Chocolate cough cure: Chemical in cocoa could be turned into a new medicine

Chocolate could provide the key to tackling a persistent cough, researchers claim.

They are carrying out the final stages of clinical trials on a drug that contains theobromine, an ingredient naturally present in cocoa and chocolate. If the trials are successful, the drug could be on the market within two years.

More than seven million Britons suffer from a persistent cough, defined as one that lasts for more than two weeks. Some have asthma-like symptoms while others suffer from heartburn.

But most widely available cough products soothe the symptoms rather than deal with the cause, and have been criticised for side effects such as drowsiness.

Source -Daily Mail

Echinacea does not ward off colds say leading doctors

The herbal remedy echinacea, which is taken to stave off colds, does not work, say leading doctors.

They suggest that the plant extract has little or no effect on the length or severity of symptoms including coughs and sneezes. Increasing numbers of Britons take echinacea supplements every year at the first sign of a cold in the hope that they will help boost their immune system. But a major study suggested that its effects are ‘minimal’, and for many people it will not work at all.

The research by the American College of Physicians compared the effects of the extract on 719 people experiencing the first sign of a cold.

Source - Daily Mail

How egg yolk and soya bean oil finally got me pregnant!

There’s no way of knowing for certain what made the difference with our fourth and final attempt at IVF.

Whether it was the ­acupuncture, the ­hypnotherapy, the steroids, the vitamins, the blood thinner or a curious white bag of egg yolk and soya bean oil that was fed intravenously into my arm, I don’t know.

But something had worked — and I put it down to the bean oil and egg yolk. For the first time in my life, and after two physically gruelling and emotionally battering years of IVF, I had taken a pregnancy test and it was positive. The relief and elation were immense.

Source - Daily Mail

Dairy foods 'could help prevent diabetes'

A natural substance found in dairy products appears to protect against diabetes, say researchers.

Trans-palmitoleic acid is present in milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter but cannot be made by the body.

A study of over 3,700 people found higher levels of trans-palmitoleic acid was linked with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. People with the highest levels cut their risk by 60%, Annals of Internal Medicine reports.

Lead author of the research, Dr Dariush Mozaffarian, said: "The magnitude of this association is striking. This represents an almost three-fold difference in risk of developing diabetes among individuals with the highest blood levels of this fatty acid."

Source - BBC

Recognise hospitals practising alternative systems

Accreditation process for hospitals practising homeopathy needs to be stepped up as recent studies have proven the efficiency of homeopathy in managing chronic diseases, doctors said at the 17th All India Homeopathic Congress here.

'Recent research and studies have proven the efficiency of homeopathy in managing chronic diseases such as cancer and tuberculosis,' said Homeopathic Medical Association of India president S.P.S. Bakshi.

Bhawna Gulati of the Quality Council of India, an accreditation and monitoring body for quality healthcare in hospitals, said: 'Accreditation process for hospitals practising homeopathy also needs to be stepped up. This includes, medical centres with ayurveda, unani, homeopathy, yoga and naturopathy.

According to the World Health Organization, homeopathy is the second largest system of medicine in the world and is practiced in over 100 countries and used by over 60 crore people.

'Homeopathy can play a vital role in healthcare and this is only possible by constant interaction of educational, research institutions, private practitioners and drug industry,' Bakshi added.

Source - Google

Alternative treatment for headache

BESIDES medication, other forms of treatments are being sought after by headache sufferers, either as alternative or complementary therapies.

According to Mayo Clinic On Headache, the US National Institutes of Health states that acupuncture can play a useful role in controlling headaches and other conditions that cause chronic pain. It explained that acupuncture works on the premise that our health depends on the free circulation of blood and the energy, qi, in our body. Qi flows through the body along 14 pathways called meridians. When this flow is interrupted, illness comes about.

Acupuncture needles inserted along these meridians is believed to remove blockages. Acupuncture is also said to help release natural painkillers and other chemicals in the central nervous system.

Datuk Dr Rajen M, a pharmacist with a doctorate in holistic medicine, listed the top three therapies for headaches as acupuncture, chiropractic treatment and massages like shiatsu and pressure massage.

Source - Google

The elixir of youth? Beetroot juice could give the elderly a new lease of life, say experts

Drinking beetroot juice could help the elderly lead more active lives, it has been found.

In tests, they required less energy to carry out low-intensity exercises after drinking the juice. The amount of effort it took to walk was reduced by 12 per cent. This could enhance their lives by allowing the elderly to carry out tasks they might not otherwise attempt, the researchers said.

Beetroot juice widens blood vessels and reduces the amount of oxygen needed by muscles during activity. As people age, or if they develop conditions that affect the cardiovascular system, the amount of oxygen taken in during exercise can drop dramatically.

Writing in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Katie Lansley said: ‘What we’ve seen in this study is that beetroot juice can actually reduce the amount of oxygen you need to perform even low-intensity exercise.’

Source - Daily Mail

Vitamin pills could damage your health by making misleading claims, says watchdog

People who pop vitamin pills in an effort to boost their health could be jeopardising their wellbeing as well as wasting their money, according to the consumer watchdog.

A survey by Which? found two-thirds of us have taken supplements in the past year. But on closer study many products were found labelled with misleading or insufficient information. Researchers who visited supermarkets, chemists and smaller health shops in London in October found numerous examples of unsubstantiated claims on supplements.

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said the worst culprits were those that claimed to maintain healthy bones and joints.

Claims about key ingredients including glucosamine and long chain omega-3 fatty acids have all been turned down by the European Food Safety Authority. However, until the regulations have been fully implemented they will still appear on bottles.

Source - Daily Mail

Mistletoe can help kiss goodbye to cancer side effects

According to folklore, mistletoe 'magic' may seal romance, bestow fertility and bring peace to warring spouses.

The plant has also been credited with the power of healing - an attribute currently being harnessed by a new outpatient unit at the independent Raphael Medical Centre in Kent, which offers integrated cancer care.

The centre uses mistletoe (known by its Latin plant name, viscum album) to combat undesirable effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, such as fatigue, nausea, weight loss, low mood and infections.

Source - Daily Mail

Junk food fan? Drinking tea could keep the pounds at bay

Drinking tea may prevent weight gain caused by a junk food diet.

Researchers found regular consumption of tea also suppressed damaging changes in the blood linked to fatty foods that can lead to type 2 diabetes. They said the research on mice could signal another set of health benefits from tea drinking if they are confirmed in trials on humans.

In the study some mice were given a high fat diet and others a normal diet. Each of these two groups were then split into smaller groups and given water, black tea or green tea for 14 weeks.Both types of tea suppressed body weight gain and the build-up of belly fat linked to a fatty diet.

But black tea, which is used in most ordinary cuppas, also counteracted the harmful effects on the blood normally associated with a high-fat diet.

Source - Daily Mail

government clampdown on alternative pet remedies

Alternative remedies which could be dangerous to pets are being targeted by the Government in a major drive to improve animal health and welfare.

