Drinking coffee 'drastically reduces risk of cirrhosis'

Drinking two cups of coffee a day could reduce your chances of developing liver cirrhosis by as much as 44%, say researchers at Southampton University
The research team studied data from nine earlier studies involving 430,000 participants, 1,990 of who had cirrhosis. In eight of the studies analyzed, increasing coffee consumption by two cups a day was associated with a significantly reduced risk of cirrhosis. Moreover, the risk continued to decline as more coffee was consumed.
One cup a day could lower the risk of cirrhosis by 22%, researchers found, while two cups reduced the risk by 43%, three cups by 57%, and four cups by 65%.

How going organic CAN boost our health

Paying for organic food delivers real health benefits, a landmark study by British academics suggests.
Organic milk and meat contain higher levels of key nutrients that support the heart, brain and immune system, scientists found.
The findings by experts from Newcastle University challenge the views of sceptics, including the Government’s Food Standards Agency (FSA). The researchers also highlighted recent mother and child studies linking consumption of organic milk, other dairy products and vegetables to a reduced risk of certain conditions, such as eczema in babies.

The team reviewed 196 papers on milk and 67 papers on meat, and found clear differences between organic and conventional milk and meat.
  • -  Both organic milk and meat contain around 50per cent more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products;
  • -  Organic meat had slightly lower concentrations of two saturated fats (myristic and palmitic acid) that are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease;
  • -  Organic milk contains 40per cent more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which some studies have linked to weight loss and cancer fighting properties
  • -  Organic milk contains slightly higher concentrations of iron, Vitamin E and some carotenoids.

Source  - Daily Mail

How eating avocado could save your life

They are a great addition to a salad or smoothie. But for many, the avocado has come to be seen as a guilty pleasure.
Though classed as a fruit, it is not typical in the fact that rather than being high in carbohydrate, avocados are high in fat. Fat has long been hailed the dietary enemy number one, but as the tables turn and the scientific spotlight shines more acutely on sugar, so the benefits of the humble avocado are being realised.  
A new study has revealed adding the green fruit to your diet can aid weight loss. Furthermore, the fruit reduces a person’s risk of heart disease, according to scientists from the Hass Avocado Board, in California.

Emiliano Escobedo, executive director, said: ‘This study supports the body of research showing the many benefits that fresh avocados have to offer when consumed in everyday healthy eating plans.’
The findings fall in line with recent recommendations from the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines stated that making small shifts in food choices can make a difference – including shifting from solid fats to oils, such as the oil in fresh avocados.
The new study, published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology, confirmed that swapping solid fats for avocados can ‘significantly change lipid profiles'.

Source  - Daily Mail

Homeopathy effective for 0 out of 68 illnesses, study finds

A leading scientist has declared homeopathy a "therapeutic dead-end" after a systematic review concluded the controversial treatment was no more effective than placebo drugs.
Professor Paul Glasziou, a leading academic in evidence based medicine at Bond University, was the chair of a working party by the National Health and Medical Research Council which was tasked with reviewing the evidence of 176 trials of homeopathy to establish if the treatment is valid.A total of 57 systematic reviews, containing the 176 individual studies, focused on 68 different health conditions - and found there to be no evidence homeopathy was more effective than placebo on any.
Homeopathy is an alternative medicine based on the idea of diluting a substance in water. According to the NHS: “Practitioners believe that the more a substance is diluted in this way, the greater its power to treat symptoms. Many homeopathic remedies consist of substances that have been diluted many times in water until there is none or almost none of the original substance left.” 

St John's wort recalled after contaminated batches discovered

Thousands of packets of St John’s wort tablets have been recalled in the UK as a safety precaution after some were found to be contaminated with a toxin which could cause human liver damage.
Health regulators issued an urgent recall of six batches of the herbal treatment – 91,800 packets in total – which have been on sale since September 2013 and are due to expire between May and August 2016.
St John’s wort is extracted from the hypericum perforatum plant, and is typically used to treat depression, anxiety, loss of appetite and insomnia.
The affected tablets, manufactured for Superdrug, Asda and alternative treatment specialist HRI Herbal Medicine, were found to be contaminated. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has warned that the affected batches have levels of a toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloid above the threshold recommended by the Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products, a European expert body. The St John’s wort in the recalled tablets was likely to have been mixed with poisonous weeds when the plants were harvested, the MHRA said.

An egg a day won't harm your heart

It is a mainstay of the breakfast and brunch menu, be it poached, scrambled or fried.

Rich in protein the humble egg is an important part of a healthy diet. But, that was not always deemed the case.  For decades the trusty egg was vilified - struck off for it's high-cholesterol content.

A typical egg contains around 186 mg of cholesterol - accounting for a large portion of the daily recommended amount of 300mg. And so, when studies linked high-cholesterol with heart problems, the egg and other high-cholesterol foods were deemed dangerous, prompting doctors and dietitians to advise restricting egg consumption.

However, in 2000 the American Heart Association revised its recommendations, suggesting it is safe to eat an egg a day. And now, a new study has added weight to that advise. 

Scientists found a relatively high intake of dietary cholesterol has no effect on the heart.  Eating the equivalent of one egg every day does not increase the risk of heart attack, they concluded.  Thus, a high-cholesterol diet should not be associated with cardiovascular disease.
Source  - Daily Mail

Warning over iron tablets

Iron tablets taken by millions of people could damage the body within just 10 minutes, a study has warned.

Tests showed the mineral rapidly causes DNA damage in blood vessels. While they were carried out in a lab setting, rather than living people, researchers found the levels of iron given in supplements may be too high and harmful. Iron supplements may contain 10 times more than is necessary for health, the researchers said. In future, doctors may want to think carefully about prescribing the minimum dose of iron necessary to patients who need it, researchers said.

