British air is shortening lives by nine years

EVEN breathing can be dangerous these days. Air pollution is knocking up to nine years off the lives of people who live in pollution hotspots or have a respiratory illness. So says a report by the UK House of Commons' Environmental Audit Committee.

Tiny particles of sulphate, carbon and dust are the most damaging to health, but nitrogen oxides and ozone also have an effect. The UK is in breach of European regulations for all of these, and could face fines of up to £300 million. Road transport is the main culprit. Power plants also churn out damaging particles but mostly away from cities.

Only a radical shift in transport policy will allow the UK to meet its targets, the report concludes. "But such a shift is unlikely to occur in the next 10 years, unless the government starts taking sustainable transport seriously," says Paul Firmin of the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds, UK.

Source - New Scientist

Fibromyalgia Symptoms Improved by Lifestyle Adjustments

Short bursts of physical activity can ease fibromyalgia symptoms. Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Arthritis Research & Therapy have shown that encouraging patients to undertake 'Lifestyle Physical Activity' (LPA) can markedly increase the average number of steps taken per day and produce clinically relevant reductions in perceived disability and pain.

Kevin Fontaine, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, worked with a team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center campus to investigate the effects of 30 minutes of LPA, five to seven days a week, on physical function, pain and other measures of disability in 84 fibromyalgia patients. He said, "Fibromyalgia is estimated to occur in 2% of the U.S. general population, affecting about eight times more women than men. Although exercise has been shown to be beneficial, the symptoms often create obstacles that deter many from exercising consistently enough to derive benefits."

Source - Science Daily

Does British Summer Time damage your health?

A long sleep, according to an Irish proverb, is one of the best cures. But as Britain’s 17 million insomniacs will tell you, a long sleep does not always occur on demand.

The onset of sleep is triggered by two things: a decrease in body temperature and an increase in the production of the hormone melatonin. The pineal gland, a small endocrine gland in the centre of the brain, is stimulated by dim light or the dark – when it will start to release melatonin – and inhibited by light. For some people, the onset of British Summer Time, with early dawns and longer twilight, brings with it a host of problems.

Nathaniel Lippiett, 27, is a video journalist who dreads the clocks going forward: “Light unnerves me. It reminds me it’s morning and I think I need to get up. At the height of the summer that’s at 4am. Then I can’t get back to sleep because I start worrying that I’ve not had enough sleep. Then I start worrying that the worry is stopping me sleeping. I call it meta-worry.”

Alex Oberberg, 28, a digital marketing manager, has similar experiences. “I can be really tired, but if it’s not pitch black, I can't sleep. I feel light seeping through my eyelids. Even the light from a TV affects me. In the winter, I can fall asleep at six in the evening as long as it’s dark, but in the summer…”

Source - Telegraph

Chill out on the cheap

DIY techniques can beat stress as effectively as a costly massage.

I am what is known, in official terminology, as a stresspot. Nothing is too big, or too small, to get me in a flap: deadlines; tube delays; the election. So I was intrigued, earlier this month, to see new research (from Seattle's Group Health Centre for Health Studies) showing that cheap, DIY relaxation techniques can reduce anxiety just as effectively as expensive massages. Could such simple exercises really help a worry merchant like me? I resolved, over five days, to give some a whirl.

Deep abdominal breathing

Neil Shah, a psychotherapist and founder of the Stress Management Society (SMS), says that "breathing from your stomach" is one of the best ways to reduce stress. He tells me to imagine a triangle running from my belly button to my hips, with a balloon inside; every time I take a breath, I should imagine the balloon inflating. At least five minutes a day, he says, will send more oxygen to my blood, reducing the effects on my body of the fight-or-flight mode that stress evokes.

I try this during my morning commute, which involves two packed trains. It feels unnatural at first, and I'm sure people are noticing – so I close my eyes, and by the time I get off the first train I'm infused with an unexpected sense of beatific calm. At work, I pop to the loo every so often to breathe deeply. By evening, my mind is calmer and my pulse slower; I feel different, more equable.work, I pop to the loo every so often to breathe deeply. By evening, my mind is calmer and m

Source - Guardian


The GRAIN attraction: How you can make the most of health-boosting alternatives to wheat

With millet, buckwheat, quinoa and rye now available in supermarkets, wheat is no longer the main grain. These are nutrient-packed and have key health benefits. Buckwheat can help manage diabetes according to researchers at the University of Manitoba in Canada, while the high fibre content in millet helps prevent gallstones.

So how can you make the most of these supergrains?

Crunch your chances of cancer with an apple a day

Eating apples regularly may reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer, according to new research in Poland and reported in the European Journal Of Cancer Prevention.

The tests compared 592 patients suffering from the disease with 765 patients without at the same hospital. Research concluded that those with cancer had eaten 9.5 servings a week, compared to those without the disease, who had 11 servings a week.

A reduced risk was observed with those who ate one apple a day, with the odds at 0.65, while eating more than one apple a day reduced the risk by about half.

Source - Daily Mail

The toxic timebomb: Researchers say gender-bending chemicals are rife but are they just the tip of the iceberg?

1. BRAIN

DEMENTIA: Lead increases the risk of dementia, a study in the U.S. Journal of Epidemiology found. The toxic metal was used in paint and plumbing pipes up to the Seventies and is still found in many British homes. Search direct.gov. uk for advice on dealing with lead paint. If you have lead pipes, consider replacing them, and always run the cold tap for a few minutes before using water for drinking or cooking, as lead leaches into water when it is left sitting.

AUTISM: Organophosphates are found in many agricultural pesticides and increase the risk of autism. A study in the journal Molecular Psychiatry identified three gene variants which make some people more susceptible to neural damage caused by organophosphates; exposure to residues could be contributing to the increase in autism, said the researchers.

DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY: Other neurotoxins (chemicals which harm the brain) include mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs - both found in seafood. Children of women who've eaten large amounts of contaminated fish may have lower IQs and difficulty concentrating. Initially the problem was isolated to larger fish such as tuna, marlin, shark and swordfish (which feed off other fish, adding to their toxic load), but the chemicals have also been found in sea bream, sea bass, turbot, halibut, rock salmon and brown crab meat. The Food Standards Agency advises children and women of child-bearing age to limit their intake of oily fish because these toxins accumulate in fats - the usual advice is to stick to just two portions a week.

