The cure for arthritis? Fish oil AND aspirin

Fish oil and aspirin could be the key to beating a host of devastating chronic diseases, according to new research.

Researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston found that the two work together to combat the inflammation responsible for a host of illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, arthritis and Alzheimer’s.

Both aspirin and omega-3 fatty acids from fish are known to have an anti-inflammatory effect on their own, but the research shows that when taken together they can control the overactive immune responses associated with long-term illnesses. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury and foreign bodies.
When something harmful or irritating affects a part of the body, there is a biological response to try to remove it, and the symptoms of inflammation show that the body is trying to heal itself.
But if the person suffering has a high-fat diet, too much body fat or is a smoker, for example, the may not be a break from the irritants, so the immune system can lose control, increasing risk of disease.
Long-term, inflammation can become chronic which can then damage heart valves and brain cells, causing strokes and promoting resistance to insulin, which leads to diabetes. It is also associated with the development of cancer.

Source  - Daily Mail

How vitamin pills 'can raise risk of cataracts'

Taking vitamin pills in high doses can significantly increase the risk of cataracts, a study has shown.
Scientists found consuming large amounts of vitamin C made individuals 20 per cent more likely to develop the condition – which is a leading cause of blindness. And regularly popping high-dose vitamin E tablets increased the chance of cataracts  forming by 60 per cent.
The dangers are even greater for the elderly, with those over 65 nearly doubling their chances of damaging their vision if they took the supplements every day.
Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm monitored 31,000 volunteers aged between 45 and 79. Nearly 3,000 of them went on to need treatment for their eyes. The Swedish team discovered a strong link between those that developed cataracts and those who took high doses of vitamin C and E.
Eating a healthy vitamin-rich diet did not increase a patient’s chance of getting the condition. It was originally thought the two vitamins would protect against cataracts because they are powerful antioxidants.
It was supposed that they would fight the process of oxidation, which destroys cells in much the same way as rust rots a car. However, it is now believed that, in large quantities, vitamin C may actually cause oxidation by upsetting  the natural balance of proteins in the eye.

Source  - Daily Mail

Will changing my diet help me to sleep better?

We are what we eat, and now researchers are saying that our diet affects how we sleep. A study, published in the journal Appetite found differences in the diets of people who slept for seven to eight hours a night compared with those snoozing for five.
Since less sleep is associated with high blood pressure, poorer blood-glucose control (increasing the risk of diabetes) and obesity (as is more sleep in some studies), shouldn't we eat the foods that are most likely to help us sleep a healthy amount? And does anyone know what foods these are?

Source  - Guardian

Why you're far better off with a stiff G&T than homeopathy

Picture the scene. You go into a pub and order a gin and tonic, but just as you are about to take a first gulp the barman snatches it away. ‘We don’t want to give you that!’ he cries. 
He puts a single drop of the G&T into a fresh glass and pours in more tonic.  ‘But we don’t even want to give you that!’
Another bottle of Schweppes is added to a droplet of the new drink. Many dilutions later, he eventually presents you with your, by now, almost entirely alcohol-free snifter — and charges twice the usual price, on the grounds that it’s far more powerful than a ‘conventional’ gin and tonic. 
Would you hurl it in his face or glug it down gratefully? Probably the latter, if you’re Prince Charles.
For this is what he and other fans of homeopathic remedies believe in: the ‘law of infinitesimals’, which holds, ludicrously, that the more you dilute a substance the more potent it becomes. And, thanks to the Prince’s lobbying of ministers, homeopathy is now available on the NHS, at a cost to the taxpayer of about £4 million a year. 

Source  - Daily Mail 

Organic tomatoes really ARE healthier

Organic tomatoes really are healthier than their conventionally grown counterparts, new research suggests.
Despite being smaller, they are packed with higher amounts of vitamin C and compounds that may combat chronic diseases, the findings show. The reason for the difference is down to the organic plants' tough upbringing, it is claimed.
While conventionally grown tomatoes are are treated with pesticides and artificial fertilisers, organic farming forces the fruits to fend for themselves. The stress they suffer as a result promotes greater concentrations of health-giving chemicals, according to the scientists.
Writing in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE, they argue that making life less easy for commercially grown fruits and vegetables can lead to improvements in quality. 
Opinions are divided over whether organic farm products really are healthier and worth the extra money.
A U.S. review of research studies published last year found that while organic fruits and vegetables may taste better, there is no evidence that their nutrition value is higher. The Soil Association, which criticised the review, insists that organic farming is better for the environment and for health.