Iron is an essential element for life. Many women take the supplement after pregnancy and it is used as a treatment for anaemia, a condition caused by low levels of the mineral. There were six million prescriptions issued each year for iron tablets in England and Wales alone.
Dr Claire Shovlin, senior author of the study, at the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London told MailOnline that men need an average of 8.7mg of iron a day, and women who are menstruating need around 14.8mg a day.

Source  - Daily Mail

Becoming a parent 'rewires' the immune system

Having a child radically rewires both parents’ immune systems, a study has found. The resulting changes may mean parents are more likely to get ill at the same time, researchers suggest.

Each person’s immune system is normally very different for a good biological reason. It means that if a disease or bug comes along, it doesn’t wipe out everybody at the same time. But when a child is born, the exposure to the vast range of germs, bugs and biological signals to both parents makes enormous changes to both parents’ immune systems. Nasty diseases – such as gastroenteritis – had only a minor effect by comparison, as did medical interventions such as the flu virus. After gastroenteritis and the flu, the immune system ‘bounced back’ to its original state, the researchers found.

The finding by researchers at Cambridge’s Babraham Institute and the Belgian research institute VIB were made by studying the immune systems of 670 adults. From an assessment of the effects of a range of factors, including age, gender and obesity, they found the most potent factors that altered an individual's immune system was whether they had parented a child.

Source  - Daily Mail

Why eating greens is good for your gut

Eat your greens and you will grow up to be big and strong, parents are fond of telling their children.

Scientists believe they have found an extra reason why sprouts and broccoli are so good for us. A sugar molecule found in cabbage, spinach and other leafy greens has been discovered that helps the good bacteria in our stomachs flourish. And when good bacteria are plentiful in our stomach, it leaves little room for ‘bad’ bacteria to grow.

Bad bacteria - the horrible bugs that give us stomach aches and worse – can’t get a foothold in the stomach if all the good spaces are taken.
The finding adds to all the reasons greens are great for us – including vitamins, minerals and roughage.

The sugar, called sulfoquinovose, SQ for short, is abundant in nature and is unusual because it is the only sugar that contains sulphur. But until now it was not known how bacteria could make use of it – the latest discovery has found that bacteria create an enzyme that can break it down.

The research, published in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, was led by researchers from Australia and the University of York.

Source  - Daily Mail

Can VINEGAR help treat a painful bowel condition?

Many would argue that its main purpose is to give a dash of flavour to a plate of chips. But vinegar could also help treat a painful condition of the digestive system, according to researchers.

Scientists have found that both vinegar and its main component, acetic acid, significantly reduced symptoms of ulcerative colitis when given to mice. The condition, in which the lining of the large intestine becomes inflamed and can develop ulcers, is thought to be linked to levels of certain bacteria in the gut.

Now Chinese researchers have found that giving vinegar to mice with colitis-like symptoms increases levels of lactobacillus and bifidobacteria bacteria, which previous studies have shown to be beneficial.

Their report in the Journal Of Agricultural And Food Chemistry added that the treatment also lowered levels of potentially damaging proteins. The scientists say that further work is needed to establish the effect of vinegar on ulcerative colitis in humans. It is thought that about 145,000 people in the UK suffer from the condition, which is most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 25.

Source  - Daily Mail

Virtual therapy 'helps with depression', researchers say

A new therapy which involves a patient embodying themselves in a virtual reality avatar of a crying child could help with depression, research has suggested. Patients wear a headset that projects a life-sized image, firstly of an adult and then of a child.
The new research tested the technology for the first time on patients with a mental health problem. The project is part of a continuing study at University College London.
The university, which is working in collaboration with ICREA-University of Barcelona, has suspected for several years that virtual therapy could help with mental health conditions. This latest research - which has been published in the British Journal of Psychiatry Open and was funded by the Medical Research Council - lays the basis for a large-scale clinical trial to be carried out in the future.

How an apple a day helps keep the pounds away

An apple a day not only keeps the doctor at bay - it also helps you shed the pounds, according to researchers.
Fruit and vegetables that contain high levels of flavonoids seem to stop people putting on weight. Flavonoids are plant compounds found in berries, apples, pears, strawberries and radishes. They have long been celebrated for their antioxidant effect, which is thought to help prevent cell damage. But experts also think that the compounds may also help reduce the energy - particularly from sugar - that is absorbed from food.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Harvard Medical School found that certain flavonoids were linked to maintaining a healthy weight, and even helped people lose a little.
Eating the flavonoids contained in an 80g (2.8oz) handful of blueberries every day for four years would help people lose about 2lb 10oz. By comparison, the average woman in the same period would usually put on about 2lb 3oz, and the average man 4lb 6oz.

Source  - Daily Mail

Leeches for infections, mercury for syphilis and honey smeared on wounds

The development of antibiotics and other antimicrobial therapies is arguably the greatest achievement of modern medicine. But before their existence, doctors used everything from knives to leeches and even honey.
And now, researchers say the rise of the superbugs mean we may need to revisit the old techniques.

Overuse and misuse of antimicrobial therapy predictably leads to resistance in microorganisms, and Antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus species(VRE) and carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) have emerged. Certain CRE species are resistant to multiple antibiotics, and have been deemed 'superbugs' in the news.
Alternative therapies have been used to treat infections since antiquity, but none are as reliably safe and effective as modern antimicrobial therapy.
Unfortunately, due to increasing resistance and lack of development of new agents, the possibility of a return to the pre-antimicrobial era may become a reality.
So how were infections treated before antimicrobials were developed in the early 20th century?

Source  - Daily Mail