Do you praise your children too much?

It's not good to boost your children's confidence too much, says a new book. The authors believe that everything we think about raising our offspring is wrong

Ashley Merryman and Po Bronson spent a lot of their days saying things such as “good job”, “great work!” and “how clever!” to children, almost until they were hoarse. Ashley had founded a centre that coached deprived children in Los Angeles, and felt that even if praise might not make up for their damaged lives, she was damn well going to try. Po, well, he was a middle-class author and father-of-two living in San Francisco, and praise is what middle-class parents now do to their children. Their praise, they thought, came from a mix of instinct and researched good practice. They were wrong on both counts.

“When I found out what praise actually did, I was quite horrified,” says Ashley. “I’d been working with underprivileged kids, telling them, ‘you’re wonderful’. And when I read the effects of that, I was stunned. I was angry. I felt, why didn’t anyone tell me about this before?” And Po, when he got the news, he put his family into “praise cold turkey”. “I realised I was going to change the way I spoke to my children overnight.”

Surveys of parents show that nearly all now believe it’s important to tell their children they are bright and talented, to boost their confidence and therefore achievement. It’s a theory of self-fulfilling prophecy, born of the self-esteem movement of the 1970s.

But then Ashley and Po stumbled across the work of Carol Dweck, a Stanford professor. She has proved, in a growing body of work dating back 15 years, that telling a child they are bright causes the opposite result. It didn’t prevent underperforming — it could actually cause it.

Source - Times

Eating too many superfoods 'can harm health by overdosing on antioxidants'

For years they have been hailed for their apparently age-defying effects on the body.

From sweet potatoes to blueberries, from lentils to broccoli, the health conscious couldn't get enough of so-called superfoods. But now it seems you really can have too much of a good thing.

Scientists say the delicate balance of nutrients required by the body could be affected by stuffing it full of the antioxidants contained in the foods. Nutritionists claim these antioxidants can lengthen your life by cutting the risk of heart disease and cancer. They have even linked them to better sex.

But researchers say too much of the superfoods could mean there are not enough 'pro-oxidants' - usually considered the evil twin of antioxidants - in the body. While the antioxidants slow down the damage to muscles and other organs by the process known as oxidisation, the pro-oxidants speed it up.

Source - Daily Mail

Exercise regularly, age better: studies

Taking regular exercise helps you to stay physically healthier and mentally sharper into old age, four studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed Monday.

One of the studies found that women who exercised more during middle age - defined as an average age of 60 by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School - were less likely after 70 to develop chronic diseases, heart surgery or any physical, cognitive or mental impairments.

Another study found that a year of resistance training, once or twice a week, improved older women's attention spans and conflict resolution skills.

A third found that adults aged 55 and older who engaged in moderate or high physical activity were less likely to become cognitively impaired than their couch-potato equivalents. And women aged 65 or older who took part in an exercise program for 18 months appeared to have denser bones and a reduced risk of falls than women the same age who followed a less intense "wellness" program, a fourth study showed.

The findings of the studies, which were conducted in Canada, Germany and the United States, could be just what the doctor ordered to get more Americans to exercise, the authors of the first study said.

Source - Independent

Running barefoot may be healthier, say scientists

During her colourful career as a track and field athlete, Zola Budd was as famous for her eccentric habit of running barefoot as she was for turning her back on apartheid South Africa.

Now, scientists have found that running without any footwear could in fact be better for your legs than jogging in trainers, because it encourages the use of a different set of muscles as well as a different gait that avoids repeated heavy impacts between the feet and the ground.

Wearing modern trainers encourages heavy "heel-striking" between the back of the foot and the ground, whereas barefoot running makes people more "springy" and less likely to hit the ground hard with their feet, it is believed.

The researchers found that running in bare feet – which was until relatively recently in human evolution, the natural way to run – may give better protection against the sort of repetitive-impact injuries caused by striking the ground with a force equivalent to several times a person's body weight.

A study which compared barefoot runners with those who ran in modern trainers found that heel strike was less likely in those who did not wear running shoes. Barefoot runners were more likely to land on the front part or ball of the foot, and they adjusted their leg and foot movements so that they landed more gently on the ground, the scientists found.

"People who don't wear shoes when they run have an astonishingly different strike. By landing on the middle or front of the foot, barefoot runners have almost no impact collision, much less than most shoe runners generate when they heel strike," said Daniel Lieberman, professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University.

Source - Independent

Untidy beds may keep us healthy

Failing to make your bed in the morning may actually help keep you healthy, scientists believe.

Research suggests that while an unmade bed may look scruffy it is also unappealing to house dust mites thought to cause asthma and other allergies. A Kingston University study discovered the bugs cannot survive in the warm, dry conditions found in an unmade bed. The average bed could be home to up to 1.5 million house dust mites.

The bugs, which are less than a millimetre long, feed on scales of human skin and produce allergens which are easily inhaled during sleep. The warm, damp conditions created in an occupied bed are ideal for the creatures, but they are less likely to thrive when moisture is in shorter supply.

Source - BBC

Time to rethink the potato?

The Potato Council is trying to garner support for its campaign to reclassify the tuber as a "supercarb" - recognising its "unique dual identity" as both carbohydrate and vegetable.

A petition is being put to Downing Street asking for such recognition amid what the industry body believes is widespread confusion about the health benefits of the spud. Are the potato people on to something, or simply trying to bamboozle the health-conscious with a new but meaningless name?

The noughties were not a good decade for the potato. Spurned by dieters on low-carbohydrate regimens such as Atkins, the vegetable also appeared to score poorly on the Glycaemic Index (GI) - which measures how quickly foods are broken down. The slower, the better - and the potato was quick. And then it seemed it was no longer a vegetable at all, passed over by the Department of Health when it compiled its list of "five-a-day". In similar programmes in other countries, the potato was not overlooked. In the US the potato earned a place on the "More Matters" campaign. Potatoes were instead classified in the UK as a "starchy food" - not to be ignored, but not one we needed encouragement to eat.

It seemed a far-cry from the years of World War II when government posters asked: "Why stop at serving them once a day? Have them twice, or even three times, for breakfast, dinner and supper". Potatoes, the public were told, would keep you warm and guard against infection.

Source - BBC

Ginkgo biloba's epilepsy seizures warning

People with epilepsy should be warned that using a popular herbal remedy may increase the risk of seizures, researchers say.

German scientists, writing in the Journal of Natural Products, said they had found 10 written reports of seizures linked to ginkgo biloba. They said they were convinced the herb could have a "detrimental effect". A leading UK epilepsy charity said the evidence was not yet compelling, although it said care was needed.

Ginkgo biloba remedies - made from the leaves of the tree of the same name - is used by many thousands of people in the UK as a remedy for health problems ranging from depression and memory loss, to headaches and dizziness.

The team from the University of Bonn focused on a particular chemical compound in the herb called ginkgotoxin. They said that evidence suggested that it might alter a chemical-signalling pathway in the body linked to epileptic seizures, and potentially interfere with the effectiveness of anti-seizure medications. In addition to any benefits, which still remained unproven, they wrote, there was a "clear potential for adverse effects", particularly in susceptible patients

Even though there was no definitive proof that the herb had been the cause of the increase in seizures in the reported cases, patients should be warned about the possibility, and manufacturers asked to test their ginkgo products for levels of the toxin.

