New plaster reduces severity of allergic reactions in children

A newly developed skin patch could help children who have a deadly peanut allergy.
New figures show youngsters who once faced the threat of a fatal reaction from the tiniest amounts of peanut protein can snack on the nuts after wearing the patch for a year. The stick-on patch, which could help thousands of children in the UK, is packed with tiny traces of peanut protein. Worn on the arm or back, it allows minute amounts of the protein to gradually seep through the top layers of the skin. It then comes into contact with immune system cells which would normally trigger a life-threatening overreaction.
But the proteins are in such tiny quantities that the immune cells slowly get used to their presence, learning to recognise peanuts so that they are no longer a threat. As a result, the body’s defences stop overreacting when they come into contact with peanuts. The patch, about the size of ten pence piece, is undergoing trials involving more than 200 patients with severe peanut allergies.
The first results from one of the trials, involving children aged five to 17, show that many are able to build up tolerance to peanuts after wearing one for 12 to 18 months. The volunteers wear a peanut patch or an identical dummy one, changing it for a new one every day. After 12 months, at least 20 per cent of the children were consuming more than ten times the amount of peanut protein they were able to tolerate at the start of the study.

Source  - Daily Mail

Digital dementia

Doctors have reported a surge in cases of ‘digital dementia’ among young people.
They say that teenagers have become so reliant on digital technology they are no longer able to remember everyday details such as their phone numbers. South Korean experts have found that those who rely more on technology suffer a deterioration in cognitive abilities more commonly seen in patients who have suffered a head injury or psychiatric illness.
‘Over-use of smartphones and game devices hampers the balanced development of the brain,’ Byun Gi-won, a doctor at the Balance Brain Centre in Seoul, told the JoongAng Daily newspaper.
South Korea is one of the most digital nations in the world and internet addiction, among both adults and children, was recognised as far back as the late 90s, says a report in The Telegraph.
‘Heavy [technology] users are likely to develop the left side of their brains, leaving the right side untapped or underdeveloped,’ he said.
The right side of the brain is associated with concentration and underdevelopment affects attention and memory span, which could in as many as 15 per cent of cases lead to the early onset of dementia.


Virtual reality software now used to train brain surgeons

A new surgery simulation tool has been created that allows brain surgeons to develop their skills without having to risk the life of a real patient.
The Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University, in Canada, is using the NeuroTouch Cranio, which is believed to be one of the most advanced brain surgery tools in the world. The device allows doctors to work out how to carry out complex procedures without the need to involve a patient.

Live Science reports that the technology allows doctors to feel sensations similar to those felt during real brain surgery while they hold the surgical tools. The device also includes a screen which shows a high-definition simulation of a brain tumour and the effect that the tools and surgery are having on the tumour and the surrounding brain.  Dr Hamed Azarnoush told Live Science: ‘Our main goal is to improve the resident training. Previously, they were receiving that directly from the operating room.’

Source  - Daily Mail

Virtual reality strolls

Injured British soldiers are to have the pain of their wounds eased with virtual-reality strolls around the Devon countryside, as part of a futuristic new treatment.

The pioneering therapy, developed using computer game technology, is intended to alleviate the pain that burns victims and amputees experience when having their wounds dressed.
Researchers from Birmingham, who are leading the project, said that more than a third of burns patients still experience moderate or severe pain when their dressings are changed – even when given morphine or other medication.
The new treatment works by distracting patients from their discomfort by immersing them in virtual re-creations of two real Devon beauty spots, Wembury and Burrator.
Patients who receive the hi-tech pain relief will view the idyllic images on a screen that flips up in front of them on their hospital bed, obscuring the part of their body being treated. And they will listen to accompanying sounds being transmitted through headphones. In one scenario, patients will be able to use controls to take a simulated walk around the woodlands surrounding Burrator, a large reservoir in Dartmoor.