2. HEART

FURRED-UP ARTERIES: Studies have shown that poor air quality contributes to heart disease. A U.S. study found that people with raised levels of PM2.5 particles, found in car fumes, are most likely to have atherosclerosis - thickening of the arteries - which contributes to heart disease. These particles are also found in homes in built-up areas, but you can reduce levels with frequent vacuuming.

HEART DISEASE: Bisphenol A (BPA), the ingredient used in plastic food and drink packaging, increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes, according to researchers at the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter.

Look for the recycle signs on plastic bottles - that's the place you are most likely to see the triangle with a 7 inside, which indicates the presence of BPAs - and avoid the office water cooler.

Source - Daily Mail

Britain 'turning to prescription drugs'

Britons are increasingly turning to prescription drugs to cure every ailment, a new study found.

The average number of prescriptions dispensed per person rose from eight a year to more than 16 over the past two decades, according to the paper, titled A Pill for Every Ill.

Author Professor Joan Busfield, from Essex University, said the age of "stoicism" was dead and argued that Britain was becoming more like France, with its "long-established tradition of taking medicines to heal problems".

In her study, published in the Social Science & Medicine journal, Prof Busfield said Britain was becoming a nation of pill-poppers despite people living longer, healthier lives. She said: "I think drugs are being overused. The population is getting healthier and healthier, longevity is increasing, but we are using more and more drugs."

She accused the pharmaceutical industry of "disease-mongering", with drugs companies now categorising problems such as sexual dysfunction, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and high cholesterol as diseases to maximise profits.

Source - Independent

Toxic Chinese medicine still on sale

A Chinese medicine which can cause cancer is on sale in the UK despite repeated warnings to take it off the market, a regulator said today.

More than 900 packs of the herbal medicine Jingzhi Kesou Tan Chuan Wan are thought to be circulating despite a recall by the distributor. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said today that the unlicensed product was distributed to 20 shops and clinics selling traditional Chinese and herbal medicines.

Ekong International (UK) Ltd, which distributes the tablets, issued a recall last month but more than three-quarters of the stock has still not been returned. Packs of the product, brought to the UK from China, have had a new English label put on to hide the original label which contained the Chinese symbols for Aristolochia, a banned toxic and carcinogenic derivative of a plant.

Exposure to aristolochic acids can cause in kidney failure and cancer, particularly of the urinary tract, the MHRA said.

The medicine is packed in white plastic bottles, each containing 180 round white tablets.

Richard Woodfield, head of herbal policy at the MHRA, said: "This is a clear example where natural does not necessarily mean safe. Aristolochia is a highly toxic plant that can cause serious injury and even death if taken. I would strongly advise anyone who has used this product to stop taking it and to immediately consult their doctor."

Source - Independent

Junk food could be addictive 'like heroin'

Junk food may be addictive in the same way as heroin or cocaine, according to a study showing that laboratory rats will endure painful electric shocks to satisfy their craving for high-calorie snacks made from sausages, bacon and cheesecake.

Scientists have found that a "café-style" diet of fatty, sugary food results in compulsive overeating among rats and causes neuro-chemical changes to the brain that mimic the sort of alterations in the human brain brought about by addiction to heroin and cocaine.

The findings lend support to the idea that certain types of energy-intensive foods can trigger compulsive overeating and obesity in humans, leading to a form of food addiction that is almost impossible to overcome by dieting.

Source - Independent

Acupuncture 'can treat dental phobia'

People terrified of visiting the dentist can overcome their fear with acupuncture, researchers have claimed.

The findings, in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine, may some offer comfort to the one in five of us thought to have dental phobia. Five minutes of treatment with needles placed at two specific acupuncture points on the top of the head allowed all 20 patients to conquer their fear. The experts said bigger trials are now warranted.

Dr Palle Rosted, who led the research carried out by eight UK dentists, said the findings were extremely promising.

"Although it's a small number of patients that we've looked at, all of the patients benefited.

"These were patients who would have previously run screaming out of the door or would had to have been held down by a dental assistant to have their teeth checked."

All of the patients were in their 40s and had been suffering from dental phobia for between two and 30 years. Many had, unsuccessfully, tried other ways to conquer their fears, including hypnosis and relaxation techniques.

Source - BBC

Gender-bender chemicals 'putting everyone at risk'

Millions of people have been contaminated with potentially dangerous gender-bending chemicals from food packaging, drinks cans and baby bottles, a study shows.

Researchers say the general public is 'ubiquitously' exposed to bisphenol A (BPA) - a man-made chemical linked to breast cancer, fertility problems and birth defects. The chemical, which mimics the female sex hormone oestrogen, was found at detectable levels in most pregnant women, teenagers and children.

Although the levels are within the official safety guidelines, anti-chemical campaigners say there is worrying evidence that BPA is harmful at low levels. They accused government agencies around the world of ignoring the mounting evidence against BPA - and putting health at risk.

BPA is used to make linings of food and drink cans. It is also found in plastic bottles, CD cases, plastic knives and forks and dental sealants. Although some animal studies have shown it is safe, others link it to breast cancer, liver damage, obesity, diabetes and fertility problems in animals. Studies have also linked it to heart disease in women.

Canada is so concerned at the threat it has banned BPA from babies' bottles. However, the Food Standards Agency insists that exposure levels in Britain are safe.

The new study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, analysed more than 80 studies which measured concentrations of BPA in bodily fluids.

Source - Daily Mail

Talk to your baby (using real words)... it boosts their brain

Talking to babies can boost their brain power, a study has revealed.

Months before babies start to speak, words play an important role in their brain development. Even at the age of three months, words have a bigger impact on their minds than other sounds, including music. The research showed that babies who heard words were better able to ' categorise' pictures than those who simply heard tones.

Almost 50 three-month-old boys and girls were shown a series of pictures of fish, accompanied by either words or beeps. The babies were then shown pictures of a fish and one of a dinosaur side by side and the researchers measured how long they looked at each image. Looking at the fish longer than the dinosaur demonstrated they had categorised the fish in their minds, the journal Child Development reports.

The researchers said the results were 'striking'. The babies in the word and tone groups saw exactly the same pictures for exactly the same amount of time, but only those in the word group looked at the fish for longer.

Source - Daily Mail

Moderate drinking lowers risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and slows progression of disease, study finds

Moderate drinkers have a lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis and the disease progresses slower, according to a new study.

Swiss researchers followed 2,900 adults with rheumatoid arthritis and found that light to moderate drinkers showed slower progression in their joint damage compared with non-drinkers. But heavy drinkers showed a greater progression of the disease.