Source - BBC

Ambidextrous children ‘at more risk of having learning difficulties’

Children who are ambidextrous are more likely to have learning and language difficulties than those who are right or left-handed, according to research.

A study of nearly 8,000 children by scientists at Imperial College London suggests that an eight-year-old child who is ambidextrous will be twice as likely to have problems with language and to perform poorly in school. Researchers said that the findings could help teachers and health professionals to identify children who are particularly at risk of developing certain problems.

Ambidexterity, also known as being “mixed-handed”, is when a person favours one hand for some tasks and the other hand for others — such as writing and throwing a ball or holding a bat. It is estimated to affect between 1 per cent and 5 per cent of people.

True ambidexterity — when a person can carry out all tasks with equal proficiency with both hands — is much rarer. The latest research, published in the American journal Pediatrics, found that 87 children in the study cohort, who were born in Finland in the mid-1980s, were mixed-handed.

Source - Times

Alternative medicine sales soar as consumers shake off cynicism

Sales of alternative medicines are booming as consumers shake off their cynicism.

Analysts say the market has grown by 18 per cent in two years and is worth £213million a year. And they predict sales will increase by 33 per cent to £282million over the next four years as more patients reject prescription drugs in favour of natural remedies. Even relatively unknown treatments such as ayurveda - the Indian holistic system of diet, yoga, massage and herbs - are picking up in popularity.

Analysts Mintel said the rise can be explained by growing official acceptance of many treatments such as acupuncture, which is available on the NHS.

A rise in the number of patients diagnosed with depression and stress has also led to more people exploring holistic approaches in favour of potentially addictive prescription drugs. Around 1.5million Britons bought St John's Wort last year, predominantly for depression.

Source - Daily Mail

Why treating a child's fever could SLOW their recovery

This winter, millions of parents will give children medicine to tackle a high temperature. But are we reaching for the paracetamol too quickly?

Some doctors and researchers now believe that parents - and many doctors - are ‘fever phobic’, over-anxious about children’s fevers and treating them too readily. They point out that even official National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines say children should not be given medicine simply to tackle a fever. And reducing a fever may slow recovery time, they say, because the temperature can help to kill the bacteria causing the illness.

Researchers at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children found that, after four hours, meningitis bacteria cooled to a normal 37c grew faster than bacteria kept at fever heat (40c).

‘Fever may play an important role in controlling the growth of this type of bacteria early in the disease,’ the researchers concluded. ‘But more research is needed.’

So should parentsworry about a fever? It’s an important issue because, quite apart from patient recovery time, dealing with childhood fevers takes up a lot of a doctors’ time; fevers result in 30 per cent of visits to A&E. And studies have found that 20 to 50 per cent of parents give their children doses of paracetamol or ibuprofen that are too high to tackle a fever.

Source - Daily Mail

How fish oils add years to your life (and take years off your face!)

There seems to be no end to the benefits of fish oils. Not only are they said to boost heart, brain and joint health, but they also prevent cancer, eye disease and bone problems.

Last week, a new study suggested they could assist the body against premature ageing. But how do you separate the facts from the hype?


WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT FISH OILS?

Fish oils are a type of polyunsaturated fat - a 'healthy' fat. Unlike saturated animal fats, they don't raise your cholesterol levels, but are known to have a positive effect on health. Polyunsaturated fats are divided into two groups of what are called Essential Fatty Acids (or EFAs) - omega-3 and omega-6.

Both omegas are essential in helping to regulate blood clotting, body temperature, blood pressure and the immune system; they are also needed to make prostaglandins, important hormone-like chemicals in the body. The only way we can get them is through our diet.

Omega-3 has particular benefits, producing vital substances such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), thought to play a key role in the development of brain and cognitive function, and EPA ( eicosapentaenoic acid), vital for brain health.

The richest source of omega-3s are fish oils - salmon, mackerel, fresh tuna and herring.

While most Britons consume more than enough omega-6 oils (found in most edible oils, but particularly sunflower and corn, as well as meat), they are deficient in omega-3.

WILL THEY PROTECT MY HEART?

There have been a number of studies suggesting fish oils boost heart health, but the most compelling evidence was a study last year published in the Journal Of The American College Of Cardiology.

Led by Dr Carl Lavie, of the Ochsner Cardiology Clinic in Louisiana, the study showed omega-3 oils help to prevent blood clotting and regulate or lower blood pressure.

The strongest heart-protective effect is for patients with established cardiovascular disease, the study found.

Source - Daily Mail

Sources for combating nutritional rickets in children

There is a public health concern in the UK - rickets has returned. Researchers on both sides of the pond are finding that children are playing on computers instead of outdoors, limiting their ability to get sufficient vitamin D, in combination with poor dietary habits.

Rickets is a disease that has been practically non-existent in developed countries since the early-1900s. US agency Centers for Disease Control defines nutritional rickets as "a condition that causes weak or deformed bones in young people."

According to Simon HS Pearce, professor of endocrinology, and lead researcher in the study Diagnosis and management of vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D is essential, as its deficiency has been associated with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, several cancers, and autoimmune conditions for both children and adults.

Source - Independent

Another reason for foodies and vegetarians to get pumped about sunchokes

Sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes, have recently become a mainstay in modern gourmet cuisine. Sunchokes are also surprisingly high in iron, touts numerous health sites.

Unless you are anemic, most physicians and nutritionists recommend eating food to get your iron instead of taking supplements. The US Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) recommends 8 mg of iron daily for males and 18 mg for females.

According to Fitsugar.com, an online health resource, if you are feeling "sleepy, run down, dizzy, low in energy, short of breath, having a hard time focusing at work, noticed that your skin is pale or you often have headaches," then you could be deficient in iron.

Planet Green, an online magazine from the Discovery family, states one cup of sunchokes can allot for 30 percent of daily-recommended iron intake.

Livestrong.com, a companion site to Lance Armstrong foundation Livestrong.org, describes additional benefits of the sunchoke, "sunchokes are high in iron, calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin C and phosphorous."

Since meat is a prime source of iron, many vegetarians can become anemic or very low in iron. Try adding sunchokes to your diet and more of these foods: fortified cereal, dried apricot, raisins, molasses, legumes (garbanzo, pinto, lima, soybeans, lentils), tofu, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, kale, broccoli, asparagus, potatoes, nuts and seeds (pine nuts, peanuts, pumpkin, sunflower, flaxseed. For non-vegetarians eggs, turkey (dark meat), oysters, trout and shrimp are additional sources.

Source - Independent

Bed sharing 'drains men's brains'

Sharing a bed with someone could temporarily reduce your brain power - at least if you are a man - Austrian scientists suggest.

When men spend the night with a bed mate their sleep is disturbed, whether they make love or not, and this impairs their mental ability the next day. The lack of sleep also increases a man's stress hormone levels. According to the New Scientist study, women who share a bed fare better because they sleep more deeply.