Out-of-body virtual scenarios 'help social anxiety'

People suffering from social anxiety could be helped to overcome their fears by viewing themselves taking part in virtual scenarios, research from the University of East Anglia suggests.
New imaging technology allowed six participants to rehearse their behaviour in a range of social settings. They were able to practise small talk and maintain eye contact, for example. Researchers said it could be used with cognitive behavioural therapy.

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Many [people with social anxiety] will either avoid public places and social gatherings altogether, or use safety behaviours to cope.”
Dr Lina GegaUniversity of East Anglia
UEA researchers created more than 100 different virtual scenarios, such as using public transport, buying a drink at a bar, socialising at a party, shopping, and talking to a stranger in an art gallery. They then asked six young men recovering from psychosis who also have debilitating social anxiety to take part in the video scenes. The participants were able to see their own life-size image projected onto a real-time video scene while experiencing social interaction.

What you ate when you were THREE determines your risk of heart disease later in life

A child's diet at the age of three could determine its risk of heart disease as an adult, researchers say.
A study found that the effects of unhealthy eating begin at an early age, with the tell-tale signs of cholesterol noticeable in children aged between three and five. This suggests interventions to protect health could start much earlier, say the researchers, from St Michael's Hospital in Toronto.
They  looked at 1,076 preschool children and studied the link between eating habits and serum levels of non-high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol - a marker of later cardiovascular risk'Our results show that associations between eating behaviours and cardiovascular risk appear early in life and may be a potential target for early intervention,' said Dr Navindra Persaud. 'Eating behaviours as reported by parents were positively associated with serum non-HDL cholesterol levels in children aged three to five. The association between the eating behaviours subscore and serum non-HDL cholesterol persisted after controlling for age, sex, birth weight, parental BMI, gestational diabetes and parental ethnicity.'

Source  - Daily Mail

Adding silver to antibiotics boosts the effectiveness by 1,000 times

Silver could be a precious weapon in the fight against antibiotic resistance.
Scientists have shown that giving tiny amounts of silver at the same time as antibiotics makes the drugs up to a thousand times more effective. The finding comes in the wake of warnings by Britain’s top doctor that the rise of drug-resistant superbugs could trigger an ‘apocalyptic scenario’ in which even routine operations such as hip surgery become deadly because we have run out of antibiotics.
Professor Dame Sally Davies said that unless urgent action is taken, the ‘ticking timebomb’ of growing antibiotic resistance could leave millions vulnerable to untreatable bugs within a generation.
U.S. researcher Dr Jim Collins said: ‘The number of antibiotic resistant strains in our hospitals and communities is growing and is growing dramatically and has been for some time. And this development is accompanied by a drop in new antibiotics being developed and approved.'

Source  - Daily Mail

Too much red meat 'can heighten the chances of developing diabetes'

The chances of developing diabetes can be heightened by eating large amount of red meat, according to new research.

Researchers at the University of Singapore have found that raising red meat consumption by more than half a serving a day was associated with a 48 per cent increase in the risk of developing diabetes over the following four years. In turn, lowering red meat consumption by the same amount led to a 14 per cent reduction in risk.  Scientists analysed data from three studies involving around 150,000 men and women, with diets assessed by means of food questionnaires.
Among the test group, the researchers recorded more than 7,500 cases of type 2 diabetes. Dr An Pan, from the National University of Singapore, wrote in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine that: "Increasing red meat intake during a four year interval was associated with an elevated risk of T2DM (type 2 diabetes mellitus) during the subsequent four years...  Our results confirm the robustness of the association between red meat and T2DM and add further evidence that limiting red meat consumption over time confers benefits for T2DM prevention."
Commenting on the research in the journal, US expert Dr William Evans, from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, wrote: "A recommendation to consume less red meat may help to reduce the epidemic of T2DM.

Study claims ‘inner peace’ can help pupils to cope with exams

Teenagers struggling through this summer’s exam season take note – the secret to academic success could be achieving inner peace.

