hello!

-Hello. How are you?

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-I'm very well, thank you. I'm not here for a haircut, though.

-OK.

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But I do hear you make a mean cup of tea.

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I'm going to make you one, then, and you can tell me if that is true.

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Yes, please, yeah.

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-Just like me, nice and strong.

-OK.

-Thank you very much.

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'Lady Job runs this hair salon in South London, and like many of us,

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'she can't get through a working day without a few brews.'

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What's the secret to a good cup of tea?

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The secret to a good cup of tea, to be honest with you,

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brew very well, not too strong, though, and a bit of biscuit.

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So how many cups of tea would you say you drink every day?

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Do I need to tell you that? Um...

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I think maybe something like a minimum of five. It might be more.

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More than five? How many more than five?

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Confession, maybe around seven.

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'Clearly tea is an essential part of Lady's day.

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'In fact, she reckons she couldn't live without it.'

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-So what do you think tea's good for?

-It's a pick-me-up.

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It keeps me going through the day

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and especially winter, you can't do without tea.

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I actually read somewhere that caffeine is good for the hair.

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-Hair?

-Yes.

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Well, you're drinking lots of tea and you've got fantastic hair.

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-So I think there might be something in that.

-Oh, well, what can I say?

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'So, with Lady drinking even more tea than I do coffee,

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'which of us is making the better choice?

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'I've arranged for the pair of us to meet Professor Gary Williamson.

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'He's an expert in how our bodies are affected by the food we eat

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'and he's been studying tea, coffee and caffeine for years.'

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So, Gary, the lovely Lady here is a huge tea fan. I'm a big coffee fan.

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We both drink enough of it to sink a battleship.

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Whose drink is healthiest?

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Well, it's not really as simple as which one is the most healthy

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because it really depends on what health parameter,

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what health impact you're going for.

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Tea and coffee, they're both quite healthy.

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So let's see how many of those headlines about health benefits

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are true, starting with one saying

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tea can help if you've got high cholesterol.

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That's true.

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If you have lots of tea, there's been plenty of studies

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to show that you can reduce some cholesterol.

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It's not going to be as much as taking drugs.

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It's not going to rescue you if you've got high cholesterol

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but it's a subtle effect, like most things in nutrition.

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-Are you happy to hear that?

-Very happy to hear that.

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'But coffee's got some pretty impressive benefits too.'

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If you look at something like type II diabetes, actually,

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coffee is really well protective against developing type II diabetes.

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But tea is also good,

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-but it's not quite as good as coffee for diabetes.

-OK.

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But if you look at heart disease,

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then probably tea is a little bit better, and especially green tea

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is particularly good for protecting against heart disease.

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'And while your cuppa isn't going to instantly cure anything,

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'it doesn't take much to get that extra bit of protection.'

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Once you have about three or four cups, drinking more than that

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-is probably not going to make too much difference.

-OK.

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But it's really down to your individual preference for caffeine.

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And you know some people can tolerate it better,

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some people can tolerate it less well.

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'Tea and coffee can be good for us

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'because they both contain something called polyphenols,

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'naturally occurring chemicals known to have huge health benefits,

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'but how many of those all-important polyphenols we get from a cuppa

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'depends on the type of brew we choose and how we make it -

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'whether it's decaf, filter, teabags or instant, Gary says

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'they can all be good for us, but some are even better than others.

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'So I've asked him to help us rank the best of the best and put some

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'of our most popular hot drinks in the order he thinks is healthiest.

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'First up, a herbal favourite.

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'It's believed to help us get a better night's sleep,

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'so is chamomile tea actually good for us?'

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Right, I would say that's up there with one of the best.

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That's a good one. It's got lots of polyphenols in the chamomile.

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-It's got no caffeine...

-And...

-And it's got no calories.

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-No calories, no caffeine.

-And lots of polyphenols.

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'As Aisha told me earlier, there's no problem with having caffeine,

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'but because it's a stimulant and some people are more sensitive

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'to it, it's the drinks with less caffeine that Gary ranks highest,

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'which has a surprising impact on how he rates the coffees.'

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-I'd put espresso probably somewhere in the middle.

-Right, OK.

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'Filter coffee, which has less caffeine than espresso,

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'is a little higher.'

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So now we've got instant coffee.

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I would have that reasonably high.

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Not too much caffeine, plenty of polyphenols, you know,

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-relatively easy to drink and prepare.

-Yeah.

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So I think I would probably put that fairly high.

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So if we put that up there, yeah.

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And now we've got an instant decaf.

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-No caffeine.

-No caffeine.

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-Polyphenols, still.

-Polyphenols, and no calories.

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And no calories, so I would put that high.

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-I would pretty much have that top.

-Top?

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I would pretty much have that top.

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-Because there could be no negatives.

-Because there's no negatives.

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'Coffee connoisseurs might say there are tastier cups,

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'but with plenty of polyphenols, no calories and no caffeine,

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'your mug of black decaf instant coffee would top Gary's list.

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'Some other coffees go much further down.

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'If they haven't been through a filter,

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'they will contain more of the compounds that have been shown

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'to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease,

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'so that breakfast table favourite, the cafetiere,

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'is the lowest scorer so far.

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'So does that mean Lady's favourite tea, English breakfast,

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'is destined for the top of the table?'

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One of the problems with the breakfast tea is that

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the polyphenols are not so easily absorbed by the body.

