Actress bids to keep health pills

Actress Jenny Seagrove is spearheading a Conservative campaign to keep hundreds of vitamins and food supplements on the shelves in Britain.

The Tories say health remedies that have been used safely for years will disappear because of an EU Directive.

As part of their bid to save the supplements, Woman of Substance star Miss Seagrove is launching a petition to urge ministers to stop the EU ban.

The Tories claim this could be the last chance to change the EU legislation.

Source BBC News

Mushroom remedy 'makes you fit'

A Chinese mushroom improves the fitness of middle-aged and elderly people, research suggests.
Tests showed people aged between 40 and 70 who lived a sedentary lifestyle became fitter after taking an extract of the Cordyceps mushroom.

The research presented to the American Physiological Society indicated an improvement in the ability to exercise and a reduction in tiredness.

However, UK experts said scientific proof for the remedy was lacking.

The mushroom became a Chinese remedy around 1,500 years ago after herdsmen in the Himalayas noticed a significant increase in their herds' strength and agility after eating it.

It is now marketed in the West.

The performance of Chinese women athletes in setting several new records at a tournament in 1993 was due to high-altitude training and using a tonic derived from the mushroom, their coach said.

Researchers at Pharmanex in California, which produces a remedy called CordyMax, tried it out on 131 volunteers.

Some were given the remedy and some a placebo over a 12-week period.

Researchers measured exercise capacity, endurance performance and metabolic alterations before, during and after receiving the remedy or placebo.

Oxygen

Volume of oxygen consumption went up 5.5% in the group given the remedy, but only 2.2% in the others, suggesting an increase in aerobic capacity.

The time taken to complete a one-mile walk was reduced by 29 seconds in the CordyMax group but increased slightly in the others.

And diastolic blood pressure fell by 3.2% among people taking the remedy.

The researchers said: "This study provides scientific evidence that CordyMax is effective in enhancing aerobic exercise capability, endurance exercise performance, and exercise metabolism and alleviating fatigue in healthy humans."

Dr Jidong Wu, a lecturer at Middlesex University and president of the Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said there had not been scientific trials to establish the effectiveness of the mushroom.

He said: "There are not many clinical trials which are accredited by Westerners, but according to the ancient Chinese literature it is a tonic herb.

"In clinical practice, people taking it feel better, but scientifically how much, we don't know."

The mushroom was thought to improve the performance of the lungs and kidneys, he said.

Source BBC News

Vitamin fights prostate cancer

Vitamin E can protect men from prostate cancer, according to researchers.

Men with high levels of the alpha tocopherol form of vitamin E were 53 per cent less likely to develop prostate cancer.

The researchers stressed it was better to take vitamin E from fresh food than supplements.

The US National Cancer Institute study was presented at the American Association of Cancer Research annual meeting in Orlando.

Source BBC News