Sleepless nights

Professor Gerhard Kloesch and colleagues at the University of Vienna studied eight unmarried, childless couples in their 20s.

Each couple was asked to spend 10 nights sleeping together and 10 apart while the scientists assessed their rest patterns with questionnaires and wrist activity monitors. The next day the couples were asked to perform simple cognitive tests and had their stress hormone levels checked.

Source - BBC

Tea, coffee and diabetes

"Tea and coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes," reported the BBC, adding that the protection may not be down to caffeine since decaffeinated coffee has the greatest effect.

This story is based on a systematic review and meta-analysis that pooled data from studies of the association between tea and coffee consumption and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It found the more tea, coffee or decaffeinated coffee was drunk, the lower the risk of developing diabetes.

People should not drink more tea or coffee on the strength of this evidence. The review did not account for diet, exercise and lifestyle, and the studies included were varied. The results do, however, suggest that further research is warranted. Maintaining a healthy weight, choosing a sensible diet and participating in physical activity remain the best ways to protect against type 2 diabetes.

Where did the story come from?This research was carried out by Dr Rachel Huxley and colleagues from the University of Sydney. It was funded by the National Heart Foundation of Australia. The study was published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

Source - Scotsman

BodyTalk: Could a new therapy be the answer to all your aches and pains?

BodyTalk is based on the belief that the body knows how to heal itself but, like a computer, can get overloaded, leading to malfunction. A BodyTalk practitioner offers no diagnosis or prescription, just a "rewiring" session using muscle testing and light tapping on the head and sternum to re‑establish channels of communication within the body. Then the body will start functioning optimally again.

Words like "innate", "healing" and "wisdom" set off alarm bells for me, especially when used together. But look past the jargon – and past the fact that this is a booming Florida business whose founder, Dr John Veltheim, resembles an outsize elf with bushy beard and evangelical smile – and there is sense in recognising the body as a "whole" with interconnecting systems. After all, we know that when one thing goes wrong, diverse other symptoms can crop up.

Veltheim, an Australian, once ran a busy clinic for Chinese medicine, acupuncture, chiropractic and naturopathy. He became exhausted, got ill and couldn't recover. The long search for a cure led him to experiment with blending these and other alternative therapies, creating "acupuncture without needles".

His eureka moment came in 1995 with the discovery that you can literally tap into the body's energy circuits by using simple muscle testing to discover areas of sluggish communication. Tapping on the head then tells the brain to "fix" the faulty circuit, followed by tapping on the heart to "store" the fix, just like a computer downloading a programme.

Source - Telegraph

Nine in ten food allergy cases 'are all in the mind'

Nine in ten Britons who believe they have a food allergy or intolerance are perfectly healthy, researchers say.

Studies show that although 20 per cent of adults - around ten million - claim they are unable to eat foods from milk to mustard, fewer than 2 per cent actually have a problem.

Researchers from Portsmouth University found the discrepancy after reviewing studies into the prevalence of food allergies, which are caused by an over-reaction of the immune system, and intolerances, which have similar but less severe symptoms. They blamed internet searches, self-testing kits and celebrity food fads for the epidemic of make-believe allergies and intolerances.

As a result, they said millions are unnecessarily restricting their diets, starving themselves of their favourite foods - and of key nutrients. Others could be suffering from another medical problem which goes untreated because they believe their symptoms are caused by a particular food such as milk, eggs or wheat.

For instance, some may stop eating wheat when in fact they are suffering from a bowel condition called coeliac disease. If the complaint is not diagnosed or treated it can raise the risk of other health problems including brittle bones in old age.

Source - Daily Mail

Antibiotics 'may have given rise to MRSA bug'

Early use of antibiotics in the 1960s may have given birth to one of the most common strains of MRSA, a study has found.

A new genetic method of tracking infection suggests that the superbug emerged five decades ago in Europe, just as antibiotics were being widely introduced for the first time. Scientists used DNA-mapping technology to compare the genetic relatedness of bugs isolated from individual patients.

By identifying letter changes springing up in the bacteria's genetic code, they were able to track MRSA transmission between continents and from patient-to-patient within a single hospital.

The technique, pioneered by scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, Cambridgeshire, is expected to help improve infection control strategies aimed at keeping superbugs at bay.

Source - Daily Mail

Sunshine vitamin cuts cancer risk by 40%

Having a higher level of vitamin D in your blood means you are less like to develop bowel cancer than those with low levels, according to scientists.

A study published in the British Medical Journal has concluded that those with the highest levels of the vitamin were at 40 per cent lower risk of developing the disease compared with those with the lowest levels. Scientists looked at vitamin D quantities in 1,248 people with bowel cancer and 1,248 controls in the largest ever study of the subject.

The research was carried out by scientists at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, and Imperial College London, and was funded by World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).

Pain pill risk to drivers after experts link codeine to fatal road accidents

A drug used in common painkillers has been linked to an increased risk of fatal car crashes.

Research shows motorists killed in accidents were more likely to have been driving dangerously after taking codeine, a morphine-like medicine used in well-known brands such as Solpadeine and Nurofen Plus.

The study suggests the painkiller can make drivers sleepy, slower to react to danger and more likely to make mistakes. On its own, codeine is available only on prescription, but is also used in low doses with paracetamol in products such as Solpadeine, or with ibuprofen in Nurofen Plus, which can be bought over the counter at pharmacies. Around 27million packets of painkillers containing codeine are sold every year in the UK.

The drug is a mild opiate, which puts it in the same class as morphine and methadone, the heroin substitute given to drug addicts. For the latest research, scientists at Lakehead University and Northern Ontario School of Medicine in Canada, analysed the details of thousands of U.S. road deaths since 1975.

Source - Daily Mail

Early release for Indian prisoners who do yoga

Prisoners in an Indian state who attend yoga classes will be freed early because the lessons improve self-control and lessen aggression, authorities there said Thursday.

For every three months spent doing sun salutations, deep breathing exercises and balance postures, a prisoner will get 15 days off their sentence, Madhya Pradesh state's inspector general of prisons told AFP.

"Yoga is good for maintaining fitness, calming the behaviour, controlling anger and reducing stress," Sanjay Mane said. When a prisoner attends yoga sessions and fulfils some other conditions, he will be considered for a remission if his jail superintendent recommends his case."

Attending literacy classes and earning college degrees would also bolster a prisoner's case for early release, Mane said. About 400 prisoners have signed up for the pilot programme at Gwalior city jail.

Source - Independent

Engineers 'can learn from slime'

The way fungus-like slime moulds grow could help engineers design wireless communication networks.

Scientists drew this conclusion after observing a slime mould as it grew into a network that was almost identical to the Tokyo rail system.

The scientists describe their ideas for "biologically inspired networks" in the journal Science. They have incorporated the slime mould's efficient strategy into a mathematical formula. This "slime formula" could help engineers develop better, more efficient designs.

Efficient slime

The single amoeboid cells of slime moulds fuse and spread into a network as they feed and grow.

"These biological networks have been honed by many cycles of evolutionary selection pressure," wrote the researchers in their article.