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It's all in there, it's all about how our body absorbs it.

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Exactly, exactly.

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Right, OK, so we're going to put this one, unfortunately,

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probably what's drank most in the country...

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It's not so high.

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-Aww!

-That's a shame, isn't it? That is a shame.

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-I know, it's very annoying because I love tea.

-I'm sorry, Lady.

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So we keep it here.

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'But the nation's favourite tea isn't lowest on the table.

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'It's just about level pegging with a relatively obscure one

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'called rooibos, or redbush, which, like English breakfast tea,

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'doesn't release its polyphenols quite as easily as coffee.

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'If our table was bigger, green tea and some herbal teas would be

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'right up there with chamomile as being super healthy.

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'But, according to Gary,

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'they're all trumped by that instant decaf coffee.

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'It's at the top of the table because it's got no caffeine,

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'no calories and plenty of easily absorbed polyphenols.

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'It might have come out top here,

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'but Gary says there are no losers on this table.'

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I think we've done quite well in ordering them,

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but just remember that all of them really are quite good.

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-So, yes, we haven't gone from good to bad, we've gone from...

-Good...

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..very good to still pretty good.

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'But I'm still a competitive chap, so I've got to say that

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'I'm delighted to see coffee coming out ahead of Lady's favourite, tea.

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'Of course, whichever is your preference,

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'adding milk and sugar like Lady does will mean there's more calories

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'in your cup, and while I can't convince her to switch to coffee,

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'she is prepared to make some sacrifices

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'that can only make her drink healthier.'

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Now I think what I have to do is to cut down on the milk,

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maybe reduce the amount of sugar, if that adds a calorie to it.

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And the biscuits with it.

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THEY LAUGH

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-You have to have biscuits!

-No, you do.

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Who's drinking all of this?

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LAUGHTER

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-Not me.

-Or who's paying for it, more to the point? Taxi!

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Now, if there is one claim we regularly see made for what we eat,

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it's that certain foods can either cause

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or alternatively help combat cancer.

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There can't be many things that the papers haven't linked it to -

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foods such as red meat and sugar have been blamed for making it worse

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and everything from chilli, green tea and broccoli

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can apparently fight it, but I suppose the question is,

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-how much of it is true?

-Especially as in some cases

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the same foods that one day we're told might cause cancer,

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another day, up pops a headline saying that

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they may be something that could actually help fend it off,

0:16:240:16:27

or, better still, even possibly cure it.

0:16:270:16:30

Now, sadly we've both had cancer in our families

0:16:300:16:32

and it's very easy to see how anyone who has the condition,

0:16:320:16:36

because it's tough, will do whatever they can

0:16:360:16:39

to improve their chances against it.

0:16:390:16:41

But, you know, those headlines really don't help

0:16:410:16:43

when you're looking for a definitive answer, so I wanted to find out

0:16:430:16:47

which of them might be correct

0:16:470:16:48

and which might be completely barking up the wrong tree.

0:16:480:16:51

It's estimated that around half of us will get cancer at some point

0:16:540:16:57

in our lives, and although that's a very sobering figure,

0:16:570:17:00

thanks to improved treatments and better research,

0:17:000:17:03

over half of those diagnosed will now survive.

0:17:030:17:07

But anyone who's been told they have cancer will say

0:17:070:17:09

they'll do whatever it takes to fight the disease,

0:17:090:17:12

including making big changes to their lifestyle and their diet.

0:17:120:17:16

And that's something that I'm afraid I know only too well.

0:17:180:17:21

When my daughter Caron was diagnosed with cancer,

0:17:210:17:24

she searched high and low, and indeed worldwide,

0:17:240:17:27

for anything that might help her deal with cancer in a better way,

0:17:270:17:31

but I really want to point out that

0:17:310:17:32

she did all of that in conjunction with her orthodox medical treatment,

0:17:320:17:36

in other words, with guidance from her doctors.

0:17:360:17:39

Since then, of course, the internet has been flooded with

0:17:390:17:43

even more so-called health websites peddling miracle cures,

0:17:430:17:46

and open any newspaper and you'll be confronted with articles

0:17:460:17:50

claiming that some foods could help you conquer the condition.

0:17:500:17:54

You know, some of the headlines are absolutely ridiculous

0:17:540:17:57

and they contradict each other,

0:17:570:17:58

and others just seem to be too good to be true,

0:17:580:18:01

but on the other hand, inside all of us, I think,

0:18:010:18:03

and particularly those dealing with cancer,

0:18:030:18:05

they have that little glimmer of hope that some of it might work.

0:18:050:18:09

Well, one person who's seen and indeed tried lots of the so-called

0:18:100:18:14

solutions touted by the papers is Carl Denning from Leeds.

0:18:140:18:18

Carl has battled with pancreatic cancer for four years

0:18:180:18:22

so of course he takes seriously

0:18:220:18:24

any claims made about foods that could help him fight the condition.

0:18:240:18:28

I've tried everything from veganism to alkaline diet.

0:18:290:18:33

I've started so many different things

0:18:330:18:35

and also because there's so many different diets out there,

0:18:350:18:38

you're trying to take them all on board.

0:18:380:18:40

I think it's good to be open-minded about any claim.

0:18:400:18:45

Being open-minded is one thing,

0:18:460:18:48

but Carl says he's getting fed up with all the mixed messages.

