Goody gumdrops: How gummy bears could keep your teeth healthy

( THIS ONE'S JUST FOR LYNNE! )
The gummy bear could be turned into a weapon against tooth decay.

The children's favourite would be supplemented with the natural sweetener xylitol, which stifles the growth of certain bacteria in the mouth. Eating four of the modified sweets three times a day for six weeks caused numbers of the streptococcus mutans bug to plummet, a U.S. study showed.

Researchers from the University of Washington said distribution of xylitol-sweetened gummy bears in schools could have a significant impact on rates of dental decay.

Writing in the journal BMC Oral Health, they said sweets like gummy bears were less dangerous for young children than chewing gum, some of which is already sweetened with xylitol. Further tests are being carried out to check that the drop in bacteria leads to a fall in tooth decay.

Programmes could then be implemented in schools and nurseries, researchers said, though it would be 'a challenging task' and require the acceptance and commitment of all teachers, parents and administrators.

Source - Dialy Mail

Diet 'can flavour mother's milk'

Flavours in a nursing mother's snack can find their way into her breast milk within minutes, research suggests.

A group of 18 women were asked to provide samples of breast milk before and after eating capsules containing various flavours. New Scientist magazine reported that banana could be detected for an hour after consumption, while menthol lasted for eight hours.

Previous work suggests a breastfeeding mother's diet affects her baby's taste. Mothers are often concerned that their baby may be put off breastfeeding or become upset if they have eaten strongly flavoured food. But the research from the University of Copenhagen suggests that, in most cases, the taste will only change for a few hours at most.

As well as the banana and menthol chemicals, they tested capsules containing liquorice and caraway seed chemicals, both of which peaked in concentration in breast milk on average two hours after consumption.

The research, which originally appeared in the journal Physiology and Behavior, also found that the time it took for the flavours to arrive and disappear varied significantly between women.
However, all the flavours had vanished by the eight hour mark.

Source - BBC

The dangers of too much detox

A woman was left disabled after following a "detox" diet which involved drinking large quantities of water.

Although doctors stress the need to avoid dehydration by drinking enough fluids, drinking more than enough is a different matter. The human body may be mostly water, but you can have too much of a good thing. In the most serious cases, "water intoxication" can kill, and there is, say experts, scant evidence that drinking even slightly more water than usual can improve your health.

The current popularity of detox diets which recommend drinking many litres of water a day, and drinking even when not thirsty, could cause problems if taken to extremes, they say.

The claim is that drinking more than usual can do everything from improving your skin tone to "flushing out" toxins from your body. However, the amount of water actually needed in a day varies from person to person, and depends on other factors such as climate, and exercise, says the British Dietetic Association.

Could water really have a memory?

The news that the number of prescriptions for homeopathic medicines written by GPs in England has nearly halved in just two years coincides with the 20th anniversary of a seminal scientific paper on the subject.

Twenty years ago, in the summer of 1988, the science world was rocked by one of the most controversial research papers ever published in the highly-respected journal Nature. According to a charismatic French scientist named Jacques Benveniste, pure water could somehow remember what it had previously contained.

Benveniste had started with a substance that caused an allergic reaction, he diluted it over and over again until there was nothing left except water, and then he observed that the pure water still managed to trigger an allergic reaction when it was added to living cells.

If the experiment was correct then it would mean rewriting the laws of physics and chemistry.
Moreover, the research would have a major impact on the credibility of homeopathy, because it is a form of alternative medicine that relies on remedies made by diluting the key curative ingredient over and over again until that ingredient has disappeared.

Even Benveniste was shocked by the implications of his own work.
"It was like shaking your car keys in the Seine at Paris and then discovering that water taken from the mouth of the river would start your car!"

Source - BBC

Soy foods 'reduce sperm numbers'

A regular diet of even modest amounts of food containing soy may halve sperm concentrations, suggest scientists.

The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, found 41 million fewer sperm per millilitre of semen after just one portion every two days. The authors said plant oestrogens in foods such as tofu, soy mince or milk may interfere with hormonal signals.

However, a UK expert stressed that most men in Asia eat more soy-based products with no fertility problems. Animal studies have suggested that large quantities of soy chemicals in food could affect fertility, but other studies looking at consumption in humans have had contradictory findings.