The findings, reported in the Arthritis and Rheumatism journal, are based on x-ray evidence of patients' joint damage and its progression over an average of four years. Although the difference would not be apparent in day to day life, researcher Dr Axel Finckh said if the slower progression was maintained over decades it could make a significant improvement to people's health.

The study, carried out at the University Hospital of Geneva, ties in with previous animal research which suggests that alcohol may inhibit arthritis by reducing inflammation.

Source - Daily Mail

Could evolution make men more prone to coughs and colds?

Men may have a weaker immune system and could be more vulnerable to so-called 'man flu', scientists propose.

Evolutionary factors and hormonal differences may make males more susceptible to infection than females, says a Cambridge University team.

Their theory, outlined in a scientific journal, suggests there is a trade-off between a strong immune system and reproductive success. But a leading flu expert says there is no difference in men's immunity.

Previous experiments have found differences in the ability of females and males to deal with infection. Across a range of animal species, males tend to be the 'weaker sex' in terms of immune defences, says the Cambridge team. This is usually explained by the difference in hormones.

High testosterone levels, they say, lead to more coughs and colds.

Source - BBC

Free vitamin pills for mothers and children in Cardiff

Vitamin pills could be free to all pregnant and breast-feeding women and young children across Wales, if a pilot scheme proves successful.

Currently, low-income families across the UK get free vitamins and vouchers for milk, fruit and vegetables. Under the pilot scheme in Cardiff, vitamins will be free at health centres and given out by health visitors.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said the aim was to "give children the best start in life." The scheme, which will cost £53,000 for the year, will be launched at the Ely and Caerau Centre, in Cardiff.

'Healthy growth'

Attending the launch, Health minister Edwina Hart is expected to say: "These vitamins are needed for normal healthy growth and development."

Source - BBC

Is spinach the best source of iron?

Spinach may not be the best source of iron, but there are still health benefits — and the supermarket bags are better still

Q: Is spinach as good for as you people say? I’ve heard that it’s hardly got any iron, even though we all associate it with Popeye and bulging muscles.

A: Spinach does give us iron, but our bodies can make use of only about half of what is present because within the spinach leaves, the iron is bound tightly to a substance known as oxalic acid, making it hard for our bodies to absorb it.

The bottom line is that while 50g of fresh baby spinach leaves in a salad gives us about 1mg of iron, of which we can make use of 0.5g, you need about a 70g portion of cooked spinach to provide about the same. To give this a sense of perspective, women should be aiming for 14.8mg a day; men 8.7mg a day.

Popeye would have been better off gulping down a steak with about 2mg of very easily absorbed iron or better still, the same weight of canned sardines with more than double this.

Source - Times

Has Chinese medicine lost its healing touch?

Why is traditional medicine from the East is under threat both here and in China

Before anyone accuses me of prejudice, I would like to say that I do have sympathy for a balanced, holistic oriental approach to wellbeing. But as a health journalist with 20 years’ experience, the popularity of Chinese medicine and its lack of regulation fill me with alarm.

I decided to test my concerns by consulting three Chinese herbal-medicine practitioners, all only five minutes’ walk from my home in Brighton. At each, I complained of fatigue and bloatedness (symptoms I attribute to being a man in his forties). The first tested my pulse, looked at my tongue and asked about my symptoms. She pronounced that my body was contaminated by a cold I’d had five months ago, and that my energy channels were blocked. She wanted to charge £88 for herbs, pills, acupuncture and massage.

The second charged £10 for a consultation in which he examined my blood pressure. He said that I suffered “weak kidney energy” and an excess of damp in my stomach, and prescribed a two-week course of herbs for £17 and a £150 course of acupuncture. In the third consultation, the practitioner pronounced that I had “spleen insufficiency and weak pulse”. He wanted £325 for herbs, pills and acupuncture.

He was the only one to require my GP’s address or to ask if I was taking Western medications — crucial information as components in Chinese medicine can interact dangerously with conventional drugs. None of the practitioners would discuss their medicines’ ingredients. It’s this sort of apparent randomness that has British lobbying organisations such as Sense About Science — a charitable trust run by academics and scientists — arguing that Chinese herbalism should not be defined as “medicine”, as it gives many practitioners a credibility that they do not merit. Yet about 6,000 Chinese herbal medicine stores have sprung up on the high streets of Britain in recent years, a popularity that might suggest that they are in rude health.

Source - Times

Snacking on walnuts 'helps to prevent prostate cancer'

A handful of walnuts a day could help keep prostate cancer at bay.

Snacking on the nuts can cut the size of tumours and slow their growth, research shows. Although the experiments were carried out on mice, the researchers believe they are relevant to humans. They advise that men add around 14 shelled nuts to their diet for optimal health.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men and the second highest killer after lung cancer. Some 35,000 Britons are diagnosed with it each year, and 10,000 die. Although the causes of the disease are not entirely clear, it is known to be linked to diet, and tends to be most common in those who eat fatty meals low in fruit and vegetables.

Source - Daily Mail

Chocolate? Now that is a tasty new treatment

Once regarded as a health sin, chocolate is now being hailed as a superfood because of the high levels of health-boosting antioxidants it contains. Other ingredients include theobromine, which is good for the nervous system.

A recent study at Imperial College London showed chocolate can suppress persistent coughing. Another compound, phenylethylamine, is thought to have a mood-boosting effect. Meanwhile, antioxidants in chocolate are said to protect the skin against UV damage. They also boost cardio-vascular health (these health benefits all accrue from dark chocolate, as it is higher in cocoa solids). In fact, so good is chocolate that it's no longer just a healthy indulgence - some doctors are now recommending it as a form of treatment.

Dr K.K. Atsina, formerly of the University of Ghana Medical School, has used cocoa powder 'as an adjunct to treatment of hypertension and diabetes in my clinic for a very long time'. Another Ghanaian doctor, Professor F. Kwaku Addai, writing in the journal Medical Hypotheses, describes how he recommends two to five cups a day to help protect against malaria.

Source - Daily Mail

Is the British Nutrition Foundation having its cake and eating it too?

One of Britain's most influential institutions on diet and health has come under fire over its close links with the food industry.

The British Nutrition Foundation, established more than 40 years ago, advises the Government, schools, industry, health professionals and the public. It says on its website that it exists to deliver "authoritative, evidence-based information on food and nutrition" and that it aims to be "world class in the interpretation and translation of complex science."