0:18:480:18:52

When you do all your research and when you read all your newspapers

0:18:520:18:56

and you get bombarded by it on social media

0:18:560:18:59

and your friends send you links and your family,

0:18:590:19:02

putting you on a diet, and people buy you the newest book

0:19:020:19:06

and by the end of it all, you get so many different mixed messages.

0:19:060:19:11

In Carl's constant search for that Holy Grail food that might help

0:19:110:19:15

beat cancer, he's compared and contrasted dozens of

0:19:150:19:18

contradictory newspaper claims and put them all into a spreadsheet

0:19:180:19:22

to see how many foods the reports agreed on.

0:19:220:19:25

Unfortunately, it was a very short list.

0:19:250:19:28

The only things that were really safe at the end of it all

0:19:280:19:32

were, like, yams and lemons.

0:19:320:19:34

I like my food and no-one can live off yams and lemons.

0:19:340:19:39

But like me, Carl doesn't think it's right that the reports seem

0:19:400:19:43

to contradict themselves so often, and he wants to take a straw poll

0:19:430:19:47

of what shoppers in his home city of Leeds make of some of the headlines.

0:19:470:19:51

"How green tea can kill cancer cells."

0:19:510:19:54

What do you think when you read an article like that?

0:19:540:19:57

I am aware that food plays a big part in the health of your body

0:19:570:20:02

and you have to be careful what you eat.

0:20:020:20:04

"Yoghurt and cheese protects women from breast cancer."

0:20:040:20:07

When you read that, do you think there's any truth?

0:20:070:20:10

I don't take any notice of these headlines.

0:20:100:20:13

I think any advice is worthwhile listening to

0:20:130:20:18

and some things are scary,

0:20:180:20:21

but it's not there to scare you. It's there to help you.

0:20:210:20:24

My gorgeous daughter Caron spent seven years battling cancer,

0:20:260:20:29

and while she did make some changes to her diet and fitness

0:20:290:20:32

to give her body the best possible chance of winning that fight,

0:20:320:20:36

there's undoubtedly so much more information out there now

0:20:360:20:40

than there used to be.

0:20:400:20:42

Carl and I have come to Maggie's, a national cancer charity

0:20:420:20:45

'offering support and advice on all kinds of issues,

0:20:450:20:49

'including what to eat.'

0:20:490:20:51

-And this is Carl.

-Nice to meet you.

0:20:510:20:52

'Catherine Zabilowicz is one of the charity's nutritional advisors

0:20:520:20:56

'and specialises in helping people who have been diagnosed with cancer

0:20:560:21:01

'to find the best possible things to eat to help their recovery.'

0:21:010:21:05

We've obviously heard how Carl has tried pretty well everything

0:21:050:21:09

and looked into all the diets, so when a person is diagnosed

0:21:090:21:12

with cancer, what are they advised to eat or not eat?

0:21:120:21:14

So research shows that we know that

0:21:140:21:16

eating a predominantly plant-based diet can be very helpful,

0:21:160:21:20

so when you're eating a good variety of your vegetables and fruit,

0:21:200:21:24

you'll be getting lots of these plant chemicals

0:21:240:21:26

and we know they all have anti-cancer properties,

0:21:260:21:29

so if we're eating lots of colourful fruit and vegetables,

0:21:290:21:32

we're getting more of those into our body, so variety, probably,

0:21:320:21:36

is the spice of life.

0:21:360:21:38

'It's a message that Carl had been given by his doctors

0:21:380:21:41

'and it led him to make a big change to his own diet

0:21:410:21:44

'by becoming a vegan.'

0:21:440:21:46

I've tried the vegan diet. I've tried non-dairy at the beginning,

0:21:460:21:50

and you do seem to try to take everything on board.

0:21:500:21:53

'But after a few weeks, he had to stop because he was so hungry

0:21:530:21:57

'and really wasn't enjoying it.

0:21:570:21:59

'So now, after seeing headlines linking meat to cancer,

0:21:590:22:02

'in both a good and a bad way, he wants to know

0:22:020:22:05

'if it's really something he should be eating at all.'

0:22:050:22:09

We hear an awful lot about meat in all sorts of conditions,

0:22:090:22:13

but in terms of cancer, what's your advice about meat in the diet?

0:22:130:22:17

Well, I'm a proponent of meat.

0:22:170:22:19

I think that actually it gives us a lot of nutrients,

0:22:190:22:22

good protein, particularly some meats like organ meats

0:22:220:22:25

and things like that, which we don't tend to eat so much of now.

0:22:250:22:28

For people who are under treatment or have cancer,

0:22:280:22:31

anaemia is often a problem,

0:22:310:22:33

so meat, really, and especially organ meats, are one of the best

0:22:330:22:37

ways of actually counteracting that.

0:22:370:22:39

'But not all meat comes with such a ringing endorsement,

0:22:390:22:43

'and here again, it's so easy to see why people like Carl

0:22:430:22:46

'could be so confused about whether it's safe or not

0:22:460:22:49

'because in 2015 the World Health Organization revealed that

0:22:490:22:53

'processed and red meat could cause cancer.'

0:22:530:22:56

Most of the research really points

0:22:560:22:59

to the processed meats being the ones that we should avoid,

0:22:590:23:03

you know, your bacon and ham and salamis and things like that,

0:23:030:23:06

and I always say to people, "Don't eat too much meat."

0:23:060:23:10

I certainly don't recommend a high meat diet.