Some herbal and homeopathic products are claiming medicinal benefits without scientific proof, meaning they may not properly treat or prevent serious diseases, leaving pets at risk.

The Veterinary Medicines Directorate’s (VMD) Director of Operations, John FitzGerald, said:

“Some of these products are claiming to be effective and safe when no scientific evidence has been presented to us to show they are. Animal owners have a right to know if a product does what it claims. The products claim to treat diseases which can cause serious welfare problems and in some circumstances kill animals if not properly treated. So in some cases owners are giving remedies to their pets which don’t treat the problem.”

Source - Google

Tucking in to plenty of garlic may prevent arthritis

It may do no favours for your breath, but enjoying a diet rich in garlic, onions and leeks could reduce your risk of developing the most common form of arthritis.

Researchers at King’s College London and the University of East Anglia investigated possible links between diet and the painful joint disease. They found that women who ate a lot of allium vegetables (in the garlic family) had lower levels of hip osteoarthritis.

The findings, published in the BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders journal, show the great potential garlic compounds have in developing new treatments for the disease.

Source - Daily Mail

Five portions a day 'saves lives'

Around 33,000 lives a year could be saved if everyone in the UK followed dietary guidelines, research suggests.

Eating five portions of fruit and veg a day has the biggest effect, say experts at Oxford University.

Only a third of Britons consume enough fruit and veg, with the worst results in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The UK daily guidelines are to eat five portions of fruit and veg, no more than 6g of salt, and keep saturated fat to 10% of total energy intake.

The research, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, was based on a computer model linking food consumption with mortality from heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Source - BBC

Why kids should eat their greens

If you child is reluctant to eat their greens the results of a new dietary study may convince them. It found youngsters who don't like fruit and vegetables are 13 times more likely to develop constipation.

The research, which appears in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing, also found drinking less than two glasses of water a day also significantly increases the risk.

Constipation is an often painful condition when bowel movements are infrequent of hard to pass. If untreated it can lead to more serious bowel obstructions.

Dr Moon Fai Chan at the National University of Singapore and Yuk Ling Chan from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University studied the dietary habits of 383 primary school children in Hong Kong. Children who were on regular medication or paid regular hospital visits were excluded.

The team found that seven per cent of the eight to 10-year-olds had 'functional constipation' - which is constipation without a physical or psychological cause. Those who did not like fruit or vegetables were 13 times more likely to struggle in the toilets while children who didn't drink enough water were eight times more at risk.

Source - Daily Mail

Drink up! Researchers find that a glass of wine with festive meal does not increase indigestion

It will come as good news to anyone who fancies a drink with their Christmas meal - but is worried about the consequences.

Researchers have found that drinking wine with your festive dinner does not increase the risk of indigestion. They found that while a drink does slow the digestion of a rich meal, it does not cause heartburn, belching or bloating.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, experts from the University of Zurich studied 20 people who drank either 300ml of white wine or black tea with a Swiss cheese fondue. Ninety minutes later, the participants were randomly given a further drink - either 20ml of cherry liqueur or water. They then all had breath tests to assess how the alcohol affected their digestive system.

The results showed digestion was much slower in the group which drank alcohol with their fondue. And those who drank the most alcohol (the wine and liqueur) had the slowest digestion overall.

Source - Daily Mail

Many asthma sufferers 'have garden MOULD growing on their lungs'

A common garden mould that causes an allergic reaction in asthmatics actually grows in many sufferers' lungs, scientists have found.

The discovery was made during research into the impact of the mould Aspergillus fumigates on asthmatics. The funghi is usually found in soil and compost heaps.

The research was led University of Leicester scientists at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester.

Source - Daily Mail

Why the white stuff IS the right stuff. Drinking milk 'lowers heart disease risk'

Shoppers have long been urged to 'make mine milk' by UK dairy producers - now scientists have revealed another reason why they should.

Researchers from Harvard and Wageningen University found drinking three glasses of milk could lower the risk of heart disease by 18 per cent.

The finding was highlighted in a paper that examined 17 studies from Europe, the U.S and Japan. The research also found no link between tucking into low-fat dairy foods and any increased risk of stroke or early death. It highlighted a study of more than 20,000 men in the American Journal of Epidemiology, which found increasing levels of calcium above recommended levels could actually reduce the risk of mortality from cancer by 25 per cent.

Source - Daily Mail

Complementary Medicine Use for Skin Disorders Has Risen

Complementary and alternative medicine use is high among people with skin disorders and has increased in this group, according to a report in the December issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use is high among people with skin disorders and has increased in this group, according to a report in the December issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Tracy Fuhrmann, of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York, and colleagues used the alternative health supplement from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to update the prevalence of CAM use among people with skin disorders. The survey included data from a total of 23,393 completed interviews, with 2,374 respondents reporting skin problems. The researchers compared these results to data from the 2002 NHIS alternative health supplement.

Source - Doctors Lounge

Understanding spiritual healing - and dispelling the myths

We all have energy flows within ourselves which, when blocked, can result in physical symptoms. Through Spiritual Healing the mind, body and spirit are accessed, negative energy and physical and emotional blocks are released and all the energy systems of the body are balanced. And through this, good health can be restored.

Spiritual Healers have different gifts but broadly we link with the healing energy that exists and direct it to the patient. My own gift involves channelling; this is a very powerful form of healing and works in a natural intuitive way.

Spiritual Healing is for everyone, however young or old. Animals too!

I have helped patients with bereavement, family break-up, rejection, stress and self-acceptance. I also work on the physical and, for example, have worked with a gardener whose painful foot was making it difficult for him to walk and released the back problems of a client who came to me with emotional problems.

Source - Mature Times

Green tea: a delight to drink - and it's good for you

Scientific research in the last few years – printed in some very august publications - depicts Green Tea as one of those “wonder foods” that can improve our resistance to everything from Alzheimer’s and cancer to cardiovascular disease and obesity.

Japan and China, where the incidence of all those conditions is markedly lower than in Western society, have been big drinkers of the stuff for many hundreds of years. Green Tea is also, speaking from personal experience, a really refreshing drink – and, with no need for milk or sugar, not one to detrimentally affect your waistline either. No wonder huge numbers of us in the West are making the switch from other beverages.

Source - Mature Times

Pomegranate juice 'could slow the spread of cancer'

Pomegranate juice could slow the spread of cancer, research suggests.

Scientists have found components in the juice which stop the movement of cancer cells, and weaken their attraction to chemical signals which cause them to spread. They found that particular ingredients in the juice - such as fatty acids - slowed the spread of the disease from prostate cancer to the bone.

The team from the University of California hope the fruit will have a similar effect on other cancers.

Previous research that claimed pomegranate juice could slow the disease was controversial as the UCLA researchers did not define the biological mechanism behind the the effects.

Source - Daily Mail

Salvia: more powerful than LSD, and legal

Salvia divinorum - aka the 'YouTube drug' - is banned in many countries around the world, but not in Britain. Is it as harmless as its users claim?