The Harvard School of Public Health study looked at the diets of 99 men who had attended a fertility clinic with their partners and provided a semen sample. The men were divided into four groups depending on how much soy they ate, and when the sperm concentration of men eating the most soy was compared with those eating the least, there was a significant difference.
The "normal" sperm concentration for a man is between 80 and 120 million per millilitre, and the average of men who ate on average a portion of soy-based food every other day was 41 million fewer.

Dr Jorge Chavarro, who led the study, said that chemicals called isoflavones in the soy might be affecting sperm production. These chemicals can have similar effects to the human hormone oestrogen.

Dr Chavarro noticed that overweight or obese men seemed even more prone to this effect, which may reflect the fact that higher levels of body fat can also lead to increased oestrogen production in men.

Source - BBC

Homeopathy prescriptions falling

GP prescriptions for homeopathy have nearly halved in two years, figures show.

The number of prescriptions dropped from 83,000 in 2005 to 49,300 last year, GP magazine Pulse reported. It comes as the overall number of prescriptions in England is on the rise. Critics said it represented a shift in attitude against the alternative medicine, but supporters said it was more complex than that.

The therapy is based on the principle of treating like with like. For instance, someone with an allergy who was using homeopathic medicines would attempt to beat it with an ultra-diluted dose of an agent that would cause the same symptoms. Previous research has also shown that half of England's primary care trusts are either not funding or restricting access to homeopathy products.

Nearly 800m prescriptions were written by GPs last year - up from 720m in 2005, Prescription Pricing Authority figures show. But the total spend on homeopathy by GPs in 2007 was £321,000 - just 0.006% of the total prescribing budget - compared with £593,000 in 2005.

Source - BBC

Spiritual healing on the NHS?

Chinese complementary medicine can go mainstream, why not spiritual healing?

If you see Angie Buxton-King at work on the cancer wards at University College Hospital in Central London, she looks like any other medic: alert, down to earth, overworked. But her talents are different - she is a spiritual healer, one of a handful on the NHS payroll. But she hopes that, with new research and regulation of healing, there may soon be more like her.

Cancer patients at UCH are offered a range of complementary treatments as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. These are provided by a four-strong team led by Buxton-King: two healers (Angie and her husband Graham), a counsellor and a massage therapist. Their services are in great demand, which is hardly surprising: statistics suggest that about 90 per cent of cancer patients avail themselves of some form of complementary medicine.

In a small room behind the team's office, a CD of relaxing music is playing. The patient lies on a couch while Buxton-King runs her hands over him or her to “channel the healing energy”. Many patients report feeling heat emanating from the hands, and a feeling of profound relaxation and peace. Each session lasts for 15 minutes.

So how did this all start? In the late 1990s Buxton-King's son, Sam, was fighting leukaemia. “He wasn't expected to live longer than three months,” she says, “so we looked at alternative ways of helping him, and during the three more years that he lived, it became obvious that his quality of life was improved by healing.”

Buxton-King wanted to help other NHS cancer patients, and first offered her services to Great Ormond Street hospital. They were sceptical, so she went to UCH, where she asked Dr Stephen Rowley, the clinical director of haematology, for a chance to prove the need for her services and was taken on for a trial month, one day a week.

“At the end of that time they were very interested,” says Buxton-King. “The whole ward benefited - staff as well as patients.”

Source - Guardian

Is watermelon the new Viagra?

If you'd made an earth-shattering discovery about watermelons, chances are you wouldn't save it. We should be suspicious of news about watermelons timed to coincide with the Fourth of July, when watermelons are traditionally consumed in the US. If you'd made an earth-shattering discovery about watermelons, chances are you wouldn't save it.

This story, however, is not entirely without merit: according to Dr Bhimu Patil, director of Texas A&M University's Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center (how do you improve a watermelon? Put a hat on it?), watermelon contains a phyto-nutrient called citrulline.

Citrulline is converted by the body into another amino acid, arginine. Arginine, in turn, boosts nitric oxide levels, "which relaxes blood vessels, the same basic effect that Viagra has," says Dr Patil, "to treat erectile dysfunction and maybe even prevent it." This is why, in the spirit of scientific inquiry, I find myself at the supermarket at midday - not in an attempt to treat erectile dysfunction, mind you, but perhaps to prevent it. Oddly, there is only one watermelon left. Has word got out already?