0:23:100:23:13

-What, once or twice a week?

-Yeah, exactly.

0:23:130:23:15

'So while those meat headlines are backed up with science, Catherine

0:23:160:23:20

'says not every story we read is based on such solid evidence.'

0:23:200:23:24

The problem with a lot of this research is that

0:23:250:23:29

so often it's just seen a petri dish or seen in animals.

0:23:290:23:33

There aren't the human trials quite often but the media picks up on that

0:23:330:23:37

and obviously runs with a sensational headline.

0:23:370:23:40

Does that frustrate you?

0:23:400:23:41

Oh, it really does, because yeah,

0:23:410:23:45

people do latch on to it and then they often get into difficulties

0:23:450:23:48

and it becomes disempowering to the person,

0:23:480:23:51

and that's certainly what we don't want,

0:23:510:23:53

but if someone feels positive about what they're doing, that of course

0:23:530:23:57

can have a huge influence and we know about the placebo effect.

0:23:570:24:01

We know how strong that is

0:24:010:24:02

and I think, you know, to some extent there's an element of that

0:24:020:24:05

when we feel that we're putting the right food in our body.

0:24:050:24:08

I genuinely believe that Caron lived much longer than her prognosis,

0:24:080:24:12

and I believe that's because of her positivity.

0:24:120:24:15

She felt that she was doing something that made her feel

0:24:150:24:17

better and stronger at that time.

0:24:170:24:20

I think it makes a massive difference, that,

0:24:200:24:22

to have a real positive outlook

0:24:220:24:24

and also just keep your mind active on more positive things.

0:24:240:24:28

Totally agree, yeah.

0:24:280:24:30

Whether it is just a placebo effect

0:24:300:24:32

or something more powerful we'll never know, but I have to say

0:24:320:24:35

I'm really disappointed that more than 12 years after we lost Caron,

0:24:350:24:39

the list of foods that definitely can help

0:24:390:24:41

doesn't seem to have got much longer.

0:24:410:24:43

Caron had a very, very positive attitude and she made many changes

0:24:450:24:48

to her diet and her lifestyle

0:24:480:24:50

in the hope that she could conquer her cancer

0:24:500:24:53

or at least manage it, and whereas,

0:24:530:24:55

very sadly for me, and for all our family,

0:24:550:24:57

it didn't work out like that,

0:24:570:24:59

nevertheless, when I look at some of the headlines, I can see how

0:24:590:25:02

perhaps she would have been lured in by the hope that they represent.

0:25:020:25:05

And there's one food in particular that's been singled out

0:25:050:25:09

and even called a miracle cancer killer - apricot kernels.

0:25:090:25:13

Now, they're found inside the stones of apricots and contain a chemical

0:25:130:25:17

that it's been reported directly attacks cancer cells.

0:25:170:25:20

At the time I remember Caron used to eat them, and I can understand why

0:25:200:25:24

'but you know, I'd completely forgotten about them

0:25:240:25:27

'until I saw this headline last year, claiming that

0:25:270:25:30

'far from curing your cancer, eating them could actually kill you.

0:25:300:25:33

'The question is, are they a cure or a killer?

0:25:330:25:36

'Well, I've come to see Dr Justine Alford from Cancer Research UK

0:25:360:25:39

'to determine the truth.'

0:25:390:25:42

Apricot kernels, you know, it's been hailed, really,

0:25:420:25:45

as a magic cure in some way or if you eat them it prevents cancer.

0:25:450:25:49

Is there any truth in that whatsoever?

0:25:490:25:51

There's absolutely no truth in that whatsoever, unfortunately.

0:25:510:25:55

In fact, not only is there no evidence that

0:25:550:25:57

apricot kernels can cure cancer,

0:25:570:25:59

there is evidence that they are very dangerous and that's because

0:25:590:26:02

apricot kernels contain an ingredient that

0:26:020:26:04

once inside your body gets broken down into hydrogen cyanide,

0:26:040:26:08

so effectively yes, that does kill cells,

0:26:080:26:10

but it will also kill your normal cells as well as your cancer cells

0:26:100:26:14

and people have died of cyanide poisoning taking these,

0:26:140:26:17

so they're extremely dangerous and we would never recommend that

0:26:170:26:20

people try taking apricot kernels as a treatment for their cancer

0:26:200:26:23

or for any other illness.

0:26:230:26:24

A recent surge in the popularity of apricot kernels

0:26:240:26:28

led the Food Standards Agency to warn that

0:26:280:26:31

they should not be eaten at all.

0:26:310:26:33

Now, I know my daughter Caron ate only a few each day

0:26:330:26:35

in the hope that it would help, but the news that

0:26:350:26:38

they're potentially so dangerous is chilling.

0:26:380:26:41

I've got to say, though, it's great to get such a definite answer

0:26:410:26:44

on at least one food because it seems we are constantly bombarded

0:26:440:26:48

with reports that all manner of foods might be linked to cancer.

0:26:480:26:52

Just last month, for example, the Food Standards Agency warned

0:26:520:26:56

that overbrowning toast, chips and roast potatoes could mean

0:26:560:26:59

that you take in too much of a chemical that could cause cancer,

0:26:590:27:03

but where things get especially confusing is when different

0:27:030:27:06

news reports might one day suggest a particular food causes cancer

0:27:060:27:10

and then the next day says it protects against it,

0:27:100:27:13

and that very mixed message is especially the case with dairy.