The research team, led by Dr Atsushi Tero from Hokkaido University, Japan, wanted to capture this evolved efficiency, which they say could be used to inform human engineering decisions.

Source - BBC

Non-stick chemical linked to thyroid disease

A chemical used to make non-stick coatings for saucepans and as a stain and water repellent for carpets and fabrics has been linked with thyroid problems in adults.

Scientists who tested the blood of 4,000 US adults between 1996 and 2006 for the presence of the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) found the 25 per cent with the highest levels had twice the incidence of thyroid problems. PFOA has been produced for 50 years and is used in a wide variety of materials. It is thought to enter the body in the diet or as dust breathed in through the lungs.

Animal studies have shown that the chemical can affect thyroid function, which is essential for maintaining heart rate, regulating body temperature and supporting other bodily functions. Researchers from the Unversity of Exeter, who conducted the study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, said they had demonstrated an association but had not proved causality. “Our results highlight the need for further research,” they said.

Reaction from other experts was sceptical. Ieuan Hughes, professor of paediatrics at the University of Cambridge and chair of the Committee on the Toxicity of Chemicals in the Environment, said the evidence for the link was “tenuous.”

Source - Independent

Physical exercise helps brains grow, mouse study finds

Fresh research may help explain why regular exercise can improve brain power, say Cambridge scientists.

The report, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found mice which exercised performed better on memory tests. These mice also grew more new cells in a part of the brain linked to memory than those which did not exercise.

The authors believe the new brain cells were behind the improvement in cognitive performance.

The aim of the study, which was carried out by scientists from the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Cambridge and researchers at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, was to find out why exercise might improve brain function.

Previous research had suggested that exercise helps mental performance in both people and animals. Studies had also shown that exercise increases the number of new brain cells in rodents.

Source - BBC

Newcastle University experts want Vitamin D put in food

Vitamin D should be added to milk and other food products to halt a rise in cases of rickets in children, say experts at Newcastle University.

The vitamin, produced when skin is exposed to sunlight, is also found in a small number of foods, and deficiency can cause bone deformation. One reason for an increase in cases is thought to be the popularity of indoor activities, such as computer gaming. Professor Simon Pearce said a change in public health policy was needed.

A lack of the vitamin within the traditional UK diet is also thought to be a factor - it can be found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring. Writing in the British Medical Journal, Professor Pearce and colleague Dr Tim Cheetham said Vitamin D deficiency had become "disturbingly common" in the UK in recent years.

'Entirely preventable'

Dr Cheetham said: "I am dismayed by the increasing numbers of children we are treating with this entirely preventable condition. Fifty years ago, many children would have been given regular doses of cod liver oil, but this practice has all but died out."

Half of all adults in the UK have a deficiency in the winter and spring, with one in six having severe deficiency. The problem is worse in northern regions and could be part of the reason for the health gap between the north and south, according to the university figures.

Source - BBC

Boots hit by mass homeopathy 'overdose'

Hundreds of people are planning to "overdose" on homeopathic remedies outside Boots stores to protest against the chemist selling treatments which critics say are ineffective.

The protesters will drink large quantities of homeopathic fluids to illustrate their claim that the potions are too diluted to have any impact on the body.

Homeopathy has grown from an obscure alternative remedy to become a multi-million pound industry in the UK, with Prince Charles among its high-profile advocates. But critics say there is little scientific backing for its claims to ease conditions including asthma, migraine, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis and depression.

Campaigners have already lobbied for the NHS to reduce its £4 million annual spend on homeopathic remedies and are now targeting Boots for profiting from what they claim is an "unscientific and absurd pseudoscience".

The Boots protests planned for later this month have been organised by campaign called 10.23, which grew out of the Merseyside Skeptics Society, a group of rationalist thinkers.

They will take place on high streets in Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol, Liverpool, Glasgow, Birmingham, Southampton and London, with sympathy protests in Australia, Canada and the United States.

Source - Telegraph

20 great foods you aren't eating

These easy-to-buy superfoods could help you to live a healthier, flat-bellied and longer life.


Baked beans
Great for soluble fibre (the type that helps to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels), baked beans also give you 6g of protein per average serving; about the same as in a medium-size egg. Have them on toast, with a baked potato or, if you absolutely must, straight from the can.

Green tea
Swap a couple of cups of your builder’s brew a day for green tea. Especially rich in polyphenols, green tea antioxidants have antibacterial and antithrombotic roles, and regulate the immune system. The lazy man’s solution to boosting antioxidants, which may also help to fight tooth decay.

Oily fish
Fling fresh sardines under the grill, or have them from a can; either way, like mackerel, salmon and anchovies, they are great for omega-3 oils, which seem to make platelets in the blood less likely to clump together and cause a clot.

Parsley
Chew on some after a meal and this herb, which is rich in chlorophyl, can help to keep your breath fresh and mop up pongy odours; vital if out on the town after eating. Also good for vitamin C, a vital antioxidant that helps to protect sperm from free-radical attack.

Source - Times


Breastfeeding for more than six months leaves children less likely to suffer mental health problems later in life

Children who are breastfed for more than six months are less likely to have mental health problems in later life, according to new research.

Experts believe that nutrients in mothers' milk, and the bonding process, may have a long-lasting effect on their babies' brain development. The finding, to be published in The Journal of Pediatrics, came after researchers analysed the medical records of more than 2,000 children in Western Australia.

Professor Wendy Oddy, who led the study, said breastfeeding appeared to have 'significant benefits for the mental health of a child into adolescence'. She added: 'There has been much evidence about the benefits of early breastfeeding but the importance of this study is that it shows continued benefits from extended feeding. Given the rising prevalence of mental health problems, interventions to assist mothers to breastfeed, and to breastfeed for longer, could be of long term benefit to the community. As with any of these types of studies, it should be stressed that the findings do not mean that individual children that weren't breastfed will have mental health problems, it's about lowering the risk at a population level.'

Source - Daily Mail

Babies fed porridge before they reach five months are 'less likely to develop asthma'

Babies fed porridge from an early age may be protected against asthma, according to new research.

The earlier infants are introduced to porridge, or other foods made from oats, the less likely they are to develop the respiratory condition, a study by Finnish scientists has concluded. The risk of asthma later in childhood is reduced by almost two-thirds in babies first fed oats before they reach five months of age, compared to those introduced to them later, the research shows.

Scientists who carried out the study believe early exposure to oats may be crucial in helping to ward off the disease. But the findings clash with Department of Health infant feeding guidelines, which recommend breastfeeding for six months before introducing solid foods.

At least 1.1million children in the UK suffer with asthma and the condition kills around 40 youngsters a year. According to Asthma UK, Britain has the highest rates in the world of 'severe wheeze' in young teenagers. Research has focused on how diet and environment early in life might affect a child's chances of developing the disease.

A team of scientists from Finland studied almost 1,300 children whose parents took part in a diet and lifestyle study between 1996 and 2000. They wanted to see if certain foods either raised the risk of asthma and hay fever, or reduced them. Each family recorded infant feeding patterns from an early age and the children were then followed up for at least five years.

