Food and drug 'cocktails' warning

Doctors are being told to check patients' diets before prescribing drugs to avoid dangerous cocktails.

Safety advisors estimate around 200 drugs become toxic, or less effective, when combined with certain foods.

For example, the anti-clotting drug warfarin reacts with cranberry juice and the oral contraceptive may not work if you mix it with St John's wort.

An independent committee will advise the Food Standards Agency and government's medicines regulatory body.

Source - BBC News

Hypnosis could banish hay-fever

Hay fever sufferers could benefit from using self-hypnosis, researchers say.

A Swiss team at Basel University taught 66 people with hay-fever the art of hypnosis and found it helped them alleviate symptoms such as runny nose.

The volunteers also took their regular anti-hay-fever drugs, but the effect of hypnosis appeared to be additive and reduce the doses they needed to take.

The findings appear in the medical journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.

Source BBC News

Overweight people may live longer

Good news for me!

Being moderately overweight could actually be good for you, say researchers.

People who are a little overweight are likely to live longer than people who are underweight or obese, a study shows.

But experts pointed out that the study only looked at how long people lived and not at obesity-related diseases.

The American Centres for Disease Control research appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Source BBC News

Acupuncture 'more than a placebo'

Scientists say they have proof that acupuncture works in its own right.

Sceptics have said that any benefits gained from acupuncture are merely down to a person's expectation that the treatment will work.

But researchers at University College London and Southampton University say they have separated out this placebo effect.

Their findings, based on a series of experiments and brain scan results, are published in the journal NeuroImage.

Source - BBC News

Oily fish 'hope' for Alzheimer's

Scientists are hoping to discover exactly how oily fish can protect against Alzheimer's disease.

It is known that eating fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel appears to cut the risk of developing dementia.

But now, Cardiff University researchers funded by £300,000 from the Alzheimer's Research Trust are to investigate how this might help.

In the meantime, the researchers say people should eat oily fish at least twice a week.

Source - BBC News

Fracture risk same with vitamin D

Taking vitamin D or calcium does not help prevent repeat fractures in elderly people, a study suggests.

Researchers at Aberdeen and York universities looked at people who had already had a fracture due to osteoporosis - thinning of the bones.

Many people take vitamin D and calcium to try to protect their bones, but the study found those taking supplements did not go on to have fewer fractures.

Osteoporosis campaigners said taking supplements would not cause any harm.

However, they advised elderly people concerned about their bone health to eat a healthy balanced diet instead.

Source - BBC News

Vitamin E may ease period pain

Taking vitamin E eases the severe period pains that affect thousands of teenage girls, research suggested yesterday.

The condition, known as dysmenorrhea, can disrupt the girls' lives, but trials in Iran found that girls given daily doses of about 200mg before periods started and during the early days of menstruation had significantly less pain, spread over a shorter time.

They also experienced less blood loss, according to a report in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Some herbs found to help with period pains include Raspberry leaf, Camomile, Penny royal, Rosemary and Winter Savory. Or you could try taking 500mg calcium and 350mg magnesium daily seven days before you expect a period and for the first day or two. (More than 1000mg calcium daily can be harmful).

Cannabis drug approval buoys firm

Shares in GW Pharmaceuticals rose nearly 9.5% after the UK biotech firm's prescription cannabis drug was approved for use in Canada.

Sativex is used to treat the central nervous system and alleviate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The Salisbury-based company said this was the world's first approval of a medicine derived from cannabis.

Delays in development of the product - its first to come to the market - has hit GW's stock price in the past.

Source BBC News

Vitamin D 'aids lung cancer ops'

Lung cancer patients who have surgery in the winter are 40% more likely to die of the disease than those operated on in the summer, a US study suggests.

A study of 456 patients found high levels of vitamin D - from sun exposure and food supplements - had a positive impact on the success of surgery.

The Harvard University team said more research was needed and patients should not expect surgery in the summer.

UK experts said it was interesting but warned sun exposure could be dangerous.

Source BBC News

Happy moments 'protect the heart'

Every moment of happiness counts when it comes to protecting your heart, researchers have said.

A team from University College London said happiness leads to lower levels of stress-inducing chemicals.

They found that even when happier people experienced stress, they had low levels of a chemical which increases the risk of heart disease.

The research is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Healthy Med diet can extend life

Scientists have produced powerful evidence that a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetables and fruit and low in saturated fats can help us live longer.
It has long been thought that the diet can help to improve general health.

But a major pan-Europe study of 74,607 men and women aged over 60 has shown closely following the diet can actually extend life by up to one year.

The study, led by University of Athens Medical School, is published in the British Medical Journal.

Source - BBC News

Lupin flour 'poses allergy risk'

People who are allergic to peanuts may also be at risk of severe allergy to lupin flour, research suggests.

Lupin flour is used in some European countries as a replacement for soya in speciality breads and catering foods, some of which are now reaching the UK.

The researchers said people with peanut allergy - about 1% of the UK population - should avoid any products containing it until they had another allergy test.

The study, by the Royal Free Hospital, London, is published in The Lancet.

Cannabis chemical 'helps heart'

A chemical in cannabis can help ward off strokes and heart disease, scientists believe.

Swiss researchers found THC, one of 60 cannabinoids in the drug, helped stop the narrowing of arteries to the brain and heart in a study of mice.

But the team, from Geneva University Hospital, said smoking cannabis did not produce the same effect.

However UK experts warned more research was needed before firm conclusions could be drawn.

Source - BBC News

Cannabis medicine 'causes harm'

Cannabis-based medicines can cause paranoia and anxiety in some people, a study has suggested.

Swiss researchers found two out of eight men given drugs containing THC, a chemical extracted from cannabis, developed psychotic effects.

The University of Lausanne team said the public needed to be aware cannabis medicine could have such side effects.

The possibility of using THC to treat multiple sclerosis and pain relief is currently being explored.

GW Pharmaceuticals, the firm granted a UK licence to develop cannabis-based drugs, said: "The levels of THC used in this study would not be used in our medicines.

"We, and everyone else in this field, are aware that THC can lead to psychosis."

Source BBC News