Citrulline has long been sold as a dietary supplement, a sort of general cardiovascular fitness tonic. And watermelons are full of the stuff: it was first isolated from watermelon in the 1930s and takes its name from the Latin for watermelon, citrullus lanatus.

Source - Guardian

Why doctors believe children as young as eight should be put on statins

Children as young as eight with high cholesterol should be put on statins, according to a report published last week. This is the latest idea for tackling the obesity epidemic and the fact that it came from the highly regarded American Academy of Pediatrics means many doctors will take the recommendation seriously.

However, it has stirred up a furore in America as well as here, with British experts viewing the suggestion with alarm.

'There are far too many uncertainties involved with giving children these drugs,' said Professor Andrew Neil, a clinical epidemiologist at Oxford University and adviser to HeartUK. 'The way to help them is with lifestyle changes, getting them to eat properly and exercise."

There is no doubt that statins can help reduce the risk of heart attack in adults who have already had one. But the benefits for other people - such as those who have never experienced a heart attack, particularly women - is questionable. There is also the risk of potential side-effects, muscle pain and mental problems such as memory loss.

With question marks over their use in adults, there are even greater concerns about giving statins to children. There is no doubt that statins can help reduce the risk of heart attack in adults who have already had one. But the benefits for other people - such as those who have never experienced a heart attack, particularly women - is questionable. There is also the risk of potential side-effects, muscle pain and mental problems such as memory loss.

With question marks over their use in adults, there are even greater concerns about giving statins to children.

Source - Daily Mail

Broccoli juice helps patient beat bladder cancer

A cancer patient credits his morning glass of broccoli juice with halting the disease.

Ray Wiseman's claim has prompted more research into the vegetable's healing powers. Doctors told Mr Wiseman they did not expect him to survive, when they diagnosed him five years ago. But scans show that his cancer has stopped spreading - vastly improving his chances of a recovery.

The grandfather, 79, puts his health down to the tumbler of broccoli juice that his wife prepares for him each day. Mr Wiseman, who lives in Braunstone, Leicestershire, said: 'I take this juice every day. I know it's done me good. I suppose it would be the same for everybody.'

His wife Joan, 72, started giving him the juice after a friend told her about the healing benefits of green vegetables. For each half-tumbler dose she combines a head of broccoli with some apples and carrots to improve the taste.

She said: 'We believe my husband's incredible luck is down to broccoli. I hope our experience can help other cancer sufferers. The juice is a mess to make but it's something we have been happy to clear up. He now just takes it as second nature. If anybody else's husband is suffering from cancer and they are not getting on too well, it could help them.'

Scientists from Cancer Research UK have asked her for the recipe, to further study the vegetable's benefits.

Recent medical studies have highlighted the possible cancer-beating powers of broccoli. British scientists at the Institute of Food Research found that men who ate one daily portion had altered patterns of gene activity in their prostates, suggesting that the chemicals in the vegetable might be able to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Source - Daily Mail

Blackburn first in UK to offer free leisure services

A local authority in northern England has become the first in the country to make all its leisure centres and swimming pools free in an attempt to improve the health of its population.

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council launched the three-year scheme in response to figures showing it had one of the lowest rates of physical activity and one of the highest death rates in the country. Life expectancy in the area is, on average, eight years less than in other parts of the country and one in five residents has a chronic illness.

The council has the third-worst level of physical activity in the country, with 8.1 per cent of adults achieving the recommended 20 minutes of moderate intensity activity, such as brisk walking, five times a week.

Half of the £6m cost of the scheme is being funded by the local primary care trust, with the remainder paid for by the council. Colin Rigby, leader of the council, said: "Every year people in this borough are dying needlessly. We want people to live longer, healthier and better lives. We believe that this plan will help do that, but people must want to do something for themselves."

The scheme is being phased in over the next year with free access for the over-50s from this month. This will be extended to younger age groups later.

Source - Independent

Snails may hold key to beating Alzheimer's

Scientists at the University of Brighton are close to unlocking the mysteries of the human ageing process, thanks to help from the common pond snail. They believe the lymnaea stagnalis will also help provide treatments for diseases afflicting the elderly including dementia and Alzheimer's.