0:27:130:27:18

My daughter was told not to have too much dairy,

0:27:180:27:20

not to have too much cow's milk.

0:27:200:27:22

Well, the evidence for dairy is actually inconclusive.

0:27:220:27:25

The jury's still out

0:27:250:27:26

when it comes to whether dairy can affect your risk of cancer.

0:27:260:27:29

'Justine says there's only evidence that eating dairy could

0:27:290:27:32

'reduce the risk of bowel cancer and there's certainly no proof

0:27:320:27:36

'that other forms of cancer can be caused or cured by it.

0:27:360:27:40

'So headlines like this may not be giving you the full picture.'

0:27:400:27:44

Justine, is there any proof whatsoever that what we eat

0:27:440:27:47

could actually help prevent cancer?

0:27:470:27:49

There have been a lot of studies into diet and cancer but

0:27:490:27:52

so far the evidence suggests that there is no specific single food

0:27:520:27:56

or drink that can prevent us from getting cancer,

0:27:560:27:59

but what you can do through your diet is lower the risk of

0:27:590:28:03

developing certain types of cancer.

0:28:030:28:06

So while there's no proof that any food can cure cancer

0:28:060:28:09

and the jury is still out on whether some others could help

0:28:090:28:12

fight against it, eating well and feeling happy about the changes

0:28:120:28:16

you're making can have a very positive effect,

0:28:160:28:19

and back in Leeds, that's certainly the case for Carl.

0:28:190:28:22

Now he's preparing for another round of chemo

0:28:220:28:25

but he's taken some of the advice he's heard on board in the hope that

0:28:250:28:28

eating the right foods might help his body cope with the treatment,

0:28:280:28:32

and he's consigned his spreadsheet of conflicting headlines to the bin.

0:28:320:28:36

My advice is don't take everything word for word,

0:28:370:28:40

do your little bit of research, look into it.

0:28:400:28:43

The thing is, if you're going to follow a certain diet

0:28:430:28:46

and actually put more stress onto your shoulders,

0:28:460:28:50

you're going to add anxiety to your life

0:28:500:28:53

and you're already in an anxious situation,

0:28:530:28:55

so there's no point of doing that.

0:28:550:28:57

I'm very happy to say that Carl is here. Lovely to see you again.

0:29:030:29:06

-Good to see you again, Gloria.

-And this is Chris.

-Lovely to meet you.

0:29:060:29:09

How have things been, then, since we met before?

0:29:090:29:11

Great, thank you. They've gone really well.

0:29:110:29:13

So what changes to your diet did you make?

0:29:130:29:15

I've started a low carb, no sugar diet. I feel better.

0:29:150:29:19

The side effects of the chemo have been a lot shorter

0:29:190:29:22

and I'm really enjoying actually cooking more.

0:29:220:29:25

Less take-aways. Hopefully it will be a little bit better on my waist.

0:29:250:29:29

What I'm interested in is your cancer reading.

0:29:290:29:32

Has it made any difference to

0:29:320:29:33

the readings that they give concerning your blood?

0:29:330:29:36

Everything is kind of going in a positive direction.

0:29:360:29:40

So that could be because of the chemo as well?

0:29:400:29:42

I think the majority is the chemo, in all honesty, but I'm sure

0:29:420:29:47

that the effects from the chemo have also dramatically dropped.

0:29:470:29:51

You're saying these changes to your diet actually reduce

0:29:510:29:54

the negative effects of chemotherapy?

0:29:540:29:57

You know, I only can kind of speak personally, but I do think

0:29:570:30:01

that every bit of help regarding chemo or food has helped.

0:30:010:30:05

-And he looks remarkable, doesn't he?

-You look great.

0:30:050:30:08

-Thank you very much for coming to see us.

-No, thank you very much.

0:30:080:30:10

-Cheers.

-And it's marvellous news that just a bit of extra knowledge

0:30:100:30:13

and a change of diet has made such a difference to Carl's life,

0:30:130:30:16

but you know, as a final thought, remember that

0:30:160:30:18

all changes are individual and may not necessarily work for everybody.

0:30:180:30:22

Worked for Carl, may not work for everybody, and of course,

0:30:220:30:25

any changes need to be made with the help of your doctor,

0:30:250:30:28

but what is truly fascinating to me is that changing what you eat and

0:30:280:30:32

having the knowledge can make such a positive change to your wellbeing,

0:30:320:30:36

and perhaps that's a lesson for all of us, so thank you, Carl.

0:30:360:30:39

Thank you. Thank you very much.

0:30:390:30:40

If you're looking for ideas on

0:30:460:30:48

how to get more fruit and veg into your diet, as recommended

0:30:480:30:51

by experts across the series,

0:30:510:30:53

you can find plenty of simple recipes at...

0:30:530:30:56

..where you'll also find plenty more suggestions that tie in

0:30:580:31:02

with the foods and topics we're talking about all week.

0:31:020:31:05

Newspapers love to tell us stories

0:31:090:31:11

about food and drink that do us all manner of harm,

0:31:110:31:14

but the scare stories don't stop there.

0:31:140:31:16

Now they're telling us what we drink FROM could be dangerous.