In a cluttered living room in south London, Lee Hogan, a sound engineer and part-time disc jockey, perches on the edge of a cheap leather armchair and bends his head towards a glass water pipe. A friend, kneeling on the floor, holds the stem of the pipe and uses a cigarette lighter to burn a tea-smelling herb. The herb glows red, and as it does so, Hogan places his mouth over the aperture of the pipe (better known as a 'bong' to those in the know). He breathes in deeply, taking a lung-full of smoke.

Source - Telegraph

Upping your coffee intake 'doubles the risk of a stroke'

Drinking more coffee than usual could double your risk of a stroke, according to a study.

Light coffee drinkers who normally have no more than one a day are twice as likely to suffer a blood clot on the brain if they increase that by an extra cup or two, it found.

The risk of a potentially fatal stroke was greatest in the hour following consumption. After two hours, the coffee’s effects had worn off and the risk of a stroke passed.

But the danger lies in occasional exposure to relatively higher caffeine levels, the findings in the journal Neurology said – making light coffee drinkers more susceptible.

Source - Daily Mail

Why honey is a sweet thing for stiff joints, colds and gum disease

Two thousand years ago, Greek athletes stuffed themselves with honey during training for the great Olympiad, aware that it could boost their energy and performance levels, writes Gloria Havenhand.

Honey contains glucose and fructose, which produce tremendous reserves of glycogen in the liver. The all-important consideration in any feat of endurance is to maintain blood-sugar levels because those with the best stores of glycogen and blood sugar will always emerge from such tests of endurance and races against time as the least exhausted and last to be fatigued.

A teaspoon of honey has 22 calories, whereas the same amount of sugar has 15. But honey is much more valuable and refuels the brain within minutes because it is almost equal parts glucose and fructose. Having a spoonful of unprocessed honey before bed can support your brain function.

Source - Daily Mail

Vitamin D and plenty of sun give a ray of hope in the breast cancer fight

A diet packed with Vitamin D combined with high levels of sunlight could reduce the risk of breast cancer in women by 43 per cent.

A new study of 70,000 women conducted over ten years revealed that a diet high in Vitamin D had no effect on its own. One theory is that consuming a diet rich in Vitamin D makes a difference only when there is already a sufficient amount produced from sun exposure. Therefore, when sun exposure is low, diet intake does not make any difference to risk of disease.

However, the study concludes that an increase in overall Vitamin D intake should be encouraged, including fortifying foods with it - a practice already under way in America. Laboratory studies have suggested that Vitamin D may have a number of anti-cancer effects and has been shown to slow the spread of cancer cells.

Researchers at the Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health in France tracked 67,721 women aged 41 to 72 for a decade to see who developed breast cancer. Their diets and ultraviolet levels where they lived were then analysed to calculate the risks. At the end of the ten-year period 2,871 breast cancers had been diagnosed.

Source - Daily Mail

Whole grain foods reduce blood pressure, scientists say

Eating whole grain foods can significantly reduce blood pressure, according to scientists.

The University of Aberdeen team said foods such as wholemeal cereal, porridge, bread and oatcakes could have major health benefits. More than 200 volunteers took part in the study. Dr Frank Thies, who led the research, said the findings could be seen as especially good news for Scottish food producers.

The volunteers in the study received three servings every day of whole grain foods. The whole grain diets were compared with one that contained the same amounts of refined cereals and white bread.

Dr Thies, a senior lecturer at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, said volunteers eating wholegrain had a drop in blood pressure similar to that expected from blood pressure-lowering drugs.

Source - BBC

Ventilator patients helped by music says study

Playing music to hospital patients on ventilators helps them to breathe more easily, findings show.

Experts at the Cochrane Library say music could be better than drugs to calm patients during forced ventilation.

In studies involving more than 200 intensive care patients, listening to music reduced anxiety and helped slow patients' breathing rates. More work is planned to determine if the type of music played is important.

On tempo

In most trials doctors had plumped for classical music, such as Mozart's piano sonatas, or easy listening. But it may be that for some patients other genres would work just as well, if not better.

Source - BBC

Thinking about food makes you want it less

Dieters could help themselves to lose weight by thinking about food, according to a new study.

A small-scale study in Science showed that people who had imagined they were eating chocolate wanted it less than those who had not been thinking of it. The researchers said that imagining eating a favourite food could be a substitute for actually eating it, thereby reducing the desire for it. A psychologist said this might not work for those with strong cravings.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania divided 51 people into three groups. One group imagined eating 30 M&M chocolates, the second group imagined eating three M&Ms, while the third group did not imagine eating any.

When a bowl of the sweets was subsequently presented to the group, those that had thought most about eating the chocolates ate the fewest.

Source - BBC

Therapy shows us life is not neat or safe. So why judge it by those criteria?

A proposed regulation of talking therapies would impose market values on a practice that aims to free us from such judgments

When Freud arrived in London in 1938, he praised the generosity and open-mindedness of a culture that had offered him – and psychoanalysis – a home. Yet now, some 70 years later, analysts and therapists have been forced to take legal action in order to preserve the ethos of the discipline he founded.

The high court will tomorrow hear the judicial review claim made by six organisations against the . They are concerned that, under HPC proposals for the regulation of talking therapies, it may no longer be possible to go into therapy, practise therapy or train therapists as before.

Therapy occupies a unique space in the modern world. In a culture obsessed with surface and statistics, it allows the detail and narrative of a human life to be explored. Where society tells us what to be, therapy allows us to reflect critically on the imperatives that shape us. Challenging received notions of wellbeing and happiness, we can try to find out what is really important to us, often with life-changing consequences. It offers a system of values freed from the moral judgments of social authorities.

Until now, prospective patients have been able to choose the therapist they wish to work with. Under HPC, this will no longer be the case. Only approved psychotherapists will be able to practise, and approval means fitting into a framework that is at odds with the basic values of psychotherapy.

Source - Guardian

Starfish could provide non-sticky cure for asthma and arthritis

Starfish may soon provide an unlikely treatment for inflammatory conditions such as asthma and arthritis, according to marine scientists.

A team from the Scottish Association for Marine Science have been studying the slimy substance that coats the spiny starfish. They found the slippery material was 'better than Teflon' at stopping debris from sticking to the creature that sits on the ocean floor, thus keeping it clean.

The researchers believe this non-stick property could provide a vital new weapon against inflammatory illness. These conditions are caused when the body's natural response to infections accelerates out of control. Infection-fighting white blood cells begin to build up in the blood vessels and stick to the sides, which can cause tissue damage.

Source - Daily Mail

To erase a bad memory, first become a child

IT ADDS new meaning to getting in touch with your inner child. Temporarily returning the brain to a child-like state could help permanently erase a specific traumatic memory. This could help people with post traumatic stress disorder and phobias.

At the Society of Neuroscience conference in San Diego last month researchers outlined the ways in which they have managed to extinguish basic fear memories.