The research, led by Dr Mark Yeoman, studied brain functions associated with eating habits.
The snails are given flavouring found in pear drop sweets, amyl acetate, plus their normal food, so the creatures get to associate the pear drop taste with feeding. Senile snails forget the association and Dr Yeoman is studying why.

"Find the answer and you are a step closer to discovering why human memory falters, and you are closer to finding drugs that could repair the mechanism or delay is deterioration," he said.

Source - Independent

Botox: The brain pain

'Frozen face' might not be the only hazard – now tests show toxins can spread to the grey matter.

It is one of UK's most popular cosmetic treatments: the "no-scalpel facial", smoothing out the foreheads of everyone from yummy mummies to stressed-out politicians. But new research suggests that the deadly poison in Botox jabs may actually be able to spread from the face to the brain.

Researchers from the Italian National Research Council's Institute of Neuroscience who injected botulinum toxin into the faces of rats found that it moved away from the site of the injection and could be detected just days later in brain stem cells. The poison was not only still present in the rats' brains six months later, but was able to travel from one region of the brain to another.

"We suspect that this spread is a common occurrence after toxin delivery," said Matteo Caleo, who led the study. He pointed out that even minute quantities of botulinum toxin – which is one of the most poisonous substances in the world – are enough to interfere with nerve signalling elsewhere in the body.

Celebrities including Sir Cliff Richard, X Factor judges Simon Cowell and Sharon Osbourne, and Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher have admitted to using Botox injections, which work by temporarily paralysing facial muscles, reducing the contractions that cause new wrinkles and ironing out existing ones. While the procedure was once the preserve of celebrities and the wealthy, Botox shots are now available from cosmetic surgeons and beauticians for as little as £99.

The latest findings come two months after the drug was linked to 16 deaths in the US, thought to have been caused when Botox used to treat muscle spasms migrated from the injection site to other parts of the body, weakening the muscles used for breathing or swallowing. This new research will be seized on by campaigners demanding tighter regulations on Botox, first approved for commercial use in 1989.

Source - Independent

Drop these artificial colourings, says agency

Children's campaigners today welcomed a recommendation by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to ban six artificial food colourings.

The board of the FSA said UK manufacturers should voluntarily remove the additives from their products by 2009 and also called on the EU to take action. The FSA wants the E numbers to be removed from food products because of an "accumulating body of evidence" that they are associated with child hyperactivity. At a meeting in London, the board agreed that the EU should phase out the colourings but said UK manufacturers should voluntarily remove them in the meantime.

The colourings involved are sunset yellow (E110), quinoline yellow (E104), carmoisine (E122), allura red (E129), tartrazine (E102) and ponceau 4R (E124).

UK ministers will now consider the recommendation but the final decision will be made at EU level.

The board's chairwoman, Dame Deirdre Hutton, concluded: "If one puts consumers first, which is our duty, we must recognise that these colours are not necessary and it would be sensible to have them removed from all foods."

In a study for the FSA, researchers at Southampton University looked at the effect of food colouring on behaviour. Professor Jim Stevenson, who carried out the research, said he believed the effect of the additives posed a threat to psychological health. More research is to be carried out on the preservative sodium benzoate used in many fizzy drinks.

In a paper to the board, officials said discussions with British companies suggested they would be able to introduce satisfactory alternative ingredients by the end of this year. However, they said some products where alternatives had been difficult to find, such as canned and mushy peas, Battenberg and angel cakes, Turkish delight and tinned strawberries, "might be lost to the market temporarily or even permanently". The paper said some consumers would be disappointed by changes in the colour of their food but many others would be content that action had been taken to protect them.

The Children's Food Campaign, which called on the FSA to ban additives linked to hyperactivity in children, welcomed the recommendation.

Taking folic acid can enhance fertility in men, researchers say

Men who increase their intake of a vitamin traditionally recommended for pregnant women can cut their chance of having abnormal sperm, researchers said today.

A study published in the journal Human Reproduction found that men who consumed a higher than recommended daily amount of folate and folic acid had lower frequency of abnormal sperm.