0:31:160:31:20

Every day millions of us will buy one of these,

0:31:200:31:22

and when we've finished with it, instead of throwing it away,

0:31:220:31:25

we'll reuse it, filling it up from the tap,

0:31:250:31:27

but recent headlines might make you think twice as to whether

0:31:270:31:30

that's a good idea or not,

0:31:300:31:31

so to test out whether reusing plastic bottles is dangerous,

0:31:310:31:35

we've enlisted the help of some guys who certainly get plenty of use

0:31:350:31:38

from theirs, Paralympian Steve Brown and his wheelchair rugby team.

0:31:380:31:42

Over the last few decades,

0:31:450:31:47

us Brits have developed a serious love affair with bottled water.

0:31:470:31:50

Three billion litres of the stuff is sold every year,

0:31:500:31:53

but instead of buying a new bottle every time,

0:31:530:31:55

plenty of us will just fill up the old one from the tap.

0:31:550:31:59

But whether you're putting one in your work bag, schoolbag,

0:31:590:32:02

or, like me, your sports bag,

0:32:020:32:04

some very alarming headlines say that

0:32:040:32:07

us committed refillers

0:32:070:32:08

could be playing fast and loose with our health,

0:32:080:32:10

because some water bottles could apparently be dirtier

0:32:100:32:13

than our toilet seats.

0:32:130:32:15

I've been playing wheelchair rugby for more than a decade

0:32:150:32:18

and my trusty water bottle comes with me wherever I go.

0:32:180:32:21

If we drop the ball, we don't beat ourselves up.

0:32:240:32:26

To complain and hit our wheels gets us nowhere.

0:32:260:32:29

'For the team I coach, their water bottles are as much

0:32:290:32:32

'a part of their kit as their gloves and their shirts,

0:32:320:32:35

'but I, for one, don't wash my water bottle every time I wash my strip.'

0:32:350:32:40

Right, so, who, like me, refills their water bottles?

0:32:400:32:43

-Andy?

-Yeah, I've had mine a couple of weeks.

0:32:430:32:45

-Yeah, you refill your water bottles? Tim?

-I refill.

0:32:450:32:48

-David?

-I refill.

0:32:480:32:50

-Omar?

-Yes.

-Harry?

0:32:500:32:52

-I don't, mate, no.

-You don't?

-I get a new bottle every time, yeah.

0:32:520:32:55

'But according to some of the papers,

0:32:550:32:57

'those of us who don't wash our water bottles could risk suffering

0:32:570:33:00

'a nasty bout of food poisoning.'

0:33:000:33:02

"How your plastic water bottle

0:33:020:33:04

"could be harbouring more germs than a dog bowl."

0:33:040:33:07

The amount of times I get licked and him picking up my bottle for me.

0:33:070:33:12

You and your dog share the germs?

0:33:120:33:14

It's probably... We've probably got the same amount of germs.

0:33:140:33:17

The same germs. Yeah, beautiful.

0:33:170:33:19

'Tim's possibly the worst offender here.

0:33:190:33:22

'He says he's not washed his bottle for around a month,

0:33:220:33:25

'and worse still, his helper dog regularly picks it up in his mouth.'

0:33:250:33:29

So not only do I lick the end of it

0:33:300:33:33

but it does get the dog's saliva on it as well.

0:33:330:33:36

And your bottle has ultimately

0:33:360:33:38

-been on the floor in the process as well.

-Yes.

0:33:380:33:41

'OK, so that sounds disgusting

0:33:420:33:43

'but does it mean Tim's water bottle is harbouring

0:33:430:33:46

'any more dangerous bacteria than the rest of the team's?

0:33:460:33:49

'Well, to find out if there's any truth to those scare stories,

0:33:490:33:53

'we're going to run some tests.'

0:33:530:33:55

Guys, what I'd like to do is send our water bottles off for analysis

0:33:550:33:59

and see if they really are as dirty as dog bowls.

0:33:590:34:02

'I'm bagging up the bottles and taking them away.

0:34:030:34:06

'Omar, Harry and Ben's are all brand-new.

0:34:060:34:08

'But the rest of us refill our bottles without washing them.

0:34:080:34:11

'I can't wait to see what the tests make of this lot, especially Tim's.'

0:34:110:34:15

'I'm taking these sealed bags to London Metropolitan University

0:34:190:34:23

'for testing by microbiologist Dr Paul Matewele.

0:34:230:34:26

'He'll be checking the levels of bacteria lurking inside and

0:34:260:34:30

'around the tops of the bottles.'

0:34:300:34:32

Paul, thank you very much for inviting me down this afternoon.

0:34:320:34:35

I've brought my own bottle along with all my team-mates' bottles.

0:34:350:34:39

What are you expecting to find?

0:34:390:34:41

I'm expecting to find

0:34:410:34:43

some microorganisms that you get from the gut.

0:34:430:34:47

'There could be a cocktail of bacteria lurking inside

0:34:470:34:50

'some of these bottles, and they might cause anything from

0:34:500:34:53

'a dicky tummy to serious abdominal pains and even worse.

0:34:530:34:56

'I had never imagined I might pick up something like that

0:34:560:35:00

'from my water bottle.'

0:35:000:35:01

One of my team-mates, and I'll leave you to find out which one,

0:35:020:35:06

has got a helper dog and when he drops his bottle,

0:35:060:35:09

his dog picks the bottle up for him and passes it back to him.

0:35:090:35:13

Oh, my goodness. In that case, we'll expect to see...

0:35:130:35:17

We all have bacteria,

0:35:170:35:19

but the animals also have their own bacteria,

0:35:190:35:22

so that one, I'm expecting to see loads of dog bacteria...