The results, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, showed babies fed porridge in their first few months of life were 64 per cent less likely to have chest problems as a toddler than those who did not eat it or who started later.

Source - Daily Mail

Take a break, it could save your life

Office workers beware: long periods of sitting at your desk may be a killer. Scientists have identified a new threat from our sedentary lifestyles that they call "muscular inactivity". Sitting still for long periods of time leads to the build up of substances in the blood that are harmful to health. And exercise alone won’t shift them.

Millions of people lead sedentary lives, spending their days between car, office desk and the couch in front of the TV. While the ill effects are well recognised it has conventionally been thought that they can be offset by frequent trips to the gym, swimming pool or jogging track.

Now researchers say that that is not enough. In addition to regular exercise, office workers need to keep moving while they work, by making regular trips to the printer, coffee machine or to chat with colleagues.

Writing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Elin Ekblom-Bak and colleagues from the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm say research shows long periods sitting and lack of “whole body muscular movement” are strongly associated with obesity heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and an overall higher risk of death, irrespective of whether they take moderate or vigorous exercise.

Dr Ekblom-Bak said: “Everyone knows about the health benefits of regular exercise. But what we have not been alerted to before is that long periods sitting down carries an extra risk that cannot be dealt with by taking exercise. There are a growing number of studies that show this.”

Source - Independent

Weaker wine 'may lower the risk of some cancers'

Swapping a daily glass of wine for a slightly weaker alternative could be enough to lower the risk of some cancers, a charity suggests.

Studies suggest that people who drink wine with an alcohol content of 10% rather than 14% might benefit, says the World Cancer Research Fund. The charity called for more low-alcohol wines and beers to be available for sale.

An industry expert said UK consumers were asking for "lighter" wines. The calculation was based on figures in a 2007 report which looked at the evidence for a link between alcohol consumption and cancer. That report recommended that men should have no more than two drinks a day, and women no more than one. The figures used to reach that conclusion were detailed enough to reveal the likely extra risk posed by each extra 10 grams of alcohol - just over one unit - regularly consumed.

From this, scientists calculated that, in theory, a person drinking one large 250ml glass of wine a night would have a 7% lower risk of bowel cancer if they normally drank 10% strength wine rather than 14%. This is only a modest decrease of risk for an individual, and there is no clear evidence about how long someone would need to substitute weaker wine for their usual tipple in order to reap this benefit.

However, the charity said that for every 100 people who did it, one case of bowel cancer would be avoided. While the detailed studies only applied to bowel cancer, it said that there was no reason to believe that the risk of other cancers linked to alcohol, such as throat, oesophageal and breast, would not respond in a similar way.

Source - BBC

Why that 'healthy' juice could be as bad for your teeth as cola

Caroline Daniels had always prided herself on the fact she ate a healthy diet, exercised regularly and avoided too much alcohol. On nights out with friends, she’d sip on Coke, rather than wine, and every day she drank fruit juice rather than teas and coffees.

But then, two years ago, she started suffering agonising pains in her teeth.

‘Just a sip of cold orange juice would send a sharp pain through my teeth and up towards my gums,’ says the 54-year-old assistant shop manager from Epsom, Surrey. ‘And cold fizzy drinks were just as bad. The pain was enough to make me wince or even gasp out loud. It got to the point where I’d leave my drink untouched.’

Over the next six months, the pain got steadily worse, until finally Caroline went to see her dentist. He explained she had widespread damage to her tooth enamel. The hard, protective enamel had eroded away, exposing the dentine - the softer layer underneath. The dentine naturally has small holes in it leading to the nerves. But now, without the protective enamel, anything hot or cold was able to penetrate through these holes to the nerves, causing pain.

‘I asked him how this could be possible,’ says Caroline. ‘I’d always been so diligent about brushing my teeth after every meal.’ Her dentist then explained that her fruit juice and fizzy drink intake - three large glasses of orange juice a day and the occasional Coke - were the problem. The sugar and acid in the juices had attacked the enamel of my teeth, and the fizzy drinks would not have helped. I was amazed, because I’d thought I was being so healthy.’

What’s more, Caroline was making the situation worse by brushing her teeth immediately after drinking. This is because the enamel is softened for up to an hour after drinking acidic juices, making it vulnerable to aggressive brushing.

Dental erosion is an increasingly common problem. Unlike decay, where parts of the tooth are attacked by bacteria in the mouth, dental erosion is caused by acid.

Source - Daily Mail

Green tea 'may block lung cancer'

Drinking green tea may offer some protection against lung cancer, say experts who studied the disease at a medical university in Taiwan.

The latest work in more than 500 people adds to growing evidence suggesting the beverage has anti-cancer powers. In the study, smokers and non-smokers who drank at least a cup a day cut their lung cancer risk significantly, a US cancer research conference heard. The protection was greatest for people carrying certain genes.

But cancer experts said the findings did not change the fact that smoking is bad for health.

Daily cuppa

Green tea is made from the dried leaves of the Asian plant Camellia sinesis and is drunk widely across Asia. The rates of many cancers are much lower in Asia than other parts of the world, which has led some to link the two.

Laboratory studies have shown that extracts from green tea, called polyphenols, can stop cancer cells from growing.

Source - BBC

The pomegranate: a most fashionable fruit

Scientists are investigating a chemical in the fruit as a protection against breast cancer, so it is unlikely to wane in public favour. A lyrical verse in the Bible prescribes "a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe" made for Aaron.

Perhaps when we were young and chanced to hear those words, pomegranates themselves were almost as mysterious as the rest of Aaron's raiment. Now they are in every supermarket, in fashion as the super-food above all others. As we report today, scientists are investigating a chemical in the fruit as a protection against breast cancer, so it is unlikely to wane in public favour. Yet it keeps an exotic air, for no degree of climate change can coax it to ripen in these icy isles. Like unicorns and gryphons it thrives best in heraldic ground. Carved on the tomb of poor Queen Katharine of Aragon, in Peterborough Cathedral, it can still be seen, ripe and healthy to this day.The next stage is to isolate and identify the "active ingredient", synthesise it so that it can be patented and then make it into a lucrative, ineffecive/dangerous drug. A fruit that has been around
since bibical times may hold the clue to cure of cancer, according to recent research findings by US scientists, as Telegraoh View's editorial opinion revealed here.

This ingredient is derived from promegranate which originated from Iran, now grown in neighboring countries, southern Europe, the Mediterrinean, and brought to Latin America and California by Spanish settlers in the late 18th century.

Source - Telegraph

Feeling SAD? Try lightening the mood

I’m sitting at my desk, glowing. Literally.

By my side is a LitePod belting out 10,000 lux of light, bathing me in an unearthly glow. It looks amazing, but it’s not there for aesthetics. I’m one of the vast number of people in Britain who suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and I’m hoping this little pod might lift my spirits. SAD is under-diagnosed, under-treated and undeniably miserable. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel – light being the operative word.

Research has shown clearly that light therapy can help banish the winter blues and there is now a rash of products on the market. But can you trust all the claims, and what about new developments?