Most methods rely on a behavioural therapy called extinction, in which physicians repeatedly deliver threatening cues in safe environments in the hope of removing fearful associations. While this can alleviate symptoms, in adults the original fear memory still remains. This means it can potentially be revived in the future.

A clue to permanent erasure comes from research in infant mice. With them, extinction therapy completely erases the fear memory, which cannot be retrieved. Identifying the relevant brain changes in rodents between early infancy and the juvenile stage may help researchers recreate aspects of the child-like system and induce relapse-free erasure in people.

Source - New Scientist

Mobiles warning for mums-to-be: Using phone while pregnant 'can lead to behavioural problems in children'

Pregnant women who regularly use mobile phones could increase the risk of their children behaving badly, claims a startling survey.

If their offspring then start using the devices at an early age, the chance of problems climbs to 50 per cent, according to researchers.

They found those exposed to mobile phones in the womb had a 30 per cent rise in behavioural difficulties at the age of seven. But those exposed before birth and in their childhood, were 50 per cent more likely to have behavioural problems than those exposed to neither.

Children who used mobiles, but were not exposed in the womb, were 20 per cent more likely to display abnormal behaviour.

Remember to eat your purples: Fruit can 'ward off Alzheimer's, heart problems and cancer'

Eating purple coloured fruit can ward off age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart problems and cancer, scientists believe.

The odds of developing multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease may also be reduced by consuming blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants or plums, according to a study by the University of Manchester.

Researchers say one or two of the recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetable should be purple fruit. It is thought that a compound in purple fruit helps fight the harmful effects of iron, which can damage cells if it makes its way through the digestive system in the wrong form.

Although we are often told of the healthy effects of the mineral, benefits are only felt if it reacts with other compounds in the body. Iron that does not react can prove poisonous to tissue.

Source - Daily Mail

The pill for almost every ill: aspirin cuts risk of cancers

It is not yet a panacea for all ills, but it is getting close. Yesterday, researchers announced the first proof that aspirin can cut the risk of a range of cancers by up to 50 per cent.

It is already taken by millions to protect against heart attacks and strokes and has an established role in preventing diabetes, dementia, pregnancy complications and pain. Scientists stopped short of recommending it be added to the water supply but declared it was "the most amazing drug".

The latest positive findings on cancer had shifted the balance in favour of mass medication of the population, but it was still too soon to recommend everyone take it, they said.

Source - Independent

Vitamin D, the cure-all supplement that could be bad for your health

It is called "bottled sunshine" and claimed to be one of the most effective health supplements on the market. Scores of studies have suggested that it protects against heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis, and a growing number of doctors have recommended it to their patients.

But vitamin D, it turns out, has been oversold. After reviewing more than 1,000 research papers, the authoritative Institute of Medicine in the US has concluded that the high levels often recommended are unnecessary and could even be harmful.

Over recent years the idea that everyone needs extra vitamin D has swept countries on both sides of the Atlantic as scientists and doctors, convinced by the growing body of evidence of the nutrient's role in a range of diseases, have advocated supplements.

Source - Independent

Noise at work: bad for heart

Predictably, the particular sounds that cause problems are those that are persistent and so loud that you can't have a conversation without raising your voice.

Canadian researchers just published a study demonstrating that too much noise at work can more than double the risk of heart disease. The investigators, from the School of Environmental Health at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, collected data on more than 6,300 people age 20 and older. All the participants had taken part in a U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination survey between 1999 and 2004, and the study team asked them about their lifestyle and occupational health, as well as providing physical exams and blood tests.

Most of those who reported working in noisy surroundings were men whose average age was 40. The researchers noted that compared to study participants who worked in quiet environments, the men tended to be overweight and to smoke, both risk factors for heart disease.

But even when those risks from lifestyle were taken into account, the men who worked in noisy environments were two to three times more likely to have serious heart problems than a comparable group who worked in quiet places. We'll need more studies to confirm these findings, but the researchers speculated that loud noise leads to stress, which is not good for the cardiovascular system.

Source - Dr. Andrew Weil

Spoonful of brain power: Drinking coffee with sugar boosts memory and attention span

A cup of coffee is what millions of us rely on to kick-start the day. But new research shows that morning pick-me-up has a much more potent effect on the brain if it is taken with sugar.

Scientists at the University of Barcelona in Spain found taking caffeine and sugar at the same time boosted the brain’s performance more than taking them on their own. Researchers now believe each one boosts the effect of the other on brain functions such as attention span and working memory.

The findings come from brain scans carried out on 40 volunteers who were tested after they had coffee with sugar, coffee without sugar, sugar on its own or just plain water. The results, published in the journal Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, suggest sugar-sweetened coffee may be the best way to prepare the brain for a busy day ahead.

But it’s likely that coffee lovers who do not take sugar will get the same benefits from enjoying a sugary snack with their drink.

Source - Daily Mail

Walking six miles a week boosts the brain

Healthy people who walk at least six miles a week have bigger brains, better memories and improved mental function compared with couch potatoes, a study has found. Among older people showing signs of forgetfulness, walking even five miles a week – a daily 20-minute trip to the shops – slowed the progression of their condition.

The findings suggest that walking is the best way of preserving both mental and physical health in old age. Research has shown that it is an ideal form of exercise for maintaining physical fitness and warding off heart disease. Now scientists have found that it can maintain mental fitness and ward off Alzheimer's disease as well. A 10-year study of more than 400 elderly people found that greater amounts of physical activity were associated with greater brain volume.

Dr Cyrus Raji, of the department of radiology at Pittsburgh University, who led the study, said: "Volume is a vital sign for the brain. When it decreases that means brain cells are dying. But when it remains higher brain health is being maintained." Dr Raji added: "We found that walking five miles a week protects the brain structure over 10 years in people with Alzheimer's and mild cognitive impairment."

Healthy adults needed to walk at least six miles a week to maintain brain volume and reduce their risk of mental decline. The results are due to be presented to the Radiological Society of North America today.

Source - Independent

EU bans bisphenol A chemical from babies' bottles

The European Commission has announced a ban on the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic baby bottles from next year. The commission cited fears that the compound could affect development and immune response in young children.

There has been concern over the use of BPA for some time, with six US manufacturers removing it in 2009 from bottles they sold in the US, although not other markets. But a UK expert said he thought the move was "an over-reaction".

BPA is widely used in making hard, clear plastic and is commonly found in food and drink containers. A European Commission spokesman said the proposal had been approved after being presented to a committee of national government experts on Thursday - months earlier than scheduled - and approved.

The European parliament had called for the ban in June.

Source -BBC

Orange juice: Two glasses a day keeps the doctor at bay according to new study

Two glasses of orange juice a day can lower blood pressure and cut the risk of heart disease, scientists have found.

They have discovered that middle-aged men who drank half-a-litre of juice every day for a month, equivalent to about two glasses, saw a significant decline in their blood pressure readings.

Findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirms the presence of a natural plant chemical called hesperidin - part of a a class of disease-fighting compounds found in plant foods like tea, fruit, soya and cocoa. Although previous studies have hinted orange juice may be good for the heart, scientists have been uncertain exactly what gives it its protective powers.