0:35:220:35:27

..that you'll find in the mouth of a dog.

0:35:290:35:31

'Of course, as well as bacteria that could lead to

0:35:320:35:35

'a bad bout of gastroenteritis,

0:35:350:35:37

'Dr Matewele's tests might uncover some not so nasty bugs too.'

0:35:370:35:42

What about those wives' tales around,

0:35:420:35:44

"Well, a few germs don't hurt you," and all that kind of thing?

0:35:440:35:48

Surely that would be the same for the bottles.

0:35:480:35:50

In theory, it's quite a good thing to be exposed,

0:35:500:35:55

for the body to be exposed to bacteria,

0:35:550:35:58

because it builds up your immune system,

0:35:580:36:00

but there is a critical number

0:36:000:36:03

and if it goes beyond that critical number,

0:36:030:36:06

then probably we need to worry

0:36:060:36:07

because the immune system can't cope with that.

0:36:070:36:10

So to put that into context,

0:36:100:36:12

my water bottle could be sitting in my car for two days, three days,

0:36:120:36:16

I could fill it up and there wouldn't be a problem,

0:36:160:36:19

but if I went back to that maybe five days or six days later,

0:36:190:36:22

then the bacteria's built up to a point where it does cause an issue.

0:36:220:36:25

-Absolutely.

-Well...

0:36:250:36:27

I think I look forward to finding out but I'm not sure, Doctor.

0:36:270:36:31

Thank you very much and I will see you in a couple of weeks.

0:36:310:36:35

After that conversation, I dread to think what Dr Matewele might find,

0:36:360:36:40

but while I leave him to run those tests, there's a whole raft

0:36:400:36:44

of other news stories suggesting an even more serious health threat.

0:36:440:36:48

Some have even claimed that

0:36:480:36:49

drinking from plastic bottles can cause cancer.

0:36:490:36:53

I'm going to try something here.

0:36:530:36:55

I'm going to type in "water bottle cancer" and let's see what comes up.

0:36:550:36:59

"Plastic bottles and food containers, cancer,"

0:37:010:37:04

"cancer, water bottles,"

0:37:040:37:06

"the plastic plague."

0:37:060:37:08

"Exposure to chemicals in plastic." There's loads.

0:37:080:37:12

These online stories all relate to

0:37:120:37:14

the plastic that some water bottles are made from, which contain

0:37:140:37:17

chemicals known as BPAs.

0:37:170:37:19

It's been suggested that

0:37:190:37:21

if these bottles are used over and over again,

0:37:210:37:23

the BPAs can dangerously contaminate the water.

0:37:230:37:27

Now, these sorts of headlines

0:37:270:37:29

have been getting a lot of attention on social media,

0:37:290:37:32

shares and comments.

0:37:320:37:33

And while it's never wise to believe everything you read online,

0:37:330:37:37

some of these stories come from reputable publications

0:37:370:37:40

so there's no wonder the message is getting through to some people.

0:37:400:37:43

I read that if you use water bottles too much over again,

0:37:430:37:46

they give you cancer.

0:37:460:37:47

I did believe the stories about cancer and water bottles

0:37:470:37:50

but I can't remember why and I'm still not clear today.

0:37:500:37:53

But are any of these scare stories actually true?

0:37:540:37:57

In fact, according to Cancer Research UK,

0:37:570:37:59

they're almost entirely unfounded

0:37:590:38:01

and started from a string of hoax e-mails and social media posts

0:38:010:38:05

designed to make it look like

0:38:050:38:06

they're backed up by scientific evidence.

0:38:060:38:09

There have been lots of hoaxes

0:38:090:38:11

about plastic bottles, specifically things like

0:38:110:38:15

leaving them in a car or freezing them or reusing plastic bottles

0:38:150:38:18

and whether that could increase a person's risk of cancer,

0:38:180:38:21

so it might be that people have received that e-mail themselves

0:38:210:38:24

or have heard about these hoaxes from their friends or family

0:38:240:38:26

and then it can be really hard to work out what's true and what's not

0:38:260:38:29

because often they try and claim

0:38:290:38:31

that they're from reputable institutions or universities,

0:38:310:38:34

but those universities have released statements saying that

0:38:340:38:37

the e-mails were not from them,

0:38:370:38:38

they don't support them and that the research really isn't there

0:38:380:38:41

to back up those claims.

0:38:410:38:43

Fiona says that whilst

0:38:430:38:44

there is a slight risk that BPAs might leak into the water,

0:38:440:38:48

it's only been found to happen under extreme circumstances.

0:38:480:38:52

Lots of the tests that have been done looking at plastic bottles

0:38:520:38:55

have used things like very high temperatures or storing things

0:38:550:38:59

for a very long period of time,

0:38:590:39:00

and day to day, that's not

0:39:000:39:02

something that a plastic bottle that someone's drinking from

0:39:020:39:05

is likely to be exposed to, and it's also important to remember

0:39:050:39:08

that even in those cases, the vast majority of that evidence

0:39:080:39:11

isn't showing that the levels of chemicals like BPA

0:39:110:39:15

coming from the plastic bottle into the water itself

0:39:150:39:18

is above a level that scientists consider harmful.

0:39:180:39:21

So, despite those reports online and in the papers,

0:39:220:39:25

my water bottle isn't going to give me cancer,

0:39:250:39:28

but I still wonder if it could make me ill in other ways.