Professor Michael Terman directs the Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms at Columbia University Medical Center in the United States. He is also founder and president of the Center for Environmental Therapeutics (CET), an international consortium of doctors and researchers working on mood and sleep disorders.

“Light therapy, properly dosed, shows improvement more rapidly than antidepressants, with fewer side effects,” he says. “That’s why it has become the first-line intervention for treatment of winter depression.”

When light hits the retina of the eye, chemical messages are sent to the hypothalamus in the brain, regulating a host of activities – sleep, sex drive, appetite, temperature, energy levels and, crucially, mood. If there’s not enough light, these functions gradually become slower and slower. So adding bright light to the dull winter equation resets the balance.

Source - BBC

Glaxo to help fund obesity film...

... could it be because they've got a slimming treatment to promote?

Left-leaning documentary filmmakers of the Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock mould might not be the most obvious bedfellows for a multinational drug company. But Britain's largest pharmaceuticals firm, GlaxoSmithKline, plans to pour more than $1m (£628,000) into a film about the dangers of obesity. It dubs the documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth about mindless eating".

The Creative Coalition, a social affairs pressure group founded by Hollywood activists including actors Susan Sarandon and Alec Baldwin, is expected to unveil plans for the movie at the Sundance film festival later this month.

GlaxoSmithKline's motives, inevitably, are not entirely philanthropic. It sells an over-the-counter medication, Alli, which has as its active ingredient orlistat, a drug developed to treat obesity. The company believes that fostering public discussion of obesity will increase sales; it already gets revenues of £16m a month from the drug. Robin Bronk, executive director of the coalition, was untroubled by the tie-up. He called the film "reverse product placement". "It's issue placement," he told PR Week. "We're using filmmaking to promote a film message. Art influences. Look at Al Gore, he couldn't move the needle on global warming until he went Hollywood."

GSK calls its funding a "donation" and said it will have no editorial control over the documentary, a fly-on-the-wall exploration of unhealthy relationships with food.

Source - Independent

'Smoked' flavour food concerns

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says one of the flavourings used to give smoke flavour to meat, cheese or fish, may be toxic to humans.

The authority looked at 11 smoke flavourings commonly used in the European Union. It says several of the flavourings are dangerously close to levels which may cause harm to humans. The European Commission will now establish a list of smoke-flavouring products that are safe for use in food.

The smoke flavourings are products which can be added to foods to give them a "smoked" flavour, as an alternative to traditional smoking. EFSA says it "cannot rule out concerns" about a flavouring called Primary Product AM 01, which is obtained from beech wood. The wood particles are burnt under controlled conditions and the hot vapours are dissolved in a solvent. The Panel says the use of the substance "at the intended levels is a safety concern".

Source - BBC

Food industry 'too secretive' over nanotechnology

The food industry has been criticised for being secretive about its use of nanotechnology by the UK's House of Lords Science and Technology Committee.

Lord Krebs, chairman of the inquiry, said the industry "wants to keep a low profile" to avoid controversy. While there were no clear dangers, he said, there were "gaps in knowledge".

In its report Nanotechnologies and Food, the committee suggests a public register of foods or packaging that make use of nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology is the use of very small particles - measured in the billionths of a metre. At these sizes, particles have novel properties and there is active investigation into how those properties arise.

While nanotechnology is already widely employed - in applications ranging from odour-free socks to novel cancer therapeutic methods - they have long been regarded as a subject requiring further study to ensure their safety. In the food sector, nanotechnology can be employed to enhance flavour and even to make processed foods healthier by reducing the amount of fat and salt needed in production.

Open standards

Peers said in the report that they found it "regrettable that the food industry was refusing to talk about its work in the area".

Source - BBC

Can we trust industry-funded drug research?

If you've ever flirted with the Atkins diet, but worried about the effect all that meat would have on your arteries, you might be interested in a study showing that a high-protein diet actually improves your cholesterol levels. But would it affect your opinion if you learnt the research was partly funded by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association?

Interesting conflicts

News stories often crop up that sound vaguely scientific, announcing an equation for the happiest day of the year, or describing the terrifying number of bacteria on a dishcloth. A closer look usually reveals that they've originated with PR companies, and aim to promote a product (ice cream and cleaning products in these two genuine examples).

While you might take it with a pinch of salt if the Margarine and Spreads Association criticises celebrity chefs for using too much butter (another story published last year), dealing with conflicts of interest is an important question for science.

A state of affairs

The point of science is that it can give us impartial answers to important questions. Doctors and patients can look at scientific evidence to help them decide what makes a healthy diet, or whether a drug can treat a particular condition. Scientific journals publish detailed reports of research, allowing readers to see for themselves that the studies were unbiased.

Of course, there are other factors at work too. Researchers are only human, journals want to publish exciting new findings, and drug companies want to demonstrate that their products are effective. That's why scientific journals work hard to be transparent about conflicts of interest, and usually give information about how studies were funded.

Industry funding isn't in itself a cause for alarm. A good study is a good study, regardless of who paid for it, but being open about conflicts of interest is part of the process by which we can trust scientific evidence.

Source - Guardian


Contraceptive injections weaken bones for half of women

Almost half of women using long-term contraceptive injections containing the hormone medroxyprogesterone may get weakened bones within two years, new research reports.

What do we know already?

Injections containing a female hormone called medroxyprogesterone are a reliable contraceptive. You only need the injection once every three months, so you don't have to remember to take it every day. The UK brand name is Depo-Provera. Some women find it useful if they don't have a regular routine and find it hard to take a pill at the same time every day (for example, if they work shifts).

But contraceptive injections can have downsides. They can cause bones to get weaker. Bone strength is measured by something called bone mineral density. This measures how much calcium and other minerals you have in your bones. Dense bones are stronger and less likely to break. The new study followed 240 women who planned to use contraceptive injections for two years. Researchers measured the women's bone mineral density every six months.

What does the new study say?

Only 95 of the 240 women took the drug for the full two years. Of these 95 women, 45 lost at least 5 percent of their bone mineral density, measured in their hip bones and lower spine. Bone mineral density continued to fall, especially at the hip bone, in women who kept using the contraceptive injections for a third year.

The researchers identified three factors that were linked to losing bone strength. They were:

  • Smoking
  • Eating less than 600 milligrams of calcium a day
  • Not having been pregnant before.

But the first two factors made little difference on their own. The difference was so small that it could have been down to chance. The three together made more of a difference.

Source - Guardian

DSHS Issues Warning Against ‘Nzu’ Product

The Texas Department of State Health Services is warning consumers, especially pregnant or breastfeeding women, to avoid consuming a traditional product called “Nzu” because of the potential health risks from high levels of lead and arsenic.

Nzu, which is consumed as a traditional remedy for morning sickness, has been found by DSHS food inspectors at two African specialty stores – one in the Dallas area and one in Houston. It was also found at a distributor in Houston. The product generally resembles balls of clay or mud and also is called Calabash clay, Calabar stone, Mabele, Argile and La Craie.

Laboratory analysis by DSHS found high levels of lead and arsenic in this product.