However, the organisation's 39 members, which contribute to its funding, include – beside the Government, the EU – Cadbury, Kellogg's, Northern Foods, McDonald's, PizzaExpress, the main supermarket chains except Tesco, and producer bodies such as the Potato Council. The chairman of its board of trustees, Paul Hebblethwaite, is also chairman of the Biscuit, Cake, Chocolate and Confectionery Trade Association.

Critics say the foundation's dependence on the food industry is reflected in its support for the views promoted by industry and that it is not fully transparent about its funding.

The foundation is holding a conference next month on the science of low-calorie sweeteners, which aims to "separate fact from fiction". The web page for the event says "intense sweeteners have been available as a means of reducing sugar intake for more than a century" but the perceptions of them "can be somewhat negative". The conference aims to "explore the facts behind the stories and see where low-calorie sweeteners fit into today's foodscape."

The web page doesn't say, though the information is available elsewhere on the website, that the foundation is financially supported by Tate & Lyle, British Sugar, Ajinomoto (maker of AminoSweet), and McNeil Consumer Nutritionals (maker of Splenda).

A foundation press release in February said people could shake off the winter blues by drinking more fluids. It didn't say that its donors include Danone (producer of Evian, Volvic, and Badoit), Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Innocent, Twinings, Nestlé, and various yoghurt drink manufacturers. A footnote mentions the food industry as one of the foundation's funding sources.

Source - Independent

The Big Question: Does cognitive therapy work

Why are we asking this now?

There is growing frustration among GPs at the difficulty they face in providing psychological therapy for patients with mental problems including depression. A survey by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) published at the weekend found almost two-thirds of respondents said they were "rarely" able to obtain treatment for patients within two months. Getting help for children who had suffered abuse or trauma was even more difficult. Professor Steve Field, the president of the RCGP, said: "People should have access to approved treatments, and this has to be a wake-up call."

Why is psychological treatment important?

Because, as Professor Field said, "if patients can't get access to talking therapies, then they will be on medication". A couple of decades ago, the advice to those who were depressed and out of work was to get "on yer bike". Today it is as likely to be to get on the couch.

What does this mean for patients?

Whereas in the past, GPs might have prescribed Prozac or other antidepressants, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is now the treatment of first choice – where it is available – for the millions who turn up complaining they cannot cope. In 2007, the Government earmarked £173m to train 3,600 extra therapists by 2010.

Source - Independent

Call to tackle pollution 'role in 50,000 early deaths'

More could be done to prevent the early deaths of up to 50,000 people each year hastened by air pollution, MPs say.

A Commons Environmental Audit Committee report said failure to reduce pollution had put an "enormous" cost on the NHS and could cost millions in EU fines. It said the UK should be "ashamed" of its poor air quality which was contributing to conditions such as asthma, heart disease and cancer. The government accepted more could be done and would consider the report.

'Invisible killer'

Pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen oxides and "particulate matter" - tiny particles - from transport and power stations have been blamed for contributing to early deaths.

Particulate matter is estimated to reduce people's lives by an average seven to eight months, while in pollution hotspots vulnerable residents, such as those with asthma, could be dying up to nine years early, the report says. Air pollution also leads to damage to wildlife and agriculture, with ground-level ozone estimated to reduce wheat yields in the south of Britain by 5% to 15%.

Source - BBC

Seaweed fights obesity, researchers in Newcastle claim

Seaweed could hold the answer to tackling obesity, according to Newcastle University researchers.

The team found alginate - a fibre found in sea kelp - reduces the body's fat uptake by more than 75%. That is better than most anti-obesity treatments. Now the fibre is being added to bread in an effort to develop foods that help lose weight. Clinical trials are now intended to find out how effective it would be in a normal diet.

Dr Iain Brownlee, who co-led the Tyneside team, said: "This research suggests that if we can add the natural fibre to products commonly eaten daily, such as bread, biscuits and yoghurts, up to three quarters of the fat contained in that meal could simply pass through the body.

'Real solution'

"We have already added the alginate to bread and initial taste tests have been extremely encouraging."

The scientists used an "artificial gut" to test the effectiveness of 60 different natural fibres by measuring the extent to which they affected the digestion of fat.

Source - BBC

Roll out the magnetic mattress

So Roger Federer has a secret weapon. It stands to reason. Rarely is he injured or below par in fitness despite his rigorous schedule on the tennis tour.

It has been suggested widely on the web – though not by any medical practitioner - that one element that contributes to Federer’s supreme physical condition is his alleged use of bio-electric-magnetic technology. He is said to be one of a number of athletes and sports teams that carry a portable pulsed magnetic therapy unit on tour. According to Bemer, who make the unit, and sporting professionals such as Karin Mobes, Federer’s Swiss compatriot and world winter triathlon champion, it enhances performance, aids faster regeneration and helps to prevent injuries.

Bemer stands for bio-electric-magnetic-energy-regulation and is a completely non-invasive alternative treatment for a whole host of injuries and ailments from arthritis to psoriasis. The technology is licensed in Germany and manufactured in Lichtenstein.

It works like this: the Bemer interacts with and boosts the energy in every cell in your body simultaneously. Exposure to the magnetic field improves the blood flow and raises oxygen levels in the blood thereby relaxing the muscles and speeding up the healing process. Its makers make a number of other claims for it on their website, including strengthening the immune system through increased T-cell release, stress relief and faster post-operative and sporting injury recovery.

Source - Times

Fish oil may reduce bowel cancer risk for the genetically vulnerable

Taking daily capsules of purified fish oil could slow or prevent bowel cancer for people with a genetic condition that causes this type of cancer, a small study suggests. People who took fish oil had fewer growths on their bowel during the six months of the study.

A condition called familial adenomatous polyposis, usually shortened to FAP, puts people at very high risk of bowel cancer. This condition, which runs in families, means people get lots of small, fleshy growths (called polyps) on the inner surface of their bowel. If left, these growths are likely to turn into cancer.

Most people with FAP need to have sections of bowel removed by surgery, to prevent their bowel becoming cancerous. Ideally, surgeons like to leave people with as much of their bowel as possible, including the rectum (the end nearest the anus), so they don't need to have a permanent colostomy bag. People who've had a section of bowel removed need regular checking of their rectum (by a process called endoscopy) to monitor the growth of new polyps.