0:39:280:39:31

It's been two weeks since

0:39:310:39:32

I took the team's bottles to Dr Matewele for testing,

0:39:320:39:35

and he's come down to our practice session to deliver the results.

0:39:350:39:39

This is going to be a moment of truth, so, lads, are you ready?

0:39:410:39:46

OK, so, Omar...

0:39:460:39:48

..Harry and Ben, OK,

0:39:490:39:51

cleanest bottles in the team.

0:39:510:39:53

'No surprise there.

0:39:540:39:55

'Those three all bought new bottles on the day they were tested.'

0:39:550:39:59

Third place was Andy.

0:39:590:40:01

Second was joint between myself and you, Dave.

0:40:020:40:06

'Interestingly, the six-day-old bottles belonging to Andy and I

0:40:060:40:10

'had no more bacteria than Dave's two-day-old bottle.

0:40:100:40:13

'They were all still perfectly safe to drink from.'

0:40:140:40:18

And dirtiest of all, Tim, was yours, pal.

0:40:180:40:21

Shocking.

0:40:230:40:24

'Tim's water bottle hadn't been cleaned for a month, and remember,

0:40:240:40:28

'his helper dog often picks it up when Tim drops it.

0:40:280:40:31

'Those things make it a breeding ground for bacteria.'

0:40:310:40:34

Well, so, Doctor, what was there?

0:40:350:40:39

All the other bottles had bacteria

0:40:390:40:42

-but Tim also had mould inside the bottle.

-Mould inside the bottle?

0:40:420:40:47

Yes. Whereas everyone else's had bacteria.

0:40:470:40:49

'It might sound bad but the mould in Tim's bottle was actually

0:40:490:40:53

'the same kind that grows on blue cheese, so pretty harmless,

0:40:530:40:57

'and despite his bottle having the highest number of bacteria too,

0:40:570:41:00

'Dr Matewele says that unless Tim has been ill,

0:41:000:41:03

'there's not really a problem.'

0:41:030:41:05

In terms of infection, I don't think it's something to be worried about,

0:41:050:41:10

but it's a sign that something has got to be done

0:41:100:41:15

to clean up the bottle slightly more regularly

0:41:150:41:18

than is the case at the moment.

0:41:180:41:21

'The fact his bottle hasn't made him ill yet doesn't mean it won't

0:41:210:41:25

'if he doesn't wash it soon, because the tests also found

0:41:250:41:28

'low levels of other, more serious strains of bacteria.'

0:41:280:41:32

The other bacteria which were lower levels,

0:41:330:41:37

if they are allowed to climb up, those are the ones

0:41:370:41:40

that we would worry about because they are pathogenic.

0:41:400:41:43

'If it's left to fester,

0:41:450:41:46

'this pathogenic bacteria could cause some serious health problems.'

0:41:460:41:52

So if a dirty water bottle can make you ill,

0:41:520:41:54

was any of our water bottles at the sort of level

0:41:540:41:57

that you're starting to worry about that with?

0:41:570:42:00

All the bottles that I looked at,

0:42:000:42:02

at this moment in time there's nothing to worry about,

0:42:020:42:06

so it looked fine and they're not pathogenic.

0:42:060:42:10

So it would seem, really, that we need to treat our water bottles

0:42:100:42:14

the same way as we treat the rest of our kit in terms of,

0:42:140:42:17

after training we wash it thoroughly, we make sure that

0:42:170:42:20

it's stored properly and we make sure we look after it

0:42:200:42:23

the way it deserves to be looked after.

0:42:230:42:25

Exactly. That's the message that we seem to get from these findings.

0:42:250:42:30

So, Gloria, we're both well aware that a grabby headline is great for

0:42:370:42:40

selling papers or getting someone to click on an article online.

0:42:400:42:44

That's why they do it.

0:42:440:42:45

It is indeed, but it's so easy for someone to believe what they've seen

0:42:450:42:49

without getting the full context of what's behind the research.

0:42:490:42:52

And I'm afraid it's rarely quite as simple as some of the headlines

0:42:520:42:55

would have us believe,

0:42:550:42:57

and certainly when it comes to something like cancer,

0:42:570:43:00

people really will do almost anything in the hope

0:43:000:43:02

that it just might help, and you can understand that,

0:43:020:43:05

so I really trust that the official warning about how dangerous

0:43:050:43:09

those apricot kernels could be takes hold soon because

0:43:090:43:12

to me that's really a big worry.

0:43:120:43:14

And while no one food is going to cure cancer, as Gloria found,

0:43:140:43:18

there are some that can help, and you can of course find

0:43:180:43:21

recipes and ideas for some of those ingredients at...

0:43:210:43:24

But for now, though, that's just about

0:43:260:43:28

where we have to leave it for today.

0:43:280:43:29

I hope we've put your mind at rest over some of the scare stories

0:43:290:43:32

that you might have read or heard about,

0:43:320:43:34

so thank you very much indeed for your company.

0:43:340:43:36

-Until the next time, from both of us, bye-bye.

-Goodbye.

0:43:360:43:39

Gloria Hunniford and Chris Bavin settle the argument over whether tea and coffee are good or bad for us - and if the same is true for both. There is also the truth about a food often touted as a way to fight cancer. And, after reports suggesting reusing plastic water bottles is a bad idea, tests reveal if we should be using a fresh one every time.