Researchers in California analysed sperm samples from 89 men and questioned them about their daily intake from both diet and vitamin supplements. Men who consumed between 722 and 1,150 micrograms had a 20-30 per cent reduction in abnormal sperm.

In the UK, the daily recommended amount for adults is 200 micrograms per day and 400 micrograms for women trying to conceive and until the third month of pregnancy. Folic acid is known to help protect against the development of spina bifida.

Folate is a water soluble B vitamin in food such as pulses, beans and spinach while folic acid is its synthetic form.

Source - Independent

Hair dyes found to increase cancer risk

Hairdressers and barbers are at increased risk of developing cancer – because of their use of hair dyes. And the risks could extend to personal use of the dyes, according to international experts.

A review of the evidence by a panel of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, has found a “small but consistent risk of bladder cancer in male hairdressers and barbers".

A second review of the evidence on personal use of hair dyes found some studies suggesting a possible association with bladder cancer and with lymphoma and leukaemia. But the panel found that the evidence was inadequate and concluded that personal use of hair dyes was “not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans".

The panel was composed of 17 scientists who met last February to consider the latest evidence and update advice last issued by the agency in 1993.

Modern hair dyes are classified as permanent, semi permanent or temporary dyes. The permanent or oxidative hair dyes represent 80 per cent of the market and consist of colourless “intermediates” and couplers that, in the presence of peroxide, form the dyes by chemical reaction. Dark hair dyes tend to contain the highest concentration of the colouring ingredients. The use of some such colourants was discontinued in the 1970s after positive cancer tests in rats.

Source - Independent

The tree of life (and its super fruit)

The medicinal properties of the baobab fruit are the stuff of African legend. Claire Soares says it also tastes great and, thanks to an EU ruling, we will all be able to try some soon.

It didn't matter what was wrong with me, be it a stomach upset or a rogue spot, the remedy prescribed by Senegalese friends was always the same. Baobab fruit – and lots of it.

Usually it was administered in the form of a Senegalese smoothie, the fruit pulp mixed with water to make what is known in the local Wolof language as bouye. The white drink delivered hints of velvety yoghurt with a flick of tart sherbet to the tongue. And it was not only mighty tasty, it left Western anti-diarrhoea fixes, such as Imodium, lagging and was soon an ever-present item in my fridge.

The baobab fruit has three times as much vitamin C as an orange, 50 per cent more calcium than spinach and is a plentiful source of anti-oxidants, those disease-fighting molecules credited with helping reduce the risk of everything from cancer to heart disease. Until recently, this super-fruit was off limits to British consumers, unless they fancied a shopping trip to Africa. But now the baobab fruit has won approval from EU food regulators, expect it to be winging its way to a supermarket shelf near you.

The baobab tree is an integral part of the African landscape. Nicknamed the "upside-down tree", it looks like it has been planted on its head, with its roots sticking up into the air to produce a somewhat eerie silhouette.

Bush legends about the baobab abound. One has it that the god Thora took a dislike to the baobab growing in his garden and promptly chucked it over the wall of paradise; it landed below on earth, upside down but still alive, and continued to grow. In another popular myth, the gods get so irritated by the vanity of the baobab, as it tosses it branches, flicks its flowers and brags to other creatures about its superlative beauty, that they uproot it and upend it to teach it a lesson in humility.

Today, many Africans refer to it as the "Tree of Life", and it's not hard to see why. With a trunk that can grow up to 15m in circumference, a single tree can hold up to 4,500 litres of water. Fibres from the bark can be turned into rope and cloth; fresh leaves are often eaten to boost the immune system; and some hollowed-out trunks have been used to provide shelter for as many as 40 people. And then, of course, there's the fruit.

Source - Independent

'Super berry' poses risk to UK's tomato and potato crops

Health gurus promote the goji's benefits, but illegally imported plants could spread disease to other crops.

Goji berries might look innocuous, but the current craze for this "superfood" – fuelled by the endorsement of celebrities such as Kate Moss and Sir Mick Jagger – could devastate Britain's multimillion-pound tomato and potato crops.

The Government has alerted farmers to the threat after it revealed last week that nearly 90,000 goji berry plants, which can carry diseases that are lethal to other crops, have been illegally imported from East Asia in the past year. Some of the plants have been destroyed but it is feared that most are already in the gardens of goji- berry enthusiasts.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has issued a warning to commercial growers, garden centres and gardeners, while the National Farmers' Union has warned that disease carried by the bright red berries could be "devastating".