Heart disease is Britain's biggest killer with around 270,000 people suffering a heart attack every year and nearly one in three die before they even reach hospital. High blood pressure, which puts our arteries under greater pressure when the heart beats, affects one in five people and is one of the major risk factors contributing to a cardiac arrest.

The World Health Organisation estimates that 50 per cent of all heart attacks and strokes are due to raised blood pressure.

Source - Daily Mail

Help your heart with a spoonful or two of vinegar a day

A spoonful or two of vinegar a day may boost your levels of good cholesterol.

Researchers believe that people who ­consume apple cider vinegar for eight weeks will have improved levels of good or HDL cholesterol compared with those given a placebo.

A clinical trial, currently underway in ­Minnesota in the U.S., has been looking at 120 people, half of whom have had the vinegar while the others are being given a placebo ­containing a 2 per cent balsamic vinegar ­solution in water. Apple cider vinegar — a common kitchen remedy for arthritis and gout — has already been shown to lower blood sugar levels and reduce appetite.

A separate study based on animals with ­diabetes, has already shown that apple cider vinegar lowered levels of bad cholesterol and improved good cholesterol. It’s thought the vinegar speeds up the processing of fats.

Source - Daily Mail

How a blast of sound can speed up healing your wounds

An ultrasound device that fires soundwaves into chronic wounds such as leg ulcers is being used to speed up the ­healing process.

Research shows treating wounds with high-intensity ­ultrasound — which helps to clean the wound of debris — can significantly improve the rate at which they heal. Now, a trial is underway to study this exact rate.

Chronic wounds such as ­diabetic foot ulcers and pressure sores cost the NHS around ­£1 billion a year to treat. A significant number of the people ­suffering from chronic wounds have ­diabetes — one in six people with ­diabetes will develop a non-healing ulcer. There are a number of treatments, from antibiotics to surgery, but in many cases wounds fail to heal for weeks, months, or years. In severe cases, amputation of a limb may be necessary.

Natural wound healing is a complex process involving many different types of cells moving to the area around a new wound within the first few hours. Their jobs include sealing the wound as quickly as possible, halting blood loss and creating a cover to stop infection.

Source - Daily Mail

Noisy home lives make children slow at school

Children are starting nursery school unable to speak and listen properly because of chaotic and noisy home lives, according to an Ofsted report released today.

The education watchdog, which looked at how the best schools teach children to read, found televisions in constant use, noisy siblings and raised voices at home were impeding children’s language skills. The majority of schools with nursery classes visited by Ofsted reported that children are, increasingly, unprepared for learning, having poor listening and speaking skills. Some arrive without toilet training and using dummies.

The report states: "The schools attributed weak listening skills not only to poor conversation in the home but, very often, also to continuous background noise, such as constant television, the noise of siblings and raised voices, which are bound to dull sensitivity to the nuances of sounds."

The study reveals, in some cases, children’s speech is limited to basic statements such as, “Me want?”. Many youngsters have also “been no further from home than the nearest shopping centre”.

As a result, nursery classes focus on speaking, listening, increasing vocabulary and using sentences. They introduced structured days “to compensate for the chaotic home lives that too many of the children were experiencing”.

Source - Independent

Garlic 'remedy for hypertension'

Garlic may be useful in addition to medication to treat high blood pressure, a study suggests.

Australian doctors enrolled 50 patients in a trial to see if garlic supplements could help those whose blood pressure was high, despite medication.

Those given four capsules of garlic extract a day had lower blood pressure than those on placebo, they report in scientific journal Maturitas.

The British Heart Foundation said more research was needed.

Source: BBC News

Vitamin E linked to increased risk of some strokes

Taking vitamin E could slightly increase the risk of a particular type of stroke, a study says.

The British Medical Journal study found that for every 1,250 people there is the chance of one extra haemorrhagic stroke - bleeding in the brain. Researchers from France, Germany and the US studied nine previous trials and nearly 119,000 people. But the level at which vitamin E becomes harmful is still unknown, experts say.

The study was carried out at Harvard Medical School, Boston, and INSERM in Paris. Haemorrhagic strokes are the least common type and occur when a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain ruptures and causes brain damage.

Researchers found that vitamin E increased the risk of this kind of stroke by 22%. The study also found that vitamin E could actually cut the risk of ischaemic strokes - the most common type of stroke - by 10%.

Ischaemic strokes account for 70% of all cases and happen when a blood clot prevents blood reaching the brain. Experts found vitamin E could cut the risk, equivalent to one ischaemic stroke prevented per 476 people taking the vitamin.

Source - BBC

NHS funding for homeopathy risks misleading patients, says chief scientist

Patients are at risk of being misled over the benefits of homeopathy by the government's decision to fund the remedies on the NHS, the country's most senior scientist warned today.

Sir John Beddington, the government's chief scientific adviser, said patients might believe homeopathic treatments could protect them against serious illnesses, or treat existing conditions, because GPs and hospitals are allowed to prescribe them on the NHS.

Tens of thousands of people are given homeopathic pills and other preparations by their GPs or at Britain's four homeopathic hospitals, at an estimated cost to the NHS of between £4m and £10m a year. Most homeopathic remedies are diluted multiple times to the point that only water is left, while others are essentially sugar pills.

Professor Beddington said ministers agreed to fund homeopathy on the grounds of "public choice", despite there being "no real evidence" that the remedies work.

"I have made it completely clear that there is no scientific basis for homeopathy beyond the placebo effect and that there are serious concerns about its efficacy," Professor Beddington told the Commons science and technology committee today.

He went on to warn that government funding for homeopathy risked legitimising unproven treatments and that patients could harm their health by choosing these over conventional vaccines and medicines.

"There is a danger that the public will think that there is real efficacy for some serious conditions and I believe we have to work on that and make clear that this is not correct," he told the committee.

Source - Guardian

Green tea 'does NOT protect against breast cancer'

It may be packed with anti-oxidants but green tea does not protect against breast cancer, according to an extensive study.

Previous research on both animals and human cells had suggested the hot drink could boost the body's defenses against the cancer. However, the latest analysis looking at 54,000 women found no association between drinking green tea and breast cancer risk.

Dr Motoki Iwasaki, from the National Cancer Center, Tokyo, worked with a team of researchers to carry out the study.

He said: 'Results from human studies have been inconclusive. Our large-scale, population-based prospective cohort study is one of the first to include a wide range of tea intakes; women who drank green tea less than 1 cup per week to those who drank 10 or more cups per day.

'It found no overall association between green tea intake and the risk of breast cancer'

The study published in BioMed Central's open access journal Breast Cancer Research.

Source - Daily Mail

From garlic to bananas, don't bin the skin: Eating fruit and vegetable peel could combat cancer

Drop the peeler — ­eating the skins of fruit and ­vegetables could boost your nutritional intake of vitamins, combat cancer and increase your energy levels.