Exposure to lead can result in a number of harmful effects, and a developing child is particularly at risk of effects on the brain and nervous system. Arsenic is a carcinogen, and excessive long-term exposure to it has been associated with a range of adverse health effects, including cancers of the urinary bladder, lung and skin.

The Nzu may be covered in a brown or white “dust” and is usually sold in small plastic bags with a handwritten label identifying it as “Nzu” or “Salted Nzu.” Anyone who has been ingesting the product should contact their health care provider.

The source of the product in Texas is not yet known. Inspectors with DSHS are continuing to investigate.

Source - NCCAM

Oat and groats: Grain power

Oats are leaping out of the porridge bowl and fleeing the nosebag, thanks in part to a cereal producer who has the health of both the consumer and the countryside at heart.

Growing up living by a working water mill holds a distinct memory for Bill Jordan, who with his brother David runs Jordans, the family firm. 'All the electricity for our house was generated by the mill,’ he says. 'When the turbine stopped, the picture on our TV would shrink.’ The Jordans’ house cowers in the shadow of Holme Mills, set over the River Ivel near Biggleswade. It is the last working water mill in Bedfordshire (there were once 400), and the birthplace of Jordans Cereals, now a major brand.

In 2008 Bill and David Jordan sold a majority stake to the conglomerate Associated British Foods (ABF) with the aim of putting it in a position to challenge the big players with a genuinely healthy cereal. 'Nestlé have got “whole­grains” in big green letters on their packs,’ Bill says. 'You’ve got Kelloggs saying they understand how to make a muesli and Weetabix owned by venture capitalists. If you want a brand that’s going to work internationally then you’ve got to have scale.’

Source - Telegraph

Lose weight without losing the will to live

A few simple rules can help you lose weight and stick to a diet that's high on nourishment and low on misery.

I have been on some truly embarrassing diets. From the moment my flat places became curves I have tried to melt them away with the help of a series of fads. I have "food combined" with Dr Scarsdale and nearly bankrupted myself buying tropical fruit for the Beverly Hills regime.

I have farted my way through a week of cabbage soup, existed exclusively on tomatoes, gagged on miracle milkshakes and even taken a mysterious jab in the buttock from a sleazy Harley Street medic. Thanks to Dr Atkins and his unappetising low-carb meat diet, I have even experienced the metabolic processes of a hyena, not least carbon-copied a hound's halitosis.

The good news is I have not been on a crazy diet for more than a decade, yet I have lost weight in dramatic style. I have given nothing up. I have not eaten my last croissant, drunk a final goblet of Tariquet or ordered the ultimate crème brûlée in a restaurant.

However, I have gone through periods when I have taken a "holiday" from the things I love, but I always know we will see each other later, so to speak. Respect for good food and understanding exactly how it nourishes is the key to a diet that is low on misery. Weighing scales are tyranny. I never weigh myself, measuring loss of inches by dress size.

Source - Telegraph

Women who do not vote 'less likely' to be tested for cancer

Women who do not vote in elections are less likely to attend smear tests to check for the early signs of cervical cancer, research has found. he findings of the study, conducted by a team at University College London, suggest women who are disillusioned generally with society are less likely to take up screening tests.

The researchers interviewed 580 women aged between 26 and 64 and found that those who rarely or never voted were twice as likely to be overdue for a smear test than those who voted regularly.

Uptake of cervical smear screening reached an all-time low in 2008 when it dipped below 80 per cent for the first time in its 20 year history, the study published in the Journal of Medical Screening.

Many women said they were embarrassed or frightened of screening but this did not predict which women would attend for tests as those who did attend mentioned these factors too. Instead the most common reason for not being screened were practical factors such as not getting around to it or difficulty in getting an appointment.

Source - Telegraph

Nutmeg spray numbs nerve pain

A spray containing nutmeg could ease a painful condition caused by diabetes.

Applied three times a day, scientists believe it will relieve diabetic neuropathy, where the nerves become damaged by too much sugar in the blood. The condition affects up to 70 per cent of diabetics and symptoms include a burning sensation, pain or tingling in the limbs.

Painkillers are one of the main treatments, but some cannot be taken for prolonged periods as they can cause stomach ulcers.

In a clinical trial at the University of the West Indies, patients will use the spray on the affected part of their body for at least four weeks.

The trial follows earlier research that found the spice appears to have strong anti-inflammatory effects. One study showed that the nutmeg extract reduced levels of compounds called prostaglandins, which play a key part in the inflammation process.

Source - Daily Mail

Music made me deaf: As iPods and concerts harm the hearing of 75% young people, one woman tells her cautionary tale

Twenty-two years ago as I left the house to go to see Motorhead - dubbed the loudest band in the world - my mother's words followed me out of the door: 'You'll ruin your hearing one day!'

At the time, I rolled my eyes dramatically, as every self-respecting 19-year-old should, and proceeded to assault my senses with 140 decibels of noise, which I now know is ten decibels above the sound of a jet plane taking off. The sound levels at the gig were too much for most of the fans; people were leaving in droves, but I stayed on. That night, I left the venue with my ears ringing and it took more than a week for the ringing to diminish.

Could your indigestion actually be heart disease?

The stiff shoulder that turned out to be Parkinson's Disease. The women told their period pains were all in the mind - but who years later discovered they had endometriosis, which rendered them infertile. Serious medical mistakes - with potentially disastrous consequences.

Of all complaints received by the Care Quality Commission in 2008, 36 per cent related to misdiagnosis or delays in diagnoses by GPs. In one study, which looked at 1,000 claims brought against GPs, two-thirds involved a delayed or wrong diagnosis, including misdiagnosing serious conditions such as heart disease and cancer.

Katherine Murphy, director of the Patients' Association, said there is nothing worse for patients than a late or wrong diagnosis.

'When it goes wrong, the consequences are obvious, but the illness may not have been that difficult to diagnose,' she says. 'As gatekeepers to the rest of the NHS, a GP's duty to be up-to-date is absolute. The pressure on them is increasing: patients live longer and can have more done for them, but the standard consultation time is still only a few minutes.'

So, what might your doctor be missing? Here are seven conditions that are routinely misdiagnosed, and the red flag symptoms to look for.

Source - Daily Mail

Vinegar and honey cured my crippling arthritis, declares mother of four

A church organist who was forced to quit due to crippling arthritis is playing to congregations again after she was cured by drinking cups of vinegar four times a day.

Sarah Gall, 55, had been left virtually housebound after the condition which affects millions spread to her spine and left her in constant agony. But she took daily doses of a cider vinegar and honey concoction over a four year period after reading its natural properties might help her regain movement in the joints of her fingers and alleviate pain in her back.

She combined her miracle vinegar medicine with exercise, Epsom salt baths and a healthy diet before her arthritis completely disappeared.

Now the married mother-of-four is back playing the organ during Sunday services at St Stephen and All Martyr's Church in Darcy Lever, near Bolton, Greater Manchester.

Trainers 'worse for joints than barefoot running'

The average running shoe used by millions of jogging enthusiasts does more damage to the joints than tottering along in a pair of high heels, researchers have found.