"There are particular concerns over this," said Chris Hartfield, horticulture adviser to the NFU. "Put simply, because goji plants are part of the Solanaceae family – the same as potatoes and tomatoes – the bugs can travel on the goji plants, then easily move to, say, potatoes, where they debilitate the crop." He added: "The retail value of British tomato production is £150m, and potatoes are worth more than that, so the size of the industry that is under threat is pretty massive. If some bugs were to arrive here, they would be devastating."

The goji berry, also known as Lycium barbarum, contains up to 500 times more vitamin C than an orange, and is native to the Tibetan Himalayas. It has been used for medicinal purposes in China for centuries.

Demand in Britain has soared in the past year after the berry became the latest "superfood" to be endorsed by celebrities and health experts. The Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate warned there is a "substantial trade" in prohibited goji plants in the UK. Seeds and berries can be imported from anywhere in the world, but only plants grown within the European Union are permitted to be imported to the UK, because they are certified to be free of disease.

Source - Independent

Breastfeeding trust hormone clue

Scientists have for the first time shown how a "trust" hormone is released in the brains of breastfeeding mothers.

It is further proof that breastfeeding promotes the maternal bond through a biochemical process.

The team at Warwick University said the hormone oxytocin was known to be released during breastfeeding but the mechanism in the brain was unclear. Oxytocin also produces contractions during labour and causes milk to be "let down" from the mammary glands.

The hormone is produced in the hypothalamus - the part of the brain that controls body temperature, thirst, hunger, anger and tiredness. It has been shown to promote feelings of trust and confidence and to reduce fear.

Co-ordination
The study, published in the journal PLoS Computational Biology, found that in response to a baby suckling, specialised neurons in the mothers' brain start to release the hormone from the nerve endings.

But surprisingly oxytocin is also released from the part of the cell called the dendrite which is usually the part of a neurone which receives, rather than transmits information.

Source - BBC

How emotional pain can really hurt

Love really does hurt, just as poets and song lyric writers claim.

New brain scanning technologies are revealing that the part of the brain that processes physical pain also deals with emotional pain. And in the same way that in some people injury can cause long-lasting chronic pain, science now reveals why some will never get over such heartbreak.

Emotional pain can take many forms; a relationship break-up or social exclusion, for example.
But it does not get any more extreme than losing a loved one, as Scottish broadcaster Mark Stephen did.

In July 1995 he was driving a tractor while hay-making and accidentally hit his young daughter. She died shortly afterwards.

Mark's grief was overwhelming, he says. "When people talk about a broken heart, that for me was where it was seated, just below your sternum. It feels like your heart is leaking and you can't run away from it because you are the source of that pain."

Thinking he would go mad with grief, he sought help from David Alexander.

Professor Alexander is director of the Aberdeen Centre for Trauma Research. He led the psychiatric team that first responded to the Piper Alpha oil-rig disaster. Since then, he has been involved in helping survivors of many disasters including the Asian tsunami, the war in Iraq and, most recently, the earthquake in Pakistan. He also managed to get Mark Stephen through his darkest days.

Source - BBC

Acupuncture 'no help for IVF'

There is no evidence acupuncture improves the success of IVF treatment, scientists say.

The complementary therapy has been used for centuries in China to aid female fertility and it is now available privately via some NHS clinics.

But the London-based researchers told a European fertility conference an analysis of 13 trials covering almost 2,500 women did not show any benefits.

A leading acupuncture practitioner said he was convinced it could help. Acupuncture is the most popular complementary therapy used by IVF patients because it is thought to improve blood flow by relaxing a patient, and therefore increasing the chance of an embryo implanting. But a course of treatment can cost hundreds of pounds.

Source - BBC

Talk therapy for the depressed 'could be wasting millions', say psychotherapists

Depression sufferers may not be receiving the most suitable treatment because of a Government obsession with one type of therapy, warn leading psychotherapists.

The idea that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is more effective than other methods is a 'myth', they claim.