Dr Marilyn Glenville, former president of the Food and Health Forum at the Royal Society of ­Medicine, says: 'All fruit and vegetables have a "bio-synergy", which means the nutritional ­benefits of each part are reinforced by the others.'

And the skin is not the only healthy bit we discard — stalks and cores can also be packed with nutrients.

Here, we reveal the fruit and vegetables you should try to eat whole...

Kiwi fruit

The hairy skin of the kiwi fruit is high in antioxidants and thought to have ­anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-­allergenic properties, says Dr Glenville.

‘The skin contains three times the anti­oxidants of the pulp; it also fights off bugs such as Staphylococcus and E-coli, which are responsible for food poisoning.’

HOW TO EAT IT: If regular kiwi skin is too tart for you, opt for ‘gold’ kiwi fruit, which have sweeter, less hairy skins, but with the same benefits. Use the skin if you are juicing the fruit.


Don’t panic — it’s the tough core of the pineapple, not the prickly skin you should be tucking into.

Source - Daily Mail

Jellyfish glow helps scientists to spot tumours deep inside the body

A technique jellyfish use to glow in the dark could help shed new light on cancer.

British scientists have found a way of using luminous cells from jellyfish to spot tumours deep within the human body. Researcher Professor Norman Maitland believes the technology could be at least ten times better than CT scanners at detecting tumours.

He said: ‘Cancers deep within the body are difficult to spot at an early stage and early diagnosis is critical for the successful treatment of any form of cancer. What we have developed is a process which involves inserting proteins derived from luminous jellyfish cells into human cancer cells. Then, when we illuminate the tissue, a special camera detects these proteins as they light up, indicating where the tumours are.’

American chemist Roger Tsien won the Nobel Prize for chemistry two years ago for purifying the protein behind the jellyfish’s glow.

‘When we heard about Dr Tsien’s work, we realised how that advance might be useful in the diagnosis of cancer,’ said Professor Maitland.

Source - Daily Mail

How to treat a cold without drugs

Medicines won’t heal a winter virus faster – and some will even prolong it. But the best remedies don’t need a trip to the chemist.

The average adult gets two to five colds a year. Children suffer the worst, with seven to 10 a year. The news today is that scientists may in the near future be able to cure colds and other viruses.

But for now, only the immune system can cure a cold and in most cases, it takes four to seven days. Conventional medicines might provide relief from symptoms, but don’t work against the virus or help our immune system throw off the infection. Some don’t even do that. Standard cough medicines, for instance, have been found to be no better than placebo.

Some doctors say suppressing coughs can be a bad thing since they are nature’s way of getting rid of respiratory debris. The good news is, you can take action to help your cold without even going out.

Inhale steam

“The common cold is a collection of different viruses and your immune system’s response to them causes the symptoms of inflamed nasal passage and lining of the sinuses – which causes sneezing, runny nose and sore eyes,” explains Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners. “The best way to reduce this inflammation is to keep the nasal passages clear. Steam is wonderful at achieving this.”

Source - Indpendent

Taste buds in lungs discovery could ease asthma

The discovery of "taste receptors" in the lungs rather than on the tongue could point the way to new medicines for asthma, it is suggested.

Experiments in mice revealed that bombarding the receptors with bitter-tasting compounds helped open the airways, which could ease breathing. The University of Maryland study, published in Nature Medicine, may have implications for other lung diseases.

Asthma UK warned that any new drug would not arrive for some time.

The "taste receptors" discovered in the smooth muscle of the lungs are not the same as those clustered in taste buds in the mouth. They do not send signals to the brain, and yet, when exposed to bitter substances, they still respond. It was the nature of that response that surprised researchers, who assumed their presence was as a defence against noxious gases, triggering a tightening of the airways and coughing.

In fact, the mouse experiments revealed that exactly the reverse was true.

Source - BBC

Walking could protect brain against shrinking, US research says

The historian George Macaulay Trevelyan wrote in 1913 that he had two doctors: "My left leg and my right".

Now a report appears to show that the simple medicine of putting one foot in front of another is a potential defence against dementia and Alzheimer's. Walking may protect the brain against shrinking and preserve memory in the elderly, according to research by US neurologists who monitored 300 volunteers over 13 years.

The data lends statistical authority to anecdotal findings, including the legendary perambulations of Alfred Wainwright, Benny Rothman and the Guardian's Harry Griffin.

Although very different in character – a grump, a communist warrior and an ex-brigadier – they lived for a combined total of 268 years thanks, in their own estimation, to lives spent largely on foot and outdoors.

The US study bears this out, with neurological tests on dementia-free people in Pittsburgh who agreed to log their walks and accept brain monitoring in 1995. Tests nine years later, followed by a further round in 2008, showed that those who walked the most cut their risk of developing memory problems by half. The study suggest that nine miles a week – or in the urban US terms of the data, 72 Pittsburgh city blocks – is the optimum distance for "neurological exercise".

The paper, published in Neurology, the online medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, found no discernible bonus in going the extra mile after that.

Source - Guardian

Dozens killed by incorrectly placed acupuncture needles

Eighty-six people have been accidentally killed by badly trained acupuncturists over the past 45 years, according to Britain's leading expert on alternative medicine .

A review of patients who died soon after acupuncture found a history of punctured hearts and lungs, damaged arteries and livers, nerve problems, shock, infection and haemorrhage, largely caused by practitioners placing their needles incorrectly or failing to sterilise their equipment.

Many of the 86 patients, aged between 26 and 82 years old, died after being treated by acupuncturists in China or Japan, but a handful of fatalities were recorded in the US, Germany and Australia. The most recent death, of a 26-year-old woman in China, occurred last year.

The most common cause of death was a condition called pneumothorax, where air finds its way between the membranes that separate the lungs from the chest wall and causes the lungs to collapse.

Source - Guardian

Should we be worried about early puberty?

Hannah only turned eight a couple of months ago – but she has already started puberty. Her mother, Liz, is shocked. "Over the last few weeks her nipples have suddenly become swollen. They're really painful for her – she finds it hard to put on a T-shirt or to hug people. We went to the doctor and he said it was hormonal changes linked to the onset of puberty. I was horrified. Hannah's a skinny little thing and I hadn't anticipated puberty for at least three more years."

Yet puberty is arriving earlier and earlier. Last week it was reported boys' choirs were finding it hard to maintain their standards because they now lose experienced choristers much earlier – trebles who used to sing until the age of 15 or 16 are now having to stop at 12 or 13, because their voices are breaking.

Peter Hindmarsh, professor of paediatric endocrinology at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, says it's harder to collect data on male puberty, and that reports of puberty starting earlier in boys are anecdotal. But for girls, the evidence is conclusive.

"Between 1958 and 2005, breast development – the sign that puberty is starting in girls – moved about nine months ahead of where it used to be," he says. "Interestingly, though, the age at menarche (first period) hasn't moved much – from about 13 to about 12.8."