Source  - Daily Mail

Prince's charity lobbied government to water down homeopathy criticism

Draft guidance for the website NHS Choices  warning that there is no evidence that homeopathy works was suppressed by officials following lobbying by a charity set up by the Prince of Wales.
Homeopathy, which involves the use of remedies so heavily diluted with water that they no longer contain any active substance, is  "rubbish", said chief medical officer Sally Davies  in January to the House of Commons science and technology committee. She added that she was "perpetually surprised" that homeopathy was available in some places on the NHS.
But the government's NHS Choices website, which is intended to offer evidence-based information and advice to the public on treatments, does not reflect her view. A draft page that spelled out the scientific implausibility of homeopathic remedies was neutered by Department of Health officials.  It is now uncritical, with just links to reports on the lack of evidence.
Lobbying by opponents, and the response from DH officials who did not want to take on Prince Charles's now defunct Foundation for Integrated Medicine and other supporters of homeopathy, is revealed in correspondence from the department discussing the new guidance. It was released under the Freedom of Information Act to Prof David Colquhoun of University College London, a Fellow of the Royal Society and prominent science blogger.

Source  - Telegraph

Why prunes are good for you

What would you prefer: a prune or a dried plum? They're the same thing, of course, but the latter has more seductive connotations. That's why the sticky brown-black fruit has been renamed in the US.
Prunes come in handy when the only fresh plums on sale are the tough-skinned, furry-textured imported sort, although, if we're honest, their natural sweetness, squidgy succulence and chewy darkness give them more of the wanton appeal of chocolate than fruit.
Many prunes we eat come from California, but their European base is the south-west of France, renowned for its pruneaux d'Agen with their glorious affinity for armagnac. In autumn, markets there sell these plums fresh or mi-cuit (half-dried) before they disappear into kilns for more thorough dehydration.

Why are they good for me?

They are a great source of phenols, which help to prevent oxygen damage to cells. Their sweetness doesn't make them the best fruit choice for slimmers, but their soluble fibre does slow down absorption of glucose, stabilising blood-sugar levels. Prunes are one of the best foods for vitamin K, vital for strong bones and blood clotting.
Amid much controversy, the European Food Safety Agency has ruled that prunes are not a laxative and can't be sold at such. Be your own judge: suck them and see.

Source  - Guardian

Pouring granulated sugar on wounds 'can heal them faster than antibiotics'

Too much sugar may be bad for the waistline, but it could help doctors heal the sick.
New research shows folk medicine from Africa may hold the key to treating wounds that defy modern medicine.
A study found granulated sugar poured directly into bed sores, leg ulcers and even amputations promotes healing when antibiotics and other treatments have failed.
The study is headed by Moses Murandu, a senior lecturer in adult nursing at Wolverhampton University, who grew up in Zimbabwe where his father used sugar to heal wounds and reduce pain when he was a child.
Sugar draws water from the wound into a dressing - bacteria needs water to survive - which allows accelerates the healing process, or kick starts it where progress has stalled.  When Mr Murandu moved to the UK he realised that sugar was not recognised as a traditional medicine that had something to offer.
One of the patients receiving treatment as part of the research is Alan Bayliss, from Birmingham, who was being treated at Moseley Hall Hospital’s amputee rehabilitation ward.
He underwent an above the knee amputation on his right leg due to an ulcer at the Queen Elizabeth (QE) Hospital Birmingham in January 2013, and as part of the surgery a vein was removed from his left leg.
For his post-surgery rehabilitation, Mr Bayliss was moved to Moseley Hall Hospital where standard dressings were used but the left leg cavity wound was not healing effectively.  Nurses contacted Mr Murandu and Mr Bayliss was given the sugar treatment and within two weeks the wound had drastically reduced in size.

Source  - Daily Mail

Women with high levels of calcium are at twice the risk of dying from heart disease

Women with high calcium levels are at twice the risk of dying from heart disease than those with ‘normal’ levels, scientists warn.
New research adds to evidence that calcium supplements could be doing more harm than good in people with adequate intakes by overloading the body.  Hundreds of thousands of women over 50 take supplements for preventing osteoporosis, or thinning bones.
But the latest research shows women with calcium intakes at least double the recommended level are at high risk of death from all causes, particularly cardiovascular disease.
Researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden studied 61,443 Swedish women aged 50 and over for an average of 19 years, including their calcium intake from diet and supplements. Average intake among those with lowest levels was 572mg per day (the equivalent of five slices of cheese), rising to 2,137mg per day among those consuming most.

Source  - Daily Mail

Taking vitamin C DOES reduce the risk of a cold

Taking vitamin C to ward off a cold only helps if you exercise regularly, new research suggests.
Finnish researchers have found necking drinks rich in vitamin C - such such as orange juice - makes no difference to couch potatoes.
But in people who work out, vitamin C can halve the risk and even help get rid of the sniffles.  Scientists from the University of Helsinki embarked on a series of studies involving more than 11,000 people to work out the benefits of Vitamin C, found in many vegetables and fruits, such as oranges, strawberries and kiwis.
They gave groups of volunteers, including Swiss school children, marathon runners, teenage competitive swimmers and Canadian soldiers, a dose of the vitamin and then assessed its impact on their health. 