Last year Health Secretary Alan Johnson announced that by 2010, the Government would spend £173million a year on CBT. Rather than using drugs to treat depression and other mental health disorders, CBT involves talking through issues. Instead of investigating the causes of mental health problems, it explores how a patient thinks about the world, with the aim of changing their thinking and actions to relieve distress and symptoms.

For example, a patient having a bad day feels low and goes out to the shops, where they meet someone they know who apparently ignores them. CBT offers alternative ways of looking at the situation so the patient does not jump to the conclusion they are being ignored, which leads to a vicious circle of lower self-esteem. Instead the patient is encouraged to think about the other person's feelings, and what helpful actions could be used to make the situation better.

But leading psychotherapy experts at an international conference at the University of East Anglia will today demand a wider range of therapies on the NHS.

While acknowledging CBT's value, they believe it is receiving the lion's share of funding to the exclusion of other treatments, which they claim are equally effective and, for some patients, better.

Professor Mick Cooper of the University of Strathclyde said: 'The Government's decision to spend £173million on CBT can only be applauded, but not all clients will benefit from that approach.

Source - Daily Mail

Metal earrings and tooth fillings 'cause chronic back pain'

Metal earrings and tooth fillings could be the cause of chronic back pain, experts claimed last night.

Pieces of metal that pierce or even just touch the skin could be setting off a massive chain reaction in the body, sending hundreds of muscles out of alignment. And even the smallest bits of metal - such as tooth fillings - could be the cause of major agony in muscles far away.

Experts say the nervous system automatically tries to move body parts away from metal objects because they are uncomfortable to the skin that surrounds them. The muscles used in that movement will then place strain on other, larger muscles as they constantly try to maintain a distance. The result, according to a growing school of thought, is whole body stresses that cannot be cured by any amount of rest, exercise or nutrition.

However, experts say the good news is that something as simple as removing jewellery or having a metal filling replaced with an acrylic one could be all that is needed to end years of agony.

Chiropractor Simon King is one of around 250 professionals who are telling patients that the answer to their chronic back pain could be very straight-forward indeed.

"I've always been fascinated and confused that some people with massive injuries made a quick recovery while others with minor strains took forever to get better," he said. "Then I made a remarkable discovery. Most patients who struggled to recover from pain or injury had metal touching or piercing their skin."

Mr King says earrings are a common cause of back and neck pain, dentistry and jewellery such as necklaces and watches can cause pain and arthritis.

Mr King said metal jewellery or dental work can irritate nerve endings which leads to the body altering the way muscles work, leaving people open to injury and recurring pain that does not go away.

Source - Daily Mail

Should you chew a Chow Chow or munch a Mooli? Your guide to new vegetables on store shelves

Demand for far-flung vegetables such as Dudhi, Methi and Mooli has shot up so much that Tesco has doubled its range of world food produce. But what on earth is a Mooli or a Chow Chow - and what are their nutritional benefits? Read on to find out...

Dudhi
This pale green courgette-like vegetable - pronounced doodee - is a staple food in tropical climates such as India.
How to use it: Wash and peel it before adding to soups and curry dishes, or slice it raw into salads. The taste is quite neutral so it can be grated into cakes or muffins for texture.
Nutrition and health: Contains a good balance of B vitamins needed for energy and a healthy nervous system. With 0.7mg zinc per 100g, it's also a good source of a mineral needed for strong immunity and fertility. Easy to digest when cooked, Dudhi is recommended as a food source for the elderly and babies

Chow Chow
Part of the gourd family, the Chow Chow, main picture, from South America has a texture similar to a potato.
How to use it: Can be boiled, stewed or baked, or added raw to salads in a similar way to courgettes and carrots. It has a slightly bitter taste but becomes sweeter once cooked.
Nutrition and health: While this vegetable doesn't stand out with any one particular nutrient, it gives you almost all you need in the right proportions. That said, the Chow Chow is high in fibre, making it good for digestion. It contains about twice the potassium and Vitamin C as the average cucumber.

Source - Daily Mail

Broccoli 'could combat prostate cancer'

Broccoli may combat prostate cancer by altering the genes involved in tumour growth, a study has shown.

Scientists made the discovery after adding either peas or broccoli to the diets of two groups of men for a year. They then analysed tissue samples from the men using technology that gauges the activity of thousands of genes. The results showed that a diet rich in broccoli produced changes in gene activity that were likely to stop or slow cancer growth.

