How smart are you starting 2011?

How much did you learn from this column in 2010? I like to believe that it makes you wiser about medical matters. But let’s see how much sank in by answering these true or false questions. And did you miss the column that could save millions of lives?

1. Cat lovers are less likely to encounter winter blues than those who don’t have “Whiskers” sitting on their lap. They also have fewer headaches, less chance of catching a cold and sleep better.

2. One per cent of Caucasians and 30 per cent of those of African descent have a gene that increases the rate at which codeine changes into morphine. This has caused respiratory death in children following tonsillectomy.

3. The number of deaths from excess salt in North America is equivalent to a commuter jet crashing every day. Loblaw’s President’s Choice has less salt than other brands.

4. Dr. Sydney Bush, an English researcher, has shown that 6,000 milligrams of Vitamin C daily along with 4,000 milligrams of Lysine can reverse atherosclerosis in retinal arteries and decrease the risk of heart attack.

5. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the leading cause of mental retardation and birth defects in North America.

6. It’s safer to spend the night with bats than being in a field with a group of cows.

7. An Australian study shows that male circumcision does not decrease the risk of sexually transmitted disease, urinary infection or penile cancer.

8. A study of 3,500 people at Scotland’s Royal Edinburgh Hospital concluded that frequent sex slows the aging process.

9. MyoMed is an all-natural, toxin-free painkiller for arthritis and painful joints. This cream does not contain methyl salicylate, a potentially dangerous ingredient.

10. Eighty percent of men with a PSA reading of 4 to 10 do not have prostate cancer. Rather it’s due to an enlarged prostate, infection, sex before the test or taking the painkiller ibuprofen.

11. It’s possible to get herpes by sitting on a public toilet seat as the herpes virus lives for several hours after being deposited on the seat.

12. One hundred years ago people used butter, not margarine and heart attacks were a rare occurrence. In fact, so uncommon that doctors were all called to the emergency department to see an attack.

13. Liars blink more often, develop a red nose, touch it frequently, constantly change position, lean forward with their elbows on the table and take deep breaths.

14. Barrett’s disease is an inflammation at the lower end of the food pipe (esophagus). This is due to gastrointestinal reflux that leads to cancer once in every 300 cases.

15. 0ver 20 studies show that drinking coffee helps to decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

16. xZubi is a small, paper-thin, circular component to stick on cell phones. This tiny disk neutralizes radiation emitted by cell phones and decreases the risk of cancer, particularly in children.

17. Shock wave therapy to hasten the healing of fractured bones has been used in Europe for 18 years, and is now available in Canada. Shock wave therapy works by activating growth factors and helps to stimulate circulation.

18. NovaC60 is a Japanese cream that contains fullerene which helps to fight acne and damaged skin.

19. If you’re at a party and three to six people double-dip their chips in the communal sauce, you may pick up 50 to 100 bacteria. You will get more bacteria if the dip is runny such as salsa which allows more bacteria to slip off the chip into the bowl.

20. One in 20 people suffer from a compulsive disorder known as hoarding. In some cases hoarding becomes so overwhelming that there’s no room left to sit on the sofa, use the kitchen stove or even go to bed. This often leads to divorce since this compulsion is difficult to treat.

The questions are all true.

“What was your most important column in 2010?” a reader asked me. They had missed it. Maybe others did as well, and it could save millions of lives. It’s now featured on the web site For comments