Source  - Daily Mail

Drinking three cups of tea a day can keep you mentally alert in old age

It's the national drink that millions of us turn to when we need a pick-me-up.
But tea does far more than just help to wake us up. Scientists say the traditional cuppa can keep the mind sharp into old age. And the benefits of drinking as little as one to three cups a day in staving off mental decline are especially pronounced among women.
In one study, of almost 1,500 men and women in Singapore, drinking more than four cups a day cut the odds of memory failing by three-quarters.  Even just one to three cups of Ceylon tea a day had an effect, cutting the odds of cognitive decline by 43 per cent.
It is thought compounds in tea may protect against the poisons that ravage the brain in Alzheimer’s.
Possibilities include theanine, a plant chemical found only in tea and in mushrooms.
Experts in the US analysed several studies on the effect of caffeinated drinks on memory and mental alertness. The thousands of men and women who took part logged how often they drank tea or coffee and did a memory test that is used in the initial stages of diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease.

Eating tomatoes cuts heart disease risk by a quarter

Chomping on tomatoes could cut the risk of heart disease by a quarter, according to new research.
Lycopene is an antioxidant which gives tomatoes their rich red colour and is found in high levels in the fruit as well as products like tomato juice, ketchup and passata.
A new study by scientists at Tufts University in Boston, USA, suggests regularly eating lycopene over many years can have a powerful protective effect on the heart. They reached their findings after analysing data gathered over more than a decade looking at dietary intake to see the effects of lycopene intake on the cardiovascular system.
Previous studies on the relationship between lycopene and heart disease have produced mixed results. Some show that raised levels in the body lead to fewer heart attacks but others showed no obvious benefit.
Scientists from Tufts University compared hundreds of patients who took part in a long-running heart disease project called the Framingham Offspring Study, which was carried out in the US. Participants recorded their dietary patterns, including whether tomatoes or tomato products were a regular part of their diet.

Source  - Daily Mail

Start spreading the news - saturated fat 'is not so bad,'

For 50 years we have been told to cut down on lard and butter while eating more sunflower oil and margarine.

The dietitians’ rule of thumb has been saturated animal fat = bad,  polyunsaturated vegetable fat = good. But now US scientists are questioning the conventional wisdom, and asking whether margarine might have been more harmful for us all along.
Cutting down on saturated animal  fat lowers cholesterol and thus reduces the risk of heart attack. However, the new analysis of a study conducted in the late 1960s and early 1970s, some of the data from which had been missing for decades, has revealed that people who followed the standard advice and substituted margarine in place of butter died sooner than those who made no change to their diet.
The researchers from the National Institutes of Health in the US say in the British Medical Journal that their findings could have “important implications for worldwide dietary recommendations.”
The US scientists decided to re-investigate a heart study conducted in Sydney, Australia, between 1966 and 1973, because it was the only randomised controlled study to examine the impact of increasing consumption of omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acid, also known as linoleic acid.

Source  - Independent

The six foods that will cut your cholesterol in just three months

Your cholesterol is too high. Well, perhaps not specifically you, but thousands of Britons have this news broken to them by doctors every day. We all have an amount of this special type of fat in our blood. It is essential for many bodily functions, but most of us – 60 per cent  – have too much.
High cholesterol is a key factor in developing heart disease, which claims three times more lives than breast cancer and twice as many as lung cancer. The good news is that lowering your cholesterol is the biggest thing you can do to reduce your risk.
It’s something TV personality Gabby Logan, for one, is keen to promote. ‘A key risk factor for heart disease is high cholesterol but you can protect yourself with simple changes to lifestyle and diet,’ says Gabby, who is supporting the British Heart Foundation Love Your Heart campaign. But just how can you do this? Much of the health advice on the matter, including that on the NHS Eat Well site, is vague, leading to many misconceptions and myths.
So can diet alone be used to bring down high cholesterol – or should we leave it all to statins? The answer for very many people is yes, you CAN reduce your levels significantly through making changes in your diet. Should we stop eating eggs? Aren’t they high in cholesterol?  In fact, the answer is no. No food  is prohibited, so you can still eat cheese, red meat and chocolate, within the limits of a low-fat diet.  

Source  - Daily Mail

The medicinal power of literature

People consulting their local GP over mental health issues may find they are written a surprising prescription, one redeemed at the local library rather than a pharmacy.

The “big guns” of the library and medical worlds have joined for an initiative to help treat those with mild to moderate mental health problems.
Patients could be recommended anything from one of 30 medical volumes dealing with specific conditions to “mood boosting books” – novels and poetry – from writers including Jo Brand, Bill Bryson and Terry Jones.
The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) and The Reading Agency today announced the scheme dubbed “Books on Prescription” which starts in May.
 “There’s growing evidence that shows that self-help reading can help people with certain mental health issues get better,” Miranda McKearney, director of The Reading Agency, said.
This forms part of a wider vision for the future of public libraries in the 21st century, including offering internet access and training, and potentially e-lending services.

Source  - Independent