Some people with FAP take an anti-inflammatory drug, called celecoxib, which slows the growth of new polyps. But celecoxib may increase the risk of having a heart attack, so doctors are cautious about using it in the long term, especially for older people.

Studies in mice have shown that a type of purified fish oil, called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA for short), may work in a similar way against bowel cancer. So, doctors want to see if it could be used instead of celecoxib for people with FAP.

Source - Guardian

Fast food, frighteningly slow decay: Mother keeps McDonald's Happy Meal for a whole year... and it STILL hasn't gone off

Glancing at the two McDonald's Happy Meals pictured here, you may feel they look pretty much identical.

Astonishingly, however, this is the same meal, photographed 12 months apart. Where any other food might be a mouldy, decomposing mess after a year, the McDonald's meal shows few signs of going off apart from the beef patty shrivelling and the stale burger bun cracking.

Proof, says the American nutritionist who took these photographs, that it contains so many preservatives that it is bad for the children it is aimed at.

Joann Bruso said: 'Food is supposed to decompose, go bad and smell foul eventually. The fact that it has not decomposed shows you how unhealthy it is for children.'

Mrs Bruso left the Happy Meal uncovered on a shelf at her home near Denver, Colorado, to see what would happen. She has revealed the results on her blog, in which she gives healthy eating advice to parents.

The 62-year-old, who has eight grandchildren, admitted that the arid temperature of her home near the Rocky Mountains meant there was little moisture in the air with which to speed decomposition.

But she added that during the year-long experiment, no flies or other insects were attracted to the food.

Source - Daily Mail




Why tangy fruit could stop you gaining weight

The secret to staying slim may lie in a tangy fruit.

The juice of the blood orange stops mice piling on weight when fed a high-fat diet, research shows. In contrast, mice fed sweeter oranges more popular in the UK gain significant amounts of fat.

Scientists believe the fat-busting powers of the fruit, grown in Italy and the U.S., may be partly due to its high levels of anthocyanin. This red pigment that gives the orange its deep colour is a type of antioxidant, a natural chemical that helps ward off disease.

The juice damages the ability of cells called adipocytes to accumulate fat, University of Milan researchers told the International Journal of Obesity.

Adipocytes are found mostly around the waistline and absorb fat from food to store as energy.

Hypnotherapy 'can help' irritable bowel syndrome

Greater use of hypnotherapy to ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome would help sufferers and might save money, says a gastroenterologist.

Dr Roland Valori, editor of Frontline Gastroenterology, said of the first 100 of his patients treated, symptoms improved significantly for nine in 10. He said that although previous research has shown hypnotherapy is effective for IBS sufferers, it is not widely used. This may be because doctors simply do not believe it works.

Widely ignored

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gut problem which can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and sometimes diarrhoea or constipation.

Dr Valori, of Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, said the research evidence which shows that hypnotherapy could help sufferers of IBS was first published in the 1980s. He thinks it has been widely ignored because many doctors find it hard to believe that it does work, or to comprehend how it could work.

Source - BBC

Global acupuncture infections 'under-diagnosed'

Infections spread by acupuncture needles are under-diagnosed worldwide, according to doctors in Hong Kong.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, they call for tighter infection controls and regulation. Acupuncture is currently unregulated in the UK, but the government is consulting on the issue. The British Acupuncture Council says their members follow a strict code of conduct which includes infection control measures.

Needle risk

Professor Patrick Woo and colleagues, from the University of Hong Kong, argue in an editorial that acupuncture may pose risks to patients because needles are inserted deep beneath the skin, and can introduce infection.

Drawing on worldwide studies, he says there have been cases where bacterial infections have been transmitted to patients who went on to develop serious problems. They include joint destruction, multi-organ failure, flesh-eating disease and paralysis. He says acupuncture has also been associated with hepatitis B.

Source - BBC

How to meditate your pain away

On March 15, a new study published in the Journal of Pain, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Pain Society, found meditation an effective tool in reducing pain and anxiety. Here are some tips to meditate your pain away.

MeditationGeek, a user-friendly meditation blog, recommends these simple steps to meditating minor pain away.

Step 1: Stabilize your mind

Step 2: Identify the area where you feel pain.

Step 3: Focus your mind to the pain sensation in the area.

Step 4: Notice if the pain sensation changes.

Step 5: If your mind wanders, gently bring your mind back to the object of your meditation, which is a focused awareness on pain.

Mind stabilization can be achieved with mindfulness meditation, described as "a simple mental exercise, which develops mindfulness and concentration by paying attention on a chosen object (for example, taste of food or activity you wish to focus on) and holding the attention for a period of time. Mindfulness meditation does not necessarily require sitting but can be practiced while eating, walking, running, commuting, and doing other activities. This mental exercise also helps develop an ability to sustain mindfulness for prolonged time."

Here are helpful tips for quieting an unquiet mind:

  • Meditate for only one minute (gradually move to 2,3,4... minutes)
  • Use a timer to remind you of an end of a meditation session.
  • Instead of trying to stop, welcome it whatever arises.
  • If you cannot concentrate on the object of your meditation, pay attention to the thoughts and stories occurring in your mind instead.
  • If you cannot meditate while sitting, meditate while eating, talking, running, etc.
  • Discuss your problem with a mentor, teacher or experienced meditator.
  • Practice meditation in a group (or join a retreat).
  • Source - Independent

Five foods to enhance your mood

In addition to monitoring your mood with M-3, an online one-page secure questionnaire used to self-gauge mood, demmed a useful and effective diagnostic tool in the March/April edition of Annals of Family Medicine, a peer-reviewed research journal; moods can also be controlled with healthy benefits from foods.

According to Caring.com, a caregiver resource site, certain snack choices can change your mood for the better - essentially make you happier. Caring.com lists five snack foods that, because of their essential minerals, amino acids and vitamins, could help to enhance your mood, wellbeing and brain functions, making you happier. Tryptophan, a natural way to boost serotonin levels in the brain, is in four of the five snacks.

Banana
The combination of natural sugars and fibers creates long-lasting energy to help prevent a blood sugar imbalance. "Vitamin B6 helps convert the tryptophan into mood-lifting serotonin" and the potassium and iron work to ward off fatigue by producing more energy.

Sunflower Seeds
Packed with folic acid and magnesium, both are integral in monitoring and lifting a mood. Adequate levels produce a sense of calm and relaxation whereas an imbalance can cause fatigue, nervousness, and anxiety, irritability, depression, confusion and sleeplessness. Sunflower seeds are also a rich in tryptophan and fiber to boost serotonin and stabilize hormones.