Source - Guardian

Why probiotic drinks may not improve your health: Watchdog rules that yoghurts do not keep their promises

They claim to boost your immune system and help digestion.

But probiotic yoghurt drinks and supplements don’t live up to their promises, according to an EU watchdog.It concluded there is no scientific proof that products such as Yakult have any health benefits at all.

The watchdog dismissed more than 800 claims regarding the increasingly popular probiotic drinks, yoghurts and whey proteins, vitamins, supplements, ruling that suggestions the products could strengthen the body’s natural defences and reduce gut problems were either too general or could not be proven.

The supposed health benefits of probiotic goods enable manufacturers to sell them at much higher prices than normal yoghurts and milkshakes. For example, a packet of seven 65ml bottles of Yakult costs up to £2.50 – double the price of the same quantity of chocolate milk.

Earlier this year, the Advertising Standards Authority watchdog banned a TV advert for Actimel, manufactured by Danone, which suggested it stopped children falling ill.

Source - Daily Mail

Bedroom chemicals 'raise child's allergy risk by up to 180%'

Children are up to three times more likely to develop conditions like asthma and hayfever due to chemicals found in some wall paints and cleansers.

Researchers from Karlstad University in Sweden found youngsters had up to 180 per cent greater risk of developing allergies if they were exposed to chemicals known as PGEs in their bedrooms.

Study leader Professor Carl-Gustaf Bornehag, said: 'The study shows for the first time that the concentration of PGEs, propylene glycol and glycol ethers, in bedroom air was linked to an increased risk of developing asthma, rhinitis and eczema in children.

'The increase in risk varied between 50 and 180 per cent. It was also found that a higher concentration of PGEs in indoor air was associated with children evincing antibodies (IgE) against allergens such as cats, dogs, pollen.

'Our analyses also revealed that the use of water-based paint in the dwelling, as well as water-based cleansers, was linked to a higher concentration of PGEs in bedroom air.'

The chemicals can also be found in some plastic toys and packaging.

Source - Daily Mail

Why modern life DOES cause cancer: The fascinating research which backs what we all feared

Cancer is often regarded in our society as a natural, if grim, part of the human ­condition — a dark shadow that hangs over our health. This is hardly surprising, given that one in three people develop cancer at some stage in their lives, with the disease ultimately responsible for a quarter of all deaths in Britain.

Yet it is possible that cancer is not nearly as natural as we might think.

Through research with fellow scientist Professor Michael Zimmerman, I have uncovered powerful ­evidence to suggest that cancer could largely be a modern phenomenon linked to our diet, ­environment and lifestyles.

Over the past 30 years, we have ­conducted an extensive study into ancient mummified bodies, skeletal remains and classical literature from ancient societies. If cancer had always been ­prevalent in humans, we would have expected to find a large number of cases of it.

But what we discovered was striking. In all these studies, involving tens of thousands of ­individuals, we found hardly any. Among the hundreds of mummies we examined, only three definite ­incidences of cancer were detected: one from Chile, one from 14th-century Italy and one from ancient Egypt.

Source - Daily Mail

Painkiller that changes form once it's inside the body

The name "codeine" comes from the Greek word kodeia, meaning "poppy head". It has been traditionally prepared from the opium poppy for many centuries and it was first isolated as a discrete chemical compound in 1832 by the French chemist and pharmacist Pierre Robiquet.

Although codeine can be extracted directly from the opium poppy, most commercially available products are made by altering the chemical structure of morphine to produce purified codeine for use as a general painkiller.

Codeine is classed as a "prodrug", meaning that it does not directly affect the body but is broken down by the liver to produce morphine, the opiod drug that is the effective painkiller. This is also highly addictive when taken repeatedly.

In 2005, the pharmaceuticals industry brought in voluntary guidelines for over-the-counter medicines containing codeine. These involved the addition of addiction warnings to packets which advised patients not to take codeine-containing pills for more than three consecutive days without talking a doctor.

Source - Independent

Do the dangers of codeine outweigh the benefits?

Scientists have raised serious concerns about the widespread use of one of the world's most common painkillers after studies showing that codeine may be unsafe, ineffective and potentially addictive for the millions of people who take it regularly.

The Government's independent watchdog on the safety of medicines has withdrawn codeine-containing cough mixtures for children after hard-hitting criticism by two Canadian experts suggesting that the drug should be phased out in painkillers meant for either children or adults.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued its warning about cough medicines containing codeine after receiving fresh advice from its committee of independent experts on the Commission on Human Medicines. The Independent has learnt that the commission had advance notice of a forthcoming editorial in a Canadian medical journal denouncing the widespread use of codeine in painkillers, especially for children.

Source - Indpendent

Moisturisers 'can aggravate eczema'

Using moisturiser to treat eczema could make the condition worse, scientists have claimed. Ointments such as aqueous cream BP reduce the thickness of healthy skin, aiding irritation, research from Bath University found.

Aqueous cream BP is the most widely prescribed moisturiser for the treatment of dry skin conditions. However, it contains a detergent, sodium lauryl sulphate, which can increase the permeability of the skin barrier. The study found that when healthy volunteers applied the cream daily over four weeks, it made their skin more susceptible to irritation by chemicals.

Manda Tsang, a researcher on the project, published in the British Journal of Dermatology, said: "Our study suggests that it might be better for eczema patients to use oil-based ointments on damaged skin."

Source - Independent

Excessive meat-eating 'kills 45,000 each year'

Lowering meat consumption in the UK would prevent about 45,000 premature deaths a year, according to a new study.

Oxford University's heart unit analysed the health consequences of a range of diets, concluding that eating meat no more than three times a week would prevent 31,000 deaths from heart disease, 9,000 deaths from cancer and 5,000 deaths from strokes each year, saving the NHS £1.2bn.

Friends of the Earth, which commissioned the research for its Healthy Planet Eating report, published today, said reducing meat consumption would also help slow the rates of climate change and deforestation.

Population growth, rising affluence and factory farming have helped to quadruple global meat consumption since 1961, with the average Briton now consuming 125kg of meat a year. According to the report, average intake represents 17 per cent of calories, a third more than the Food Standards Agency's recommendation of 12 per cent.

In health terms, red meat is strongly linked with bowel cancer, while meat and dairy products high in saturated fat are causes of obesity and heart disease. Environmentally, South American rainforests are being cleared – releasing climate change emissions – to grow animal feed and rear cattle for export to Europe.

The former Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, has urged the public to eat less meat, saying in a 2010 report: "Our diet is warming the planet. It is also damaging our health." He calculated that cutting consumption by 30 per cent would prevent 18,000 premature deaths a year.

Source - Independent

Chance of allergy 'depends on season of birth'

A child's chance of developing an allergy could depend on the season in which the youngster was conceived, experts said today.

Babies whose first three months in the womb occurred in springtime are more likely to suffer from food allergies, such as to milk and eggs. About 11% of children whose 11th week of development in the womb was in April or May were more likely to suffer food allergy, a study found. This compared with 6% of children whose 11th week was in December or January.