Although running shoes protect the foot by cushioning the impact, they impose greater stress on the joints in the ankle, knee and hip than running barefoot, they say. The finding will dismay the tens of thousands of runners in training for the London marathon next April, many of whom will have spent large sums on state-of-the-art running shoes.

The researchers tested 68 adults of both sexes who were observed running on a treadmill, wearing a typical running shoe “selected for its neutral classification and design characteristics typical of most running footwear” and barefoot.

Source - Independent

Mobile phone radiation 'protects' against Alzheimer's

After all the concern over possible damage to health from using mobile phones, scientists have found a potential benefit from radiation.

Their work has been carried out on mice, but it suggests mobiles might protect against Alzheimer's. Florida scientists found that phone radiation actually protected the memories of mice programmed to get Alzheimer's disease. They are now testing more frequencies to see if they can get better results. The study by the Florida Alzheimer's Disease Research Centre is published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Genetically altered mice

It involved 96 mice, most of which had been genetically altered to develop beta-amyloid plaques in their brains, which are a marker of Alzheimer's disease, as they aged. The rest of the mice were non-demented.

All the mice were exposed to the electro-magnetic field generated by a standard phone for two one-hour periods each day for seven to nine months. Their cages were arranged at the same distance around a centrally located antenna generating the phone signal.

Source - BBC

'Lifeless' prion proteins are 'capable of evolution'

Scientists have shown for the first time that "lifeless" prion proteins, devoid of all genetic material, can evolve just like higher forms of life.

The Scripps Research Institute in the US says the prions can change to suit their environment and go on to develop drug resistance.

Prions are associated with 20 different brain diseases in humans and animals. The scientists say their work suggests new approaches might be necessary to develop therapies for these diseases.

In the study, published in the journal Science, the scientists transferred prion populations from brain cells to other cells in culture and observed the prions that adapted to the new cellular environment out-competed their brain-adapted counterparts. When returned to the brain cells, the brain-adapted prions again took over the population.

Charles Weissmann, head of Scripps Florida's department of infectology who led the study, said: "On the face of it, you have exactly the same process of mutation and adaptive change in prions as you see in viruses. This means that this pattern of Darwinian evolution appears to be universally active. In viruses, mutation is linked to changes in nucleic acid sequence that leads to resistance. Now, this adaptability has moved one level down- to prions and protein folding - and it's clear that you do not need nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) for the process of evolution."

Source - BBC

Acupuncture that won't scare needle phobics

Acupuncture is now an established means of treating pain, but not everyone likes the thought of all those needles. Acupuncture with a low-energy laser beam instead of a needle is a relatively new procedure but works on the same principle – stimulating various points of the body to promote healing.

(Have a look at the link to see the video)

20p lozenge could fight all colds and flu

The drug, which could be sold over-the-counter in two years, could be used to prevent everyday sniffles in otherwise health people, as well as prevent life-threatening infections in the elderly.

The Veldona lozenge, which tastes like a sweet and dissolves in the mouth, primes the immune system to attack every cold and flu bug. It has already been tested on people after successful trials on mice. The human trials are expected within weeks.

Professor Manfred Beilharz, chairman of the department of microbiology and immunology at the University of Western Australia in Perth, who tested the drug, said he believes it is the "golden fleece everyone has been looking for. This medicine is quite cheap to manufacture and very low dosage and doesn't seem to have any side-effects of any significance", he said.

The lozenge contains tiny amounts of interferon alpha, a protective protein the body naturally makes when attacked by a virus. When dissolved in the mouth, the protein is released tricking the immune system into thinking there is a bug in the body.

Prof Beilharz said: "The outposts of the immune system say, 'Hey, we've got a virus, let's gear up and get ready for it before the infection spreads too far.'"

Source - Telegraph

Home-made juices packed with vitamins and antioxidants

This new year, my resolution is to eat and drink more. More good things, that is, and especially more fruit and vegetables. So to kick-start the regime, I'm dusting down the juicer for a glassful of something delicious, vibrant and healthy.

Juices won't take the place of your five-a-day, because the roughage in whole fruit and veg is crucial. But they can take the place of one or two and bump consumption up to seven or eight.

Because they are essentially concentrated vegetables and fruit, juices pack plenty of antioxidants such as vitamins A and C, which neutralise free radicals. We can't avoid free radicals – unstable molecules in our system which damage healthy cells, causing cancer, and age-related diseases like macular degeneration and arthritis – but we can mop them up with antioxidant-rich foods.

Juice has countless other beneficial nutrients, such as potassium (particularly high in bananas), which is good for balancing sodium and keeping blood pressure low, and magnesium, which is abundant in leafy green vegetables and is important for bone density and muscles.

Of course, there are plenty of tablets on the market, but the evidence suggests that the complex blends of vitamins and minerals in food work synergistically, boosting each other's effect. So, get your nutrients from a balanced diet, not a soulless supplement. And juices taste so much better.

Source - Telegraph

Can you really cure a hangover?

Festive partying seems like a good idea until you wake up with your tongue stuck to the roof of your mouth and your head beating like an African drum. But is there really anything you can do to relieve the morning after the night before? Sue Baic, a dietician and spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association, says that prevention is the best policy: “If you can dilute your alcohol or intersperse it with soft drinks, you will do much to avoid the dehydration and drop in blood-sugar levels that trigger the symptoms.”

She recommends steering clear of red wine — its congeners, the coloured chemicals, can worsen an aching head — and pacing yourself. “Try to have fluids, such as water, coffee or orange juice before bed and the next morning,” she says. “If you can face food, then eat some.”

Such is the desperation to find a hangover remedy, that this month a Twitter campaign has been hunting for a cure. If all else fails, go to bed and stay there until the world becomes clearer.

Milk thistle

Theory: An extract of the milk thistle plant — available as a tablet or a liquid — is thought to aid liver function and help the body to metabolise alcohol more quickly.

Hangover rating: 2/5 Milk thistle contains silybin and silymarin that have been shown in some studies to protect the liver from toxins and to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, most studies have been carried out on alcoholics and there is no proof that it can help to cure or prevent a hangover.

Source - Times

Sleep-deprived teenagers 'more likely to suffer depression'

Teenagers with set bedtimes are far less likely to suffer from depression or suicidal thoughts, according to a new study.

Researchers looked at data from more than 15,000 adolescents and their parents in the U.S. They found half of young adults had a set bedtime of 10pm, but a quarter were allowed to stay up past midnight and slept an average of 40 minutes less each night.

Ginkgo biloba does not slow cognitive decline: study

The herbal supplement ginkgo biloba does not slow cognitive decline, a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) said.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh analyzed data in an eight-year randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial called the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) study, for which half of the 3,069 participants were given daily doses of ginkgo biloba and the other half were given a placebo.

"In the United States and particularly in Europe, ginkgo biloba is perhaps the most widely used herbal treatment consumed specifically to prevent age-related cognitive decline," the report of their findings in JAMA said.

"We found no evidence for an effect of G biloba on global cognitive change and no evidence of effect on specific cognitive domains of memory, visual-spatial construction, language, attention and psychomotor speed, and executive functions," the study said.

Source - Independent