Professor Richard Mithen, from the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, said: 'This is the first study providing experimental evidence that diets rich in cruciferous vegetables may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.'

Cruciferous vegetables are a family that includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale. Before the study it was already known that eating as little as one portion of broccoli every week can reduce the risk of prostate cancer and lessen the chances of confined cancer becoming more aggressive.

The research also confirmed that men with a gene called GSTM1 benefit most from eating broccoli, and suggested that men without the gene would have to eat more broccoli to get the same benefit.

Source - Daily Mail

Drink red wine for a better life – but not a longer one

The secrets of a healthy life may lie at the bottom of a glass of red wine – but scientists have warned that such a life may not necessarily be a long one.

A study has shown that a substance found in the skin of red grapes has anti-ageing properties that protect the heart, bones and eyes from the ravages of old age.

Resveratrol, an organic compound found in grapes, nuts and a variety of other plant foods, significantly slows down the rate of ageing in laboratory mice when given in large enough doses over a long period, although it did not actually prolong their lives. However, the study did not show that resveratrol actually extends life, only that it improves the quality of life, said Rafael de Cabo of the US National Institute of Ageing, who took part in the study published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

A major finding was that resveratrol appears to counteract the changes to the heart and cardiovascular system associated with ageing and obesity, as well as boosting the density and mineral content of bone, which could help to combat the onset of osteoporosis.

Mice fed resveratrol were also less likely to develop cataracts in their eyes compared with mice that were not given the dietary supplement. The scientists also found resveratrol stimulated the same genes that appear to be involved in extending a mouse's life when living on a calorie-restricted diet.

Source - Independent

Tofu 'may raise risk of dementia'

Eating high levels of some soy products - including tofu - may raise the risk of memory loss, research suggests.

The study focused on 719 elderly Indonesians living in urban and rural regions of Java. The researchers found high tofu consumption - at least once a day - was associated with worse memory, particularly among the over-68s.

The Loughborough University-led study features in the journal Dementias and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders.

Soy products are a major alternative protein source to meat for many people in the developing world. But soy consumption is also on the increase in the west, where it is often promoted as a "superfood". Soy products are rich in micronutrients called phytoestrogens, which mimic the impact of the female sex hormone oestrogen.

There is some evidence that they may protect the brains of younger and middle-aged people from damage - but their effect on the ageing brain is less clear. The latest study suggests phytoestrogens - in high quantity - may actually heighten the risk of dementia.

Source - BBC

Mercury fillings ARE dangerous say regulators - but British health bosses still refuse to take action

Mercury fillings given to millions of Britons every year can be dangerous, the world's biggest health regulator has warned.

Simply chewing could release harmful mercury vapour from the fillings which could be breathed into the lungs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said. The regulator had previously advised U.S. dentists that the fillings are safe.

Despite the warning, the British Department of Health issued its own statement yesterday that it continued to believe mercury fillings posed no danger. Patients in Britain have about eight million mercury fillings a year, a million of which are in children and young adults. Campaigners blame the highly toxic mercury found in amalgam fillings for a range of ailments. These include fatigue, depression heart conditions and Alzheimer's disease.

Earlier this month, the U.S. regulator dropped much of its reassuring language on the fillings from its website. Instead it now says: 'Dental amalgams contain mercury, which may have neurotoxic effects on the nervous systems of developing children and foetuses.'

Source - Daily Mail

How drinking red wine with your steak cancels out cancer causing effects of red meat

It is the perfect excuse to enjoy a glass of red wine with your Sunday roast.

Scientists have shown that the drink cancels out some harmful substances produced by the meat in the stomach.

The chemicals - released during the digestion of fat - are linked to a host of ills, including cancer, hardening of the arteries, diabetes and Parkinson's disease. It is thought the stomach acts as a 'bioreactor' in which red wine's health benefits neutralise some of the dangers of the meat. The Israeli research is far from the first to extol the health benefits of red wine, with previous studies crediting it with reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.

But the study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was unusual in that it looked at the effect of wine in combination with a specific food. Researchers used two groups of rats, feeding one straight red meat, and the other meat impregnated with red wine extract.

Source - Daily Mail