Source - Independent

Food industry wins battle over warning labels on 'junk' meals

A public watchdog backed down yesterday in its long-running battle to force Britain's £72bn food industry to adopt colour-coded warning labels, to the disappointment of campaigners who believe they would turn people off junk food.

The decision by the Food Standards Agency's board meeting in Cardiff was the first time the agency had dropped its insistence manufacturers use 'traffic light' colours as part of efforts to reduce obesity, heart disease and other diet-related illnesses. Instead, the FSA decided they could display two of the following three methods to indicate the healthiness of food: the colours red, amber and green; the words 'high', 'medium' or 'low'; or percentages of nutrients such as salt and fat.

For the FSA, the decision – which goes to the Health Secretary Andy Burnham for approval – represented an interim stage in an eventual transition to a unified labelling system. For manufacturers, it represented a victory in a vigorous behind-the-scenes campaign to avoid the placing of warning colours on junk food, which they feared would lower sales.

Campaigners said it would delay attempts to improve a poor national diet which has left one in four Britons obese and prematurely kills 70,000 a year at a cost to the health service of billions of pounds.

"We think this compromise is really going to let consumers down. People want to have a single labelling scheme," said Sue Davies, chief policy adviser at the consumer group Which?, which backs traffic lights along with the British Medical Association.

The decision was the latest twist in a six-year battle to agree a single labelling system for processed food, which has pitched public policy and science against PR and lobbying.

Source - Independent

Chinese medicine no help to get pregnant: British experts

Couples who use acupuncture and Chinese medicine to try and increase their chances of having a baby were warned there was no evidence it worked by British fertility experts Wednesday.

The British Fertility Society (BFS), which represents fertility clinics, issued the guidelines after collecting information from 14 studies involving 2,670 patients. Adam Balen, who chairs its policy and practice committee, said: "There is currently no evidence that acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine, when used in conjunction with assisted fertility treatment, have any beneficial effect on live birth rate, pregnancy rate or miscarriage rate. Patients should be made aware of this fact before commencing treatment."

The British Acupuncture Council said it was "surprised" by the findings, published in the BFS's journal Human Fertility, citing "significant research" that acupuncture could help couples trying to conceive.

Source - Independent

Short bursts of exercise will make you fitter quicker

Like the diet that guarantees weight loss, the fitness regime which delivers maximum benefit for minimum effort is the Holy Grail of exercise coaches. Now they believe they have found it.

Alternating short bursts of intense activity with brief rest periods delivers more benefit for less exercise, research shows. As a way of building fitness and muscle power it beats traditional types of long-term exercise such as cycling or walking, scientists say.

"Doing 10 one-minute bursts of activity on an exercise bike, interspersed by one-minute rests, three times a week, works as well in improving muscle as many hours of conventional long-term biking less strenuously," said Professor Martin Gibala of McMaster University, Canada, who led the study.
Source - Independent

Deep breathing 'cuts stress as much as massage'

Massage is no more effective at cutting anxiety than deep breathing and soothing music, say US researchers.

The study of 68 people, reported in Depression and Anxiety, showed anxiety symptoms were halved for those given 10 massage sessions over three months. But those given relaxation therapy, which is much cheaper, improved by the same amount. Massage experts say the primary aim of massage is to treat damage to soft tissue rather than relaxation.

The study looked at people with generalised anxiety disorder, a condition involving excessive worry that makes normal life difficult. The patients were given one of three treatments. One group had massage. The other two groups had relaxation therapy (breathing deeply while lying down) or thermotherapy (having their arms and legs wrapped up intermittently with heating pads and warm towels). All three therapies were given in a relaxing environment with soft lighting and quiet music.

At the end of the treatments, all three groups reported their anxiety had decreased by about 40% - and about 50% three months later.

Lead researcher, Dr Karen Sherman from the Seattle based Group Health Centre for Health Studies said they were surprised to find that the benefits of massage were no greater than those of the same number of sessions of 'thermotherapy' or listening to relaxing music.

"This suggests that the benefits of massage may be due to a generalised relaxation response," she said. "Treatment in a relaxing room is much less expensive than the other treatments (massage or thermotherapy), so it might be the most cost-effective option for people with generalised anxiety disorder who want to try a relaxation-oriented complementary medicine therapy."

Source - BBC

Royal row 'threatens alternative medicine research'

One of the world’s leading centres for alternative medicine research is facing closure for lack of money after a row with a senior aide to the Prince of Wales.

The influential unit at the University of Exeter headed by Edzard Ernst, Britain’s first Professor of Complementary Medicine, will shut next spring unless a new financial backer can be found, The Times has learnt.

Professor Ernst, whose work has been critical of the claims made for some alternative remedies such as homeopathy, blamed its uncertain future on a lack of support from his university since he clashed publicly with Prince Charles’s office five years ago.

In 2005, The Times disclosed that the scientist had attacked the Smallwood report advocating complementary medicine, commissioned by the Prince, as “outrageous and deeply flawed”. This prompted a formal complaint from Sir Michael Peat, the Prince’s private secretary, who accused Professor Ernst of discussing a document he had been shown in confidence.

Source - Times

How sunshine can help your body fight disease

A spot of sunshine doesn't just lift your spirits, it also boosts your immune system.

Research shows that vitamin D, made when our skin is exposed to sunlight, plays a key role in activating white blood cells that protect the body from flu, food poisoning and even cancer. Without the 'sunshine vitamin', the cells do not join the fight against disease.

The discovery could help in the development of vaccines and ways to combat auto-immune diseases and cancer.It is well known that vitamin D is vital for calcium absorption and bone health and some studies have suggested it has an anti-cancer effect. But scientists had not realised what a crucial role it played in the immune system.

Vitamin D helps immune system

MEDICINE Vitamin D plays a key role in fighting infection by "priming" inert white blood cells known as T-cells into killer cells that seek and destroy unwelcome invaders, Danish scientists have found.

They say their discovery could help in the development of vaccines and ways to combat auto-immune diseases and cancer.

Source - Independent

Your pain is not invisible

( There is a lovely picture on the link!)
xx

Pain, considered to be subjective and without objective measurement, is being demystified by the use of brain imaging. Oral health researchers at King's College London Dental Institute have shown with a small study that pain can be seen in the brain.