Overall, the April/May group was three times more likely to be sensitive to milk and eggs than the December/January group.

Experts have already shown a link between pollen and food allergies, and the latest study supports this association. Checks on pollen levels over the study period showed that levels of birch and alder pollen peaked during April and May.

The research, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, involved 5,973 children born between April 2001 and March 2006 who lived in south-east Finland. Of this group, 18% had tested positive for food allergies by the time they were four.

The results showed that by this age, sensitivity to food allergy varied according to month of birth, from 5% of children born in June/July to 10% for October/November.

Source - Independent

'Unsafe' drug found in herbal tea

Herbal medicines marketed as weight loss aids have been found to include a drug withdrawn in Europe and US on safety grounds.

Analysis of Payouji tea and Pai You Guo Slim capsules by the UK medicines watchdog revealed they contained diet drug sibutramine. It was taken off the market in January 2010 over fears it increased the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Anyone taking the drug was urged to stop and consult their doctor.

Sibutramine was first approved as an anti-obesity drug in 1997, but data from recent studies suggests a higher rate of heart attacks and strokes among people taking it. While it was withdrawn in Europe in January, it was only withdrawn in the US earlier this month. Various herbal products in the US have been recalled because they were found to contain the drug.

The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority, which oversees medicines in the UK, said that any product containing the drug was considered "harmful to human health".

Source - BBC

Tennis elbow injections do 'more harm than good'

Using steroid injections for tendon problems like tennis elbow could do more harm than good, says a study in The Lancet. It found that injections reduced pain for the first few weeks, but made the condition worse in the long term.

University of Queensland researchers analysed the treatment of tendinopathy in more than 2,600 patients from 41 previous studies. Experts say exercising the affected area is preferable.

In the study, Australian researchers looked at past randomised trials comparing steroid injections into the tendon with placebo, which is equivalent to no treatment at all. When analysing the trials, they assessed the clinical efficacy of the treatments in the short term, intermediate and long term.

They also analysed different areas of tendinopathy, like rotator cuff tendinopathy (shoulder) and jumper's knee.

Source - BBC

Aspirin 'helps protect against bowel cancer'

A daily aspirin tablet may help prevent bowel cancer, a study suggests. Oxford University found it cut cases by a quarter and deaths by more than a third in a review of 14,000 patients.

Aspirins are already widely used to help protect people against strokes and heart problems, although many healthy middle-aged people do not take them because of the risk of side-effects. But researchers said their findings - published by the Lancet - "tipped the balance" in favour of taking them.

They followed up four study groups over a period of 20 years to identify the impact of regular small doses of of the drug - the tablets given for medical reasons are often a quarter of a strength of those used to treat headaches. They found it reduced the risk of the incidence of bowel cancer by 24% and of dying from the disease by 35%.

And even though regular aspirin use can have side-effects, the researchers said it was still worthwhile as on such low doses these tended to be relatively minor, such as bruising or nose bleeds.

Source - BBC

Children's computer and television time linked to psychological problems

Children who spend more than two hours a day at a computer or watching television are more likely than others to have psychological problems, scientists claim.

Researchers found that 11-year-olds who clocked up several hours in front of a screen each day scored worse on questionnaires designed to measure psychological health, regardless of how much physical exercise they got.

Angie Page, who led the study at the University of Bristol, said that as a precaution parents might consider limiting how long their children spend in front of a screen to no more than two hours a day.

The study of 1,013 children in the Bristol area found no evidence that sitting in front of a screen actually causes mental health problems. Alternatively, the findings might be a result of children with psychological difficulties, such as extreme shyness, being more likely to choose TV or computer games over more sociable activities.

"There's no evidence one way or the other and it could be either," Dr Page told the Guardian. But she added that some healthy children might be at greater risk of developing psychological problems if they increased their viewing time.

In the study, children were asked whether they agreed, disagreed or partially agreed with a list of statements, including, "I generally play alone or keep to myself" and, "I am often unhappy, downhearted or tearful". They then added details of how much exercise they took and how long they spent at a TV or computer screen. Their levels of exercise were verified by activity monitors worn on their belts for a week.

Writing in the journal Pediatrics, the team explain that while children who did little exercise fared well on the psychological assessments, those who filled their inactive time watching television or at a computer scored badly.

Source - Guardian

Watermelon pill 'lowers blood pressure and could prevent strokes'

A dose of watermelon a day could help keep high blood pressure at bay.

Researchers have discovered that the fruit is rich in compounds that widen blood vessels - and may cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes. And a daily fix of its juices could be enough to lower blood pressure in patients suffering from hypertension, according to a study.

High blood pressure, which affects more than 16million men and women in the UK, doubles the risk of a fatal heart attack or stroke and is blamed for more than 60,000 deaths a year.

But watermelon is an edible source of L- citrulline - a compound vital in the production of nitric oxide, a gas that widens blood vessels.

Source - Daily Mail

Yoga 'provides pain relief for chronic muscle ache'

Patients with a common condition that causes pain throughout the body could ease their symptoms by practising yoga, a study has found.

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a disorder causing widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue that is thought to affect nearly two million adults in the UK. Patients struggle with aching muscles and drug therapies are only around 30 per cent effective in relieving symptoms.

A team from Oregon Health & Science University studied whether patients taking a 'Yoga Awareness' programme alongside their standard treatment showed more improvement compared to a control group of sufferers.

Study leader Dr James Carson, said: 'Although yoga has been practiced for millennia, only recently have researchers begun to demonstrate yoga's effects on people suffering from persistent pain.'

The researchers conducted an all-woman study because 80 per cent of FM patients are women. While 25 participated in the Yoga of Awareness program, 28 received standard care. The yoga was tailored to address pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance, and emotional distress in FM. Each class included gentle stretching poses, mindfulness meditation and breathing techniques. Both groups were then assessed for fibromyalgia symptoms alongside physical tests.

Following treatment, women assigned to the yoga programme showed far greater improvements in their symptoms and general mood.

Source - Daily Mail

Walking 'could ward off dementia and mental decline'

Elderly people who get about by walking are less likely to suffer mental decline or even dementia, a study says.

Brain scans revealed that older people walking between six and nine miles a week appeared to have more brain tissue in key areas. The Pittsburgh University study of 299 people suggested they had less "brain shrinkage", which is linked to memory problems. The research was reported in the journal Neurology.

The volunteers, who had an average age of 78, were checked for signs of "cognitive impairment" or even dementia. The Pittsburgh team also had access to brain scan results from four years previously which measured the amount of "grey matter" in their brains.

Brain health

This is found at various parts of the brain and is known to diminish in many people as they get older. Each of them had been quizzed in their 60s about the number of city blocks they walked each week as part of their normal routine.

The results showed that those who walked at least 72 blocks - six to nine miles - a week had a greater volume of grey matter.

Four years after the scans, 40% of the group had measurable cognitive impairment or even dementia.

Those who walked the most were half as likely to have these problems compared with those who walked the least.

Source - BBC