A new study from three leading universities has revealed the benefits of teaching “mindfulness” in schools, providing the first evidence that mental exercises akin to Buddhist meditation improve children’s attention spans, lower their stress levels and contribute to better exam performance.
More than 250 pupils at six schools, aged 12 to 16, were given a nine-week course in mindfulness, which included breathing exercises, “striking visuals” and “film clips” all aimed at allowing them to train their minds to control their own thought processes.
After being followed up during the summer exam period, the pupils displayed “fewer depressive symptoms, lower stress and greater wellbeing” than a control group who did not receive the special lessons, the study’s authors said.
“What we’re teaching is the ability to have better attention and to be able to deploy that attention in ways that are useful emotionally, academically and socially,” said Professor Willem Kuyken from the University of Exeter. “It’s like going to the gym and doing reps with the arms and seeing the arms getting stronger, but instead you’re using meditative practices to train the mind to better hold the attention on an object you want to hold it on.”

Are vegetarian diets secret to long life?

Vegetarians live longer because of their diet - with men reaping the most benefits, claim researchers.
They found a cut in death rates for people eating vegetarian diets compared with non-vegetarians in a study of more than 70,000 people. Over a six-year period, vegetarians were 12 per cent less likely to die from any cause, says a report published Online First by JAMA Internal Medicine.
It is thought the benefits come from lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels in people eating low-fat diets based on vegetables, whole grains and fruit. Vegetarian diets have been linked to lower risk for several chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and heart disease.
An estimated three million Britons, around five per cent, are vegetarian and never eat meat or fish, including superstar musician Paul McCartney and his fashion designer daughter Stella McCartney.
Dr Michael Orlich, of Loma Linda University in California, and colleagues examined all-cause and cause-specific death rates in a group of 73,308 men and women Seventh-day Adventists. Researchers assessed dietary patients using a questionnaire that classified them into five groups: nonvegetarian, semi-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian (includes seafood), lacto-ovo-vegetarian (includes dairy and egg products) and vegan (excludes all animal products).
The study said vegetarian groups tended to be older, more highly educated and more likely to be married, to drink less alcohol, to smoke less, to exercise more and to be thinner.


Fewer than six hours of sleep a night and waking too early 'increases heart disease in women'

Sleeping badly could make heart disease worse in women, according to a study.
Research into 700 people over five years in the US has found fewer than six hours of sleep a night, and in particular waking too early, has a 'significant' role in raising unhealthy levels of inflammation amongst women with coronary heart disease.  The relationship between poor sleep and higher levels of inflammation was not observed in men in the study.
The findings of the research, published online in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, could provide evidence of how poor sleep contributes to the progression of heart disease in women, according to the authors.
'Inflammation is a well-known predictor of cardiovascular health,' said lead author Dr Aric Prather, a clinical health psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco.
'Now we have evidence that poor sleep appears to play a bigger role than we had previously thought in driving long-term increases in inflammation levels and may contribute to the negative consequences often associated with poor sleep.'


Is your bra making you ill?

Health experts are warning about the the serious health problems that can be triggered by wearing an ill-fitting bra.
They say that seemingly unrelated conditions including skin rashes, tendonitis and even indigestion can be caused by poorly fitting undergarments, especially if you have large breasts.  It is thought that four in five women wear an ill-fitting bra because they tend to underestimate the width of their back, while overestimating their cup size.
Lorna Mills, a chiropractor practising in Oldham, said: ‘Women come into my clinic on a regular basis showing rounded shoulders, curves in the back, indigestion due to the diaphragm and lungs being restricted, marks from straps and underwires, dents in the shoulders: all the signs of an ill-fitting bra.'
She says that one of the biggest problems is that women are regularly fitted with bras that are far too big in the cup. 'This then means the straps are too big so they are continually tightened, which then pulls the shoulders and neck down, curving the spine and creating tension and discomfort.  The underwire can creep up because of straps that are too tight and pressure builds around the stomach and lower oesophagus. Tissues that end up being pushed and pulled in unnatural directions.'