According to the New Scientist, international science and technology site and magazine, Tara Renton, professor of oral surgery at King's College London Dental Institute, "has used an alternative way of analyzing fMRI [functional magnetic resonance imaging] scans called arterial spin labeling (ASL) to measure how much oxygenated blood is flowing through particular areas."

"The definition of pain is that it is subjective, and until now an objective measurement has remained elusive," said Morten Kringelbach, author and neuroscientist at the Oxford Univeristy, to the New Scientist.

Source - Independent

Women who drink wine 'less likely to gain weight'

Women can enjoy a tipple and stay slim, according to a study that shows moderate drinkers gain less weight than teetotallers.

Women who drank red wine gained the least, but the results held for other wines, beers and spirits. Although alcohol contains calories, the US researchers believe the women may have substituted it for other food. Their work in the Archives of Internal Medicine followed over 19,000 women over 13 years.

The women recruited into the study were aged 39 or over and of normal weight at the time they joined. Over the next 13 years, on average, they gained weight progressively. Those who drank no alcohol gained the most weight, and there was an inverse relationship between weight gain and alcohol consumption. Even after accounting for lifestyle, dietary factors and things like smoking and exercise, the study found those who drank the least gained the most weight. Moderate drinking was classed as drinking up to about two 150ml glasses of wine a day.

Although the study did not include men, the authors believe the findings may not apply to men. The women in the study who drank appeared to substitute alcohol for other food, meaning their overall calorie intake did not go up that much. They say men who drink might not do this.

Source - BBC

This flavor agent might fight cancer

A small study that found an inverse link between garlic and carcinogens with the use of a novel testing method for both markers in urine was published in Analytical Biochemistry, an international journal devoted to biology and biochemistry.

Lead researcher, Earl Harrison, PhD at Ohio State University's (OSU) Comprehensive Cancer Center explained, "what we were after was developing a method where we could measure in urine two different compounds, one related to the risk for cancer, and the other, which indicates the extent of consumption of garlic."

Source - Independent

Saying no to saturated fats may not be the answer

A new study published in the March edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a monthly peer-reviewed academic journal, found that there is no link between saturated fat and increased risk in heart disease and strokes.

The joint study from Harvard University and Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute showed that "age, sex, and study quality did not change the results" after reviewing the relative risk and saturated fat intake of 347,747 subjects across 21 studies. The researchers accessed the role of dietary saturated fats in 11,006 of the subjects who had developed cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease by re-analyzing past studies' data and risk pooling to determine the relationship of fats and heart diseases.

Source - Independent

Magnetic pulse relief for migraines

A hand-held device that fires a magnetic pulse to the back of the head may offer new hope to migraine sufferers, research suggests.

In tests, the machine, a single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (sTMS), delivered pain relief for up to 48 hours with no noticeable side effects.

It was used on patients with "aura" – neurological effects that precede the headache, such as lights or lines in front of the eyes, visual "blank spots", and tingling or numbness. It affects about 20 per cent to 30 per cent of patients.

A group of 201 patients were randomly assigned either to receive treatment or a "sham" machine that produced no magnetic pulse.

They applyied two pulses 30 seconds apart as soon as possible after the onset of aura symptoms.

Of the 164 patients who treated at least one attack, 39 per cent from the sTMS group were pain free after two hours compared with 22 per cent of the "sham" group. Patients rated the device an average eight out of 10 for "user friendliness".

Source - Independent

Manufacturing Depression by Gary Greenberg

A new drug trial promised to be the magic bullet that would rid Gary Greenberg of his depression. But, as this exclusive extract from his acclaimed new book, Manufacturing Depression, reveals, he couldn't hide his suspicions at the motives of the pharmaceutical giants who peddle the pillsToward the end of my second visit to Massachusetts General Hospital, just before I got my pills, the psychiatrist leading the trial for a new antidepressant treatment, George Papakostas, asked me how long it had been since I had felt good for any appreciable time.

"Good?" I asked him.

"Symptom free," he said.

"For how long?" I asked.

"Thirty days," he said. "Or more."

I wanted to remind him that I was a writer, that I counted myself lucky to feel good from the beginning of a sentence to the full stop. I wanted to ask him if he had ever heard of betrayal, of disappointment, of mortality.

But after having spent nearly two hours co-operating with him, helping him to transmute my messy words into precise data – the formulaic questions of the Hamilton Depression Rating scale that had determined that my complaints added up to "major depression" – I somehow didn't feel free to remind him that we hadn't really agreed that I had symptoms. I'd submitted to his alchemy. I couldn't just turn myself back into lead.

Source - Telegraph

Pinning down the placebo effect

The 'placebo effect' is a well-known but little-understood aspect of medicine. It occurs when a patient feels better after having a dummy treatment (such as a sugar pill). But experts don't know exactly why placebos work and how they might be used in everyday medicine.

Researchers have now done a large review of the studies on placebos to learn more.

What do we know already?

Placebos come in many shapes and forms, but all are treatments that shouldn't have any specific effect on a patient's illness. They can be inert substances (such as sugar pills or saline injections) or sham procedures that mimic treatments being tested (such as fake acupuncture with toothpicks that don't penetrate the skin).

Doctors also occasionally use 'active' placebos, such as vitamins, painkillers, or other medicines. Although these placebos aren't inert, they shouldn't have a direct effect on the illness being treated (for example, using a vitamin to treat insomnia).

A doctor might prescribe a placebo if regular treatments haven't worked or if a patient has a condition that lacks good medical options. The hope is that the patient will feel better if they take something. However, placebos aren't widely used. This is because experts don't fully understand how they work and what role they should play in medicine. Also, their effect seems largely based on deceiving patients, which raises ethical red flags.

The new review of studies provides some insight.

Source - Guardian

Gardens: Herbs as healers

Everyone knows that using fresh herbs in the kitchen can transform a meal into a feast. But we can also use them in the home to treat minor ailments. Whether you have a garden, a window box, or simply room for a pot on a west- or east-­facing windowsill, you can grow your own living first-aid kit. Be aware that some plants can be poisonous if ­misidentified or misused, so if you are unsure, if you are pregnant or for more ­serious conditions, always seek ­medical advice.

Hangovers and heavy hearts

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) makes a restorative herbal ­infusion that's ideal for waking up the grey cells, settling the stomach and ­lifting the spirits – perfect for ­sufferers of seasonal affective ­disorder, or a hangover.

How to grow Wherever you plant your herbs, make sure they are easily accessible. Rosemary will be happy in ­containers filled with a soil-based potting compost or in the garden in well-drained soil in a sunny position.

