Herb 'no aid to prostate health'

A herb extract for men with a prostate condition has no more effect on it than a dummy version, a study has found.

Saw palmetto is taken to improve urinary symptoms in men with an enlarged prostate gland.

US researchers carried out a year-long study of 225 men, none of whom knew if they were taking the real herb or not.

Prostate experts in the UK said the New England Journal of Medicine study contradicted anecdotal reports from men of benefits from saw palmetto.

Vitamin D linked to baby birth weight

Low vitamin D intake during pregnancy is associated with lower birth weights in babies, according to a study.

The research compared babies' birth weights with the amount of vitamin D fortified milk and vitamin D supplements women took while pregnant.

The researchers from McGill University, Canada, suggest the study shows vitamin D may be an important regulator for foetal growth.

The study is published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Probiotics may ease gut disorders

Probiotics may help ease gut disorders linked to long-term stress such as Crohn's disease, research suggests.

A team at Canada's McMaster University analysed gut tissue taken from rats put in stressful situations.

Animals fed drinking water containing probiotic bacteria showed less signs that harmful bugs were mobilising to cause damage.

The gut study suggests probiotic bacteria literally crowd out their harmful peers.

Laughter is the best medicine

Scientists now say they have proven something I have known for a long time, "Laughter is the best medicine." Even the anticipation of a good laugh can raise the levels of immune-boosting hormones in the blood.

The study was carried out at Loma Linda University.

Healthy fats 'halve risk of MND'

Eating a high amount of polyunsaturated fats and vitamin E may halve the risk of developing motor neurone disease, a study suggests.

Polyunsaturated fats include omega 3, in fish and leafy vegetables and omega 6, in cereals and whole-grain bread.

Dutch researchers found people who had the highest daily intake of the fats had a 60% lower risk of developing MND compared to those who ate the least.

The study will appear in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

Watchdog warns over apricot seeds

Apricot stones sold for health benefits could be fatal in high doses, the food safety watchdog has warned.

Apricot kernels are thought to contain high levels of vitamin B17, which is described as an immune system booster and even sold as a cancer treatment.

But the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said they also produce cyanide and can be poisonous in high doses.

It is now recommending that people consume no more than two bitter apricot kernels in a single day.

An FSA spokesman said there were reports from overseas of "very serious health effects" being associated with the consumption of 20 to 30 kernels in a short period of time.

He added: "They could be potentially lethal in high enough doses."

Source: BBC News