Lemon tea 'fights skin cancer'

Drinking hot tea with citrus peel could protect the body against skin cancer, US scientists say.
The researchers studied 450 people, half of whom had suffered a particular type of skin cancer, and quizzed them about their tea-drinking habits.

They found that those who developed skin cancer drank significantly less hot tea.

Citrus peel in the tea was found to have more than a 70% reduced risk for skin squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), whereas black tea alone meant a 40% reduction.

Researchers Iman Hakim and Robin Harris, of the University of Arizona, hope the study will help them develop food supplements to help prevent skin cancer.

Cancer charities have welcomed the research but want further studies.

They said that until there is more evidence people should continue following the safe sun message.

Source BBC News

Herbal remedy linked to birth defects

Pregnant women are being warned that birth defects could be linked to a commonly used herbal supplement.

American scientists have discovered that women taking one type of the supplement Ginkgo biloba had high levels of the toxin colchicine.

Colchicine is found naturally in a number of plants and is sometimes used to treat gout, but scientists said it does interfere with cell division and can prove fatal at very high doses.

Dr Howard Petty and his colleagues at Wayne State University, Detroit, studied routine tests of placental blood from 24 pregnant women and found five of them had "entirely unanticipated" levels.

Further studies showed that these women had been taking Ginkgo biloba, which is normally used to treat Alzheimer's and memory loss in older people.

Dr Petty said his team had only tested one type of Ginko biloba supplement, but declined to say which brand.

"It would be premature to generalise this to all manufacturers," but he said the problem could apply to other herbal medicines.

"Such supplements should be avoided by women who are pregnant or trying to conceive," said the report.

A spokeswoman for Britain's Royal College of Midwives said women must never assume that because remedies are "traditional" that they are necessarily safe.

Source BBC News

Catnip's powerful pong repels mosquitoes

Mosquitoes hate the aroma of common garden catnip, new research shows. And not only are the extracts safe, they are more effective than Diethyl-m-toluamide, or DEET, the chemical used in most commercial insect repellents.

Catnip is one of several plants used in folk medicine to ward off insects, but most people turn to DEET when they want serious deterrence. Now researchers at Iowa State University, Ames, have shown that a relatively weak solution of catnip extract repels mosquitoes as effectively as a DEET solution ten times more concentrated.

Source New Scientist