Recipe Cut a 3-4cm sprig, place in a mug, pour over boiled (not ­boiling) water, cover to prevent steam ­evaporating and steep for five minutes before drinking. Take one cup a day for up to seven ­successive days, ­then have a few days' break.

Burns and bites

I used to have an aloe (Aloe vera) growing in a pot on my kitchen windowsill because I am renowned as a clumsy cook. But I have started using the burn jelly plant (Bulbine frutescens), which is also a succulent and produces many more leaves which are easier to use.

How to grow Plant in containers using a soil-based potting compost mixed with an equal amount of sharp horticultural grit or perlite.

Recipe To treat burns, simply cut off a bit of leaf and rub the glutinous gel straight on to the skin, reapplying if the burn becomes uncomfortable. The wound then heals without blistering. This gel can also be used to cool the itching caused by insect bites and allergies.

Source - Guardian

Common painkillers 'increase risk of hearing loss'

Millions of Britons are thought to take aspirin every day in the hope of warding off a heart attack, because of its blood thinning properties.

Men below 60 were a third more likely to have hearing problems if they regularly took aspirin, the study found. However there was no greater risk in those over 60, the findings suggest. For paracetamol users the risks were even higher.

For those under 50 the chance of hearing loss was effectively doubled, while those in their 50s were 38 per cent more likely to suffer problems. The risk, however, continued to fall as volunteers got older.

Those aged 60 and over were 16 per cent more likely to have difficulty hearing than those of a similar age who did not regularly take the drug.

For the class of Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include Ibuprofen, they were found to increase the risk by 61 per cent for the under 50s, 32 per cent for those in their 50s and 16 per cent for those aged 60 and over.

The findings, by researchers from Harvard University Brigham and Women's Hospital, Vanderbilt University and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston are published in the American Journal of Medicine.

Source - Telegraph

'Visionary healer' faces Trading Standards prosecution for cancer cure claims

A self-proclaimed "visionary healer" who claims to be able to treat illness from a distance is facing prosecution by Trading Standards for suggestions that he can cure cancer.

Adrian Pengelly, 43, is accused of violating the Cancer Act 1939, which states that it is illegal to advertise offers to treat cancer. He describes himself on his website as a "visionary healer, energy worker, teacher and psychic" who has "become world-famous for treating people with cancer".

Testimonials posted from clients claim that he has not only lessened the symptons of cancer but in some cases banished the disease itself. Among those he is said to have treated is a three year-old boy suffering from neuroblastoma, a form of childhood cancer. One poster, RS in the West Midlands, wrote that Mr Pengelly helped to shrink a tumour he had in his jaw.

"I am in no doubt that Adrian Pengelly helped me with my cancer," he wrote. "He is a man of high integrity and I have had no hesitation in recommending him to my friends and acquaintances."

Another, IL in Shropshire, wrote: "I was diagnosed August/08 with a 4cm breast cancer tumour. I had weekly healing treatments with Adrian until I was operated on four weeks later. My surgeons report was - the tumour when removed was 2.5cm, with no cancer spread!! I think this result speaks for itself!!"

Source - Telegraph

Shining secret that makes silver precious for your health

Before the discovery of antibiotics, surgeons used to stitch wounds with thread woven with silver as they believed it helped to prevent infection.

Meanwhile, bandages were laced with silver in the First World War, as it was thought to help save lives. And they were right. As shown in more than a thousand medical studies, silver has powerful antiseptic and wound-healing properties. So just what are the health secrets of this precious metal?

'Research has shown that silver is a powerful antimicrobial agent that is non-irritating and non-toxic,' says Valerie Edwards Jones, professor of microbiology at Manchester Metropolitan University. 'Recent studies have shown that silver can kill up to 650 species of pathogenic microbes.

'The metal consists of thousands of tiny silver ions,' she says. 'These prevent bacteria, viruses and fungi from spreading by entering the cell and deactivating proteins. The microbes cannot reproduce and die, so the spread of infection is prevented.'

There has been a resurgence of medical interest in silver, according to Prof Edwards Jones, because it effectively kills antibiotic resistant bacteria such as MRSA.

Source - Daily Mail

Fruit juice cancer warning as scientists find harmful chemical in 16 drinks

Fruit juices drunk by millions of children each day could contain a harmful chemical linked to cancer, scientists have warned.

Researchers have found high levels of antimony - which can be lethal in large doses - in many popular brands. Scientists from the University of Copenhagen found that bottles of fruit juice and squash contained up to 2.5 times more of the substance as is deemed 'safe' in tap water, under EU guidelines. In some cases the levels of antimony were ten times higher.

The scientists believe that the chemical is leaching its way into the fruit juice from the plastic bottles which hold it. Previous research found traces of the chemical in bottled mineral water which experts believed was leaching in from the plastic container. The team has expressed 'concern' over their findings, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, which they say raises fears for the health of millions of children. They have called for an investigation 'straight away'. The substance can cause cancer, heart and lung problems, according to previous studies.

Although the scientists have not specifically named any brands, the chemicals are believed to have been found in 16 of the most popular blackcurrant and strawberry squash and fruit drinks consumed by children.

Source - Daily Mail

The cult of omega-3

If there were a top 40 of good foods, a chart rundown of the right things to eat, then anything containing omega-3 fatty acids would have been number one for years. They even have their own international awareness day, which takes place this Wednesday.

Omega-3 is the name given to a family of unsaturated fatty acids found mainly in oily fish, such as salmon, herring, sardines and anchovies, and also in eggs, meat, milk and cheese. The naturally occurring acids of the omega-3 family can apparently boost our brain power, keep out hearts healthy, strengthen our bones, and much more. You can ingest the fatty acids by eating a lot of the right kind of fish or by taking fish oil supplements - little golden capsules rich in omega-3.

Hardly a week goes by without yet another media report on "The wonders of omega-3 fatty acids" (as a headline in Canada put it recently). Last month it was reported omega-3 can protect against psychotic disorders such a schizophrenia. An international team of researchers gave a daily dose to 81 people deemed to be at risk from psychosis and found it seemed to cut the rate of psychotic illness - including schizophrenia - by 25%.

But how much of this is hype, and how much reality? Is there a danger that a largely fish-derived fatty acid is being turned into a modern-day magic potion? Dietician Evelyn Tribole is a firm believer in their potency.

Source - BBC