Source  - Daily Mail

Why peas are good for you

Processed food companies have a well-rehearsed sales script aimed at convincing us that frozen peas are better than fresh. Nice try, but on taste grounds they can't beat the freshly grown seasonal article.
True, peas are one of the few vegetables that freeze well, making them a stalwart standby for every kitchen, but because they are blanched as a prelude to the big chill, this alters their texture. Result? Frozen peas are more watery and their skins become more perceptible, almost "squeaky" in the mouth. The first fresh peas, on the other hand, are a different proposition entirely – a life-enhancing seasonal highlight of early summer. Their sweet, green juiciness, and opulently velvety texture when cooked, can brighten a dish immeasurably. Later in the season, as the peas become bigger and starchier, use them in summer stews and other slow-cook recipes.

Why are peas good for me?

Green peas are a great source of bone-building vitamin K and manganese. They will boost your levels of folate – a micronutrient that is crucial for heart health and foetal development – and their significant store of vitamin C supports your immune system. Relatively high protein levels mean that peas have much more of a satisfying "fullness factor" than most vegetables, so they won't leave you hungry and eyeing up the first unhealthy snack that comes into view.

Could artificial sweetener CAUSE diabetes?

Splenda can modify how the body handles sugar and could lead to diabetes, according to a new study.
Scientists found that consuming the sugar alternative made of sucralose caused a person's sugar levels to peak at a higher level and in turn increase the amount of insulin a person produced.
Researchers said that while they did not fully understand the implications of the findings, they might suggest that Splenda could raise the risk of diabetes. This is because regularly elevated insulin levels can lead to insulin resistance, which is a known path to type 2 diabetes.
'Our results indicate that this artificial sweetener is not inert - it does have an effect,' said Yanina Pepino, research assistant professor of medicine at the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis, who led the study. 'And we need to do more studies to determine whether this observation means long-term use could be harmful.'
Sucralose is made from sugar, but once processed its chemical make up is very different. Gram for gram it is 600 times sweeter than table sugar. The scientists analysed the effects of Splenda in 17 severely obese people who did not have diabetes and did not use artificial sweeteners regularly.

Source  - Daily Mail

Forget the Mediterranean diet

For years, the Mediterranean diet with plenty of olive oil and vegetables has been lauded as the key to health and longevity.
But it seems that a Scandinavian nation's cuisine could actually be better for you.  Scientists have found that eating a diet based on that served up traditionally in Denmark could significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. Nordic cuisine is usually made up of fresh berries, fish and game - foods that thrive in colder northern climates.
Professor Matti Uusitupa, from the University of Eastern Finland,told The Daily Telegraph: 'The Mediterranean diet, representing the diet traditionally eaten in southern Europe, has long been related to improved health and prevention of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and type two diabetes. Acceptance of the Mediterranean diet has not been easy in other parts of the western world, probably due to difficulties in changing dietary patterns, cultural differences in taste and limited accessibility to various foods. A health-enhancing regional Nordic diet has therefore been proposed as an alternative to the Mediterranean diet.'

Source  - Daily Mail

Drink three litres of water a day

Thousands of new cases of kidney stones every year are caused by ignorance or denial of the need to drink three litres of water a day, according to a leading doctor.
Bhaskar Somani, a consultant urological surgeon at Southampton General Hospital, said a lack of awareness about the dangers of dehydration was responsible for an annual increase in renal stone admissions, including among young people in their twenties.
'The number of people admitted to hospital suffering severe pain and discomfort due to kidney stones is increasing by between 5 per cent and 10 per cent every year,' he said. 'Over the past decade, the number of hospital admissions for renal stones in the UK rose by 63 per cent to more than 80,000 and there is no sign of these numbers letting up.'
Kidney stones develop when crystals of salt gather into lumps and are not flushed out of the body due to a lack of adequate hydration, often lodging in the urinary system's tubes. They can cause severe abdominal and groin pain which, in many cases, can only be corrected through surgery.

Source  - Daily Mail